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MIB: Men In Blues

Men in Black is a treasure of science fiction comedy. The Blues Brothers is the ultimate in comedy plus cool. So what if Men in Black were recast with Jake and Elwood in the buddy cop roles? Master mashup artist Fabrice Mathieu (previously at Neatorama) has crafted a short film with best of both worlds: the cool vibe of The Blues Brothers and the aliens from not only Men in Black, but a variety of other movies you know and love. Oh yeah, you better believe there's a chase scene! -Thanks, Fabrice!     


Beware of Coyotes

The Parks and Recreation Department of Redwood City, California, has occasional coyotes in their parks, and erected this sign to warn park visitors. There are also tips on how to behave if you see a coyote. Don't miss the bottom part of the sign.

Call Animal Control if you see dangerous coyote activity such as:
Coyote carrying box marked "ACME"
Coyote detonating explosives/TNT
Coyote in possession of giant magnet
Coyote holding sign such as "detour" or "free bird seed"
Coyote in possession of a catapult
Coyote dropping anvil from hot air balloon

See, it pays to read the small print.  -via Boing Boing

(Image credit: Stephen Zunes)


An Honest Trailer for The Predator (2018)

For some reason, they remade the 1987 movie Predator and put an article in front of it. The Predator was not well-received. Screen Junkies explains why in this Honest Trailer. It apparently lacks the mystery, charm, star power, and plausibility of the earlier film. What else is there? Special effects? Even if the special effects are better thirty years later, the original film used them ever-so-cleverly.


Before Black Lung, The Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster Killed Hundreds

Silica dust, which is released from sandstone, causes black lung among coal miners. But the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster wasn't a coal mine, it was a tunnel cut through Gauley Mountain in West Virginia in 1930. The project was expected to take four years, but 3,000 laborers completed the tunnel in 18 months. Hundreds of them died from silicosis, including teenager Dewey Flack.

"The local doctors really were not quite clear at first what they were seeing. We had young, healthy people breaking down in a very short period of time and there really isn't a lot of precedent for that," says Martin Cherniack, a University of Connecticut professor who wrote a 1986 book about the tunnel.

The count of how many workers died varies. According to congressional testimony at the time, as many as 300 people died from silicosis, caused by exposure to silica dust. Cherniack estimates the number to be at least 764 workers — including Flack.

"They would become sick, profoundly short of breath, have severe weight loss, basically be unable to move and function and exercise themselves," Cherniack says.

Flack died on May 20, 1931, two weeks after his last shift in the tunnel. His death certificate says he died of pneumonia, but according to Cherniack, company doctors often misdiagnosed worker deaths or attributed them to a disease they called "tunnelitis."  

Although there were congressional hearings, Union Carbide maintained that the deaths were not caused by silicosis. Read the story of the Hawks Nest Tunnel Disaster at NPR.  -via Digg

(Image courtesy of Elkem Metals Collection, West Virginia State Archives)


DNA "Magic Box" Can Help Police Analyze DNA Evidence in 90 Minutes But Is It a Misuse of Forensic Science?

In the world of prime time TV, where a complex whodunit is solved in an hour (less commercial time), DNA evidence is analyzed in just a few seconds - usually with the haggard detective hovering right outside the state-of-the-art police lab.

In real life, on the other hand, where crime labs are often understaffed and perpetually backlogged, analyzing DNA samples can take weeks if not months.

But now, in a twist where real life mimics police tv shows, there's a new machine that can analyze DNA samples very quickly.

From The New York Times:

They call it the “magic box.” Its trick is speedy, nearly automated processing of DNA.
... in early 2017, the police booking station in Bensalem became the first in the country to install a Rapid DNA machine, which provides results in 90 minutes, and which police can operate themselves. [...]
The science-fiction future, in which police can swiftly identify robbers and murderers from discarded soda cans and cigarette butts, has arrived.

But not everyone's excited. Critics, including legal experts and scientists, pointed out that the system can lead to trouble:

As police agencies build out their local DNA databases, they are collecting DNA not only from people who have been charged with major crimes but also, increasingly, from people who are merely deemed suspicious, permanently linking their genetic identities to criminal databases. ...
“It’s a lot harder to resist the temptation just to run some people’s DNA, just to see if there’s anything useful that you get out of it,” said Erin Murphy, a law professor at New York University and author of “Inside the Cell: The Dark Side of Forensic DNA.” That approach challenges the “fundamental way we’ve structured liberty in our constitutional order.”

What do you think? Is the DNA "Magic Box" a boon or a ultimately pitfall to society?

Image source: ThermoFisher Scientific


Remember The Trackball Mouse?

You should try using a trackball mouse. No, really. Sure, they were ugly and annoying to use back in the day but have you heard of the modern trackball mice that's beginning to make a comeback?

Most peripheral manufacturers gave up on making trackball mice a long time ago, but Logitech is still plugging away at it. Their flagship MX Ergo is one of the best around—and the one I use regularly—but they also make cheaper models. Kensington is the only other major name in the trackball space, but they tend to make more traditional style trackballs.
At this point you might ask yourself, “Why in the world would I use a trackball when they died off years ago?” It’s a fair question. For starters, they can be easier on your wrists and forearms. With a typical mouse, you need to bend your wrists and slide your arms across your desk repeatedly. A trackball mouse like the MX Ergo sits in one place, and only your thumb needs to move.

So, how about it? Well, you can still use the optical mice we have nowadays but I would definitely try using these modern-style retro mice.

(Image credit: Eric Ravenscraft/The Inventory)


The Solution to Global Warming: Antacid for Planet Earth?

If worrying over global warming is giving you indigestion, you'd reach out for a bottle of antacids. But what if antacid itself - in the form of calcium carbonate powder - is actually the prescription to tackle the planet's global warming woes?

Harvard researcher Zhen Dai thought that it might:

In powdered form, calcium carbonate—often used to relieve upset stomachs—can reflect light; by peppering the sky with the shiny white particles, the Harvard researcher [Zhen Dai] thinks it might be possible to block just enough sunlight to achieve some temperature control here on Earth.

Read the rest over at Wired.

Image credit: Tony Luong/Wired


Why Fecal Transplant From "Super Poopers" Are Far More Effective

In fecal microbiota transplant, doctors take stool - and all the microbes it contains - from a donor with a healthy gut and transplant it to a patient in order to help "reset" the recipient's digestive system.

But apprently not all donor poop are created equal.

Dr. Justin O'Sullivan and and colleagues at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, as well as MIT and Harvard discovered that the success rate of fecal transplantation depends a lot on the donor. Turns out, stool samples from select "super pooper" donors often have a greater diversity of microbes that make them much more effective.

In one study the remission rate for ulcerative colitis was twice as high among recipients whose transplant included stool from one particular donor. Such results have fuelled the emergence of an unlikely sounding hero: the super-donor.
Looking at previously published studies in the field, O’Sullivan and colleagues say a stool from a super-donor often has a greater diversity of microbes. However, they add for some conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease, specific components are important such as whether the stool is richer in particular bacteria – such as those which produce certain chemicals.In other studies, it has been suggested the presence of viruses in the stool might play a role in resolving certain conditions. “We think the super-donors differ depending on the condition you are trying to treat,” said O’Sullivan.

Read the rest of the story on why number two from these super donors is really number one when it comes to fecal transplant, over at The Guardian.

(Image: Unicorn Poop by louisros)


Here's Your Ch-ch-change in ... Bowie Bucks?

During the Great Depression, many localities in the United States printed their own local currencies that residents could spend at local businesses. This currency, also called scrip, was issued during the time where uncertainty led to hoarding and the subsequent shortage of the official dollar.

Nowadays, local currencies are issued to foster the "buy local" mentality and cultivate a sense of community. There's logic behind it, as money spent with local indie businesses circulate in the neighborhood economy up to three times longer than money spent on national chains, as noted by the International Monetary Fund.

In 2012, pop star David Bowie lent his likeness to be put on the local currency of his birthplace, the south London neighborhood of Brixton. The Brixton Pound has since gained popularity:

It is accepted on local buses and for council tax payments. In addition to bills, it can also be used for payments online and via text messages. There are some 500,000 Bristol pounds in online accounts and 70,000 circulating in cash.
Yet, for many users it is the novelty designs, rather than practical use, that make local currencies attractive. The bill that pictures Mr. Bowie represents 10 Brixton pounds but has sold for as much as £50 online ...

Read the rest over at the Wall Street Journal.

(Previously on Neatorama: The Rise of Artisanal Cash)


How Do You Draw an X?

@Smasey asked the Interweb: which way do you draw an X? Colored line being the first stroke.

Me? Number 7 (capital) and number 5 for lower case x.

How about you?


The 1959 Project

What was so special about 1959? Today, 1969 is all the rave because it has been 50 years since then. So many things happened that year, particularly the famous Apollo 11 moon landing. But ten years before, some significant things went down as well. With that in mind, the 1959 Project was conceived.

Helmed by Natalie Weiner, a sportswriter and history-of-jazz superfan, the premise is simple: every day, a snapshot of the world of jazz sixty years ago.

Check it out: The 1959 Project. via Kottke

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


The 'Marie Kondo Effect' Takes Thrift Stores By Storm

Many thrift stores today are seeing a trend in an increase of people giving away their stuff as a result of the KonMari method, which has been featured on Marie Kondo's book and Netflix series.

Marie Kondo, a Japanese organizing consultant-turned-author whose book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, re-popularized the idea that the first step to achieving inner peace is to give away the useless piles of things you’ve accumulated over the years.
Per the KonMari method, you’re first encouraged to hold the stuff, think about the stuff, and thank the stuff for its service.

It seems to be working. Thanks to this trend, a lot of thrift stores have seen a surge in donations from old and new faces alike.

(Image credit: Sarah Holder/CityLab)


Why Are Some People Attracted to Psychopaths

Truly, love knows no bounds but it also goes beyond comprehension at times. Sure, sometimes there are certain qualities and traits that we find very attractive no matter how risky it might seem, but for some those traits score high in the psychopathy index.

In 2005, Scott Peterson was convicted of the murder of his wife Laci and her unborn child. During the first hour on death row, he received a marriage proposal, and within a day the warden's office was inundated with over 30 phone calls from women asking for his mailing address as well as letters from women professing their love for him.
This is not an isolated incident, and there is even a clinical term for it: Hybristophilia.

According to research, there are two main clusters of traits that measure for psychopathy. The first is fearless dominance and the other, self-centered impulsivity. Having either one of these traits is fine but possessing a combination of both gives you the tendency for psychopathy.

Now, even though psychopathy can be measured, very little is known as to why people are attracted to such traits.

While there has been research measuring psychopathy in the general population, surprisingly, there has been very little systematic analysis of the attraction to psychopathic characteristics.
In a new study, Ashley Watts and colleagues overcame some of these prior limitations to investigate whether people are especially attracted to psychopathic characteristics, and whether there are individual differences in such attraction.

What did they find? Well, the answer might not be that surprising.

(Image credit: Designecologist/Unsplash)


Battle Over a Restaurant Name

Isabella Jolie had a dream to open a French-Vietnamese restaurant to honor her sister Trang, who passed away from lupus. After serving pho from a small trailer for two years, Jolie is renovating space for a permanent restaurant in Keene, New Hampshire, in the same building at Keene's City Hall. Jolie also featured the name of the town in the restaurant's name, Pho Keene Great. But Keene City Manager Elizabeth Dragon ordered Jolie to take down the "coming soon" sign, saying the name sounded profane

"We liked the name because it's lighthearted and fun," Jolie wrote in a Facebook post. "It's a name that reflects Vietnam's National dish, comfort food and our most popular culinary product, pho! Keene, of course, is the location."

Jolie ran a poll on her restaurant's Facebook page asking if the name is offensive and 97 percent of more than 3,400 voters said no.

Two weeks after being ordered to remove the sign, Keene city officials have given their approval for the restaurant's name. Pho Keene Great is slated to open March first. -Thanks, gwdMaine!

(Image credit: Pho Keene Great)


Moqui Marbles, Martian Blueberries, and Past Life on Mars

As scientists continue to examine evidences of possible existence of life on Mars millions of years ago, geologists look at Moqui marbles or what they call concretions as possibly giving a clue.

Concretions are found all over the world, and even beyond this planet. In 2004, NASA’s Mars Rover found concretion in Mars, which scientists have named Martian blueberries. It is thought that the Martian variety formed in a similar manner as their terrestrial counterpart, providing evidence that Mars once had a wet surface.
There is also evidence that certain bacteria and microorganisms can help precipated iron to form concretaion—a fact that will certainly bear on the search for evidence of past life on Mars.

(Image credit: Bret Webster/EPOD)

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