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How Do You Draw an X?

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@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?


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

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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)


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

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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


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

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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)


The Solution to Global Warming: Antacid for Planet Earth?

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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


What Does the Grand Canyon Look Like Flipped Upside Down?

Sparked by his curiosity, John Nelson wanted to see what the Grand Canyon looks like when you invert it. Would it be like a Grand Mountain?, he surmised. So he simply got to work and tried to do it with some digital manipulation. Here is how he did it.

(Image credit: John Nelson)


The Turning Tides for Manual Keigo in Japan's Convenience Stores

For any language enthusiasts out there, it may be quite common to hear that Japanese is one of the most difficult languages to learn due to all the varying forms with which you need to acquaint yourself depending on the context.

But recently, a certain discussion has been sparked with regard to the service industry's use of manual keigo which are similar to blurbs or spiels incorporated in a company's customer service practices.

Manual keigo swept Japan in the 1990s, a linguistic trend attributed to the rapid expansion of convenience stores across the country.
But the use of what was once an immutable aspect of Japanese customer service is now evolving to accommodate the country’s changing demographics—change that is only likely to pick up steam in the years ahead.
In response to a labor crunch, more foreign-born, non-native speakers are working behind the cash registers of the now-ubiquitous convenience stores that dot the island nation. To accommodate these new workers, some companies are relaxing their once-rigorous speech standards.

(Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Your Date Of Birth Might Predict Your Future Health

It seems ridiculous that your birth month can affect your future health. But how old you get, adult height, and how susceptible you are to develop a variety of diseases, including devastating conditions such as schizophrenia. These all turn out to be linked with the month of birth.

Source posted via: Amaze and Amuse

Image credit


Formula One's Lucrative Entry Fees

Who knew that racing in the most prestigious championships in the world would cost so much for the teams? It would stand to reason that with the lavish prize they give out, they need a lot of money to fund the whole thing.

The entry fees include a base amount of $546,000. Then the points each team gained the previous season are multiplied by around $6500 and $5500 for the champion and the other racers, respectively which are added to the base amount. Here is a list of how much each team needs to pay for their entry fees in 2019.

(Image credit: Chuttersnap/Unsplash)


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)


You Hungover This Morning?

Just eat greasy food, right?



Organic Electronics Breakthrough

Check this stuff out.



A Cuppa May Help Hydration And Memory

Caffeine has numerous benefits but some people still believe that coffee can cause dehydration. This old wives' tale is really just that - a tale.

Srce posted via: Amaze and Amuse

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