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1

Johnson & Johnson Recall 33,000 Bottles Of Baby Powder Due To Asbestos

The recall for 33,000 bottles of Johnson’s Baby Powder was done after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles. The recall for the single lot of baby powder is bad news for the company, as they are still facing a lot of lawsuits that claim their baby powders causes cancer. This is the first time the company recalled its baby powder over asbestos concerns, EcoWatch detailed: 

Even though the company reported nearly $82 billion in sales last year, and its products line store shelves and pharmacy counters with brands like Tylenol and Band-Aid, it is facing over 100,000 lawsuits questioning the safety of its products, according to the New York Times.
"I understand today's recall may be concerning to all those individuals who may have used the affected lot of baby powder," Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said in a statement on Friday, as CNN reported. "I want to assure everyone that the agency takes these concerns seriously and that we are committed to our mandate of protecting the public health."
"The FDA continues to test cosmetic products that contain talc for the presence of asbestos to protect Americans from potential health risks," Sharpless said, according to CNN.

If you have a bottle of baby powder from lot #2318RB, don’t use it, and contact the company for a refund!

image credit: via wikimedia commons


1

Burger King’s Ghost Whopper Is Ready To Haunt Your Wallets This Halloween

Burger King debuted the “Ghost Whopper” right in time for Halloween. The limited edition burger is actually a regular burger with a white cheddar cheese-flavored sesame-seed bun. Watch as psychic medium Riz Mizra executed a “spirit taste test’ for the Ghost Whopper’s advertisement. If you’d like to feel the spook through food, you can try the burger at 10 locations across the US starting October 24, at the price of $4.59!

(via Geek.com)


1

Meet The Japanese Company Behind The Clear Plastic Umbrella

In Japan, the clear plastic umbrella is a staple. This handy companion for the rain can be found in kiosks, drugstores, and supermarkets. Sold yearly in a whopping amount of 120-130 million units, one can tell that these umbrellas are used so often. But did you know that these clear plastic umbrellas were invented over half a century ago? White Rose, one of the few remaining Japanese makers (as China’s cheap disposable ones dominate the market) of the clear brollies invented the clear plastic umbrella. White Rose umbrellas of today are unlike the ones found in convenience stores, Japan Times explained: 

The detail and craftsmanship that goes into a White Rose plastic umbrella, Sudo says, are the result of firsthand insight gathered from decades of trial and error, ever since the company produced its first plastic umbrella in the 1950s.
What cemented White Rose’s image as the go-to manufacturer for high-end plastic umbrellas, however, was when it received a request from the Imperial Household Agency in the 2010s to design an umbrella for Empress Emerita Michiko’s outdoor appointments.
Sudo attributes White Rose’s survival to the popularity of the upscale image its products. A signboard with the words “Purveyor to the Imperial Household Agency” now accompanies pop-up shops White Rose opens in department stores, and it continues to collaborate with other companies to create special-edition umbrellas.
As a family-run business, its production numbers may be limited, but, he says, every year it sells out of all its 12,000 to 13,000 umbrellas made.

image credit: White Rose Co. via Japan Times


1

The Weird Phenomenon of Vivipary

This may look like an entry in a Photoshop contest, but it's not. It's an example of vivipary, in which seeds germinate before their time. Vivipary is natural, but not normal in tomatoes. There are some plants that reproduce this way, but not ones you'd normally find in the produce section.

Fruits contain a hormone that prevents seeds from germinating. Once the fruit dies or the seeds are removed, the seeds are no longer exposed to these chemicals and can germinate freely. These hormones are necessary to allow the fruit to ripen and fall to the ground where conditions are more favorable for the young plant to survive. But sometimes that hormone runs out, and the seed starts germinating. You might have seen it in your tomatoes that are sitting around on the counter for far too long. This can also happen when the environment is warm and wet tricking the seeds into believing that they are in moist soil.

It certainly looks creepy. See examples of vivipary manifesting in more tomatoes, apples, squash, mangos, and more at Amusing Planet. -via TYWKIWDBI 

(Image credit: 420BlazeItBushDid911)


1

One-Man Halloween Medley



If you want to dance the Monster Mash or the Time Warp, here's the music for it! All these movie monsters are played by Peter Hollens, who also did the singing. The medley shifts into high gear toward the end, when the songs all blend together.


1

The Untold Story of the Secret Mission to Seize Nazi Map Data

Here's a World War II story you haven't heard, but would make a great movie in the vein of The Monuments Men or Inglourious Basterds. American engineer and surveyor Major Floyd W. Hough was the leader of a highly-classified military intelligence team with the clout to move freely in the war zone, even though no one knew what they were up to. Each member of HOUGHTEAM was selected for their particular set of skills, which might remind you of a cinematic heist team. They spread across Europe, gathering the spoils of war. They weren't after treasure, but information: maps and important geodetic surveys that took the earth's curvature into account to precisely plot locations. This data was more crucial than ever in waging a war of long-distance air missions. HOUGHTEAM carried 1,800 pounds of cameras and equipment to record captured data in microfilm. In the early years of the war, they mostly stayed behind enemy lines.  

Hough remained busy. When the Belgians requested help microfilming some survey data and secret lists of artillery coordinates, he was happy to oblige—and saw to it that an extra copy was sent to Washington without the Belgians’ knowledge. When the French city of Strasbourg was recaptured by the Allies, his men removed a cache of top-quality German survey equipment before the French had a chance to claim the gear for themselves.

If an obstacle arose, Hough was willing to get creative. After several neutral countries balked at letting Espenshade and Shallenberger search their institutes and libraries, Hough procured letters from the Library of Congress certifying the men as its representatives engaged in bibliographic research. A similar ploy got Shallenberger into the pope’s private library at the Vatican, which was strictly off-limits to members of any military, owing to the Vatican’s status of neutrality.

Finally, by early March, the Allied forces resumed their eastward progress and were poised to cross the Rhine into the German heartland. HOUGHTEAM’s window of opportunity was opening.

It was when the Allied forces began taking German towns that HOUGHTEAM really went into high gear, particularly in areas that would be ceded to the Soviets after the war. Read the exploits of the super-secret intelligence unit in the November issue of Smithsonian.  

(Image source: Library of Congress)


2

Where Our Musical Tastes Our Grounded

Humans like songs that are familiar sounding and a little bit unpredictable, according to a new study published in the neuroscience journal JNeurosci. The study suggests that our musical preferences might be grounded in the way we humans learn.

It’s fun to consider what that might sound like.
A Drake take on “Let it Be”? Ed Sheeran snapping out a nice remix of “White Christmas”? A Taylor Swift update of “I Wanna Dance with Somebody”?
[...]
The study results correspond with insights into how the brain learns best: challenges and new situations of medium complexity provide the most enrichment with the least frustration.

Find out more details over at Cosmos.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)


2

Despite Google Ban, Huawei Able To Sell 67 Million Units in Q3

The global launch of Huawei’s flagship phone, the Mate 30, has been delayed indefinitely thanks to the ban on Huawei from using Google’s services. Inside China, however, the phone has been selling extremely well, as it moved a million units in its first weekend, and reached three million units by the second week.

Those numbers have helped the Chinese tech giant keep up its solid financial figures despite ongoing scrutiny from the U.S. government. In third-quarter financial results released today, Huawei reported total revenue of 610.8 billion yuan ($86.1 billion) and 185 million phones sold, the former a 24.4% over the same nine-month period of 2018, and the latter about on par with last year’s pace.

The company, however, did not specify figures specific to Q3. Instead, it only gave 2019 totals up to September. The special accounting methods suggest that Huawei’s third quarter numbers may have not met the company’s expectations. Ben Sin of Forbes writes:

After doing some math using numbers from Q1 and H1 results, we can deduce that Huawei sold 67 million phones in Q3, which is a jump from Q2’s 59 million. These figures include all Huawei and Honor handsets, so they include budget phones like Honor 9X all the way up to the flagship Mate 30 Pro. But it is likely the Mate 30’s smashing success in China that is driving the bulk of the growth. Huawei declined to break down how much of the 67 million units were sold in China, but if I were to venture a guess, I’d say most, as the lack of Google apps is a major dealbreaker for consumers in Europe, Singapore, and well, everywhere outside of China.

I think it’s still quite a feat for a company to be able to still millions of phones despite the backlash. What do you think?

(Image Credit: EsaRiutta/ Pixabay)


2

Using Bots in Instagram: A Desperate Move?

Social networking sites sure have their own domain. Facebook is for those lengthy political rants.Twitter, on the other hand, is for arguments and professional brags. Finally, there is Instagram, for vacation photos.

Instagram stories, however, are a small oasis. While your friends might post their most polished photos or flattering selfies with thoughtful captions to their grids, their stories are a glimpse into their actual everyday: a car they saw with a horrible custom plate, screenshots of a funny text conversation, messy karaoke videos.

The result is a more intimate feel with your friends. Aside from this, by showing you the users who watched your story and giving you the power to block them, Instagram gives you the fantasy that you have some sort of control over your content, and over who makes up your audience.

It’s a fun exercise in narcissism, too; a high-viewer account suggests importance, and it’s easy to convince yourself that views from particular people—a new acquaintance, an ex—mean something.

Jane C. Hu is a small-time Instagrammer. Usually, her stories are viewed by her mother-in-law, her friends, and those she knows from school and work. That changed earlier this year, however.

Strangers were viewing my story. Intrigued, I clicked on each profile to see if we had mutual friends or interests, but mostly we didn’t. It was unclear why an “actor/singer/model” named Jonathan with 5,000 followers would watch videos of my dog, or how a granite countertop company in Marshfield, Massachusetts—a town I’ve never visited—even found my account.

Turns out, the possible culprit for this are bots.

Find out more about this over at Slate.

What are your thoughts about this one?

(Image Credit: ElisaRiva/ Pixabay)


3

Soda Taxes: Will They Work?

Cloyingly sweet and nutritionally empty. Those are just some words that we can use when describing soda.

Sodas have now become increasingly subject to taxation. This started in 2015 on Berkeley, California. Now, over 35 countries, as well as 7 cities in the U.S., impose a tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. Several more places are also considering the same thing.

Public health researchers and organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics see these taxes as low-hanging fruit in the battle against obesity and the health problems such as diabetes that often come with it. In the United States, nearly 40 percent of adults are obese, which adds $147 billion to the nation’s annual healthcare spending, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The problem is complex, but the widespread consumption of foods packed with added sugars — which add calories but no essential nutrients — plays a major role, and beverages account for nearly half the added sugar in the American diet.

The question is: will taxation work?

Find out more about this topic over at Discover.

(Image Credit: evelynlo/ Pixabay)


2

Machines Can Read Better Than Humans, But Can They Understand?

Sam Bowman was a computational linguist at New York University. In the fall of 2017, Bowman figured out that computers were not very good at understanding the written word. While they had become competent in showing understanding in certain narrow domains, like automatic translation and determining if a sentence sounds “nice” or “mean”, Bowman was not yet satisfied, and he made a test. He wanted measurable evidence of the genuine article: a genuine, human-style reading comprehension in English.

In an April 2018 paper coauthored with collaborators from the University of Washington and DeepMind, the Google-owned artificial intelligence company, Bowman introduced a battery of nine reading-comprehension tasks for computers called GLUE (General Language Understanding Evaluation). The test was designed as “a fairly representative sample of what the research community thought were interesting challenges,” said Bowman, but also “pretty straightforward for humans.” For example, one task asks whether a sentence is true based on information offered in a preceding sentence. If you can tell that “President Trump landed in Iraq for the start of a seven-day visit” implies that “President Trump is on an overseas visit,” you’ve just passed.
The machines bombed. Even state-of-the-art neural networks scored no higher than 69 out of 100 across all nine tasks: a D-plus, in letter grade terms. Bowman and his coauthors weren’t surprised. Neural networks — layers of computational connections built in a crude approximation of how neurons communicate within mammalian brains — had shown promise in the field of “natural language processing” (NLP), but the researchers weren’t convinced that these systems were learning anything substantial about language itself. And GLUE seemed to prove it. “These early results indicate that solving GLUE is beyond the capabilities of current models and methods,” Bowman and his coauthors wrote.

But that was not the end of it. In October 2018, Google introduced a new method which scored a GLUE score of 80.5. It was BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers). In just a span of six months, the machines have jumped from a D-plus to a B-minus.

Still, the question lingers: can these machines understand? Or is is just getting better at gaming our systems?

More about this over at Quanta Magazine.

(Image Credit: Pixabay)


3

Rihanna Is From Jamaica, Not From Barbados, Jamaican Netizens Campaign

Rihanna is well-known as a celebrity from Barbados. She has an official ambassador position, even! But Jamaican Twitter has a different idea on the famous star’s place of origin. Since the rest of the world is so ignorant about the Caribbean, except that Rihanna’s from there, Jamaicans can tell the world that Rihanna is actually from Jamaica, and the world wouldn’t know better. 

 

This joke has set fire to the Twitter campaign, #RihannaIsJamaican which featured participants who have constructed Jamaican Rihanna’s entire biography, edited her Wikipedia page, and edited photoshopped versions of her passport and Jamaican currency. 

(via Paper)

image credit: via wikimedia commons


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