March 31, 2020


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"Personalized news and talk radio for your commute, workout and on-the-go."

Free, the way we like it.

Made with love by Elliot Loh.

March 31, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunu Band: Human Echolocation

From the Economist's 1843 magazine:

The Sunu Band is a silicone strap roughly the size of a fitness tracker that emits ultrasound waves.

It senses how far away objects are by measuring how quickly these waves bounce against them and return.

The user receives this information through vibrations: the strap buzzes more the closer objects are.

The band can detect objects the size of a coin from up to 16 feet away.

The inventor, Fernando Albertorio, a sight-impaired entrepreneur based in the U.S., hopes soon to link the device up with Google Maps data and provide vibration-based directions.

For the estimated 285 million visually impaired people worldwide, Sunu offers greater independence.



March 31, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

It doesn't get any better than this

March 31, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

BehindTheMedspeak: Actually, there's no ventilator shortage — Part 2

Yesterday's Part 1 offered a simple low-tech solution to the acute shortage of mechanical ventilators for patients requiring controlled ventilation.

A reader demurred:


An Arab proverb applies:

The dogs bark, and the caravan moves on.

Last night reader Rocketboy_X commented thus:

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I had my Crack Research Team©® drill down and sure enough, they discovered that New York's Governor Cuomo is thinking along exactly the same lines as me.

From a March 28 CNBC story:






Note to Governor Cuomo: Perfect is the enemy of good (enough).

I would add that it doesn't require being in the National Guard to squeeze an breathing bag 10x/minute: as I noted yesterday, anyone who can make a fist can do it.

With an experienced nurse, respiratory therapist, or doctor directing, there's no reason why a bank of Ambu bags, protected and separated from intubated patients by plexiglass dividers, couldn't deliver artificial respiration 24/7 to multiple intubated Covid-19 patients in the event machines aren't available.

This just in two hours ago:

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March 31, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Pepperoni Pizza T-Shirt

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From time to time I get an email from a reader asking where they can get a cool T-shirt like the one I'm wearing in my YouTube channel profile pic (top).

Your wish is my demand — wait a sec... never mind.

If you can't be me, you can be like me.

Which is plenty close enough, trust me on this.



March 31, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1)

March 30, 2020

How to fold the perfect paper plane

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You've got plenty of time to practice.

From Kathryn Nave's piece in Wired UK:

On February 26, 2012 at California's McClellan Air Force Base, TV producer John Collins smashed the record for the longest paper-plane flight.

Here's how to build a rival to his  227-foot record.

How it works

The key is the dihedral angle, where the wings leave the plane's body.

"Tilted-up wings increase stability," Collins explains,"but add drag."

You want no dihedral at launch, when speed reduces the need for stability, and an upwards angle as the plane loses speed.

As the plane slows, the air adheres further back along the wings.

"I put a flat dihedral at the nose, then raked it up further back," Collins says. "The plane has no dihedral at first, but this increases as it reduces speed."

Guinness World Record rules allow one 25mm x 30mm piece of Scotch tape: cut it into pieces and use sparingly.

First folds

"Take the top-right corner of the page and fold the top edge to the left side. Unfold and repeat for the left corner for an X crease," Collins says.

These will be the wings' leading edges.

"Use a credit card to make the creases sharp."

Take the top right corner of the page and fold down to line the side up with the diagonal crease.

Repeat on the left.

"Leave 1.5mm between the edge of the page and the crease."

Fix the wings

To make the wings, start a crease close to the nose.

"Don't line up the front of the wing with the bottom of the fuselage," Collins says. "Pull it down so that the raw edge towards the back of the wing — not the wing itself — touches the corner at the back of the fuselage. That gives more wing and less fuselage."

You should see an increased dihedral angle towards the rear — emphasize this while keeping it flat at the front.

Add fuselage

Fold the pointed top of the page straight down from the point where the original diagonals cross.

"The crease lines across the top of the folded-down layer should line up with the folded-in edges of the paper beneath," Collins says.

Fold in the top sides of the paper along these edge and crease lines — the two flaps should meet exactly in the middle.

Fold the whole plane in half down this central line.

Throw smarter

Success is more about technique than force, says Collins.

"Start off gentle and keep adding velocity until you get the speed you want."

Adjust the plane after each flight, to fine-tune performance.

"If your plane is turning left, bend the back of the plane to the right and vice versa. To get it to go up more, bend up the back of the plane. You'd be amazed how much difference a tiny adjustment makes."

March 30, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


March 30, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Rings of Earth — Kim Warp

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March 30, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

BehindTheMedspeak: Actually, there's no ventilator shortage

Long story short: a ventilator is simply a mechanical device for inflating the lungs via an endotracheal tube.

A person can do it just as well, trust me on this: I did it for 38 years in operating rooms, x-ray and CT suites, outpatient clinics, doctor's offices, and Code Blues.

Remember early computers?

They were women, not machines: 

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Anyone who can make a fist can squeeze a ventilator bag 10 times/minute. 

That's the exact equivalent of a ventilator, but even better: if the person being ventilated can still breathe on their own to any extent, you can assist them by squeezing the bag, whereas a ventilator starts alarming.

March 30, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)

Misfortune Cookies


From websites:

A new, dark take on fortune cookies.

These black cookies match the pitch black humor of the "misfortunes" inside.

Individually packed to ensure the darkness inside can't escape.


Beware: these cookies bite back.

Each multipack is boxed to protect against crushing, unlike the soul crushing fortunes found inside.

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Three cookies for $9.99.

March 30, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 29, 2020

Rolling Ants

From the New York Times:

These Ants Have a Revolutionary Escape Strategy

Why reinvent the wheel when you can become it?

Ants are bristling with defense weaponry.

Different species might sting their enemies, bite them with powerful jaws or shoot them with jets of formic acid.

Some even explode.

But Myrmecina graminicola — an ant about the size of a sesame seed — doesn't want to get into all that.

According to research published earlier this month in Scientific Reports, if one of these ants encounters danger while it's on a slope, it makes a practical choice: It tucks itself into a little ball and rolls away.

It is the only ant known to move in this way, and one of few rollers in the animal kingdom over all, said Donato Grasso, the paper's lead author and an ant ethologist at the University of Parma in Italy.

Dr. Grasso and his colleagues first spotted this unique behavior while scanning the forest floor during a trip to one of their field sites in Fornoli, Italy. (Many entomology discoveries are made this way: "When you are a biologist interested in insects, it is impossible not to look at the ground," Dr. Grasso said.)

The team found a few colonies of M. graminicola, which are so small and elusive they often go unnoticed.

When the insects were menaced by spiders and other ants, "they curled their bodies and disappeared" into the leaf litter, Dr. Grasso said. "They rolled away."

The research team decided to take some of the ants back to the lab.

It was difficult to find them, and when the researchers picked the ants up, they would sometimes somersault out of their hands.

But eventually, they caught some living inside fallen tree galls.

In the lab, the researchers used slow motion video to tease out the ants' choreography.

Roughly: A ready-to-roll ant tucks in its head and pulls its abdomen forward to form a ball.

It then lifts its legs up and tips itself forward to rest on its mandibles and antennae, which balance it like arms, Dr. Grasso said.

A final push with the hind legs, and it's off.

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On smoother surfaces like stones and leaves, the ants traveled at about 15 inches per second — about 80 times faster than their average walking speed.

They could move themselves about 6 inches, or about 50 body-lengths.

Such a distance is "pretty impressive," and shows that the ants' rolling form must be very efficient, said Nicholas Gravish, an engineer who studies ant locomotion at the University of California, San Diego and was not involved in the new research.

Dr. Grasso's team also set out to learn exactly what prompts the ants to make this unique exit.

They placed the ants on increasingly steep gradations, from zero degree all the way up to 90.

As the ants walked the slopes, the researchers exposed them to stressful stimuli.

The ants modulated their reactions depending on the context.

If they were on a relatively flat surface when the researchers bothered them, they simply froze.

But once the slope reached 10 degrees, some of the ants started to tumble away.

And at inclines above 25 degrees — about as steep as a beginner-level ski trail — all the ants tucked and rolled.

These and other tests show that "these ants behave this way only in specific circumstances," and that rolling wasn't a byproduct of other defenses like curling into a ball, Dr. Grasso said.

While humans enjoy assisted rolling, it is rare that other animals take part.

There are spiders that cartwheel across the desert, and some salamanders back-flip down boulders.

If you give a mother-of-pearl moth caterpillar a good poke, it will spin away like a little green coin.

But in nature, rolling is not nearly as popular a tactic as, say, running away.

It's also high-impact, which could be "catastrophic to larger animals," said Glenna Clifton, a scientist in Dr. Gravish's lab.

But if you can pull it off, it is effective.

In a later experiment, the researchers exposed M. graminicola to one of its enemies, a different ant species.

On flat ground, the M. graminicola casualty rate was 63 percent.

But when they tussled on a slope, it dropped to 10 percent.

"Fighting is not always the best way to survive," Dr. Grasso said. "Sometimes the best way is to escape."


Below, the abstract of the paper.

Rolling away: a novel context-dependent escape behavior discovered in ants

For animals facing dangers, the best option to optimize costs and benefits of defense sometimes may be avoidance. Here we report the discovery of a peculiar strategy adopted by Myrmecina graminicola, a cryptic ant living in forest floor. Experiments showed that when disturbed these ants respond with immobility. However, upon perceiving disturbance but under specific inclinations of the substrate, they shift to an active escaping strategy: rolling away. This is a context-dependent behavior adopted only in appropriate circumstances. During rolling, the ants assume a ball-like shape using antennae and hind legs to obtain an active movement along a stable trajectory. Finally, we assessed the adaptive value of this strategy measuring its effectiveness in defense against enemies. This is the first example of locomotion by rolling discovered in ants and one of the very few among animals, offering opportunities for multidisciplinary research on the adaptations and biomechanics underlying it.

March 29, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thinking Red — Amy Clampitt

Swamp maples' unmasked sugars'
underhue, intense as madder,
alizarin or cochineal (a dyestuff

steamed from heaped corpses of an insect
native to Mexico: such the odd lore
of commerce in the exotic a bemused

E. Dickinson took note of): to
grub it out, the sense of it, down
to the madder's fraying final foothold,

the capillaries' threadily
untidy two–way form of discourse;
T. Hardy's ruddleman trundling

his dyeload of ocher; or
the bog–dwelling sanguinary
pitcher plant whose drowning dens

decoct a summer soup of insects
whose mainstay in turn is gore:
the clotted winter melancholy

of the sumac; hawthorn encrimsoned,
dogwood beaded the adorning
pigment of survival; the eyeball's globed,

dendritic riddle: to unencode
the hematite, the iron in the granite,
the carmine in the carapace, one has

to try to think in wavelengths. Light
has, we're told—I have it from G.
Wald—certain properties of waves

but also of particles. That's very
strange: G. Wald again.
Mind stuff, he tells us: physical

reality is mind stuff. In creatures
that puzzle over what it is, he says,
the universe begins to know itself.

Is this good news? I hope so. It's
that holdout, put–upon, reluctant
red (I think) that raises half a doubt.


March 29, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

County-by-County Social Distancing Map of the U.S.

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From the Washington Post:

If you have a smartphone, you're probably contributing to a massive coronavirus surveillance system.

And it's revealing where Americans have — and haven't — been practicing social distancing.

On Tuesday, a company called Unacast that collects and analyzes phone GPS location data launched a "Social Distancing Scoreboard" that grades, county by county, which residents are changing behavior at the urging of health officials.

It uses the reduction in the total distance we travel as a rough index for whether we're staying put at home.

Comparing the nation’s mass movements from March 20 to an average Friday, Washington, D.C., gets an A, while Wyoming as a whole earns an F.

How do they know that?

Efforts to track public health during the coronavirus pandemic are a reminder of the many ways phones reveal our personal lives, both as individuals and in the aggregate.

Unacast's location data comes from games, shopping and utility apps that tens of millions of Americans have installed on their phones — information the company normally analyzes for retailers, real estate firms and marketers.

It's part of a shadowy world of location tracking that consumers often have little idea is going on.

There's no evidence that the U.S. government is using phones to enforce stay-at-home orders or track patients.

But privacy is often the first civil right on the chopping block when public health and national security are at risk.

Getting the balance right is hard.

South Korea has used an app to track tens of thousands of quarantined people whose phones would alert authorities if they left home.

Unacast, a small start-up, assigns letter grades to counties and states based on how much residents have changed their movements on a specific date compared to what's typical on that day of the week.

If many people in an area used to commute daily to work but now are leaving the house only for visits to the grocery store, the data would show a big reduction in travel distance.

The Unacast maps are searchable and will be updated daily. 

Unacast assigned an A grade to places that show at least a 40 percent decrease in average distance traveled.

On March 20, the first day in its database, the states as a whole that earned an A included Alaska, Massachusetts, Nevada and Vermont.

Big reductions in movement are also visible in areas hit hard by the virus, such as New York City (a 57 percent change) and California’s Santa Clara county (a 54 percent change).

Unacast deemed anything less than a 10 percent change an F: Only Wyoming earned that grade.

Albemarle County in Virginia,


where I live,


gets a gold star.

March 29, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


March 29, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)



From the website:

Snapperz is a simple fidget toy that will suck you in... literally.

The silicone square contains two suction cups that oppose each other.

Give it a squeeze and they'll stick together.

Release your grip, and they'll pop apart, making a superb snapping sound.

The delightfully simple toy can be popped again and again as you find yourself lured in by the siren call of the satisfying snap.

2.25" x 2.25" x 0.75".

Note: Because we receive this item in an assortment of colors, we must sell them randomly. You'll receive purple, light blue, royal blue, magenta, lime, or orange.

Still not convinced?


the video.


March 29, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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