Links for August 2022


“Historically, the dinkus was often represented as an asterism, though this use has fallen out of favor and is now nearly obsolete.”
 

Nutshell, Nicky Case’s new tool to make “expandable, embeddable explanations”, is out now!

Hearing aids will soon be available without a prescription. This is both a common-sense reform we’re glad to see, and movement towards one of our predictions for 2050.

Eukaryote Writes Blog reviews the book Barriers to Bioweapons (an old review actually, from 2017). Among many other things: “​​the book also relays an anecdote from Shoko Ashara, the head of the Aum Shinrikyo cult, who after its bioterrorism project failure ‘speculat[ed] that U.S. assessments of the risk of biological terrorism were designed to mislead terrorist groups into pursuing such weapons.’”

Megalovania, called by some “the most infamous song off of the soundtrack” of the hit indie game Undertale, being performed in front of the Pope.

“We present an ablation study and results demonstrating how our method outperforms the current state-of-the-art on nine text games, including the popular game, Zork, where, for the first time, a learning agent gets past the bottleneck where the player is eaten by a Grue.” (h/t davidad)

Did you know you can just rent a whole climate-controlled MRI machine in a trailer? It ain’t cheap, though.

We want to look into this more, but it’s interesting that Stephan Guyenet thinks that “psychological treatment for chronic back pain” might be effective.

Possible weird externalities: ”Car seats prevent around 57 deaths of children a year, but have lead to around 8,000 fewer births per year.”  

Drought conditions in Europe are revealing ancient “Hungersteine”—or “Hunger Stones”—markers of previous times of drought and famine. 

Speaking of which, this anecdote from reflections on the extraordinary power of slow water:

The skill of these once ubiquitous mammals has been recognized by U.S. authorities, who on various occasions in the past parachuted beavers into wilderness areas to restore watersheds.

The U.K. is also conducting controlled trials using the animals to slow water along river systems and prevent flooding, Gies said, but some folks aren’t waiting for official outcomes. 

“Some people have been releasing wild beavers illegally. Guerrilla beavering, if you will, because of their ability to heal ecosystems.”

That’s some good illegalism.

The comment from user left_the_center on this NY Mag piece — “‘Quiet quitting’, ‘cancel culture’, ‘identity politics’ – these are all press-ready phrases designed to stir up disingenuous debates that center responsibility for bad systems on the people subject to those systems.” Whether or not you agree with the conclusion, it highlights how so much culture war is based around attempts to reframe things without drawing attention to the reframing.

Rambling essay on don’t read the news / talk about risk in order to act, don’t just complain / Pets.com was good, actually / “modern especially western societies is multiple generations of people not asking themselves if things are good or bad and instead asking if things are legal or illegal.” Roundabout in places but a good attempt to point at some pretty common brainworms.

Étienne Fortier-Dubois on Prompt Engineering for Humans. A really nice roundup of some great old writing techniques.

A diagnostic and treatment taxonomy of burnout from Emmett Shear. 

Rachel B. (@Procraftinate) on twitter pointed us to this psychiatrist claiming that moderately high doses of zinc (“15 mg twice per day for adolescents, and up to 30 mg twice per day for adults”) is an effective treatment for anorexia. We suspect that anorexia is a paradoxical reaction to whatever contaminant(s) cause obesity, so we’ve been looking into it more. We found some studies suggesting that zinc can protect against the negative side-effects of lithium exposure, with hints of some other relationships (all in rats, naturally). Curious to know what people think or if this suggests any more connections. FWIW, we asked a physician we know who said, “this article has a bit of a fishy vibe imo. Specifically, I find it really irritating to read because it’s awfully sloppy.”

For the people who are still worried about their gains on the potato diet: New study illustrates that potato protein ingestion strongly increases muscle protein synthesis rates at rest and during recovery from exercise (h/t Joey No Floors Freshwater, h/t Smack_Check)

Vampire Survivors Success: An opportunity in the Steam marketplace. The essay is theoretically about games, but the design lessons are good in general – “Ryanair has figured out that the only thing people really, truly, care about is getting from one spot to the next safely and cheaply. People complain about the lack of amenities but in reality, passengers actually care more about the price. That is why Ryanair focuses EVERYTHING they have on those things: getting people to where they need to go safely, cheaply, and on time. To hell with everything else. “

Learn piano in AR. Piano Hero. Honestly surprised that it’s taken this long.

The Truth About Pig Toilets In Ancient China. That truth seems to be “yes, they pooped on the pigs.”

We haven’t confirmed any of these claims, but check out this thread on the history of the atomic bomb. “The timing of the bombs was not due to any strategic or political calculus. It came down to the weather — an operational choice. The people on Tinian dropped a second bomb because they had a second bomb ready to go, and because their strike order was open-ended. … many of the military-operational types didn’t think one or two bombs would cause Japan to surrender anyway … General Marshall was having his people think about how to use the bombs in conjunction with an invasion — imagining a world in which they might have an atomic bomb to use every 10 days or so … they had a pipeline that they thought could make 3.5 atomic bombs per month, and the military wanted to use them.”

Where do recommended daily values for vitamins and minerals come from? This is something we hope to learn more about, but sometimes at least, the RDAs appear to be entirely made up. (h/t Swapnil Hiremath, MD

The US Air Force built a fake town in the middle of the Arizona desert to practice bombing, and they named it “Yodaville”. Surprisingly this town does not seem to have been named after the Star Wars character — it was named after the call sign of the guy who had the idea of making a fake bombing-target town in the first place, though his call sign presumably came from the Star Wars character.

Large pieces of space junk land in a field in Australia. “I think it’s a concern it’s just fallen out of the sky,” says a local. “If it landed on your house it would make a hell of a mess.” Also: “I’m a farmer from Dalgety, what am I going to say to NASA?” 

Gods of Salt — Uh, claims? About what you would expect from a theory of history posted on DeviantArt, but a pretty good read nonetheless.

Ikea’s Blåhaj Shark Comes To Life To Sell Tiny Apartments In Tokyo

4 thoughts on “Links for August 2022

  1. The “hunger stone” tweet is one of the fakest things I’ve seen – the particular photo attached is from 2015, this stones comes out of the water regularly. Water levels are probably not very comparable to 1616 as the river itself changed and a sizable hydroelectric plant was built upstream from that site since 1616.

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  2. bflytle says:

    As far as I can tell, Alex Wellerstein is a respected historian who is an expert in this field. His blog is called Restricted Data, and it is excellent. He also has a book and was the guy who made the atomic bomb map tool, Nukemap.

    Like

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