Thursday, November 7, 2019


Ants can help us with our commutes

Ants  are exceptionally talented at avoiding traffic jams, according to new  research. On their way to and from food sources, colonies of worker ants  know to slow their speed, take alternate routes and even block other  ants from proceeding to keep traffic moving. Why can’t humans do the  same? Unlike ants, humans driving to work operate based on  self-interest, rather than the interest of an entire colony.  Understanding how ants work together may prove useful to those  developing autonomous vehicles that can coordinate in traffic. (eLife)

3D-printed skin, now with blood cells

Researchers  at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Yale have developed a method to  print skin cells that can support blood vessels, potentially  eliminating the need for using grafts from a patient’s own body. Current  3D-printed skin grafts lack the ability to let blood flow through them,  so they can only serve as temporary bandages. The researchers mixed  several different kinds of cells including pericyte and endothelial  cells, which reside inside blood vessels to create a bio-ink that can  print skin grafts that may one day serve as permanent grafts. (New Atlas)

A plane that can land all by itself

Avionics  firm Garmin and airplane manufacturers Cirrus and Piper have developed  an autonomous landing system that’s simple enough to be used by  non-pilots. In an emergency, passengers push one big red button, which  triggers the plane’s Safe Return Emergency Autoland System. The plane  identifies the nearest airport, develops a safe flight path, notifies  air traffic control and completes its landing, all on its own. Such tech  may help pave the way for autonomous air taxis in the coming years. (Wired)

30% of sites are ‘fingerprinting’ us

We  know Big Brother is watching our online activity, but is it possible  it’s getting worse? Over a hundred of the most visited websites are “fingerprinting”  their visitors, stealthily collecting information about your computer  to create a unique picture of your device. While the data can help  websites bolster security and block harmful bots, it’s often collected  without user control or consent. The “digital strip search” threatens users’ anonymity, and it’s a growing threat in the online world. (Washington Post)

Should big cities get bigger?

In  recent decades, skilled workers in the U.S. have flocked to the  nation’s larger metropolitan hubs, leaving many smaller cities and towns  at a disadvantage. But instead of fighting the trend, economists from  Princeton and the Federal Reserve in Richmond argue it may be best to  let the trend continue. Highly skilled workers, those who engage in “cognitive non-routine”  tasks (problem-solving, analysis, etc.), are especially productive when  they’re close to each other. Smaller regions may be better off by  attracting workers with different skills, the researchers suggest. (Bloomberg)

$210M of meth found hidden in Sriracha hot sauce bottles shipped from US, Australian police say

Authorities  in Sydney, Australia, discovered 400 kilograms of methamphetamine  hidden in hot sauce bottles at a freight depot October 15th, New South  Wales. The drugs, which were shipped from the United States, were worth  about $210 million in the United States. Police so far have made four  arrests in the case. Authorities charged three of the suspects,  including a 36-year-old man from Plumpton and two men, ages 30 and 34,  from Victoria, of attempting “to possess a commercial quantity unlawful import: border-controlled drug and large commercial drug supply,”  police said in a news release. The fourth suspect, a 45-year-old man,  is accused of possessing identity information to commit an indictable  offense. Investigators are trying to identify more suspects linked to  what they believe is a network of smugglers. (Reuters)

Home, sweet, never-leaving home

Homeowners  across the U.S. are staying put longer than ever before, on average 13  years, as baby boomers increasingly choose not to downsize, according to  recent data from Redfin. When owners shy away from getting bigger homes  or, on the flip side, downsizing when children leave the nest, it can  create a logjam of housing inventory and is a likely cause of lagging  home sales. The inventory of homes for sale is near its lowest in 37  years. (The Wall Street Journal)


Oklahoma lawmakers file bill to create Donald Trump highway

Two  Republican state senators have written a bill to rename a portion of  the world-renowned Route 66 highway in northeastern Oklahoma the  President Donald J. Trump Highway. Senators Nathan Dahm of Broken Arrow  and Marty Quinn of Claremore announced their plans to introduce the  bill. The bill would rename a roughly 13-mile stretch of Route 66 from  the town of Miami extending north and east through the town of Commerce  to Industrial Parkway in Ottawa County. The lawmakers say the bill will  direct that no taxpayer money be used to pay for signage. Instead, they  say the Senate and House authors and co-authors will be required to  provide the money needed for the cost of the sign. (KTUL)


Obesity tends to be an epidemic in the United States, and it continues to be a problem in some  states

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven out of every 10 U.S. adults over the age of 20 are either overweight or obese. In all, the United States spends nearly $200 billion in annual health care costs related to obesity. While it continues to be a big problem across the country, experts say the obesity epidemic is worse in some states. Researchers compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 29 key metrics including share of obese and overweight population, sugary beverage consumption among adolescents, and obesity-related health care costs. The rankings of the ‘Fattest States in America‘ is as follows:

  1. Mississippi
  2. West Virginia
  3. Kentucky
  4. Tennessee
  5. Alabama
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Louisiana
  8. Arkansas
  9. Delaware
  10. Ohio


A man who told police he stole an electric scooter from a Walmart parking lot because he was too drunk to drive his vehicle to a nearby bar now faces felony charges related to the theft

A man in Houma, Louisanna got busted by a Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office deputy after the electric scooter was spotted between two cars outside a bar more than half a mile from the Walmart around 12:30 a.m. on November 3rd. The officer spoke to the bar’s security guard, who identified 32-year-old man who had arrived on the Walmart scooter. The man told the officer he didn’t want to drive his own vehicle to the bar because he was afraid he would get a DWI, according to police. Instead, he was arrested and charged with unauthorized use of a moveable, which is a felony. His bond was set at $2,500. (WGNO)


Sit back and pour yourself a generous glass of wine

New  research finds that most Americans (60%) enjoy at least the occasional  glass of wine. About one-third (34%) drink wine at least once a month,  though Millennials (46%) and those who live in urban areas (43%) are  especially likely to consume wine this often.  Red wine (69%) is the  most popular among wine-drinking adults, though majorities also say they  like white wine (65%) or rosé (55%). Among wine drinkers, the most  popular kind of reds are Merlot (19%), cabernet sauvignon (18%), pinot  noir (12%) and Zinfandel (12%). As for the white wine list:

  • Moscato (23%) tends to be the most popular pick,
  • Chardonnay (17%),
  • Riesling (14%),
  • Pinot Grigio/Gris (13%),
  • and Sauvignon blanc (11%)

When  it comes to rosé wines, about one in five (19%) say they don’t have a  preference. But Zinfandel rosé tends to be the most popular, with 33  percent of rosé-drinkers claiming it as their favorite type. But for most Americans, the varietal isn’t the most important thing when it comes to choosing wine:

  •  Two-thirds (66%) of wine-drinking Americans say that when they’re  purchasing a bottle, price is one of the most important factors. 
  • More  than one-third (36%) say that the brand is important, while 24 percent  say the alcohol percentage is something they care about.
  • Just  over one in five (21%) say that the reviews are one of the top three  factors they care about when making a wine purchase, while 16% say the  same about the bottle/label design. 

With  cost being one of the most important factors among wine-drinkers,  Americans are looking to spend less than $20 when they buy a bottle of  wine:

  • One-quarter (24%) say they typically aim to spend less than $10 when buying a bottle of wine
  • A plurality (44%) aim to spend between $11 and $20, 
  • while just 23 percent of wine drinkers say they typically aim to spend more than $20. 

One  potential reason Americans may look to less expensive wines: most don’t  believe they personally can tell the difference between expensive and  inexpensive wines. (YouGov)

Who’s Being Bad On The Internet?

China  was again ranked the worst among governments for increased exploitation  of the internet for social control and political purposes, according to  a report released by Freedom House last Monday (11/4). “China is the world’s worst abuser of internet freedom for the fourth consecutive year,”  the human rights group said in its latest annual report on internet  freedom. The report surveyed 65 countries and concluded that 33 of them  had an overall decline in their internet freedom score compared to a  year earlier. The score is assessed based on factors including obstacles  to internet access in that country, limitations set on content, and  user rights violations. The report also noted that at least 40 countries  possessed advanced social media surveillance programs, including China.  China received a total score of 10 out of 100, 2 points lower than a  year ago. In addition, China is actively developing and exporting social  media surveillance tools. (Epoch Times)

A  newly introduced federal bill seeks to heighten security at American  schools by encouraging districts to adopt social media monitoring  programs

The  controversial practice, which uses algorithms to crawl and index public  profiles of popular sites like Twitter and Facebook, has grown in  popularity over the last several years, as administrators look to new  and emergent technologies to heighten school safety — and potentially  head off the next mass shooting. Now the Restoring, Enhancing, Securing,  and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts Act or RESPONSE Act,  introduced by Texas Senator John Cornyn, advocates for numerous policies  aimed at increasing school security, including a “Children’s Internet Protection” amendment that encourages districts to invest in programs that detect “online activities of minors who are at risk of committing self-harm or extreme violence against others.” Under the bill, almost all federally funded schools would be required to install software of this kind. (Cornyn)


A longtime Jasper, Texas, teacher was arrested after being accused of forcing a kindergarten student to eat his own feces

A  Jasper County grand jury indicted 67-year-old woman after she was  accused of making a child eat his own feces in September. The teacher at  Few Primary School in Jasper was charged with one Class A misdemeanor  count of official oppression. The indictment said that she “did then  and there intentionally subject E.J. to mistreatment that the defendant  knew was unlawful, namely causing E.J. to eat his own feces, and the  defendant was then and there acting under the color of her employment as  an educator.” The teacher was arraigned and her bond was set at $10,000. “The  alleged incident was reported to campus administrators on the day of  the incident and the district immediately placed the teacher on  administrative leave and informed the Jasper Police Department and Child  Protective Services,” Jasper ISD Superintendent said, according to the station. (KBMT)

Make Thirsty Thursday Happen With:

  • Employee Brotherhood Day
  • International Merlot Day
  • National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day
  • National Canine Lymphoma Awareness Day
  • National Men Make Dinner Day (First Thursday)
  • Notary Public Day
  • Read for The Record Day
  • Stout Day (First  Thursday)

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