Friday, March 26, 2021

Should you take a ‘workcation’?

With the proliferation of work from anywhere, it’s getting harder to unplug from the job. For many, the solution is a “workcation”, working while on vacation, with 74% of remote workers saying they’d consider it, per a Harris Poll. Some who have done it say it’s a good way to boost morale and performance, but experts warn it’s a slippery slope. American workers already underuse vacation days, and with many working longer hours amid the pandemic, workcations could drastically worsen burnout. (Axios)


Gym owner giving free memberships to those who don’t get vaccinated

In light of popular doughnut shop Krispy Kreme offering free doughnuts to those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine, one gym owner is doing the opposite. The man, who says he is the co-owner of The Atilis Gym, located in Bellmawr, New Jersey had a different proposal: free memberships for everybody who has not been vaccinated. He wrote on his Twitter: “In light of @krispykreme giving free donuts for receiving the CVD shot, here at @TheAtilisGym we are giving out free memberships to all who don’t get vaccinated. We believe in health – the real way – exercise, good diet, plenty of Vitamin D, Zinc, and an environment to destress.” Twitter users didn’t waste time commenting on Smith’s proposal with mixed reactions. Some slammed Smith’s decision. Others were happy to see such a proposal and shot back at everyone who disagreed. The man says he believes in health “the real way”, which as he puts it includes exercise, a good diet, and an environment to destress. (Ian Smith Fitness Twitter)


Virginia abolishes the death penalty, becoming first southern state to end capital punishment

Virginia became the 23rd state to abolish the death penalty after Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation that would end the use of capital punishment in the commonwealth. “There is no place today for the death penalty in this commonwealth, in the South, or in this nation,” Governor Northam said in a speech before he signed the bill. He called capital punishment “fundamentally flawed” and noted that it was disproportionately levied against Black people. Over Virginia’s 400-year history, the commonwealth has executed more than 1,300 people, more than any other state, Governor Northam said. Virginia will become the first state of the former Confederacy to abolish the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. (CBS News)


Pepsi’s newest flavor has Peeps in it

Pepsi and Peeps are collaborating on a new drink that combines the two extra-sweet flavors, the companies announced. The new cola, dubbed “Pepsi x Peeps,” mixes the taste of a Pepsi with the “pillowy-soft and sweet” marshmallow flavor of Peeps. That makes it the “ideal accessory and thirst quencher for springtime,” according to the companies. It’s the first time Pepsi has used marshmallow in its cola. Pepsi often uses seasonal flavors to generate excitement for its brand. Last winter, the brand released hot chocolate and apple pie-flavored Pepsi drinks to celebrate the holidays. However, Peeps fans might be disappointed they can’t buy the new flavor. Instead, Pepsi is giving away 3,000 packages through its #HangingWithMyPEEPS contest. Each winner, which uses that hashtag and tags Pepsi on Instagram and Twitter showing their spring celebrations, will receive a package containing three 7.5-ounce mini-cans in bright yellow, pink and blue colors. (CNN)


False memories may be reversed without affecting accurate recollection by simply raising a patient’s awareness about the possibility of implanted memories

This study is the first to show autobiographical false memories can be undone. The study, by researchers from the University of Portsmouth, UK, and the Universities of Hagen and Mainz, Germany, highlights techniques that can correct false recollections without damaging true memories. There is plenty of psychological research which shows that memories are often reconstructed and therefore fallible and malleable. However, this is the first time research has shown that false memories of autobiographical events can be undone. Studying how memories are created, identified and reversed could be a game changer in police and legal settings, where false memories given as evidence in a courtroom can lead to wrongful convictions. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)


Astronomers produce first-ever image showing how light is polarized at the edges of a black hole, a proxy measurement for the black hole’s magnetic field

MIT Haystack Observatory is one of the 13 stakeholder institutions that constitute the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) collaboration, which produced the first-ever image of a black hole. The EHT revealed a new view of the massive object at the center of the M87 galaxy: how it looks in polarized light. This is the first time astronomers have been able to measure polarization, a signature of magnetic fields, this close to the edge of a black hole. The observations are key to explaining how the M87 galaxy, located 55 million light-years away, is able to launch energetic jets from its core. Astronomers have relied on different models of how matter behaves near the black hole to better understand this process. But they still don’t know exactly how jets larger than the galaxy are launched from its central region, which is as small in size as the solar system, or exactly how matter falls into the black hole. With the new EHT image of the black hole and its shadow in polarized light, astronomers managed for the first time to look into the region just outside the black hole, where this interplay between matter flowing in and being ejected out is happening. The observations provide new information about the structure of the magnetic fields just outside the black hole. The team found that only theoretical models featuring strongly magnetized gas can explain what they are seeing at the event horizon. (Massachusetts Instititue of Technology News)


Researchers from the University of Vienna suggest that wide hips is a trait with a long evolutionary history, and that the wider pelvis in females ‘existed already in early mammals’

Women have evolved to have wider hips than men because our primitive ancestors used to lay eggs, new research claims. For years it was thought that the reason women have a wider pelvis is that human females have ‘child bearing hips’ to allow the passage of big-brained babies. The heads of human babies are the widest part of their bodies, and the pelvis needs to be wider in ladies to accommodate this, but the new findings, which will give new meaning to the phrase ‘being broody’, say wide female hips go back much further than that. No bone in the human body is as different in size between men and women as the human pelvis and as such it is the most reliable ways of differentiating between the sexes, but the reason there is a wider pelvis in women must have another explanation than childbirth, as even in creatures with tiny babies, such as the Virginia opossum, which gives birth to offspring just one thousandth the size of the mother, females also have wider hips. Further evidence that big hips has an ancient evolutionary history comes from the study of chimps. The researchers suggest that wide hips is a trait with a long evolutionary history, and that the wider pelvis in females ‘existed already in early mammals’, adding that its purpose may have been ‘for laying large eggs relative to adult body size.’ (Daily Mail)


Woman says secret admirer sent her two hot dogs as a gift

A 25-year-old woman in England recently showed off a present she received from an apparent secret admirer. While most romantic hopefuls may think of giving jewelry, chocolates or flowers in order to impress somebody, this person had a fairly unique approach to winning this woman’s heart. Her neighbor found the note outside of the woman’s house. The note reportedly contained a message that said, “I will always love you”. The note was packed along with a present: two jumbo hot dogs. She threw them away because she didn’t want to give them to the dog in case it was a crazy person put poison in them. As for her secret admirer,  she has some advice: “There’s definitely more romantic ways to go about declaring your love. If they’re looking for somebody they should at least include their mobile number. They should definitely leave out the sausages. Maybe replace them with plane tickets. We could do with some of them after the year we’ve had.” (The Sun)


85% Of COVID Long-Haulers Had 4 Or More Neurologic Symptoms

The most common reported issues include brain fog, headache, numbness, dizziness and blurred vision. For COVID long-haulers, the list of symptoms and the unknown of when they will end is overwhelming. A new study shows COVID-19 long-haulers could experience neurological symptoms that last at least six weeks. It looked at 100 non-hospitalized patients with persistent symptoms across 21 states. Eighty-five percent of patients reported having four or more brain-related symptoms. Seventy percent of them were women. The most common: brain fog, headache, numbness or tingling, loss or altered taste, loss of smell, dizziness, pain, and blurred vision. There may be some hope for long-haulers in the COVID vaccines. In a survey of 650 Survivor Corps long-haulers, 40% said their long-COVID symptoms improved after getting the vaccine. More research needs to be done, but some experts think it’s because long-haulers may have an immune response that COVID puts out of whack, and the shots reset their immune system to respond more normally. (Wiley Online Library)


Human smugglers using social media to transport migrants to US

Human smugglers are using social media to advertise their services to transport migrants, some of them from countries overseas, from Central America to the United States. An associate professor at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government has been studying the correlation between migrant smuggling and social media since about 2019, and the most common platforms among migrants are Facebook and Facebook-owned apps WhatsApp and Instagram. WhatsApp is an encrypted messaging service popular in countries outside the U.S. because it offers a free messaging service that only requires WiFi or data to communicate with others. “Some of these WhatsApp accounts were created just weeks before the caravan formed, and then when the … life of the caravan was over, the WhatsApp list that we were tracking was over,” she said. Human smugglers and migrants looking for entry into the U.S. also use Facebook and Instagram, which can provide both the smugglers and the migrants with a sense of anonymity but also allow smugglers to post pictures of success stories, whether they are real or not. The people posting these messages ask for payments from anywhere between $3,500 and $8,500. These networks have smugglers based throughout Central America, Mexico, at the U.S.-Mexico border and even within the United States. Facebook’s community standards advise users not to post “content that offers or assists in smuggling of humans.” (Fox News)


12-year-old Kerala Boy Dies While Trying to Straighten Hair Using Kerosene Oil and Lit Matchstick

A 12-year-old boy lost his life after he allegedly tried to straighten his hair using kerosene oil and a lit matchstick while following a YouTube video. The boy reportedly died of burn injuries after he applied kerosene to his hair and tried to straighten it with a lit matchstick, the police said. The boy tried the act inside the bathroom of his house at a time when only his grandmother at home. The boy attempted the act after watching videos of people straightening hair using spirit and fire which are making rounds on social media. The boy, said to be a social media addict, was taken to hospital and was later declared dead, the police said. (


Gen X, Millennials in Worse Health Than Prior Generations

Medicine may have advanced by leaps and bounds over the last century, but Generation X and millennials are in worse health than their parents and grandparents were at their age. That’s the conclusion of a new study that looked at markers of physical and mental health across the generations. And overall, there has been a downhill slide over time: Gen X’ers and millennials were in worse shape when it came to various physical health measures. They also reported more anxiety and depression symptoms, heavy drinking and drug use. Recent years have seen a well-documented national rise in deaths from suicide, drug abuse and problem drinking, which some experts have labeled “deaths of despair.” Generation X generally refers to Americans born between 1965 and 1980, while millennials (or Generation Y) are typically said to include people born between 1981 and the mid-1990s. In this study, the range was 1981 to 1999. In general, both generations were worse off when it came to “physiological dysregulation,” which includes problems like elevated blood pressure and cholesterol, excess belly fat, and substances in the blood that suggest the body is in a state of chronic inflammation. An obvious potential suspect is obesity. Signs of physiological dysregulation started to increase with the baby boomer generation, compared to people born before 1946, and continued to worsen from there, the study authors said. (WebMD)


Easter candy is one of the most popular parts of the holiday, new survey reveals

A new survey suggests that nearly half of Americans agree that the best of Easter is the candy. The survey asked a variety of questions about celebrating Easter amid the pandemic and from the responses, it’s clear that regardless of how people celebrate, many still plan on making candy a big part of the day. 47% of respondents said that candy was the best part of the holiday. The survey also revealed the seven out of 10 parents said their favorite part of the holiday was eating that candy with their kids. Half of the parents involved in the survey also said they would be keeping some candy for themselves. When it comes to where people will be celebrating, about 59% of the respondents said that they would be heading outside of the home this year, spending the day at another family member’s home, church, a public park or at a restaurant. Many families also plan on celebrating outside in order to maintain proper safety measures, like wearing masks or social distancing. Respondents also said they planned on making regular handwashing a part of the day. (Fox News)


Friday Gets Freaky With:

  • Legal Assistants Day
  • Live Long And Prosper Day
  • Make Up Your Own Holiday Day
  • Nougat Day
  • Epilepsy Awareness Day (Purple Day)
  • Spinach Day