Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Coffee date? Learn the power of No

As we slowly emerge from the hermit-like state many of us lived during the pandemic, we may find our calendars quickly filling up. Researchers suggests we take a moment to “reset how we invest our time.” This may include saying no to meetup requests, and that’s OK. Consider making a life budget. That way you’ll be able to hone in on what is essential to you and what isn’t. If you do agree to meet someone, make sure you are fully present. And lastly, “avoid avoiding.” (Harvard Business Review)


Summer travel ‘worse than usual’

Delays and cancellations are nothing new for summer travelers, but this year they’re due to more than bad weather. Instead, everything from computer glitches to a lack of pilots, flight attendants and fuel truck drivers are causing problems. With tight schedules, airlines are struggling to reschedule customers and reposition crews when things go wrong. Adding to the summer weirdness is where the travel surge is happening, with the fifth busiest airport in the world now in Charlotte, North Carolina. (The Wall Street Journal)


RNA breakthrough creates crops that can grow 50% more potatoes, rice

Manipulating RNA can allow plants to yield dramatically more crops, as well as increasing drought tolerance, announced a group of scientists from the University of Chicago, Peking University and Guizhou University. In initial tests, adding a gene encoding for a protein called FTO to both rice and potato plants increased their yield by 50% in field tests. The plants grew significantly larger, produced longer root systems and were better able to tolerate drought stress. Analysis also showed that the plants had increased their rate of photosynthesis. The researchers, along with other leading experts, are hopeful about the potential of this breakthrough, especially in the face of climate change and other pressures on crop systems worldwide. They focused on a protein called FTO, the first known protein that erases chemical marks on RNA. The scientists knew it worked on RNA to affect cell growth in humans and other animals, so they tried inserting the gene for it into rice plants and then watched in amazement as the plants took off. The rice plants grew three times more rice under laboratory conditions. When they tried it out in real field tests, the plants grew 50% more mass and yielded 50% more rice. They grew longer roots, photosynthesized more efficiently, and could better withstand stress from drought. The scientists repeated the experiments with potato plants, which are part of a completely different family. The results were the same. (University Of Chicago)


An Australian Firm fined for claiming clothes prevent Covid

An Australian activewear firm has been fined over the equivalent of Five Million dollars for claiming its clothing “eliminated” and stopped the spread of Covid. Lorna Jane had advertised that its clothing used “a groundbreaking technology” called LJ Shield to prevent the “transferal of all pathogens”. However, in a ruling, a judge said the company’s claim was “exploitative, predatory and potentially dangerous”. Lorna Jane said it accepted the court’s ruling. The company maintained that it had been misled by its own supplier. “A trusted supplier sold us a product that did not perform as promised,” said Lorna Jane chief executive. The legal action was brought by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) after Lorna Jane began marketing the clothing last July during the Covid pandemic. In a judgement, a federal court judge found that Lorna Jane “represented to consumers that it had a reasonable scientific or technological basis” to make its claims when it had none. (BBC)


It’s so hot in Dubai that the government is artificially creating rainstorms

Scientists in the United Arab Emirates are making it rain artificially, using electrical charges from drones to manipulate the weather and force rainfall across the desert nation. Meteorological officials released video footage recently showing a downpour over Ras al Khaimah, as well as several other regions. The new method of cloud seeding shows promise in helping to mitigate drought conditions worldwide, without as many environmental concerns as previous methods involving salt flares. According to research from the University of Reading in the U.K., scientists created the storms using drones, which hit clouds with electricity, creating large raindrops. The larger raindrops are essential in the hot country, where smaller droplets often evaporate before ever hitting the ground. Annually, the United Arab Emirates receives about 4 inches of rain per year. The government is hoping that regularly zapping clouds to generate rain will help to alleviate some of the arid nation’s annual heat waves. (CBS News)


NASA Awards Launch Services Contract for Europa Clipper Mission

NASA has selected Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (a.k.a. SpaceX) of Hawthorne, California, to provide launch services for Earth’s first mission to conduct detailed investigations of Jupiter’s moon Europa. The Europa Clipper mission will launch in October 2024 on a Falcon Heavy rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The total contract award amount for launch services is approximately $178 million. Europa Clipper will conduct a detailed survey of Europa and use a sophisticated suite of science instruments to investigate whether the icy moon has conditions suitable for life. Key mission objectives are to produce high-resolution images of Europa’s surface, determine its composition, look for signs of recent or ongoing geological activity, measure the thickness of the moon’s icy shell, search for subsurface lakes, and determine the depth and salinity of Europa’s ocean. (NASA)


Massachusetts driver avoids squirrel, crashes into historic home built by Abraham Lincoln’s ancestor

A teenage driver in Massachusetts last week swerved to avoid hitting a squirrel before crashing into a historic home built by an ancestor of President Abraham Lincoln, according to authorities. Officers were called to the Samuel Lincoln Cottage in Hingham, Massachusetts around 6:35 a.m. on July 15, Hingham Police Department said. The cottage was constructed in 1650 when Hingham was first settled. Police said the 19-year-old driver was in a 2014 Audi Q7 when she served to avoid hitting the squirrel in the road and “drove off the right side of the road, over the sidewalk, and into the front of the house.” Half of the vehicle ended up inside the cottage. Residents who were inside the cottage at the time were not injured. The driver was issued a citation for failing to stay in marked lanes, police said. Photos were released by police and firefighters showed the car was found lodged in what appeared to be the cottage’s living room. The homeowners said they were still asleep in their upstairs bedroom at the time of the incident. They will repair the cottage and hire a team of specialists to fix a sign that was knocked off in the crash. Samuel Lincoln was Abraham Lincoln’s great-grandfather. The cottage was located down the street from the Samuel Lincoln House, which was also built by relatives of the president. (Zenger)


Influencer sells ‘digital love’ for 1 million zł

A Polish influencer has become the first person in the world to sell her ‘digital love’. Marta Rentel, who is better known by her online persona Marti Renti, cashed in on close to 1 million PLN after a mystery buyer spent $250,000 for her emotions with a digital token called an NFT, or non-fungible token. The token is a new model for the exchange of works of art, graphics, music, and as it turns out, also emotions. The operating model is that one person puts something up for sale, and the other, by buying it in the form of an NFT token, secures exclusivity for the thing. Despite the transaction, the author retains the copyrights to the sold work. After selling her ‘love’ she posted: “Yesterday I sold my first NFT for an incredible amount – I won’t tell you how much, because I don’t believe it myself. I don’t know who bought them yet. Brent, if it’s you, thank you.” She later said she will donate some of it to charity, adding: “As I said, my plan is to invest these funds in cryptocurrencies, but I’ll do some good with some of them.” (The First News)


Jugs of urine filled with hateful messages left outside Massachusetts candidate’s driveway

Police in Brockton, Massachusetts are searching for whoever is responsible for leaving several plastic gallon jugs filled with urine and marked with hateful messages in the driveway of a Massachusetts city council candidate. A man who is running for a seat on the Brockton City Council said what happened made him feel uncomfortable and concerned for the safety of his wife, two children and parents who live with him. He said it was his son who first saw one of the jugs and smelled urine in the driveway. Brockton police detectives said they were checking for surveillance video in the area, and the Plymouth County Bureau of Criminal Investigation dusted the containers for fingerprints. (WCVB)


couple sued for $112,000 after leaving one-star reviews

The Vancouver, Washington couple both left reviews about a bad experience with a roofing company and were later served with a lawsuit over those reviews. When the couple’s roof started to leak at their home a few months ago, their landlord sent over Executive Roof Services (ERS) to check it out. An employee came, looked in the attic and said there were a few spots to fix. The wife called the office and talked with the receptionist, who she said was rude from the time she answered the phone. “She refused to give me any information. She said I would have to get it from the landlord. I asked to speak with the manager and she laughed at me. She told me I was verbally abusing her and that she was the office manager. She hung up on me,” said said the wife. The husband said he called ERS and had a similar bad experience with the woman who answered the phone. “She was just super rude, told me that she was office manager and there was no one else I could talk to and hung up on me,” the husband said. The couple each wrote a one-star Google review detailing their experience with the receptionist. They also also filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau that stated, “The business came to do an inspection of the roof of our residence and refuses to give any details about the findings of scheduling of repairs to us the tenants.” The BBB never formally posted their complaint because the couple weren’t direct customers of ERS. The landlord had hired the company, not the tenants. Later on, they were then contacted by the owner of ERS who told them he knew where the lived and that he had forensics guy adding that he would gladly spend a hundred thousand dollars suing the couple before the owner texted them saying the review needed to be taken down before “more damages are done.” The couple called the police, which led to an officer asking the owner of the company to no longer contact the couple. The couple later received letters from a law firm on behalf of ERS that demanded they take down the reviews. When the Google reviews stayed up, they were served with a lawsuit filed on behalf of ERS for defamation and intentional interference with business expectancy. The couple was being sued for $112,000 and $28,000 per week.  The attorney for ERS, said this lawsuit is not about the negative reviews. “The couple did not hire ERS, the landlord did. Because of that he said they weren’t entitled to the information they requested, a project report and timeline, because they were not customers or clients of ERS”, the attorney said. When the couple set up a go fund me to raise money for an attorney, they were again sent cease and desist letters by the company. The roof was ultimately repaired by another company. (KGW8)


Parenting time while WFH triples

Time spent caring for children while working from home tripled last year amid the pandemic with most caring done by working mothers. During any 15-minute period in the afternoons, roughly 12% of women were juggling child care and their jobs. About 5% of men were doing both in the afternoon. The data also show:

  • Women’s child care while WFH increased as much as four times from 2019;
  • Men saw up to a sixfold increase in the amount of child care they gave while WFH, up to 6% in the mornings;
  • The overall percentage of people WFH almost doubled, to 42% from 22% in 2019.

(The Wall Street Journal)


Crocs sues Walmart, Hobby Lobby and others for allegedly copying its popular shoe

Crocs is accusing Walmart, Hobby Lobby and other companies of copying its iconic clog. The shoemaker filed four trademark infringement lawsuits last week in several U.S. district courts against about 20 companies it alleges are violating its trademarks and other intellectual properties on the shoes. In one of the lawsuits, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of Colorado against Walmart, Hobby Lobby and shoes and handbag maker Loeffler Randall, Crocs alleges that Walmart is selling cheaper knockoffs of its $50 clogs under a variety of different names, such as “Time and Tru” and “George.” In the same suit, Crocs cited Hobby Lobby’s $12 “white foam clogs ladies shoes” as an alleged knockoff of its original clog shoe. The suit also called out an “Ezra Black Rubber Clog” from Loeffler Randall as what it said was as a copycat shoe of its clog. Walmart, Hobby Lobby and Loeffler Randall did not immediately offer responses to requests for comment. Crocs said in the Colorado suit that such copycat products are “likely to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive customers, and therefore infringes Crocs’ trademarks.” (CNN)


A new, larger type of cicada is emerging and they have big black eyes and “like to scream”

Officials at Maryland’s Catoctin Mountain Park, a unit of the National Park Service, said the insects are called dog-day cicadas since they come out “during those hot dog days of summer.” The insect has bright green, see-through wings and large eyes, and it takes two to three years for this particular type of cicada to develop and emerge from underground. But unlike Brood X, the population makes an appearance every year.  “They are much larger and have black eyes,” Catoctin Mountain Park wrote in Facebook post. “Like all cicadas, they are harmless and like to scream.” Dog-day cicadas also have a predator on the hunt for them, the cicada killer wasp. According to Ohio State University, the wasp does not feed on periodical cicadas, such as Brood X, and can soon be seen looking through woodlands for their “exclusive prey.” These wasps are one of the largest found in Ohio, measuring up to 1 5/8 inches in length. While they are large and appear concerning, Ohio University researchers say they are not dangerous and they rarely sting. (Catoctin Mountain Park Facebook)


Tuesday Is Tasteless With:

  • Barbie-in-a-blender Day
  • Crème Brûlée Day
  • Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
  • Love is Kind Day
  • New Jersey Day
  • Scotch Day
  • Take Your Houseplant For A Walk Day
  • Walk on Stilts Day


Historical Events

  • 1694 – A Royal Charter is granted to the Bank of England.
  • 1789 – The first U.S. federal government agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs, is established (it will be later renamed Department of State).
  • 1862 – Sailing from San Francisco to Panama City, the SS Golden Gate catches fire and sinks off Manzanillo, Mexico, killing 231.
  • 1880 – Second Anglo-Afghan War: Battle of Maiwand – Afghan forces led by Ayub Khan defeat the British Army in battle near Maiwand, Afghanistan.
  • 1900 – Kaiser Wilhelm II makes a speech comparing Germans to Huns; for years afterwards, “Hun” would be a disparaging name for Germans.
  • 1917 – The Allies reach the Yser Canal at the Battle of Passchendaele.
  • 1928 – Tich Freeman becomes the only bowler ever to take 200 first-class wickets before the end of July.
  • 1981 – 6 year old Adam Walsh, son of John Walsh is kidnapped in Hollywood, Florida and is found murdered two weeks later.
  • 1997 – About 50 people are killed in the Si Zerrouk massacre in Algeria.
  • 2005 – STS-114: NASA grounds the Space Shuttle, pending an investigation of the continuing problem with the shedding of foam insulation from the external fuel tank. During ascent, the external tank of the Space Shuttle Discovery sheds a piece of foam slightly smaller than the piece that caused the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster; this foam does not strike the spacecraft.