Cool Links

If you have been to Japan or Europe, you may have seen moss balls - Aegagropila linnaei algae that grow into green velvety balls - and thought it would be nice to have. 

Don't do it. By caring about the environment and believing natural-is-always-better hype and thinking if Europe or Asia does it, it must be good, you could be releasing a devastating plague. Marimo balls purchased after February have been found to have Zebra mussels, one of the most destructive invasive species in North America - and I am a guy who had to try and kill Bradford Pear trees in my yard after hippy-dippy California environmentalists got government to mandate them because Asia, so if I am more worried about these, you should be too. 
I can know when I played a game based on whether or not I had time to play the game. Right now, for example, I have time, my kids are older, so "Frostpunk" and "The Division" will be locked into their high school years. Before they were born I had time because my wife and I would devote whole weekends to binge-watching "24" (before streaming services, there was the outstanding Replay DVR, and it even let you skip commercials) or playing a game together.

Remember when people played games together? On a couch?

It still happens but both "Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance" (2001) and "Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance II" (2004), while indifferent when it came to the actual story, were a blast playing with other people in the room on the same Playstation. 
If you are one of the many who no longer subscribe to Scientific American, few are surprised. There is a reason they got sold for a dollar, and that reason is that they lost the trust of science readers when they became not only political, but overwhelmingly partisan. Being covertly partisan means you can even be bigoted, if the demographic you are prejudiced against is acceptable to the base.
How hard is it to get "organic" certified?

About as hard as you think it would be when the companies that do the "certification" only make their money certifying organic farms and collecting the fees. It has about as much legitimacy as buying a Ph.D. in Theoretical Phys Ed in the mail.

There is a good reason that about 25 percent of organic food is just overpriced regular food and that reason is - there are no surprise spot checks on farms in America and if you believe Russia or China are telling the truth about their organic process, they have a bat from Wuhan wet market they'd like to sell you.
"Hygiene theater", the kind of symbolism that makes people feel like they are caring about their fellow humans, isn't going away, so get used to having someone unqualified stick a thermometer up to your forehead and we'll all pretend your grandmother will die if they don't.

The reason is the CDC, and then ridiculously hyperactive states like California, who still haven't even adopted the overly conservative stance of the CDC. Vaccinated or not, you have to wear a mask unless you are drinking coffee - and they weirdly tried to tell people to mask up between sips, the opposite of what every expert says.
If you are old enough to remember Baghdad Bob, Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf was the spokesperson for Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein who, no matter how bad things were, insisted they were on the verge of winning against a United Nations that was going to dethrone him.

He's been dead for years but if he were still around, it's easy to imagine China would want to use him.


The biggest mistake a company can make is treating its customers like they are criminals. While "The Soup Nazi" was a fun bit on "Seinfeld", and there are some instances where you can adapt a 'take it or leave it' approach to how you treat people, that is not where the IPOs are.
Environmentalists believe the Pacific Ocean needs more water, and also that no new water infrastructure can be built, which leads to one of the bizarrely counter-intuitive events that have made California famous across America.

Despite a drought, laws that environmental lawyers lobbied to get in place during politically sympathetic administrations mean that 1,500 cubic feet per second of water must be dumped by law from the New Melones Reservoir until...no one knows when. 

 
In Switzerland, it is easy to oppose science. The country is wealthy, with a minimum wage 3X that of most US states, because other countries pay the bills.  Even anti-science activists like Swiss Public Eye are funded by the government rather than consumers.

When you are rich, food is no longer on the hierarchy of needs, it becomes part of the hierarchy of 'values' and values are easy when you have money. You can advocate for expensive food for poor people in other countries because you will never see them. You don't know their struggle to feed their families when UN members walk down the street daily.
In March of 2020 The Lancet published an article claiming that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus variation that erupted in Wuhan in 2019 and set off the COVID-19 pandemic, could not have come from the world's largest coronavirus lab. In Wuhan. Where scientists had been working on "gain of function" experiments to create stronger coronaviruses.

Suggesting it might have come from one of only three labs in the world doing this research, near the Wuhan market, was the same as being a global warming denier, they said, which was codespeak for 'only Republicans who are racist will ask that question.'
Marvel is a big name now, so big that even an obscure property like Shang-Chi can get a film and people just assume it will be good.

That wasn't always the case. Marvel had instead been known for taking any sketchy deal where the check would clear. 

So when they decided they wanted to make their own films, and capitalize on the success of The X-Men (sold to Fox) and Spider-Man (sold to Sony), no one was really interested. The reasons were obvious; they had baggage and no good characters left. There were only B (Captain America) and C (Iron Man, Thor) level characters left.
If you read corporate news over the last year, it would be easy to believe that Republicans hate science. If someone didn't want to wear masks and needed to tell you about it, it was a right wing person being displayed on social media. 
Most people think that scientists don't get emotional. "Star Trek" and the mostly dispassionate Spock may be why they believe a science officer does not have feelings.
Miami has a problem and a solution. The problem has happened throughout history; hurricanes. Yet that is magnified now because of the property values and population density. The solution is a seawall.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has it covered, with a six-mile seawall proposal, but lining up against them are the usual suspects; environmentalists. Joining them are real estate developers who want to sell views, make their profit, and then leave it to 49 other states to pay the costs when another hurricane hits.
In an April 2020 email discovered by Buzzfeed as part of a Freedom Of Information Act request, EcoHealth Alliance head Peter Daszak thanked Dr. Anthony Fauci for dismissing concern that SARS-CoV-2, which erupted in 2019, could have come 'from a lab.'

A lab like the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the world's largest coronavirus lab, which Daszak gave $3.4 million in US taxpayer funding to, in order for them to study bat coronaviruses. The 'thank you' was while the lab was removing its database of 16,000 bat coronavirus samples that the US helped pay to create and while denying the World Health Organisation permission to visit.
At the end of "Marvel's The Avengers" we had some idea who the next film's big villain would be - we just didn't know they would build the entire MCU around him.
Georgia would like to get COVID-19 vaccine up to herd immunity levels sooner rather than later but there are obstacles; among the less educated, they may be a little nervous because prior to 2020 FDA and CDC acted like all pharmaceutical companies were spawns of Lucifer, so suddenly being told they are saving the world causes cognitive dissonance. Some journalists and social media pundits who can't get out of their own way will try to find a way to blame Republicans.

But among wealthy educated people the problem may be chiropractors.

Going to a chiropractor is mostly for the rich, who can augment real medicine with supplements, organic food, and getting a 'spinal adjustment' even if it's not covered by health insurance plans.  
Bioware has released the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, with graphical modernization and some gameplay improvements, but at nearly $60 it's not cheap.

Is the story still great? Yes it is, one of the best ever (dream sequences in Mass Effect 3 aside). Are the characters still compelling? Sure.

But it already was, so is it worth spending nearly $60 again?

That's a little trickier. If you already have the games, maybe not. If you don't, the story and characters won't be compelling enough to feel like you got value. While ME and certainly Mass Effect 2 made great advances in decision-driven story telling, they are not exceptional now.
Stephan Richter, Hassan Abu AlHaija, and Vladlen Koltun of Intel Labs have written a paper outlining their new G-buffer encoder which takes photorealism to a whole new level.


Amazonian tribes did things a lot of their counterparts in Europe did but some things they did in more interesting fashion. Rather than putting heads on spikes, which is so medieval Romania, old time Ecuadorians peeled the skin from the skull. turned the face inside out and removed all the fatty tissue. then simmered it a pot of hot water and Chinchipi plant juice, and they shrank into tiny preserved heads.