Triple-Decker Weekly, 149

Khi Solar One, the first solar thermal tower power plant on the African continent

Chinese criminal gangs are spreading swine fever using drones to force farmers to sell pigs cheaply so they can profit

A scientific meeting on coronaviruses was cancelled due to coronavirus

Frustration grows in China as face masks compromise facial recognition [Thanks Tim]

Live Facial Recognition Is Coming to U.S. Police Body Cameras

Company is applying artificial intelligence to government-owned surveillance and traffic cameras across the entire state of Utah to tell police about “anomalies.”

In addition to more than 2,200 law enforcement agencies, Clearview’s software had been sold to companies in 27 countries, including major U.S. retailers such as Macy’s, Walmart, and Best Buy.

This dissertation examines how first impressions influence decision-making, why people persistently rely on first impressions, and how the influence of first impressions can be reduced.

Tilting the face upward increased dominance and decreased physical attractiveness

All primates, including humans, engage in self-face-touching at very high frequency. The functional purpose or antecedents of this behaviour remain unclear. In this hybrid review we put forth the hypothesis that self-face-touching subserves self-smelling. […] Although we speculate that self-smelling through self-face-touching is largely an unconscious act, we note that in addition, humans also consciously smell themselves at high frequency. [PsyArXiv]

Amazon is now selling its cashierless store technology to other retailers

Each year, about 15% of queries on Google have never been searched for before. Other search engines like Bing will not have the same access to these queries, putting Google in a powerful position of being able to better train its algorithms and provide more accurate search results than its rivals.

Reduction of Facebook use increased life satisfaction, enhanced the level of physical activity, reduced depressive symptoms and smoking behavior

Delayed negative effects of prosocial spending [donation] on happiness

This review provides time-dose and activity-type evidence for programs looking to use time in nature as a preventative measure for stress and mental health strain

The present study examines the differences between users and non-users of mobile-based dating applications, along with individual user experiences.

the majority of popular films—including films aimed toward children—have at least one torture scene

Dogs poop in alignment with Earth’s magnetic field, study finds

You can breathe in harmful chemicals from tobacco use even in non-smoking venues because they are carried on smokers’ bodies and clothes.

Color preference in the insane: In every group of hospital patients examined blue was found to be the most pleasing color. Green was a distant second and red a close third, with violet, yellow and orange fourth, fifth and sixth.

How Mount Everest became a multimillion-dollar business

With about a dozen trucks an hour setting off from the avocado belt in Mexico’s western state of Michoacán for the U.S., armed robbers are zeroing in on the fast-growing, multibillion-dollar industry. The rise in avocado-related crime has turned parts of the state into no-go areas even for the police. […] Until recently, Mexico’s organized crime groups’ main source of revenues from avocados centred around extortion — demands for protection money from farmers. But the sharp fall in the price of Mexican opium paste has forced them to diversify, according to analysts. Increasingly they have started hijacking truckloads of fruit for export. […] The rise in avocado crime is thus indirectly linked to America’s opioid crisis. Americans’ increased use of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid used for pain relief, pushed down the price of heroin, which in turn slashed the price of Mexican opium. […] Demand for avocados jumps ahead of the Super Bowl, America’s biggest sporting event, with Mexico shipping a record 127,000 tonnes to the U.S. for the occasion. Overall production is rising, hitting 1.09 million tonnes in the 2018-19 season, up nearly 4 per cent from the 1.05 million produced in 2017-18. Exports last season rose 5.4 per cent. Sales to the U.S., the largest importer of Mexican avocados, bring in almost US$2 billion a year, much of it going to smallholders. [Financial Post]

For nearly two decades leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence Benjamin Franklin lived in London in a house at 36 Craven Street. In 1776, Franklin left his English home to come back to America. More than 200 years later, 15 bodies were found in the basement, buried in a secret, windowless room beneath the garden.

The User Interface Design Process

A prototype of the Nintendo Play Station, a console that never came to market, fetched $360,000 at an auction

The Go Bag

Indonesia official says ‘strong sperm’ can impregnate women in swimming pool

Mastercard is pioneering new payment technology that identifies commuters by the way they walk

Study finds parrots weigh up probabilities to make decisions

There is evidence that the spring Daylight Saving Time transition acutely increases motor vehicle accident risk

How artificial shrimps could change the world (a kilo of farmed shrimp is responsible for almost four times the greenhouse-gas emissions of a kilo of beef, study)

Does tapping beer cans prevent beer loss? A randomised controlled trial

Consumers seem unable to identify their preferred lager beer in a blind taste.

People are turning to YouTube and Facebook to learn how to do DIY fecal transplants

About 40% of US adults are obese, government survey finds

A quarter of all tweets about climate crisis produced by bots

This phone uses AI to block you taking naked selfies

The Effect of Country Music on Suicide

The Shell oil and gas company invited me to London to advise them on millennials and climate change but they didn’t think they needed to get me to sign an NDA. Whoops!

Secret passage dating to 1660 is found inside U.K. parliament. An exclusive walkway once used by royalty was rediscovered inside the landmark building, along with some graffiti from Victorian laborers. [NY Times]

The National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ) is a large area in which radio transmissions are heavily restricted by law to facilitate scientific research and the gathering of military intelligence.

The vast majority of light pollution is from cities: street lights, industrial zones, parking lots. But sometimes, it’s from something else.

There’s a reason so many memories with computers are blue

Sun Dayong designs wearable shield to protect against coronavirus outbreaks After an epidemic is contained, he thinks the bat-like shields could be upgraded with Google Glass technology, or simply be used as a “unique private mobile space for people.”

The Homeric Question

Kazuhisa Hashimoto, Creator Of Famous ‘Konami Code’ Gaming Cheat, Dies

Types of interchanges and their efficiency ratings.

For Decades, Cartographers Have Been Hiding Covert Illustrations Inside of Switzerland’s Official Maps reading

CoronaCoin: crypto developers seize on coronavirus for new, morbid token

Two programmer-musicians wrote every possible MIDI melody in existence to a hard drive, copyrighted the whole thing, and then released it all to the public in an attempt to stop musicians from getting sued. […] Riehl and Rubin developed an algorithm that recorded every possible 8-note, 12-beat melody combo. This used the same basic tactic some hackers use to guess passwords: Churning through every possible combination of notes until none remained. Riehl says this algorithm works at a rate of 300,000 melodies per second. Once a work is committed to a tangible format, it’s considered copyrighted. And in MIDI format, notes are just numbers. “Under copyright law, numbers are facts, and under copyright law, facts either have thin copyright, almost no copyright, or no copyright at all,” Riehl explained in the talk. “So maybe if these numbers have existed since the beginning of time and we’re just plucking them out, maybe melodies are just math, which is just facts, which is not copyrightable.” All of the melodies they’ve generated, as well as the code for the algorithm that generated them, are available as open-source materials on Github and the datasets are on Internet Archive. [Vice]

Americans spend an average 2.5 days per year searching for lost items and $2.7 billion a year replacing them. […] Although 40% of Americans believe getting older causes them to forget where they place their valuables and household items, Millennials are generally twice as likely to misplace items over Boomers and a third more likely to lose items compared to Generation X. [PR News Wire]

Curiosity – the drive for information – is often perceived as a dangerous trait. This is exacerbated by the perception that when something is forbidden, curiosity towards it increases. […] This research demonstrated the so-called “forbidden fruit effect”, in which unavailable options elicit curiosity – the desire to know more – even when people were completely aware that the forbidden option did not differ from other options in terms of expected outcome, uncertainty (hidden values), and visual salience. [OSF]

The madman theory is a political theory commonly associated with U.S. President Richard Nixon’s foreign policy. He and his administration tried to make the leaders of hostile Communist Bloc nations think Nixon was irrational and volatile. According to the theory, those leaders would then avoid provoking the United States, fearing an unpredictable American response. [Wikipedia]

The author finds that perceived madness is harmful to general deterrence and is sometimes also harmful in crisis bargaining, but may be helpful in crisis bargaining under certain conditions. [British Journal of Political Science]

Victims thought they were paying millions to free hostages. But the ‘minister’ who asked them was a fraudster in a mask

Romantic kissing is not a human universal

The scent of a romantic partner can improve sleep

This study did not detect any effect of daily caffeine intake on sleep duration

Women’s bust size and men’s courtship solicitation

The effect of touch on tipping: an evaluation in a French bar

Apple Pay accounts for about 5% of global card transactions and is on pace to handle 1-in-10 such payments by 2025

Amazon wants to patent paying with a selfie [2016]

Samsung, which makes both handsets as well as 5G network equipment, told investors on its own call that it expects its 5G business in South Korea to “shrink somewhat compared to last year.”

Scientists testing a small but random sample of donated blood ready for transfusion have discovered that 70 percent contained traces of Xanax [Thanks Tim]

A powerful antibiotic that kills some of the most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria in the world has been discovered using artificial intelligence.

How to donate a piece of your brain to science—while you’re still alive

A newly discovered virus has 74 genes, out of which 68 are completely unknown to science.

List of unsolved problems in philosophy [Thanks Tim]

An interactive museum dedicated to words and language is opening on May 31, 2020, in Washington, DC

The 50 Most Drug-Addled Albums in Music History

Cy Twombly, a retrospective, 1994 [PDF]

Emoji Mashup Bot — Tries to create new emojis out of two (or three) random emojis. Tweets every 60 min.

Ideas for a website

#churchsecurity [Thanks Tim]

For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret. The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software. The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican. But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages. […] “It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes. […] The program had limits. America’s main adversaries, including the Soviet Union and China, were never Crypto customers. [Washington Post]

How Big Companies Spy on Your Emails

The FBI downloaded CIA’s hacking tools using Starbuck’s WiFi

“Instead of using a short, complex password that is hard to remember, consider using a longer passphrase,” the FBI said. “The extra length of a passphrase makes it harder to crack while also making it easier for you to remember.”

No One Can Explain Why Planes Stay In The Air

When privately owned land vanishes under the water, who does it belong to? The problem is a result of the state’s rapidly changing landscape. About 80 percent of Louisiana’s coast is privately owned. But, under an old law, as coastal erosion and sea level rise turn the land into open water the area becomes property of the state, including the mineral rights underneath. Private landowners have become more adamant about restricting access to water on their property in order to assert their claim to the minerals underneath it. But boaters often have difficulty figuring out where private property ends and public waterways begin. Since 2003, Louisiana law does not require landowners to post signs demarcating their property. The resulting confusion led the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, or BASS, to announce in 2017 that it would no longer host professional fishing tournaments in Louisiana tidal waters, where fishers risk being arrested. [NOLA]

Visitors to the Kentucky capitol building are banned from entering with umbrellas or sticks that are used for protest signs because they can be “used as weapons,” but guns and rifles are permitted

‘Deaf’ genius Beethoven was able to hear his final symphony after all

CoronaVirus – FAQ, misconceptions, information, from a statistical perspective + An AI Epidemiologist Sent the First Warnings of the Wuhan Virus

Several delivery apps add restaurants without their consent

Fingerprints can now be dated to within a day of when they were made

How a vegan diet could affect your intelligence

Researchers created a robot hand that can regulate its temperature through sweating

Google says its new chatbot Meena is the best in the world

Not all graffiti are written by alienated teenagers, and not all vandalism constitutes wilful damage. Preventing graffiti and vandalism (1990)

we examine the long-run buy-and-hold performance of an actual portfolio, namely, the collection of John Maynard Keynes

On the southwest corner of Lexington Avenue and 52nd street is perhaps the most famous subway grate in the world.

Alvin Taylor at a salon getting a perm in Los Angeles, Calif., 1974

Land Art sculpture built by Robert Smithson in the Great Salt Lake only reemerges during drought