Some of US’s Wealthiest Athletes Prefer 69¢ Snack At Work

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For their homes, many members of the NBA (the National Basketball Association), the top paid four of whom take home a total of more than $100,000,000 per year, have private chefs. At work, at stadiums across the country, one of players’ favorite pre-game snacks is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (Maybe more than one, given the size of these guys, who tend to be well in excess of 6′ (1.83m) tall and hardly bean-pole thin!)

Unknown to large swaths of the world beyond the US, PB&J, as the snack is affectionately known to virtually every American, is a centuries-old tradition – dating back to the early days of peanut growing in the US, even before George Washington Carver found hundreds of uses for it (but he did not invent peanut butter!).

One use I suspect he never pursued, perhaps after one trial of it, would be peanut butter soup, a “delicacy” high school classmates of mine and I created on occasional Sunday evenings, when, unlike the rest of the week, we had “requisitions,” kid-selected foods, in our dorm. Why we made it more than once is a mystery, since the stuff hardly halted on its journey from mouth to the other end!

Yep, PB mixed with milk and heated will clean you out quicker, with less pain, than raw or lightly-sauteed Habanero peppers!

Today, there is scarcely a household of native-born Americans that doesn’t have at least an “emergency” jar of PB somewhere handy.

Among those that does is Donald Trump’s. His choice for White House Chef reportedly has no cheffing experience, but his boss declared, when announcing the appointment of Mike Wave, whose cooking-for-cash experience is more or less limited to six months with Blue Apron, the meat kit maker, “he makes a mean PB&J,” the leader of the free world (and under-valued sandwich fan) said. Then he took another bite if his!

Vibrator Maker Gets Too Close To Customers

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Photo: Emily Berl, for The Guardian

A Canadian vibrator manufacturer has been fined a total of C$4 million – to be paid to customers at rates up to C$10,000 each – for using a smart app to track user activities including body temperatures and vibrator rates. We-Vibe was sued in an Illinois court class action suit, The Guardian reported today (March 14). (Beware, indeed, the ides of March!)

In what could be termed a royal cock-up, the company’s parent, Standard Innovations, was ordered to shell out when it was learned that its sex toy was designed to enable clients to, as The Guardian put it, “keep their flame ignited – together or apart” via use of a blue tooth connection. Unfortunately, security issues made it possible for anyone within range to use a separate blue tooth device to take control of the vibrator, potentially leading to more than slightly embarrassing outcomes for intended or accidental users of the toy.

As bad or worse, the device allows information to be sent back to the company about users’ activities – representing the ultimate invasion of the bedroom.

You’d have thought, that somewhere along the design-and-manufacturing path on this product’s road to market, someone would have realized its potential downside. Or was this a Canadian version of “boys will be boys?”

 

Trash Spawns Super Ad Message

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Forty or so years ago, New Orleans’ Canal Street was spotted with cans intended to take in a sizable share of the throw-aways generated by citizens and visitors alike – in an area, just opposite the edge of the French Quarter, where drinking in public is not just legal, it’s virtually encouraged. (Where else could you ask for a take-out cup for a beer you didn’t finish in a restaurant, as I had occasion to do last week.)

To encourage the proper disposition of empties and similar detritus, the cans were labeled, “Hey, Mister, Toss Me Something!”

The idea was a clearer one. Whether it accomplished the intended goal or not is an open question. But those cans now are minus that slogan.

Meanwhile, in Texas, where self-pride in one’s heritage is an apparent birthright, a less and more subtle approach has been taken to reducing what had become, a few years ago, an intolerable trash burden. The Texas Department of Transportation took the proverbial bulls by the horns and advertised for ad agencies to come up with a way to address the issue. They did, in spades.

Smithsonianmag.com recently described how an exec at one agency noted, on walking somewhere one day, that all the trash was, as he put it, “a mess.” In a flash, he had the slogan: “Don’t Mess With Texas.”

The slogan was initially promoted during the 1986 Cotton Bowl, when an ad put out the “Don’t Mess WiTh Texas” message.

Within three years, trash volume on the streets dropped 72% from the 1986 level. And the ‘Don’t Mess With Texas’ phrase took on a life of its own.

In time, the Texas Department of Transportation copyrighted the phrase in order to reap rewards from its use. As if it hadn’t already!

Ambitious Amateur Explorer Makes Amazing Discovery: Dawn-of-Time Space Dust

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Jon Larson’s “night job” is as a well-known jazz musician in Norway. His volunteer “day job” for the past half dozen years or so has been to search accumulated detritus in rain gutters for space debris. He convinced Dr. Matthew Genge, a Senior Lecturer in Earth and Planetary Science at Imperial College, London, to ‘have his back’, lending his scientific knowledge to analyzing “suspect” bits and bobs. To the total amazement of Dr. Genge, they’ve succeeded beyond even Larson’s wildest dream: They’ve collectively collected and identified particles of “space dust” having “origins dating back to the birth of the solar system,” as an article on LiveScience.com put it.

Their write-up was based on one in the journal Geology, which noted that Larson collected something like 500 “micrometeorites” that were identified as such “on the basis of their compositions, mineralogies, and textures.” No such early-space discoveries of this magnitude have ever before been recorded.

And the significance of this is? Even though they have only tiny specimens to work with, scientists can, in studying these particles, learn more about how our universe formed and, hopefully, make discoveries that, in some hard-to-imagine way, will advance human knowledge about how we came to “be”.

The LiveScience article notes that, “Our solar system is filled with dust from collisions between asteroids and venting from comets; The most visible sign of this dust encountering Earth are the meteor showers that light up the upper atmosphere as Earth orbits though one of the many dusty trails left behind these interplanetary vagabonds. However, the tiny particles that rain through the atmosphere as “shooting stars” burn up completely, leaving only a bright flash in their wake. Their journey comes to an abrupt end as a blaze of super-heated glory.

Dr. Genges noted that, ““These particles [in gutter sediment] are almost definitely not coming from meteor showers as that dust comes in too fast — it comes in at maybe 30 kilometers per second [67,000 miles per hour] — and it completely evaporates in the Earth’s atmosphere.”

The gutter particles are thought to enter the atmosphere at a speed of around 12 kilometers per second (27,000 miles per hour) where atmospheric heating does inevitably heat up the particles, but the dust survives the fall. Judging by their size of around 0.3 millimeters, these are likely the fastest dust particles to survive the hot atmospheric entry, Genges said. Through analysis of the 500 specimens, the researchers found there to be a mix of particles that originate from asteroids and others that originate from comets.

“We have found dust particles that we think come from comets and they are subtly different from those that come from asteroids … they are carbon rich. Whereas the ones from asteroids look similar to the material from meteorites, that are also from asteroids,” he added.

Separating the cosmic particles from plain old gutter dirt is no easy task, but the researchers used an important trait found in these space particles to their advantage — they contain minerals that make them magnetic. So, by magnetically separating the dirt under the microscope, these particles could be found.

“These [particles] are very similar to the cosmic dust from deep sea sediments,” said Genges. “The main difference is that these are very young. Because they’ve been largely collected from roofs on commercial buildings, those buildings have their gutters cleaned at least every 3-5 years, so we know these [particles] have landed on Earth at least in the last 5 years. Whereas particles found on the seabed are up to 50,000 years old. These are a sample of what’s landing on Earth, practically today.”

As this dust has fallen to Earth within the last 5 years, the researchers could even deduce how the solar system dust falling on Earth has changed over the last million years. The dust found in city gutters contains fewer crystals than the dust that has been found in million-year-old ice Antarctica, for example, but the particles are remarkably similar to cosmic dust that fell onto Earth in medieval times.

According to an Imperial College London press release, the researchers think that the changes in dust particle structure could be down to very small orbital changes in the solar system’s planets over millions of years. The slight gravitational disturbances likely change the trajectory of the interplanetary dust, causing it to hit the Earth’s atmosphere at different speeds and angles. These slight changes can therefore influence how much heating is caused by atmospheric entry which, in turn, influences the size of the particles that make it to the ground and influence the shape of the crystals inside the microscopic grains.

In short, these tiny cosmic grains of dust hold an incredible amount of information about the state of the planets’ orbits when they hit Earth, but they are also the very tiny fossilized remains of our solar system, emerging directly from the material in the nebula that went on to form our sun and the planets.

“The actual materials of comets and asteroids have a very long history; they date back to the birth of our solar system four and a half billion years ago,” said Genges.

When Oscar Wilde composed his famous quote, “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars,” little did he know that, one day, a Norwegian amateur scientist would be looking for star dust in the gutter.

Uber A Marriage-Wrecker? French Court Will Decide

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A French businessman who was cheating on his wife – or so she suspects, and thinks she can prove – learned about his straying ways after he borrowed her iPhone to schedule an Uber. When he hung up, the app didn’t, and continued sending reports on his whereabouts to his wife’s phone. As a result, the French paper/website Le Figaro, reported recently, she filed for divorce.

Rightly enough, the allegedly cheating husband believes, Uber should pay what he’s suing the company for: $45 million. (How, in such a case, such a number is decided upon, is a mystery!)

His claim is that the app, “not the whole cheating thing,” as The Daily Dot put it, ) led to the wife’s divorce appeal.

Le Figaro was able to duplicate the “problem” on iPhones – and no such “fault” has been found to affect Android phones, news that no doubt comes as a relief to owners (or borrowers) of phone using that operation system.

Uber hardly surprisingly, would no doubt be laughing at the lawsuit, which it has no intention of settling. But fighting lawsuits is expensive, and a distraction from business-as-usual.

(What was I saying?)

The Daily Dot said the case will have an initial court hearing late this month, with the French government – meaning taxpayers who support the government – picking up their side of the tab. The husband will be responsible for his share of the costs.

 

Baby Saved by Toss to Shore when Car Veers into River

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A family’s car was accidentally driven into a river near a pier in China and, as the vehicle was sinking, a father desperate to save a baby, tossed it through the air, over a rocky shoreline to a stranger who caught and saved the infant.

The UK’s Mirror reported that, “The panicked dad, who had been standing on the car bonnet, fell forward with the force of the throw and ended up in the water himself.” But he and other family members were saved when workers on the pier threw them life preservers. No was one was seriously hurt in the incident, which happened neaar Changde City, where the family had been visiting relatives for Chinese New Year celebrations.

Authorities later towed the car from the river.

Air India Addressing Groping Incidents with Restraints

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A BBC report said yesterday (1/25) that in response to some females complaining that they’d been groped by other passengers, Air India is setting aside the first six rows in the coach class area for females only.

The airline also announced that cabin staff would have physical restraints available to them and crew will be authorized to use them to contain unruly passengers who refuse to cooperate voluntarily.

The station said that Air India is seeking to “enhance comfort level to female passengers” and reassure female passengers traveling alone.

In my limited experience flying Air India I’ve witnessed no groping incidents or anything of the sort. But I have been offended – to the point I felt I was being assaulted – by both bad breath and excessive body odors when flying with that carrier. And on transatlantic flights, that’s nevertheless a good deal less offensive than being groped – an experience I underwent once, on a NYC subway train at the 34th Street/6th Avenue station. That was more than 45 years ago, and the memory lingers on. I can only imagine what an unsuspecting female’s reaction would be.

I have no idea if air marshals continue to accompany all or most flights, but I were involved with security for Air India, I would work to address that issue – and let them, not ordinary cabin crew, deal with super rude fliers.