Sunny out today. Best to avoid those harmful UV rays and stay glued to your screen instead

  • The Day the Fire Came - The tragic story of a prairie fire in the Texas panhandle: ”For the past couple of months, Lindley had been worried about the possibility of a prairie fire sweeping across the southern Great Plains. After enduring several years of drought, the entire area had received a large amount of rain during the spring and summer of 2016, which in turn had produced an immensity of grass, three to four feet high in some pastures. Now, in these final days of winter, that grass was dormant and dry as hay. All that was needed to set that grass ablaze was a few sparks from an untended campfire, a passing train engine, a malfunctioning power line, or a cigarette butt thrown out a car window.”

  • Now you see it, now you… - Vebjørn Ekroll on the psychology of magicians’ illusions: ”It is well-known that magicians can make spectators’ question their own sense of reality by misdirecting their attention… When we look at the world around us, almost everything in our visual field appears clear, vivid and rich in detail but, in experiments, our objective ability to detect change is more suggestive of an observer with a bag on his head, with just a small hole through which to see anything.”

  • Intelligence Challenges in Urban Operations - James Howcroft explains the challenges you’re going to face if you want to invade a city: ”Military operations in an urban area are not normally thought of as a “Small Wars” concern, yet they are an important capability that will remain relevant as we address the issue of security in the 21st century. From my experience, we avoid them like the plague, for good reasons, until we have no option but to commit resources and go in.”

  • ‘Anumeric’ people: What happens when a language has no words for numbers? - ”Numbers do not exist in all cultures. There are numberless hunter-gatherers embedded deep in Amazonia, living along branches of the world’s largest river tree. Instead of using words for precise quantities, these people rely exclusively on terms analogous to ‘a few’ or ‘some.’” Caleb Everett considers what such people can tell us about our own facility with numbers.

  • Hill for the data scientist: an xkcd story - Data scientist Lucy D'Agostino McGowan uses XKCD comics to illustrate Sir Austin Bradford Hill’s guidelines for assessing evidence of causal relationships: ”When thinking about this problem, an xkcd comic I have seen in every lecture on this topic came to mind:”

  • Kaboom! Russian Drone With Thermite Grenade Blows Up a Billion Dollars of Ukrainian Ammo - "A single grenade-carrying drone set off one of the largest explosions in recent memory." Judging by the video, you don’t want to be nearby when this kind of thing happens

  • Goats, bookworms, a monk’s kiss: Biologists reveal the hidden history of ancient gospels - What biology can tell us about old manuscripts and books: ”Scientists have recently figured out how to sample books for ancient DNA and proteins without damaging them. Such studies are revealing the organisms that interacted with ancient books, from the animals whose skins are preserved as parchment to the bookworms and people who once lingered over the pages. Researchers can even isolate the microbes spewed on manuscripts when people kissed, coughed, or sneezed on them.”

  • South Park raised a generation of trolls - "South Park turns 20 years old this summer… our world is now filled with people for whom South Park has always been there, a cultural influence that, in some cases, is completely foundational to their point of view.”

  • China Is Building a Sea-Skimming Anti-Ship Drone - "China is developing a new drone that uses ground effect technology to skim the surface of the ocean, allowing it to fly just eighteen inches off the water." Autonomous ekranoplan FTW!

  • Hippies, Guns, and LSD: The San Francisco Rock Band That Was Too Wild For the Sixties - Ben Marks takes us through the wild and weird history of The Charlatans: ”In their heyday, from 1965 to 1968, the Charlatans were a lot of people’s favorite band, thanks to a danceable mix of distinctively American musical genres—from the blues and rock to Western swing and jazz. Around the time of the Charlatans’ first paying gig, in June of 1965, the Grateful Dead were still playing pizza parlors as the Warlocks, Jefferson Airplane had yet to take off, Big Brother was a year away from handing Janis Joplin a microphone, and Quicksilver was not even a gleam in anyone’s eye”

Happy invoicing!