New forum, same old nonsense to waste your time on

  • Lifted - In 2009, thieves used a helicopter to break into a Stockholm cash repository through the roof and stole 39 million kronor: "Two of the men unstrapped a pair of ladders that had been attached with zip ties to the helicopter’s skids. The other pulled a sledgehammer out of a long canvas bag and began bashing a corner windowpane in the pyramid… The men lowered the first ladder 20 feet down to the fifth-floor atrium balcony. It had been measured to fit."

  • Fall In - As autumn begins, Matt Thomas reflects on the notion of adjusting one's way of living in accord with the seasons: "Should one also change in conjunction with the seasons? By this I mean more than donning a natty scarf when the temperature drops below a certain level—I mean changing things about the way you eat, sleep, live, and work. Conventional productivity advice doesn’t really take up this question."

  • When a plane loses pressure, here's what happens to your body - "Flight crews do a checklist before the plane takes off to ensure they don’t forget to do something like, you know, pressurize the cabin. But the crew on Jet Airways flight 9W 697 managed to miss that step recently on their way from Mumbai to Jaipur."

  • Theme Tune Shuffle - "Rob Manuel suggested I make a generator in which one TV show's theme tune is played over another's title sequence. Here's the result..." You can change the vida and soundb numbers in the URL to match any available title sequence and tune, should you wish: here are the 271 available programmes. For example, 7 is Yes, Minister and 267 is The West Wing, so is the titles from the former with the music from the latter, which works surprisingly well - as does the converse:

  • The Soviet Legacy: Inside Cuba’s Unfinished Nuclear Power Station - Darmon Richter finds a mildly perilous route into Cuba's Juragua nuclear reactor site, left unfinished with the collapse of the Soviet Union: "I followed a pitch-black passage which wound its way from the foot of the stairs, eventually opening into a large, cavernous chamber walled in rough concrete. There was a rustling sound all about me, a clattering, skittering sound at ground level, and as I brought my torch beam down level with my feet I found myself stood amongst a sea of nervous red land crabs. And then the bats woke up." Bonus linky: Ciudad Nuclear: Exploring Cuba’s Half-Abandoned ‘Nuclear City’, built nearby for the workers who never came.

  • On Waste Plastics at Sea, She Finds Unique Microbial Multitudes - "In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, several hundred miles from Hawaii, is a swirling cauldron of waste plastic that’s been growing steadily since the mid-1980s. Dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, it’s an ugly testament to the scale of disposable culture — but it’s also an active breeding ground for new varieties of single-celled life." Elizabeth Svoboda interviews Maria-Luiza Pedrotti, who is studying the organisms that thrive on plastic waste, which you'll be pleased to hear includes the genus of which cholera is a member.

  • The Differences in How CNN, MSNBC, and FOX Cover the News - "Given the importance of TV news and the accusations of partisan bias often lobbed at cable networks, it’s worth exploring what the news we’re getting from TV actually is and how that changes depending on what channel you watch. To do that, we examined chyrons (the text at the bottom of the screen) from three major cable networks: CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. By looking at the words and phrases used between August 25, 2017, and January 21, 2018, we can get a sense of the differences in how each network covers the news and how a viewer’s perception of the world might change depending on which one they watch." An interesting study, well presented.

  • A tiny, beleaguered government agency seeks an energy holy grail: long-term energy storage - A look at the various options for energy storage being nurtured by ARPA-E: "ARPA-E’s purpose is to identify promising advanced energy technologies and help them bridge the ‘valley of death’ between basic research and commercialization… Naturally, because it is a successful agency associated with Obama, Donald Trump hates it.”

  • The printer that wouldn't print: Fixing an IBM 1401 mainframe from the 1960s - Another adventure in hardware with Ken Shirriff: ”The [IBM 1403 line printer] at the Computer History Museum recently had a problem: whenever a line was printed, the computer would halt due to a "print check" error… we thought the ‘hammer fire’ check was a likely candidate. Recall that the printer uses 132 hammers, one per column, to print a line of characters. To make sure the hammers are operating correctly, the computer has two special planes in core memory.”

  • The Cat Meme Photographer from a Century Ago - "One hundred years before e-mail inboxes crowded with pictures of cats adorned with text like “I CAN HAS CHEEZBURGER?” and “CEILING CAT IS WATCHING YOU,” lolcats (and loldogs and lolrabbits) were already at the height of fancy. The rise of postcards at the turn of the century enabled Pennsylvanian Harry Whittier Frees to build a career out of photographing cute animals donning hats and britches."

Happy invoicing!