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Bird contagion

This week, scientists report that New Zealand parrots can spread positive emotion, too — or at least behaviour that could indicate their state of mind. The researchers recorded the play calls of keas (Nestor notabilis) and played them back to groups of wild keas. When the birds heard the sounds, they played more vigorously and longer — certainly more than when they heard the calls of a South Island robin (Petroica australis). The calls did not, however, seem to act as an invitation to join existing birds at play. Some keas that heard them preferred to start their own play — typically embarking on feats of aerial acrobatics. With self-confessed anthropomorphism, the scientists suggest that the play calls of these birds act in the same way as infectious laughter in people (R. Schwing et al. Curr. Biol. 27, R213–R214; 2017). In its homeland, the playful kea is called the clown of the mountains. And as every good clown knows: cry and you cry alone. But laugh and the world laughs with you.

During learning, neurons deep in brain engage in a surprising level of activity -- ScienceDaily

It's the part of the brain that makes sure you cannot tickle yourself. The cerebellum, an apple-sized region near the base of the skull, senses that your own fingers are the ones trying to tickle, and cancels your usual response. Now an international team of researchers has learned something surprising about this region, which despite its small size contains roughly half of all the neurons in the brain. These neurons, which were thought to fire only rarely as they take in information from the senses, are in fact far more active than previously suspected. The finding, published March 20 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, may signal a major shift in our understanding of how the cerebellum encodes information. "People used to think that the cerebellum's input layer of neurons was only sparsely active, and encoded only information collected from the external world," said Sam Wang, professor of molecular biology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, and a senior co-author on the study. "It turns out that they light up like a Christmas tree, and they convey information both from outside the body and from other areas within the brain."

Get off my Internet

Call me old fashioned, but what's wrong with taking two seconds more and writing phrases like: "That's funny."  "I had to chuckle at that." "Very silly." "That was a good laugh."   I know that requires some thought, but as it is we're headed for some sort of Orwellian Newspeak where we communicate  in only the most basic words and even symbols.

Take me to the roof at the Durham!

Reusing is heading up two main concepts: a rooftop lounge and a full-service restaurant. The names are quite simple and uncapitalized: these projects will simply be called "the roof at The Durham" and "the restaurant at The Durham,"reflecting Reusing's goal of creating a multi-use space that invites a sense of community and a sense of ease.

GOP Senator: Don't Force Employees To Wash Their Hands After Using Toilet

“I was having a discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like ‘maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,'" the senator said. Tillis said his interlocutor was in disbelief, and asked whether he thought businesses should be allowed to "opt out" of requiring employees to wash their hands after using the restroom. The senator said he'd be fine with it, so long as businesses made this clear in "advertising" and "employment literature." “I said: ‘I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says “We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom,” Tillis said.

@emersonspartz gets freeze-dried

The appetizer course had not yet arrived. He checked the time on his cell phone and cleared his throat. “Every day, when I was a kid, my parents made me read four short biographies of very successful people,” he began. On this occasion, I was the only person listening to his speech, but he spoke in a distant and deliberate tone, using studied pauses and facial expressions, as if I were a video camera’s lens. When he got to the part about virality being a superpower—“I realized that if you could make ideas go viral, you could tip elections, start movements, revolutionize industries”—I asked whether that was really true. “Can you rephrase your question in a more concrete way?” he said.

James Patterson's Most Expensive, Exploding Book

For just under $300,000, one super (rich) fan of James Patterson will have the opportunity to purchase the author’s next book and watch it explode a day after opening it. The self-destructing book is part of a plan to promote Mr. Patterson’s next title, “Private Vegas,” due out Jan. 26 from Little, Brown and Company. The price tag of $294,038 includes a first-class flight to an undisclosed location, two nights’ stay in a luxury hotel, 14-karat gold binoculars, a five-course dinner with Mr. Patterson and a copy of “Private Vegas” that will self-destruct 24 hours after the purchaser begins reading it. While the details of how the book will explode are being kept secret, the process will involve a bomb squad and a location that could come straight out of a Patterson story.

‘You can’t insult the faith of others': Pope on Charlie Hebdo

Gawker has high aspirations for pranking

To give you more of an idea of what sort of projects I hope to work on, here are a few of my favorite media hijinks of years past: Spy sending checks for absurdly small sums of money to various celebrities to see which ones would go to the trouble of cashing them; The Baffler revealing how The New York Times was taken in by faux "grunge" lingo; Dan Savage attempting to infect Gary Bauer with the flu; Christopher Morris leading a conservative MP to bring up a "made-up drug" in Parliament; Michael Moore having Janeane Garofalo confess the same sin at Catholic Churches across the country to see which ones were the most lenient; and Ken Silverstein enlisting Washington lobbyists to work for a corrupt and repressive regime.

"$72 million kid" dupes NYMag

In the most recent edition of New York, its annual Reasons to Love New York issue, the magazine published this story about a Stuyvesant High School senior named Mohammed Islam, who was rumored to have made $72 million trading stocks. Islam said his net worth was in the "high eight figures." As part of the research process, the magazine sent a fact-checker to Stuyvesant, where Islam produced a document that appeared to be a Chase bank statement attesting to an eight-figure bank account. After the story's publication, people questioned the $72 million figure in the headline, which was written by editors based on the rumored figure. The headline was amended. But in an interview with the New York Observer last night, Islam now says his entire story was made up. A source close to the Islam family told the Washington Post that the statements were falsified. We were duped.

Carr buries his interviewee with a teaspoon

In conversation, Mr. Johnson is prone to narcissism, not uncommon in media types, but he has his own special brand of it. He sees himself as a major character in a great unfolding epoch, dwelling on his school-age accomplishments and his journalism awards and vaguely suggesting that he has strong ties to many levels of law enforcement. Like what, I asked?“Have you ever read the book or heard of the book ‘Encyclopedia Brown’?” he asked, referring to a series about a boy detective. “That’s the capacity in which I help them. I don’t go out of my way to discuss the kind of, shall we say, clandestine work I do, because the nature of the work has to be clandestine in order for it be effective.”

Dog dressed up as huge spider makes unsuspecting victims flee in video | Mail Online

As of writing, a Kickstarter campaign for "just making potato salad" has raised $37,115. Every few seconds that number climbs higher, and each uptick is greeted with cheers. It's a self-perpetuating humor machine, and it is horribly efficient. There is no joke, at least not anymore; whatever joke there was has become an adaptive, joke-like arrangement of circumstances. It is a perfect device, compatible with all known theories of humor and therefore with none of them.
When I hit thirty-five thousand steps a day, Fitbit sent me an e-badge, and then one for forty thousand, and forty-five thousand. Now I’m up to sixty thousand, which is twenty-five and a half miles. Walking that distance at the age of fifty-seven, with completely flat feet while lugging a heavy bag of garbage, takes close to nine hours—a big block of time, but hardly wasted. I listen to audiobooks, and podcasts. I talk to people. I learn things: the fact, for example, that, in the days of yore, peppercorns were sold individually and, because they were so valuable, to guard against theft the people who packed them had to have their pockets sewed shut. At the end of my first sixty-thousand-step day, I staggered home with my flashlight knowing that I’d advance to sixty-five thousand, and that there will be no end to it until my feet snap off at the ankles. Then it’ll just be my jagged bones stabbing into the soft ground. Why is it some people can manage a thing like a Fitbit, while others go off the rails and allow it to rule, and perhaps even ruin, their lives?
They Told Him White Whales Were Impossible to Hunt. That’s When He Went Literally Crazy.
Though Ms. Patterson strove for historical accuracy, comparatively modern times still intruded on the fair, sometimes glaringly.“I remember a young girl running up to me a few years ago, almost crying,” Ms. Patterson told The Los Angeles Times in 1987, “saying: ‘You’ve got to do something. Someone’s back there playing Bach.’ ”
Kataria (colloquially known as the Guru of Giggling) is the creator of Laughter Yoga. Created in 1995, the practise is a combination of yogic breathing (pranayama), and voluntary laughter. Purely laughter though — no jokes, humour, or comedy. The idea is that your brain doesn’t register the difference between fake and real laughter, and it produces the same endorphins regardless, resulting in enhanced well-being. Kataria claims that laughter “helps you to unwind the negative effects of stress, and also boosts your immune system”. There are more than 6,000 Laughter Clubs, in over 60 countries, and a quick search for ‘Laughter Yoga London’ brings up a group with almost 450 members. If you can’t attend a physical Laughter Club, there are Skype Laughter Clubs. Similarly, there are Telephone Laughter Clubs in the U.S., Australia, and the U.K.
3 – Appreciate the work on the sea and ground, but right now there’s way too much sea. The ground is getting lost in it. In general, sea does not resonate well with our users. Was talking with the team and the idea of having no sea at all came up. Thoughts?
We made small talk in the checkout line at Trader Joe’s. You said that you literally could not live without the salsa you were buying. I wish we could talk again. You used “literally” incorrectly. It really pissed me off. I wish you could literally not live without that salsa, because then I’d take it from you.
If a customer was particularly bad we exercised one of the only powers we possessed and "decafed" them. To covertly rob a caffeine-addicted asshole of their morning jolt was truly one of the sweetest pleasures of baristahood, and one that my subsequent professions haven’t come close to replicating.
The New York Times' code of ethics states if you are asked, you have to identify yourself as a reporter. So I didn't say much to anyone, and no one asked who I was until very late in the dinner when I took my camera out to take a picture. The guy next to me sort of grabbed me and said, "There are no pictures allowed in here—and by the way, who are you?" And I had to tell him. It was like a bomb had gone off in the room! Everyone stopped what they were doing. They saw their careers sort of vanishing before their eyes. Then a few of the members took me out into the hall and started trying to trade favors and say, "Well, if you don't report on this or you take it easy on us, we'll become good sources for you in the future. We'll pick up the phone when you call." They actually thought that would work.
"We've taken pictures of both the doughnut and jelly parts, and the got the first data on the composition of the jelly yesterday. "It's like nothing we've ever seen before," he said. "It's very high in sulphur, it's very high in magnesium, it's got twice as much manganese as we've ever seen in anything on Mars. "I don't know what any of this means. We're completely confused, and everyone in the team is arguing and fighting (over what it means).
Eggers used to be a critic, but he has grown out of childish things. Eggers has done the work—the book publishing, the Hollywood deal-making—that makes his opinions (unlike those of his audience) earned and valid opinions.It is no accident that he is addressing undergraduates here; he tells the Advocate that before he sent back his reply to its questions, he had already delivered a version of the text as a speech at Yale. He is explicitly performing, for an audience of his inferiors. ("The rant is directed to myself, age 20, as much as it is to you, so remember that if you ever want to take much offense.")It is also no accident that Eggers is full of shit.