Things I Learned (and found interesting) in the Last Week of December 2023

From kottke’s 52 Interesting Things I Learned in 2023:

Also linked from kottke: Tom Whitehall’s 52 Things I Learned in 2023:

  • 4. A ‘payola’ guitar is an electric guitar with four pickups and four output sockets, so that 1950s session players could get paid four times while playing one solo. [Allen St John]
  • 5. Job satisfaction in the US is at a 35-year-high. In 2010, less than 45% of people said they were satisfied with their jobs. In 2022, over 62% said they were, and you need to go back to the 80s to find satisfaction as high as today. Big gains come from work/life balance and the performance review process. [Emily Peck]
    (a personal note: I’m still trying to wrap my head around this given the industry I work in (non-profit) and coming off the 2021-22 Great Recession.)
  • 7. 1 in 5 people currently have a disability. 100% of people will have some form of disability in their lifetime. [Jim Nielsen]
    (a personal note: this is one of my biggest fears in life and getting older in age and discovering new pains, stiffness, tiredness, etc. isn’t helping my anxiety about this…)
  • 16. In the 19th Century, champagne was sweetened depending on local tastes. Russians had 300 grams of sugar added, the British just 50 grams. In 1842 Perrier-Jouët introduced unsweetened champagne. It failed and people called it ‘Brut’, but that’s how all champagne tastes today. [Chris Mercer & Karen MacNeil]
  • 31. Washboard sales went up 57% during the pandemic, inspired by “fears of societal collapse and limited laundry service”, although 40% are sold as percussion instruments. [Kris Maher]
  • 32. Only 28 books sold more than 500,000 copies in the US in 2022. Eight of them were by romance novelist Colleen Hoover. [Jason Colvato]
    (a personal note: half a million seems like a low threshold to clear–are we not buying and reading books anymore?)
  • 43. 2,529 individuals were offered a free online subscription to their local newspaper worth $45. Only 44 subscribed. [Daniel J. Hopkins]
    (a personal note: are we, as a society, not reading any more?)

Also linked from kottke: NY Times: 20 Things That Happened for the First Time in 2023:

  • 2. Cells from two male mice produce live offspring.
  • 5. Scientists successfully extract rocks from Earth’s mantle.
  • 15. Microplastics are found in the clouds.

Also linked from kottke: Kent Hendricks: 52 things I learned in 2023:

  • 1. Every iron object made before 1200 BC came from meteorites. (“Bronze Age iron: Meteorite or not? A chemical strategy”)
  • 2. Santa’s reindeer are all female. Male reindeer don’t start growing antlers until February, so any reindeer with antlers hauling goods on Christmas Eve wouldn’t be male. (FDA)
  • 5. One reason the United States didn’t adopt the metric system was because the ship crossing the Atlantic from France carrying a standard kilogram—yes, a real physical object—requested by Thomas Jefferson in 1793 was blown off course into the Caribbean and captured by pirates. (“How Pirates Of The Caribbean Hijacked America’s Metric System”)
  • 17. There have been 80,000 recorded UFO sightings since 1906. Four-fifths of extraterrestrials have chosen to visit the United States and likely speak English. (source)
  • 22. When a Walmart Supercenter opens in a town, average grocery prices drop 3%, but competitor revenue drops 16% and average income declines 10% in five years. (“Walmart Supercenters and Monopsony Power: How a Large, Low-Wage Employer Impacts Local Labor Markets”)
  • 23. The maximum size of a PDF is 381km × 381km, roughly half the size of Germany. (Hacker News)
  • 27. Food deserts are caused by lack of demand, not lack of supply. There’s a common assumption that food deserts don’t exist because grocery stores avoid certain neighborhoods. But that’s not actually true: food deserts exist because certain neighborhoods don’t want them. (“Food Deserts and the Causes of Nutritional Inequality”)
    (a personal note: I’m still trying to wrap my head around this. Probably because I’ve been told/have read the opposite for so long.)
  • 29. Tic Tacs are labeled as sugar free even though they are 94% sugar. As long as there’s less than half a gram of sugar, the FDA permits products to be labeled sugar free. Each Tic Tac has 0.49 grams of sugar. (“The Sneaky Reason Why Tic Tacs Can Say ‘Sugar Free’ (When They Really Aren’t)”)
    (a personal note: I’ve read this before, but it still bothers me. Each Tic Tac has 5g of sugar.)
  • 39. Birds are evolving smaller eyes to adapt to the brightness of cities at night. For two species, the Northern Cardinal and Carolina Wren, the eyes of birds in San Antonio are 5% smaller than their rural counterparts. (“Urban Light Pollution Linked to Smaller Eyes in Birds”)
  • 45. In areas where people are more likely to divorce, birds are more likely to split up, too! There’s a strong geographic correlation between several human and animal behaviors, including distances traveled, population density, male parental involvement, age of first reproduction, food hoarding, and even divorce. (“Local convergence of behavior across species”)

Also from kottke, The Atlantic: 81 Things That Blew Our Minds in 2023:

  • 1. Mars has seasons, and in the winter, it snows.
  • 10. You have two noses, and you can control them separately via your armpits.
  • 28. The same molecule that makes cat urine smell like cat urine is, in lower concentrations, commonly used in air fresheners and household cleaners.
  • 35. A Dutch man and his family have a perplexing brain condition called “color agnosia”: They can see colors, but they cannot name them.
  • 42. One of Saturn’s moons likely has a habitable ocean.
  • 46. During the original run of Seinfeld, the show’s costumers had a hard time sourcing the clothing for Kramer’s wardrobe because his quirky style had become so popular with the general public that they were buying up all of the vintage clothing that made up his look.
  • 56. Reports of pediatric melatonin overdoses have increased by 530 percent over the past decade.

How Rubber Bands Are Made

How Rubber Bands Are Made.

This was a blast from the past…back in the early-mid 1990’s, when I lived in Yokosuka, at least once a month, I took the time to ride my bike to a stationary store that was off the Navy base to pick up a couple of boxes of O’Band rubber bands to use to wrap my newspapers. Each box was about $10 USD and they were worth it. They were the absolute best in terms of quality and durability–they could be used to wrap a daily paper and also the Sunday edition with all of the extra content and ads.

I remember one lady who kept all of the rubber bands and returned them to me when I came to collect monthly payments. The rubber bands were so good that they could be used multiple times. Is 25 Years Old Today and I’m Going to Write About It Is 25 Years Old Today and I’m Going to Write About It

Back in 1997, 0sil8 was one of the first websites I stumbled upon in the early days of having an internet connection. During those early days, I became very interested in the world wide web and web design and I remember 0sil8 being one of my bookmarks and a site that I would frequently check for updates. About a year later, launched and reading Jason’s blog has been a permanent part of my web browsing/consumption routine for the last 25 years.

It’s pretty incredible what I have learned and been exposed to about so much in the world because of what Jason has discovered or found interesting and shared on his website. More than any encyclopedia, more than any library–

HBO Cancels ‘Westworld’ in Shock Decision – The Hollywood Reporter

HBO Cancels ‘Westworld’ in Shock Decision – The Hollywood Reporter

I just recently completed season 4 of Westworld and enjoyed it (and I think I mostly understood what was happening). While it’s unfortunate they won’t get an additional season to wrap it all up with a bow, Season 4 managed to stick the landing for the season and the series.

William Shatner: My Trip to Space Filled Me With Sadness – Variety

William Shatner: My Trip to Space Filled Me With Sadness – Variety.

but when I looked in the opposite direction, into space, there was no mystery, no majestic awe to behold…all I saw was death.

I saw a cold, dark, black emptiness. It was unlike any blackness you can see or feel on Earth. It was deep, enveloping, all-encompassing. I turned back toward the light of home. I could see the curvature of Earth, the beige of the desert, the white of the clouds and the blue of the sky. It was life. Nurturing, sustaining, life. Mother Earth. Gaia. And I was leaving her.

Everything I had thought was wrong. Everything I had expected to see was wrong.

I had thought that going into space would be the ultimate catharsis of that connection I had been looking for between all living things—that being up there would be the next beautiful step to understanding the harmony of the universe.

I had a different experience, because I discovered that the beauty isn’t out there, it’s down here, with all of us. Leaving that behind made my connection to our tiny planet even more profound.

It was among the strongest feelings of grief I have ever encountered. The contrast between the vicious coldness of space and the warm nurturing of Earth below filled me with overwhelming sadness. Every day, we are confronted with the knowledge of further destruction of Earth at our hands: the extinction of animal species, of flora and fauna…things that took five billion years to evolve, and suddenly we will never see them again because of the interference of mankind.

Best Jim Carrey Movies & Performances Ranked – Variety

Best Jim Carrey Movies & Performances Ranked – Variety

What a career Jim Carrey has had. It’s fun seeing him in the movies my kids have grown-up with and love: Sonic, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Grinch, to name a few. It’s also been fun to show them some of the movies that made him famous: Ace Ventura, The Mask, Dumb and Dumber.

My top 5 Jim Carrey movies:

#5. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
#4. The Mask
#2. Dumb and Dumber and The Truman Show (tie)
#1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Mozilla stops accepting cryptocurrency, Wikipedia may be next: Are dominos falling? – TechRepublic

Mozilla stops accepting cryptocurrency, Wikipedia may be next: Are dominos falling? – TechRepublic

As of this writing, a single transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain eats up the same amount of energy as the average US household in a 77.8-day, or roughly two and a half month, period. Ethereum, though nowhere near as large, still eats up the same amount of energy that a US household does in 8 days.

2021 Reddit Recap

Reddit has become one of my top social media platforms over the last couple of years. It almost always shows me content that is relevant to my interests, it’s civil, the discussions are enlightening, it’s fun, etc. I have found myself spending more time on Reddit than Twitter, Instagram, and others. In the last couple of years, it’s also become a search engine for me. Example: the other night my wife and I watched “Interstellar” and we both had the same question about how the wormhole was placed next to Saturn. She performed a Google search and I went straight to Reddit to search. The discussion in the Reddit thread we found was more helpful than the Quora thread she found. Anyhow, I spend way too much time on Reddit.

Here are some highlights from my 2021 Reddit Recap:

I’m guessing that 144,120 bananas is a large amount of time. Thank God they didn’t tell me how many days, hours, and minutes I lost to this site.

I enjoy this sub.

And these subs.

2021 Spotify Year in Review

Another year in the books and the first year in review–this one from Spotify.

I have to believe that this list is accurate, but like most years, I have my doubts about the accuracy. Here we go…

Compared to last year, I listened to less music which is surprising to me (7,354 minutes in 2020 and 6,568 minutes in 2021). I primarily listen to music while working out and this year there was a lot more working out. Prior to getting my vaccine, I was working out 2-3 times in my basement. After getting my vaccine, I was working out the same 2-3 times in the gym but for longer durations.

No surprises here. I’m guessing the East Coast Hip Hop is The Beastie Boys?

The top songs are way off. If I had to guess, I would say that “Hypotheticals” by Lake Street Dive, “Leave the Door Open” or “Smokin Out the Window” or “Blast Off” by Silk Sonic, “Careless Whisper” by Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, “How Not to Drown” by Chvrches, or “Scavengers” by Thrice would make up my top five.

I listened to more artists this year (478 in 2020 vs. 656 in 2021).

Again, this thing is busted. New albums from Lake Street Dive, Silk Sonic, Thrice, Circa Survive, and others that I listened at least 2-3 times through and they are not on the list.

Again, this thing is busted. I listened to the entire series of Heavyweights…some 40 or so episodes at roughly 30 minutes in length.

Here’s my favorite 2021 songs.

Here’s my 2020 Spotify Year in Review with links to previous years.

Italian hospital employee accused of skipping work for 15 years – BBC News

A hospital employee in Italy has been accused of skipping work on full pay for 15 years, local media report. The man is alleged to have stopped turning up to work at the Ciaccio hospital in the southern city of Catanzaro in 2005. He is now being investigated for fraud, extortion and abuse of office, Italian news agency Ansa reports. He was reportedly paid €538,000 (£464,000) in total over the years he is thought not to have been working.

If you’re employed and don’t report to work in 15 years and don’t get caught, there should be a rule that you get to keep all of the wages that you technically didn’t work for. Goodness gracious!