This Week in Upgrades: September 12

Monday, Monday. Let’s see what this week has in store. Hope you had a good weekend amidst the start of the NFL season, reflecting on 15 years after 9/11, and whatever else you may have been up to.

The past week was full of important happenings–and that’s in addition to the unfolding, depressing drama of the presidential election.

This was a fairly positive surprise: the Dakota Access Pipeline has been temporarily halted by the Department of Justice. “The recognition that the government may not have adequately taken tribes’ considerations into account is a significant achievement, but the decision by the Obama administration is far from definitive. In the meantime, the activists on the ground say they have no plans to move.” More work to do. Props to the activists.

This was not a good surprise: the most thorough study of ocean warming yet has some alarming findings. The oceans have been keeping the planet habitable, and they can’t take a whole lot more.

Tesla’s autopilot, “the best semi-autonomous system on the road today,” is upgrading in some crucial ways.

Yosemite National Park added 400 acres–the largest expansion there in 70 years. Wonderful!

Watch bacteria overcome antibiotics and turn into superbugs. Fascinating, yet terrifying.

Neuroscientists may have just identified the brain cells associated with schadenfreude. Why do we sometimes feel delight from other’s misfortune?

Babies are dumb so adults can be smarter.

Ever see floaters? A few visual disturbances are pretty common. Reassuring for my hypochondriac self.

A new drug has proven effective against one of the deadliest cancers without side effects. Immunotherapy findings like this are super promising.

Stay awesome.

 

This Week in Upgrades: July 25

Oh, hello! Here we are at the start of another week. How are you doing? Rested? Eager? Ready to keep the world new?

We’re in the midst of a fire-pocalypse in the LA area. Wildfires are common in California, but the Sand fire in Santa Clarita is uncommonly dire. Looks like the end of the world when the smoke-obscured sun glows an ominous red-orange, and ash is snowing down on you. Very unsettling.

What else happened this week?

Amazon is looking to use lampposts as part of their drone delivery network. Maybe drones are better than pooping pigeons?

We learned more about how wild birds and humans team up to get honey. Wonderful things happen when we work with nature instead of trying to subdue it.

Here’s everything you’d want to know about campfires. Just keep them contained, OK?

When we’re at ease, humans gravitate toward equality. In stress, hierarchy. Very interesting.

Do you remember what it was like to be small and the world seemed full of magic? We’re learning more about how kids understand fantasy, reality, and pretending.

Here’s Tesla’s “Masterplan Part Two”. Ambitious, but encouraging for society if they can make it happen. “The first time, possibly ever, that a green product with significant environmental credentials has been the thing everybody wanted.”

In the midst of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, members of the media try to explain why the media is failing us. This American presidential election has been a wild and depressing ride. Hopefully, a lot of beneficial change–media included–emerges out of the ashes.

Have a great week!

 

This Week in Upgrades: July 11

Hello, friend. You hanging in there? If I’m honest, I’ve been too stunned and saddened by recent current events to write. Alton Sterling. Filando Castile. Dallas. Why does it seem like every day lately gives us new violence and injustice?

Our hope in such seeming hopelessness is action. What that action is will take time, reflection, and intentionality. When I can gather some of my own thoughts, I’ll write more about it to create a space for dialogue.

Some other things worthy of consideration from this week, and a few lighthearted ones to help with the emotional and empathy fatigue:

This June was the hottest June the US has ever had.

Here’s a great little video on how North America got its shape.

Google’s self-driving cars can now understand hand signals. Automated vehicles require a lot of nuance (because driving is nuanced, obviously).

Likewise, the Tesla autopilot accidents are a reminder that we’re too trusting, too soon. That is not a fully automated system. Don’t be dumb.

Faced with a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, many Americans wish there was a third choice. We need more than two political parties in the United States, and this election has brought that to the fore.

This young man is bound for great musical things.

Another reminder about democracy and the middle class in an age of automation. If we don’t act now, it’s not going to turn out well.

Why are salt and pepper on every dinner table?

Have a great, safe week.

 

This Week in Upgrades: June 6

Hello, friend! How was your weekend? I’m on a much needed vacation right now, and I’m feeling super refreshed. Very little phone and Internet connection here, so it’s been a bit of a digital detox too. I’m not mad about that.

A little shorter vacation version of Upgrades because of that, but still plenty of interesting things this week.

Tesla has reportedly offered up its autopilot data to the US Department of Transportation.

Norway is set to ban all gas-powered cars by 2025. Well done, Norway!

Is this why smart people do dumb things?

Sad news for Hamilton fans: it appears creator and star Lin-Manuel Miranda is leaving the show in July. Have a few thousand dollars to see it before he’s done?

Dogs may not have become humankind’s best friend the way we thought.

The United States is trapped in a neoliberal nightmare. How will we wake up?

Is compositing a better way to get rid of medications?

Have an excellent week!

 

 

This Week in Upgrades: April 4

Hello, Monday. Hello, April! Were you sufficiently fooled on Friday? If I’m honest, I’m not a huge fan of the April 1st shenanigans. Netflix’s John Stamos bit was pretty good, though.

This week did give us this video of a barn owl learning to fly, so there’s really nothing to complain about. Owls are the coolest.

Speaking of animals, ever wonder how cats always land on their feet?

Civil Eats continued the conversation about “other people’s food” that The Sporkful started. Let’s keep talking about this, yeah?

This may be a strategy to save the world’s fish. Highly recommend The End of the Line if you haven’t seen it.

Do you know what chocolate looks like before it turns into the bar you have stashed away? Quite a process.

Many factory-farm chickens cannot even stand by the time they reach maturity. Whole Foods is starting a movement for slower-growing chickens for the sake of animal welfare. Good on you, guys.

Is wine better out of a can? The “beer-ification” of wine.

If all goes according to plan, electric cars will be the future of autos. Over the weekend, nearly 300,000 reservations were made for the Model 3, Tesla’s everyman electric car. Here’s everything we know about this make or break vehicle.

More about “being a man”: superheroes and the changing ideal male body.

Have a fantastic week!

 

This Week in Upgrades: March 7

…And we’re back! After a couple weeks of needed break, I’m refreshed and ready to write up a storm. Los Angeles is even cooperating today with my favorite writing conditions: gray, rainy, and cool.

To get the week started right, here are some of the most interesting human things from the last seven days–free of Donald Drumpf (Except for that essential John Oliver video in the link. You absolutely must watch it if you haven’t).

Why are human beings curious?

Grammar upgrade: less vs. fewer.

Others on the go deeper than perceptions train: beware the dominant narrative.

For the first time, the Northern Hemisphere has averaged 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial temperatures–the benchmark beyond which many scientists believe climate change becomes especially dangerous for human beings. Gulp.

Speaking of climate change, Sunday night’s Democratic Debate finally touched on fracking–the fool’s gold strategy for cleaner energy.

Sad confirmation of what most Millennials probably already know: “…The economic downturn, slow recovery and student debt have cancelled out today’s record workforce productivity and levels of higher education.”

Researchers have released sound recordings from the deepest trench in the ocean, and they’re super eerie. Please don’t play these around me. #thalassophobia

What do we know about the entry-level Tesla Model 3–the car that’s supposed to bring electric vehicles to the masses?

Cured meats are delicious. Up your food knowledge with salumi 101.

There’s a growing consensus that exposure to peanuts as an infant prevents the development of a peanut allergy. Interesting.

Thoroughly satisfying video of a log cabin start to finish.