In 1989, a Canadian company tried to promote the idea of burying people at golf courses. They imagined that courses could add memorial walls made out of their patented “mod-urns” — hollow, cremain-filled building blocks that could be snapped together to make instant memorial walls.
A company rep argued that this could be “a potentially lucrative business for golf courses, who could pack in up to 50,000 new ‘members’ per acre.”
In this pandemic era, jigsaw puzzles have seen increased popularity. But I was unaware of the tradition of “whimsy” pieces, components that exhibit naturalistic shapes. I encountered the notion in an old issue of LIFE magazine.
Then I found out there are modern makers. Here are a couple.
In 1960, Thomas Scoville received a patent for a device for measuring tuberosity. He explained that the purpose of measuring tuberosity was to improve the fit of chairs:
Even after looking up the meaning of the word ‘tuberosity’ in the dictionary, it took me a while to figure out what exactly Scoville’s device was measuring, and what it possibly had to do with chairs. Because the dictionary simply defined tuberosity as a ’rounded swelling.’ Some more googling revealed that Scoville must have been referring to the Ischial tuberosity, or ‘sitting bone’. As defined by wikipedia, this is:
A product concept from Dutch design company Nieuwe Heren. The wireless, flexible keyboard sewn into the jeans was fully functional. However, the jeans could not be machine washed.
As far as I know, these remained a concept and never made it to market. But the company said that, if they were ever to sell these jeans, they’d price them at around £250 ($325).
Cash might be tight for many industries amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but not when it comes to the ever-evolving esports industry. Take Statespace, a platform that trains gamers which has raised $15 million in Series A funding.
Launched in 2017 together with Aim Lab, a product that replicates the standard physics of first person shooter games to help players practice, Statespace has multiple products addressing various aspects affecting gameplay, such as visual acumen and reaction time.
Created initially by neuroscientists from New York University, Statespace describes itself as “using cognitive science and artificial intelligence to revolutionise the way humans improve.”
According to founder and CEO Wayne Mackey, the startup currently has two million registered users and half a million monthly active users, a 400 percent increase since January.
The success of Statespace’s early-round suggests that investors see a lot of promise in the area of cognitive training, with the startup looking to be the leading force in that particular arena.
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly boosted the prospects of the gaming industry over the past months, as lockdown measures have continued to restrict people’s abilities to meet up in real life.
Already prior to the virus, the global video game market was forecast to be worth $159 billion by the end of 2020. Covid-19 is accelerating the industry’s successful trajectory. With legacy gaming company Nintendo reporting a 41 percent increase in profit during Q1 2020.
Outside of hardware, Twitch, Amazon’s gaming streaming platform, witnessed a 20 percent increase in viewing figures during the same period, leading to a staggering 3.1 billion hours of footage watched in Q1 2020. For comparison, YouTube only had 1.07 billion hours watched during the same time.
Indeed, as Mike Sepso, co-founder and CEO of Vindex, an esports infrastructure platform, recently told the World Economic Forum, “Unique to gaming is that it has both interactive and linear consumption models, and the activity of watching gaming video streams and video on-demand has become nearly as big as gaming itself.”
Sepso adds that, “In the Covid-19 era, all of this activity has increased dramatically because of both the new time available to people and their need for social interaction, which gaming provides.”
As with many industries, we are seeing how much Covid-19 is accelerating both positive and negative industry trends. Following the successful funding of Statespace, and the expansion of what was once a niche industry into the mainstream, a lot more interest can be expected in this space moving forward.
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Edited to stop short of bare bosoms.
Ian Moor had qualified to compete in the 1979 National Paraplegic Championships, in events such as table tennis and wheelchair discus. But when a picture of him ran in the Yorkshire Evening Press, people recognized him as their postman, who was fully capable of walking.
His deception revealed, Moor was kicked out of the Paraplegic Championships. But he never faced any criminal charges because he hadn’t benefitted financially from his deception in any way.
“Just to be clear, we’re not COVID-deniers or anything.”
Dustin Evans is nervous right now. But the 31-year-old general manager of Southern Roots Brewing Company in downtown Waco, Texas, is committed to reopening his bar at 25-percent capacity on Friday, even with small children and a pregnant wife at home. After all, COVID-19 cases seemed to taper off in his area, with four new infections reported Wednesday marking the first uptick in days.
“It’s not an easy decision, but my parents have poured their life into this business,” Evans told The Daily Beast. “It might be a little dance with the devil, but it came down to someone dropping off a pot of gold at the front door or letting us figure out how to work with this.”
“We’ve been doing to-go beer, but it’s just nothing like when you get a big group of people in here hanging out for an hour and a half,” he added.
After the initial fear and confusion of the unprecedented global COVID-19 outbreak, Evans said, the brewery purchased personal protective equipment, including masks, and made plans for daily employee screenings. Staff also redesigned the taproom, outdoor space, and seating areas with social distancing in mind.
“As much as we wish we could stay home until we find a vaccine, we just can’t,” said Evans. “The president says one thing, the governor says another thing, the local city leaders say another thing.”
Evans, at least, has some encouraging recent numbers on his side. The same can’t be said for the state as a whole. In fact, novel coronavirus cases have surged in Texas as business has lurched back to life with steady prodding from Gov. Greg Abbott. On May 1, restaurants opened up at 25 percent capacity, and on Friday, they will be allowed to hit 50 percent capacity—joined by bars at 25 percent. A slew of other businesses, including day-care centers, youth clubs, personal-care services, gyms, office spaces, bowling alleys, and aquariums will all be able to operate at varying levels of activity in the coming days.
According to a New York Times analysis, by next week, Texas and West Virginia will be tied for the most industry sectors reopened of any state in the country.
The problem, according to conversations with residents, business owners, and health experts in the state, is that Texas is experiencing outbreaks in both rural areas with meatpacking facilities and prisons, as well as some of its biggest counties, like Houston, the fourth-largest city in the country. The fear was that isolated signs of progress and unsteady measurements were being used to justify aggressive, top-down reopening, putting millions in danger.
“Today was our deadliest day ever in Dallas County, and we haven’t seen a decline yet in anything,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told The Daily Beast on Tuesday. “You have to ask yourself not what is legal but what is safe.”
According to state data, two weeks into its first phase of reopening restaurants and retail stores, Texas last Thursday reported its largest daily increase in both coronavirus cases and deaths. Gov. Abbott justified the continued progress by citing metrics like steadying hospitalizations and infection totals, and some areas have shown genuinely promising signs of calm.
Still, May 14 marked the seventh straight day with 1,000 new coronavirus cases in the state. The numbers have remained fairly stable—and high—since, with 1,219 new cases overnight on Wednesday, and case totals reached 50,552, with 1,388 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.
Adding to the sense of uncertainty, a concerning discrepancy was revealed in the state’s COVID-19 case totals this past weekend, when The Texas Observer reported the state might be inflating its testing numbers by mixing antibody test results with its diagnostic test results. Though Gov. Abbott denied that report on Monday, he was later countered by the leader of the Democratic Caucus in the Texas House of Representatives, who said his source was the state’s own Department of State Health Services.
In other words, echoing an ongoing feud over data transparency in another GOP-led state moving quickly to reopen—Florida—state, county, and local officials in Texas can’t even agree on metrics, much less how to proceed with easing the lockdown.
After a tense back and forth between the governor and some localities, Abbott on Monday did agree to grant exceptions to some areas, including Amarillo and El Paso, where outbreaks have continued to ravage local populations. El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego was one of a dozen local leaders to ask if the governor would exclude his county from the reopening, using a compelling bit of data: On May 1, when many state restrictions were lifted, El Paso County had 961 positive cases. Fourteen days later, cases had risen 67 percent, to 1,607.
But while those cities were given breathing room, the two counties with the worst outbreaks in the state—Harris, which includes Houston, and Dallas—will still be forced to move forward with reopening, whether they like it or not. To ensure big-city officials proceed with the plan, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office went so far as to send letters to leaders in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio warning that “unlawful” local mask requirements or shelter-in-place orders that go further than the state’s restrictions would be met with legal action.
Echoing the precedent set by businesses in Georgia, that tension has led some restaurants to balk at reopening, even with the go-ahead from Abbott.
“Right now, we deliver everything to the trunks of people’s cars,” said 44-year-old Adam Orman, the owner and general manager of the Austin-based Italian restaurant L’Oca d’Oro. “It’s not just that we’re being cautious, it’s that we know that opening up at 25 percent or 50 percent is not a great option because it’s much more costly than running takeout.”
“We don’t stand to make more by opening up, but we will definitely be putting a lot more at risk,” he added, noting that it’s not yet clear how many patrons would even return, considering their neighborhood and clientele, not to mention public health guidelines that advise against unnecessary social engagement.
To that end, L’Oca d’Oro and about 100 other local businesses have been working through the organization Good Work Austin, which advocates for small business funding and support, to counsel restaurants and bars on how—and when—to reopen safely. New, democratically created guidelines among members will be approved and sent out in the coming days to help its businesses commit to—and then promote—those very changes.
Meanwhile, in Houston, local health authorities were doing “everything” they can to ramp up testing, according to Dr. Umair A. Shah, executive director of Harris County Public Health in Houston, who noted the county was testing about 12,000 people per day. “So can everyone get tested? 4.7 million people live in Harris County. What does ‘everyone’ mean? Because if 4.7 million people said today they want to get tested? Absolutely not.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Harris County had the highest case count in the state, with 9,859 confirmed infections and 207 deaths.
“At the end of the day, we have to follow our state leaders and governors and the decisions they’re making,” said Shah, noting that anyone asking for his advice should probably avoid bars and other public settings entirely.
Turgay Ayer, an associate professor at Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, recently released a state-by-state COVID-19 simulator with colleagues at Harvard, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Boston Medical Center. It was updated with anonymized cell phone mobility data this week, which showed a range of case and death predictions under various levels of lockdown. Under 20 percent partial opening, estimated new COVID-19 daily cases in the state would peak at 1,340 on August 24, according to Ayer’s analysis. But under a 50 percent partial opening, the estimated new COVID-19 daily cases would peak at 7,420 on August 31. By that date, the total number of deaths from COVID-19 in Texas would reach 5,130 under the 50 percent model.
“Once we see 7,000 daily new cases, containing the virus would be extremely difficult,” Ayer told The Daily Beast. “It will take a lot longer and a lot more effort.”
“If it comes to a point where it significantly hurts the economy in addition to people’s lives, reclosing might be the only option on the table,” he added.
To be clear, Ayter noted, the model accounts for various levels of mobility, but cannot precisely differentiate between bars versus restaurants and was not crafted around Texas policies so much as to offer a broad look at the effect of various levels of contact. And these models are not foolproof. Ayer said models looking at Georgia’s reopening were, to some degree, proved wrong: As restrictions lifted and mobility increased, case counts did not appear to skyrocket the way they were expected to. Essentially, though the data showed that people were more mobile and interactive, he explained, they also appeared to be more careful.
Bars add another wild card to the mix, however.
“Even with perfect physiological and biological information, we can’t predict human behavior,” said Dr. Marilyn Felkner, a clinical assistant professor of public health at the University of Texas at Austin who previously managed the Emerging and Acute Infectious Diseases Branch of the Texas Department of State Health Services. “If everyone who used to go to bars crowds to a bar, there’s going to be increased transmission. If people are judicious and there’s a handful of people in the bar, it doesn’t raise the risk much.”
Multiple experts noted that, even if folks are more careful when stepping back into public settings, adding alcohol into the mix at bars could easily lead to poorer—or less conscientious—decision-making.
The implications for Texas were clear: Ayer’s model—and another published this week by the UT Southwestern Medical Center—show there’s significant risk to quickly reopening the state, especially with a slew of hot zones in major metropolitan areas.
As Ayer put it, “The bottom line is that 50 percent opening is too much.”
Clint Bolin collected rocks. That, in itself, isn’t weird. However, Bolin made it weird by hoarding massive amounts of rocks of absolutely no value. He also collected chunks of concrete and slabs of cement.
When he vacated his Long Beach apartment in 1975, he left behind 60,000 pounds of rocks, all neatly boxed. There were about 600 rock boxes, each weighing over 100 lbs.
Strangely, no one had ever seen him carrying any of these boxes in. And he was only a frail man, weighing about 150 lbs. Plus, he had only lived in the apartment for four months. So how he managed to accumulate so many boxes of rocks in his apartment remains a mystery.
I haven’t been able to find any sources that describe what became of him after he made headlines in 1975. It’s as if he disappeared into thin air.
EPA’s ‘Secret Science’ Rule Meets With An Outpouring Of Protest
Above photo: Andrew Wheeler (center), Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, arrives for a House Appropriations Committee hearing in the Rayburn House Office Building on March 4, 2020. Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.
On Last Day for Public Comment.
Among those opposing the proposed rule were nearly 40 top scientific organizations and academic institutions which jointly submitted a letter to the agency.
As the deadline approached for public comment on a controversial “transparency” rule proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, 39 top scientific organizations and academic institutions joined together on Monday to warn that if finalized, the regulation would greatly diminish the role of science in decisions affecting the environment and the health of Americans.
In a letter submitted to the EPA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest scientific society, and a wide array of other professional groups and universities, strongly opposed the rule, which they said is “not about strengthening science, but about undermining the ability of the EPA to use the best available science in setting policies and regulations.”
The groups signing the letter included organizations as diverse as the American Psychological Association and the Crop Science Society of America, and universities from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to the University of California, Los Angeles.
The letter was part of an outpouring of opposition on the last day for public comment on the proposed rule, called “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.” The rule would restrict the EPA’s use of scientific studies relying on health data that excludes names or other identifying information to protect patients’ confidentiality or that are not “capable of being substantially reproduced.”
Critics say the regulation will knock out from consideration some of the most important human health research, while giving industry opponents of environmental protection rules a new avenue to challenge the agency’s actions, even after President Donald J. Trump leaves the White House.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, who has vowed to finalize the rule this year, has characterized the plan as a “good government” effort that will increase public confidence in the agency’s decisions.
“I fundamentally believe in Community Right to Know and the American public has the right to know what scientific studies underline the Agency’s regulatory decisions,” Wheeler said in a statement last month, thanking the agency’s Science Advisory Board for “their support of the concept of the proposed rule.”
In fact, the 44-member board, made up of outside advisers, most of whom were appointed during the Trump administration, has expressed reservations about the proposed “transparency” rule.
“There is minimal justification provided in the Proposed Rule for why existing procedures and norms utilized across the U.S. scientific community, including the federal government, are inadequate,” the board wrote in a report to Wheeler last month, referring to practices like peer review that are routinely used by scientific journals and have long been in use at the EPA.
“Moving forward with altered transparency requirements beyond those already in use, in the absence of such a robust analysis, risks serious and perverse outcomes,” the advisory board added.
The idea of challenging EPA science as lacking in “transparency” dates back more than 25 years to a strategy developed by tobacco and fossil fuel industry advisers to fight national air quality standards on particulate matter pollution produced by combustion. Industry advisers took an approach of raising doubts about the original scientific studies on the grave health risks of so-called PM 2.5.
The EPA eventually set fine particle pollution standards, but the fight over the science never quieted, in large part because a wide range of regulations affecting the fossil fuel industry, including those seeking to address climate change, have been based on that science. When Republicans were in control of Congress, the House three times passed legislation to rein in the EPA’s use of science, but the bills were never taken up by the Senate.
The Trump administration picked up the idea, and received 600,000 comments when the new rule was first proposed in 2018. Wheeler addressed some of the issues on public access to confidential data in a “supplemental” proposal initially released in March with an April 17 public comment deadline.
That deadline was extended to May 18 after health and environmental groups blasted Wheeler for advancing the plan in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In public comments filed in the last eight weeks, scientific organizations have raised concerns that the changes that Wheeler made last month have substantially broadened the scope of the science that could be subject to challenge. For instance, the Seattle Aquarium, which conducts research on water quality and the impacts of pollution, said the revised plan could restrict the EPA’s use of “situationally unique research” that by definition could not be reproduced—for example, science based on one-time events like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Our lives, ocean and planet depend on maintaining a strong, science-driven EPA,” wrote Robert W. Davidson, president and CEO of the aquarium.
But an EPA spokesman said in an email that in the revisions Wheeler made clear that such “situational” research would not be excluded simply because it could not be replicated. “Science transparency does not weaken science, and does not endanger health, quite the contrary,” the spokesman said. “By requiring transparency, scientists will be required to publish hypothesis and experimental data for other scientists to review and discuss, requiring the science to withstand skepticism and peer review.”
Joel Green, water quality biologist for the Hoh Tribe in Washington State, said that the proposed rule raises concerns for the 20 Treaty Tribes of western Washington, which rely on the harvest of fish from the Pacific Ocean and Washington rivers. Green included a list of 60 human health studies on the dangers of mercury that he said could be excluded from consideration or given less weight in future EPA rulemaking under the new “transparency” regulation.
“The proposed rule does nothing to advance the EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment, but rather would be an invitation to polluting industries to legally challenge regulations protecting human health, and for the EPA to weaken those regulations,” Green said.
But other groups supported the proposed rule. The American Council on Science and Health, for example, a nonprofit advocacy group that often opposes EPA protections, submitted comments largely in favor of the transparency proposal.
“External validation, checking someone’s work, is a reasonable approach,” wrote Chuck Dinerstein, senior fellow at the American Council on Science and Health.
The pesticide industry, represented by CropLife America and including Bayer Crop Science, supports the rule and called for extra time to provide comments. After the Obama administration proposed banning the widely-used insecticide, chlorpyrifos, which has been linked to brain damage in children, CropLife America in 2016 petitioned EPA to halt regulatory decisions that are based on science for which the raw data is not available. The Trump administration announced in 2019 it would not ban chlorpyrifos.
Two members of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board submitted comments that dissented from the board’s report to Wheeler and supported the EPA’s proposal, with some qualifications. John Graham, a former senior official in the George W. Bush administration, wrote, ” I believe the public at large (including affected interest groups) are entitled to access the information used by government to support the regulations (or deregulatory actions) that impact them.” But he noted that the EPA was likely to need a process for considering case-by-case waivers from the transparency requirements. And he suggested that the EPA set up a standing committee of its Science Advisory Board to assist the agency in addressing such situations.
“Working the kinks out of the process will require that the Agency take some time, meet with scientific organizations, engage in dialogue about key concerns, and do some consensus building,” Graham wrote.
The hundreds of comments filed in the last few weeks by scientific organizations overwhelmingly opposed the rule, suggesting that the EPA is a long way from building such consensus.
But Steve Milloy, a former coal industry executive who runs the website junkscience.com and has long called for a ban on the use of what he called “secret science” at the EPA, said in an interview that the effort to enact the transparency rule already has had the kind of impact he and other proponents had hoped to see.
“I think the most important thing about it is this issue has been moved to the forefront of the regulatory science debate,” Milloy said. “That’s all you can hope for in the end. This has drawn a lot of attention to the problem of secret science, and that’s very gratifying.”
Georgina Gustin contributed reporting to this article.
Throughout the 20th century, it seemed to be widely assumed that the mood of the husband was determined by the behavior of his wife at home. So, concluded the District of Columbia’s traffic safety office in 1963, if a man was in a ‘disgruntled disposition’ and consequently got into a traffic accident, it must have been the fault of his wife who didn’t cheer him up adequately when he left home with a goodbye kiss “as though she meant it.”
Unfortunately, I can’t find any info about how Leon Colby fared after his 5-day ordeal trapped in a folding bed.
The situation seems like an absurdist, real-life variation on the premise of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game.
The pharmaceutical firm Moderna has reported good results so far in trials of its novel-coronavirus vaccine, inspiring cautious optimism in scientists scrambling to contain the damage from the ongoing pandemic.
But these same scientists warn against getting too excited about early results, however positive. The world could still be a long way from having a working vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, to say nothing of deploying that vaccine on a large scale.
In 1960, Monarch Books announced the launch of Perfume-o-Books. These were books infused with perfume.
They had plans to use a saddle-leather scent for westerns, floral odors for flower-arrangement books, and food scents for cookbooks.
All of which seemed logical. However, they decided to launch the line with three movie tie-in titles: “The Enemy General,” by Dan Pepper, “The Stranglers of Bombay,” by Stuart James, and “The Brides of Dracula,” by Dean Owen. These three titles were each infused with a “Chanel 5 type perfume.”
They seem like very odd titles to have been perfumed. And evidently the perfume didn’t appreciably help sales, because no more perfume-o-book titles were ever printed.
I cannot find an issue of C&V later than 2014, and the website you see on the cover below seems down. But certainly, if they still exist, they will find it hard to beat the cover for the April 1977 issue.
Your Biological Safety Mask