Last time I posted my shared items from Google Reader, I said that maybe I'd get on a daily schedule. Oops.
- There may be a link between autism and vinyl floors. This is only an initial finding, but at least people switching from PVC floors won't doom their kids (and other kids) to die of measles.
- However, the correlation might not mean anything. Take, for example, this strong correlation between US highway fatalities and lemon imports from Mexico.
- What can happen when poorly characterized correlations are misidentified as causes: As of last week, Jenny McCarthy and other anti-vaxxers have killed 150 people.
- Looking to cut unhealthy foods out of your diet? It may be a bad idea to go to restaurants with healthy options, then. A new study found that having salad as an option for a side made people more likely to order a side of fries. Or for the more evil spin on that: If any of you own or plan to some day open a restaurant, take note. Put something cheap-but-healthy in the "extras" areas of your menus, and people are more likely to order one of those extras. I wonder if it'd also apply to other extras. Maybe we'll start seeing things that are actually useful in supermarket checkouts, to trick us into buying more candy bars.
- Want to boost your willpower? Lifehacker (and a Case Western study) says to brush your teeth with the wrong hand. Apparently this is also supposed to help you avoid Alzheimer's.
- Bad Astronomy included an announcement of a cool contest today: create a stick-figure cartoon that can be used to educate people about a false argument. Cool.
- I love this video of the Sun's surface. I mean, think about it for a minute. That's the surface of the Sun. When you watch that video, you're seeing the structure of that surface. People 100 years ago didn't even know if the surface of the Sun had structure, and now we can watch videos of it. Neat.
- PageZipper is a neat bookmarklet for stitching together long pages. It's particularly useful for The Big Picture. Now to learn user script coding, so I can make it auto-run for The Big Picture.
- I find it funny but unsurprising how many versions of the story about internet surfing increasing productivity showed up in various Google Reader shared lists.
- Worried that you might have the Conficker virus? Check this page to find out. I love how simple and clever that site is.
- If you use Gmail, I highly recommend turning on Search Autocomplete in Gmail Labs. I can't think of a downside to it, and the upside is that it can teach you some neat search tricks. For example, type "has" after you turn it on.
- I shared a story about Google being in late-stage talks to acquire Twitter, but it now has an update saying it's not true. Darn, I thought that could be interesting.
- The Associated Press is going to try to stop web aggregators from using their stories. In other words, the AP doesn't want anybody to read their stories. I'm going to try to avoid doing so going forward. Pssst, AP: try to find a model that works, rather than trying to sue the model that people want out of existence.
- Lifehacker pointed me to a cool pair of bookmarklets to tag things to read later and then pull one off your list. A friend pointed me to one that does the same sorta thing, but allows you to read the stuff you put on your list from other devices (or, I just noticed, by pulling them into an aggregator as an RSS feed). I need to search around each to find which I actually recommend, but for the moment Instapaper wins just because Lifehacker's recommendation got smashed into oblivion by click-throughs, and this is the sorta thing that might continue to tax a server.
- Thinkgeek made an awesome Tauntaun sleeping bag as an April Fools' prank. Now demand is so high that they might actually make it. Please please please please please. Also, please sell it in adult sizes.
- Two geeks in New Jersey made fools out of a lot of people with a simple UFO hoax. Strong work.
Politics and Government:
- Sweden's Parliament voted last Wednesday to allow same-sex marriage (226 to 22). That's like Congress voting to allow it. That's awesome, I wish we could get to that point.
- But hey, at least Iowa's Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in Iowa. It's a start. According to 538, it might even survive.
- The US government will launch Data.gov in late May to provide a clearing house of government data. Very, very cool.
- I love Obama. "I've said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is, although as I mentioned we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation. We consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values."
- Lifehacker had a video about a great trick to light things like workshops in sunny places: 2-liter bottles with water and a bit of bleach. Brilliant.
- Off-shore windpower might exceed US electricity demand. Holy crap. Let's get that figured out.
- T-Mobile is going to launch an Android-powered tablet. I hope it's going to be actual touchscreen, like a G1 or iPhone, not stylus-based... but it'll be interesting to see how they solve screen-scratching potential in something as large as a laptop if that's the case.
- Sure, I could have put this in the Science block, but it really needed its own tag: a robot made a scientific discovery all by itself. To be clear, this wasn't a group of scientists deciding what the robot should investigate and using the device to test their hypothesis. The robot was given a pool of data, and software to analyze that data in order to make its own hypothesis. It then designed experiments to test that hypothesis, carried them out, and analyzed the results. That is unbelievably awesome. I, for one, welcome our new robot scientist overlords.
As always, leave your comments on these or anything else below.