What I learned this week from January 15, 2021

This week I learned about e-ink posters, emu wars, woodpeckers, and a little more.

How to reduce digital distractions

Advice from medieval monks: Think of bizarre elaborate mental structures. The stranger the better.

Bigger MLB players have a better chance at improving over years, compared to smaller players

Someone on fangraphs did an analysis of all the 27 year old players, and how they performed in their 27-year-old season to their 28-year-old season.

If you took two 27-year-old players with exactly the same numbers. One player was short and light, the other big and heavy… in their next year being 28, the big player is projected to put up better numbers than the smaller player.

E-ink posters

E-ink is the technology that Kindle devices use to display black and white images with very little battery power. For over 10 years I’ve wanted e-ink technology to develop where we have e-ink posters, and e-ink family calendars. It baffles me why we can’t have this. Just make the screen bigger.

Finally someone released a bigger e-ink screen to display fine art photographs.

IONNYK is the first wireless e-paper digital art frame in the world

However, the price is very prohibitive.

  • 16×20″ for $1,533
  • 27×39″ for $3,619

G.I. Joe toys are hot now

According to bleedingcool, G.I. Joe toys are one of the top three hottest toys right now. Given my generation, I like G.I. Joe figures. But them being hot right now seems a little odd, since there isn’t any recent G.I.Joe movies, nor any coming out (or maybe I’m unaware).

Emu wars

From reddit:

“In 1932 Australian troops were dumbfounded when they found themselves outmaneuvered by clever birds during the Emu Wars.

No sooner had the conflict begun, however, than it became clear that the Australian military had vastly underestimated the emu. Cunning adversaries, the emus proved almost impossible to hit with machine-gun fire, and they seemed able to shrug off even serious injury from bullets without breaking stride.

Describing the emus, Major Meredith later said:

“If we had a military division with the bullet-carrying capacity of these birds it would face any army in the world… They can face machine guns with the invulnerability of tanks.”

Estonians like hard liquor more than any other country

According to this graphic posted to Reddit, Estonians are really far off in the corner when it comes to hard liquor over beer and wine.

Cleaning pliers with lasers

Apparently somehow you can clean up rusty pliers with a pulsating laser.

People I (Mostly) Admire

There’s a new podcast from @Freakonomics co-author Steven D. Levit. I absolutely love the Freakonomics podcast by the other co-author, Stephen J. Dubner. Levit only rarely appears on the Freakonomics podcast.

But now Levit is going to get more air-time with his own podcast, “People I (Mostly) Admire

The format sounds very enticing. “The perfect guest for me is someone who’s not only wildly intelligent, but also a little bit off the rails,” Levit says. “Someone who thinks differently and who doesn’t care at all how the world perceives him or her.”

Video reveals why woodpeckers don’t get stuck to trees

How woodpeckers manage to retract their beak quickly after it got stuck in wood

People used to think that the woodpecker’s beak was firmly attached to its head, because the bird has to drill continuously into the wood. Instead, scientists found out this year that the woodpecker’s upper beak is loosely attached to its head.

They shot slow-motion video and saw the how the bird’s head and bill slowly interact in with each peck motion.

In the fraction of a second when the bird’s beak hits the tree and is in the tree, the bird slightly turns its head clockwise. Its upper beak doesn’t rotate with its head, so then it is able to loosen its beak from the tree.


In reaction to my blog post, “Can’t do thinking work while listening to podcasts? How to solve it.” several insightful comments were shared on Linkedin. One of the comments linked to research about how multitasking is bad, “Why Humans Are Bad at Multitasking

Three interesting quotes from this article:

  1. Who are the multitaskers—NOT YOU! This quote (which was also in the summary) gets right to the point:

“There’s a small number of people who are decent multitaskers — this concept of a ‘supertasker’ — but at best, it’s maybe 10 percent of the population, so chances are, you’re not one of them,” Markman told LiveScience. “The research out there will tell you that there are a couple of people who are good at it, but it’s probably not you.”

  1. This is a shocking part of the research:

“The researchers found that on average, people switched activities every three minutes throughout the day.”

Wow! That’s a lot! I like to think that I don’t switch that often. Maybe I do. But I do like getting into a groove.

  1. Multi-tasking works with some habits:

“The brain is designed to handle multitasking when actions or activities are so familiar they have become habits”.

That’s a really good point. In my post I called it “monotonous monkey-work”. But habit is a great way of describing it. In fact, the researchers probably don’t consider my “monotonous monkey-work” to be a habit. The examples of habits they gave are: walking, folding laundry.

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