Summary of “From Nazi Germany to Australia: The Incredible True Story of Oskar Speck and History’s Longest Kayak Journey”

Sheets of monsoon rains, pushed by southeasterlies running to 25 knots, forced Oskar Speck and his 18-foot folding kayak off the open water into the protection of the mangrove forests of New Guinea.
Oskar Walter Speck died in 1995 at 88, never able to get his full story told.
Born near Hamburg in 1907, Oskar Walter Speck was seven years old when the kaiser plunged Europe into World War I. By the time he turned 11, in 1918, the war had been lost, the kaiser had fled, and Germany was saddled with a peace treaty so punitive it left the country chaotic, bitter, and broke.
At the mouth of the gulf, Speck pulled into the sandy port city of Bandar Abbas, on the Strait of Hormuz, and found it to be “About the most desolate place in the Persian Gulf, hot, dirty, empty.” The desert’s sandpaper winds also left his first kayak in tatters, and he ordered a replacement from Germany.
Still smarting over the family criticism, he wrote Grete about a story in Sketch: “We take our hats off to Herr Oskar Speck for his colossal enterprise in his little craft.” Then he added sourly, “In Germany they see things differently.”
The two embarked on a brief flirtation, Trautmann clearly looking for his “Pure Aryan man.” He set up the fees and the speeches and, at one of them, presented Speck with a Nazi pennant to fly from his kayak.
Later, he sent Speck a note signed with typical Nazi froth: “Remain what you are: an agent of the New Germany with all its ideals, tough will and keen Viking spirit. With German Greeting and Heil Hitler!”.
After more than seven years and the longest kayak journey before or since, Speck had less than $5 worth of Australian currency in his pocket.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Creative thought has a pattern of its own, brain activity scans reveal”

In new research, scientists report signature patterns of neural activity that mark out those who are most creative.
“We have identified a pattern of brain connectivity that varies across people, but is associated with the ability to come up with creative ideas,” said Roger Beaty, a psychologist at Harvard University.
Creative thinking is one of the primary drivers of cultural and technological change, but the brain activity that underpins original thought has been hard to pin down.
The scientists asked the volunteers to perform a creative thinking task as they lay inside a brain scanner.
Reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found distinct patterns of brain activity in the most and least creative people.
The scans suggest that more creative people can better engage both networks at once.
Now, Beaty wants to look at brain activity in different creative pursuits, such as the arts and sciences, and investigate whether training helps boost creative powers.
“A critical open question, for future research, is whether this ability to put the brain in creative mode transfers across tasks,” he said.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Picking the 2018 All-Star Game Starters”

Commissioner Adam Silver said last week in London that he worked with players’ union president Chris Paul on this change to create more excitement for the All-Star Game, which has been a boring product for the past decade.
Anyway, the deadline for All-Star Game ballot submissions was Monday, January 15, at 12 p.m. ET. Fans count for 50 percent of the vote, while players and media each count for 25 percent.
It’s a remarkable development for a player who previously shot 28.1 percent on 1.4 triples per game over his career.
Changes in Kyrie Irving’s Game Play Type Kyrie 2017-18 Kyrie 2016-17 Play Type Kyrie 2017-18 Kyrie 2016-17 P&R Ball Handler 35% 40% Isolation 18% 25% Hand-off 14% 6% Off Screen 10% 5% Spot-up 10% 9% Irving’s isolations have been replaced with dribble handoffs and screens, which has increased his half-court scoring efficiency by 5.7 points per 100 possessions more than last season.
East Frontcourt Starters LeBron James, Cavaliers As Steve Kerr drove to Oracle Arena before the Warriors faced the Cavaliers on Christmas, the head coach told reporters that he began thinking about how LeBron is playing as well as he ever has.
Al Horford, Celtics Victor Oladipo transformed his game this offseason and would’ve gotten the nod had we been able to select three “Guards” rather than three “Frontcourt” players.
West Backcourt Starters James Harden, Rockets The last time we saw Harden playing in a professional basketball game was on New Year’s Eve, when he dropped 40 on the Lakers in a 148-142 double-overtime win for the Rockets.
The ballot lineups haven’t followed suit with the game and gone positionless, so I have a hard time picking Curry over Butler when Curry’s been absent for 15 games, but he’s posting numbers comparable to his historic 2015-16 MVP campaign, with a near 50-40-90 season.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The most valuable military real estate in the world – POLITICO”

What a contrast to the dark and menacing Chinese naval base I had visited the day before or the autonomous city in the desert that is Camp Lemonnier, the American base.
As France – the first to maintain a military presence in the country – slowly abandons its bases due to budgetary constraints, others have been moving in.
The United States recently opened a second base on Chabelley Airfield – unmentioned in its public list of overseas bases – after its drones interfered with air traffic at Camp Lemonnier.
The country hosts China and Japan’s only foreign military bases.
India too is rumored to be considering the possibility of acquiring a block of the most prized military real estate in the world.
What happens in case of war between countries with adjacent military bases in Djibouti?
If India does indeed open a military base in Djibouti, any future conflict with China would immediately spread there, because Djibouti is so central to China’s ability to encircle India.
“Around us you can draw a circle with eight military bases. We are completely surrounded. Most countries would find this strange, but for us” Mohammed stopped for a moment.

The orginal article.

Summary of “3 daily habits of geniuses that can make you smarter”

Natural talent exists, but most people we consider geniuses still worked daily and put in considerable effort.
Reflecting for 10 minutes, reading for 20, and focusing for 30 minutes a day can help you get smarter at anything – even if you weren’t born brilliant.
Reflect for 10 minutes a day How often do you ask yourself why you do what you do?
Read for 20 minutes a day Taking time to read online is a great way to keep up and get ahead. The internet has a lot of good hiding in some of its corners, and there are many great minds that are sharing worthy content with the world.
An article like this may engage you, and you may even learn something new and valuable - and I hope people keep reading them - but it can’t quite do the job of absorbing you like a good story or some detailed research might.
If you were to read for 20 minutes, or about 15 pages of a book, every day, then by the end of the year, you’d have completed between 15 to 20 books.
While everyone spends 10 minutes reflecting, they don’t do so deeply; while everyone reads for 20 minutes, they don’t read the kind of things worth consuming; and while everyone works on something for 30 minutes, they don’t do so with the aim of purpose and progress, without distraction.
Want to think and live smarter? Zat Rana publishes a free weekly newsletter for 20,000+ readers at Design Luck.

The orginal article.

Summary of “City-owned Internet services offer cheaper and more transparent pricing”

Municipal broadband networks generally offer cheaper entry-level prices than private Internet providers, and the city-run networks also make it easier for customers to find out the real price of service, a new study from Harvard University researchers found.
The report by researchers at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard doesn’t provide a complete picture of municipal vs. private pricing.
That’s largely because data about private ISPs’ prices is often more difficult to get than information about municipal network pricing, the report says.
Municipal providers beat the pricing of Comcast, Charter, Wave, and Mediacom in other cities.
“In general we found that making comprehensive pricing comparisons among US Internet service plans is extraordinarily difficult. The US Federal Communications Commission does not disseminate pricing data or track broadband availability by address,” the report said.
The transparency of municipal broadband pricing is one of the key advantages the networks offer over many private ISPs.
“By contrast, we encountered only three examples of promotional pricing among the community-owned ISPs we studied. And MINET, in the towns of Monmouth and Independence, Oregon, was the only one to offer such a deal on a plan offering Internet access only, in the form of a special promotion for students.”
The FCC’s 2015 net neutrality order required all ISPs to be more transparent about pricing and data caps, but the Republican-led repeal of those rules last month also threw out the enhancements to transparency requirements.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Too Much Music: A Failed Experiment In Dedicated Listening”

Too Much Music: A Failed Experiment In Dedicated Listening : The Record In the streaming era, music fans have access to more music than they could ever consume.
I’ve begun to feel that my rabid consumption of music, when coupled with the unprecedented access encouraged by new technology, has endangered my ability to process it critically.
Streaming has become the primary way we listen to music: in 2016, streaming surpassed both physical media and digital downloads as the largest source of recorded music sales.
Partly due to the ubiquity of music playlists and partly due to supply outweighing even my most insatiable of demands, all music was becoming Muzak.
By the end of any given week, I had more music on my desk than someone only a century ago was able to hear in five lifetimes, and all without spending so much as a dollar.
I mean literally, mathematically impossible: I calculated that if I lived another, say, 40 years, and spent every minute of those next 40 years – that’s no sleeping, no eating – listening to my collection of music, I would be dead before I could make it all the way through.
So why do I feel, while I am listening to music I enjoy, that I’m missing out on something else? Why does direct engagement with a work of art suddenly feel like a fruitless attempt at multitasking?
One of the reasons we like this restaurant so much is because its young proprietors are always playing the most incredible music and, despite my lifelong aversion to piped-in music in public spaces, I make a small exception for any establishment that has a favorite Augustus Pablo album.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Scientists are making carbon fiber from plants instead of petroleum”

There’s just one catch: Carbon fiber is made from oil and other costly ingredients, making the end product exceptionally expensive.
Scientists say it may soon be possible to make carbon fiber from plants instead of petroleum, driving down costs, making the material more widely available for use in cars, planes and other vehicles.
Carbon fiber is made from a chemical called acrylonitrile.
Because acrylonitrile is made from petroleum, the cost of carbon fiber tends to rise and fall with the price of oil.
“If you can stabilize the acrylonitrile price by providing a new feedstock from which to make acrylonitrile,” he said, adding, “We might be able to make carbon fiber cheaper.”
Researchers are now working with several firms to produce a large quantity of acrylonitrile that will be turned into carbon fiber and tested for use in automobiles.
By making carbon fiber cheaper, scientists could help car owners save money in the long run.
There’s a trend underway of scientists making petroleum products from plants instead. Petroleum is, after all, made from prehistoric plants that were buried and subjected to intense heat and pressure for millions of years.

The orginal article.

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A recently released case report, courtesy of the BMJ, reaffirms one of life’s important lessons: Don’t try to hold back a sneeze.
Especially, don’t do it by plugging up your nose and mouth-you just might end up in the emergency room with a gaping hole in your throat.
The report details an otherwise healthy 34-year-old man in the UK who felt a popping, painful sensation in his throat immediately following a sneeze he had tried to stop by sealing off his mouth and nose.
Subsequent imaging tests found that the force of the man’s inward sneeze inadvertently punctured his pharynx, the section of the throat behind the mouth and nose found before the esophagus and larynx.
By day 7, his throat had healed enough that he was taken off the feeding tube and soon after discharged from the hospital-with instructions to avoid holding in his sneezes.
The researchers noted that the man’s specific injury was extremely rare; most cases of a torn pharynx are caused by wayward surgery or neck trauma.
There have been cases caused by someone coughing, vomiting and, yes, sneezing, thanks to a “Sudden rise in intraluminal pressure against closed vocal folds.”
Held-in sneezing, they noted, has not only led to torn throats and chests, but burst eardrums and ruptured blood vessels in the brain, commonly known as an aneurysm, the latter of which could be fatal.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Plastics Pile Up as China Refuses to Take the West’s Recycling”

The European Union, for its part, plans to propose a tax on plastic bags and packaging, citing the China ban and the health of the oceans among other reasons.
China had been processing at least half of the world’s exports of waste paper, metals and used plastic – 7.3 million tons in 2016, according to recent industry data.
“Large amounts of dirty wastes or even hazardous wastes are mixed in the solid waste that can be used as raw materials,” Beijing wrote to the W.T.O. “This polluted China’s environment seriously.”
In Halifax, Nova Scotia, which sent 80 percent of its recycling to China, Matthew Keliher, the city’s manager of solid waste, said he had largely found alternatives to accept plastic, except for the low-grade plastic film that is used to make shopping bags and for wrapping.
In Calgary, Alberta, which sent 50 percent of its plastics and 100 percent of its mixed papers to China, the material has been stockpiled in empty storage sheds, shipping containers, trailers and warehouses since last fall.
5,000 tons has been collected, Sharon Howland, the city’s lead manager of waste and recycling services, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
Every year, Britain sends China enough recyclables to fill up 10,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, according to Greenpeace U.K. The United States exports more than 13.2 million tons of scrap paper and 1.42 million tons of scrap plastics annually to China, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries has reported.
Too often, he said, manufacturers produce environmentally harmful products and then “Pass the buck” to retailers, who in turn pass it to local councils to pick up the tab to sort out the waste for recycling.

The orginal article.