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Sundry · evolution, truffles, Scorsese, parasites, wildfires

A Japanese website today (source:

Some animals, such as the cool-looking platypus, have barely evolved. Some species do not need to alter their form because they already fit with their environment quite well. With less variations than land, the marine world usually yields more stable animals —

Truffle oil is not made with truffles. It is synthetic flavoring. The bits inside are fake too. The shower of truffles you get on your dish sometimes aren’t actual truffles. They are cheap tubers that have nothing to do with the real deal. Today I learned: not two truffles are the same —

Ever heard of Scorsese’s 1973 little-known masterpiece, Goncharov? No? That would be normal. This film was entirely made up by the Tumblr community. This includes posters, soundtracks, and fan fiction. You guessed the lead actor: Robert De Niro —

Why are Japanese websites designed so differently? When Westerners think of Japanese culture, they think of minimalist design. But Japanese websites are very compact, colorful, and text-heavy. Investigator Sabrina Cruz studied this question for 2 months. One of the main findings is that Japanese consumers are more risk-averse: they need a lot of precise information before buying a product —

Can a parasite infection increase risk-taking behavior? Wolves infected with Toxoplasma gondii (the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis) are more likely to either disperse or become pack leaders, which are risky moves. It is interesting to note that parasites can have effects on social dynamics beyond mere infection —

The US is funding Ukraine to defeat Russia at a smaller cost. Since the beginning of the war, I have been wondering about US motives for the tremendous military aid they are giving Ukraine (almost $70B in November, ~5% of the yearly defense budget). A satisfactory argument is that of the proxy war. They are waging an active war against Russia, they are winning and they don’t even have to put American boots on the ground. It’s a win-win scenario against your oldest enemy —

Rain is a startup that fights wildfires. Their claim is that they operate a network of autonomous water-carrying, drone-like helicopters that activate within 10 minutes of ignition. Could this be an example of how technology can help solve problems exacerbated by climate change? —