Quickies: The Real Bob Ross, SETI Signals, and Indie Crossword Puzzlers

  • This food bank doesn’t want your junk food. Good. – “If your household income is low or you’re food-insecure, you’re probably going for the cheapest, highest-calorie options. The latter also happen to be designed to encourage overeating. But in the long run, it’s the nutrients in food (like fiber, vitamins, and minerals) that matter more for health than calories alone.”
  • Indie Crossword Puzzlers Are Shaking Up A Very Square World – “Criticism of the Times puzzle seems to have expanded of late, beyond the stylistic and into the political. It’s not just that the Times puzzle is staid, or geared toward olds. It’s been accused of tone deafness on issues of race and gender. A recent clue for the answer HAREM was ‘Decidedly nonfeminist women’s group,’ and the clue ‘Exasperated comment from a feminist’ led to the answer MEN. ‘Gangsta rap characters’ were THUGS.”
  • A decade on, vaccine has halved cervical cancer rate – “The world’s first cancer vaccine was administered in Australia exactly 10 years ago. Since then, the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine has been rolled out across 130 countries and halved the number of new cervical cancers. The HPV vaccine also protects against cancers in the throat and mouth in both men and women.”
  • A school in South Africa tells black girls to chemically straighten their hair – “According to Phetla and other students, if they didn’t straighten or braid their natural hair, they were not allowed to come to class, but would instead be sent to detention.”
  • The internet’s gone wild about a SETI signal from aliens. Scientists aren’t convinced. – “Astronomers detect curious radio signals like these fairly often. They typically turn out to be nothing. Sometimes the signal is simply due to natural causes — like a stellar flare, say — or a false positive caused by interference here on Earth. For evidence of extraterrestrial life, scientists would need multiple detections and far more evidence than is available here.”
  • The Real Bob Ross: Meet The Meticulous Artist Behind Those Happy Trees – “We’re not going to bury the lede here: Bob Ross’ hair was actually straight. Just ask his longtime business partner, Annette Kowalski, who knew Ross better than anyone — he had just gotten out of the Air Force, and was unsuccessfully trying to make a living as a painter, she says.”


Mary Brock works as an Immunology scientist by day and takes care of a pink-loving princess child by night. She likes cloudy days, crafting, cooking, and Fall weather in New England.

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