Bad Bird Puns and Good Links

Whelp, my wife has COVID and I’m isolating to see whether I show symptoms. We relaxed the distancing/masking in my region and, predictably, cases are going up. We’re vaccinated and boosted, but Mrs. Allen still feels very sick. I’m fine so far, and I hope we can go back to being a happy couple of pigeons soon.

I don’t exactly remember the conversation that became the comic. I pronounced “a couple of” as “a cupola” and that’s all I remember. It’s amazing humans can understand each other at all with language being what it is. It’s a bad pun, but it made me chuckle. I made it with some help from Harshshikha. They drew cute birds! The photos are mine.

I made a video last week about smartphones and whether they do more harm or good. The ideas are fine, but the video lacked a certain energy. The main science vloggers seem to focus on evergreen content: videos that explain topics that will be relevant for years or decades to come. But then they add fun, personality, story, and spectacle. They might blow things up or build amazing demonstration models. I’m not sure how to do that with biochemistry or batteries which are the subjects of most of my videos.


Oz is still drawing despite their better judgement on Twitter

Clever crows in a comic, very much worth clicking.

OffKeyComics StockPile – 113

A dragon’s hoard is just stock holdings. Can’t tax that, tax knight!

It’s just a job, right? You can put it down when you get home, right?

Sometimes we feel a bit used up.

The Devil’s Panties – on making milk from nuts

I had not read The Devil’s Panties for a long time, but it’s great.


The Surprising Climate Cost of the Humblest Battery Material | WIRED

Carbon is an important part of lithium-ion batteries. Making carbon that is ready for batteries requires extreme purity and high heat. That requires a lot of energy. We need to think about how we make our batteries in order to make them as energy efficient and environmentally friendly as possible.

Turning back the clock: Human skin cells de-aged by 30 years in trial | UK News | Sky News

This is the pop-press version of the article describing how cells were turned young again. They’re just the cells, not the full tissue, and certainly not in a person. But this idea is amazing. We might someday be able to make a person younger by turning some of their existing cells into stem cells.

The Abortion Underground Is Preparing for the End of Roe v. Wade – The Atlantic

Want to prevent abortions? Hey – maybe abortions are like guns. If you outlaw them, you don’t actually accomplish anything good! Banning something mostly just makes it less safe and regulated. Case in point, here are women getting ready to provide illegal abortions if abortions are made illegal.

Colorado’s Effort Against Teenage Pregnancies Is a Startling Success – The New York Times

Here’s the real method to prevent abortions: prevent unwanted pregnancies with lots of free contraceptives and sex education.

“Preventing Unintended Pregnancy: The Contraceptive CHOICE Project in Review.” Journal of Women’s Health

Here’s peer reviewed controlled data showing that contraceptives and education effectively reduce abortions. If the anti-abortion movement were really about abortions, this would be step one.


The FLYING electric taxi that costs as little as an Uber! Vertical VX4 eVTOL – YouTube

This invention looks amazing. The ability to take off vertically and fly efficiently for about 100 miles makes short distance air taxis seem very realistic. The fact that it’s electric is even more cool. The fact that its propellers have redundancy is also great. It means that even if there is a failure, it won’t require a heroic effort to avoid a crash.

Much BETTER than Expected – AnkerMake M5 3D Printer – YouTube

I haven’t played with 3D printing much for about five years. It looks like they have become essentially turnkey at this point. That would make a lot of fun projects much more possible. I don’t know if I want to invest in one at this point though.

Laser Cutting Silicon – YouTube

Silicon wafers are very strange materials. They are a little like glass and a little like a metal. If you ping a silicon wafer with your fingernail, it sounds like metal. But if you touch it, it feels much more like glass. Machining a silicon wafer is difficult. They tend to shatter instead of cut. This video shows how a fiber laser used for marking metals can eat away at a silicon wafer and make precise cuts. I wonder if this type of laser can also cut clear plastic like a carbon dioxide laser. I think it would be very fast and precise for thin plastic.

When Did Jesus Die? | What Year and What Day? – YouTube

When I was in graduate school, one of my lab-mates and I had a conversation about this. I tried to explain this little bible puzzle, and I’ve been looking ever since for a concise version. There’s a discrepancy between the synoptic gospels and the gospel of John. My quick summary, as I understand it: In the gospel of John, Jesus is equated with the sacrificial lamb, and dies at the same time as the lambs being slaughtered for the Passover meal. In the other gospels, the last supper takes the place of the Passover meal, and Jesus dies the next day. So: did Jesus die before the Passover meal, or after? They can’t both be true.

My fellow graduate student, someone who I had mistaken for a scientist, said: “I am 100% sure you are wrong.”

“OK,” I said. “What makes you think that?”

“There are no contradictions in the bible.”

I realized in that moment that I should avoid him the way I would avoid a leg-humping dog.