Friday digest (1.8.21)

Because we can't go to happy hour to dish about what's been good this week

Happy Friday, my friends! I’m trying out something new here as (this should surprise no one) I am starved for real human interaction and doomscrolling just isn’t cutting it anymore. I’m missing spontaneous moments of interaction, little fragments of things to bond over (not that there isn’t a time and place for long phone calls). I’m obviously missing other things too like my parents and strangers, but we keep it moving.

So on Fridays I’ll be sending out short summaries of things I liked or maybe disliked but wanted to share anyway. I’ll still be posting the regular stuff, but now you can get that raw and unfiltered content sent direct at a higher frequency, with the same low-latency you crave:

1. Good tweet

2. Album I haven’t stopped listening to

Terminus by Jesu (2020)

Justin Broadrick, better known for Godflesh (industrial metal), released his first full-length in 7 years under his melodic/melancholic Jesu. Joe said “shoegaze side projects are always good, or at least always better than heavy side projects” and he’s right.

3. New paper out from ETH Zurich about prosthesis feedback and embodiment (!!)

“Lightening the Perceived Prosthesis Weight with Neural Embodiment Promoted by Sensory Feedback” Greta Preatoni, Giacomo Valle, Francesco M. Petrini, Stanisa Raspopovic.

I’ve posted about this on Twitter already but it’s always so satisfying to see papers out from other labs on ideas that have kept you awake when you’re trying to sleep.

In this study, an individual with an above-knee prosthesis and an intraneural sensory feedback system (electrodes implanted in the tibial nerve) was asked to walk overground for 10 minutes. The force measured on the bottom of the prosthetic foot was translated as an electrical stimulus to the implant. When using this sensory feedback, the subject found the prosthesis to be significantly lighter, and rated the prosthesis as more comfortable. Most interesting part: when asked to walk while doing a cognitively challenging task (spelling a word backwards), they walked faster and were more accurate in their counting with the sensory feedback than without.

Why is this cool? There’s a conceit that sensory feedback (our ability to sense the world around us, and the world’s responses to our activity in it) is most important for upper limb prostheses — for manipulating things with our hands. This study shows that (at least in one subject), providing sensation to a prosthetic foot results in a better patient experience and has a measurable impact on regular tasks.

Link to pdf and to news report.

4. Making yogurt in your instant pot is so easy and now I am eating yogurt for every meal

Get a half-gallon of milk and pour it into your instant pot, add live bacteria (either from powder or just a thing of plain Siggi’s), press the yogurt-ferment buttons and leave it for 8 hours. Done: yogurt. You don’t even need the instant pot, actually, because you’re not pressurizing anything: just leave your milk and lactobacilli in a warm (~110F) place for a little while.

5. I’ve been trying to learn German by listening to slow German news

One of my goals this year is to learn German. I don’t have to because the research will be in English but it just feels humiliating to try to move to a city and be the stereotypical American gesticulating at pastries in the coffee shop. It’s slow going but I’ve started listening to the news in slow German and I can recognize maybe 1 in 20 words. With this and Duolingo I’ll be unstoppably half-literate any minute now.

6. I cried over this episode of Chef’s Table

Dario Cecchini (Season 6 Episode 2)

Specifically, when Cecchini, son of butchers, is talking about how much he loves animals and wanted to be a veterinarian, walking through a pasture in the Chianti mountains with his cane, petting the cows. Something very heartstring pulling here beyond the obvious.

7. Find of the week: Yo Gotti CD in my car

I bought my car used a year ago. I never listen to CDs but accidentally clicked CD when I meant AUX and realized that the previous owner left this in the player. Good Fetty Wap feature on track 6.

Yours in low-latency,

N