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Saturday soul-searching –and soul-selling.

Odds are, you’ve had at least one shot, and if you’re American or British, both. But if you’re like me, you’re still suffering from vaccine-envy. Why can they barbeque, worship and travel and we can’t? And do we have to lose two summers when they’re only losing one? Don’t they know how short and gorgeous summer is here?  As my late dad would say: “The best things take the longest waits.” Maybe. Meanwhile, you’ve got this……

1. How to sell your soul to Satan. As this article points out, it’s never been easier. “Does Satan accept your soul through Amazon delivery, or must it be done in person? Do you need a written contract, or is it enough to shake hand-with-hoof?” One thing for sure, while he (and who says that Satan is cis-gendered?) may shower you with wealth and power, we all know he always comes to collect. Here’s a user’s guide to life’s biggest, sweetest and bitterest transaction.

2. Are these balls the same colour? No way. But yes, they are. Which says it’s not always wise to believe what you see with your own eyes. And speaking of beautiful illusions, check out what  we see every day and fail to categorize.

3. How to stop facial recognition from recognizing you. It seems AI researchers are pushing back on letting bad actors and aggressive police forces image-bank you. The MIT Technology Review reports on new tools to maintain your “right to be forgotten.” The first, called Fawkes, makes tiny, almost invisible changes to your image that cause AI to misidentify who or what it sees in a photo. In one experiment, Fawkes proved 100% effective. “Another tool, called LowKey, turns images into what’s called ‘unlearnable examples.’ This effectively makes AI ignore your selfies entirely.”

4. Books to de-rut your life. Or rather, books to de-rut your reading life. I’ve been there, surrounded, no, drenched by books, and yet I can’t pick one of them up and read it. So, The Guardian came up with this list of 11 books to pull you out of a reading rut.

5. A solution to the stable marriage problem. Consider a dating agency that needs to match X men and X women. Not for one-night stands, but for life. In other words, they need to match them according to stability, i.e. they’re so perfectly matched that none is tempted – ever – to run off with someone else. This is an age-old mathematical problem now giving birth to all kinds of algorithms. Here’s mathematician Emily Reihl explaining it all in a Perimeter Institute Public Lecture she gave last week in Waterloo. It’s part of a wonderful Perimeter series explaining impenetrable subjects to folks like us. As they say: “No mathematical or physics knowledge is necessary or assumed, but curiosity is required.”

6. The most beautiful places in the world. At a time when the world is opening up to tourists, here’s a reminder via Condé Nast Traveler of places we can also see someday, or drag from our travel memory boxes today. Of the 50 listed here, one is in Canada.

So how did they miss the world’s smallest inhabited island, plunk in the St. Lawrence River?

7. How we view the past. We certainly don’t see it as a straight line. As Simon Roper reveals in this thought-provoking, hand-held 29-minute video, “If I think about the difference between 1971 and 1954, I imagine a huge difference in what people wore, what films were like, how people spoke and what people thought about politics. But if I think about 2021 and 2004, which is the same timespan, everything seems like it was pretty much the same.”

8. Zoom sparks a boom in Facelifts. Its official name is Zoom Dysmorphia, people’s obsession with imperfections they’ve noticed onscreen. As The Economist reveals, the pandemic has brought a  Zoom boom in facelifts. “A recent Stanford University study with more than ten thousand participants concluded that long periods of videoconferencing caused women, in particular, to experience “mirror anxiety,” and recommended that organizations space out Zoom meetings and hold some meetings without video.”

Meanwhile, last month, the CEO of Citigroup, Jane Fraser, mandated Zoom-free Fridays at the company.

9. A cis-gendered CIA. Watch this video, part of the Humans of CIA series and inspired by Humans of New York. “I am a cis-gendered millennial who has been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, I am intersectional.” Says the Latina woman, “….I refuse to internalize misguided patriarchal ideas of what a woman can or should be.” One non-shocker: Ted Cruz hates it.

10. Hypnotic surfing. Watch Cherif Fall, champion Senegalese surfer, hit the waves in his hometown of Dakar.

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