Weekend Thoughts - 3.11.17

Image  by  Andrea Kirkby , courtesy of  Creative Commons  licensing.

Image by Andrea Kirkby, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. Possibly the biggest news this week (as far as Think Wilder readers would be concerned) was WikiLeaks' publication of CIA hacking secrets, titled "Vault 7". The release contains 8,761 documents and represents "the majority of [the CIA] hacking arsenal including malware, viruses, trojans, weaponized 'zero day' exploits, malware remote control systems and associated documentation," according to WikiLeaks. Among the most interesting to U.S. citizens are vulnerabilities found in the iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems, methods to compromise end-to-end encrypted chat applications, and the ability to turn Samsung smart TVs into listening devices. From my understanding, most of these exploits require the CIA to have physical access to a device, not that the encryptions themselves were broken. It's worth taking a look to familiarize yourself with how the agency has been carrying out its operations so far, and what its capabilities are when it comes to spying on people using technological means.

2. The situation at the U.S. border has gotten more complex over the past several weeks. A new development in that story occurred this week when Border Patrol started increasing their demands for passwords and searching private electronic devices. And it turns out that they're legally allowed to do so. When traveling inside the U.S. border, the TSA is not allowed to confiscate devices or ask for passwords, because citizens are protected by the Fourth and Fifth amendments. But since Border Patrol is not technically located inside of the border, those protections do not necessarily apply. For now, Border Patrol is operating inside of a grey area, unimpeded by our rights against unreasonable searches and self-incrimination. If you're interested in protecting yourself as much as possible when traveling abroad-and-back, I suggest taking a look at the Electronic Frontier Foundation's "Pocket Guide To Protecting Your Data".

3. In interesting nutrition-related news, new research shows that there was no such thing as a "typical Neanderthal diet"—some Neanderthals ate meat, and others were strict vegetarians. This development throws some shade on the so-called "Paleo Diet", which may be more accurately represented as a "no-carb diet", because the true Paleo Diet consisted of whatever was available in one's environment. Essentially, the findings represent a more adaptive type of being:

"Those that occupied southern regions with relatively warm climates, consumed different types of foods, including meat and vegetables," says Luca Fiorenza from Monash University (not involved with the study). "But Neanderthals that lived in very harsh conditions, such as northern Europe, were forced to rely on the limited sources available—meat."

It's nice to know that the scientific findings back up the conviction that I always held, which was that our ancestors just ate whatever was around so that they could continue surviving—not that they were strict carnivores or strict vegans.

4. I'm a huge fan of the Instant Pot, which is a combination slow-cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, and more. I use it nearly every day to batch cook recipes, and find the device easy to use, easy to clean, and a massive time-saver. The BBC wrote a feature story on the success of the Instant Pot and how it developed a cult following that is worth a read. And if you're interested in purchasing one, I definitely advise it! I might suggest waiting until this year's Amazon Prime Day (if you are an Amazon Prime customer) because they were sold at a nice discount during last year's Prime Day event.

5. As a regular book reader, I especially enjoyed this article showing 10 reasons why reading is important. The various benefits include sharpening your mind, lowering stress levels, increasing your vocabulary, enhancing your imagination, and boosting your sleep—among many others! So if you needed any reasons to increase your reading time, look no further!

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.