Coronavirus theories: Is coronavirus an experiment gone wrong? Is it a Chinese bioweapon?

The conspiracy theories were also dismissed by Dr Andrzejem Horban, an infectious disease expert from the Provincial Infectious Hospital in Warsaw, Poland.

He said: “The virus does not meet the criteria of a biological weapon. A virus used as a bioweapon should kill between 20 and 30 percent of those infected.”

The coronavirus has a very low mortality rate between one and two percent.

The majority of coronavirus patients who have died were middle-aged or elderly and already suffering from pre-existing conditions.

Doctors have also been pretty successful in fighting the disease, with more than 4,000 people recovered from infection as of Tuesday morning (February 11).

On Saturday, the WHO’s Director General said: “At the WHO we’re not just battling the virus, we’re also battling the trolls and conspiracy theories that undermine our response.

Sasquatch Sighting? DOT Says Traffic Cam Caught A Bigfoot… Maybe

There’s been a possible Bigfoot sighting in a very unlikely place.

The Washington State Department of Transportation posted a curious image of what appears to be a person or Sasquatch or just something with a vaguely humanoid shape off a highway at Sherman Pass, in the state’s remote northeastern corner:

The department’s plows stopped by the area. But if Bigfoot had been there, he ― or she ― had bugged out by the time the crews arrived: 

At first glance, it looked like the Sasquatch may be explained as simply a combination of a tree and a trick of the light. Indeed, this screenshot from earlier in the month also showed something vaguely S’quatch-shaped in the same spot:

Older screenshots, however, don’t seem to reveal anything suspicious at the location. The department promised there would be more to the story in the future: 

In other words, the truth is out there, but you gotta wait a few weeks.  

In the meantime, whoever’s running the department’s Twitter for the highway at Snoqualmie Pass, in the northwestern part of the state not far from Seattle, shared footage of a person walking through the snow.

Or was it?

Taika Waititi is right: Apple’s keyboards are garbage

Now, THIS is how you dodge a dicey question. 

While Taika Waititi gave backstage interviews after accepting his Academy Award for best adapted screenplay Sunday, he busted out a rant about an extremely relatable irk rather than weigh in on a question regarding the contentious negotiations between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the producers’ association.

A reporter asked Waititi about the needs “writers should be asking for” in negotiations, to which Waititi gave an about-face answer on the terribleness of… Apple keyboards.

“Apple needs to fix those keyboards,” Waititi said. “They are impossible to write on.”

Forget one-sided contracts that pay agencies more than their clients and a possible impending strike. The main problem is KEYBOARDS!

To be fair, Waititi is absolutely right. The butterfly design of the close-to-flush keys has several huge problems. First, since they are so slim, they just don’t feel as satisfying to write on. More importantly, they are extremely vulnerable to getting messed up by the tiniest particle of dust or crumb; your keyboard can be working fine, and then, out of nowhere, one key will stop being as responsive as others, causing typos galore. It is maddening! Perhaps most important, fixing a single lame key requires replacing the whole damn keyboard. WHY, APPLE, WHY?

After Waititi gave his somewhat stunning initial answer, he met the silence of the reporters by doubling down on keyboard complaints. He griped about how writing on the Mac keyboards just didn’t feel as good as the more mechanical-feeling PCs.

“It makes me want to go back to PCs,” Waititi said. “The bounce back for your fingers is way better. You know what I’m talking about.”

Yes, Taika Waititi, Oscar Winner. So relatable. 

Waititi also complained about how writing on a laptop is bad for his shoulder (again, to be fair, it is!). Waititi smartly appealed to the room of reporters, known for our terrible posture and eyesight: “You know what I’m talking about, you guys who are writing.”

Good news, Taika: The WGA may not need to pressure Apple so hard. Apple acknowledged the faultiness of the keyboards when it revamped the design for more durability in the 2019 line, and added an extended warranty program for older models. Even better, Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro has actually reverted back to its old scissor-style keyboard, which makes them less thin and less vulnerable.

Still, totally understandable that a fair share for writers in the proceeds of their work was not on Waititi’s mind when he had a global platform to advocate for his peers and colleagues. Union negotiation, shmunion shmeshmoshiation. 

“You’ve just gotta fix those keyboards,” Waititi said. “WGA needs to step in and actually do something.”

Laura Dern’s general excellence was celebrated in song at the 2020 Spirit Awards

[embedded content]

At Saturday’s Independent Spirit Awards, host Aubrey Plaza paid tribute to LGBTQ representation and then brought out the Gay Men’s Choir of Los Angeles to “shine a spotlight on some of the gayest  moments in other films that you may not have realized were gay.”

The song that unfolds is hilarious and full of terrific reframings of moments from 2019 films, particularly at the expense of the kid from Marriage Story

But the entire performance rockets into another dimension of amazing entirely as the song pivots to a tribute to Laura Dern who, from the audience, can’t contain her delight and embraces the song with her whole heart. 

Throw in a guest spot from Alex Newell and you’ve got a tremendous moment that the Oscars will be completely unable to top on Sunday night. 

Ignore the negative hype, ‘Birds of Prey’ isn’t a box office disaster

Birds of Prey is the top movie at the box office in its opening weekend, with $33.3 million in U.S. ticket sales.

That’s not a huge opening, let’s be clear. Birds of Prey didn’t do Marvel numbers. Hell, it didn’t even do DC numbers. For those keeping track at home, $33.7 million is the lowest opening weekend out of any DC Extended Universe release so far.

It’s not all bad news, though. I’ve seen plenty of headlines and social media chatter declaring Birds of Prey a “failure” and a “box office bust.” But it’s important to remember when we’re looking at box office figures that these things don’t happen in a vacuum.

For starters, Birds of Prey is an R-rated movie. That MPAA rating immediately cuts down its potential audience – and box office – since it’s a no-go for families on the hunt for a weekend trip to the movies. Even without much in the way of competition during its opening weekend, the rating surely kept some of the audience at home.

It’s also a February release. The opening months of the year are typically a quiet time at the movies. We’ve seen that paradigm shift in recent years, though that applies more to March; as big studios plan a greater number of annual blockbusters, the “spring” season of movie releases has gotten earlier.

In fact, if we look purely at R-rated movies released in February, Birds of Prey is a Top 15 opening weekend. It comes in at #14, just behind Get Out ($33.4 million) and just ahead of The Wolfman ($31.5 million). Even if we remove the rating from consideration, Birds of Prey‘s opening weekend is the 28th highest of all time for February.

I also haven’t mentioned foreign ticket sales. The movie opened with $48 million from non-U.S. audiences. It’s not clear at the time of this writing which territories are covered in that number or how the split shakes out. But with a global box office take of just over $80 million, Birds of Prey is very close to making more than its reported $84.5 million budget.

I’m not here trying to make a case that $33.5 million is a stellar opening weekend performance. But I do know there are those out there in the wilds of the internet who are rooting against Birds of Prey for petty personal reasons that aren’t worth discussing. That attitude, largely cultivated by a small-but-loud faction of social media trolls, contributes to an overall narrative of failure.

That’s not to say every report of the movie’s poor performance is a conscious embrace bad faith attacks on Birds of Prey. But that’s the insidious nature of trolling at work. People who write for the internet, myself included, end up framing the movie’s release against a narrative that doesn’t have much basis in reality.

Here are the facts: Birds of Prey made less than expected in the U.S. during its first three days in theaters. But its total ticket sales still come out to almost as much as the movie cost to make. 

Whether or not it will be profitable, and separately, a boost for the DCEU, remains to be seen. But the apparent agreement between critics and audiences that yes, this is an entertaining movie, says a whole lot more to me about the impact of Birds of Prey is having than any armchair box office analysis, including what you’re reading right now.

‘Extremely Obese’ Owl Rescued After Becoming Too Fat To Fly

This little owl had a big appetite.

When the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary in England first took in this “soggy” bird, it thought she’d been injured or perhaps was struggling to fly because she was wet. Turns out she was just a tad too chunky to be airborne.

In social media posts, the rescue and conservation group explained that on weighing the bird, known as a “little owl,” they discovered she was “extremely obese” ― roughly a third heavier than they would expect a large healthy female little owl to be.

“This is extremely unusual for wild birds to get into this condition naturally,” the group wrote in a post. 

The little owl likely put on weight over the winter when she "overindulged" in an area filled with plentiful prey.

Suffolk Owl Sanctuary

The little owl likely put on weight over the winter when she “overindulged” in an area filled with plentiful prey.

The group’s head falconer, Rufus Samkin, told the BBC that the area where the owl was found had been crawling with voles and mice due to a mild winter.

“We think she’s just done incredibly well for herself and overindulged,” he said.

Samkin said that the owl had dropped 20 to 30 grams during her two-week stay, and he hoped she’d learned her lesson.

“Hopefully, she’s learnt to keep her weight in trim so she can escape any predators or being picked up,” he said.

Following a couple of weeks of observation on a strict diet, the little owl was released back into the wild Monday at a more natural weight.

Watch this reporter freak out as a snake tries to bite her mic

[embedded content]

Journalism is no easy feat, especially for on-air reporters. From being in the middle of a crime scene to speaking with bystanders on the street, they have to face fears many people have — and in front of a camera, no less. Australian reporter Sarah Cawte had one of those experiences recently as a snake wrapped around her suddenly struck at her mic. 

“He just bit my microphone,” Cawte gasped as the snake draped around her like Britney Spears’s iconic VMA performance went for the head of her mic. After following instructions to stay still, Cawte managed to get back on track and read her lines about snake safety and how snakes are often more scared of humans. In a later interview, Cawte said she was afraid of the snake biting her hand but she ended up getting the shot she needed — and afterwards she needed the snake off her, pronto. “As soon as that was done I said to the snake handler, ‘Get it off me!'”

Razzies announce 2020 nominations and yes, ‘Cats’ is a top nominee

[embedded content]

The 2020 Razzie nominations got out ahead of Hollywood’s annual Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 9. 

For the uninitiated, the Razzies are basically a 180-degree twist on the Oscars, awarding movies and actors for worst performances of the year. Award “winners” in the past include our very own president, who won two in 2019, one for his “worst acting” in Death of a Nation and Fahrenheit 11/9, and another for “worst screen combo” with his self-perpetuating pettiness.

Trump does not show up among the 2020  nominations but Cats, Rambo: Last Blood, and Madea Family Funeral lead the pack with eight nominations each. While Hollywood is buzzing with Oscar predictions, we’ll be placing our bets for who takes home the most Razzies. 

There’s currently no date set for the 40th annual Razzies ceremony, but you can watch the nomination video above. 

Students at a Colorado university can soon major in cannabis

Some students in Colorado will soon be able to major in weed instead of just smoking it in their dorm rooms. 

Colorado State University-Pueblo just received approval for the state’s first degree program focused on cannabis, the Denver Post reports. The program is called “Cannabis, Biology and Chemistry” and will be similar to a double major in biology and chemistry, dean of the university’s College of Science and Mathematics David Lehmpuhl told the Post. The focus will be on learning the science necessary to succeed in the field. 

Lehmpuhl said the degree will be rigorous. He also stated that the university is not pro or anti cannabis, but rather they know that the industry will continue to grow and they want students to be prepared. 

CSU-Pueblo is not the first college to offer cannabis-related courses and programs. Two universities in Michigan, Northern Michigan University and Lake Superior State University, for example, offer similar chemistry-based programs. The University of Washington offers a training program called “Medical Cannabis and Pain.” Other universities have single courses available, and Canadian colleges have gotten in the cannabis game as well since it became legal in 2018. 

While CSU-Pueblo students will not be working with high levels of THC — the component in weed that gets you high — the university is expecting high demand for the program. As recreational cannabis becomes legal in more states, we may be seeing more programs like this pop up in the future.