Fingerprints Change Over the Course of a Person’s Life


Fingerprints may not be the permanent biological signatures we’ve built them up to be.

Since the 1920s, fingerprints have been accepted as evidence in courtrooms due to their uniqueness and permanence. And their uniqueness has been scientifically validated. But what of their permanence? Do those ridges and swirls remain the same from birth to death? According to a new study, our fingerprints do slightly change as time progresses — which could have implications for everything from law enforcement to unlocking your iPhone.

Deepening the Science

Belief in the permanence of human fingerprints largely hinges on evidence gleaned from a handful of case studies. Soweon Yoon and Anil Jain wanted to provide deeper scientific context.

They began by examining 10-print fingerprint records generated from 15,500 repeat offenders in a Michigan State Police database. In case you aren’t familiar, 10-print records are created in a controlled setting by dipping all 10 fingers in ink, and rolling each finger onto a card. Each criminal included in the study had five or more of these records spanning five years to 12 years, which allowed researchers to examine changes in prints over time.

Researchers ran the prints through two off-the-shelf fingerprint matching machines, looking for two separate measures: how well the machines paired different prints from the same person (genuine match scores), and if they could differentiate one person’s prints from another (imposter scores). Then, to investigate what factors influenced the machines’ judgments, they created a statistical model to mimic the machines’ output. The model took into account time between prints, fingerprint image quality, and the subject’s age, sex and race.

Fingerprint Fluidity

It turns out that a person’s age and the time interval between prints significantly affected the machines’ accuracy. Genuine match scores, comparing two prints from the same person, decreased as the time gap between prints grew. In other words, your fingerprints don’t look the same to machines as they did 12 years ago.

However, at 12 years (the longest this study investigated), the error rate was still within the normal margins of error for such machines in real-life, unless one of the prints was of poor quality. And regardless of age or elapsed time, the machines didn’t confuse one person’s prints with another person’s — kind of a big deal if you’re standing trial. The study was published Monday inProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This study seems to indicate that, yes, our fingerprints do morph over time. But those slight changes aren’t enough to befuddle the machines in use today, for the most part. More research will need to be done to answer the question of how many years must elapse between prints for the machines to miss the match. For forensic scientists at least, the study is certainly food for thought.

Day 4 Of Not Googling for Answers

I had decided that at the end of my semester that I would start studying French and Spanish again. Typically, I go online and google best sites to learn and practice but not this time around. I went through my personal library and found all the French related books that I had acquired. It is a lot. I decided to go with the Reading Expository French from Modern Authors. I should put “modern” in quotes because this book was written in 1965. It covers subjects from Radiation to Existentialism to Art. The best part about reading this book is that I read without stopping to look up a word. If I did not know the word, I underlined it and kept on reading. It is so easy to copy paste a word you don’t know and google it; but this interferes with the organic process or reading. I try harder. I make connections. All of a sudden I remember cognates which makes me question why on earth I use to look up french words that looked like english words. This brings me back to yesterday’s post about trusting my intellect.

Here are a few french cognates: important, flourescent, distinct, captial, photographique, confirmer, announcer, etablir, accumuler and suggerer.



13 Little-Known Punctuation Marks We Should Be Using



Because sometimes periods, commas, colons, semi-colons, dashes, hyphens, apostrophes, question marks, exclamation points, quotation marks, brackets, parentheses, braces, and ellipses won’t do.


You probably already know the interrobang, thanks to its excellent moniker and increasing popularity. Though the combination exclamation point and question mark can be replaced by using one of each (You did what!? or You don’t read mental_floss?!), it’s fun to see the single glyph getting a little more love lately.


The backward question mark was proposed by Henry Denham in 1580 as an end to a rhetorical question, and was used until the early 1600s.


It looks a lot like the percontation point, but the irony mark’s location is a bit different, as it is smaller, elevated, and precedes a statement to indicate its intent before it is read. Alcanter de Brahm introduced the idea in the 19th century, and in 1966 French author Hervé Bazin proposed a similar glyph in his book, Plumons l’Oiseau, along with 5 other innovative marks.


Among Bazin’s proposed new punctuation was the love point, made of two question marks, one mirrored, that share a point. The intended use, of course, was to denote a statement of affection or love, as in “Happy anniversary [love point]” or “I have warm fuzzies [love point]” If it were easier to type, I think this one might really take off.


Bazin described this mark as “the stylistic representation of those two little flags that float above the tour bus when a president comes to town.” Acclamation is a “demonstration of goodwill or welcome,” so you could use it to say “I’m so happy to see you [acclamationpoint]” or “Viva Las Vegas [acclamationpoint]”


Need to say something with unwavering conviction? End your declaration with the certitude point, another of Bazin’s designs.


This is the opposite of the certitude point, and thus is used to end a sentence with a note of skepticism.


Bazin’s authority point “shades your sentence” with a note of expertise, “like a parasol over a sultan.” (Well, I was there and that’s what happened.) Likewise, it’s also used to indicate an order or advice that should be taken seriously, as it comes from a voice of authority.


The SarcMark (short for “sarcasm mark”) was invented, copyrighted and trademarked by Paul Sak, and while it hasn’t seen widespread use, Sak markets it as “The official, easy-to-use punctuation mark to emphasize a sarcastic phrase, sentence or message.” Because half the fun of sarcasm is pointing it out [SarcMark].


This, like the copyrighted SarcMark, is used to indicate that a sentence should be understood beyond the literal meaning. Unlike the SarcMark, this one is copyright free and easy to type: it’s just a period followed by a tilde.


This cool-looking but little-used piece of punctuation used to be the divider between subchapters in books or to indicate minor breaks in a long text. It’s almost obsolete, since books typically now use three asterisks in a row to break within chapters (***) or simply skip an extra line. It seems a shame to waste such a great little mark, though. Maybe we should bring this one back.


Now you can be excited or inquisitive without having to end a sentence! A Canadian patent was filed for these in 1992, but it lapsed in 1995, so use them freely, but not too often.

Big thanks to Scarlett and LeAnn for helping translate Bazin’s notes!

Day 3 of Not Googling for Answers

It is day three of not googling for answers. There was one moment when I wanted to add the Pandora app to my laptop and did not know where to start. I was eager because I had a playlist that I could write to and agitated because it was taking away from time that I could be writing. My fingers itched to just press that Chrome button and google “how to add Pandora to pc” but I did not do it. I took a few breaths and looked at how my desktop was structured and how to access that particular screen. In the end I discover so much more that how to add an app to the laptop.

The fact is I have had this laptop for a few months and and I threw out the manual because I knew that anything I wanted or need to know about it was on google. Foolish me. It is interesting that I take this stance because in my professional life, I keep a physical copy of everything just in case there is a computer failure. It seems in my personal life, My lazy choices is the reason why my brain is failing. This reminds me of an article that my sister sent me Use This Spartan Technique for Increasing Your Mental Toughness. In the article Martin Soorjoo states, “One of the simplest ways to increase your mental toughness is by conditioning your brain to accept and embrace discomfort on a regular basis. By pushing boundaries and introducing new daily and weekly challenges, your nervous system will adapt and you will grow stronger.” There is no doubt that these last three days have been filled with “discomfort” like when I had to look up “confound” or “lymphoma”. The thing is that I know their definition but I was faced with a truth and that is I do not trust my own intellect. I constantly double check what I know I know.

This challenge is teaching me to trust myself. Be confident in the knowledge I have acquired from years of schooling and from years of interacting with intelligent people who have passed on their knowledge to me.

Day 2 of Not Googling for Answers

I already see a pattern emerging during my week challenge in not googling for answers. I find myself accessing data that I haven’t accessed in years. I find myself trying to make connections where there may not be any but it’s worth the chance if it leads me to the answers I am looking for.

I was having drinks with my sister and we are discussing an article I posted about Eartha Kitt’s daughter. I mentioned that Eartha Kitt’s former husband looked like that guy who was married to Natalie Wood. I remembered his last name, Wagner, but could not remember his first name. At first I said Jack Wagner but then I remember that he was Frisco Jones from General Hospital  so wrong Wagner. Then I said John Wagner, no idea who that its. We decided to let it go. After a few minutes my sister shouted ROBERT. It all clicked and that is how we remembered Robert Wagner from Hart to Hart. Oh yes I am going down memory lane.

Later, were were discussing Chanel bags and went on ebay to look a few. I noticed one vendor showed that the bag he/she was selling was made in Italy. This surprised me as Chanel is french brand and I thought was made in France. Is that still the case? Help me. But do not google the answer.

Day 1 of Not Googling for Answers

I noticed that I often find myself going directly to Google for information. It could be something as simple as spelling “itinerary” a word I always seem to misspell, or to confirm the year a film was made. The sad part is that I will google again for the same thing. I have trained myself to not remember because I can always google it. Well this week I am challenging myself to not google anything. I can call a friend, ask a co-worker, go to  the library or use the books in my personal library. The person I ask cannot google the answer as that would be cheating.

So my first challenge today was to date what year the film Soul Plane (yes I was watching it don’t judge me) was released. I had a vague idea that it was about ten years ago but as the film progressed, I used technology to help me. One of the characters had a Palm Pilot and that was all I needed.

My second challenge is still a challenge. I was reciting a poem but could not finish it. I had a friend who did not know the poem but helped me tease it out. I was finally able to finish it but now I don’t remember the author. Can you help me? Do Not Google. The poem is : Never trouble trouble unless trouble troubles you/for you are sure to make your trouble double trouble if you do…

The Best and Worst Fonts to Use on Your Résumé

Using Times New Roman is the typeface equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview
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A résumé, that piece of paper designed to reflect your best self, is one of the places where people still tend to use typeface to express themselves. It does not always go well, according to people who spend a lot of time looking at fonts. Bloomberg asked three typography wonks which typefaces make a curriculum vitae look classiest, which should never, ever be seen by an employer, and whether emojis are fair game.

We went digging for a complete set of professionally fly fonts and returned with just one consensus winner: Helvetica.

“Helvetica is so no-fuss, it doesn’t really lean in one direction or another. It feels  professional, lighthearted, honest,” says Brian Hoff, creative director of Brian Hoff Design. “Helvetica is safe. Maybe that’s why it’s more business-y.”

There are other options that, like Helvetica, are sans-serif, meaning their letters do not have the tiny “feet” that adorn the “T” in Times New Roman, for example. Do not choose a cheap imitator, the experts counsel. “If it’s me, [I’m using] Helvetica. Helvetica is beautiful,” says Matt Luckhurst, the creative director at Collins, a brand consultancy, in San Francisco. “There is only one Helvetica.”

Unless you’re applying for a design job, human resource professionals probably wouldn’t notice a knockoff font. But you would be on the wrong side of good taste. Could you live with that?

Say you’re a high roller and want to actually purchase a font. Go with Proxima Nova, which Hoff calls a “cousin to Helvetica” with less of an edge.

“It has a softer feel. Helvetica can be more stiff, and  Proxima Nova feels a little rounder,” Hoff says. Proxima Nova is apparently a hit among suits. “I never met a client that didn’t like that typeface,” he says. That kind of popularity does not come cheap: Just one style of the font costs $29.99 at, and the entire 144-member family costs $734.

If you are very experienced, use Garamond to get your long rap sheet to fit into a single page. “Garamond is legible and easy for the eye to follow,” says Luckhurst.  “Garamond has all these quirks in it, so what that does is allow the eye to see where it should go.”


There’s some controversy over the classic Times New Roman. “I don’t have any problem with Times New Roman,” says Martina Flor, a letterer and designer in Berlin, Germany. She acknowledges that it has the reputation of being staid, but says the font is not to blame. “It has been a system font for a long time. It’s been used and misused a lot.”

Using old faithful might send the wrong sign to your future boss, though. “It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected,” says Hoff. “It’s like putting on sweatpants.”

If you want something intentionally upscale, try Didot. “It’s very tall, it’s a little fancy, [and] it’s a little feminine,” says Luckhurst. It’s a good option for a fashion job, but not much else, he adds. “It’s like wearing the black dress to the ball. Do you wear a tuxedo to your job interview?”

It may go without saying, but do not use the flowery Zapfino type on anything you will show an employer. “It’s just really swoosh-y. If it’s your wedding invite and that typeface is for you, go for it,” says Luckhurst.

Do not even use anything that looks like Zapfino, says Flor. “All the fonts belonging to this family of connected scripts wouldn’t be right for your résumé,” she says. They are hard to read, she says, and not designed to express anything longer than a headline.

“You don’t have a typewriter, so don’t try to pretend that you have a typewriter,” Luckhurst says. “You have been using a computer to do a handwritten thing. You haven’t used a computer properly, and you haven’t handwritten properly.” Damn. Don’t use Courier, I guess.

We probably do not even need to discuss this, but you should never use Comic Sans unless you are designing the investment issue of a national business magazine. Do not even look at Comic Sans. It should not be on your résumé “unless you are applying to clown college,” says Hoff. “There are other whimsical fonts out there that you can buy that would give a similar impression and feel, but not necessarily be a Comic Sans.” Hoff is being gentle, but take it from me: Don’t look for a Comic Sans-like font. Just let it go.

Should you put emoji in your résumé? Prayer hands, a cat with hearts for eyes, followed by a dress shirt with a gold tie? “I think it’s a great idea. Put a lot of emojis on the bottom. Some chicken wings. They will love it,” says Luckhurst. “Maybe an emoji is your logo. Maybe you just really key in on the 100 logo, that’s your thing, you put it everywhere.”


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What One Town Did With This Abandoned Walmart Building Will Leave You Impressed

You can now find a Walmart in most towns and cities. Usually taking up an average 2.5 football fields of space, they are almost always massive, preying on our programmed materialism with cheap goods usually made in third world countries. So what happens when one of them closes? Usually not much, but one town in Texas had another idea.

Instead of letting this massive building sit vacant, officials in McAllen, Texas did something pretty amazing. They transformed the vacant property into the largest single floor public library in America.

Books and knowledge over goods? I like this idea. Check out some of the images below:

The developers stripped the old walls and ceiling, Opting for a modern type feel for the space.

This library now boasts 16 public meeting spaces, 14 public study rooms, 64 computer labs, 10 children’s computer labs, and 2 genealogy computer labs.

There’s also a cafe, a used book store, and an auditorium.

The grounds have a very beautiful/artsy feel to it. Definitely an awesome public library, and a great way to use the space that would likely have otherwise been wasted.

H/T: WeburbanistViral Nova

The Utensil Etiquette Your Parents Never Taught You

Dining utensils seem like they should be pretty straightforward. What’s more simple than a knife and fork? Okay, maybe a spoon. But like many things in life, there’s more to utensils than meets the eye. In fact, these daily instruments carry a lot more weight than just the food you’re shoveling. They’re symbolic tools that can signal when you’re finished with a meal or if you’re still working; they can disclose where you’re from, depending on how you hold them; and they can even cause hashtag-inducing media meltdowns (read: Forkgate, when Mayor of New York Bill DeBlasio ate pizza with a fork and knife.)

If you’re not privy to proper utensil etiquette, it’s time to study up, lest you accidentally initiate a spoon-apocolypse of your own. Customs vary across the globe. For example, in Thailand and Laos, it’s impolite to put your fork in your mouth. You should use your fork to shovel food into your spoon, and then put the spoon in your mouth. In Chile, you should always, in all instances, eat with a utensil and never eat with your hands.

Here in the U.S., not much is taboo — we can put all of our utensils in our mouths, and yes, we can eat with our hands. (How else would we get down with chicken wings?) The way we rest our fork and knife on our plates, however, is of utmost importance. If you’re not up to speed already, here’s what you need to know:

According to etiquette and personal branding expert Mindy Lockard, the way to signal that you’re resting, — meaning you haven’t finished eating — is to lay your fork and knife separate but parallel on your plate. Your knife should be on the right side of your plate, and your fork tines should be facing up. An alternative signal for “resting” is placing the knife and fork in an X on your plate.

To signal that you’re finished eating, your fork and knife should be left together and parallel, at the 11 o’clock position, fork tines still up.

Continental or European style for leaving your fork and knife is similar, but your fork tines should be facing down, not up. The only difference between the two is the resting position. According to continental convention, your fork and knife should be crossed like an X, not parallel.

For a visual guide and for more dining etiquette beyond the knife and fork, check out the infographic below. Click on the image for a closer look.

dining etiquette infographic

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