3 Good Things: Clever raccoons, a scary Airbnb and AI art

Karlotta Freier / For The Times


Who’s taming whom?

Two clever, adaptable species like raccoons and humans ought to be able to find a way to coexist. Maybe the raccoons have already done it. A recent study that tagged and monitored wild raccoons in Laramie, Wyo., found that the more docile and reserved individuals were the best at solving a puzzle and accessing food. We humans are apparently accidentally fueling the rise of super-smart raccoons by targeting the boldest and most aggressive critters. Some scientists speculate that the pattern of chill individuals also being smart is the beginning of how a species becomes domesticated. To me, it looks more like the clever raccoons have already tamed us.

Fright night

The spooky cottage from the movie “Hocus Pocus” has been re-created in the woods of Salem, Mass. — and you can rent it on Airbnb, if you’re lucky. Or unlucky? One star of the film says of the house: “They’ll have the things that people need to have a good time, sheets and towels and beds and broomsticks and dead man’s toes and frightening things like that too.” The sequel “Hocus Pocus 2” is coming to Disney+ this week, so there’s some consolation in watching it from home if you can’t book the place.


Some impressive tech

Can a computer-generated image be art? How much input does a human have to provide for the output to be deemed “creative”? The controversy surrounding AI-generated images won’t be settled quickly, but while it’s being hashed out, there’s some exciting news for tech fans (and artists): One of the major platforms for generating images from text prompts, called DALL-E, is now open to the public.

And one more ...

If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere with trees, chances are you’re about to be dealing with an annual nuisance. How to deal with all those leaves? The internet is abuzz with the idea of using a piece of cardboard as a plow to push leaves onto a tarp or into a bag. May or may not be an improvement over mulching or raking, but it sounds kind of fun.

A weekly feature aiming to provide some relief from doomscrolling.

May 6, 2022