Friday, December 28

Abstinence and gun safety: "We don't want them to actually KNOW how to use them. Someone might get hurt!"

Friday, December 21

It's the end of the year, what happens next year prediction time... or is it recap time?
Who pays for the government, and who benefits? Two posts from the exceptional economics blog Marginal Revolution tackle this.

Thursday, December 20

Mathematicians have developed a model that explains traffic jams which occur with no apparent cause:

"The team developed a mathematical model to show the impact of unexpected events such as a lorry pulling out of its lane on a dual carriageway. Their model revealed that slowing down below a critical speed when reacting to such an event, a driver would force the car behind to slow down further and the next car back to reduce its speed further still.

The result of this is that several miles back, cars would finally grind to a halt, with drivers oblivious to the reason for their delay. The model predicts that this is a very typical scenario on a busy highway (above 15 vehicles per km). The jam moves backwards through the traffic creating a so-called ‘backward travelling wave’, which drivers may encounter many miles upstream, several minutes after it was triggered."

Tuesday, December 18

Bali Shag, Lumbee, Pinson, Arango Sportsman, Auld Kendal, Cockstrong, Penhooker, Ramback, Rimboche, TwoTimer, Kentucky's Best, Matinee, Checkers, Hi-Val, Double Happiness, Golden Deer, Peony, Dreams, Canadian Style Player's, Collector's Choice, English Ovals, Marshall McGrearty, Outdoor Freedom, Charles Fairmorn.

Cigarette brand names: Almost as funny as Engrish.

Friday, December 14

Yes/great/oh man.
Are you familiar with microcredit? Dr. Muhammad Yunus is the person who first made it a reality. In 2006, he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. (Thanks, Tom.)

Thursday, December 13

Scary contender quote of the day...
Clinton calls herself a "government junkie." She says, "There is no such thing as other people's children" and promises to work on "redefining who we are as human beings in the post-modern age."
Eee. That's the kind of quote we used to hear a lot from scary people.
Has anyone seen these? Truly amazing, detailed, surreal prints. They both are labeled 'Art Factory'. The top one contains the text: 'We and the earth, live together', and is attributed to graphic designer Takahisa Nakashima in a 2005 book on Japanese design.

Wednesday, December 12

UPS claims to have reduced its CO2 emissions by 31,000 metric tons last helping its drivers avoid left-hand turns.
A frustrated group of Americans? Probably not.

Earlier this year, a secularist group offered $1,000 to the highest-ranking politician in the land who would publicly proclaim no belief in God. This turned out to be Peter Stark, a Democratic congressman from the San Francisco area. He is the only congressman, of 535, who professes no belief in the Almighty. ... Mr Stark suspects that many of his colleagues secretly agree with him. But they dare not do so publicly, even Democrats.

This article speaks to the notion that atheists have little to no representation in U.S. political culture. But the thing is, people with no religion often feel no need for special representation. First, they've no dogma or intrusive cultural practices to defend. Second, as long as they're left to believe (or not believe) what they want, they're happy.

Saturday, December 8

The Story of Stuff is a well-made online video highlighting the dubious nature of our consumer-driven economy. I particularly like the third part (distribution), which among other things discusses the externalization of costs & impacts of consumer products.

As much as I agree with the content of this video, however, I wish that it was less filled with rhetoric and instead contained more fact-based discussion. The website contains links to organizations that research many of the claims made in the video, but when a presentation is as one-sided as this it inevitably ends up being a sermon to the choir and failing the more ambitious goal of swaying the opinions of a larger audience.

Thursday, December 6

Germany appears to be planning to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 36% (below 1990 levels) by 2020, at a cost of approximately $45.5 billion. As noted in the article, this is about what the U.S. spends on the Iraq war every 7 months.

Wednesday, December 5

You're home, you're doing nothing illegal, then the cops burst into your home and shoot your dog. It's actually a common occurrence. Now take a look at how common paramilitary raids by cops on the wrong houses are. Still more here... and a policy analysis here.

Monday, December 3

Some want to reclaim Christmas for Jesus. Some want to decommercialize Christmas. Some want to end it altogether. And some just want us to buy a lot of stuff.
Smackdown to the wanna be president for life - voters reject a referendum designed to"abolish term limits, allow Mr. Ch├ívez to declare states of emergency for unlimited periods and increase the state’s role in the economy, among other measures."