I thought I really, REALLY knew cars from the 1950s, but I scored only 85% on this quiz [via Jack]. Maybe my long-term memory is going, too?
More seriously, I wonder if I've posted a link to this quiz before (see below). Oh well, it's a fun quiz and worth seeing again...
Yup I posted it over a year ago. And you know what? I got 100% then. That'll teach me to (1) to get older and (2) to take such quizzes after enjoying too much Islay scotch.
You know those height charts that parents and grandparents keep of their children and grandchildren? Every time we visited my grandmother, we had to stand against a door frame and have our heights marked (and dated). The house is gone and to the best of my knowledge, there are no photographs of the height charts of me and my sister.
We did the same thing with our granddaughters but at least had the good sense to take photos of them before we moved.
Ms. Eclectic and I are going to start a new version of height charts. We are aging, and as we age, we are losing height [digression: which means, of course, that our BMIs are going up despite weight loss, dammit.]. I've had some compression fractures in my vertebrae. And one of our granddaughters says she is now taller than Ms. Eclectic despite not having grown any more herself. Along this same line, I can recall being surprised by how short my mother seemed in her later years, and it wasn't just because I had grown.
So here is our suggestion. When people reach the age of about 45 or 50, they should put up height charts designed for children. Then as they [we] shrink, we can keep track of the shrinkage on the height chart.
Addendum: We actually started something like this the other day. We marked our respective heights on a door jamb. And then we measured the heights of the marks. Indeed, we have both lost some height from our peak heights.
probably not much of a market for this product.
It doesn't take long on Facebook to discover examples of most of these logical fallacies. You'll have to click on the link to see it, but the map and the links are thorough.
[via JR, my favourite drug dealer]
Biofuels are not an answer for reducing CO2 emissions [via Gabriel].
The conclusions deal a blow to what are known as cellulosic biofuels, which have received more than a billion dollars in federal support but have struggled to meet volume targets mandated by law.
They actually increase CO2 emissions:
A $500,000 study paid for by the federal government and released Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.
It looks more like cronyism than environmentalism to me.
I find that when I'm on a plane or train, my noice-cancelling headphones are a wonder. Even if I don't listen to any music or podcasts, the noise canceling dramatically reduces my discomfort and maybe even reduces stress levels.
Here is another reason to wear them [via MA]. They will likely make the food taste better.
[S]eparate research revealed the sort of noise we are subjected to inside aircraft cabin affects taste buds, reducing our sense of saltiness and sweetness - and increasing crunchiness.
To test the theory, 48 diners were blindfolded and fed sweet foods such as biscuits or salty ones such as crisps, while listening to silence or noise through headphones at Unilever's laboratories and the University of Manchester.
Each volunteer rated the foods for flavour and said how much they liked them.
Background noise led to the foods being rated less salty or sweet. They were also perceived as more crunchy.
I'm not at all sure I believe this. And I'll grant that carrying over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones is just another thing to worry about on an airplane. But often the bother is worth the effort.
I don't understand the chemistry, but there is apparently a product available and that has just been approved in the US called "powdered alcohol", also known as "palcohol". I couldn't imagine that adding water to something would yield a product with alcohol, but apparently what happens is the water releases the alcohol that is captured in the chemical compound.
According to food chemist Udo Pollmer of the European Institute of Food and Nutrition Sciences in Munich, alcohol can be absorbed in cyclodextrines, a sugar derivate. In this way, encapsuled in small capsules, the fluid can be handled as a powder. The cyclodextrines can absorb an estimated 60 percent of their own weight in alcohol. A US patent has been registered for the process as early as 1974.
However, 2M2B is one of few alcohols potent enough for practical use. The potency allows a dosage to be delivered in a small number of capsules, which effectively eliminates the burning taste. ...
In spring of 2014 a company called palcahol announced it will be marketing powered alcohol in the fall.
Imagine the headaches palcohol can cause for many, many events.
From the National Post [via Jack]:
My own belief is that the BDS people and their fellow travellers, whatever their background, are anti-Semites. They do all they can to stigmatize the Jewish state and reduce its ability to defend itself. They know that Israel is surrounded by neighbours who will never recognize its existence, much less sign a treaty developed in a “peace process” quarterbacked by Washington. The Palestinians and the Arab states who claim to support them are not hoping for a more generous Israel or a BDS-approved Israel or an Israel willing to hand over the West Bank. They are working for a day when Israel will be gone forever.
In order to satisfy this generation’s anti-Semites, Israel must meet standards that no other country in the world has ever met or ever will. At the United Nations Israel is condemned more often than all other countries combined.
It is, of course, an imperfect democracy, like Canada and all other free countries, and its human rights record could certainly be improved. But its treatment of Palestinians has never been even remotely comparable to China’s oppression of Tibetans or Saudi Arabia’s treatment of women, two among many outrageous practices that apparently never trouble the students who direct their anger at Israel.
In devising their purposes the BDS campaigners have never shown even the beginning of a sense of proportion. It’s remarkable that the world needs a 29-year-old movie star to point this out.
Every once in awhile someone asks me why I am such a strong Israelphile and why I frequently raise the issue of anti-Semitism here on the blog. Things like this are one reason. From the article quoted there,
In another stage of the Passover celebrations, [the Jews] combined the preparation of matzas and the offering up of sacrifices with their enmity towards non-Jews, especially Christians, and mixed the blood of one of their victims into the matza [dough. This was done] especially on Passover, Purim and circumcision rituals. They also used blood in acts of sorcery and witchcraft...
...The draining of the victims' blood is done in [several ways. One method is] by means of a barrel lined with needles. This is a barrel the size of the victim's body, with sharp needles that stick into all his limbs when he is placed in it, so that his blood slowly trickles down from every part of his body. This entails excruciating torment, which gives pleasure to the Jews who become drunk with joy at the sight of the blood dripping from the victim's [body] to the bottom of the barrel and into a container placed there to collect it. [Another method] is to slaughter the victim like a sheep and collecting his blood in a vessel, or else slashing the victim's veins in numerous places so that the blood flows from the wounds into the vessels. Then the blood is handed to a rabbi who prepares a matza laced with human blood in order to please the Jewish god, Jehovah, who thirsts for blood. The Jews can rejoice in their holidays only if they eat matza laced with the blood of non-Jews. [emphasis added]
I once had a friend tell me all about the Protocols of the Elders of Zion as if that fabrication was factual. So I did some internet searches, discovered it was a fraud, printed off the results, and took them to him. His wife looked at him critically then as if to say, "See, I told you so."
As I have moved from being middle aged into the "under 90" category, my sense of peace, tranquility, gratitude, and happiness have all increased tremendously. At the same time, I have recently become grumpier. This study suggests I am not alone [via MA]. Here is what happens.
And you know how all those old people [us "under-90s"] seem to walk funny? We do it for one or more of these three reasons:
Had anyone told me this even ten years ago, I'd have understood.... intellectually. But being here, experiencing it, makes it real.
Despite all this, and lest anyone be concerned, I'm still more grateful and happier than I ever imagined possible. Ain't life grand!
We divide the drinking in our house. Ms. Eclectic drinks pairs red wine with anything, I drink pair white wine with anything. I like smokey, peaty scotch, she likes non-smokey single malts.
Soon, though, we'll have to see which, if any, of these low-price wines are available at the LCBO [via MA, who understands my tastes pretty well]. Not many, I expect, partly because this is a UK article, partly because.... LCBO.
Update: MA writes:
Something must have gone wrong. This is the link I meant to send.
Quite frankly I am more likely to enjoy something from the first link along with the cash left over from not having purchased something on the second list.
Apple seems to be betting that the nominal price elasticity of demand for the iPhone6 will be even less than it was for the initial offerings of the iPhone 5C and 5S. Or so it seems. There are rumours the price will be $100 higher for the new version of the iPhone when it becomes available in the fall. From Slate:
Jefferies analyst Peter Misek says, “Our checks indicate Apple has started negotiating with carriers on a $100 iPhone 6 price increase. ....
There are two ways to look at this if you’re Apple.
On the one hand, an internal presentation from Apple last year showed that people around the world want cheaper phones with bigger screens. This suggests it needs to cut the price and bump screen size.
However, Apple believes it’s not really susceptible to the pricing pressure of Android phone-makers. The iPad, for example, was originally going to sell for $400, but Apple figured people would pay $100 more, and it was right.
If, in fact, market conditions have changed such that customers who want a new iPhone really want one (even more than customers really wanted the earlier versions), then it will be a profitable move for Apple charge more for their new iPhones.
Econo-geek speak: If they are right, the intersection of the MR and MC curves will occur at a lower q/t, but their revenues will rise and their total costs might even decline. The implication is that Apple is guessing that if they price the iPhone6 the same way they priced the 5s, they would be in or mighty close to the inelastic portion of the demand curve [granting truckloads of assumptions].
At the same time, though, house prices in the north of England are not rising and have still not risen back to where they were in 2007. See the contrast between London vs the north in this graphic from The Economist:
As I wrote to a friend about this,
My prediction: look for some head offices and other shops to relocate to the north and out of London. Also look for more telecommuting from the north [our friend who lived on the Wirral did a lot of telecommuting, even back then]. And look for more mid-level and upper-level managers to resist relocations to London unless they are offered enormous relocation packages, which will then spur managers to look for the above solutions.
All together now, "People respond to incentives."
The Elder of Ziyon makes some telling points about the recent attack on people (not all Jews, it turned out) at Jewish centres in Overland, Kansas.
In general, the US is a great place for Jews to live. Jews have little to fear in most of their communities. It is not at all like many places in Europe or in the Arab world.
But antisemitism exists, both from the right and the left, and it regularly manifests itself with extreme violence.
Yet when was the last time antisemitism merited a front page story in a major newspaper or magazine?
Time Magazine in 2010 had a cover story on Islamophobia. As I noted then, the number of antisemitic incidents in the US in 2010 dwarfed the number of anti-Muslim incidents.
Unless I am mistaken, there has not been a single Muslim fatality due to an anti-Muslim hate crime in the US since 9/11. (One Sikh was killed in an anti-Muslim attack and two other Sikhs were killed since 9/11 under unclear circumstances, plus a horrific murder of six Sikhs who were killed by a white supremacist.) .)
There is real hate out there in the US, and real people willing to kill people in service of that hate. And the objects of that deadly hate are not Muslims.
Outside of occasional stories like these, you wouldn't know that.
The Canadian federal gubmnt has consistently underestimated how much it will have to pay out to retirees in the future, and it has consistently overestimated how much income investments will generate. The result is that it has severely underestimated how much the pension liabilities will add the federal budget deficit in the future.
A recent publication from the C.D. Howe Institute suggests that the present value of these deficits is roughly $120 billion. Their conclusion:
An economically meaningful fair-value estimate
of the unfunded liability of federal government
employees’ pension plans puts it at $272 billion –
some $120 billion higher than reported. The same
approach to determining the annual cost of benefits
accruing in these plans shows it to be between
45 and 60 percent of pensionable pay – more than
twice as high as reported, and a far higher rate of
tax-deferred wealth accumulation than is available
to other Canadians. The federal government should
incorporate these numbers in the official measures
of its net debt and annual budget balance. This
would be a key first step toward reforms that would
alleviate a burden that few taxpayers know they
bear, and that would protect taxpayers from risks
few know they run.
Please note that this study refers only to the federal pension liabilities. I expect many municipal and provincial pension liabilities are in even worse shape. As a result, the net drain to future taxpayers will be even higher when these net liabilities are added to burden.
With the news that Russian military spending is greater than US military spending, is another arms race in the offing?
If so, it's a good example of a negative sum game. Both sides feel as if they'll be bigger losers if they don't play than if they play. The only solution is defeat [Reagan vs Gorbachev?], capitulation [Obama vs Putin?] or shaky co-operation.
At one point, the UWO economics department was one of thirty economics departments claiming to be in the top 20 of all economics departments in the world. We were damned good. And by some metrics, we were in the top ten. David Laidler and Michael Parkin were two important reasons we were there, but so many of us had great publication and citation records then.
Look at the talent we attracted and turned out. And not just Steve and Tiff, but many others. And look at the influence the department had. The department went downhill from there for quite some time, but seems to be roughly among the top 50 now.
Addendum: let me just add that David, Michael and a few others could have built their careers at Never-Heard-Of U. UWO was lucky to have them.
I may have to take a nap on April 14th. Here's hoping for nice warm weather that night.
For the Western Hemisphere, the eclipse will "officially" begin on April 15 at 12:53 a.m. EDT (0435 GMT), when the moon begins to enter Earth's outer, or penumbral shadow. But even in clear weather, skywatchers will not notice any changes in the moon's appearance until about 50 minutes later, when a slight "smudge" or shading starts becoming evident on the left portion of the moon’s disk. ...
The first definitive change in the moon's appearance will come on its upper left edge. At 1:58 a.m. EDT (0558 GMT), the partial phase of the eclipse will begin as the Earth’s dark shadow, called the umbra, starts to slowly creep over the face of the full moon.
At 3:06 a.m. EDT, the eclipse will reach totality, but sunlight bent by our atmosphere around the curvature of the Earth should produce a coppery glow on the moon. At this time, the moon, if viewed with binoculars or asmall telescope, will present the illusion of seemingly glowing from within by its own light.
At 3:46 a.m. EDT, the sun, Earth and moon will be almost exactly in line and the light of the moon will appear at its dimmest. "Totality" ends at 4:24 a.m. EDT, and the moon will completely emerge from the umbra at 5:33 a.m. About 20 minutes later, the last vestige of the fainter penumbral shadow will disappear from the moon’s upper right edge, and the body will return to its normal brilliance.
Addendum: Unfortunately, it turns out we likely will not be able to see the eclipse here --- a forecast of clouds and possibly 5cm of snow overnight.
The 2014 London Fringe Festival will be held June 4 - 13 during which Out Of Sight Productions is presenting a one-hour play, "Academia Nuts" by Paul Kinsella.
The play is a romantic comedy about a theology professor (me) who is on sabbatical leave. An attractive female Romanian graduate student (Tiffany Blom) wanders into his office looking for help with conversational English. Much hilarity, confusion, tenderness, frivolity, joyful awakening, and compassion ensue. For more about the play and about Out of Sight Productions, see this.
Academia Nuts, at The Spriet Theatre (second floor of the Covent Garden Market, London, Ontario), Identified as Venue #1 for the Fringe Festival:
- Wednesday, June 4, 5:30pm
- Friday, June 6, 5pm
- Saturday, June 7, 2:30pm
- Monday, June 9, 8pm
- Wednesday, June 11, 8:15pm
- Friday, June 13, 5pm
Because "Academia Nuts" is part of the Fringe Festival, it is likely you will need to purchase a button as well as a ticket to see the play, but there are typically quantity discounts for packets of tickets, so it might be fun to see 5 or 10 of the shows during the festival. Last year the buttons were $5, and the tickets were something like $10, but I have no idea what the pricing will be like this year.