Archive for July 2008

#  ISS and the Sun →

July 30th, 2008 at 20:02 // In Worth Seeing 

A picture of the International Space Station transiting the sun. It’s like a mini solar eclipse.

(via Wired Science)

#  Legal Name Changes →

July 30th, 2008 at 19:57 // In Worth Distraction 

The internet’s a place where people often call themselves strange things. In the legal realm, however, a judge has to allow you to take such a name. Eugene Volokh documents some of the most interesting names, and the judge’s ruling:

1. 1069. No dice. The North Dakota Supreme Court (1976) and Minnesota Supreme Court (1979) both say: Names can’t be numbers.

2. III, to be pronounced “Three.” Nope, on the same grounds, said the California Court of Appeal in 1984 to Thomas Boyd Ritchie III. A concurring judge asserted that the problem was that III was a symbol, rather than just that it was a number. Such subtle distinctions are what law is all about.

#  The First Web Page →

July 30th, 2008 at 19:23 // In Worth Seeing 

Andrew Simone points to a piece of internet history.

#  Millenial Surprise →

July 30th, 2008 at 19:12 // In Worth Knowing 

Proof that adults always underestimate the young. In this case, their racism (emphasis mine):

Over the course of the last few months, Rasmussen has been tracking attitudes about voting for a black candidate for President.  What they have been finding is that the public is gradually becoming more willing to support such a candidate, but what is most striking in the three surveys they have done is how constant and relatively great the unwillingness to support a black candidate has been in the age group you probably least expect.  According to the three surveys, 18-29 year olds are now relatively less willing to support a black candidate than voters from other age groups. While resistance to supporting a black candidate has dropped in every other age group since February, and overall stands at just 8%, it remains basically unchanged among the youngest voters.

#  The Psychology of Taste →

July 29th, 2008 at 21:54 // In Worth Considering 

Interesting stuff:

A large group of people were given a “human values” test which seeks to measure fifty six different values (loyalty, ambition, social order, etc.) Then, the subjects were asked to rate a variety of sausages. People who scored high on “social authority” - they believed it was important to support people in power - tended to label the “vegetarian” sausage as inferior, even when the vegetarian sausage was actually from a cow. Likewise, people who scored low on “social power values” tended to score the vegan sausage much higher than the beef sausage, even when they were actually eating meat. Instead of judging the food product on its merits, they ended up preferring the product that more closely conformed to their value system. The scientists also conducted a similar experiment with Pepsi. Sure enough, people who fit the Pepsi demographic - they think having an “exciting life” is very important - always preferred Pepsi, even when they were actually drinking a generic cola.

(via Matt Yglesias)

#  Jetpacks →

July 29th, 2008 at 21:51 // In Worth Knowing 

Like, real jetpacks. (Although technically, it’s not a jetpack.)

On Tuesday, an inventor from New Zealand unveiled what he calls “the world’s first practical jetpack” at the EAA AirVenture, the gigantic annual air show here. The inventor, Glenn Martin, 48, who has spent 27 years developing the devices, said he hoped to begin selling them next year for $100,000 apiece.

(via Boing Boing)

UPDATE (7/30/08); Via BBGadgets, Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame) makes a good point:

The bugbear with this type of vehicle isn’t getting airborne, it’s stability. He says that it can go to 8k feet for 1/2 hour. That’s theoretically. I see a device going 1 foot off the ground with 2 big guys guiding it. In fact, I’ve seen not a single untethered pic.

I’d love it to be true, but I see too many warning flags. Sounds like a money raising stunt. Every time one of these companies is about to run out of money, they hold a “demonstration” and make a prediction that they’ll be selling them within some short period of time. I doubt it. Moller’s been predicting that people will be flying to work in 10 years, for the last 40 years.

#  The Elasticity of Gas Prices →

July 29th, 2008 at 21:41 // In Worth Knowing 

The reality of the price at the pump against the price of a barrel:

Analyses of gasoline economics show that when the price of oil rises, it takes up to four weeks for gas station prices to catch up, with most of the increase taking place within the first two weeks. But when oil prices sink, it takes up to eight weeks for the savings to be passed along to consumers. The phenomenon is known as “asymmetric price adjustment” (PDF) or, more informally, “rockets and feathers.”

#  Not the World’s Cheapest Car →

July 29th, 2008 at 21:29 // In Worth Considering 

An interesting look at the reality of the much heralded and fretted over Tata Nano:

Malhotra is having second thoughts. He’s done the math and realized that once taxes and insurance costs are added, the price of the entry-level Nano rises to just over $3,000. For an extra $500, he says, he could buy a decent used car with a more powerful engine and air conditioning, which the Nano won’t have.

(via Passport)

#  Voters as Moderates →

July 29th, 2008 at 21:24 // In Worth Seeing 

These graphs — plotting ideology of Senators against Congressmen against voters — don’t surprise me, but it’s a very useful way to quickly understand how politics works.

(via kottke)

#  Oh SkyMall! →

July 29th, 2008 at 15:19 // In Worth Distraction 

Sometimes SkyMall products perfectly straddle the thin line between “useless junk” and “cool idea.” The PizzaPro — a long pair of scissors with a spatula attached — is such a product.

(via BB Gadgets)