#  The Blue Pallet →

June 26th, 2014 at 10:00 // In Worth Reading 

If you’ve worked in shipping or (retail) logistics, you’ve probably have seen a blue pallet. They’re so much luxuriously better than a traditional ones whose quality is all over the map. I’d always wondered their story, this explains all the drama that surrounds these CHEP pallets quite well:

CHEP doesn’t sell pallets; it rents them. This means that, in contrast to the world of whitewood, where a pallet may change ownership many times, CHEP maintains control of its pallets throughout their lives. But the company’s experience operating what is known in the industry as a “closed pool” didn’t translate easily into the American context, where supply chains were longer, more complex, and geographically dispersed.

As the story goes onto detail, much chaos has ensued because of this reality of American shipping.


#  The Effectiveness of Vaccines →

June 25th, 2014 at 15:03 // In Worth Seeing 

David Mendoza put together a pretty awesome series of charts of how effective the introduction of the measles vaccine was in stopping new cases across the United States. This one really requires no introduction:


#  Development Funds For Dictators →

June 25th, 2014 at 10:01 // In Worth Reading 

A really interesting and worthy book review of the awkward tension that exists — and is highlighted in William Easterly’s new book — about how the huge western economic development industry seems to have a big soft spot for freedom-hating autocrats.

In 2013, Melinda Gates, on the eve of a trip to Ethiopia, described it as one of her favorite countries. “I always enjoy visiting Ethiopia,” she declared, “because I see inspirational stories and concrete leadership from the government and community health workers reaching the hardest to reach and making change.” Easterly quotes a 2013 report by Tony Blair’s Africa Governance Initiative praising the Ethiopian government’s “strong, accountable leadership in implementing the plan.”

Strong, certainly; accountable, certainly not. According to Human Rights Watch’s 2014 country report, “Ethiopia’s ambitious development schemes, funded from domestic revenue sources and foreign assistance, sometimes displace indigenous communities without appropriate consultation or any compensation.” And after describing in detail the government’s imprisonment of nonviolent opposition leaders and journalists, and denial of the right to assembly, among many other violations of human rights, the report notes that while Ethiopia receives donor assistance of almost $4 billion a year.

#  Back to Basics of Fitness →

June 24th, 2014 at 17:01 // In Worth Considering 

If you follow my sensible science skepticism tag, you’ll understand why on this I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise:

This raised a question: If all the latest cutting-edge scientific research says that outdated barbell movements have to be updated with core stability tricks and then integrated into super-short high-intensity muscle-confusion routines, how come none of that did much for me, while the same five lifts repeated for a year caused profound structural changes to my body?

The answer, it turns out, is that there are no cutting-edge scientific studies.

Also of note on this topic: I recently posted a little essay I consider quite relevant to this piece. It’s called “Simple But Not Easy”, give it a look.

#  Faking Cultural Literacy →

June 23rd, 2014 at 16:02 // In Worth Considering 

A piece I didn’t quite love by recognized myself in more than I’d like. This quote, especially, rang true (emphasis mine):

We have outsourced our opinions to this loop of data that will allow us to hold steady at a dinner party, though while you and I are ostensibly talking about “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” what we are actually doing, since neither of us has seen it, is comparing social media feeds. Does anyone anywhere ever admit that he or she is completely lost in the conversation? No. We nod and say, “I’ve heard the name,” or “It sounds very familiar,” which usually means we are totally unfamiliar with the subject at hand.

#  How Your Stolen Credit Card is Sold →

June 23rd, 2014 at 12:22 // In Worth Knowing 

Brian Krebs offers a neat, detailed, and kind of horrific, peek into the world of stolen credit card data. The vocabulary list is a great run-down of what things matter inside:

BINs: Short for “Bank Identification Number,” this is the first six digits of any debit or credit credit cards, and it uniquely identifies the financial institution that issued the card. BINs are the primary method that card shops use to index wares for sale, and all buyers have their favorite BINs with which they’ve found success in the past. There are tens of thousands of BINs in use today, and few people legitimately employed in the banking industry have comprehensive BIN lists (which most banks consider proprietary). For that, you typically need to turn to the professional card shops, which track BIN usage quite closely.

I had no idea.

#  Why America Calls it Soccer →

June 23rd, 2014 at 10:02 // In Worth Knowing 

The FIFA World Cup’s going on now, and I learned something I didn’t know as a result:

“From this point onwards the two versions of football were distinguished by reference to their longer titles, Rugby Football and Association Football (named after the Football Association),” Szymanski writes. “The rugby football game was shortened to ‘rugger,’” while “the association football game was, plausibly, shortened to ‘soccer.’”

Both sports fragmented yet again as they spread around the world. The colloquialism “soccer” caught on in the United States in the first decade of the twentieth century, in part to distinguish the game from American football, a hybrid of Association Football and Rugby Football. (Countries that tend to use the word “soccer” nowadays—Australia, for example—usually have another sport called “football.”)

#  English’s Coming Indian Decline? →

June 19th, 2014 at 14:03 // In Worth Considering 

I’d not realized it, but Samanth Subramanian points out that the latest presidential election — which brought Narendra Modi to power — there may mark the decline of English being the most important and prominent language in India:

Most recently, though, India’s major newspapers have been expanding in a different direction. In 2012, Bennett Coleman, the publisher of The Times of India, the world’s largest English daily, started a Bengali newspaper and poured fresh resources into its older Hindi and Marathi papers. Last October, the publisher of The Hindu, a 135-year-old English paper, launched a Tamil edition. Another leading English daily, The Hindustan Times, has enlarged the staff and budgets of its Hindi sibling Hindustan. And this past winter, a few months before the election, The Times of India launched NavGujarat Samay, a Gujarati paper for Modi’s home turf.

#  The Commonness of Insider Trading →

June 19th, 2014 at 13:01 // In Worth Knowing 

There are reasons people are suspicious of the stock market, and a new study seems to be a good reason to be hesitant. Insider trading, which is illegal in the US, is actually common:

A quarter of all public company deals may involve some kind of insider trading, according to the study by two professors at the Stern School of Business at New York University and one professor from McGill University. The study, perhaps the most detailed and exhaustive of its kind, examined hundreds of transactions from 1996 through the end of 2012.


#  Where America Is Empty →

June 18th, 2014 at 16:05 // In Worth Seeing 

Really cool map of what census blocks in the US have no people in it. It’s interesting but not surprising to compare to this old post about where American roads are.