March 19, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting


Top 15 Most Dangerous Toys Ever Made – How many did you play with? I think I used 5 and survived. The list if flaky, though. No lawn darts? No Buckyballs? No easy bake oven?

How Maritime Law Works – A short video explaining maritime law, because I’m sure you’ve been wondering about it.

Rare White Rhino Killed for Coveted Horn at French Zoo – Seriously? What is the appropriate punishment for this crime. I think castration and then a lifetime of being exhibited in a zoo seems about right.

The Popular Car Models Owners are Most Likely Give Up After a Year – What cars do people not keep for more than a year?

Jimmy Buffett Launching Margaritaville Retirement Homes – I can’t really add anything more to this than you can get from the title alone.

Communism’s Legacy: Tyranny, Terror, and Torture – In case you need a refresher in just how evil communism has been, this is a pretty good article.

You Can Make Your Own Taco Shells Entirely Out of Bacon – I wonder if you can make a pizza crust out of bacon.

Why Aren’t There More Jewish Superheroes? – This is not a question I ever thought to ask. Now I’m curious as to whether there are any Buddhist superheroes.

20,000 Worldclass University Lectures Made Illegal, So We Irrevocably Mirrored Them – This is an interesting topic of discussion. The American’s with Disabilities Act appears to require that UC Berkeley make its video lectures accessible to blind and deaf students. This is expensive, so they opted to delete a bunch of them instead. Should we not let anyone have access to them if we can’t let everyone have access to them? If we make it OK in this case, do we discourage people from making things available to blind and deaf people in the future?

‘This is wizard!’ 100-year-old woman who flew spitfires during the Second World War celebrates her centenary by getting behind the controls again – Love it!

Health – Physical and Mental

Moral Outrage Is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists – This seems reasonable to me, which probably just means that it shows more confirmation bias than truth.

Declines in Sexual Frequency among American Adults, 1989–2014 – Are people too busy to get busy? The surprising thing to me was what they didn’t conclude – that the decline is linked to Internet porn.

Sociodemographic Correlates of Sexlessness Among American Adults and Associations with Self-Reported Happiness Levels: Evidence from the U.S. General Social Survey. – People not having sex are just as happy as those that are. I guess maybe that’s why it is in decline. I have to wonder about this result. Maybe people aren’t doing it right.

50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms – A collection of ideas for making you happier. Some are good. Some are stupid. Some are vapid. It’s typical of this genre. Oddly, nothing in the list about having or not having sex. Oh wait, there is a suggestion that you take cold showers to make you happier. I’m putting that one in the stupid bucket.

How to Buy Happiness – Short answer – go to a bar or a bookstore depending on whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. Based on the study above, it looks like buying sex isn’t the answer. Besides, that’s illegal (see below).

Why You Should Scare the Crap Out of Yourself for Fun – I suggest watching Fox News and think about the fact that it is the most popular news program. Just be careful not to overdo it.

Why Do Prestigious Hospitals Sell Snake Oil? – Obvious answer – because that’s where the money is.

A History of Tug-of-War Fatalities – What the heck? I had no idea that people got maimed and killed playing tug-of-war.

Long-lasting mental health isn’t normal – It says that people that aren’t at least occasionally crazy are weirdos.

Why you think you’re right, even when you’re wrong – It seems to me that the more I know, the less confident I am that I’m right.

Art and Culture

Stop the Soft Despotism Stifling Campus Free Speech –When someone is saying something ridiculous or hateful, the obvious thing to do is to point out the flaws in their argument. You only fall back on suppressing them when you are worried that their argument is stronger.

The Kids Are Right – I thought it would be hard to find, but here is someone defending “stamping out bigoted speech.” As much as I disagree with the author, I’ll resist calling for suppression of their bigoted views.

Debate Rages Over How ‘Attractive’ Female Video Game Characters Should Be – Too sexy. Too ugly. You can’t please everyone. Maybe “attractiveness” should be an adjustable setting.

Difficult languages and easy languages – An informal comparison of which languages are hardest and easiest to learn. I have to assume that English is the easiest because I’ve seen little kids that are fluent in it and some of them weren’t all that bright.

The hazards of English spelling – An attempt to claim that English spelling makes sense.

Your Hot New Partner Might Already Have One Foot Out the Door – I’ve gone about 25 years with my hot partner and I’ve still got her locked down under contract, but it does give you something to think about. Reminds me of the song “If you wanna be happy”.

Why you should marry a cheapskate – So it’s looking like you want to marry a cheap, ugly person. Don’t laugh; it worked for Kathy.

The comforts of familiarity – A review of Tyler Cowen’s new book, The Complacent Class. It’s an interesting book, but I’m much more complacent about the problem than the author.

Interactive Rainbow Installation Invites Visitors to Explore a Forest of Numbers – I don’t “get it”, but it looks cool.

The Increasing Significance of the Decline of Men – Men are being badly beaten in the competition for which gender is the most abused, but it is good to see that some are still out there fighting for victimhood status.


These elephants sleep only 2 hours a day, and scientists have no clue how they do it – Seems obvious to me; elephants don’t have to sit through meetings.

Infinity and beyond – A nice explanation of the difference between different types of infinities. I still prefer Vi Hart’s video on the topic.

De-extinction probably isn’t worth it – I don’t entirely agree. I would say that it isn’t worth it yet.


Amazon shares data with Arkansas prosecutor in murder case – Conclusion – if you are about to be murdered, shout “Alexa – I’m being murdered by Colonel Mustard with a lead pipe in the conservatory.” Sigh, too bad Peter Falk is gone. This would make for a fun Columbo episode.

Poachers are trying to hack animal tracking systems – Think you have it tough with governments and companies spying on you, it looks like animals have hunters using tech to track them down.

Waze and other traffic dodging apps prompt cities to game the algorithms – I remember when shortcuts were liked prized secrets. Once they are obvious to everyone, chaos ensues.

The Blockchain Will Do to the Financial System What the Internet Did to Media – Because the buzzword of the month is still “blockchain”.

Google’s reCAPTCHA turns “invisible,” will separate bots from people without challenges – I hope so. I’m often not human enough to figure out those stupid CAPTCHA things.

Disable Those Annoying Taskbar Pop-Up Suggestions In Windows 10 – I swear that if someone else tried to install something as ad-pushy as Windows 10 on my computer I’d expect it to be caught by my anti-spamware detecting software.

Imitating Bone Creates Stronger Steel – The article is pretty interesting, but I can’t think of anything to add.

the future – Billy Bass Alexa. Inspired!

Lab-Grown Meat Finally Available in Chicken Nugget Form – Will vegetarians be able to eat lab-grown meat?

Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster – We just did something like this at the Six Flags in Vallejo. It sounds really cool, but it was one of the worst rides I’ve ever been on. This is not a way to buy happiness.

Politics and Policy

Yale Lawsuit Spotlights Title IX, Sexual Assault ‘Hysteria’ – At least as far back as the witch trials, it seems that every generation picks a crime so heinous that we have to set aside the normal judicial process to make sure we convict the bad people. Is our generation’s version of this the accusation of sexual assault on college campuses? I’m not saying that they aren’t real and aren’t a serious problem. I’m just saying that it is unfortunate that in our zeal to do something about it, we appear to be stripping the (sometimes innocent) accused of their legal rights.

Why can’t you pay for sex? – It seems like a good rule of thumb for criminal law is that something should not be illegal if the “victim” prefers that it not be illegal.

Overdoses In W.Va. Drain Fund For Burials – The increase in drug overdose deaths is causing a strain on rural budgets. Is this a good counter-argument for not making something illegal if the “victim” prefers that it not be illegal?

Refugees, immigration, and the trolley problem – Does it really make sense to ban refugees because there is a small chance that some of them may be dangerous? Is that really the level of compassion that is appropriate for a predominantly Christian nation? Have we gone in less than a century from the “Greatest Generation” to the “Most Cowardly Generation?”

Retire This Rule vs Will Congress Undermine Retirement Coverage, Too? – Should states be allowed to auto-enroll people in IRAs when they don’t have a 401K? I guess my view is split. I think the state laws are bad but I see no reason why the feds should preempt them.

Common Sense on Immigration – Doesn’t everyone think their views on immigration are common sense? This article posits that we should make immigration more skill based.

Why Americans Pay Triple the World Price for Sugar – Because we are protecting US sugar growers. The rest of us all pay more. It also means that we import more products made with sugar because they can be made cheaper in other countries. It also means that we use a lot more HFCS as a replacement for sugar. But we’re making American great again for sugar growers. Isn’t that sweet?

How About Freedom for Dinner? – A review of the book Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable. I would like to see fewer laws banning foods and relying more on laws that “endorse” safe practices.

Paul Ryan Wants to Make You Less Free – It seems to be saying that taking more money from you and me and giving it to someone else makes those other people more free. I guess that’s true, but it still seems like it reduces overall freedom.

Lawmakers Try Yet Again To Create Minimum Seat Size Requirement On Planes – Do we really need laws for this? Can’t consumers be trusted to make their own choices? I understand why seats are getting less legroom (to put in more rows), but how are they getting narrower? Where is that extra space going? The aisles aren’t getting any wider.


Do Countries Consistently Engage in Misinforming the International Community about Their Efforts to Combat Money Laundering? Evidence Using Benford’s Law – One of the fun things about the widespread publishing of data and mainstreaming of stats techniques is that corruption is harder to hide. Sure, nobody is going to do anything about it, but at least it is more obvious that it exists.

THERE IS NO GENDER WAGE GAP – “If, for the same work, women make only 77 cents for every dollar a man makes, why don’t businesses hire only women?”

What the President Could Learn From Professional Economists – A nice little summary from Greg Mankiw, President GWB’s former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Dead Wrong™ with Johan Norberg – Food Miles – Seems obvious, but the popularity of “buy local” and “eat local” stuff tells me that it isn’t obvious to everyone.

The Economics of Airline Class – An interesting breakdown of revenue by seating class and why airlines love business class.