April 9, 2017 – Stuff I Found Interesting


Informed Delivery – It’s a new service by the USPS. They’ll e-mail you an image of your letter sized mail that they are putting in your mailbox that day.

Russian’s Geography Problem – An interesting perspective on how Russia’s geography has influenced its history and current behavior.

This ≠ That – A fun video showing that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. Similar to (and probably inspired by Tyler Vigen’s classic site Spurious Correlations. Incidentally, you can type a ≠ sign by typing 2260 and then pressing alt-x. At least that’s how it works on a PC.

Floating ‘Trash Wheels’ Clean Up 1 Million Pounds of Debris in Baltimore’s Harbor – It’s like a big paddlewheel garbage eating bug. Sort of a cuter Roomba for the harbor.

Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains – Looks like it is getting harder to find the best deals on planes and hotels and such. Sigh.

For 18 years, I thought she was stealing my identity. Until I found her – That would suck.

The Countries That Are Actually the Most Dangerous for Tourists – Getting ready for trip?

What “Personal Space” Means to the Rest of World – Maybe knowing this will make you safer when you travel.

Here’s how good (or awful) your hometown drivers are at wearing a seat belt – There are places in the US where seatbelt usage is near or even below 50%? Where are all these stupid people? The article has a map.

The Future of Tickets – A prediction that tickets will go to block chains and ticketing agencies will become obsolete.

Health – Physical and Mental

Want To Be Happier and More Successful? Learn To Like Other People – I’ve met other people. This isn’t going to be easy.

Why French Fries Are More of a “Superfood” Than Kale – Pick a food preference and you can probably find someone that will tell you it is healthy.

Should you walk or run for exercise? Here’s what the science says. – It basically says running has a better health impact except that you are more likely to get hurt so maybe you should walk.

How Neuroscientists Explain the Mind-Clearing Magic of Running – Whatever. I have these effects when I walk, but when I run all I can think about is how tired I am and how glad I’ll be when the run is over.

How Loneliness Begets Loneliness – Being lonely makes you lonelier. If you have some time to yourself, sit down and read up on how to not be so lonely.

Art and Culture

My 10 Favorite Books: Viggo Mortensen – I know almost nothing about Mr. Mortensen other than the fact that he is that actor that portrayed Aragorn in TLotR. These are purportedly his 10 favorite books or the ones they would take if they were marooned on an island. I’m calling BS. These look a lot more like the 10 books he most wants you to think are his favorite books or the 10. And favorite vs marooned island are very different lists. The first list would be enjoyable books and the latter would be books that tell me how to survive on an island.

Why You Shouldn’t Walk on Escalators – I drew a different conclusion. My take is that the problem is that some people don’t walk on escalators.


Common Statistical Fallacies and Paradoxes – I up this in science because you often see these mistakes made in a lot of “science” reporting.

A Retiree Discovers an Elusive Math Proof—And Nobody Notices – “AS HE WAS brushing his teeth on the morning of July 17, 2014, Thomas Royen, a little-known retired German statistician, suddenly lit upon the proof of a famous conjecture at the intersection of geometry, probability theory, and statistics that had eluded top experts for decades.” Why is it that nothing like this ever happens when I’m brushing my teeth? I wonder what kind of toothpaste he uses.

Do Globalization & Free Markets Drive Obesity Among Children and Youth? An Empirical Analysis, 1990-2013 – The short answer is “no”.

Digital Health: Tracking Physiomes and Activity Using Wearable Biosensors Reveals Useful Health-Related Information – You can see that flying sucks using charts of data from wearables. It brings back fond memories of The Food Babe’s now classic article about flying. “The air that is pumped in isn’t pure oxygen either, it’s mixed with nitrogen, sometimes almost at 50%.” – It still makes me laugh ever time.

Dolphins beat up octopuses before eating them, and the reason is kind of horrifying – Let’s get right to it. If you try to eat an octopus without chewing up really well, part of it might crawl back out of your stomach and choke you to death. Don’t mess with an octopus unless you plan to go all in.

America’s pronghorns are survivors of a mass extinction – I had no idea that pronghorns have been in the US for so long. And why did I have to find out from a British website?

Compass protein attracts heap of criticism – I’d never heard of “compass protein”, but it looks like it is BS anyway.

Why New Foods Taste Better on Vacation – This didn’t ring true for me because I like new foods even less when on vacation, but I thought I’d include it because food and travel are two of Kathy’s favorite things to read about.

Antarctic Ice Reveals Earth’s Accelerating Plant Growth – Stuff is growing faster.

Flawed Climate Models – There argument is that the margin of error in climate models is larger than the predicting warming.

Seasonality of auricular amputations in rabbits – For Christ’s sake, why are rabbit ears amputated seasonally?

Rituals Improve Children’s Ability to Delay Gratification – I’m not going to tell you about this one. You’ll have to just wait until you have time to read it yourself.


Project Sunroof – Type in your address and see which parts of your roof get the most sun. It’s a site designed to help you assess solar for your roof.

Flying Water Taxis Will Glide Down the River Seine in Paris This Summer – Looks like fun.

Graphene-based sieve turns seawater into drinking water – This will be really cool if it works well.

A Swedish company has started implanting microchips under its employees’ skin – If your employer wanted to implant a chip under your skin, would you be OK with that? I get the feeling that this wouldn’t go over as well in the US as it has in Sweden.

Why the Navy’s Tomahawk missiles were the weapon of choice in strikes in Syria – Curious as to why we used tomahawk missiles in Syria? Here’s an explanation.

Politics and Policy

How Does Populism Turn Authoritarian? Venezuela Is a Case in Point – It goes through the history of the process, but it seems unnecessary. It seems like populists always want to control how people live and so authoritarianism is inevitable.

Free Speech as Battleground – I don’t know that I’ve ever read anything else in Jacobin that I agree with. This is a defense of letting people you disagree with have the right to speak.

US HEALTHCARE: MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT – This article argues that the US does have very good health care outcomes despite mediocre life expectancies. Apparently we die more often from violence or accidents and we are more obese. But our health care is comparatively good. Woohoo!

On Judicial Confirmations — History and Numbers – A nice summary of how both major parties have been in a spiral of animosity over judicial nominations.

Does The Wage Gap Really Exist? – I find most of the “wage gap” stuff pretty misguided and I’ve referenced a few articles recently that attack the concept. Here’s a decent article defending the notion of the “wage gap”. I don’t expect them to follow up with articles on the “life expectancy gap”.

FDR’s War Against the Press – This was interesting. I’d never heard about FDR’s relationship with newspapers.

Citation Nation – We have some messed up incentives. Still, as much of a problem as this is, it doesn’t seem as bad as the asset forfeiture mess.

Man cited for eating pizza at SF bus stop – There should be a constitutional right to eat pizza. This is a travesty of justice.


The Value of Flexible Work: Evidence from Uber Drivers – Looks like people put a high value on flexible work hours. To clarify, that’s flexible hours that they control, not flexible hours that their employer controls.

Should You Get the Guacamole on Your Burrito? A Price Analysis of Your Favorite Foods – My main takeaway is that pizza should be cheaper.