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“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without”*…

 

What would be the most expensive way to fill a size 11 shoebox (e.g. with 64 GB MicroSD cards all full of legally purchased music)?

- Rick Lewis

A shoebox full of valuable stuff seems to top out at about $2 billion. Surprisingly, this turns out to be true for a wide range of possible fillings…

Randall Munroe explains, as he runs through the candidates– from diamonds to Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds– at What If?

* Confucius

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As we ponder pricing, we might might send simple birthday greetings to Henry George; he was born on this date in 1839.  A writer, politician and political economist, George is best remembered for Progress and Poverty, published in 1879, which treats inequality and the cyclic nature of industrialized economies, and proposes the use of a land value tax (AKA a “single tax” on real estate) as a remedy– an economic philosophy known as Georgism, the main tenet of which is that, while individuals should own what they create, everything found in nature, most importantly the value of land, belongs equally to all mankind.

It was George’s work that inspired Elizabeth Magie to created The Landlord’s Game in 1904 to demonstrate his theories; ironically, it was Magie’s board game that became (as recently noted here and here) the basis for Monopoly.

In 1977, Joseph Stiglitz showed that under certain conditions, spending by the government on public goods will increase aggregate land rents/returns by the same amount. Stiglitz’s findings were dubbed “the Henry George Theorem,” as they illustrate a situation in which Henry George’s “single tax” is not only efficient, it is the only tax necessary to finance public expenditures.

Henry George

source

 

Written by LW

September 2, 2014 at 1:01 am

“There are two typos of people in this world: those who can edit and those who can’t”*…

 

We all make mistakas…

The Wicked Bible (as it’s come to be known), published in 1631 by Robert Barker and Martin Lucas in London, offers an unusually permissive version of the Seventh Commandment

And some are funnier than others…

Webster’s chemistry editor, Austin M. Patterson, sent in a slip reading “D or d, cont./density” in 1931; but it was misinterpreted as a single word– and published in the second edition of the New International Dictionary in 1934. It was not removed until 1947.

The preface of The Vocabulary of East Anglia, by Robert Forby, 1830

Further funny faux pas at “The Most Disastrous Typos In Western History.”

* Jarod Kintz

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As we relax into Labor Day, we might pause to contemplate the commemorative and celebratory occasions sprinkled through the first month of Fall…

SEPTEMBER is . . .

National Bed Check Month, Read-A-New-Book Month, Mom & Apple Pie Month (Massachusetts), Cable TV Month, Latino Heritage Month, Be Kind to Writers & Editors Month, National Mind Mapping Month, Pleasure Your Mate Month, Board & Care Recognition Month, International Gay Square Dance Month

1st Week

2nd Week

3rd Week

Last Week

Self-University Week

Independence Week (Brazil)

National Religious Reference Books Week

Aarmus Festival Week (begins 1st Sat; Denmark)

La Merienda Week

National Mind Mapping For Project Management Week

Fall Hat Week

National Housekeepers Week

Battle of Britain Week (Week w/15th)

Tolkein Week

National Singles Week

Vitupertion Week (18th-24th)

National Laundry Workers Week

National Adult Day Care Center Week

Banned Books Week

National Food Service Workers Week

National Dog Week

National Roller Skating Week

National Mind Mapping For Problem Solving Week

National Pickled Pepper Week (begins Last Thurs)

September Movable Daily Holidays

Day

Holiday

1st Sunday

Working Mother’s Day

Pffiferdaj (Day of the Flutes; France)

Giostra del Saracino (Joust of the Saracen; Italy)

Saturday before Labor Day

Capital Day

1st Monday

Labor Day

Settler’s Day (South Africa)

Buhl Day (Sharon, Pennsylvania)

Great Bathtub Race (Nome, Alaska)

Box Car Day (Tracy, Minnesota)

1st Saturday

Indian Day

Braemar Highland Gathering (Scotland)

1st Sunday after Labor Day

Grandparent’s Day

1st Saturday after Labor Day

Federal Lands Cleanup Day

Yellow Daisy Festival (Stone Mountain Park, Georgia)

1st Saturday after Full Moon in September

Indian Day (Oklahoma)

2nd Sunday

National Pet Memorial Day

2nd Sunday (every other year)

Bruegel Feesten (Belgium)

2nd Friday after Labor Day

The Big E begins (New England’s Great State Fair; Maine)

3rd Sunday

World Peace Day

Pig Face Sunday (Avening, UK)

3rd Tuesday

International Day of Peace (UN)

Prinsjesdag (Netherlands)

4th Sunday

Good Neighbor Day

4th Friday

Native American Day

4th Saturday

National Hunting & Fishing Day

Kid’s Day (Kiwanis Club)

Last Sunday

Gold Star Mother’s Day

Sunday before Michaelmas (29th)

Carrot Sunday (Scotland)

16 days from late September ending on 1st Sunday in October

Oktoberfest begins (Germany)

Sunday before October 2nd

Tap-Up Sunday

And all of this is not to mention such red-letter days as Eat an Extra Desert Day (September 4), Talk Like a Pirate Day (September 19), or Hug a Vegetarian Day (September 26)…

Party on!

 

Written by LW

September 1, 2014 at 1:01 am

“New technology is common, new thinking is rare”*…

 

 source

If one peeks back to the earliest days of television, one discovers that much of the excitement over the nascent new medium was over its promise for education.  In fact, that enthusiasm was an echo; years earlier, Thomas Edison had harbored similar dreams for the new medium he helped create:  motion pictures…

They say they are spending a million dollars nowadays to make just one big picture. If I had been told in the days of our first movie studio that anybody would spend a million dollars to produce a single film, I don’t know whether I would have swallowed it or not. It would have been some effort.

It may seem curious, but the money end of the movies never hit me the hardest. The feature that did appeal to me about the whole thing was the educational possibilities I thought I could see. I had some glowing dreams about what the camera could be made to do and ought to do in teaching the world things it needed to know—teaching it in a more vivid, direct way.

I figured that after the novelty wore off, the camera would either be taken up by the big educators and pushed as a new agency in the schools—or that it would be developed mostly along straight amusement lines for entertainment and commercial purposes. I guess up to date the entertainment and commercial purposes have won.

A good many people seemed to wonder why I did so—maybe they still wonder. But the answer is simple enough. I was an inventor—an experimenter. I wasn’t a theatrical producer. And I had no ambitions to become one.

If, on the other hand, the educational uses of the camera had come more to the front, as I had hoped, and I had seen an opportunity to develop some new ideas along those lines, my story as a producer might have been very different. I should have been far more interested in going on.

Do you know that one of my first thoughts for the motion-picture camera was to combine it with the phonograph? In fact, that was what primarily interested me in motion pictures— the hope of developing something that would do for the eye what the phonograph did for the ear.

My plan was to synchronize the camera and the phonograph so as to record sounds when the pictures were made, and reproduce the two in harmony. As a matter of fact, we did a lot of work along this line, and my talking pictures were shown in many theaters in the United States and foreign countries. I even worked on the possibility of an entire performance of grand opera, for example, being given in this way.

Another thought I had was that such a dual arrangement might record both the lives and the voices of the great men and women of the world. Can you realize the tremendous impetus this would be to the study of history and economics?

They are producing pictures of this kind now, I understand, by photographing and reproducing the sound waves. We were working, of course, from an entirely different angle—but we had the first of the so-called talking pictures in our laboratory thirty years ago.

We might have developed them into a greater commercial circulation if we had kept on—but I was interested in the educational and not the entertainment field. When the educators failed to respond I lost interest. What I had in mind was a bit ahead of the times, maybe. The world wasn’t ready for the kind of education I had pictured.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I should say that in ten years textbooks as the principal medium of teaching will be as obsolete as the horse and carriage are now. I believe that in the next ten years visual education—the imparting of exact information through the motion-picture camera—will be a matter of course in all of our schools. The printed lesson will be largely supplemental—not paramount.

From The Diary and Sundry Observations of Thomas Alva Edison. Edited by Dagobert D. Runes. New York: Philosophical Library, 1948; via Lapham’s Quaterly.

Sir Peter Blake

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As we dim the lights, we might recall that it was on this date in 1897 that Edison received a U.S. patent (No.589,168) for his kinetoscope camera, a device for producing moving pictures.  In fact Edison had developed the camera and a viewer earlier, demonstrating “motion pictures” in 1893.  But his earlier attempts to patent the technology were successfully challenged; this was the version that prevailed. Uncharacteristically for Edison (who scored– and energetically protected– 1,093 patents in the U.S. and 2,332 globally), he did not pursue international protection on this invention, which surely hastened its development.

“Fred Ott’s Sneeze”- one of the earlier films shot with the Kinetoscope camera, and the first film to be granted a copyright

source

 

Written by LW

August 31, 2014 at 1:01 am

“I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time,’ so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance”*…

 

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.

― A.A. Milne

How to prepare an essential– and exciting– part of any mathematically-correct breakfast…

email readers click here for video

* Steven Wright

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As we tangle tastefully with topography, we might spare a thought for Simon Willard; he died on this date in 1848.  A master clockmaker who created grandfather clocks and lobby/gallery clocks, Willard is best remembered for his creation of the timepiece that came to be known as the banjo clock, a wall clock that Willard patented in 1802.  Only 4,000 authentic “Simon Willard banjo clocks” were made; and while he had many imitators turning out replicas, these originals are highly-prized collectibles.

Banjo Clock

source

Simon Willard

source

 

Written by LW

August 30, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Economics is a subject that does not greatly respect one’s wishes”*…

 

From “Macroeconomic policy and the optimal destruction of vampires” (1982) by Dennis Snower

A not-so-dismal look at the “science” of economics:  “the world’s first and only stand-up economist”  reviews the weirdest and most wonderful papers ever published in economics journals…  Consider, e.g.,

“Japan’s Phillips Curve looks like Japan” (2008) by Gregor Smith

Smith’s webpage used to link to a version of the paper with this note: “The title is also the abstract and, frankly, most of the text.”

Japan’s Phillips Curve is shown in the right-hand panel of Figure 1. The data are monthly from January 1980 to August 2005.

For ease of viewing, the left-hand panel of Figure 1 rotates the Phillips Curve around the vertical axis so that minus the unemployment rate now is on the horizontal axis. Clearly visible are the islands of Hokkaido and Honshu, though it is somewhat difficult to separately distinguish the southern islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. The Noto-Hanto Penninsula is evident to the north of the southern end of the main island of Honshu. Tokyo Bay is also visible. The data point to the far left in Figure 1 is the island of Fukue-Jima.  

Ten others– including Bauman’s own hysterical take-down of Gregory Mankiw and “On the efficiency of AC/DC? Bon Scott versus Brian Johnson,” featured here in pre-blog times– at “Top 11 Funniest Papers in the History of Economics.”

* Nikita Khrushchev (widely attributed)

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As we search for one-armed economists, we might spare a thought for Charles Darrow; he died on this date in 1967. It was Darrow who took a Quaker game that inveighed against acquisitiveness and turned it into the monopoly that is Monopoly.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 29, 2014 at 1:01 am

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page”*…

 

Welcome to travelbydrone.com! We want to give you the chance to discover the world from the perspective of drones. The video footage of the area you are most interested in is as accessible as never before.

On this site, everyone can share YouTube videos and add the corresponding location. It will appear on the map with a pin where the video footage has been recorded. After submitting a request to share a video, a dedicated team will review the material before validating the request. As soon as the request has been validated, the shared video will be visible on the map.

For a share request to be validated, the video needs to be taken by a drone (not of a drone), be of good quality and clearly show the area in which the drone flies. A video will not be accepted if it is taken indoors, is from a military drone or is of promotional nature (promoting a product or has a political, religious or other personal message)…

Around the world in 80 clicks at Travel By Drone.

* Augustine of Hippo

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As we rename our index finger “Phileas,” we might spare a thought for Paul MacCready; he died on this date in 2007.  An accomplished meteorologist, a world-class glider pilot, and a respected aeronautical engineer trained at California Institute of Technology, MacCready’s many accomplishments ranged from developments in cloud seeding to the creation of a full-sized flying replica of a pterosaur (Quetzalcoatlus) for the Smithsonian Institution.  (The model can be seen in flight in the Smithsonian’s 1986 IMAX film On the Wing.) But MacCready is surely best remembered as the designer of the “Gossamer Condor,” the first successful human-powered aircraft (and thus, winner of the first Kremer Prize in 1977), and of the first viable solar-powered aircraft.  The Gossamer Condor hangs in the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 28, 2014 at 1:01 am

“Thou whoreson zed, thou unnecessary letter!”*…

 

From…

Acersecomic: A person whose hair has never been cut

To…

Zugzwang: A position in which any decision or move will result in problem

… “The A-Z of Unusual Words.”  From The Project Twins.

* Shakespeare, King Lear, Act 2, Scene 2

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As we appreciate alphabetization, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that a jealous Robert Frost heckled Archibald MacLeish a a reading of the latter’s poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Middlebury, Vt.  Bill Peschel recounts:

The gathering was held at Treman Cottage, and Frost was among the attendees, sitting in the back. It was a time when Hitler was on the ascendant, and the United States was divided between warning against the rise of Fascism in Germany and Italy, and those who didn’t want to intervene in another European war. MacLeish was anti-Fascist, and Frost despised MacLeish’s support of Roosevelt.

That night, as MacLeish read from his poetry, Frost began heckling him. “Archie’s poems all have the sametune,” he said in a whisper that could be heard. When MacLeish read the single-sentence poem, “You, Andrew Marvell,” smoke could be smelled. Frost had accidentally, on purpose, set fire to some papers and was beating them out and waving away the smoke.

Most people accepted the story of the accident, and the reading eventually concluded. MacLeish was still the center of attention, and he was asked to read from one of his plays. But Frost was not done with him. As [Wallace] Stegner wrote:

“His comments from the floor, at first friendly and wisecracking, became steadily harsher and more barbed. He interrupted, he commented, he took exception. What began as the ordinary give and take of literary conversation turned into a clear intention of frustrating and humiliating Archie MacLeish, and the situation became increasingly painful to those who comprehended it”.Even Bernard DeVoto, a scholar and friend of Frost, had enough, calling out, “For God’s sake, Robert, let him read!” Frost ignored him, but shortly thereafter, on some pretext, “said something savage,” and left.

Afterwards, Frost’s defenders tried to kick sand over the events. One friend wrote only of “unfounded allusions” and “behavior not proven by fact.” There were people there who didn’t even notice what Stegner saw that night. But baiting MacLeish had caused a permanent rift between DeVoto and Frost. At the end of the conference, when they met and shook hands, DeVoto told him, “You’re a good poet, Robert, but you’re a bad man.”

 

Written by LW

August 27, 2014 at 1:01 am

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