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Posts Tagged ‘auto

“Poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell”*…

 

 

It’s easy to be pessimistic about the state of the world; but it does pay to stand back, look at the big picture, and check that pessimism against long term data… which is what our old friend Hans Rosling helps people do. A statistician who specializes in data visualization, here he uses snowballs and toys to explain (to the BBC) the state of income inequality:

Special bonus:  watch Dr. Rosling disabuse WEF-Davos attendees of their misimpressions about sustainable development.

* Walter Bagehot, English economist (1826-1877)

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As we remind ourselves that regression can be a useful thing, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that Ernest Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition unloaded the first automobile in Antarctica (an air-cooled Arrol-Johnston two-seater).  Shackleton had hoped that the car would speed his progress to the South Pole; in the event, it didn’t perform in the extreme cold.

The expedition’s engineer, Bernard Day, testing the Arrol-Johnston on the Ross Sea Ice Shelf

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Written by LW

February 1, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I’ve always thought that parallel parking was my main talent.”*…

 

Culver City, California

 

When Nikki Sylianteng got a $95 parking ticket last winter, she realized that she was dealing with much more than a fine: she was dealing with a design problem.

“It was my fault,” she admits. She says she had been “so happy to find a parking spot,” she didn’t read the sign carefully enough. But, Sylianteng also felt like she shouldn’t have had to read the sign so carefully.

She suspected there were many parking offenders like her out there, who wanted to obey the law but had trouble discerning what that law was. Cities could make it easier for them, and improve parking compliance, just by making the parking signs clearer. As far as she could see, she was surrounded by a pretty confusing system of signage.

So, she decided to fix it.

She didn’t do this by fighting the ticket, nor by running for city council. Instead, Sylianteng committed act of guerilla civic design, which shocked the gears of municipal bureaucracy into motion. Someday, when better signage comes to a curb near you, you’ll have to thank Nikki…

More of the story– and more examples of Nikki’s work– at “A Designer’s War on Misleading Parking Signs,” and at her site, To Park or Not to Park. (Culver City image via Jalopnik.)

* Calvin Trillin

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As we take the bus, we might send honorable birthday greetings to William McKinley; he was born on this date in 1843.  The 25th President of the U.S., McKinley was the first president to ride in an automobile (a Stanley Steamer, a steam-engine-powered car built in the late 1890s by brothers Francis and Freelan Stanley). McKinley was also the last President to have served in the Civil War, and the third President (after Lincoln and Garfield) to be assassinated (though some believed Zachary Taylor, who died in office, to have been poisoned).

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Written by LW

January 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

Luck be a lady tonight…

 

Joan R. Ginther, pictured above, who has claimed four separate multi-million dollar jackpots from the Texas lottery, just may be the luckiest woman alive.  Or not.  The Daily Mail explains:

First, she won $5.4 million, then a decade later, she won $2million, then two years later $3million and in the summer of 2010, she hit a $10million jackpot.  The odds of this has been calculated at one in eighteen septillion and luck like this could only come once every quadrillion years.

Harper’s reporter Nathaniel Rich recently wrote an article [here] about Ms Ginther, which calls the the validity of her “luck” into question. First, he points out, Ms Ginther is a former math professor with a PhD from Stanford University specialising in statistics.

A professor at the Institute for the Study of Gambling & Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, told Mr Rich: “When something this unlikely happens in a casino, you arrest ’em first and ask questions later.”

Although Ms Ginther now lives in Las Vegas, she won all four of her lotteries in Texas.  Three of her wins, all in two-year intervals, were by scratch-off tickets bought at the same mini mart in the town of Bishop.

Mr Rich details the myriad ways in which Ms Ginther could have gamed the system – including the fact that she may have figured out the algorithm that determines where a winner is placed in each run of scratch-off tickets. He believes that after Ms Ginther figured out the algorithm, it wouldn’t be difficult to determine where the tickets would be shipped, as the shipping schedule is apparently fixed, and there were a few sources she could have found it out from.

The residents of Bishop, Forbes reports, believe that God is behind Ginther’s good fortune.  As for the Texas Lottery Commission– which professes to suspect no foul play– they suggest that Ms. Ginther was “born under a lucky star.”  Indeed.

 

As we rethink the meaning of “scratching that itch,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1999, during celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the coup that brought him to power, that Mu`mmar Qadhdhafi unveiled the “State of the Masses Rocket,” (Sarukh al-Jamahiriy), a five-seater car in a metallic Libyan revolutionary green with tinted windows.  Dukhali al-Magharyal, chairman of the Libyan Arab Domestic Investment Company which produced the prototype, billed it as a first in automotive history, saying it was developed from safety ideas conceived by Qadhdhafi: “The leader really spent so many hours of his valuable time thinking to find a solution, an effective solution. It is the safest car produced anywhere, any place in the world.”  Ten years later, a revised prototype (in white) was shown at an African Union summit in Tripoli.  As far as anyone knows, they are the only two “rockets” on the road.

The Rocket Car (source)

 

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