Now gluten-free!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

There's a Fly in My Urinal

If you visit the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, and if you're a guy (or maybe that doesn't even matter -- I mean, it is Amsterdam after all), you may notice a fly in each of the urinals in the bathroom. Yes, in the urinals. These "targets" are etched into the porcelain in an effort to improve aim and prevent excess spillage.

Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein of The New Republic address this important issue:
    As all women who have ever shared a toilet with a man can attest, men can be especially spacey when it comes to their, er, aim. In the privacy of a home, that may be a mere annoyance. But, in a busy airport restroom used by throngs of travelers each day, the unpleasant effects of bad aim can add up rather quickly. Enter an ingenious economist who worked for Schiphol International Airport in Amsterdam. His idea was to etch an image of a black house fly onto the bowls of the airport's urinals, just to the left of the drain. The result: Spillage declined 80 percent. It turns out that, if you give men a target, they can't help but aim at it. In the grand sweep of global affairs, dirty bathrooms may be a relatively minor problem. But, by placing fly images on its urinals, the Amsterdam airport was using a technique with broad applications in the world of business and even politics. We call that technique "choice architecture." A choice architect is anyone who influences the context in which people choose -- say, by deciding what order to put menu items in, or what path to encourage shoppers to take through a supermarket, or what information to give investors about their retirement savings options, or what to tell patients deciding how to deal with a medical problem. Because seemingly tiny changes in the environment can influence behavior, choice architects wield immense power. Theirs is a gentle power, since they merely nudge rather than coerce. But their nudges can have major effects.
Some men may need more than a nudge, but this certainly is a start.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Springtime in Minnesota

Ah, springtime in Minnesota!

There's nothing better than waking up on a Saturday morning like today, going downstairs, pouring yourself a cup of coffee, and stepping out onto the deck to enjoy the warm...

What the...?!

Think I'll go drink this by the fireplace.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A $1500 Keyboard

Just when you'd lost hope at finding the perfect Mothers Day gift, along comes the Optimus Maximus keyboard. Retailing for a mere $1565, it has OLED-displays on every single key, and is capable of being remapped for multiple languages, shortcut keys, etc., with custom images possible for every key. That plus a couple other niceties like built-in USB and SD card expansion ports makes it a bargain at any price!

Well, at least it's the first keyboard I've ever seen with a "viewing angle" spec!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In Celebration of Earth Day

Genesis 1:1
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis 1:26
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Deuteronomy 32:1
"Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth."

1st Chronicles 16:31
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, "The Lord reigns!"

Psalm 24:1-2
The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof,
the world and those who dwell therein,
for he has founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Matthew 24:35
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Romans 8:19-22
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.

1st Corinthians 10:25-26
Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. For "the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof."

Revelation 21:1
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

Monday, April 21, 2008

EU to Scotland: Pipe Down!

The bagpipes are under attack from the European Union:
Their high-pitched skirl has put fear into the hearts of Scotland's enemies and sent sensitive tourists reaching for the cotton wool.

Now, however, the bagpipes are to be quietened by an edict from Brussels.

From this month, pipers must adhere to strict volume limits or risk breaking European Union health and safety laws. Bands have been ordered to tone down or wear earplugs to limit noise exposure to 85 decibels.

Typically, a pipe band played at full volume peaks at 122 decibels outdoors, noisier than the sound of either a nightclub or a chainsaw, which rises to 116 decibels.

The prospect of more subdued bagpipes will be welcomed by some, but musicians have warned performances will suffer.
Where's Braveheart when you need him?

UPDATE: These EU laws have also led the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra to cancel the world premier of a piece by Swedish-Israeli composer Dror Feiler. The average noise level of the piece was 97.4 decibels.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tremors felt as far away as Des Moines

Here's me talking about it on the air with my co-worker (and fellow Minneapolis ex-pat) Bryan Karrick.

A Helpful Tip for the Historically Challenged Protester

Let's say that you want to get out there and let the world know what a bad idea it is for China to be hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics. And let's say you came up with a really clever idea for a sign that goes straight to the heart of what you're trying to say. Before whipping out that permanent marker, you may want to run your idea by someone who has played Trivial Pursuit once or twice:
People aren't always aware of your ignorance. Sometimes you have to advertise it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taking the Fun out of Recess

One elementary school is cracking down on a favorite playground activity. From the Washington Post:
    Robyn Hooker, principal of Kent Gardens Elementary School, has told students they may no longer play tag during recess after determining that the game of chasing, dodging and yelling "You're it!" had gotten out of hand. Hooker explained to parents in a letter this month that tag had become a game "of intense aggression."

    The principal said that her goal is to keep students safe and that she hopes to restore tag (as well as touch football, also now on hold) after teachers and administrators review recess policies.

    The decision has touched off a debate among parents. Some call the restriction an example of overzealous rulemaking that fails to address root problems and undermines children's development; others say it's best to err on the side of caution.

    "We are regulating the fun out of normal childhood activity," said Jan van Tol, father of a Kent Gardens sixth-grader. "In our effort to be so overprotective, we are not letting children be children."
And so the wussification of America's youth continues.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Another Reason to Hate the NY Yankees

It is alleged that Gino Castignoli, one of the construction workers who helped build the new stadium, buried a Boston Red Sox jersey under two feet of concrete in an attempt to curse the Yankees. Workers who knew Castignoli phoned in anonymous tips regarding the jersey's location, and after about five hours of drilling it was found.

Now, the morons want to file criminal charges against Castignoli. What's the matter? Can't take a joke?

Yankees president Randy Levine said that the jersey will be cleaned and sent to the Jimmy Fund, a charity affiliated with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. "Hopefully," said Levine, "the Jimmy Fund will auction it off and we'll take the act that was a very, very bad act and turn it into something beautiful."

What petty, superstitious, vindictive morons.

Monday, April 07, 2008

How I Overcame Globophobia

I won't go into gory detail about how I got globophobia (see my comment in Lee's last post, then watch "Corner Gas"), but I overcame it with this wonderful program. Who knew there was a special program out there for treating something so obscure as globophobia (fear of balloons)?

But, then I also found a special program for treating my nephophobia (fear of clouds)

and my pagophobia (fear of ice)

and my theologicophobia (fear of theology)

and my alliumphobia (fear of garlic)

Wow, the helpful things you can find on the internet! Now, I just have to pay off the $735 I charged to my credit card.

Zombie Survival Guide

Here's one of those things you hope you never need, but should have on hand anyway. You know, just in case:

    (Available at

    The Zombie Survival Guide is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now. Fully illustrated and exhaustively comprehensive, this book covers everything you need to know, including how to understand zombie physiology and behavior, the most effective defense tactics and weaponry, ways to outfit your home for a long siege, and how to survive and adapt in any territory or terrain.

    Top 10 Lessons for Surviving a Zombie Attack

    1. Organize before they rise!
    2. They feel no fear, why should you?
    3. Use your head: cut off theirs.
    4. Blades don't need reloading.
    5. Ideal protection = tight clothes, short hair.
    6. Get up the staircase, then destroy it.
    7. Get out of the car, get onto the bike.
    8. Keep moving, keep low, keep quiet, keep alert!
    9. No place is safe, only safer.
    10. The zombie may be gone, but the threat lives on.

    Don't be carefree and foolish with your most precious asset—life. This book is your key to survival against the hordes of undead who may be stalking you right now without your even knowing it. The Zombie Survival Guide offers complete protection through trusted, proven tips for safeguarding yourself and your loved ones against the living dead. It is a book that can save your life.
As the Boy Scouts would say, "Be prepared!"

There's No Stopping Some Squirrels

Thursday, April 03, 2008

"His Name Shall Be Cheesus"

Looking for God in all the wrong places:
Cheetoes can't even nourish the body, much less the soul.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

New Gmail Feature

Google introduces Gmail Custom Time:

    How do I use it?
    Just click "Set custom time" from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient's inbox. You can opt for it to show up read or unread by selecting the appropriate option.

    Is there a limit to how far back I can send email?
    Yes. You'll only be able to send email back until April 1, 2004, the day we launched Gmail. If we were to let you send an email from Gmail before Gmail existed, well, that would be like hanging out with your parents before you were born -- crazy talk.

    How does it work?
    Gmail utilizes an e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality (see Grandfather Paradox).

    How come I only get ten?
    Our researchers have concluded that allowing each person more than ten pre-dated emails per year would cause people to lose faith in the accuracy of time, thus rendering the feature useless.

    Their findings:
    N = Total emails sent
    P = Probability that user believes the time stamp
    φ = The Golden Ratio
    L = Average life expectancy
Hurry! You must sign up now. The offer is only good today, April 1, 2008.

Hey, wait a minute...

Slothfulness is Green

Realizing that my activities in observation of Earth Hour were somewhat counterproductive, I have decided that perhaps I can better contribute to the environmental cause by doing nothing. Here are my new top-ten earth-friendly resolutions:

1) I shall continue to procrastinate at replacing the light bulb in the bedroom closet that has been burned out for a month.

2) I will let all the rest of the lights in my house burn out, too. Who needs to see after dark, anyway. The television lights itself.

3) Instead of replacing my deteriorating wooden back yard privacy fence, I will allow it to compost.

4) I will let my lawn get taken over this summer by native tall-grass prairie.

5) In an effort to avoid consumption of fossil fuels, I will stop changing the oil in my cars.

6) I will constantly drive my car on an almost-empty tank, so that it is lighter and burns less gas.

7) I will keep the refrigerator chock-full of beer, so that less air and more dense liquid and glass helps maintain the cold temperature.

8) I will encourage my dog to naturally fertilize all the neighborhood lawns.

9) To protest global warming, I will stage a sit-in, but will do so here in the convenience of my own home, to reduce my travel carbon imprint.

10) I will not bother trying to think up number 10 and take a nap instead.

Who knew inactivity could do so much for the planet?

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