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5 May, 2004

This Day In History

From the History Channel's site: This Day in History.

You can enter a date, and then choose a category. For example, on today's date in 1990 in the Crime category:

Jesse Tafero is executed in Florida after his electric chair malfunctions three times, causing flames to leap from his head. Tafero's death sparked a new debate on humane methods of execution. Several states ceased use of the electric chair and adopted lethal injection as their means of capital punishment.

(Thanks Fresh)

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Baseball And Spider-Man

News Item: Spider-Man 2 Swings Into Ballparks Via Unprecedented Marketing Partnership Between Columbia Pictures and Major League Baseball Properties.

During Spider-Man 2 Weekend, which has been scheduled during a segment of the 2004 Major League Baseball Interleague Play schedule, ballparks will feature in-park and on-field Spider-Man signage and each Club will feature special Spider-Man promotional events, including giveaways with the world-renowned web crawler. In addition, highlights from Spider-Man 2 will run on stadium video boards to promote the motion picture's June 30 release.

And this, from the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal: Who's on first? It's Spider-Man.

When Bay Area baseball fans trek to see the Oakland A's in mid-June, they'll spot something never seen before in Major League Baseball -- spider webs on first, second and third base.

Baseball says hooking up with Spider-Man will draw younger fans to its games, in addition to the undisclosed amount of money it's getting from the studio

Glenn will love that.

But there is some good news:

Home plate will not be decorated.

Now, attending a game will be just like watching TV -- actually worse. When watching TV, you're not subjected to advertisements in every empty space in your living room.

Maybe it's time I just gave up on Major League baseball.

Posted on 5 May, 2004

How Common Is Your Name?

Go to Name Statistics, type your name, and click the button. I got this:

John is the #2 most common male name. 3.271% of men in the US are named John. Around 4006975 US men are named John.

And this (kind of surprising):

John is the #819 most common female name. 0.012% of females in the US are named John. Around 15300 US females are named John!

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Firing Up The Grill

Don't try this at home: Lighting a Barbeque.

Lighting a grill with 3 gallons of liquid oxygen. Started with 60 lbs of charcoal; burnt up 40 lbs of it in 3 seconds. Result is a grill ready to cook in about 3 seconds, and all the old grease, etc burned off.

(via Tom McMahon)

Posted on 5 May, 2004

IQ By State

I've never seen the average IQ listed by state, but here it is. I have no idea how accurate it is. The table also shows the average per capita income, and how the state voted in the last presidential election.

For what it's worth (probably nothing), I imported the data into Excel, and calculated some correlation coefficients:

  • IQ correlated with income: r = .92

  • IQ correlated with presidential candidate: r = .72

  • Income correlated with presidential candidate: r = .55

For the candidate calculations, I assigned 0 to Bush, and 1 to Gore. Correlation coefficients range from -1.00 to +1.00. A coefficient near zero indicates that the variables are not correlated. In this case, the correlation coefficients are all positive. But again, I wouldn't put too much faith in the original data.

(via The Museum of Hoaxes)

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Morbid Facts

If you like morbid facts, you'll like Morbid Fact Du Jour. It's not updated frequently, but not daily.

Here's one from the archives:

A 24-year-old Mexican man is dead after reportedly playing a human pi´┐Żata for some children. A newspaper, Reforma, said the man was standing on a beam with a rope loosely tied around his neck and ropes tied around his hands and feet. He was letting his younger brother and sister swing at him with sticks but lost his balance while trying to avoid being hit. He strangled when the rope tightened around his neck.

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Avoiding An Alien Abduction

Practical advice from Popular Mechanics: How To Foil An Alien Abduction.

You're driving along a dark, deserted road when suddenly a UFO appears overhead in front of you. You pull over just as a beam of light radiates from the craft, and you can see five gray-colored aliens descending in the beam. You get out of your car for a closer look. Uh-oh! The aliens are rapidly moving toward you, and you think that you're going to be abducted. What should you do?

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Microsoft OKs Hotmail Spam

Another incredibly stupid idea from Microsoft.

From USA Today: MSN, Hotmail fight spam using Bonded Sender.

Microsoft wants spammers to pay a financial penalty for the junk cluttering up your inbox. The Redmond, Wash., giant will endorse a plan today that aims to cut down on spam and help pave the way for legitimate e-mail to get through.

Here's how the program works. Instead of aggressively filtering the content of e-mail to identify suspect missives - an anti-spam approach that might result in excess "false positives" - Bonded Sender is built around the idea that legitimate mass e-mailers would be willing to put money at risk to ensure the integrity of their messages. By posting a bond, these on-the-level firms get on a universal list that allows mail at the network level to get passed on. (Such lists, without the bonds, have been used in other anti-spam schemes.) Messages sent by mass e-mailers not on the list get blocked.

What makes Microsoft-sanctioned spam better than common spam?

The bottom line is that 99% of the Hotmail and MSN users simply don't want to receive the "bulk email" from 99% of the bonded spammers -- I mean bonded senders.

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Japanese Crimes

A blog devoted to Bizarre Crime in Japan.

Japan has some very strange and bizarre crimes. This site is my own chronicle of these crimes. I am intrigued by their strange nature and by the way that Japanese people, the Japanese institutions, and public at large react to them.

(via Exclamation Mark)

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Nailgun Survivor

From BBC News: Builder survives nailgun accident.

A construction worker has miraculously survived after six nails were embedded in his skull.

Here's an x-ray photo.

(Thanks John Beardsworth)

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Typing Game

A simple game: Letters move across the screen at varying speeds. When you see a letter, type it on your keyboard.

I played it once, and got a score of 159. The all-time highest score is 109,372.

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Packaging

From BBC News: Child-proof packs baffle adults.

Ninety per cent of adults struggle to open child-proof packaging on medicines, research shows.

Forget medicines. The real problem is packaging in general. Opening a new DVD is one of life's most frustrating experiences. And whoever invented those rigid plastic packages that require a knife to open should be shot. I wonder how many people are injured each year while trying to open those things?

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Disney And Moore

From The Ledger (reprinted from the New York Times): Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush.

The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax said Tuesday.

Why?

Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor.

And here's Michael Moore's take on it.

Regardless of what happens, Disney has virtually guaranteed that this film will get lots of free publicity.

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Ramen Noodles

Two items about Ramen Noodles:

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Life On Planet Spreadsheet

From Wired: Record Industry Wants Still More.

As iTunes, Rhapsody and other song-download sites take off with consumers, it's easy to think that the record industry finally "gets it" when it comes to selling music in the digital age.

Not so fast, says Rob Glaser, chairman and chief executive of Real Networks, owner of the Rhapsody service.

At the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., Glaser recounted his general frustration in getting the record labels to offer creative pricing beyond the 99-cents-per-download model. In fact, some labels -- emboldened by consumers' apparent willingness to pay a buck a song -- are talking about raising per-song fees rather than lowering them to increase volume.

Here's my favorite quote:

"Can you explain what planet the record labels are on?" asked Walt Mossberg, tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal and moderator of a one-on-one interview with Glaser at the conference.

Glaser smirked. "I guess I'd call it Planet Spreadsheet," he said.

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Dylan Links

At Grow A Brain: A very nice collection of Bob Dylan links.

Posted on 5 May, 2004

Indian Trash Cans

View some of the Trash Cans of India.

These unusual little treats caught my eye on my first visit to India in January 2003. In India there is a deeply ingrained habit of discarding trash wherever it is convenient. There is an informal system of recycling and reusing that takes place in the streets, with animals grazing on whatever is remotely edible, and trash-pickers sorting out the plastics and other redeemable items.

To encourage people to throw their trash--or rubbish as it better known here--into "proper receptacles," municipalities have installed these inviting little helpers in parks and major public areas. Like sugar-coating medicines, civilized rubbish disposal is thereby made "fun.

Shown here is a trash can in the form of a snowman.

(via List)

Posted on 5 May, 2004