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Some Perspective on Economic History August 24, 2014

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World Cup Fever July 8, 2014

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World Cup June 23, 2014

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Helicopter Cat April 17, 2013

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The Orvillecopter by Dutch artist Jansen flies in central Amsterdam as part as the KunstRAI art festivalDutch artist Bart Jansen (R) has found an unusual way paying his last respects to his pet cat Orville, who died after being hit by a car — he turned him into a helicopter, or a quadrocopter to be precise, with four rotors, each fitted to one outstretched paw. Jansen got help from a model airplane pilot, Arjen Beltmann (L), to mount the rotor blades in a way that ensures maximum flight stability.

via Photo Gallery of Cat Helicopter Constructed by Artist Bart Jansen – SPIEGEL ONLINE – International.

Personal Flying Car February 5, 2013

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PAL VThe PAL-V ONE is a two seat hybrid car and gyroplane: a personal air and land vehicle. What makes the PAL-V ONE attractive is the convenience of fully integrated door-to-door transportation.

On the ground this slim, aerodynamic, 3-wheeled vehicle has the comfort of a car with the agility of a motorcycle thanks to its patented, cutting-edge, ‘tilting’ system. It can be driven to the nearest airfield and take off just like any other airplane. The single rotor and propeller are unfolded to make the PAL-V ONE ready to fly.

When airborne, the PAL-V usually flies below 4,000 feet (1,200 m), the airspace available for uncontrolled Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic; so there will be no interference from commercial air traffic. Furthermore, the PAL-V is powered by a very robust, flight certified aircraft engine. It runs on gasoline. It can reach speeds of up to 180 km/h (112 mph) both on land and in the air.

The PAL-V ONE has a very short take off and landing capability, making it possible to land practically anywhere. When not using controlled airspace, you can take off without filing a flight plan. Flying a PAL-V is like a standard gyrocopter. It is quieter than helicopters due to the slower rotation of the main rotor. It takes off and lands with low speed, cannot stall, and is very easy to control. The gyroplane technology means that it can be steered and landed safely even if the engine fails, because the rotor keeps auto rotating. Thanks to Randy Marks

PAL-V | Ultimate Freedom.

Civilization’s Tools, Just Add People – Open Source Ecology September 22, 2012

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If you escaped to a Utopia and wanted to bring the discoveries that feed, build and power our civilizations along, these are the machines you would want to bring with you. The only thing that I see missing is the means to defend your colony from others who may want your technology, rather than build it themselves. Some of these have come to fruition, such as an inexpensive machine that can create 16 earth rammed bricks a minute. This creation should have great 3rd world applications today –  in the best Stewart Brand “Whole Earth Catalog” tradition from the 60’s.

The Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) is a modular, DIY, low-cost, high-performance platform that allows for the easy fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comfortset these.

 via Open Source Ecology – GVCS.

“Da Vinci Code” evidence found? September 19, 2012

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A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

via Historian Says Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife – NYTimes.com.

Video – 5 Guys Play 1 Piano August 26, 2012

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Thanks to Pianist Chris Yates for sharing

World’s Largest Train Set August 14, 2012

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Thanks Juan Marcos for showing us this multi-million dollar extravaganza, complete with cities, airports and ships.

Travel Trailers – Cutest to Most Outrageous. August 11, 2012

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From the cutest to a video of the most over-the-top Travel Trailer – Vin Diesel’s $1.2M behemoth.

 

 

What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America? August 1, 2012

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This American Life, talking to refugees who’d moved to the U.S., mostly from conflict zones, found that the foreigners were shocked by a number of things that Americans might consider routine: public displays of affection, high obesity rates, families shipping their elderly parents off to nursing homes, dog-owners kissing their pets,Christmas lights and widespread gun ownership.

The U.S. can be such a jarringly strange place for many foreign visitors that travel guidebooks detail everything from the dangers of talking politics to tips on respecting Americans’ famously guarded personal space. But what do those visitors find when they actually get here? This American Life spoke to a relatively narrow slice of foreign arrivals, but a thread on public question site Quora, jumping off from the radio segment, asks web users from around the globe to chime in with what surprised them about America. Click on the link.

How Americans Are Different: What facts about the United States do foreigners not believe until they come to America? – Quora.

Amazing Wingsuit Video Flying Through The Dolomite Mountains May 13, 2012

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Wingsuit Video Flying Through The Dolomites

Be sure to click in the bottom-right-hand corner of the screen, so you can enjoy this amazing  HD experience in full screen, following Wingsuit Flyers through the Dolomite Mountains. Start by clicking  on the under-lined title, on top of this picture.  Thanks to old friend Jeanne Bahnson for posting this video from her son Noah, seen in the Red & Black flight suit.

Blind Fold Rubik`s Cube Record March 18, 2012

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[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.1014987&w=425&h=350&fv=allowfullscreen%3D]

Blind Fold Rubik`s Cube Record – Funny Videos a…, posted with vodpod
Marcell Endrey sets a new world record after solving a Rubik`s Cube blindfolded in just 28.80 seconds

In massive Tahitian waves, the most incredible day of surfing ever? August 31, 2011

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[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.1002663&w=425&h=350&fv=]

In massive Tahitian waves, the most incredible …, posted with vodpod Thanks to Chip Welfeld
Waves at Teahupoo, which break over an extremely shallow reef, were peaking at 25-plus feet. What makes this break unique is the incredible thickness of the waves and the resulting force that smashes a nasty wipe-out into a shallow coral reef.

Video -The 28-cylinder radial engine of a Korean War era Corsair August 23, 2011

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[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.1002278&w=425&h=350&fv=]

Pratt & Whitney R-4360-20 first start on Vimeo, posted with vodpod thanks to motor-head  Carlton Palmer, who included these comments:

            Hydrocarbon combustion at it’s finest. Perhaps the pinnacle of gasoline fueled piston aircraft engine technology. 28 pistons going up and down with 7 magneto’s and 56 spark plugs. Notice how the smoke begins to drop off as the piston rings bed in (Wear) with the resulting improved oil control, less smoke . Appears to have been be a very good initial test run.

The US$465,000 Lexus LFA Nurburgring – the most expensive Japanese car ever May 27, 2011

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The decade long development campaign could not possibly be amortized effectively across just 500 cars – the LFA Nurburgring is a bargain, even at this price.  To which my wife, who loves a bargain, reminded me that her Birthday was coming up soon… 

via The US$465,000 Lexus LFA Nurburgring – the most expensive Japanese car ever.

Of Ferrari Speeding Fines and Horrific Crashes May 9, 2011

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Driver and passenger both survived

This month’s column focuses on three related points. First, I do a lot of expert-witness work, so I’m consulted on many horrifically wrecked Ferraris, which is very sobering.

I also get emails from Ferrari Internet chat groups monitoring the relatively new trend of punitive traffic fines in Europe and Canada.

Finally, because I drive most of the modern Ferraris, I’m all too aware just how staggeringly fast today’s supercars are relative to real-world speeds.

Let’s explore each of these topics, with my goals being that I testify fewer times each month, and that we see fewer owners lose their licenses and cars through ever-more Draconian laws. (more…)

Video – Hawaiian Volcano Eruption March 19, 2011

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How To Mask A Robbery December 9, 2010

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A white man who robbed Ohio banks looked so convincing in a black-male disguise that an innocent man was held. That’s not exactly how SPFXMasks of Van Nuys had intended its masks to be used.

Mask before and after in a robbery

In October, a 20-year-old Chinese man who wanted asylum in Canada used one of the same company’s masks to transform himself into an elderly white man and slip past airport security in Hong Kong.

Authorities are even starting to think that the so-called Geezer Bandit, a Southern California bank robber believed for months to be an old man, might actually be a younger guy wearing one of the disguises made by SPFXMasks.

News coverage of the incidents has pumped up demand for the masks, which run from $600 to $1,200, according to company owner Rusty Slusser. But he says he’s not happy about it.Slusser opened SPFXMasks in 2003. His six-person crew uses silicone that looks and feels like flesh, down to the pores. Each strand of hair — and it’s human hair — is sewn on individually. Artists methodically paint the masks to create realistic skin tones. Slusser’s customers also include a few Hollywood celebrities who use the masks to fool paparazzi, but he declined to reveal their names.

via Masks so realistic they’re arresting the wrong guy – latimes.com.

Akinator, the Web Mind Reader August 3, 2010

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Akinator, the Web Genius.

Click on the link and find a great new time-waster. The Genie, with a few clues, can guess what you are thinking of.

Behind the World-wide Cornficker Cyberwar June 20, 2010

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This long article is the one-of-the-best layman’s introduction to a war going on behind-the-scenes as we surf the net.

As of this writing, 17 months after it appeared and about a year after the April 1 update, Conficker has created a stable botnet. It consists of anywhere from hundreds of thousands of computers to 12 million. No one knows for sure anymore, because with peer-to-peer communications, the worm no longer needs to check in with an outside command center, which is how the good guys kept count. Joffe estimates that with the four distinct strains (yet another one appeared on April 8, 2009), 6.5 million computers are probably infected.

The investigators see no immediate chance or even any effective way to kill it.

via The Enemy Within – Magazine – The Atlantic.

Have We Forgotten How To Sleep? May 9, 2010

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If we can’t sleep, perhaps it’s because we’ve forgotten how. In premodern times people slept differently, going to bed at sunset and rising with the dawn. In winter months, with so long to rest, our ancestors may have broken sleep up into chunks. In developing countries people still often sleep this way. They bed down in groups and get up from time to time during the night. Some sleep outside, where it is cooler and the effect of sunlight on our circadian rhythm is more direct. In 2002, Carol Worthman and Melissa Melby of Emory University published a comparative survey of how people sleep in a variety of cultures. They found that among foraging groups such as the Kung and Efe, “the boundaries of sleep and waking are very fluid.” There is no fixed bedtime, and no one tells anyone else to go to sleep. Sleepers get up when a conversation or musical performance intrudes on their rest and intrigues them. They might join in, then nod off again.

Now consider the siesta. The timing of the traditional siesta corresponds to a natural post-lunch dip in our circadian rhythms, and studies have shown that people who catnap are generally more productive and may even enjoy lower risk of death from heart disease. It is the Spanish who have made the siesta famous. Unfortunately, Spaniards no longer live close enough to work to go home and nap. Instead some use the afternoon break to go out for long lunches with friends and colleagues. Having spent two hours at lunch, Spanish workers then cannot finish work until seven or eight. But even then they don’t always go home. They go out for drinks or dinner instead. (Go to a Spanish disco at midnight and you’re likely to be dancing alone; their prime-time TV shows are just ending.)

Lately the Spanish have begun to take the prob­lem of sleep deprivation seriously. The police now question drivers in serious accidents about how long they slept the night before, and the government has recently mandated shorter hours for its employees to try to get them home earlier.

What has motivated the Spanish to take action against sleepiness is not so much their accident rate—historically among the highest in western Europe—as their flat productivity. The Spanish spend more time at work and their productivity is less than most of their European neighbors.

Secrets of Sleep – National Geographic Magazine.

Why We Aren’t Vacationing In Australia May 1, 2010

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Saudis Look To The East, While The West Covers Her Back April 10, 2010

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“The Saudis are particularly concerned about the shape of the global market where all the growth comes from the east and all the security comes from the west,” Mr. Alterman said.

China’s oil demand is set to grow by 900,000 barrels a day in the next two years. Chinese oil consumption reached 8.5 million barrels a day last year, compared with 4.8 million in 2000. It will account for a third of the world’s total consumption growth this year.

While China is by far the fastest-growing oil market in the world, the United States is still the top consumer: despite the slump, Americans consumed 18.5 million barrels a day in 2009. That amounts to 22 barrels of oil a year for each American, compared with 2.4 barrels for each Chinese.

via More Saudi Oil Goes to China Than to U.S. – NYTimes.com.

Solutions to Mexico’s Drug Crisis – WSJ.com December 26, 2009

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Growing numbers of Mexican and U.S. officials say—at least privately—that the biggest step in hurting the business operations of Mexican cartels would be simply to legalize their main product: marijuana. Long the world’s most popular illegal drug, marijuana accounts for more than half the revenues of Mexican cartels.

Earlier this year, three former Latin American presidents known for their free-market and conservative credentials—Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil—said governments should seriously consider legalizing marijuana as an effective tool against murderous drug gangs

Some Mexican officials say privately that the U.S. should seriously consider allowing cocaine to pass more easily through the Caribbean again in order to squeeze Mexican gangs. “Would you rather destabilize small countries in the Caribbean or Mexico, which shares a 2,000-mile border with the U.S., is your third-biggest trading partner and has 100 million people?” one official said.

via Solutions to Mexico’s Drug Crisis – WSJ.com.

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