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November 24, 2006

True or False: Sitting too close to the TV will ruin your eyes

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Aria Pearson, in the new (December, 2006) Wired magazine, analyzed a number of urban myths as to their veracity.

Here's her piece.

    The Best Science Fictions

    Fiction: If you fall into quicksand, you’ll be sucked under and die.
    Fact: You’ll only sink up to your waist.

    Fiction: Sitting too close to the TV will ruin your eyes.
    Fact: It causes fatigue but no permanent damage.

    Fiction: Earth’s rotation causes bathtubs, sinks, and toilets to drain clockwise in the northern hemisphere, counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.
    Fact: They can go either way in either hemisphere. The shape of the basin and the direction of the incoming flow overwhelm the minuscule effect of planetary spin.

    Fiction: Benjamin Franklin’s kite was struck by lightning.
    Fact: The kite picked up electricity from the air, causing an arc between Franklin’s hand and a key tied to his end of the string.

    Fiction: A penny dropped from the top of a skyscraper can kill someone.
    Fact: It could never pick up enough velocity to kill, just to bang you up a little.

    Fiction: Swimming after you eat will cause cramps and lead to drowning.
    Fact: There is a very slight risk of cramps, but only for vigorous swimmers.

    Fiction: A drunken teenager can tip over a sleeping cow.
    Fact: It would take several semisober people and a paralyzed cow. Anyway, cows sleep lying down.

    Fiction: There’s a dark side of the moon.
    Fact: The entire lunar surface receives sunlight during the moon’s monthly orbit around Earth.

    Fiction: Swallowed chewing gum takes seven years to digest.
    Fact: Gum is not digested. It passes through the gastro-intestinal system, usually within 24 hours.

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I dunno... this seems uncomfortably close to the terrritory claimed by Anahad O'Connor's nonpareil "Really?" feature in each Tuesday's New York Times Science section.

Maybe I'll run it by him and see what he thinks.

November 24, 2006 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

GPS TrackStick: 'Know where anything — or anyone — has been'

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"Enemy of the State"—grade technology, now on sale to everyman.

Long story short: "Built-in USB connector for easy downloading of data to your PC. Software outputs to HTML, EXCEL, Google Earth KML and RTF file formats. Track date, time, lat/long, altitude, speed, direction of travel and more."

$259.

November 24, 2006 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Brioni — 'To be one of a kind'

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Wait a minute.

You go into some store, buy a Brioni suit off the rack, have it altered so it fits nicely and now you're thinking you're "one of a kind?"

What about the five thousand other guys who bought the very same suit?

Oh, I get it — since their measurements are different from yours, your particular suit is "one of a kind."

Gimme a break.

Like a kid with a great new toy, I'm so excited by my new word, "pleonasm" (courtesy of Matthew Leavitt), that I simply cannot pass up an opportunity to highlight yet another example like Brioni's idiotstick slogan up top in the headline.

November 24, 2006 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Flashlight Siren Safety Flasher Card

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I featured this on November 29, 2004 and they sold out in a New York minute, so fast I didn't even get a chance to buy one first.

I didn't make that mistake this time around: there's now one less available than was the case ten minutes ago.

I received more emails from frustrated people who wanted one of these — but couldn't get one — than on any other single item I've ever featured.

Don't be left out this time around.

From the website:

    Flashcard Light & Siren

    Light, safety flasher and siren in one compact unit.

    Barely larger than a credit card, this personal safety device combines a powerful LED flashlight, red safety flasher and piercing siren.

    Fits easily in your pocket or purse or around your neck with included lanyard.

    Built-in pouch holds credit cards, bank notes, etc.

    The waterproof body includes a 10-year battery that provides up to 50 hours of light.

$14.95.

November 24, 2006 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Woodpecker Hotel

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It's located 43 feet up an old oak tree in Vasteras Central Park in Sweden.

Rope ladder access only: after you've arrived, the ladder is removed.

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Meals are served via a basket attached to a pulley.

Designed by Mikael Genberg with accomodation designed for one guest, though couples willing to share a single bed are welcome.

Your suite consists of a kitchen, bedroom, veranda with hammock "and, most crucially, a toilet."

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Room rate: $250-$350 (U.S.)/day.

More here.

Or simply call 0870 811 3239 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday to make a reservation.

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Remember that they're on Swedish time, which is GMT+1.

November 24, 2006 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Magnetic Can Cooler

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Genius.

From the website:

    Magnetic Can Coolers

    Can coolers with built-in magnets stay put

    Another one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" products — can coolers with built-in magnets.

    The strong rare earth magnets in the side and base of the cooler will hold a full 12-oz can or bottle to the side of a truck or on top of a car hood, roof or trunk.

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Odd, don't you think, that the website pictures a yellow one (top), yet the available colors are Black, Blue, Red or Silver?

Maybe they sold out of yellow.

A matched set of 4 is $21.95 (drinks not included).

November 24, 2006 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

"20,000 Analyst Names 'Missing'"

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That was the headline over a November 7, 2006 Financial Times story about how Thomson Financial apparently selectively deleted the names attached to 7% of some 280,000 company research recommendations.

A report entitled "Rewriting History" about the deletions concluded, "The ex-post anonymisations do not appear to be random; instead they are concentrated among the worst performing recommendations."

Long story short: throw your bad outcomes down the memory hole and what's left will smell ever so much sweeter.

As always, the best part isn't the misdeed but the explanation, in this instance from Kathryn Durant, vice-president for content at Thomson Financial, who said, "The names of the individual analysts remain in the database. However, they were not visible on the files seen by the academics due to an incomplete data feed."

Huh.

If something is not visible — for any reason — then is it still there?

Not for the person looking, I'm afraid.

Here's the article, by Christopher Brown-Humes.

    20,000 analyst names ‘missing’

    Thomson Financial on Tuesday night vigorously denied claims by academics that nearly 20,000 analyst names were removed from a database of research recommendations.

    An academic discussion paper to be presented to the American Finance Association, claims the names, which were available in Thomson’s I/B/E/S earnings consensus database, were selectively removed. This could have allowed analysts to present a better picture of their performance than might have been the case, the report says.

    Thomson said the claims were not true. Kathryn Durant, vice-president, content, Thomson Financial, said: “The names of the individual analysts remain in the database. However, they were not visible on the files seen by the academics due to an incomplete data feed.”

    The authors of the report — "Rewriting History" — are Alexander Ljungqvist, of the Stern Business School and Centre for Economic Policy Research; Christopher Malloy, of the London Business School; and Felicia Marston, of the University of Virginia.

    The authors found that on 19,892 out of 280,463 recommendations where an analyst’s name had been present in September 2002, it had disappeared by May 2004. Analysts’ brokerage firms were still identified, however.

    “The ex-post anonymisations do not appear to be random; instead they are concentrated among the worst performing recommendations,” the report says.

    The changes took place at the height of regulatory scrutiny of the analyst community — scrutiny led by Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney general — and when many large investment banks were scaling back their research departments. I/B/E/S is widely used by investment professionals and academics.

    Removing analysts’ names makes it hard for investors, academics and the labour market to assess their track records properly, the authors say: “Tests in this study show that analysts associated with anonymisations experience more favourable career outcomes than their true track records would otherwise warrant.”

    Ms Durant said Thomson was working to rectify the problem with feeds that had affected one part of the I/B/E/S data feed, but not others. She said brokerage firms could not make changes to the I/B/E/S database, as they had no direct access. She added that there had been no pressure from either brokerage houses or individual analysts for names to be removed from certain pieces of research.

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Hey, wait a minute — what's that music I'm hearing?

November 24, 2006 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BroSis Lounge: Chair-4-2

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From the website:
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BroSis Lounge

The "no conflict" chair, only available at Modernseed!

The BroSis Lounge Chair was designed for two kids in mind, a dual chair with a dynamic form and lots of options.

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While the seat puts a new spin on "Musical Chairs," (potentially two winners, of course), children of any age can sit comfortably on either side.

Inspired by designer Eric Pfeiffer’s own two children (four and seven years old), the seat can also be used for sitting on one side only, while the reverse can store books and magazines, extending the life of this seat when junior goes to college.

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Pre-order now as we have a limited number on the way to our warehouse!

• In Natural Birch, White or Orange.

• 17"W x 34"L x 24"H.

• Molded plywood.
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$150.

November 24, 2006 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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