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February 9, 2007

What's the safest place to sit in a car?

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Short answer shorter: the middle back seat.

Unfortunately, it's the equivalent of the "eat your peas" position, to wit: the least comfortable seat in and of itself, with a second-rate headrest (if indeed there's one at all), the hump in the floor for your feet to contend with and, most likely, seat belts which have been stuffed way back down the crack, making them difficult (at best) to use.

Hey, them's the breaks — better than breaking your bones in a crash.

Here's Anahad O'Connor's exegesis of the matter, this past Tuesday's (February 6, 2007) New York Times Science section "Really?" feature.

    The Claim: The Back Seat of a Car Is the Safest Place to Sit

    The Facts: Automobiles may not be the safest mode of transport, but many people wonder whether where they choose to sit can improve their odds.

    According to several studies, it can, and the spot that is generally the least desirable, it turns out, is also the safest: the middle of the back seat. Uncomfortable, yes, but it’s also the seat that typically has the largest “crush zone,” an area around which the car collapses in a collision, ultimately protecting an occupant.

    One large study of the subject, by researchers at the University of Buffalo in 2006, analyzed more than 60,000 fatal crashes and found that passengers in the middle back seat were 86 percent more likely to survive than those in the front seats, and 25 percent more likely to survive than those in the other rear seats.

    But the study also found that about half of all adults in the middle back seat neglected to wear seat belts. They were about three times as likely to die in a crash as middle-back-seat passengers who did buckle up. And not wearing a seat belt in the back can have unfortunate consequences for those up front. One study found that even when passengers in the front wore seat belts, their odds of dying were five times as great if those in the back were not belted, a result of back-seat passengers’ being thrown forward on impact.

    The Bottom Line: In an accident, the middle back seat is the safest place to be.

February 9, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

New Wave T-Shirt Hanger

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Clever.

From the website:

    No-Stretch T-Shirt Hanger

    Eliminates need to stretch T-shirt necks so they will retain their shape.

    No longer look disheveled with stretched-out shirt necks.

    T-shirts slide on hanger easily with two quick steps.

    Maintain the original shape.

    Plastic.

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Of course, there's still the option of simply inserting the hanger via the bottom to achieve the same end.

But where's the fun in that?

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Three for $6.98.

February 9, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Did you get it?

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Sure, people

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change — but

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this is ridiculous.

February 9, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wipe Away Belt Buckle

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But you already knew that.

From the website:

    Wipe Away Belt Buckle

    An awesome way to get your message out there.

    Actual dry-erase whiteboard lets you communicate with your favorite slogan or best pick-up line.

    You even get a handy marker so he or she can write in a reply — or phone number!

    Buckle is 3.5" long and fits belts up to 1.75" wide.

$11.98.

February 9, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Free Random Numbers

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No, this is not a joke: absolutely free, guaranteed-to-be-random numbers are yours for the taking at randomnumbers.info.

Created by Id Quantique, a Geneva-based group of physicists, the site went live on March 18, 2004.

They'll give you all the randomness you can handle at no charge.

Of course, I'll do the same thing.

But I digress.

If you want to buy their device to install into your computer, it'll cost you $1,205.

That will result in 4 million random bits a second, which should be enough to get you started.

Physicist Gregoire Ribordy, one of the principals of Id Quantique, said, "In a sense, this is the first quantum computer."

Their device fires photons, one at a time, at a half-mirrored surface.

The mirror has a 50% chance of letting the photon through or bouncing it back, but there is no way of knowing which path any one photon will take.

The computer turns each event into a one or a zero.

Of what use are random numbers?

Well, online privacy and financial security depend on long strings of random digits used to encrypt messages during e-commerce transactions and other sensitive communications.

Random numbers also underlie gambling websites and lotteries.

They're crucial to scientists who want to simulate complex systems such as weather patterns or the stock market.

But although computers depend on them, they cannot generate them, because everything they do is driven by rules — and rules, by definition, cannot produce randomness.

Besides randomnumbers.com, other sites offer random numbers based on other means of generating them.

For example, lavarnd.org creates its random numbers by turning the electronic noise from a blacked-out webcam with its lens cap on into digits.

Mads Haahr, a computer scientist at Trinity College in Dublin, generates numbers from the white noise of a cheap portable radio tuned to an empty wavelength.

He gives away up to 4,000 random numbers a second at his website.

February 9, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Everyone needs a Polaroid camera

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At least once or twice a month, I need to take a picture — a real photograph — right now.

I go to the little closet next to my living room and open the door and pull out my trusty Polaroid camera and I go take the picture.

In 60 seconds it's in my hand, crisp and dry.

Sure, you can buy a disposable Kodak and take a picture, or take a picture with your digital camera: I do both, from time to time.

Neither puts the picture in my hand, right here and now, in 60 seconds.

At Amazon you can get the Polaroid One pictured above for $29.99.

February 9, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Free Passport Photos

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Tell us more — we like free.

JetBlue is offering free passport photos this month (February, 2007) to customers traveling through Terminal 6 at Kennedy International Airport in New York City.

Photos will be taken between 12:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays near Gate 12A.

The dates (including today) remaining in February: 9,10; 15,16,17; 22,23,24.

The offer is a marketing tie-in to new federal requirements which took effect on January 23, 2007 that all air travelers — including U.S. citizens — have a valid passport when returning to the U.S. from Canada, Mexico, Central and South American and the Caribbean.

February 9, 2007 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blackout Buddy — Auto-On Emergency Radio/Clock/Flashlight/Nightlight

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Where was this wonderful device when I was a boy, hiding under the covers reading or listening to the ballgame?

From the website:
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Blackout Buddy Auto-On Emergency Radio/Clock/Flashlight/Nightlight

The Blackout Buddy is the essential emergency tool for every home.

Designed to stay plugged into the wall for continuous charging and to be ready for any emergency, the Blackout Buddy's built-in LED light and AM/FM radio automatically turn on when the electricity goes out.

The rechargeable battery provides enough power for hours of emergency AM/FM radio and light operation: 12-16 hours of LED light use, or 4-8 hours of radio use.

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The Blackout Buddy also serves as a convenient and functional everyday plug-in radio and light for any room in the home or office.

Features:

• Headphone jack also serves as an FM Antenna input to connect an external antenna for improved reception

• Illuminated multi-Function LCD screen glows a soft blue when plugged in, serving as a night light

• Telescopic antenna helps you receive important local radio broadcasts

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• Alarm feature wakes you up when you want (with or without power)

• Super-bright LED light provides illumination when you need it most

• On/Off switch allows you conserve power when you need to

• AC plug goes into any standard outlet to charge & standby

• AM/FM radio helps you stay in tune with breaking news

• Clock feature easily tells the time at a glance

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• Dimensions: 3"W x 5"H x 1.4"D
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$29.95.

Like the man said:

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everything but the kitchen sink.

February 9, 2007 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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