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November 13, 2009

A penny made of gold


Long story short: "... Jack Daws, a Seattle-based artist... took about $100 [worth] of 18-karat gold and turned it into a penny [above]. In March 2007, he used it at a newstand at Los Angeles International Airport, expecting never to see it again — until a call came last month from Brooklyn."

Jennifer 8. Lee's November 4, 2009 New York Times City Room Blog article about the reverse counterfeiting follows.


Brooklyn Woman Finds Counterfeit Penny Made of Gold

One afternoon in March 2007, Jack Daws stepped up to a newsstand in Los Angeles International Airport with a handful of change, including a counterfeit penny made of 18-karat gold that Mr. Daws, a Seattle artist, had fashioned. He carefully put the counterfeit coin down on the counter, counted out enough change to pay $11.90 for a Hustler magazine and left.

He got a cup of coffee and sat down on a seat with the newsstand in sight, and watched for an hour wondering if any of the travelers had walked off with his golden penny and where it would end up at the end of the day.

Most counterfeiting takes something that is nearly worthless and turns it into something perceived to have value. Mr. Daws did just the opposite. He took value — approximately $100 worth of gold — and turned it into something perceived as nearly worthless, one cent. “It’s there, but if people don’t realize it, it’s the same as not being there,” he said. Of the 11 copper-plated gold pennies he made as part of his series, only this one was sent into the wider world.

He never expected to see it again, but he wondered where the penny ended up: stuck in a giant penny jar, melted down with other coins back at the United States Mint, lost in a street gutter. Meanwhile, one of his other counterfeit pennies sold for $1,000 to a collector through the Greg Kucera gallery.

[One of the 10 still for sale through the gallery appears below].


Then, Mr. Daws woke up one morning in October and listened to a voicemail left by a Brooklyn graphic designer named Jessica Reed.

“I think I found your gold penny,” the message said.

How the golden penny traveled, through how many hands or cash registers, over the two years, may never be known. But now the journey has reached its endpoint.

Late this summer, when Ms. Reed was paying for groceries at the C-Town supermarket in Greenpoint, she noticed the penny [top] because the gold color had started to peek through. A fan of unusual coins, she slipped it back into her change purse and tucked it into the recesses of her mind.

Then recently, while doing research about a 1924 Mercury-head dime, she remembered the penny and typed “gold penny” into Google, which returned information on science experiments to give a penny a gold color. She added “1970” and found an item about how Mr. Daws had put a 18-karat gold penny, dated 1970 with no mint mark, into circulation. It was heavier and smaller than a real penny.

In disbelief, she weighed the penny on a digital scale. It came in at three grams, one gram more than similar pennies from 1970. And it was slightly smaller than a normal penny, owing to the shrinking after the casting process.

She traced Mr. Daws’s phone number through the gallery and left him the message. When he called back, he knew it had to be his penny as soon as she described it to him.

Ms. Reed will keep the coin. She is thinking of having it framed. It’s was a curious way to display a sculpture, she said. “I can’t imagine being an artist who does something like this,” she said. “It’s the opposite of having your stuff shown in a gallery. It could be tossed.”

November 13, 2009 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

MagSafe lite: 6"-long USB connector can save your computer bacon


I can't speak for you but for me, the innocuous little bit of kit featured here has prevented a major computer disaster on more than one occasion.

Long story short: If you have a recent vintage iMac you will be familiar with the placement of the USB ports on the back of the computer.

All well and good and beautiful but if your computer is perched on a jury rigged stand five feet in the air in front of your treadmill, as is mine, well, it doesn't take the brightest bulb in the tree to realize that Gray Cat, exploring as is her wont or simply playing, may end up entangled in the rat's nest of cords and cables dangling below and pull the whole thing down.

Enter this nifty little extension cord, which I found amongst my computer stuff and used at first only because I needed a few more inches of length so my printer cable could reach the iMac.

Then I watched in horror as Gray Cat dashed across the room in pursuit of some imaginary mouse and snagged the printer cable, which then disconnected — not from the computer but from this extension which I'd plugged into its back.


I ordered three more instanter.

If you're using a laptop, someday you'll wish you had one.

A snip at $3.52, considering the alternative.

November 13, 2009 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Original IBM ThinkPad


"This is the notepad (the pencil and paper kind) that in the late 80s /early 90s


inspired an IBM researcher to name the company’s new mobile computer the ThinkPad.


To me, the IBM ThinkPad was the classic laptop computer to have.


At least that was the case until I went full time Apple and the Chinese got a hold of the brand.


At any rate, it is interesting to see the little promotional giveaway that inspired a massive brand."

[via m,appeal]

November 13, 2009 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



"95% cotton/5% spandex cap is just like underwear for your head. Wear it underneath your hat for extra warmth and protection. Fits most adult heads."


November 13, 2009 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BehindTheMedspeak: Where does wisdom come from?


On the surface not an obvious candidate subject for this feature, but that's the point: we're drilling down deep.

From researchers at the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine comes evidence that there is indeed a neurobiological pathway and specific brain circuitry associated with attributes such as empathy, compassion, emotional stability, self-understanding and tolerance for others' values.

The scientists concluded that several brain regions are involved and suggested that the neurobiology of wisdom is based on a balance between primitive brain regions such as the limbic system and more recently developed areas, namely the pre-frontal cortex.

But don't take my word for it: here's the abstract of a scientific report on the subject; it appeared in the April, 2009 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.


Neurobiology of Wisdom: A Literature Overview

Context  Wisdom is a unique psychological trait noted since antiquity, long discussed in humanities disciplines, recently operationalized by psychology and sociology researchers, but largely unexamined in psychiatry or biology.

Objective  To discuss recent neurobiological studies related to subcomponents of wisdom identified from several published definitions/descriptions of wisdom by clinical investigators in the field, ie, prosocial attitudes/behaviors, social decision making/pragmatic knowledge of life, emotional homeostasis, reflection/self-understanding, value relativism/tolerance, and acknowledgment of and dealing effectively with uncertainty.

Data Sources  Literature focusing primarily on neuroimaging/brain localization and secondarily on neurotransmitters, including their genetic determinants.

Study Selection Studies involving functional neuroimaging or neurotransmitter functioning, examining human (rather than animal) subjects, and identified via a PubMed search using keywords from any of the 6 proposed subcomponents of wisdom were included.

Data Extraction  Studies were reviewed by both of us, and data considered to be potentially relevant to the neurobiology of wisdom were extracted.

Data Synthesis  Functional neuroimaging permits exploration of neural correlates of complex psychological attributes such as those proposed to comprise wisdom. The prefrontal cortex figures prominently in several wisdom subcomponents (eg, emotional regulation, decision making, value relativism), primarily via top-down regulation of limbic and striatal regions. The lateral prefrontal cortex facilitates calculated, reason-based decision making, whereas the medial prefrontal cortex is implicated in emotional valence and prosocial attitudes/behaviors. Reward neurocircuitry (ventral striatum, nucleus accumbens) also appears important for promoting prosocial attitudes/behaviors. Monoaminergic activity (especially dopaminergic and serotonergic), influenced by several genetic polymorphisms, is critical to certain subcomponents of wisdom such as emotional regulation (including impulse control), decision making, and prosocial behaviors.

Conclusions We have proposed a speculative model of the neurobiology of wisdom involving frontostriatal and frontolimbic circuits and monoaminergic pathways. Wisdom may involve optimal balance between functions of phylogenetically more primitive brain regions (limbic system) and newer ones (prefrontal cortex). Limitations of the putative model are stressed. It is hoped that this review will stimulate further research in characterization, assessment, neurobiology, and interventions related to wisdom.


Which reminds of one of my favorite jokes, which I used to tell anesthesia residents after they'd messed up.

A young seminarian approaches an aged priest who's the go-to guy for all manner of crises.

"Father," he says, "everyone comes to you when they're at wit's end and presents you with their most difficult problems, yet you never seem to have any trouble cutting through the difficulties and helping find the best course of action."

"It's pretty much true," replied the priest.

"How can I learn to do what you do?" asked the student.

"Oh, it's not really very hard," said the priest. "All you need is good judgment."

"But Father," said the young man,"how, exactly, do I acquire good judgment?"

Replied the priest, "Many years of bad judgment."


Want more on the subject?

Great, you're in luck; links to stories in Scientific American, Science Daily and other publications about the scientific report are here.

November 13, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Vintage Soda







[via m,appeal and Packaging of the World]

November 13, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Mobile TV without a hot spot


Roy Furchgott's "App of the Week" feature in the November 5, 2009 New York Times highlighted the 1Cast app for iPhone and Android handsets.

Works nicely on my iPod touch as well.

Free, the way we like it.

Here's the Times item.


Mobile TV That Needs No Hot Spot

Getting TV news on your phone is a tricky business, as most mobile broadcasters require a Wi-Fi connection. That’s not really mobile TV, that’s hot-spot TV.

The only broadcaster I’ve found that transmits junk-free news not only by Wi-Fi, but also over a 3G network, is 1Cast.

It will even work over a 2G network, if that’s all you can pick up. The free app is available for both iPhone and Android handsets.

The app can be customized to search for videos on topics of your choice, although figuring out how to do it is not easy. To create a custom channel, or “cast,” you have to click on favorites in the toolbar at the bottom of your screen, then click on the plus sign in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Then you can create a search by topic.

Search results are uneven. I created a motorcycle cast and got some accurate responses, like the story of a company building an electric bike, as well as some that were rather off-base, like several stories about terrorism (granted a terrorist may have used a motorcycle in those stories, but still).

November 13, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack



Designed by


Anthony Lau.


Secures one or two bicycles.


Enables you


to lock both wheels.

[via candycranks]

November 13, 2009 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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