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July 2, 2010

Australia's Coconut Crab — The largest terrestrial arthropod in the world


Flautist received the following (along with the pictures above and below) from her brother and was kind enough to pass it along.


How would you like to find this on the side of your trash can!!!!!!! (or anywhere!!!!). Our friends in Australia sent us a picture of a coconut crab. This is pretty interesting.....

The coconut crab (Birgus latro) is the largest terrestrial arthropod in the world. It is known for its ability to crack coconuts with its strong pincers in order to eat the contents. It is sometimes called the robber crab because some coconut crabs are rumored to steal shiny items such as pots and silverware from houses and tents. The first photo gives you a good idea of how large these crabs are. In it, a coconut crab is seeking food from a black trashcan.

The coconut crab is a large edible land crab related to the hermit crab, and is found in the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans. It eats coconuts for a living! How would you like to be on an island and come across a crab that is more than 3 feet from head to tail and weighs up to 40 pounds, with a pair of large pincers strong enough to open coconuts? They can climb trees too, but they only eat coconuts that have already fallen to the ground.



Flautist added, "The garbage collectors around here would never pick up again!"

July 2, 2010 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

Arnold Circus Stool






Martino Gamper.



July 2, 2010 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to open a wine bottle with a shoe

In French, but no need to translate: res ipsa loquitur.

[via Cary Sternick]

July 2, 2010 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

T&CO Cuff Links


I saw these in an ad in the New York Times and at first glance thought they read "TACO" — then the penny dropped and I realized they were Tiffany 1837 cuff links, meant to be read as Tiffany and Company.



Tiffany, like Apple ("Sent from my iPad"), is one of the few companies that have succeeded in getting people to pay premium prices for their products and then advertise them while in use.

July 2, 2010 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

"Save Your Own Life" — by Dan Ariely


Published on June 26, 2010 in the Technology Review blog, it's best considered as a whole rather than via a few excerpts.

But if you insist on one thing to chew on, try this: "44.5% of all premature deaths in the U.S. result from personal decisions."

The piece follows.


What would you think if someone told you: Do the right thing because your life may depend on it. Or more accurately, that you better start making better decisions because it is a matter of life and death. This may sound like something an over protective parent would tell their child) but in reality it’s the way most of us should start to think about our day to day decisions and their potential to lead to harmful habits and fatal consequences. It is hard to believe that this is true, but recently, researchers have done some interesting analysis on this topic and the results support the idea that personal decisions, and often fairly mundane ones, are a leading cause of premature death in the United States (and I suspect that similar numbers are also the reality in the rest of the developed world).

One of the most interesting analyses on the ways in which our decisions kill us is one by Ralph Keeney (Operation Research, 2008), where Ralph puts forth the claim that 44.5% of all premature deaths in the US result from personal decisions – decisions that involving among others smoking, not exercising, criminality, drug and alcohol use, and unsafe sexual behavior.  In his analysis Ralph carefully defines the nature of both the type of personal decision and what is considered premature death. For instance, dying prematurely in a car accident caused by a drunk driver is not considered premature in this framework because the decision to drive somewhere is not one that can logically be connected to the premature death. Unless, of course, the person who dies is also the drunk driver, in which case this counts as a premature death caused by bad personal decisions.  This is because the decision to drive drunk, and dying as a result, are clearly connected.  In this way you can examine a large set of cases where multiple decision paths are available (the drunk driver also has the option to take a cab, ride with a designated driver, or call a friend), and where these other decision paths are not chosen despite the fact that they won’t directly result in the same negative outcome (i.e fatality). As other types of examples, consider the decisions to smoke (when not smoking is an option), to overeat (when watching our weight is an option), or for people with long term medical conditions to skip taking insulin or asthma medication when these are important to their ongoing health.

Using the same method to examine causes of death in 1900, Keeney finds that during this time only around 10% of premature deaths were caused by personal decisions. Compared to our current 44.5% of premature deaths caused by personal decisions, it seems that on this measure of making decisions that kill ourselves we have “improved” (of course this means that we actually got much worse) dramatically over the years.  And no, this is not because we’ve become a nation of binge-drinking, murderous smokers, it’s largely because the causes of death, like tuberculosis and pneumonia (the most common causes of death in the early 20th century) are far more rare these days, and the temptation and our ability to make erroneous decisions (think about driving while texting) has increased dramatically.

What this analysis means is that instead of relying on external factors to keep us alive and healthy for longer, we can (and must) learn to rely on our decision-making skills in order to reduce the number of dumb and costly mistakes that we make.

The question then becomes how to help people become better decision-makers. Or at least better at making decisions where their health is concerned. If nearly half of premature deaths in the US can be avoided by making better decisions, it is clear to me that it would be worthwhile to spend much more time and effort to disseminate the knowledge we have gained in social science about the main ways in which people fail to make good decisions.  It is of course over-optimistic to expect that just helping people to see what mistakes they are likely to make will fix the problem, but personally I would be happy even if it only slightly reduced the number of catastrophic decisions.  The next step we need to take is to expand upon the research that examines what kind of methods encourage healthier decision-making and conduct much more research in areas that could help us limit our mistakes. For example, based on research about how people make different decisions when they are sexually aroused we might concentrate on providing comprehensive sexual education that teaches teenagers how to make decisions while in the heat of the moment.  Similarly, by understanding how people think we might be able to teach people to enjoy eating fruit and vegetables; how to make exercise part of their ongoing lifestyle; and develop effective smoking cessation programs. And it would also help to remember, in light of this, that every decision counts.

July 2, 2010 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Flashing Mouth

That's different.

From the website:


This cool retainer-like mouthpiece hides discreetly in the roof of your mouth until you press the center, triggering a fantastical light show.

The colors are awesome LED magnificence: Red, Blue, Green and Yellow.



July 2, 2010 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

San Francisco — City of Jelly


From Evil Sunday:


"In the pictures you will see the beautiful city of San Francisco made of nothing but jelly.


This is the brain child of Liz Haycock and you cannot but be impressed


by the myriad colors and the pain that must have gone into this huge project.


She has made a lot of effort to make sure that every detail is taken care of and to see that all the important landmarks are made visible.


You will see that she has not even missed on the details on the flag in one of the pictures.


The city is complete with roads, trees and even the stadium and its parking.


It is surprising that everything is still staying upright.


After all it is just jelly."

[via Milena]

July 2, 2010 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Steeper Keeper — "Brews the bag, not the tag"


"A ceramic mug specifically designed for tea lovers, with a slotted handle to hold your tea bag in place."


"Just run the bag string through the integrated slot


and secure the paper tag under the handle."


Bone white exterior with contrasting caramel interior.


Perfect for those like me who tend to let their teacups gain a little local color before scouring them down to the original finish.



July 2, 2010 at 09:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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