Posts Tagged ‘everyday absurdity’

Student Discount

Friday, 22 April 2011
[detail of a price schedule, showing a journal subscription price of $160 for students, and of $161 for other individual persons]

I marvel at the suggested elasticity of demand here.


Thursday, 17 March 2011
[image capture of the MiKTeX dialogue window for the end of its installation process] [detail of the previous image, showing instructions to 'click Finish', when the only buttons are labelled 'Close' and 'Cancel' (with the latter nullified)]

Daylight-Losing Time

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The temptation of Daylight-Savings Time is easy to explain. If one times the activities that need light to occur as little as possible during times when light would have to be artificially generated, then one saves resources. As one moves away from the Winter Solstice, the time between sunrise and sunset lengthens, and the amount of natural light available in the mornings increases. We used time zones so that clocks are synchronized over reasonably large areas, rather than just long lines of longitude. And re-setting clocks is less failure-prone and otherwise cheaper than changing time-tables.

Unfortunately, Daylight-Savings Time doesn't really work. Worse, it kills people.

In the contiguous United States (the lower 48), the difference between the time of sunrise at the summer solstice and at the winter solstice is about two hours, and it's not as if the change takes place all at once. When an hour is added to the clocks, activities that were beginning at about sunrise are immediately beginning about an hour before sunrise; it takes more than a month for the seasonal change to catch-up to the clock change, and later in the year, as sunrise again has begun to take place later, there will be another month during which the seasonal difference is less than the clock difference. And the clocks through-out each time-zone, all the way to its western border, are typically being kept in synchronization with those on the eastern border; with time-zones being about an hour wide, activities that were taking place up to an hour after sunrise on the eastern border are taking place at or before sunrise elsewhere in the time zone. So we shouldn't be terribly shocked that statistically studies haven't been able to tease-out much-if-any actual savings associated with Daylight-Savings Time.

Meanwhile, it has been observed that, as the nation goes on or off Daylight-Savings Time, there is an increase in automobiles hitting pedestrians. That's because drivers adjust imperfectly to the apparent sudden change in how dark it is in the morning or in the evening. They are driving in the morning or in the evening as if it is lighter than it is, and the fact that they are driving as if it is darker than it is at the other end of the day doesn't offset the effects (because the marginal effect of caution is diminishing).

Her Cup Runneth Over

Friday, 22 October 2010

One of the persisting confusions these days is that between a shaving mug and a mustache cup. In fact, they are quite different things.

A shaving mug is a mug in which soap, cream, or lotion is worked into a lather with a brush, which lather is then applied by brush to some area to be shaved.

A mustache cup is a drinking cup, with a guard to keep the drinker's mustache from being wet by and drawn into the drink.

Though, really, the guard of a mustache cup would simply be in the way if it were used as a shaving mug, none-the-less, in era in which relatively few people use shaving mugs, and almost no one uses a mustache cup, it's not a terrible surprise that the two should be confused. So I don't typically much reäct when seeing one listed as the other (or as both) on eBay.

However, I'm definitely amused when seeing a mustache cup listed as Antique Mustache Shaving Lavender Ladies Cup & Saucer (underscore mine). [images of mustache cup] There were and are women who've been unfortunate when it came to facial hair; and some have had enough of a mustache that they could have got use from a mustache cup as such; but I really doubt that anyone has manufactured mustache cups specifically for ladies.

A Sandwich Is Not Just a Cigar

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The local Chick-fil-A is advertising that 14 October will be Mother/Son Date Night. Λαιος will be unable to attend, anyway.

Mighty Man of the Night

Tuesday, 6 July 2010
[Ted Knight, disturbed in bed, takes off his pajamas under which he has his Starman costume]

Really, it's a shame that Starman never made an appearance on The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure, on Aquaman, on The Batman/Superman Hour, or on Super Friends.

Degenerate Matter

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

At Kingdom Kane (a 'blog focussed upon the art of Gil Kane), Mykal Banta has reproduced The Birth of the Atom. a story which contains what I have long regarded as an epitomal sequence of what I call comic-book science: Ray Palmer leaps over a wall in pursuit of a meteor seen in the distance, about to hit the Earth.Ray Palmer excavates a meteor composed of about 1000 cu cm of degenerate matter from a white dwarf star, buried about two feet in the earth. 'So heavy-- I can hardly lift it!'Palmer, holding the meteor, looks at in amazement. 'Puff!'Palmer carries the meteor back to his car. 'Puff!'

As I noted to Mykal, a white dwarf star has a density of about 1 million grams per cc, and the meteor appears to be about 1000 cc, so the whole thing should mass at about 1 million kilograms.

It's not apparent why 1 million kilograms should stay compressed into such a small volume. In the case of a dwarf star itself, the gravitational mass of the star as a whole creätes sufficient force, but this is just a fractional piece of such a star. It ought to fly apart as a terrible burst of radiation. But let's assume that this somehow doesn't happen, that the meteor just stays together in a nifty one-liter piece.

The meteor that creäted Meteor Crater in Arizona was under 30,000 kilograms. Ray wouldn't be excavating the meteor at all; he would have been killed by the shock waves from the impact. Those who later did excavate the meteor wouldn't find it buried just a couple of feet deep.

At the surface of the Earth (which itself masses about 5.97 × 1024 kilograms), this meteor would weigh about 11 hundred tons, but Ray picks it up! He subvocalizes a few puffs, but he manages to carry the thing back to his car! Now-a-days, they don't make cars that can carry 11 hundred tons. I don't think that any grad students can lift 11 hundred tons. And, really, Ray ought to be sinking into the ground, as even if he has big feet and has both feet on the ground he is applying over 7000 kPa of pressure to the soil.

It might be suggested that the meteor, while perhaps of material that were once compressed to a density of about 1 million grams per cc, were subsequently uncompressed, and that what Palmer recovered were only, say, 100 kilograms of material. But I don't know how, then, it would be recognizable as originating from a white dwarf star. For example, the core of the sun compresses matter to a greater density than 100 grams per cc.

And He'd Know Better if He Needed One

Sunday, 23 May 2010
D.C. to begin using more-expensive Trojan condoms in HIV prevention program by Tim Craig of the Washington Post, 21 May 2010
[…] D.C. officials have decided to stock up on Trojan condoms, including the company's super-size Magnum variety […]

(Underscore mine.) Actually, the Magnum® variety is not super-sized. It is not much different in size from various other condoms. It is simply marketed in a manner that yields an impression of being super-sized to those who don't actually check the facts — such as journalists. An ordinary-sized Trojan condom is 52mm wide and 200mm long; the Magnum® is 54mm wide at the base, widening to 60mm at the head, and 205mm long. (The Magnum® XL differs in that it widens to 65mm at the head.)

(The Durex® Avanti™, on the other hand, has a width of 64mm along its length. It is, however, only 180mm long, which might be of concern if the condom is being used to prevent the transmission of disease and the anatomies of the sexual partners allow penetration to a greater depth.)

When the subject of condom size is raised, many women and various men with small penes make the point that condoms stretch, so that a regular-size condom can be put on a larger penis. Indeed, but elastic substances produce greater counter-force when stretched farther. The fact that someone might be able to fit a spring around his-or-her cranium (as occasionally condoms are stretched around heads for one reason or another) doesn't mean that one can comfortably wear that spring around one's penis. So larger condoms are quite appropriate for some men.

But, with the Magnum®, Trojan is selling a mere 0.08in in additional width, just 0.2in in extra length, and fantasy.

Le tut-tut

Friday, 14 May 2010

From a copy of Le Rire from 1908, reproduced at Vintage Poster: [advertisement for L'homosexualite en Allemagne]

D_mn'd Yanquis

Friday, 22 January 2010

Readers of this 'blog might recall the Decimator. Well, according to Hugo Chávez, the United States has one.

I'm just hoping that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands, and get directed at the Amsterdam Fault. Meanwhile, maybe I can become one of the Rocket Men. At my age, hopes of becoming a super-hero have dimmed, but I at least look younger than Jeff King.