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Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday links

July 27 is free-market economist Milton Friedman's birthday: here are some favorite quotes and short videos. And Beatrix Potter's birthday is this weekend: in addition to Peter Rabbit et al, she produced some gorgeous botanical drawings.

How to build a mountain range.

Stealing Passwords by Reading Thermal Residue on Keyboards.

Advice from 1380: How to Tell if Someone Is or Is Not Dead (the onion test), plus bonus Monty Python.

How the tiniest plot of land in Manhattan came to be.

ICYMI, Thursday's links are here, and include cutting hair with fire, the instant pot of the 1600s known as the Digester of Bones, the 2018 UK snail racing championship, and for Aldous Huxley's birthday, an audio of him narrating Brave New World.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

MIlton Friedman's birthday

There are so many excellent quotations from Milton Friedman that it's impossible to choose - I've included a few below, but feel free to add more in the comments.

Government has three primary functions. It should provide for military defense of the nation. It should enforce contracts between individuals. It should protect citizens from crimes against themselves or their property. When government-- in pursuit of good intentions tries to rearrange the economy, legislate morality, or help special interests, the cost come in inefficiency, lack of motivation, and loss of freedom. Government should be a referee, not an active player.

Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink, and make the combination worthless. 

The great virtue of a free market system is that it does not care what color people are; it does not care what their religion is; it only cares whether they can produce something you want to buy. 

Inflation is the one form of taxation that can be imposed without legislation. 

Most of the energy of political work is devoted to correcting the effects of mismanagement of government

I would cut the real taxes borne by the American people by cutting all government spending ten percent across the board. 

I am favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it's possible.

If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there’d be a shortage of sand.

One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.

~ Milton Friedman (wiki) (variously attributed) 

The long-term solution to [to high unemployment] is to increase the incentive for ordinary people to save, invest, work, and employ others. We make it costly for employers to employ people, and we subsidize people not to go to work. We have a system that taxes work and subsidizes nonwork.*

~ Friedman (in U.S. News and World Report, 7 March 1977) 

July 27 is the anniversary of the birth of Nobel prize-winning American economist Milton Friedman (wiki) (1912-2006) in Brooklyn, New York. Friedman studied at Rutgers, Chicago, and Columbia and earned his Ph.D. in 1946. He was widely regarded as the leader of the "Chicago School" of monetary economics, which stressed the quantity of money as the cause of business cycles and inflation and thus the importance of government monetary policy. 

With his wife, Rose D. Friedman, he wrote many books and a series of columns for Newsweek between 1966 and 1983, also serving as an advisor to President Reagan from 1981 to 1989. Friedman received his Nobel prize in 1977 for his contributions to quantitative economic science. He is also credited with the well-known observation, "There's no such thing as a free lunch," but in fact it probably appeared in common parlance after the "free lunch" became customary fare in saloons around 1840 - when you had to buy a beer to obtain it. The Chicago-school economists began using this phrase regularly in articles and speeches in the 1970s. 

Be that as it may, Friedman did note in his book, Capitalism and Freedom,

"History suggests that capitalism is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition."

* N.B. But I would add that "nonwork" includes the fiscal chicanery and crony capitalism that merely moves money around without producing any tangible product - to the enormous financial advantage of the movers and disadvantage of taxpayers.

There are a lot of videos of Friedman discussing various topics - below are a few short ones that give you a feel for him and his policies:

On greed:

Why drugs should be legalized:

On the minimum wage:

Socialism is force:

Responsibility to the poor:

Thursday links

For Aldous Huxley's birthday, here's an infographic of Huxley vs Orwell, a letter from Huxley to Orwell explaining why he (Huxley) was right, and audio of Huxley narrating Brave New World.

The Instant Pot of the 1600s Was Known as the Digester of Bones.

Physics is allowing us to read scrolls from Pompeii.

Apparently, cutting hair with fire is a thing.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include 17th century infertility remedies, how tech's richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse, what happens to Sherlock Holmes mail, and, for NatGeo's Shark Week: the Batman 1966 Shark Repellent Bat Spray scene.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Advice from 1380: How to Tell if Someone Is or Is Not Dead, with bonus Monty Python

BL Harley 3140, f. 39r (14th c.)
We all know that the old ways are frequently the best; that may turn out to be the case here, but I think we need further testing.  I would personally rather not be declared dead based on the onion test.   
"Moreover, if there is any doubt as to whether a person is or is not dead, apply lightly roasted onion to his nostrils, and if he be alive, he will immediately scratch his nose." 
Johannes de Mirfield, Breviarium Bartholomei (c. 1380-95)

Of course, it's impossible to think about being not quite dead without thinking of the Monty Python (wiki) "Not Dead Yet" scene from Holy Grail:

Wednesday links

For NatGeo's Shark Week: here's the Batman 1966 Shark Repellent Bat Spray scene, a Lego re-enactment, and Mythbusters "Essence of Dead Sharks" shark repellent test.

The length of a music single was determined by the weight-driven pulley system on a 1920's recording machine  - it allowed approximately three and a half minutes to record before a 100 pound weight hit the floor.

Sherlock Holmes gets a lot of mail. What happens to it?

17th century infertility remedies.

How tech's richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse.

A free online course offered by MIT: How to Win at Texas Hold 'Em.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include a brief history of prosthetic limbs, the anniversary of the 20th of July plot (the unsuccessful bomb attempt to kill Hitler in 1944), the science of the perfect s'more, and an analysis of the Bayeux Tapestry's 93 penises. 

Monday, July 23, 2018

For NatGeo's #SharkWeek: the Batman 1966 Shark Repellent Bat Spray

I'm reminded of this every year during Shark Week - in the clip below, Adam West's 1966 Batman fends off an angry about-to-explode shark with a can of shark repellent spray. That scene was actually rather faithful to the early Batman comics, which show that the Dark Knight does, indeed, carry around a can of shark repellent with him at all times. You know, just in case.

So, Batman is hanging from the Bat-copter (on the Bat-ladder) and is attacked by an about-to-explode shark. He wrestles with it for a bit and tries a few ineffectual Bat-punches to the shark’s head and body, then grabs his Bat-radio and asks Robin to throw him down a can of Shark Repellent Bat-Spray. This is stored in the Bat-copter along with three other “Oceanic Repellent Bat Sprays” designed to fend off, in addition to sharks, whales, manta rays and barracudas. Too bad Steve Irwin didn't think to carry those.

There is, of course, a Lego re-enactment:

Kind of related: Mythbusters on Does "Essence of Dead Sharks" Work as Shark Repellent?:

More at Fact Fiend.


Here's the 1983 episode of The Family Feud: the cast of Gilligan's Island vs the cast of Batman.

The Evolution of Batman in Cinema: From 1939 to Present.

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