Posted by: Tobias | February 23, 2009

Wikipedia Names Your Band

My contribution to the newest Internet meme:

Wikipedia Names Your Band Album Cover

Band Name: Stellar Association
Album Name: Friendships in constant repair
Album Cover: “Recuerdo, luego fui” (first CC-licensed image I found)

Looks like an instrumental jazz album to me, probably on ECM. And I kinda want to listen to it now!

More awesome debut albums over at flickr

Posted by: Tobias | February 20, 2009

Are you peeling bananas wrong?

The funniest thing I’ve read all week, by Steven Landsburg at Slate:

My friend Petal peels her bananas from the bottom. Well, it's the top, actually, since bananas grow upside down. Come to think of it, that's not quite right either—bananas grow the way they grow, which should be right-side up by definition, even if we think of them as upside down. So let me start over. Petal peels her bananas from the end without the stem.

I mentioned as much at the lunch table last week and triggered a firestorm of debate that has put several research careers on hold and seriously jeopardized the marriage of at least one colleague who, in his single-minded pursuit of truth, has refused for over a week to talk about anything other than the pros and cons of alternative peeling methods. As of this writing, he and his wife have reached an uneasy truce that prohibits him from ever again mentioning the word “banana” in the marital household.

Petal's method is counterintuitive and thus instantly appealing to economists, who love nothing more than to overturn conventional wisdom. Multiple experiments (well, two experiments, actually, since we only had two bananas) quickly convinced a majority of the department that Petal's way is—surprisingly—easier than the traditional method, though the econometricians thought you'd need to test at least 30 bananas to report that result with confidence. The labor economists immediately resolved to apply for a grant.

It only gets better from there.

Posted by: Tobias | February 20, 2009

Rodent criminals

Posted by: Tobias | February 18, 2009

Nerding out the three-year old

A dialogue with Sarah, aged 3: In which it is shown that if your dad is a chemistry professor, asking “Why” can be dangerous:


DAD: Why does the soap grab the dirt?


DAD: Because soap is a surfactant.


DAD: Why is soap a surfactant?


DAD: That is an EXCELLENT question. Soap is a surfactant because it forms water-soluble micelles that trap the otherwise insoluble dirt and oil particles.


DAD: Why does soap form micelles?


DAD: Soap molecules are long chains with a polar, hydrophilic head and a non-polar, hydrophobic tail. Can you say ‘hydrophilic’?

SARAH: Aidrofawwic

… which is exactly the type of dialogue I hope I’ll have with a kid of my own some day. He/she will even be able to chose between discussing electronegativity and a host of economic issue. I come prepared for both.

Boy do I feel sorry for the kid already.

Posted by: Tobias | February 18, 2009

So much for that no-bailout clause

Feb. 18 (Bloomberg) — Germany and France may be forced to contemplate the bailout of entire nations rather than just individual banks as European government budgets buckle under the weight of recession.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck became the first senior policy maker to broach the topic earlier this week, saying some of the 16 euro nations are “getting into difficulties” and may need help. He went further today, saying Germany “would act” if fellow euro members got into financial trouble. French officials are also concerned about market tensions as the cost of insuring Irish, Greek and Spanish debt against default rises to records and bond spreads widen.

Source: Bloomberg News

Posted by: Mathieu | February 17, 2009

Birthday present

I would love to have one of these art pieces on the wall, so when ever you need an idea for a birthday present for me, I’d happily ‘donate’ my contribution.


Posted by: Mathieu | February 16, 2009

Kiss ‘goodbye kissing’ goodbye

A very sad announcement on just a couple of days after Valentines Day: on Warrington Bank Quay station it isn’t allowed anymore to kiss your beloved one goodbye. Reason: delays.

Passengers are now prohibited from doing any more than shaking hands while standing in line at the taxi rank outside Warrington Bank Quay Station.
If lovers insist on kissing, they have to go to a designated area.

After the credit crunch a love crisis?

Posted by: Tobias | February 9, 2009

Dear Jehovah’s witnesses,

if you ring the door of a known student house at 9 in the morning on a Monday, either of two things will happen: (a) The occupant will already be out and about, or (b) the occupant will still be asleep, dreaming about the weekend. Either way, no convert for you. If the occupant should answer the door nonetheless and you then start doing your bit about how the miracle of creation with all the marvelous laws of nature proves the existence of a creator, you better be able to argue some philosophy or actual physics instead of waving your hand repeatedly.



Posted by: Mathieu | February 6, 2009

‘The best complaint letter ever?’

I came across a complaint letter on the food and other services provided on a Virgin flight. I have to say it is pretty funny although best complaint letter ever might be somewhat exaggerated:

What is this? Why have I been given it? What have I done to deserve this? And which one is the starter, which one is the dessert?

I was raised strictly but neatly by my parents, and if they knew I had started dessert before the main course, a sponge shaft would be the least of my worries.

So let’s peel back the tin-foil on the main dish and see what’s on offer.

I’ll try to explain how this felt. Imagine being a 12-year-old boy, Richard.

Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sitting there with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is.

It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out from the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

Only you open the present and it’s not in there.

It’s your hamster, Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this:

Posted by: Tobias | February 3, 2009

Die Fuggerei

The Wall Street Journal on ‘Die Fuggerei‘, a rather strange part of Augsburg, Germany:

Every day, retired florist Rita Wunderle prays for the souls of bankers.

Despite daily headlines about banker-fueled economic crisis and an alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, her 145 neighbors pray, too.

Mrs. Wunderle lives in the Fuggerei, a Roman Catholic housing settlement for the poor that Jakob Fugger “The Rich” built in this southern German city nearly 500 years ago. Praying for Mr. Fugger and his descendants to enter the Pearly Gates is a condition for living here, at an annual rent of 1 Rhein guilder, the same as in 1520. In today’s money, that’s 88 euro cents, or about $1.23.

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