Friday, March 22, 2013

McDonald's as humanitarian?

Here's an unconventional perspective on the humble McDonald's cheeseburger. 
"It has been my gut-level (sorry, pun) feeling for a while now that the McDonald’s McDouble, at 390 Calories, 23g (half a daily serving) of protein, 7% of daily fiber, 20% of daily calcium and iron, etc., is the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Belle Curve

In westerner society we are constantly berating ourselves for objectifying women. The media gets the brunt of the abuse but also gets a pass since the audience dictates the content. But we here at Tako like to swim upstream. Whenever there is a subject that everyone seems to agree on, it probably just means no one has looked at it critically.
It was therefore refreshing to find this alternate perspective on the the subject of beauty (emphasis added):     

"women's evaluations of male appearance are idiosyncratic and reflective of other valuable male traits: 'Every woman responds to a man whose looks correspond to her particular stereotype of power.' It is men's looks that are socially constructed, while female beauty is a force of nature."


Sugar is bad

"The harmful effects of sugar go way beyond empty calories.
Added sugar is so unhealthy that it is probably the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.
Here are the top 9 reasons to avoid sugar as if your life depended on it (it does)..."


Saturday, March 9, 2013


No not that kind of Maneater.
"The only thing that separates man from beast is a wall. And that only works most of the time...Leopards, tigers, and lions all consider primates a natural food source, and any man found too far from home at dusk is an easy meal.
Many cats have attacked man in the past and a few became dedicated man-eaters. This is their legacy..."


Science of Funny

"Peter McGraw is an associate professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and the director of the Humor Research Lab (aka HuRL). He and his colleague Caleb Warren have developed a theory that explains why it’s so funny when people fall down. Their benign violation theory proposes that something is funny if three conditions are met. First, ordinary life is somehow thrown off balance. They call this a violation – “anything that threatens the way you think the world ought to be.”  Second, this violation is benign. No one gets hurt. Finally, these first two conditions must happen simultaneously..."

Why is falling so funny?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Economist on Guns

Not surprisingly Freakonomics has the best and most reasonable discussion on gun laws that I have seen. You can listen to it here.
But I have one criticism. About halfway through the podcast, Levitt suggests a better way to lower gun crime is to attach severe punishments to crimes involving guns. He says that mandatory sentences will work and have proven effective when used:
"LEVITT: Well I think the policies that can work are ones that tie heavy punishments to uses of guns that we don’t like. So for instance, laws that say if you commit a crime and you have a gun with you, regardless of whether the gun was used, then without any sort of other consideration, we add five years, or 10 years, or 20 years, or 50 years to the sentence that you get. Those kinds of laws, I guarantee you, will work. If the incentives are strong and tell you don’t use guns, then I guarantee you we will see the number of gun homicides fall and the number of knife homicides rise, but not one for one. People will substitute away for using guns to kill people to using knives to kill people. But it won’t be one for one because knives just aren’t as good of a tool for killing people as guns are. That will work. I have no doubt that will work. It’s worked in California in the past when California put mandatory sentence enhancements on for felonies that were committed with guns. But I think the policy has to be one of that nature, where you’re not tying it to the gun itself, you’re tying it to the use of guns that you don’t want"

This argument ignores the often discussed Freakonomics topic of decision making. We know that people are terrible at making good decisions about the future, even when they know that something is a good idea. We know they don't put money away for savings and they don't stop committing crimes  even when they already have two strikes

How effective will mandatory sentences be if we already know criminals don't make good decisions?

Budget RobotCar

"RobotCar is working with Nissan to find a way to make the Leaf EV drive itself for way less money than what Google pumps into its self-driving cars. How does it work? Lasers."

A Self-Driving Car System That Costs $150

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Periodic Table of Terrorist Groups

Gun Trusts

"A growing number of shooting enthusiasts are creating legal trusts to acquire machine guns, silencers or other items whose sale is restricted by federal law — a mechanism that bypasses the need to obtain law enforcement approval or even undergo criminal background checks..."