November 2009


5. Owning a home is cheaper than renting one because you save on rent.

Most real estate agents will tell you this, but the argument doesn't survive scrutiny. It's true that if you own, you don't have to write a check to a landlord. However, you have to cover all the costs of maintaining the house. It is the same house with the same operating costs, whether you pay them directly or whether you pay rent to cover them. By covering these costs as the owner-occupier, what you spend (including your mortgage payment) comes very close to what you would have spent if you rented your house.

via Joseph Gyourko — 5 myths about homeownership – washingtonpost.com.

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Ancient records suggest that this kind of experiment was carried out from time to time, though the authenticity of these records is unconfirmable. An early record of an experiment of this kind can be found in Herodotus’ Histories. According to Herodotus, after carrying out such an experiment, the Egyptian pharaoh Psamtik I concluded the Phrygian race must predate the Egyptians since the children had first spoken the Phrygian word bekos, meaning “bread.” The children had actually learned the word from the servant who used to feed them.

An alleged experiment carried out by Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the 13th century saw young infants raised without human interaction in an attempt to determine if there was a natural language that they might demonstrate once their voices matured. It is claimed he was seeking to discover what language would have been imparted unto Adam and Eve by God.

via Language deprivation experiments – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Albano met the singer Lauper on a flight, and after starring in her music video, he began taking credit for her success, and putting her down as a “mere woman”, which led to MTV and the WWF uniting in the Rock and Wrestling Connection programmes. The feud began with Lauper managing the female wrestler Wendi Richter in a grudge match against The Fabulous Moolah, managed by Albano. Rowdy Roddy Piper stepped in, which led to Mr T interfering, and eventually to the first Wrestlemania contest, which put Hulk Hogan and the WWF on the mainstream map.

via Lou Albano obituary | World news | The Guardian.

Pietro’s great idea in the scarce postwar years was to create a chocolate-like sweet using cheaper hazelnuts, which were abundant in the countryside around Alba, instead of expensive cocoa. A kilo of so-called “Pasta Gianduja” cost the equivalent of 30 cents in today’s money compared with €1.50 for a kilo of chocolate.

By 1950, he had 200 trucks delivering Gianduja to all of Italy; a few years later the number had quintupled, making it the biggest fleet outside the Italian army.

Michele started in the family business when he was 20 and was leading it by 32. People who know him say he added to his father’s idea of undercutting the fine chocolates market with products that boasted “more milk, less chocolate”. It was a neat marketing trick that kept costs down but also played to an emerging health-consciousness amongst consumers.

Mr Ferrero also brought an innate understanding of how to sell internationally. The company launched in Germany in 1956 with Mon Cheri, cherry liqueur chocolates. Ferrero now employs 21,600 people in 18 factories in Europe, Australia, Latin America and the US. It is the market leader in most of western Europe outside the UK.

But Mr Ferrero’s greatest skill has been knowing what children want. “Never patronise a child,” he is quoted as saying in the 2004 book Nutella, an Italian legend, by Gigi Padovani.

via FT.com / Comment / Analysis – Man in the News: Michele Ferrero.

The EURion constellation first described by Kuhn consists of a pattern of five small yellow, green or orange circles, which is repeated across areas of the banknote at different orientations. The mere presence of five of these circles on a page is sufficient for some colour photocopiers to refuse processing. Andrew Steer later noted simple integer ratios between the squared distances of nearby circles, which gives further clues as to how the pattern is meant to be detected efficiently by image-processing software.

via EURion constellation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Soon, real criminal investigation teams will be using videogame technology to help forensic scientists collaborate virtually to re-create what happened at the scene of the crime.

“The problem is that while there have been major advancements in the field of forensic science technology, how investigative teams come together to collaborate has not changed over the years,” said Dr. Mitzi Montoya, Zelnak Professor of Marketing and Innovation Management at North Carolina State University (NC State).

NC State recently received a $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation's Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) program to help lay a foundation that promotes greater collaboration in the field of forensic science – a platform they call IC-CRIME (interdisciplinary, cyber-enabled crime reconstruction through innovative methodology and engagement).

via Videogames find ways to help real CSI solve crimes | Reuters.

Way back in 1958, the MIT chapter of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity used pledge Oliver R. Smoot to measure the Harvard Bridge in Massachusetts, coining the smoot as a unit of measurement in the process — one smoot equaling 5 feet, 7 inches. Smoot (the man) lay down on the bridge, his position was marked, and he moved on (or was moved on — eventually, he was so tired from the movement that his frat brothers carried him), until the bridge was established as being 364.4 smoots, plus or minus an ear, in length. Appropriately, Smoot would later become chairman of the American National Standards Institute.

via 11 Ways Geeks Measure the World | GeekDad | Wired.com.

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