America’s nukes, ice cream cones, terrifying sea creatures, and a war on witchcraft. There’s a lot to read this week. But first, take a look at our galaxy. It’s a pretty awesome place.
Now, onto the links.
- Turn an Old Computer Into a Do-It-Yourself Home Server with Attached NAS - This step-by-step guide to setting up your own NAS system is interesting. It’s also cheap and something you could do in a few hours from start to finish.
- Watch How Ice Cream Cones Are Made – Ever wondered how food companies make so many perfectly consistent ice cream cones? Watch the entire manufacturing process in 2 minutes and 59 seconds …
- Some of the Food In the 1950′s to 1970′s Looked Disgusting – On the topic of food, I reiterate that we are living at the apex of a great civilization because not only are standards of living far higher and life expectancy much longer, but looking at what our great grandparents ate, half of this isn’t even food. You can practically smell the Aquanet. That salmon and rice loaf … or that Danish garden salad … any of the salads. So much badness in such a bad, bad way.
- Digital Retinas Help Restore Partial Sight to Blind – Some blind people have benefited from a clinical trial in which digital retinas measuring 3mm square were implanted. And I think half of us just heard Jesse Pinkman in our heads …
- Thinking About Science Increases Morality – Researchers at the University of California Santa Barbara found that contemplating science caused people to become more moral. I think it’s probably safe to say that thinking in general probably leads to better conclusions.
- The Selby – See an intimate view of creators, artists, and professionals inside their homes, offices, or other spaces through this pictorial photo blog.
- Mapping College Educations – Here’s a map of the United States by county showing the percentage of residents with a Bachelor’s Degree or higher. It correlates strongly with the map of income and net worth, which should come as no surprise.
- America’s Nuclear Reactors, Resources, and Weapons – Another map, this one detailing the locations of the nukes in the United States.
- Percentage of Gross Income Generated By Dividends By State – The map is a couple of tax years old, but this is amazing. It shows the percentage of the typical state’s tax filer gross income that was generated by qualified dividends. My home state, Missouri, is in the top 10. I’m going to guess the eye-popping number from Arkansas is almost all Wal-Mart Stories, Inc., which has made a lot of families multi, multi, multi-millionaires. I can’t prove that, though, I’d need to do more research. It’s possible there is just a cultural difference. And Wyoming? You all love your dividends more than any other state in the Union! And guess who is on the bottom? I make fun of the state too much as it is already so I won’t tell you.
- When 50% of Police Offers Were Required to Wear Cameras, Complaints Against the Department Dropped 88% – Some police departments across the country are requiring officers to wear miniature recording devices that show their interaction with the public. The story and research are fascinating.
- Find the Perfect Credit Card – I’m not a fan of credit cards in general but this site will let you search for the programs with the highest incentives for your situation (e.g., cash back, low interest rates, airline miles, etc.) They also post a regularly updated national composite credit card rate chart, which I find useful given my banking investments. The average for a “Low Interest” card at the moment is 10.46%, while the average for an instant approval card is 28.00%. You can sort the offers by your credit score, too, if you want those that apply to your situation.
- Census Bureau Statistics – Here is a useful reference for those of you who do calculations. You can drill down to the individual city level using the online data set, or even further, if you download the source data.
- The Bobbit Worm – A nightmarish creature straight out of a video game. Only it’s real. Very, very real.
- Advertising Age – A trade resource for those interested in marketing and keeping up with what is going on with the ad budgets of major corporations.
- Young Adults Have Same Amount of Nookie As Their Parents Did 25 Years Ago - Who’d have thought biology is, you know, fairly consistent and hardwired? Young men and women aged 18-25 who are sexually active have the exact same amount of woo-hoo their parents did a quarter-of-a-century ago. The only difference: Back then, there was pressure to marry the person with whom you were sleeping so people were much less likely to have one-time things with someone at a party. Story contains links to other research from Duke University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln that shows the percentage of virgins in the college population is on the rise. The inner economist in me thinks that, like rape statistics, the decrease in the total number of people engaging in sexy times is probably tied to the easy availability of pornographic materials (in that case, the research is still tentative as correlation is not causation. There definitely appears to be a pattern worth investigating. If true, it would tell us something we should already know: Humans are lazy.)
- Why Would Furniture Manufacturers Permit This? – There is a company called Cymax that I came across when browsing the VigLink merchant roster. It has managed to grow its annual sales to $90 million per year by selling furniture online at steep discounts, and often with free shipping. From dining room tables to television consoles, office desks to living room sofas, they probably carry it. They even have a commercial grade office division for small businesses and corporations. Given the freight, inability to see the product in person, logistics, capital investment, affiliate commissions, and other issues, the whole thing just seems too hard, yet they keep selling more, year after year, if the reports are to be believed. Furniture is one of those businesses that lends itself to a local dealer but, it would seem, I overestimated that moat. Apparently, people are willing to buy furniture sight unseen from thousands of miles away. It looks like Cymax is trying to become the online equivalent to furniture what Costco is to giant boxes of oatmeal, relying on much smaller margins but very high volume. I just don’t see how it is sustainable – they are selling $3,474 office chairs for $1,158 and by allowing them to do this without a physical presence, I think the manufacturers are causing themselves a lot of trouble down the line with their existing dealers and own distribution chains. I could be wrong. At the very least, it’s all great for the consumer in the meantime. Their prices look comparable to Nebraska Furniture Mart without the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder discount. This is going into my case study file. I need to understand whether there is something I’m missing or the furniture makers are acting irrationally.
- Saudi Arabia’s War on Witchcraft – God help us all. This is actually happening.
- The 30 Second MBA – Free, short videos featuring tips and answers from some of the world’s most successful executives and managers.