Monday, July 21, 2008

Raman Noodles

I was just at the dentist this morning for my six-month cleaning, and while I confess I have never had the pleasure of experiencing a drill, this seems like a cool idea, although my initial thought upon reading the headline was that the laser would do the "drilling." Not so:
Tooth Lasers Could Make Drilling a Thing of the Past

UK researchers have developed a technology that spots tooth decay before it begins using a technology based on Raman spectroscopy—a method that is currently used to identify chemicals. A new study has determined that harmful bacteria can be detected by analyzing how light is scattered when a laser is fired at the tooth.
"No, Mr. Bond, I want to you rinse!"

This New Thing Called E-Commerce

Says the New York Times:
To Save Gas, Shoppers Stay Home and Click

To go shopping these days, more Americans are trading in their car keys for a keyboard.

Online shopping is gaining at a time when simply filling up a gas tank to head to the mall can seem like a spending spree.
First of all, just about every story about retail shopping trends over the past decade has pretty much used the headline "[Insert reason du jour here], Shoppers Stay Home and Click." That is, e-commerce has been growing steadily anyway for the past 10 years, and high gas prices are just one of many factors contributing to that growth. It's not like e-commerce was on a downward trend. Personally, I hate shopping, and I can never find the things I want in proper stores, so I prefer buying stuff online. In terms of gas, I calculated what it costs to get from my house to the Strip Mall Hell at Exit 15 and it is about $4.50, or what the average shipping cost of something is. So that's a wash, as far as I'm concerned, but I am aware that many people live some distance from shopping. It's entirely possible that shipping costs may rise since UPS and USPS vehicles use, well, gas.

However, the one drawback to e-commerce is that while chains do not lose business, individual shops do, which means layoffs and branch closings, and fewer jobs in a given area, furthering the economic pressures. After all, one of the reasons why these price hikes are so bad is that people's pay has not increased accordingly.

It's funny, though, how in all the discussions of the increasing costs of everything, everyone stresses saving and that the very thought of suggesting that employers pay people more is verboten. Funny, that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Picture This

Barry Ritholtz, author of one of the blogs I read at least daily, the Big Picture, has looked at the state of the economy today, and is mad as hell and can't take it anymore:
The collection of ne'er do wells, clueless dolts, political hacks, and oh, let's just be blunt and call them what they are -- total Idiots -- expands into an ever larger circle.

While the Republic burns due to the unsavory combination of incompetence, ideological rigidity, and crony capitalism, the fools and assclowns seem ever more determined to avoid any personal responsibility for the damages they have wrought. Instead, they flail about blindly, blaming everything and everyone -- except their own horrific negligence.

This is financial incompetence writ on a scale far grander than anything seen for centuries.

As a nation, our institutions have failed us: Under Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve slept through the most reckless and irresponsible expansion of bank lending in history for reasons of ideological purity. His opposition to the Fed’s regulatory role reached the point of malfeasance long ago. History is unlikely to be kind to the Maestro.
Go read the rest, and then pick someone you'd like to hit.

Christmas is Coming...

Via Gizmodo, for sale: the typewriter Douglas Adams used to write The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It is signed and comes with a first edition of Hitchhiker's. Well, for $25,000 it had better come with a first edition book, as well as an Infinite Improbability Drive. Or at the very least a few Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters.

With Six Errors You Get Eggroll

Ah, the perils of automatic transliteration: via Boing Boing, a Chinese Restaurant whose owner had a wee bit of a problem with his translation software:
Be sure to try #404, the File Not Found Chicken.

Heartwarming Gifts

Well, Grandma never knitted like this: woolen organs.

"What did you pick up at the craft fair--Oh my god!!"
I wonder if they can be worn for warmth.