Nerdy Chicago Weather Joke

From Cheap Talk:

Q: How do you prove the existence of Spring in Chicago?

A: By continuity.

In February it was zero Farenheit. Today it is muggy and approaching 90. By continuity, Spring happened somewhere in between. But note that this existence proof is not constructive. It is of no help in telling us exactly when it was that Spring fluttered by. I must have been sleeping at the time.

Are expensive running shoes a waste of money?

A fascinating article in The Daily Mail about running shoes and whether they are worth their money. If you are a runner or even like to walk a lot, it is well worth the read.

My favorite quote:

Dr Craig Richards… revealed there are no evidence-based studies that demonstrate running shoes make you less prone to injury. Not one.

It was an astonishing revelation that had been hidden for over 35 years. Dr Richards was so stunned that a $20 billion industry seemed to be based on nothing but empty promises and wishful thinking that he issued the following challenge: ‘Is any running-shoe company prepared to claim that wearing their distance running shoes will decrease your risk of suffering musculoskeletal running injuries? Is any shoe manufacturer prepared to claim that wearing their running shoes will improve your distance running performance? If you are prepared to make these claims, where is your peer-reviewed data to back it up?’

Dr Richards waited and even tried contacting the major shoe companies for their data. In response, he got silence.

And also,

Runners wearing top-of-the-line trainers are 123 per cent more likely to get injured than runners in cheap ones.

Helmet use in skiing

Given the death of someone in the news while skiing this week, I was able to find numbers on what I have been looking for that justify my suspicion: use of helmets by skiers has increased dramatically recently.

When I first started skiing yearly in 2003, the only people I saw wearing helmets were two of the other three people skiing with me. I was acutely conscious of this and other equipment/fashion trends on the slopes, as I literally had almost no idea how warmly to dress, what good or bad equipment was (save determined by price), etc.

We adopted helmet use for our 2007 trip, and intend to continue it for the foreseeable future. I’ve put a lot of money into making my head smarter, I should protect that investment.

This year, on our trip to Steamboat Mountain, helmets were far more common than I’ve ever seen. The quote below from a CNN article helps justify that sentiment.

Forty-three percent of U.S. skiers and boarders wear helmets, according to a 2008 survey by the National Ski Areas Association, the trade group that represents ski resorts as well as ski gear manufacturers. That’s up from 25 percent in 2003.

Looks like it will be a banner year for the ski helmet manufacturers and distributors.

How to raise Smart Kids

A great study from Scientific American.

My conclusions:

  • Never talk about intelligence as a born-in trait, but rather as something that grew with the child.
  • Tell a child when they do well that they did so because they worked hard, not because they are smart/talented/brilliant.

Interesting quote:

“Those congratulated for their intelligence, for example, shied away from a challenging assignment—they wanted an easy one instead—far more often than the kids applauded for their effort. (Most of those lauded for their hard work wanted the difficult problem set from which they would learn.) When we gave everyone hard problems anyway, those praised for being smart became discouraged, doubting their ability. And their scores, even on an easier problem set we gave them afterward, declined as compared with their previous results on equivalent problems. In contrast, students praised for their effort did not lose confidence when faced with the harder questions, and their performance improved markedly on the easier problems that followed.”

China intercepting the weather

“When next summer’s Olympics roll around, the Beijing Weather Modification Office will be poised to intercept incoming clouds, draining them before they get to the festivities. No fewer than 32,000 people nationwide are employed by the Weather Modification Office — “some of them farmers, who are paid $100 a month to handle anti-aircraft guns and rocket launchers” loaded with cloud-seeding compounds.”

Sourced from Marginal Revolution.

Stripper’s earning potential affected by hormone cycle

A fascinating study took place that followed the earnings of 18 strippers over almost 300 shifts. It shows two things:

  1. Female strippers who are not on the pill and at their most fertile time of the month earned on average $70 per hour, twice the $35 per hour that those strippers not on the pill and at their least fertile time earned.
  2. Female strippers on the pill earned a consistent amount through the month.

Read more details about the study here. Read the actual study here.

(Sorry, no picture for this post…)


You may have been comfortable not knowing this existed, but I’m about to clue you in on a new drug. It’s called Requip, and it can treat Restless Leg Syndrome. That’s right, you read correctly.
Straight from

Do you have trouble falling asleep because of strange sensations in your legs? Do you dread long business meetings, going to the movies, or traveling on an airplane because you know your restless legs won’t let you sit still?

How did I learn of this new medical condition? The way I learn about all new medical conditions these days: a TV commercial telling me that I may have it, then telling me how I might cure it.

The best part of the website is the warning:

Also tell your doctor if you experience new or increased gambling…

Antibacterial Soap

New research concludes that plain soap is as effective as antibacterial soap in the consumer setting.

[W]ashing hands with an antibacterial soap was no more effective in preventing infectious illness than plain soap. Moreover, antibacterial soaps at formulations sold to the public do not remove any more bacteria from the hands during washing than plain soaps.

Anojja, this one’s for you.

Is TV good for Indian Women?

This article from the Economistophile’s Marginal Revolution (emphasis my own). To important to summarize, so I will copy the whole thing.

Cable and satellite television have grown rapidly throughout the developing world. The availability of cable and satellite television exposes viewers to new information about the outside world, which may affect individual attitudes and behaviors. This paper explores the effect of the introduction of cable television on gender attitudes in rural India. Using a three-year individual-level panel dataset, we find that the introduction of cable television is associated with improvements in women’s status. We find significant increases in reported autonomy, decreases in the reported acceptability of beating and decreases in reported son preference. We also find increases in female school enrollment and decreases in fertility (primarily via increased birth spacing). The effects are large, equivalent… to about five years of education in the cross section, and move gender attitudes of individuals in rural areas much closer to those in urban areas. We argue that the results are not driven by pre-existing differential trends. These results have important policy implications, as India and other countries attempt to decrease bias against women.

PubPat overturns Monsanto’s patents

PUBPAT (site down at time of posting), a not-for-profit legal services organization that works to “protect the public from the harms caused by the patent system”, helped overturn four patents owned by Monsanto that had been used to “harass, intimidate, sue – and in some cases literally bankrupt – American farmers”.

The USPTO held that evidence submitted by PUBPAT, in addition to other prior art located by the Patent Office’s Examiners, showed that Monsanto was not entitled to any of the patents.

While Monsanto can appeal the decision, in 2/3 of past cases the overturn holds.

What strikes me is how noble PUBPAT’s cause is. By taking on overbroad patents owned by IP-focused “companies” that turn feral and demand licensing fees from anyone and everyone, they are providing a secondary policing mechanism to the overworked USPTO and providing a huge public good.

Other notable events for PUBPAT include: