Sunday, May 04, 2014

Things I learned lately - 4 May

  • The US accounts for only 5% of the world's population, yet holds 25% of the world's prisoners.
  • Startup OnDot will add another level of security to your credit cards. The app on your phone can be used to limit purchases; temporarily disable the card; restrict where the card can be used or what types of purchases; get notification when a transaction is performed; view card history; hand the card off to a family member with or without restrictions.
  • Nissan is testing cars painted with super-hydrophobic and oleophobic paint to repel oils and water. This would result in a car that practically never needs (its exterior) to be cleaned.
  • If sea levels rise a mere 0.5 metre by 2070 (now a likely scenario), Bangkok Thailand could have 5.5 million people and $1.1 trillion in assets at risk.
  • If sea levels rise 0.5 metres by 2070, Miami could have 4.8 million people and $3.5 trillion in assets at risk.
  • The FCC will propose new open Internet rules that will allow content companies to pay Internet service providers "for special access to consumers." Under the new rules, ISPs may not block or discriminate against specific websites, but they can charge sites or services for preferential traffic treatment if the ISPs' discrimination is "commercially reasonable." Bye-bye Net Neutrality, and the internet as we know it.
  • A forthcoming paper from Princeton analyzed 1,779 policies over 20+ years. It concludes that policy makers respond exclusively to the needs of people in the 90th wealth percentile to the exclusion of every one else. Mass-scale intervention from citizens' groups barely registers, while the desires of the richest ten percent of America dictate the entire policy landscape.
  • In 2004, UPS announced that the best way to get anywhere was to avoid left-hand turns. UPS engineers found that left-hand turns were a drag on efficiency because of long waits in turn lanes that wasted time and fuel, and accidents. They map out routes that involve a right-hand loops.
  • In Norway, people are pretty relaxed about nudity, and both men and women will for example change on public beaches without any attempt at covering themselves up. You are however expected to look away.
  • People are very informal in Norway and being on a first-name-basis with anyone short of the King is the norm. Even the prime-minister of Norway is most often referred to by first name.
  • Tipping is not part of Japanese culture. Don't bother. People will chase after you thinking you left your money behind.
  • There aren't many vegan options in France.
  • Last call in Montreal is now 5:30am.

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