Sunday, August 31, 2014

Things I learned lately - 31 Aug

  • The roots of the 7-day week can be traced back about 4,000 years, to Babylon. The Babylonians believed there were 7 planets in the solar system, and the number 7 held such power to them that they planned their days around it. Their 7-day, planetary week spread to Egypt, Greece, and eventually to Rome. The Jewish people had their own version of a 7-day week.
  • By the late 19th century, workers were still working every day except Sunday. Some Britons used the week's seventh day for merriment rather than for the rest prescribed by scripture. They would drink, gamble, and enjoy themselves so much that the phenomenon of 'Saint Monday' emerged, where workers would skip work to recover from Sunday's fun. English factory owners later compromised with workers by giving them half of Saturday off in exchange for a promise to show up for work on Monday. In 1908, a New England mill became the first American factory to institute the 5-day week. It did so to accommodate Jewish workers, whose observance of a Saturday sabbath forced them to make up their work on Sundays, offending some in the Christian majority. The mill granted these Jewish workers a 2-day weekend, and other factories followed. The Great Depression cemented the 2-day weekend into the economy, since shorter hours were considered a remedy to underemployment.
  • A Startup named Cruise is creating a way to turn any vehicle into a self-driving car for $10,000. The Cruise RP-1 takes a few hours to install. It will eventually work on any car, but for now only works on select Audi cars. The goal is to create a suite of products that will eventually turn any car into a driverless vehicle. It can navigate stop-and-go traffic. It keeps the car in the center of the lane without touching the steering wheel. It is not able to weave in and out of lanes yet.
  • McDonald’s is quietly testing an order ahead and mobile payment app at a handful of its US restaurants. Called “McD Ordering,” the app links to a credit or debit card. You arrive and scan a QR code on display at the restaurant (counter or drive-thru). The app displays your order number and then once your order is ready, you pick it up without waiting in line.
  • In the US, the cost of a hip replacement is $40,364. For the same money, you could fly to Spain, get your hip replaced ($7,371), live in Madrid for 2 years, learn Spanish, run with the bulls, get trampled, injure your hip, get another hip replaced and still have money left over.
  • If our sun was a speck of dust, the Milky Way would be about the size of the US.
  • Can you smell all of those various hydrocarbons, aldehydes, pyridine and pyrazine? Yes? That's bacon cooking.
  • Folks tried to ban coffee 5 times over the course of recorded history. 1511 Mecca; 16th century Italy; 1623 Constantinople; 1746 Sweden; and 1777 Prussia.
  • There's a woman who is divorcing her husband because he doesn't like the movie Frozen.
  • Lead is the heaviest non-radioactive element.
  • A new restaurant will be opening in Montreal named Bar Brutus. Its menu will feature nothing but items containing bacon.
  • Russia has 15,500 tanks. That's more than any other country.

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