Round Earth Theory of Evolution

I read this article http://theweek.com/articles/444891/should-stop-believing-evolution and noticed the arguments it makes are pretty weak.  It compares belief in evolution to belief in the color blue.  I’d say evolution is more like special relativity.  It’s non-intuitive and not obvious, but with enough effort it can probably be understood, analyzed, measured, observed. Continue reading

Car Headlights

I shopped for a replacement headlight for the Insight.  Based on the claims of brightness made on the packaging (see below), the XtraVision seemed best because it’s brighter without sacrificing the warm color temperature of the basic halogen bulb.  Yellower light is less annoying to oncoming drivers and improves sharpness and color rendering.  There’s a reason shooters and racers wear amber lenses.  “Selective yellow” is what it’s called.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_yellow

I inspected the bulb filaments to see the difference, which led me to check the rated life of each.  The standard bulb lasts 7 times as long as the XtraVision.

Allowing $40 of labor for purchasing, storing, and replacing 2 bulbs, the XtraVision costs $70 for 160 hours = 44 cents per hour = 0.7 cents per mile driven in the dark.  The standard bulb effectively costs around 1/7th as much.  0.7 cents per mile just for the headlights is unacceptable given I try to keep the car’s maintenance costs below 10 cents a mile.  The tires, oil, and brakes should be the main expenses aside from eventual engine overhaul.  So, we’re going with standard bulbs until someone makes LED replacements that use warm white 2700K or 85+ CRI chips.

The spec sheet shows that all the bulbs have the same light output, which is probably why they have to put “Up To” next to each of the brightness claims.  The more expensive bulbs are just a way to scam customers who want to pay more for a bulb that needs to be replaced far more often.

Sylvania 9003Sylvania 9003 marketing

 

Scamming with the Phrase "Peer-to-Peer"

These days, we see the term “peer-to-peer” describing all sorts of new businesses.  There’s P2P lending, where people bypass banks and lend money to each other.  P2P carsharing, P2P livery service, P2P lodging. Real estate agents should advertise as facilitating P2P house trading.  When people buy or sell houses, they’re almost always transacting with other customers, not businesses or professionals, so it seems totally P2P to me.

I ask, “What qualifies as peer-to-peer?” because I see CurrencyFair and TransferWise using the term to imply that you can exchange money directly with another customer instead of going through a bank.  The thing is, that’s not at all how it works at CurrencyFair despite their early marketing materials depicting customers transacting with other customers.  CurrencyFair have come clean and admitted how it really works in the fine print on their site, but they continue to use the term “peer-to-peer”.  I’m pretty sure TransferWise also doesn’t match customer orders only with customer orders and I’m about to begin investigating to check if they’re profiting off of imbalances in customer order flow, but my speculation as to what they might be doing is for another post.

Consider a used car dealership.  Used car dealers could argue that they’re a peer-to-peer business.  As if they’re just providing a service of matching buyers with sellers.  But I’d say that they’re not P2P because the buyer doesn’t know what price the seller received.  Neither the buyer nor seller can tell the true cost of the transaction.  The dealer’s profit comes from holding inventory and offering different prices to buyers and sellers.  With real estate, on the other hand, buyers are truly matched with sellers while the brokers take a 6% commission with all the compensation out in the open for all to see.

CurrencyFair operates a platform on which parties (not just customers, as we will see) can exchange currencies and pay 0.15% in commission.  However, because it’s unlikely that customer orders come in equal and opposite quantities at the same time, CurrencyFair operates its own currency dealing business that will always offer to trade at 0.5% worse than the going rate for currency.  So most customers actually trade with “the house” and pay on the order of 0.5%.  I asked CurrencyFair if I can become a participant dealer and improve pricing by offering money at 0.4% worse than the going rate at all times, but they wouldn’t let me.  They don’t even offer the ability to place an order pegged to the mid-market rate to trade with any customer that comes along.  Because exchange rates move so fast, it’s unlikely that two customers will trade with each other unless they’re allowed to enter orders that track mid-market.  If I place an order at mid-market, the market will move and CurrencyFair’s dealer will trade with my now stale bad price before a customer gets to benefit from it.  That’s about as peer-to-peer as a car dealership where a seller just might happen to run into a buyer in the parking lot and negotiate a direct deal.

Is there legal precedent for such a business?  Stock exchanges used to be owned by their members.  The New York Stock Exchange was a venue for brokers and dealers to trade with each other and would charge a commission for each trade.  But because customer orders to buy and sell stock (brought to the exchange by brokers) don’t come in equal and opposite quantities at the same time, the dealers (who owned the exchange) would trade with the orders at slightly unfavorable prices.  That’s a lot like how CurrencyFair takes a 0.15% commission for each transaction and at the same time the people who own CurrencyFair always get to trade at prices in their favor.  The difference is that the way the NYSE worked was fairly widely known.  Customers didn’t like overpaying for transactions, but knew that feeding the dealers was just part of doing business.  It didn’t feel as much like a deceptive scam.

I can summarize it like this:

  •  Car dealers don’t tell you black book prices.  Yeah, you’ve never even heard of it, right?!
  • CurrencyFair doesn’t tell you the fair price for your transaction, which would let you see how much you’re losing.
  • TransferWise shows you a fair price, but probably not the fair price at the time they decide that your transfer will definitely be executed.

Antimatter Refrigerant

This site makes the following claims:

“The Secrets in the Glaciercore… Non-Toxic patented refrigerant, is actually colder than Ice! Ice gives up coldness when it melts at 36°, and at the same time thinning down your drink. Who wants a watered down Beer or Soda Pop, NOT ME! The Glaciercore cools to 34°, with no watering down…”

And even better, this page says:

“Made with over 1 pound of super freezing patented solution (made from all FDA food approved components) the Glaciercore actually gets colder than your freezer when it’s thickening the smoothie, by crystallizing the natural ingredients in the beverage.”

The part about ice freezing at 36° could be true at certain altitudes. But the claim that this refrigerant gets “colder than your freezer” really caught my attention. And to claim that it does so by crystallizing the beverage made me wonder whether crystallization might absorb heat, actually somehow cooling the refrigerant. It turns out that Glacierware haven’t invented a magical antimatter refrigerant.

First of all, something that’s patented is no longer secret. Also, their patent has expired, so it’s not patent protected. It merely was patented a long time ago. US Patent 3791159 was filed in 1971 and reveals that they just have a propylene glycol or urea solution as a version of ice that freezes and melts at a lower temperature.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Corporations Listing gave information on how to contact the company owners, as did their domain name registration. I tried writing Timothy an email explaining the false claims on his site, but he didn’t respond. So now I’m posting this because I think it’s amusing.

Here’s the interesting part from my note to Timothy:

The patent explains that the secret to the Glaciercore is a solution that freezes below the freezing point of water, but above the temperature of a freezer. Can you explain how the Glaciercore “gets colder than your freezer”, or correct the website to say that the “Glaciercore stays colder than ice as it thickens your smoothie by crystallizing the natural ingredients in the beverage” Note that I removed the comma to indicate that it “thickens the smoothie by crystallizing the beverage” as opposed to it “gets colder by crystallizing the beverage”