Basement Shark!

Basement shark 450x604 Basement Shark!

Go to a museum or Basement Shark will kill you when you least expect it! Actually, you’ll probably be using the toilet, sharks … sharks breathe water. Which you will learn at a God damn museum.

From The Amazing, Unstaged World Hiding Behind a Museum’s Closed Doors.

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Build a computer… with Magic cards

2323057954 5be34291ed 450x337 Build a computer... with Magic cards

Every time you tap a land, you have to drink. No, really, this shit is educational. (img by Tom Longfield)

In case you didn’t know, you can totally justify playing shitloads Minecraft, because it’s educational and has more to do with building virtual computers than sculpting giant naughty things for your own amusement.

But let’s say your evil mom takes your computer away from you because she thinks you should go outside at least once in a while and maybe even interact with other humans irl. So she breaks her foot booting your tubby ass out the front door. What can you do?

You can take up Magic: The Gathering and spend a bunch of money collecting the most awesome and up-to-date cards! And when mom yells at you about how you’re just spending all your time sitting around with friends drinking sodas and fighting about rules (pretty much just like before), you can tell her that Magic is educational: you’re working on building a Turing machine with the cards, and this type of shit will bootstrap you into the next income bracket and you won’t even need to go to college.

Pro-tip: pour enough Turing on anything, and you’ve got yourself some education.

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Learn more. Owe less.

7196945640 0faab67519 450x337 Learn more. Owe less.

So, uh… educate yourself. And don’t go into debt. (img by hardtopeel)

College is seeming more and more like a racket, and people are finding out too late to do much more than letter up some cardboard signs, march around the neighborhood beating on cookware, or post on tumblr about how the system did them wrong.

On the one hand, I don’t blame them. They didn’t know what they were getting into when they borrowed a couple of hundred thousand dollars to get a degree. They believed viewbooks and college marketing, which said that people with degrees are guaranteed to make good money fresh out of school.

Circumstances have changed. College education costs have more than doubled in the last 15 years, and people with degrees are worth less than ever due to the collapsed job market and to degree inflation.

What can you do about it? (more…)

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Deaths per gigawatt year

Deaths per gigawatt year Deaths per gigawatt year

Hydroelectricity is the best of all according to the EU study, but comes out worst in the PSI study, because the latter surveyed a different set of countries.

When quantifying the public risks of different power sources, we need a new unit. I’ll go with “deaths per GWy (gigawatt-year).” Let me try to convey what it would mean if a power source had a death rate of 1 death per GWy.

One gigawatt-year is the energy produced by a 1 GW power station, if it operates flat-out for one year. Britain’s electricity consumption is roughly 45 GW, or, if you like, 45 gigawatt-years per year. So if we got our electricity from sources with a death rate of 1 death per GWy, that would mean the British electricity supply system was killing 45 people per year.

For comparison, 3000 people die per year on Britain’s roads. So, if you are not campaigning for the abolition of roads, you may deduce that “1 death per GWy” is a death rate that, while sad, you might be content to live with. Obviously, 0.1 deaths per GWy would be preferable, but it takes only a moment’s reflection to realize that, sadly, fossil-fuel energy production must have a cost greater than 0.1 deaths per GWy–just think of disasters on oil rigs; helicopters lost at sea; pipeline fires; refinery explosions; and coal mine accidents: there are tens of fossil-chain fatalities per year in Britain.

Nuclear power has the lowest rate of fatalities of all power sources. Not that surprised, really.

I’ve just started in on this, I don’t know if it’s any good, I haven’t picked up on its bias so far yet, and the website design is horrible, but it comes pretty highly-recommended: Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air by David MacKay ($free).

Plus MacKay invented the death-per-gigawatt-year unit, and anyone who does stuff like that automatically wins points with me.

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Head injury is a (non-viable) path to genius

4151557135 dd1d0012be 450x300 Head injury is a (non viable) path to genius

I am a genius of toast! (img by KayVee.INC)

It’s the same old story… dude gets kicked in the head and becomes a genius and everyone is amazed because we wish we could be instant geniuses, too. But you don’t really want to be Rain Man. You (probably) want to have your current level of consciousness and physical health PLUS the amazing ability to play music or do math or whatever. But that’s rarely what happens. You don’t read too many news stories about dudes who get kicked in the head and spend the rest of their lives drooling on themselves and eating through a tube.

So instead of going out picking fights and gambling on becoming an insta-genius, you’re going to have to become awesome the hard way: by staying focused, finding something awesome to do, and working hard at it. Try lots of things… you never know what you’re going to be good at.

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Live more during election season: read less bullshit

gaffe 450x267 Live more during election season: read less bullshit

This is only a fraction of the bullshit in my feed reader.

If you’re anything like me (an intrepid and unexpectedly pretty Die < Less writer) or like anyone else with broad interests and a proclivity for RSS feed collection, you spend too much time sorting through bullshit. At first, you read all the stories because they might be relevant or funny or something. Then you start jumping right over anything with a candidate’s name in the headline unless it’s also got “Jon Stewart” or “Stephen Colbert” in the headline, then you stop bothering with that.

Next thing you know, you’re wearing a balaclava (that’s tactical for “ski mask”) and sturdy black clothing and breaking shit in the name of change.

Nobody wants that. And so the socially conscious scientists over at have compiled a short list of quick rules to help you sort your news. In brief, an article’s bullshit quotient is too high for you even consider clicking through and reading if:

The Headline Contains the Word “Gaffe”
The Headline Ends in a Question Mark
The Headline Contains the Word “Blasts”
The Headline Is About a “Lawmaker” Saying Something Stupid
The Headline Includes the Phrase “Blow To”

This will save you tons of newshounding time. Instead of reading overhyped bullshit about stuff that probably doesn’t matter, you can spend time playing outside or tinkering with an incomprehensible piece of machinery or getting the hell out of your chair.

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