Friday, September 25, 2015
1. Someone I took to be a tourist approached me recently. She was, in fact, a news reporter. (Her videotaping equipment all fit into what looked like a purse.) I ended up on a local news segment about a new roundabout in my neighborhood. The segment used my remarks about my initial misgivings and the scarcity of roundabouts in the United States. Still, I didn't actually know why roundabouts suffered from a poor reputation and so have been rare here. But I do, now:
While these early traffic circles added aesthetic value to crowded cities, they were incredibly dangerous and impractical -- mainly for one reason: entering traffic had the right of way, while circulating traffic had to yield. This "offside priority" rule led to high-speed merging and over-congestion which, in turn, increased the frequency of collisions. Some 40 years after being integrated, traffic circles had earned a negative reputation and largely fell out of favor -- not just in the U.S., but internationally. Then, as quickly as they'd been written off, they made a comeback. [link dropped]We can thank a British traffic engineer for changing the yield priority, immediately transforming the traffic circle into a safe and useful way to control traffic flow at intersections.
2. Believe it or not, there is a calculator on the market for over four times the price of a tablet:
Casio released a calculator and Amazon released a tablet within 24 hours of each other this week. That alone is unremarkable. One costs $220, the other costs $50. That, too, wouldn't raise many eyebrows, until you realize which is which.To make sense of this, read the rest of the story.
3. I've mentioned moral panics about such games as Dungeons and Dragons in the past. But I bet you didn't know about the similar "moral panic over ... chess."
4. A scene in a television show I was watching with my kids caused me to search a question I figured I already knew the answer for. I still found the answer interesting: You cannot get a "moon tan" since it would take three centuries of continuous exposure to receive the same amount of ultraviolet light a sun tan would require.