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March 06, 2012

Five Fun Facts About Pirates...And Other Random Links

Some may disappoint you:

No Buried Treasure. Extensive research by University of Pittsburgh Professor Marcus Rediker has debunked this common belief. Pirates rarely buried their treasure, partly because they didn't see the point of saving or hiding their riches, but mostly because the type of loot they took on -- usually food, trading goods, clothes, etc. -- was either perishable or served absolutely no purpose buried in a treasure chest.

For the most part, pirates actually traded their stolen goods in the New World. In fact, this trade infusion may have greatly boosted the local economies of large seaports and struggling settlements in the Americas.

Finally an invention we can all get behind:

Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada have built a gun they call the 'Speech Jammer', which could be ideal for an unruly classroom or noisy library.

It forces individuals into 'vocal submission', they say, and is accurate when fired from up to 30 metres away.

...A preliminary study has found that it worked best when used on someone reading a pre-prepared speech rather than more spontaneous chat, meaning it would be perfect to quieten your least favourite politician.

I dunno. I suspect my long suffering spouse would pay real money for such a gadget.

The trials and tribulations of DSK's lawyer.


... even though the BMI scale applies to men and women equally, the two sexes tend to measure themselves on highly different parameters – a tendency which has been demonstrated in similar overseas studies.

One of the novel approaches in this study, however, was that Christensen also asked the participants to estimate their partner’s weight.

Here the survey showed that whereas the women tend to underestimate their men’s weight levels only slightly, the men showed a clear tendency to overestimate their women’s weight when the women were either underweight or normal weight.

On average, it only took a BMI score of 22.59 for the men to start assessing their partner as overweight, even though it takes a BMI score of 25 or more to be considered overweight.

“This shows us that it’s not only us women who have unrealistic perceptions of our weight, but that the perceptions tend to transfer between the sexes, leaving both sexes with this perception,” says the researcher, who is a little surprised at this finding.

”When men start to perceive women as overweight even before they are, it goes against the general idea that men like women with shapely figures.”

Adam Smith:

...The vices of levity are always ruinous to the common people, and a single week’s thoughtlessness and dissipation is often sufficient to undo a poor workman for ever, and to drive him through despair upon committing the most enormous crimes. The wiser and better sort of the common people, therefore, have always the utmost abhorrence and detestation of such excesses, which their experience tells them are so immediately fatal to people of their condition. The disorder and extravagance of several years, on the contrary, will not always ruin a man of fashion, and people of that rank are very apt to consider the power of indulging in some degree of excess as one of the advantages of their fortune, and the liberty of doing so without censure or reproach as one of the privileges which belong to their station. In people of their own station, therefore, they regard such excesses with but a small degree of disapprobation, and censure them either very slightly or not at all.

Beautiful, beautiful, and most beautiful:

Food for thought:

Even the simplest item became a desperate bargaining scrum, with both sides scouring the other for weaknesses and gleefully “sticking it to them” whenever possible. If you approached a NY transaction with the attitude of a midwesterner, you were going to get screwed, because they were going to walk all over you and push for favorable terms and lord over you their advantages while you would be loathe to use the same tactics in return. Soon even the dimmest types have to take on #1 attitudes, and then regular update meetings are just taking turns throwing the other guy “under the bus” and scheming to leverage the fine print. A real joy.

The difficulty with #1 behavior is that it “negates” itself when confronted by both parties using this set of tactics. Now you get back to equilibrium, but the entire transaction and work effort is bitter and poisoned. As far as future work, you just “roll forward” your grievances into the NEXT transaction and find ever more creative ways to win with #1 tactics in the future, as both sides escalate.

The total of #1 behavior on both sides over time isn’t better than “golden rule” or Midwest behavior – you get back to the same equilibrium either way – and in the Midwest model of reasonable assumptions and giving the other guy a break and not living by the “letter” of the law, the entire process isn’t poisoned and miserable all along.

Recently I read that lenders were paying homeowners not to “trash” their houses during short sales; the lenders would give an amount of money sometimes in the tens of thousands to current residents (don’t want to call them “homeowners”, because they obviously own nothing it is a short sale) to keep the homes tidy and work with prospective buyers as they tour the home. In this instance the current resident isn’t even paying their mortgage, and yet the bank is paying them MORE to not trash the home, to boot. This is an example of “the Dick economy” where we have to assume negative, single-transaction behavior on the type of actors.

A similar example is a horror story of someone in Chicago I know who rented to a prosperous engineer who promptly failed to pay any rent at all and then due to the slow process of eviction was able to live rent free for six months. The time would have been far longer except that the home owner had a contact with the sheriffs department that allowed the process to get expedited. It is interesting to speculate that the type of moral indifference that lets people strategically default on loans wouldn’t come up in more forums; after all, if you don’t pay your mortgage and live free in your house for years, why wouldn’t you play that same trick on the stupid landlord who lets you come into the building?

New York, on the other hand, has this figured out. Want to rent in New York City? You need to have your income verified and have a co-signer. If you can’t pay, they go after whomever co-signed. And you can believe that they are going to do this. New York expects #1 behavior among all players, and the game is played that way.

It will be interesting to see if “walk away” behavior infects more of the Midwest and we all end up like NYC. If people start to walk away from mortgages and then push the rental situation to the same place, you can bet that soon a co-signer or many months of pre-payment will become the norm here.

Possibly related:

Trust is a fundamental prerequisite for the welfare state. If we didn’t trust one another, the whole model that the Scandinavian societies are built around would collapse even before it was implemented.

So says Christian Bjørnskov, an associate professor at Aarhus University’s Department of Economics and Business.

This argument turns the welfare debate on its head as the common conception has been that the high levels of trust in Scandinavian countries are generated by the welfare state.

“Our research indicates the exact opposite,” says Bjørnson. “We’ve always had a great trust in other people in Scandinavia, and this trust is the cornerstone of our welfare state.”

Another mystery solved! I'm guessing this is where Sandra Fluke gets her prescriptions filled.

*rim shot*

Welcome, Michelle Malkin readers!

Posted by Cassandra at March 6, 2012 06:12 AM

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I have wondered how that worked upon reading about it a few days ago. But its applications - well, it's like hearing about the telephone for the first time.

On the buried treasure I went to a birthday party for a 7 years old with the theme of pirates and buried treasure.

The party was along the coast - in a beautiful cabin overlooking the ocean.

At the time we pirates took the treasure - each in a little plastic treasure chest - buried it 6" or so in the sand.

And then we stuck a little stick in the sand to help the tykes find their treasure.

This news - that there really was no buried treasure - is most distressing - and I will withhold it from the children ;-)

Posted by: Bill Brandt at March 6, 2012 08:44 AM

”When men start to perceive women as overweight even before they are, it goes against the general idea that men like women with shapely figures.”
- sociologist Vibeke Tornhøj Christensen

Oh BS, BS, and MORE BS!!! It says NOTHING of the damn sort. It says that they overestimate how much their spouse weighs. "Sociologist" Christensen can take her projecting nonsense and shove it up her output pipe.

I, for one, am TERRIBLE at guessing people's weight, male or female. That DOESN'T mean that "I think my wife is fatter than she is," NOR does it mean "men ACTUALLY prefer women built like sticks". To say "men prefer" ANYTHING is tripe (and sexist tripe at that) just as it would be to say "women prefer" as if they shared some form of hive mind. I prefer a woman to have curves. I also prefer redheads generally. If you held a gun to my head and asked me to name the celebrity closest to my "ideal", I'd probably go with Christina Hendricks. But apparently, according to "sociologist Vibeke Tornhøj Christensen", I'm wrong, and don't prefer that at all...




Posted by: MikeD at March 6, 2012 10:49 AM

And while I'm in a ranty mood. If you don't like how high prices for concessions are in movie theaters... DON'T FREAKING STUFF YOUR FACE WHILE WATCHING A MOVIE!!! The rare times I go to a movie, it follows a nice lunch or dinner out. Not hungry = zero concessions. Yes, I realize that movie theaters are able to stay open only because of concessions sales (the ticket prices only pay for the films, not anything else). I just don't feel an obligation to shell out $8 for crappy popcorn.

And anyone who can't last two FREAKING hours without eating probably needs medical help.

Posted by: MikeD at March 6, 2012 10:57 AM


No one asked anyone to guess someone else's weight.

They were asked to say whether their partner was normal, underweight, or overweight:

They were asked to place themselves into one of the following weight categories: underweight, normal, slightly overweight, obese or severely obese.

You don't need to know anyone's precise weight to say whether or not you think they are overweight.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 6, 2012 10:57 AM


...or your SO will call you a big old tub o' lard :p

/backing away sloooooooooooowly before Mike kills me

Posted by: Cassandra at March 6, 2012 10:59 AM

/backing away sloooooooooooowly before Mike kills me

If I do, it will only be with kindness, dear lady.

You don't need to know anyone's precise weight to say whether or not you think they are overweight.

Ok, but how does that misjudgement of "underweight, normal, slightly overweight, obese or severely obese" magically determine their preferences? At various points in our marriage, I would judge that my wife has been underweight, normal, and slightly overweight. Her judgement would be different (and higher in each category). By the same token, I believe, by BMI, that Christina Hendricks is currently either slightly overweight or obese (what the hell happened to normal everyday overweight). Now, given that I've previously described her as the nearest celebrity analogue to "ideal", what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? BMI is a screwed up standard. But it is a standard nonetheless.

Throughout my Army career, I was overweight. Not occasionally, not even most of the time. ALL of the time (save one occasion where my 5'4" squad leader measured my height as 6'2"). Why? Because according to the Army's height/weight chart, a man between 17-20 years old who is 5'10" should weigh no more than 180 lbs.* Fresh out of Basic with extremely little body fat left on my frame (best guess I'd say 8-10%), I was 185. So, I was overweight. Now, I realize that the height weight charts the Army used in 1992-1997 (dunno how much past that) were drawn up in 1912, but be that as it may. Because according to BMI calculators on the web, if you put in the data for a male aged 20 at 5'10" with a weight of 185, you get... "Overweight". Oh yeah, and only for one month in all five years was I "overfat" and that by less than 1%, but I was always "overweight".

But the relevance or accuracy of the stupid "one size fits all" index is really immaterial. If you ask me what the BMI of the closest celebrity analogue for perfection that I have is, my guess is overweight or obese. Does that mean I think she's fat? NO. It means that I think that's what BMI says she is. Does that mean I don't find her (or her bodystyle) attractive? Seriously? I mean, what part of "ideal" is "undesireable"?

* Full disclosure, by the time I reached 21 in the Army, I was 195 or more, and the 21-27 age group only bought you 5 more pounds. So I was still overweight. Oh, and I also found this (http://usmilitary.about.com/od/army/l/blmaleweight.htm) so apparently, they're still on the 1912 standards.

Posted by: MikeD at March 6, 2012 11:45 AM

Kazutaka Kurihara and Koji Tsukada have built a gun they call the 'Speech Jammer',....

My first thought when I read the Mail article was about the wondrous new tool with which governments can suppress dissent.

...apparently, [the Army is] still on the 1912 standards.

Never fear, the civilian world has "modernized." Have you noticed the size creep in clothing? Worse, it's in the "health" industries, too. My year old grandson is below the 50th per centile (there's a modern measure) on weight and body thickness, even though he's on average (yes, they mix metrics) in height. Yet his weight and "visual heft" are what were normal for my generation growing up.


Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at March 6, 2012 12:00 PM

I am shocked, shocked! I tell ya. I can't believe you missed this one.
Yer slackin'.

Posted by: DL Sly at March 6, 2012 12:21 PM


I I I I wo wo wou wou say somethi...

bu bu bu bu I think Walkin' Boss re recen recently acquired a ah ahh beta version of the voi voi voice sub sub...

*sighs and wonders if this means the hun will have one foot in the grave before this post is complete?*

Posted by: bt_'s_BMI_makes_his_weight_look_big_hun at March 6, 2012 01:08 PM

Fortunately Ben Franklin was onto the *cure* for just such a maniacal weapon.

Posted by: DL Sly at March 6, 2012 01:29 PM

Oh sure, that would be a really popular study to join.

Please estimate your wife's weight?
Have you lost your mind?

Do you think your wife is overweight?
What are you trying to do, get me shot?

Now ask me the one about her in some certain dress so I can really get in hot water.

Which, come to think of it, might be a very good use for the Speech Jammer.

Posted by: Allen at March 6, 2012 03:36 PM

On the weight study, I'm glad they didn't ask for actual weight. The proportion of muscle to fat matters and it's different between genders. A man who was the same size as a woman would, in general, weigh more. This would skew the results. But their study design still had flaws. They seem to have forgotten (or the media report seems to have forgotten) to sample how men rated other men and how women rated other women.

As it is you can't tell if the men are over-estimating women's bmi because they are women or because they aren't themselves. That's something they should have accounted for.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 6, 2012 04:25 PM

And if Pirates don't bury treasure and say "Arr" then I got no use for 'em.

Make 'em walk the plank, says I.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 6, 2012 04:27 PM

Re the "walk away" mentality: if people decide you're in the "give him an inch and he'll take a mile" category, you'll find no one will give you an inch.

The more behavior like that proliferates, the more people who can demonstrate the opposite reputation will enjoy untold advantages. The trick is for them to find merchants and business partners who are smart enough to recognize their merits.

Posted by: Texan99 at March 6, 2012 05:09 PM

BMI is a crock. I've never understood why anyone takes it seriously. Any height/weight analysis that doesn't take into account whether the weight is muscle or fat isn't giving you an accurate picture of health.

My BMI is right on the line between "overweight" and "obese." Now, as for whether I'm obese, I just posted a picture the other day; but I can squat two and a half times my weight, and I do handstand pushups for upper-body work. Somehow I think that probably accounts for the "extra" weight more than obesity.

But what do I know? I'm a man, and the article says men are terrible at understanding these things.

Posted by: Grim at March 6, 2012 06:58 PM

"But what do I know? I'm a man, and the article says men are terrible at understanding these things."
Heh... Lately, I've been staying silent for that very reason.

At 6'3" 200#'s, give or take a few 12oz long necks, --checks watch, yup it's well past beer-thirty-- I've a 25 BMI, sequestered in a 34" waist and a 44" chest, but I'm fat?* As you said, what do I know? I'm a man.

*Admittedly, the exoskeleton does have a slimming effect.

Posted by: bt_'s_BMI_makes_his_weight_look_big_hun at March 6, 2012 07:47 PM

Grim, you were in Hartwell?

Bulldogs suck, Go Devils!

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 7, 2012 09:38 AM

Hey, just because you can't find our buried treasure doesn't mean it isn't there ;)

Posted by: William Teach at March 7, 2012 10:01 AM


I'm down at the university several times a month. By the way, I think there's a typo in your sentence: you surely meant to write, "Go Mighty Bulldogs!"

Don't feel bad, though; it's a common misspelling among people who weren't educated at a quality school.

Posted by: Grim at March 7, 2012 10:33 AM

(Or, as Lewis Grizzard said in defense of UGA, 'There have been some rumors lately that a degree from the University of Georgia isn't worth much. Some people say that, if you drive through Athens with your window down, they'll throw a diploma in your car. That's just not true. You have to stop.')

Posted by: Grim at March 7, 2012 10:36 AM

Sorry, not UGA Bulldogs. The Hart County Bulldogs. *spit*

I grew up in Elberton. My parents still live there.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 7, 2012 10:51 AM

I was in Elberton back in January. The high school football stadium there is quite impressive, now that you mention it.

Posted by: Grim at March 7, 2012 11:03 AM

OY! In a nutshell, liberals want us to be civil while they are nasty, because, you know, we can't have it both ways.

Oh...I need caffiene and MSG.

Posted by: Carolyn at March 7, 2012 02:36 PM

Yikes. Elberton is right down the road from where my kids live.

Posted by: Cassandra at March 7, 2012 03:31 PM

You know, for an itty-bitty town, Elberton has some damn fine connections. :-)

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at March 7, 2012 05:13 PM