Another round of the semi-annual link clearance.
- Slate's Negotiation Academy is a ten-episode podcast which teaches a few simple rules for improving your negotiation and haggling skills. Each episode is only 10 to 15 minutes long, so it's great for filling those little gaps in your day.
- The seven most brilliantly pointless street fliers. My favorite is the one which "may very well be the most pointless of all." Bonus: Brilliantly sarcastic responses to completely well-meaning signs.
- Not satisfied with the fireplace channel, the sunset channel, and the aquarium channel, Canada had, for a few months, the 24-hour rotisserie chicken channel. For when going to Costco is just too much work to get your rotisserie chicken entertainment. (Psst, Canada. If you're out of ideas, you can take MTV. We're not using it.) The rotisserie chicken channel is no longer available, but you can still download a screen saver to simulate the experience.
- For those seeking a bit more of a challenge than watching rotisserie chicken, you can check out Division by three, a paper by Peter Doyle and John H. Conway that shows that if you have two sets A and B such that 3 × A ≍ 3 × B, then in fact A ≍ B (without resorting to AC). This is clear if A and B are finite sets, but the infinite case is much trickier.
- Back in the days before the Internet, these types of diagrams remained safely tucked away in a folder of your Trapper Keeper. But today, you can now share them with the entire world.
- Why Was I Banned? collects the "best" of the Xbox forums where people ask, "Why did you suspend my account?" It's impressive the absurd excuses some people give for obscene language. "When I used the word SLURM, I didn't mean the obscene word SLURM" (note: not actually an obscene word, yet), "I was referring to my great-grandfather Ronald Slurm." Yeah, right. How stupid do these people think the Xbox Policy and Enforcement people are? ("I take it, then, that your great-grandmother's name is SPOO, and your great-aunt's name is BREEN, and your great-uncle's name is LEMBAS?") Related: Context. Or, no you don't get to apply your Internet niche knowledge to me doing my job. By the way, Stephen Toulouse wrote a book. I recommend it. (Disclaimer: Stephen promised me a complimentary copy as thanks for reviewing a draft of the book, but I had come to the above assessment before he made the offer. He also hasn't gotten around to sending me that copy yet, but that's okay. I already read it!)
- Anatomy of a scam investigation. Chasing down a fake invoice scam. Five chapters! (Bonus reading: A basic guide to scams.)
- On the subject of scams, the spam you get for those work-at-home jobs? They're really a front for a merchandise-laundering scheme. The accomplices are known as "drops".
- Rock Band: Classical Music Edition.
- The OCD Chef Cutting Board.
- Shape Catcher takes your drawing and looks for a Unicode character that resembles it.
- How Not To Do It: Liquid Nitrogen Tanks.
- The Incredible Case of the P.I. Moms. Compelling storytelling from This American Life.
- Why does the McDonalds McRib sandwich come and go so capriciously? Willy Staly believes that is simply a way for McDonalds to arbitrage the pork market by taking advantage of temporary drops in pork prices. "It's more useful to think of it as a company trading in commodities than it is to think of it as a chain of restaurants."
- Hacking Frequent Flyer Programs.
- I think somebody is unclear on the concept. The SpongeBob SquarePants Night Light is labeled FOR ADULT USE ONLY. Bonus unclear on the concept: One of my friends pointed out that the SpongeBob SquarePants Night Light is round. (Bonus unrelated: The German name for SpongeBob SquarePants is SpongeBob Schwammkopf, which translations as SpongeBob SpongeHead. Which also makes sense, except that the title sequence still emphasizes the squareness of the pants.)
- The Empire State Building barely makes a profit leasing office space, but they make a killing selling tickets to the observation deck.
And, as always, the obligatory plug for my column in TechNet Magazine: