Code monkey at High Moon Studios. Comments and opinions are my own.
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Elsie wins the Spanish Lottery

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Back in 2009, I received a letter from a ‘Mr Don Luis Lopez’ claiming I’d won the Spanish lottery. It gave a telephone number, which I called – as Robin Cooper – and it resulted in a series of quite mental phone calls which I made for the BBC

Well, today I received a letter from a Mr ‘Antonio Lucas’ also claiming I’d won the Spanish lottery, so I called again. And… it’s the same chap! Anyway, this time I was ‘Mrs Elsie Drake’, a 104-year old woman.

I will call over the next few days as the great-great-grandson, and see what occurs. So watch this space.

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dc3
1849 days ago
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Good stuff
Carlsbad, CA
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Expensive Shoebox

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Expensive Shoebox

What would be the most expensive way to fill a size 11 shoebox (e.g. with 64 GB MicroSD cards all full of legally purchased music)?

Rick Lewis

A shoebox full of valuable stuff seems to top out at about $2 billion. Surprisingly, this turns out to be true for a wide range of possible fillings.

The MicroSD cards are a good idea. iTunes songs cost about $1 each, and MicroSD cards have a capacity of about 1.6 petabytes per gallon. A men's size 11 shoebox is about 10-15 liters, depending on the brand and type of shoe, which means it can hold up to 1.5 billion 4 MB songs (at about a dollar each). (That's about 20 times as many songs as the iTunes store offers, so you'll have to buy some of the songs more than once.)

Expensive software like Adobe®©™ Photoshop®©™ CS®™ 5™ has a slightly higher cost-to-megabyte ratio, since it retails for several hundred dollars and takes up several hundred megabytes of space. Or, at least, it used to, until Adobe moved to a cloud model.

Once you start considering software prices, you can probably crank the "cost" of things in a shoebox as high as you want by making unlimited in-app purchases. And while the resulting RPG character may technically represent the result of your spending that much money, it's hard to argue with a straight face that your character is in any sense worth a trillion dollars.

So let's think about actual objects.

There's gold, of course. 13 liters of gold is worth about $10 million as of this writing. Platinum is a little more expensive at $13 million/shoebox.[1]Not yet an SI unit, sadly. That's about 10 times the value of a shoebox full of $100 bills. On the other hand, a shoebox full of gold would weigh as much as a small horse.

There are more expensive metals. A gram of pure plutonium, for example, would cost about $5k. As a bonus, plutonium is even denser than gold, which means you could fit almost 300 kilograms of it in a shoebox.

Before you spend $3 billion on plutonium, take note: Plutonium's critical mass is about 10 kilograms. So while you could fit 300 kilograms of it in a shoebox, you could only do so briefly.

High-quality diamonds are expensive, but it's hard to get a handle on their exact price because the entire industry was built on a scam the gemstone market is complicated. One site quotes a price of over \$300,000 for a flawless 600 mg (3 carat) diamond—which means that a shoebox full of perfect-quality gem diamonds could be worth as much as \$20 billion—but \$1 or \$2 billion is more reasonable.

Many illegal drugs are, by weight, more valuable than gold. Cocaine's price varies a lot, but in many areas is in the neighborhood of $100/gram.[2]My search history after researching drug street prices would probably get me on all kinds of government watch lists, if I weren't on them all already for all the other things I've researched for this blog. Gold is currently less than half that. However, cocaine is much less dense than gold,[3]But wait—what is the density of cocaine? As usual, the Straight Dope Message Board folks are on the case; in this discussion, they consult the CRC Handbook and Merck Index, before giving up and deciding that it's probably about 1 kg/L, like most organic substances. They do, however, learn its boiling point and solubility in olive oil. so a shoebox full of cocaine would be less valuable than one of gold.

Cocaine is not the most expensive drug by weight. LSD—probably the most widely-consumed substance sold to consumers by the microgram—costs about a thousand times more than cocaine by weight. A shoebox full of pure LSD would be worth about $2.5 billion.

Some prescription drugs can be just as expensive as LSD. A single dose of brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris) can cost \$13,500, which—for the average patient—puts its shoebox value in the same \$2 billion range as LSD, plutonium, and MicroSD cards. Other drugs are even more expensive.

Of course, you could always put shoes in the shoebox.

Judy Garland's shoes from The Wizard of Oz sold at auction for $666,000, and—unlike the other things we've considered—may have, at one point, actually been placed in a shoebox.

If you really want to fill a shoebox with an arbitrarily large amount of money, you could get the US Treasury to mint you a trillion-dollar platinum coin.

But if you're open to leveraging our monetary system's legal authority to impart value into an arbitrary inanimate object ...

... you could just write a check.

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dc3
2236 days ago
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Great
Carlsbad, CA
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Skotte
2215 days ago
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Printing that check, and cashing it in immediately! He even signed it!!
Rochester, Earth

How silly of me to assume it was Israeli bombs causing all the damage in Gaza - Comment - Voices

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At last it seems the mood is changing, and finally we’re beginning to hear the child murderers’ point of view.

For example one brave soul, prepared to speak out, is spokesman Uri Dromi, who explained on Radio 4 yesterday that although the Israeli government bombed a school that several children died in, the deaths are clearly the fault of the people who live in the areas being bombed.

What a refreshing change from that tired old thinking that always blames murder on the murderer. Mister Drome, once a spokesman for the Israeli government, said the Israelis were “lured into a trap, now Hamas sheds crocodile tears about the dead”.

If only more of us understood bombed schools in this way. We always rush to judge some poor kid in an American town who mows down his classmates, without even pausing to consider the dead kids probably tricked him into it, and now to make it worse their parents are all pretending to cry.

Even more imaginative was Michael Oren, ex-Israeli ambassador to the US, on Channel 4 News. He explained that Hamas was to blame for all this death, because “toasters and refrigerators have been booby-trapped”.

It goes to show you should never make up your mind too quickly. Many of us see pictures of buildings reduced to rubble with a bomb sticking out, and hastily conclude the bomb had something to do with the explosion. But look carefully and it becomes obvious it was caused by the silly sods blowing themselves up with a toaster.

I bet if we went back to Hiroshima and checked what happened more thoroughly, we’d discover the blast was nothing to do with an atom bomb, and was caused by a booby-trapped kettle. I hope consumer programmes in Gaza cover this issue, to warn people of the dangers. The Gaza edition of Watchdog this week should start: “We’ve received several complaints from those of you who bought one of these toasters from Hamas, and were surprised when it caused your entire street to explode.”

Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out for child murderers’ civil rights by informing us the Palestinians deliberately arrange the “telegenically dead” to be filmed, to attract sympathy. So it seems Hamas stroll round bomb sites, placing the prettiest corpses on view for film crews, otherwise we’d all think “it doesn’t matter that the Israelis killed that kid, he was an ugly little bastard anyway”.

In pictures: Israel-Gaza conflict

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Other spokesmen have repeated this line, and maybe soon they’ll take it to the next stage, claiming that the Palestinians we see howling with anguish about their dead children have been trained at a special Hamas acting school. Directors yell, “One more rehearsal everyone, now as soon as we’ve blown up our toaster we want all the cast kneeling and sobbing, give it everything loves, everything, then we’ll go for a take.”

As the bombing continues I expect we’ll hear more reasons why the Palestinians are to blame for being bombed. An Israeli minister will say, “These people in Gaza are always complaining that they live in a densely populated area, so we’re trying to help them out by reducing the population as much as we can to give them more space. But they’re still not happy. Some people are never satisfied.”

The Israelis insist they give warnings before bombing somewhere, and in general we all forgive someone bombing a school as long as they let you know they’re doing it five minutes in advance. Given how crowded the area is, and the scale of the bombing, any warning might seem fairly useless unless it gives you instructions on how to fly or escape into another dimension like Doctor Who, but at least the intention is there.

Now they’re calling up another 16,000 reservists, but if they don’t think they’re managing to do enough damage already, a better strategy might be to scrap their F16 bombers that clearly aren’t up to the job, and replace them with some booby-trapped toasters as apparently they’re more effective.

In less enlightened times, those responsible for such murder would be snarled at in the street and their pictures displayed on newspapers under inflammatory headlines. But thankfully we’re growing more liberal, and can only regret that more thought wasn’t given to treating murderers kindly in the past.

Poor Fred West, for example, instead of barely being given a chance to make his case, could have sat in televison studios saying, “Of course I regret the deaths of civilians. But you have to understand these people I murdered could be a bloody nuisance. I was lured into killing them, and I’m not even sure I did kill them until I’ve carried out my own investigation. Some of them kill themselves to get sympathy by booby-trapping their ironing boards, you know.”

As times change, maybe Netanyahu and his spokesmen will become more forthright, and organise “Child Murderer Pride” in which child murderers can get together for a procession and carnival, where they can at last feel safe, and no longer feel looked down on for carrying out their basic human right to bomb a school to bits.

READ MORE:
The reality of life under Israel's Iron Dome
It's not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel
The Israeli propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
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dc3
2249 days ago
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Yup
Carlsbad, CA
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Research Ethics

8 Comments and 16 Shares
I mean, it's not like we could just demand to see the code that's governing our lives. What right do we have to poke around in Facebook's private affairs like that?
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dc3
2277 days ago
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Yup
Carlsbad, CA
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6 public comments
jimwise
2278 days ago
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Also true.
kerray
2278 days ago
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!
Brno, CZ
JayM
2278 days ago
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.
Atlanta, GA
ddmf
2278 days ago
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what what...
Dundee
kazriko
2278 days ago
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When facebook started filtering the feeds from your friends years ago, that's when I decided I was pretty much done with the site. I check it a couple of times per month now, but don't put any stock into it.
Colorado Plateau
ghling
2278 days ago
You mean besides the link between all your visited sites with facebook-sharing and you fb-account?
kazriko
2278 days ago
That is why I use a different web browser to check facebook than I use for general web browsing.
trparky
2278 days ago
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Alt Text: I mean, it's not like we could just demand to see the code that's governing our lives. What right do we have to poke around in Facebook's private affairs like that?

The Worst Demo Tape Compilation in the World – Ever

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In the late 1980′s, my cousin gave me a cassette that instantly became an obsession of mine. It was a tape, compiled by a UK record company – and made purely for internal use – featuring the worst songs they’d ever been sent from the thousands of demo tapes they received each year.

There were no details of any of the ‘artists’, and it’s all quite mysterious, but as someone who has heard loads of terrible demo tape complilations, this one is definitely the best/worst. Get ready for the dullest rendition of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, a spooky lady singing about ‘Alfreston’ while playing the organ, and the genuinely terrifying end track, ‘All the People With the Money’. By the way, I lost the tape years ago and thought all hope was lost, until my buddy Peter Serafinowicz found it last week in a box in his office. We celebrated with a listen and a good ole sing-a-long. Hope you guys sing along too…

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dc3
2283 days ago
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This is pretty special
Carlsbad, CA
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Answers

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Stanford sleep researcher William Dement said that after 50 years of studying sleep, the only really solid explanation he knows for why we do it is 'because we get sleepy'.
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dc3
2382 days ago
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:-)
Carlsbad, CA
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3 public comments
b12
2383 days ago
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Stanford sleep researcher William Dement said that after 50 years of studying sleep, the only really solid explanation he knows for why we do it is "because we get sleepy". - As he spoke the koan he'd spent his life creating, Dr. Dement's physical form dissolved into light...
eraycollins
2383 days ago
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Different class of garbage.
lukeburrage
2383 days ago
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title="Stanford sleep researcher William Dement said that after 50 years of studying sleep, the only really solid explanation he knows for why we do it is "because we get sleepy"."
eraycollins
2383 days ago
Sleep is the required period during which the brain "takes out the garbage" as per some research. I like that notion.
obidamnkenobi
2383 days ago
Why then is my brain still full of garbage when I wake up?
calumhalpin
2383 days ago
Maybe your brain's really lazy?
aaronwe
2383 days ago
^^^ I blame the internet.
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