April, 2005

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Two-seater

Thursday, April 21st, 2005

Installed an Autopower race rollbar in my Evo last weekend, in preparation for this weekend’s two-day high-performance driving event with NCRC at Reno-Fernley Raceway. With the rollbar in place, my four-door car effectively becomes a two-seater as the rear seats are no longer safe—nor accessible—for passengers.

[photo of my rollbar]

Of course, I hope I never have to use it… except maybe as a more solid mounting point for my in-car video camera.

Snapple needs to hire some fact-checkers

Wednesday, April 6th, 2005

One of the perks of working at VMWare is the free snacks and drinks available in our lunchroom. Though well-stocked, the only “diet” drinks (not including water) available are Diet Coke and three varieties of Diet Snapple. I don’t like the former so I end up drinking around two Snapples a day. Printed on each Snapple bottle cap is a bit of trivia that they call “Real Facts”. Maybe the use of quotes is appropriate because I’ve found many of these to be poorly framed, extremely dubious or outright false. A few examples:

  • “‘Real Fact’ #87: A mile on the ocean and a mile on land are not the same distance.” I believe they are referring to nautical miles versus regular miles. Of course one can use nautical miles on land as well (and they’re also used for aircraft navigation)… So a nautical mile is a nautical mile regardless of if it’s on the ocean, in the air, or on land, and the same goes for an English unit mile. As stated, this “Real Fact” is simply false.

  • “‘Real Fact’ #36: A duck’s quack doesn’t echo.” False. This was disproved on an episode of Mythbusters

  • “‘Real Fact’ #20: Broccoli is the only vegetable that’s a flower.” What about cauliflower? Also, there are other flowers that are edible (and commonly eaten), and since they’re not fruits, they’re “vegetables”.

  • “‘Real Fact’ #65: A one-day weather forecast requires about 10 billion mathematical calculations.” Depends entirely on the type of forecast, the hardware and software used, how you define and count “mathematical calculations”, if you count calculations required to generate the data upon which the forecast relies, etc. “10 billion” is a number that’s supposed to sound impressive but the average desktop computer nowadays can do that in a few seconds; this ‘fact’ is entirely vacuous or meaningless.

  • “‘Real Fact’ #10: Licking a stamp burns 10 calories.” Doubtful. If this were true, eating an ice cream cone by licking it would result in a net loss in calories. Oh how I wish that were true! Then again, maybe they really do mean “calories” as opposed to “Calories” which (as I learned in high school chemistry) actually means “kilocalories” in scientific terms. 0.010 Calories definitely sounds more plausible.

  • “‘Real Fact’ #173: Chinese is the most spoken language in the world.” While Mandarin—a Chinese dialect—is the most spoken language in the world (according to my cursory research), there’s no single language one could call “Chinese”. Well, I suppose you could, but do so at the risk of offending all those Cantonese speakers out there (not to mention all the other dialects).

  • “‘Real Fact’ #167: You have to play ping-pong for 12 hours to lose one pound.” Depends entirely how you play—if you’ve ever seen world class table tennis players you’ll be pretty certain that for them, this is absolutely untrue. By weight alone, you’d easily lose more than a pound through perspiration.

Where do they come up with this BS? Are there not enough interesting real facts out there that they just have to make up stuff?