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2016 fall foliage map

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Foliage Map 2016

As I remarked last year, the Smoky Mountains website has the best fall foliage map in the business. The map covers the entire US and comes with a slider that lets you check the status weekend by weekend throughout the fall. Looks like the foliage will peak near Sept 30th in VT and Oct 14th in NYC and in the Smoky Mountains.

Tags: maps   USA
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mhaw
1156 days ago
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Cambridge, Massachusetts
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Insurance markets in everything

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But there is one type of insurance that people buy to protect them from the consequences of unusually good luck: In Japan, the U.K., and, to a lesser extent, around the world, golfers buy insurance to protect themselves from the potentially bankrupting consequences of sinking a hole in one.

The concept of hole in one insurance may baffle the uninitiated, but to many it is a wise precaution as golf tradition holds that anyone who scores a hole in one should buy drinks back at the clubhouse for his playing group — if not everyone present. In Japan, many give extravagant gifts to friends and family after scoring a lucky ace.

And indeed there is such an institution:

A number of firms offer hole in one insurance, frequently bundled with other services that golfers commonly buy like insurance for golfing equipment or personal liability. (Apparently yelling “Fore!” can’t ward off lawsuits if you hit a ball right at someone.) Golfplan, a U.K. insurer, covers $340 to $510 worth of drinks for hole in one celebrations. (Clubs’ set of rules for validating a hole in one makes it easier to process claims.) When it is sold unbundled, hole in one insurance can be cheap; Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. Ltd offers Japanese golfers hole in one insurance for as little as a $3 premium. Outside of individual policies, golf tournaments also get hole in one insurance so that they can offer huge cash prizes for a hole in one as a marketing promotion — it’s the same type of “prize indemnity” insurance that covers teams when a fan sinks a half court shot or makes a field goal.

In the United States, where the custom is less firmly established, golf forums are filled with debate about what tradition demands. Some clubs have written the tradition into their rules. The New York Times notes that the membership dues at one San Francisco club include covering $250 worth of drinks to celebrate any hole in one, while a similar system at a club in Bremerton, Washington, gives pro shop and food and beverage credit to the lucky golfer — it’s up to him or her to share.

The full story is here, hat tip goes to Michael Rosenwald.  I wonder how many people buy this insurance simply to convince themselves (falsely) that they have some chance of making a hole in one.

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mhaw
1936 days ago
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Cambridge, Massachusetts
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The clearest image of our nearest planet: Mercury as you've never seen it

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This NASA image of Mercury has been making the internet rounds anew this week, but has been widely reposted with some not-entirely-accurate information.

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mhaw
1940 days ago
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Cambridge, Massachusetts
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$2 Undecillion Lawsuit

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$2 Undecillion Lawsuit

What if Au Bon Pain lost this lawsuit and had to pay the plaintiff $2 undecillion?

—Kevin Underhill

The bakery-cafe chain Au Bon Pain (with a few other organizations) is being sued. This is how much money the person suing them is demanding:

This is how much sellable stuff there is in the world:

This is the estimated economic value of all goods and services produced by humanity since we first evolved:

Even if Au Bon Pain conquers the planet and puts everyone to work for them from now until the stars die, they wouldn't make a dent in the bill.

Maybe people just aren't that valuable. The EPA currently values a human life at $8.7 million, although they go to great lengths to point out that technically this is not actually the value any specific person places on another person's individual life.[1]Note that they don't say whether they assume that amount would be higher or lower. In any case, by their measure, the total value we place on all the world's humans is only about $60 quadrillion.[2]The world's combined oil reserves are only worth a few hundred trillion, which suggests that purely from an accounting standpoint, the "no blood for oil" slogan makes a lot of sense. about $60 trillion—less than the total value we place on all the world's oil.[2]Come to think of it, that explains a lot.

But while people may be worthless,[3]I'm rounding down. we're hardly all there is on the planet. Out of all the Earth's atoms, only 1 out of every 10 trillion is part of a human.

The Earth's crust contains a bunch of atoms,[citation needed] some of which are valuable. If you extracted all the elements, purified them,[4]This is just one of many reasons that this idea wouldn't make sense in practice. The reason many elements (like U-235) are valuable is that it's hard to manufacture or purify them, not just because they're rare. and sold them, the market would crash.[5]Both in the sense that the supply would cause a drop in prices, and the sense that the market is like 20 miles above the mantle and you just removed the crust supporting it. But if you somehow sold them at their current market price, they would be worth ...

Oddly, most of this value comes from potassium and calcium, and most of the rest comes from sodium and iron. If you're going to sell the Earth's crust for scrap, those are probably the ones you should sift out.

Sadly, even selling the crust for scrap doesn't get us close to the numbers we need.

We could include the core,[6]It's down there. which is iron and nickel with a dash of precious metals, but it turns out it wouldn't help. The amount demanded from Au Bon Pain is just too large. In fact, an Earth made of solid gold wouldn't be enough. The Sun's weight in platinum wouldn't be, either.

By weight, the single most valuable thing that's been bought and sold on an open market is probably the Treskilling Yellow postage stamp. There's only one known copy of it, and in 2010 it sold for \$2,300,000. That works out to about \$30 billion per kilogram of stamps. If the Earth's weight were entirely postage stamps, it would still not be enough to pay off Au Bon Pain's potential debt.[7]Also, the stamps would probably be less valuable now that there is literally an entire planet of them, but that's the least of Au Bon Pain's problems.

If Au Bon Pain & co decided to be intentionally difficult, and pay their debt entirely in pennies, they would form a sphere that would squeeze inside the orbit of Mercury.[8]The fate of this sphere of pennies is left as an exercise for the reader. The fate of Mercury is that it would fall into the pennies and disintegrate. The bottom line is that paying this settlement would be, in almost any sense of the word, impossible.

Fortunately, Au Bon Pain has a better option.

Kevin, who asked this question, is a lawyer and author of the legal humor blog that reported on the Au Bon Pain case.[9]And which we encountered in Question #90. He told me that the world's most highly-paid lawyer—on an hourly basis—is probably former Solicitor General Ted Olson, who recently disclosed in bankruptcy filings that he charges $1,800 per hour.

Suppose there are 40 billion habitable planets in our galaxy, and every one of them hosts an Earth-sized population of 7 billion Ted Olsons.

If Au Bon Pain hired every Ted Olson in the galaxy to defend them in this case, and had them all work 80-hour weeks, 52 weeks a year, for a thousand generations[10]This scenario assumes that the former Solicitor General reproduces asexually....

... it would still cost them less than if they lost.

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mhaw
1983 days ago
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Cambridge, Massachusetts
popular
2009 days ago
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10 public comments
abigailscotty
2003 days ago
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ohh man!
Decatur, Mississippi
Eloquence
2005 days ago
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This is awesome. That is all.
Baltimore, Maryland
skittone
2006 days ago
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Fun analysis.
tedgould
2008 days ago
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Best quote: "The total value we place on all the world's humans is about $60 trillion—less than the total value we place on all the world's oil. Come to think of it, that explains a lot."
Texas, USA
rclatterbuck
2009 days ago
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.
acdha
2009 days ago
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“Come to think of it, that explains a lot”
Washington, DC
llucax
2009 days ago
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"The EPA currently values a human life at $8.7 million [...] by their measure, the total value we place on all the world's humans is about $60 trillion—less than the total value we place on all the world's oil."
Berlin
jprodgers
2009 days ago
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"In any case, by their measure, the total value we place on all the world's humans is about $60 trillion—less than the total value we place on all the world's oil.[2]Come to think of it, that explains a lot."
Quote of the year.
Somerville, MA
llucax
2009 days ago
I was about to share this quoting the exact same part!
category5
2008 days ago
Yeah you beat me to the punch!
habmala
2009 days ago
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En kommentar om hur vi ser på värde och pengar. Också en kommentar om USAs rättssystem. Väl medveten om att detta inte är vad någon blivit dömd att betala är siffrorna ändå helt klart löjliga.
Sweden
jepler
2009 days ago
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ctrl-f bitcoin. nope? oh well. Pretty sure this what if would have been better with a dig on cryptocurrency.
Earth, Sol system, Western spiral arm

Irish Slider Falls Off Skeleton Sled, Climbs Back On, Finishes Run

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Irish Slider Falls Off Skeleton Sled, Climbs Back On, Finishes Run

We've seen this in luge before, but it's another thing entirely when you're headed down the Sanki Sliding Centre headfirst. Here's Irish skeletoner Sean Greenwood recovering from almost certain disaster—and inevitable serious injury, given he was going nearly 75 mph—to finish his run and avoid disqualification from the event. Do a barrel roll!

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mhaw
2090 days ago
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Cambridge, Massachusetts
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There's a new supernova in town

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A supernova erupted recently1 in galaxy M82, a mere 11.4 million light years away from Earth, which means that it was close enough to be discovered by someone using an ordinary telescope in London and may be visible with binoculars sometime in the next two weeks.

M82's proximity means that there are many existing images of it, pre-explosion, including some from the Hubble Space Telescope. Cao and others will comb through those images, looking for what lay in the region before. It will not be easy: M82 is filled with dust. But the light the supernova shines on the dust could teach astronomers something about the host galaxy, too. One team is already looking for radioactive elements, such as nickel, that theories predict form in such supernova, says Shri Kulkarni, an astronomer at California Institute of Technology. "Dust has its own charms."

[1] Ok, it didn't erupt recently. M82 is 11.4 million light years away, so the supernova happened 11.4 million years ago and the light is just now reaching us here on Earth.

Tags: astronomy   physics   science
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mhaw
2120 days ago
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Cambridge, Massachusetts
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