Monday, January 17, 2011

New Post Soon

Sorry. These investigative dealies take much longer to write than the standard, "January 12: Life is great. Bought a new pair of shoes. Baby brother learned to cartwheel." Hang in there.

I'll try to get one up a month. Right now, three different ones are in the works, and we'll see how they progress.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Is a career in golf right for you? Man, is it ever!

So I was minding my own business on Facebook when this popped up.

I mean, I wouldn't have thought so, but it worked okay for Tiger Woods. I certainly could use the Wheaties® Endorsement Fees. So let's do this. We're gonna do something different this time. I'm filling it out in real time, so you can all follow along with me, and then post your results in the comments box. Here it goes.


I tried to pick a good address, and Fairlawn was the most golfing related town I could think of.

Page One:

I wasn't really sure what to put here. I mean I have no idea if golfers are the type of people to be playing Quicken when they should be studying. But I think we all can agree Tiger Woods is an expert in Time Management, if you get my drift. Man those jokes write themselves.

Also, this is probably why analytical chemists are so juvenile. Those guys are bouncing off walls. I mean, grow up people! I suppose it is the sacrifice they have to make.

Page Two:

I'll be honest with you. This is entirely live. I was expecting questions about vision, coordination, and putting. I could never have hoped for this weird psychology mumbo-jumbo. Scout's Honor!

Page Three:

I sincerely hope that taskbar down there is not accurate. This is entirely tedious. At least Question 12 mentioned the word golf. Yeah, 15b was too much a stretch, even for me, right now.

Page Four:

More Golf. I assumed proper club usage is the priority over study habits. Then again, if you don't study, how will you remember which club to choose?
Page π:
This is taking way too long. I even forgot to bold half this pages. Well I'm going to keep slogging though. But you can scroll down and cut to the chase. Just don't tell me if passed. I want it to be a surprise.

Page 5:

Just going with As this time. Don't worry, there will be plenty of time for jokes later.

Page Six

I think we've had some of these before, no?


Isn't golf a solo sport? What's with all these "Pushes Others to Be Better" type questions? Is this an interview for golf players or parole officers?


I hope Google has enough room on its server for all these screen shots.

Page Arrgh!
Enough of this, I think. I saved all the pages on my drive. Send me an email if you want the rest. I might even crack a joke or two, if I'm feeling charitable.

One Hundred and twelve questions. I've had lab practicals shorter than that. Well let's see how I did.

I hate you.

This result was too good to pass up as an ending to the post. But I didn't want to leave you guys in suspense, so I got another fake email, and took the survey again.

Three Stars! Pretty good for the guy who always got picked last in gym class, eh? I dare you to do better. Here is the link. Apply now! Our operator is standing by!

ADDENDUM 2: Moot informs me that Page 3 is there twice, and Page 4 not at all. I checked my archive, and this is unfortunately because I accidentally took two screenshots of Page 3 and none of Page 4. You aren't missing much.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

DiamondAura: Faker Than Fake

Recently, I started to get interested in jewelery. No, it is not because I am thinking about getting married. I will nip that rumor in the bud. It is because I am a scientist, and when I see a challenge like this, I can’t say no.

Most people have heard by now that gem-quality diamonds can now be created in a lab. Several years ago, there was much hype that the day of affordable high-quality diamonds was about to roll in, and that DeBeers was doing everything it could to fight it. The ad certainly goes out of the way to hype up its new lab process. And the diamonds are certainly cheaper than the real thing. So are these the hyped up, lab-created, gem-quality diamonds we have been waiting for? The ad seems designed to make you think so, but what are the Cold Hard Facts?

I was rather suspicious that these were actually real synthetic diamonds. The reason being, and jewelry companies do not want you to know this, is that synthetic jewelry is just as expensive as mined jewelry. Why shouldn’t it be? If it can’t be distinguished, who’s going to know the difference? Thus, even though rubies and sapphires have been made in labs for the past hundred years, they are still rare and valuable. And even though, Kino no longer has to risk life and limb, cultured pearls are still out of you price range. It is simply more economical to maintain the monopoly and sell to the rich, than to flood the market and sell to the poor. The rarity is now artificially generated, but it is still there. I would not be surprised to learn that DeBeers now makes many of its diamonds in a lab, and just hides that fact. Since these diamonds are way cheaper than real diamonds, it seemed likely to me that they were fake. But could I prove it?

The first way to distinguish real diamonds from fakes is the tried and true flame test. Contrary to what you may have heard, diamonds are not forever. They are actually unstable with regards to oxidation, or in layman’s terms, they burn. Fake diamonds, on the other hand, are pretty much forever. So one way to tell the difference between a real diamond and a fake is to heat it. The diamond will disappear in a puff of smoke, and the fake will be unharmed. Now I was sorely tempted to actually do this, but two things dissuaded me. 1) Diamonds don’t burn easily in only 20% oxygen. So in order to do the experiment properly, I would need to get the DiamondAura quite hot, possibly by way of using an oxidizer and something like a thermite reaction. This would make exercising that money-back guarantee rather awkward, once I blew the setting, but not the DiamondAura, to hell. 2) To properly conduct the experiment, I would need a control, and blowing up my mother’s engagement ring, struck me as a rather bad idea. Actually, if any relatives happen to read this, this whole paragraph was just a joke. I never even considered doing this. In fact, Mommy, just ignore that I ever wrote it.

So flame tests were out. How about hardness? Diamonds are well-famed for their ability to scratch glass. These DiamondAura are prominently advertised to do the same. Does that make them legit? Not really. Many things scratch glass, including sand and cubic zirconia, so no proof there. A better test would be to see if it could scratch a ruby or another diamond, but again, destroying another gemstone was out.

So is there a non-destructive way to tell? There actually is, and if any readers actually have any DiamondAura stuff, I urge you to try this. True diamond conducts heat incredibly well, better than metal even. A real diamond will generally feel cold to the touch, unless it is hotter than your body, in which case it will burn like crazy. Using a playground slide made of diamond would be a bad idea. So if you touch a diamond with your finger, and then touch the other end to an ice cube, the cube will melt appreciably. If you do the same with a fake, it won’t*. Something called the thermister test works on the same principle, but is more accurate. And unlike the first two tests, this one won’t destroy the DiamondAura or the control. SO, I could technically order a DiamondAura object, test it, and send it back within 30 days for the rebate. By all rights, I should have done that before writing this post. But the whole idea of spending hundreds of dollars, even temporarily, did not strike me as a good one.

Therefore, I decided to search the internet literature on DiamondAura to see if I could avoid testing things myself. Unfortunately, no one else did the test, either. But I found the smoking gun in one of DiamondAura’s own ads. (Click "Description") “We will not bore you with the incredible details of the scientific process, but will only say that it involves the use of rare minerals heated to an incredibly high temperature of nearly 5000˚F.” Did you catch it? Read it more slowly. “the… use… of… rare… minerals… heated…to… an” As anyone who has even used a pencil can attest, carbon is NOT rare. But Zirconium metal is, or is somewhat rarish anyway. So that was one clue. The other clue was that much touted shininess, the fact that it outdoes nature. This is do to something called fire, which is the ability of the material to act like a prism, turning white light into many colors. If DiamondAura were actual diamond, it should be as fiery as normal diamond. But it isn’t. The ad specifically tells you it outdoes diamond. Want to know what else outdoes diamond? Yep, Cubic Zirconia. So this is a blatant attempt to mislead. And now, you know the Cold Hard Facts. This just makes me wonder about the “some jewelers,” who fell for it. Perhaps they were paid?

*Technically, this test could fail if the materiel of DiamondAura is something called Silicon Carbide or synthetic Moissanite, which is almost as thermally conducting as real diamond, enough to fool an amateur. But luckily, it still fails the next paragraph. Moissanite is even more fiery than Cubic Zirconium. Enough, that the naked eye can tell the difference without much trouble.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

New Direction?

I stopped writing on this blog, because I was tired of all the "fan mail" I was getting. I would divide this mail into three categories.

1) Crazies who were happy I agreed with them and were too dumb to realize I was joking.
2) Crazies who were outraged I disagreed with the establishment and were too dumb to realize I was joking.
3) Silence in vast quantities.

Naturally, this gave me a rather cynical view of human nature.

It was also tiring to to lie all the time, so I pretty much let it die.

But lately, I have got the urge to write again, so I may post something soon, provided I get permission. Meanwhile, I leave you with updates and a quote.

Update 1: It turns out that David Radius Hudson's wonder drug is still around. The company recently sent me a prospectus detailing all the generations before Eve. They basically include every hot goddess who ever commissioned a nude portrait. There was also a long, rambling article about how hot those ancestors were. I will not be reprinting that link. It also turns out that Ol' Radius wasn't lying when he said that White Powder Gold is produced from the dirt in his barn. I received a sad story about a young woman who followed her eccentric doctor's advice and injected it into her arm. She promptly died of septic shock.

Update 2: I checked back on Yahoo Answers. It it still possible to check progress through college semesters by the questions that appear in the forums. On the math forum, for example, you can track posts from limits, up through derivatives, to optimizations, to integrals, and it repeats every semester.

Update 3: JuicyCampus officially died quietly in its sleep. It has been replaced with a blog that manages to update less frequently than this one. collegeacb is still around and antisemitic as ever. College newspapers learned their lesson, and this time, they wisely declined to dance on JuicyCampus's grave. Jimmy Wintergreen is still awesome.

Update 4: The perpetual motion machine dude is still around. No it's not done yet. But, yes, you can still send him more money. Tell him I sent you.

Update 5: Even that live forever magnet weirdo is still around. Perhaps, he really did discover the secret to immortality.

The quote: "Is that a toothbrush?"
Yes. Yes it was.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009


So this guy supposedly won some dream job which involves collecting $100,000 to sun himself on an island and drink piña coladas. But I'm thinking this sounds suspiciously like a horror movie setup. So perhaps the island is infested with radiation mutated zombies. Or maybe it is quickly sinking, and those "Snorkeling skills" will come in awfully handy. I mean the interview involved a spa, and that is never a good sign.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wasting Money Efficiently

I happened to find this elegant concrete doorstop for sale. The doorstop is so elegant in fact, that it costs thirty five hundred bucks.

Now if I were buying a doorstop for $3500, I would want it to send the message that I am so rich, I can blow thousands of dollars on a doorstop. For 3500 dollars, I would want a doorstop that screams this message, preferably something solid gold and diamond encrusted. Which is why I am puzzled and dismayed that this doorstop is basically a glorified cinderblock.

Sure it says it was molded in a one of a kind vase, that had to be smashed in order to produce this fine art. But my problem is that my neighbors may well not know this when they see it propping open my front door. G-d forbid, they might think that my doorstop is only 350 bucks. That and the fact that it would totally clash with all of the other solid gold, diamond encrusted tchotchkes in my house. So I clearly cannot get behind this doorstop, or so I thought.

But then I realized the real point to the doorstop. Notice that under the link to buy the ugly thing is a link to put in on your wedding registry. This is an opportunity waiting to be exploited. The practical jokes alone would be worth it. Can you imagine the shock when guests find out that you expect them to pay $3500 bucks on a piece of junk? Or just imagine the joy on Uncle Gene's face when he finds out that is the only item left to buy. Plus this thing is made of solid concrete and is probably quite clunky to carry, so even if guests could afford it, someone is going to have to lug it around. Won't that be fun?

So this is definitely a must-have item. Uncle Gene, you had better start saving up.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Good-bye Shish, Hello Kufta

I read this great cliffhanger editorial in the Rutgers Targum, entitled Good-bye Peace, Hello Lieberman. How do I know it's got a cliffhanger ending? Neither peace nor Lieberman made it to the article.

I figure that the was writing on at full steam, and just before he got to the part about Joe or maybe Avigdor, BAM!, out of space. It happens. An honest mistake and nothing more. So I look forward to seeing Part 2. Because no Editorial Board is going to allow the passing slur on whichever, apparently warmongering, Lieberman the article was supposed to be about without a good explanation, right? Right? Right.

It might have occurred to you that an old headline was accidentally reused, perhaps from an editorial opposed to the war in Gaza or maybe Iraq. That occurred to me also, and a Google search shows it isn't the case.