Sunday, January 10, 2016

Potpourri: Brent Crude, Science Literacy, Burner Phones, And Hidden Netflix Codes

Some stuff that might interest folks.

1.  What is Brent crude?  When they talk about the price of oil, they mention West Texas Intermediate (WTI), and Alaska North Slope (ANS), they also mention Brent Crude.  What does that mean?  This Wikipedia post spells it out.  There's even a goose involved.

2.  Here's a good discussion on American science ignorance at Quartz, or put another way matching this blog's underlying theme, the American way of not knowing.  This physician begins by pointing out that the US as a country is one of the very best in science, but as individuals we've got a lot of ignorance. She picks out a study that defines scientific literacy in terms of whether subjects could identify 'correct' scientific facts.  She writes,
Scientific literacy has little to do with memorizing information and a lot to do with a rational approach to problems.
And she gives three reasons the fact based approach to scientific literacy is problematic.

  • Facts change.  That may come as sacrilege to some, but she points out that old ideas get modified by newer experiments.
  • It encourages people to dig in their heels about what they think they know.
  • The interpretation of data requires critical thinking.  
Actually, I don't think Americans have a monopoly on scientific ignorance, but I suspect we market ignorance in a more sophisticated way than most other places.

3.  The Quartz page also had an article about El Chapo and Sean Penn and mentioned burner phones.  That led me to a post that explains the evolution of burner phones.   The Wire is mentioned as where many people first heard the term.  I watched The Wire but didn't remember that word.  So here's the burner phone post on PureTalk.

4.  Netflix codes for all their different categories.  This lets you get beyond what they think you'll like.


  1. A fun bit of information this morning, Steve. Gene and I bought 'burners' when we visited Alaska as our roaming plan would have cost MUCH more. I'm certain we, like far too many folks, wound up not knowing where we could recycle... not good. As to the phone? It worked fine even if we never got past rudimentary function level.

    1. So, did you go to Walmart and ask for a burner phone? Or did you use other jargon? Were they little phones or smart phones? Where did they end up when you left?

  2. "Actually, I don't think Americans have a monopoly on scientific ignorance, but I suspect we market ignorance in a more sophisticated way than most other places."

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    For the genus of sponges, see Neopetrosia.
    Densa was originally a fictional association created in parody of Mensa International. Rather than belonging to the smartest 2% of the population (the criteria for membership eligibility for Mensa), members of Densa must be in the stupidest 2%. The name Densa is a portmanteau of dense (with the meaning stupid) and Mensa.

    QUIZ for membership.
    Write down or remember your answers and DON'T CHEAT!!!!! Good luck!

    Do they have a 4th of July in England? (Yes/No)
    How many birthdays does the average man have?
    Some months have 31 days; some months have 30. How many have 28 days?
    How many outs are there in an inning?
    Is it legal for a man in California to marry his widow's sister? (Yes/No)
    Divide 30 by 1/2 and add 10, what is the answer?
    If there are 3 apples and you take away 2, how many do you have?
    A doctor gives you three pills telling you to take one every half an hour. How many minutes will the pills last?
    A farmer has 17 sheep, and all but 9 die. How many are left?
    How many animals of each sex did Moses take on the ark?
    A clerk in the butcher shop is 5' 10" tall. What does he weigh?
    How many two cent stamps are there in a dozen?
    A plane crashes on the Canadian - US border. In which country you bury the survivors?
    What is the least amount of coins it takes to make 55 cents if one of the coins is a quarter?


    1. Barbara, I can tell from your reply that "marketing ignorance' means more than I was thinking, and I don't think I thought it out too far when I wrote it. "Marketing Ignorance' is probably worth a post of its own. I think I'm going to ask people I meet what they think it means.


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