Archive for November, 2007

Orno-blogologists amongst us will be very excited to learn that the lesser-blogging cygnus atratus has made a rare appearance today. Yes, you have to be a dedicated twitcher to see that one!

fortune my foe

28Nov07

Apart from The Snowman and The Bear, nothing sets up Christmas like the miracle that is the York Waits. One of the things that I’ve liked most about Advent over the past decade or so is getting out our sole Waits CD, Old Christmas Return’d. The kids love it, and it has also encouraged us [...]

In full culture-vulture mode, the Knackered Family went to two live musical concerts this weekend. Both events featured largely acoustic instrumentalists, accompanied by a narrator. And both served to remind us that live performance offers an extra, magical dimension that recorded music can’t. But one event also provided perfect grist for the Knackered mill — [...]

Rather guiltily I was nursing a sense of schadenfreude when England were 2-0 behind against Croatia on Wednesday. And I was not at all anxious ahead of the earlier Israel v Russia match, which Russia had to lose (apparently unlikely, but it did happen) for England to stand a chance of qualifying for the 2008 European Championships (ie by beating Croatia). So England are out, and the manager Steve McClaren has been kicked into touch.

I don’t follow football so closely to judge whether this a fair comment on McClaren, and wish him no ill. In any event, as the Croatia game wore on, my nationalism was asserting itself, hoping for a reversal of the reversal. It came and went, England clawed back two goals and all too inevitably, it seemed, conceded a third.

But the reason for my mixed emotions was that I was secretly hoping that if McClaren went, the job would go to Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill, even though he’s ruled himself out today, it appears. The reason for my enthusiasm was simple. He once quoted William Goldman’s famous line: Continue reading ‘nobody knows anything (football version)’

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petrol-station-sign.jpg

A few weeks ago, The Economist, via guest blogger Bryan Caplan, ran this item on its blog quoting economics author Robert Frank:-

Why are some gas tanks on the left side of the car, and others on the right? Here’s Frank’s super-clever answer:

  • In the United States and other countries in which motorists drive on the right hand side of the road, it is easier to turn right than to turn left across oncoming traffic. A majority of drivers will thus buy gas at stations they can enter by turning right. Suppose tanks were always on the driver’s side of the car. Drivers would then have to park on the right side of an open pump in order to fill their tanks. During crowded hours, all spots on the right sides of pumps would be filled even while most spots on the left sides of pumps remained empty.
  • Putting the fuel filler doors on different sides of different cars thus means that some cars can access pumps from the left. And this makes it less likely that drivers will have to wait in line for gas.

I’m convinced [says Caplan]. How about you?”

Well the above picture, taken last week, indicates that at least in Sainsbury’s petrol station in Bath they’ve done some thinking to cater for economists when they try and fill up, by telling them that (as they always have been) the hoses are long enough to reach both sides of your car. I believe the truth of filler-cap location is largely determined by nation of manufacture. So European and US cars have them on the right. Japanese- and UK-designed cars on the left.

The picture above is providing me with a quiet sense of vindication, after I left my snarky comment over there for all posterity. I may not have taken Economics 101, but it now seems that I’m a whizz on the petrol station forecourt. Of course, I suspect that Bryan Caplan might have been pulling our legs on this one, because they are a funny old lot over there at George Mason University and you never quite know when they are being serious ;-) .

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