20 Things You Should Know About Time

20 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Time


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 •April 10, 2009 • No Comments (Edit)

1. “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so,” joked Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Scientists aren’t laughing, though. Some speculative new physics theories suggest that time emerges from a more fundamental-and timeless-reality.


2. Try explaining that when you get to work late. The average U.S. city commuter loses 38 hours a year to traffic delays.


3. Wonder why you have to set your clock ahead in March? Daylight Saving Time began as a joke by Benjamin Franklin, who proposed waking people earlier on bright summer mornings so they might work more during the day and thus save candles. It was introduced in the U.K. in 1917 and then spread around the world.


4. Green days. The Department of Energy estimates that electricity demand drops by 0.5 percent during Daylight Saving Time, saving the equivalent of nearly 3 million barrels of oil.


5. By observing how quickly bank tellers made change, pedestrians walked, and postal clerks spoke, psychologists determined that the three fastest-paced U.S. cities are Boston, Buffalo, and New York.


6. The three slowest? Shreveport, Sacramento, and L.A.


7. One second used to be defined as 1/86,400 the length of a day. However, Earth’s rotation isn’t perfectly reliable. Tidal friction from the sun and moon slows our planet and increases the length of a day by 3 milli seconds per century.


8. This means that in the time of the dinosaurs, the day was just 23 hours long.


9. Weather also changes the day. During El Niño events, strong winds can slow Earth’s rotation by a fraction of a milli second every 24 hours.


10. Modern technology can do better. In 1972 a network of atomic clocks in more than 50 countries was made the final authority on time, so accurate that it takes 31.7 million years to lose about one second.


11. To keep this time in sync with Earth’s slowing rotation, a “leap second” must be added every few years, most recently this past New Year’s Eve.


12. The world’s most accurate clock, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Colorado, measures vibrations of a single atom of mercury. In a billion years it will not lose one second.


13. Until the 1800s, every village lived in its own little time zone, with clocks synchronized to the local solar noon.


14. This caused havoc with the advent of trains and timetables. For a while watches were made that could tell both local time and “railway time.”


15. On November 18, 1883, American railway companies forced the national adoption of standardized time zones.


16. Thinking about how railway time required clocks in different places to be synchronized may have inspired Einstein to develop his theory of relativity, which unifies space and time.


17. Einstein showed that gravity makes time run more slowly. Thus airplane passengers, flying where Earth’s pull is weaker, age a few extra nano seconds each flight.


18. According to quantum theory, the shortest moment of time that can exist is known as Planck time, or 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 second.


19. Time has not been around forever. Most scientists believe it was created along with the rest of the universe in the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.


20. There may be an end of time. Three Spanish scientists posit that the observed acceleration of the expanding cosmos is an illusion caused by the slowing of time. According to their math, time may eventually stop, at which point everything will come to a standstill.

Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 9:03 am  Leave a Comment  

25 Useful Free Mac Apps for Freelancers

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As a full-time freelancer and part-time geek, I like to play around and install applications on my Mac. In the following list I share some of the free Mac apps that make my life easier. I also own a PC, so I give my readers who use a PC an alternative for each app.

1. Name Changer

name changer app icon

Rename lists of files, the perfect software to batch change the files your clients are sending to you. It can be good when working with pictures too.

Windows alternative (no software needed)

2. Anxiety

anxiety 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Manage simple to-do lists with this lightweight application. Perfect for people who don’t want or need complicated GTD software.

Windows alternative

3. Cyberduck

cyberduck 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

FTP software with a nice and usable interface, integrated with several text editors.

Windows alternative

4. Adium

adium 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Connect to all your messaging accounts in this open-source instant messaging application.


Windows alternative

5. Carbon Copy cloner

carbon copy 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Create complete and bootable backups with this easy-to-us utility.

Windows alternative

6. The Unarchiver

unarchiver 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Unpacking utility that handles tons of formats.

Windows alternative

7. AppCleaner

appcleaner 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Don’t leave any files on your computer when uninstalling applications with this great little app.

Windows alternative

8. The Gimp

gimp logo 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Image manipulation software, a decent alternative to Photoshop.

Also available for Windows.

9. Skype

skype 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Voip service to make free computer to computer calls, or cheap computer to phone calls.

Also available for Windows.

10. Firefox

firefox 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Free and open source web browser, customizable with tons of great addons.

Also available for Windows.

11. Caffeine

caffeine 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Don’t let your Mac go to sleep, keep it caffeinated.

Windows alternative

12. Burn

burn 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Advanced CD and DVD burning on Mac.

Windows alternative

13. Handbrake

handbrake 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

DVD to Mpeg converter, useful for recovering data on DVD.


Also available for Windows.

14. Audacity

audacity 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Open source software for recording and editing sounds.

Also available for Windows.

15. Smultron

smultron 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Free and powerful text editor for Mac.

Windows alternative

16. InkScape

inkscape 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Open source vector drawing editor, a decent alternative to Illustrator.

Also available for Windows.

17. Freemind

freemind 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Mind mapping software, my favourite way to organize my thoughts.

Also available for Windows.

18. Disk Inventory X

disk inventory x 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Disk usage utility for Mac OS X, quickly see what’s taking space on your system.

Windows alternative

19. Colloquy

colloquy 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Advanced IRC client, chatting with a nice interface.

Windows alternative

20. Neo Office

neo office 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Open Source office suite for Mac, a great alternative to Word & Excel.

Windows alternative

21. QuickSilver

quicksilver logo 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Application launcher and much more, a real productivity booster.

Windows alternative

22. NetNewsWire

netnewswire 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

My favourite RSS reader, opened every morning while having a coffee.

Windows alternative

23. DeepVacuum

deepvacuum 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Download full websites or web pages with this software through http or ftp protocol.

Windows alternative

24. HyperDither

hyperdither 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Batch image resizing utility, time-saving if you don’t want to use Photoshop actions.

Windows alternative

25. Transmission

transmission logo 25 free Mac Apps for freelancers

Filesharing made easy with this simple BitTorrent client.

Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 8:36 am  Leave a Comment  

How to Destroy the Government in 3 Easy Steps

In eight short years, conservatives have effectively bankrupted many state governments and left the fed in shambles. And now citizens have to “make tough decisions” and share the suffering equally across the land (unless of course, you’re part of that lucky 1 percent who co-opted the functions of government to serve their own ends … they’ll be cozy with their offshore bank accounts, golden parachutes and permanent tax holidays).

Are you a teacher who educates our future citizens? Too bad. You’ve got to tighten your belt and let that job go. Manual laborer? Sorry, but that job can earn more money for our shareholders if it’s done in Micronesia. Need a college degree? Prepare for indentured servitude because you’ll be working to pay us off for most of your adult life. Health care? Ha! That’s just a Ponzi scheme dreamed up by a bunch of socialists.

Ever wonder how conservatives did all this?

Well, here’s your very own how-to manual for getting Big Government out of the way so you and your buddies can horde all the wealth to yourselves and build your empire.

Step 1: Blame the Individuals

Every battle has to have two sides, so you’ll need to divide the people against each other. This means that you’ll need to declare that “there’s no such thing as society” and focus the entire debate on the faults of individuals.

Enron screwed people over? That’s just a few bad apples. The business news a lap dog for corporate excess? That’s just Jim Cramer doing his thing. The economy in shambles? That’s just George W leaving his legacy.

And of course the housing crisis is the fault of greedy buyers. Industry can’t do right for us because of that welfare queen. And government can’t serve the people because of that corrupt politician and his special-interest crony.

Get the people talking about individuals and it’ll be easy to blind them to the public infrastructure they depend on. You don’t want anyone to make a peep when we gut the schools, defund public works and empty out the Treasury. Those problems will just be fodder to throw at the sorry Democrats we’ll blame when the fit hits the shan.

Step 2: Cut Taxes

Now that you’ve gotten everyone bickering about each other (and ignoring us), you can get to work dismantling the government. All you have to do is cut taxes. Yes, it’s that simple. One move and you get all the benefits of (1) weakening every social program; (2) making government services inadequate; (3) setting the stage for calling out “waste” and inefficiencies (more of that blame game!); (4) keeping your richest friends from ever having to pay for the infrastructure they exploit to make all that money; (5) getting nonprofits and opposition leaders in the government (progressives … eck!!) to spend all their precious resources fighting to keep things in the budget, and (6) outsourcing government operations to your buddies in the corporate world so they can profit from them.

This one move is strategic. It does all the work for you.

And when life starts looking dire, you get opportunities you never dreamed possible in a democracy.

Step 3: Exploit Disaster

If you’ve managed to accomplish steps 1 and 2, people will be in a panic. And we all know that panicky people make rash decisions. Now is your chance to push that unpopular agenda through the cracks – disaster capitalism at its best!

Remember how we tricked the populace into an illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq to secure oil revenues? That wouldn’t have happened if people weren’t scared out of their wits by the fright of terrorism. Think people would have gone for No Child Left Behind and allowed tests to replace learning in the classroom? We had to fabricate a crisis (which took years of hard work to create) to push that one through. And you know that there’s no way we could take away so many civil liberties with the Patriot Act if the debate was drawn out for weeks under public scrutiny.

So there you have it. Three easy steps to destroy the government.

If you’re an overachiever (you know who you are!), you might even try giving away billions to your buddies in the banking industry when the bottom falls out. Or consider no-bid contracts to our old pals in the energy and defense sectors when no one is looking. Or, and this takes some special skill, you might call any efforts to “increase revenues” just another example of irresponsible spending that got us into this mess in the first place.

Note 1: Take care that progressives don’t ever learn about this strategy. It could be nullified and made ineffective by exposing our agenda, allowing people to organize, or letting government work well enough for people to start thinking that government isn’t inherently bad and (gasp!) that it might be useful for something other than empire-building.


Published in: on April 10, 2009 at 8:24 am  Comments (1)