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John Green Hates Pennies (and Nickels)

So I'm a few weeks late to this party, but after Kottke.org picked up John Green's anti-penny rant I felt obligated under the Blogger Code to post this video. (For those who haven't been reading this blog for 3+ years, John Green is a former mental_floss blogger.) And I must say, I call John's video a "rant" in the most erudite and professional way -- John lays out the argument against pennies, and gives a few nods to the arguments in favor of pennies (which he argues are largely sentimental). Oh, and he also hates nickels for similar reasons.

Representative quote: "If Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he would say: 'Why is my face on a coin that is worth 1/26 of what a penny was worth when I was President?'"

For more reading on this subject, see my post from 2008, The Great Penny Debate, which points to an interesting New Yorker article on the subject. For his part, John describes his video as follows:

In which John Green discusses his virulent hatred for pennies and nickels, two utterly irrelevant coins that inexplicably remain money in the United States of America. It costs more than 1.7 cents to make a 1 cent penny coin in the US; nickels are even more ridiculous, costing more than nine cents to produce.

UPDATE: Those statistics are out of date. In 2009, it cost 1.6 cents to make a penny and 6.1 cents to make a nickel; the US Mint lost 22 million on penny and nickel production, not the 70 million they lost in 2008. (This is because the recession has made zinc and nickel cheaper.) Thank to youtuber http://www.youtube.com/sivartis for the correction.

My inflation calculations came from the CPI inflation calculator: http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl

Information about the opportunity cost implications of pennies and the calculations of lost productivity can be found here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/... and here: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04...

As always, get your penny-lovin' or penny-hatin' blood pumping in the comments!

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Ikea
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Design
How IKEA Turned the Poäng Chair Into a Classic
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Ikea

IKEA's Poäng chair looks as modern today as it did when it debuted in 1976. The U-shaped lounger has clean lines and a simple structure, and often evokes comparisons to Finnish designer Aalto’s famous “armchair 406.” Its design, however, is ultimately a true fusion of East and West, according to Co.Design.

In 2016, the Poäng celebrated its 40th birthday, and IKEA USA commemorated the occasion (and the 30 million-plus Poäng chairs they’ve sold over the years) by releasing two short videos about the armchair’s history and underlying design philosophy. Together, they tell the story of a fateful collaboration between Lars Engman, a young IKEA designer, and his co-worker, Noboru Nakamura.

Nakamura had initially come to IKEA to learn more about Scandinavian furniture. But the Japanese designer ended up imbuing the Poäng—which was initially called Poem—with his own distinct philosophy. He wanted to create a chair that swung “in an elegant way, which triggered me to imagine Poäng,” Nakamura recalled in a video interview. “That’s how I came up with a rocking chair.”

“A chair shouldn’t be a tool that binds and holds the sitter,” Nakamura explained. “It should rather be a tool that provides us with an emotional richness and creates an image where we let go of stress or frustration by swinging. Such movement in itself has meaning and value.”

Save for upholstery swaps, a 1992 name change, and a new-ish all-wooden frame that's easily flat-packed, the modern-day Poäng is still essentially the same product that customers have purchased and enjoyed for decades. Devotees of the chair can hear the full story by watching IKEA’s videos below—ideally, while swinging away at their desks.

[h/t Co. Design]

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iStock
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Medicine
Why Haven't We Cured Cancer Yet?
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iStock

Walkathons, fundraisers, and ribbon-shaped bumper stickers raise research dollars and boost spirits, but cancer—the dreaded disease that affects more than 14 million people and their families at any given time—still remains bereft of a cure.

Why? For starters, cancer isn't just one disease—it's more than 100 of them, with different causes. This makes it impossible to treat each one using a one-size-fits-all method. Secondly, scientists use lab-grown cell lines cultivated from human tumors to develop cancer therapies. Living masses are far more complex, so potential treatments that show promise in lab experiments often don't work on cancer patients. As for the tumors themselves, they're prone to tiny genetic mutations, so just one growth might contain multiple types of cancer cells, and even unique sub-clones of tumors. These distinct entities might not respond the same way, or at all, to the same drug.

These are just a few of the challenges that cancer researchers face—but the good news is that they're working to beat all of them, as this TED-Ed video explains below.

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