John Green Hates Pennies (and Nickels)

So I'm a few weeks late to this party, but after 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UPDATE: Those statistics are out of date.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 for the correction.

My inflation calculations came from the CPI inflation calculator:

Information about the opportunity cost implications of pennies and the calculations of lost productivity can be found here: and here:

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

A Simple Trick For Figuring Out the Day of the Week For Any Given Date

People typically remember anniversaries in terms of dates and years, not days of the week. If you can’t remember whether you got married on a Saturday or Sunday, or don't know which day of the week you were born on, there’s a simple arithmetic-based math trick to help you figure out sans calendar, according to It's Okay To Be Smart host Joe Hanson.

Mathematician John Conway invented the so-called Doomsday Algorithm to calculate the day of the week for any date in history. It hinges on several sets of rules, including that a handful of certain dates always share the same day of the week, no matter what year it is. (Example: April 4, June 6, August 8, October 10, December 12, and the last day of February all fall on a Wednesday in 2018.) Using this day—called an “anchor day”—among other instructions, you can figure out, step by step, the very day of the week you’re searching for.

Learn more about the Doomsday Algorithm in the video below (and if it’s still stumping you, check out It’s OK to Be Smart’s handy cheat sheet here).

Why the Film You're Watching on HBO Might Not Be the Whole Movie

In the days before widescreen televisions, most of the movies you watched on VHS or on cable looked a little different than their big-screen versions. The sides of the image had to be cropped out so that you could watch a movie made for a rectangular screen on the small screen. Today, those little black bars on the top and bottom of the screen that allow you to watch the same movie scaled to any shape of screen are everywhere. But it turns out, cropping for aspect ratios is alive and well—on HBO, as YouTube film vlogger Patrick Willems explains.

In his latest video, which we spotted on Digg, Willems explains why aspect ratios matter, and how the commonly used aspect ratios can fundamentally change a movie.

Most old-school televisions have 4:3 aspect ratios, meaning movies had to be significantly cropped to fit wide-screen films on the small screen. Now, most computers and televisions use 16:9 aspect ratios, which is approximately the same as the one used for movies, typically 1.85:1, so many movies expand to fit TV screens perfectly. The catch: Some Hollywood movies are shot with even wider angles to show even more of an image at once. And even though viewers are familiar with the sight of those black bars, it seems the streaming sites are determined to limit their use, even for movies that don’t fit on a normal screen. As a result, you may only be seeing the central part of the image, not the whole thing. You could be missing characters, action, and landscape that’s happening on the far sides of the screen.

Since 1993, the Motion Picture Association of America has mandated that any film that’s been altered in a way that changes the original vision of its creators—say, to edit out swear words, adjust the run time, or to make it fit a certain screen—run with a disclaimer that says as much. That’s why before movies run on TV, they usually show a note that says something like “This film has been modified from its original version. It has been formatted to fit this screen.” But this doesn’t seem to apply to streaming.

In 2013, Netflix was accused of cropping films, too, showing wide-angle movies to fit the standard 16:9 screen instead of running the original version with black bars. The streaming giant claimed it was a mistake due to distributors sending them the cropped version, and those films would be replaced with the originals. However, as of 2015, users were still complaining of the problem. According to Willems, it’s a problem that still plagues not just HBO, but Starz and Hulu, too, and there isn’t any clear rationale for it other than that perhaps people don’t like looking at black bars. But frankly, that seems better than seeing a version of a film that the director never intended.

You can get all the details in the video below:

[h/t Digg]


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