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UPDATE: Those statistics are out of date.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!

Can You 'Hear' These Silent GIFs?

GIFs are silent—otherwise they wouldn't be GIFs. But some people claim to hear distinct noises accompanying certain clips. Check out the GIF below as an example: Do you hear a boom every time the structure hits the ground? If so, you may belong to the 20 to 30 percent of people who experience "visual-evoked auditory response," also known as vEAR.

Researchers from City University London recently published a paper online on the phenomenon in the journal Cortex, the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reports. For their study, they recruited more than 4000 volunteers and 126 paid participants and showed them 24 five-second video clips. Each clip lacked audio, but when asked how they rated the auditory sensation for each video on a scale of 0 to 5, 20 percent of the paid participants rated at least half the videos a 3 or more. The percentage was even higher for the volunteer group.

You can try out the researchers' survey yourself. It takes about 10 minutes.

The likelihood of visual-evoked auditory response, according to the researchers, directly relates to what the subject is looking at. "Some people hear what they see: Car indicator lights, flashing neon shop signs, and people's movements as they walk may all trigger an auditory sensation," they write in the study.

Images packed with meaning, like two cars colliding, are more likely to trigger the auditory illusion. But even more abstract images can produce the effect if they have high levels of something called "motion energy." Motion energy is what you see in the video above when the structure bounces and the camera shakes. It's why a video of a race car driving straight down a road might have less of an auditory impact than a clip of a flickering abstract pattern.

The researchers categorize vEAR as a type of synesthesia, a brain condition in which people's senses are combined. Those with synesthesia might "see" patterns when music plays or "taste" certain colors. Most synesthesia is rare, affecting just 4 percent of the population, but this new study suggests that "hearing motion synesthesia" is much more prevalent.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

Live Smarter
The Google Docs Audio Hack You Might Not Know About

To the uninitiated, Google Docs may take some warming up to. But although it may seem like any other word processor, Docs offers its fair share of nifty features that can make your life a whole lot easier. The only problem is that few people seem to know about them.

The Voice Typing function is one such example. As Quartz discovered, this tool can be used to drastically cut down on the time it takes to transcribe an interview or audio recording—a feature that professionals from many fields could benefit from. Voice Typing might also be useful to those who prefer to dictate what they want to write, as well as those with impairments that prevent them from typing.

Whatever the case may be, it's extremely easy to use. Just open a blank document, click on "tools" at the top, and then select "voice typing." A microphone icon will pop up, allowing you to choose your language. After you've done that, simply click the icon when you're ready to start speaking!

Unfortunately, it's unable to pick up an audio recording played through speakers, so you'll need to grab a pair of headphones, plug them into your phone or voice recorder, and dictate what's said as you listen along. Still, this eliminates the hassle of having to pause and rewind in order to let your fingers catch up to the audio—unless you're the champion of a speed typing contest, in which case you probably don't need this tutorial.

According to Quartz, the transcription is "shockingly" accurate, even getting the spelling of last names right. For a how-to guide on the Voice Typing tool, check out Quartz's video below.

[h/t Quartz]


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