World’s largest truffle sold at auction

At over four pounds, the largest white truffle ever found was auctioned last week for $50,000 ($61,250 including auction fees).

“The reason why truffles have gotten so cheap all of a sudden is because they dropped all the import taxes,” another man said, turning to his wife, as Balestra breezed the pedestal past the next table.

“I wish I could take a picture of the smell,” the wife said, her eyes closed.

What do you make, and how many people do you invite, to use up a truffle of that size?

YouTube to change due to ‘Gangnam Style’

Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’ has surpassed 2,147,483,648 views, which is the highest number that YouTube’s system can currently count to. The Washington Post does an excellent job of explaining why:

This is sort of complicated, so we won’t get into it too deep. But basically, YouTube codes its view count as a signed 32-bit integer, which means (a) it stores numbers as a string of 32 0s and 1s, with one of those slots reserved for determining if it’s a positive or negative number, (b) it can only count up to 2^(32-1), or 2,147,483,648, and (c) if it reaches that point, instead of counting to the next positive number, it will switch into negative integers. In terms of YouTube’s display, that would probably mean showing a view count of -2,147,483,647, which of course makes no sense.

The obvious question is why they decided to use a signed rather than an unsigned integer, but I assume it was needed for other calculation throughout the YouTube system — negative numbers would be useful when removing views due to bots, etc. for monetary purposes.

YouTube has upgraded the counter to a 64-bit signed int, which has a maximum value of 9,223,372,036,854,775,807. Why they didn’t go with a 128-bit signed int is beyond me.

Inside Gramercy Park

Shawn Christopher spent his honeymoon in NYC, and the room he rented via Airbnb also came with a key to the exclusive Gramercy Park. He used his mobile phone and Google’s PhotoSphere to post pictures from inside the park to Google Maps.

“When I found out where I was, I thought, ‘This has to be captured,’ ” said Shawn Christopher, a computer programmer and former Army sergeant from the Pittsburgh area who visited in May while on his honeymoon. “The Internet is all about sharing knowledge, especially these secret, hidden things.”

It’s a park. It looks like most of the other ones, just a bit cleaner and emptier.

Correction of the year?

Slate’s correction: “Update: There Are Not Any Bags of Puke on the Moon”.

Suckow’s answer was backed up by Alan Needell of the Air and Space Museum and a lunar researcher Needell contacted named Ulrich Lotzmann. Lotzmann checked the Biomedical Results as well and came to the same conclusion: No astronauts ever vomited during a mission that landed on the moon, so any emesis bags that were left there were empty.

Glad that got cleared up.

The photographer that missed the shot, responds

Right after Odell Beckham Jr.’s amazing catch last Sunday night, Twitter started mentioning a photographer that could be seen in the background missing the catch. Andrew Mills, the photographer, responded on Monday:

As the ball left his hand, I switched cameras to the 70-200 hanging over my right shoulder and immediately swung to the center of the field, hunting for the intended receiver, but I couldn’t find one. I swung back toward the bench and spotted Beckham blazing down the sideline right at me, ball in the air.

This is the “Oh, no” point.

I am tracking him, and Beckham is closing fast. Too fast. And I am too close. Way too close. And there’s nothing I can do.

Sometimes, all the skill, talent, and experience mean nothing without a little bit of luck.

Dogs falling

Photographer Julia Christe took pictures of dogs falling through the air.

The eyes are amazing.

Commercials during an NFL game

Vlad Savov at The Verge wondered what it would cost to buy every product advertised during an NFL game, so, he compiled a list.

The purpose of this undertaking was to articulate how saturated in advertising every game broadcast has become. Analogous numbers could be drawn from the typical NBA or MLB game, but the NFL is the clear leader both in popularity and ad density. For every three-hour contest that an NFL fan spectates, 50 minutes (or around 25 percent) is spent irradiated in the ember glow of brand messaging. Buy, drive, invest, consume, insure, consume some more, buy again. I can’t help but wonder if the real price we pay for this entertainment isn’t greater than the fictional bill I have compiled herein.

Wonderful analysis.

How many rats in NYC?

There’s an urban legend that there are as many rats as people in NYC. Jonathan Auerbach, a student at Columbia University, did some research and puts the number of rats at far fewer.

Mr. Auerbach, who was a fiscal analyst for the City Council and for the New York City Labor Market Information Service at the City University of New York before enrolling at Columbia, acknowledged in his paper that conducting a rat census posed significant challenges for a statistician. “Animals are terrible survey respondents,” he noted dryly.

He faced other methodological problems. He could not capture a large number of rats, mark them for identification purposes, release them, capture a second batch and count the number of marked rats in that batch. “Unfortunately,” he wrote, the health department “is unlikely to approve a large-scale rat-releasing experiment (I know, because I asked).”

The main flaw I see in his research is that not every sighting is reported.

Let’s get one thing straight: The Xmas season starts AFTER Thanksgiving!

Period.

Like everyone else (I hope), I am sick and tired of the over-commercialization of the Xmas season, but I put up with it because there are some positive aspects to it. However, I firmly believe that we should celebrate one holiday at a time, so, as in previous years, I will be boycotting retailers who start the Xmas season too early. Unlike previous years, I will be publicly shaming them for doing so.

Halloween has been over less than four days, and already Walmart and Best Buy are on the list (let’s be honest, Walmart is always on my boycott list because they suck, but they suck doubly so because they advertised an Xmas sale before the weekend was over).

Personally, I don’t think retailers should advertise Xmas related content at all until after Thanksgiving, however, due to the whole Black Friday thing I allow them to advertise Black Friday sales, and thus Xmas related content, starting the Monday prior to Thanksgiving. This year, that’s Monday November 24th.

Black Friday is a whole other issue for another time.

Without further ado, I present the list of companies that will not see one dime from me during the holiday season (list will be updated as necessary):

  • Bass Pro Shop
  • Best Buy
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • iHeartRadio
  • Infiniti (and by extension, Nissan Motor Company)
  • The Lincoln Motor Company (and by extension, Ford Motor Company)
  • Walmart

Who’s the best World Series pitcher of all time?

Coming off Madison Bumgarner’s impressive complete game shutout on Sunday night, the Times looks at the best World Series pitchers.

Bumgarner now holds the record for lowest career earned run average (0.29) in the World Series among pitchers with at least 30 innings pitched. The mark is impressive by any standard. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that Bumgarner is the best World Series pitcher ever.

That distinction belongs to Christy Mathewson, who also did his pitching for the Giants (when they were in New York). It’s not even close, either.

Don Larson, who pitched the only perfect game in World Series history, didn’t even make the list. Who’s that Babe Ruth guy?