This Gilbert No. U-238 Atomic Energy Lab on eBay is a pretty fabulous bit of science education history: a children's science kit that included a Geiger counter, electroscope, cloud chamber, spinthariscope, and, of course, radioisotopes.
Gilbert was a man of true inspiration, often compared to Walt Disney for his creative genius. Gilbert had high expectations of America's youngsters, and with such he tried to help the future engineers, doctors and leaders by providing toys worthy of their imaginations. As the inventor of the Erector Set, and seeing its commercial appeal, the he and his company set a higher goal. They became the leading manufacturer of scientific toys (chemistry sets) and construction sets (Erector), all of which gained wide acclaim at the retail level. Interested in the joy of science more than remuneration, however, Gilbert created the Atomic Energy Lab U-238 - with the help of MIT's able faculty. The toy was made to de-mystify the perils of nuclear energy and to encourage the understanding of chemistry, physics and nuclear science - ultimately helping kids (and adults) become more open to the possibilities these disciplines offer. This educational composite, which was marketed during 1950-51, sold for $49.50 - a very high price for a toy set, even by today's standard.
Copyfighting rapper Dan Bull's latest track is "Stupid Injunction," a song inspired by the UK's "super injunctions," a process by which wealthy individuals and large companies can get court orders forbidding the disclosure of embarrassing facts about their lives, and forbidding any mention of the injunction's existence at all. The InjunctionSuper Twitter account purports to publish details of the Super Injunctions, most of which involve affairs, exotic sexual activities with prostitutes and sexual harrassment.
The new Bull song coincides with his latest business model: commissioned songs. He writes, "I was thinking about how musicians made money before the record industry came about, and with that in mind I've gone back to the patronage days of old and put myself on eBay. The opening bid was 1p and it's risen phenomenally over the past couple of days. More proof that artists don't need the 'protection' of IP law..."
Sage advice from 37 Signals' Jason Fried on how to get good at making money through low-risk iteration and practice:
So here's a great way to practice making money: Buy and sell the same thing over and over on Craigslist or eBay. Seriously.
Go buy something on Craigslist or eBay. Find something that's a bit of a commodity, so you know there's always plenty of supply and demand. An iPod is a good test. Buy it, and then immediately resell it. Then buy it again. Each time, try selling it for more than you paid for it. See how far you can push it. See how much profit you can make off 10 transactions.
Start tweaking the headline. Then start fiddling with the product description. Vary the photographs. Take some pictures of the thing for sale; use other photos with other items, or people, in them. Shoot really high-quality shots, and also post crappy ones from your cell-phone camera. Try every variation you can think of.
I love doing this, because there's no real risk involved. If you already have a business, you don't need to dream up a new product line or rock the boat with crazy experiments. If you don't have a business, it's a perfect way to work on your chops.
New Zealand special effects house Weta has put a collection of its fine models up for auction on eBay, with proceeds going to benefit victims of the Christchurch earthquake. I own two of Weta's rayguns, and they're among my most prized and beautiful possessions. Up for sale are two models based on the Lord of the Rings movies (one signed by Peter Jackson, the other by Richard Taylor) and one of the Doctor Grodbort's rayguns, customized and signed by Greg Broadmore.
This mad, hand-beaten R2D2 wood-burner was adapted from a gas bottle and shined to a high gloss. He's on sale on eBay, with three days to go. Seller is in Cambridgeshire, England.
one off hand made from recycled gas bottle
mesh grate has small holes to keep a good bottom in the fire,
he is 28" tall and 13" round,
20" wide at the feet,
he has air intake on the back, ash pan on the inside for empting ashes,
4" flue, he as took 42 hours to complete,
dont think you would find another like it,
or prob see another one like it,
i havent sprayed this one in high temp paint, because i think it looks much better as steel,
he as been sprayed with wd40 to stop him rusting,
i will leave it to the winning bidder if they want to paint him,
Over on O'Reilly Radar, Jim Stogdill has a fabulous piece on the economic theory of rents as they apply to technology businesses, open source, cloud computing, spectrum auctions, and other chewy, boingy subjects. This is exactly the kind of economist talk I love: the stuff that makes you slap your forehead and say of course, that's how it works:
Obviously digital distribution has also damaged the traditional channel model of the music, film, and photography markets. The impact of this is that the tail-end of the curve can probably shift business models and still make the same money (by touring, selling FLAC files, whatever). But the head -- where the record companies are -- will struggle to extract rents like they used to. As they realize this, they do what rent holders who are losing always do: dispense patronage from their existing franchise and try to influence the law to make their rents more permanent.
Apple has historically lived on rents derived from superior design, which is a very hard thing to do consistently. So they've earned their rents so far. Recently, they've gotten even smarter. The App Store is an MBA's dream because it combines network effects with classic distribution channel control and slotting fees. It also has strong barriers to exit. Interestingly, Foxconn (and its employees) mostly continue to work at opportunity cost levels of renumeration. Rents stay with the leverage and are not evenly distributed through the supply chain.
Apple also finds itself in the odd position of Karmic enforcer. The software developers that once helped destroy content owners' iron-clad grip on distribution now find themselves selling their creations for 30 percent of $.99. Karma is a bitch.
Google extracts amazing rents through a combination of innovation and network effects, although they have really struggled to duplicate their core search / AdSense monopoly. Innovation is keeping Google ahead of Schumpeter for now, but hasn't yet created a second vortex of network effect monopoly. So Bing is an important threat if its share continues to grow. Emerging and effective competition in the area where you are extracting rents will have a non-linear impact on your bottom line. If all goes well (in a Schumpeterian sense), both Bing and Google's search franchises will be rent free in an economic sense. Good for people buying ads, bad for people that hope Google will keep taking the cash thrown off to innovate in other areas (like creating an Office rent-neutralizing alternative in the cloud). It's like watching a pair of Ultra Kaiju trying to choke each other out over Tokyo.
eBay seller Komanac is flogging this 4' high, 5' long AT-AT model made of wood, cardboard, duct-tape and Sharpie: "This was created for an art show: 'Star Wars 33&1/3 anniversary' during Art Walk here in Lethbridge Alberta. I would love to keep it but not enough room. It was created July/August of this year - it took several rolls of duct tape and 30 - 40 hours to create."
EBay seller Photo-arsenal-worldwide is flogging this mint-in-package NASA Hasselblad camera; bidding now stands at nearly $34,000. I love how everything in space looks like it was descended from a Tonka truck.
The cease-and-desist letter that Lucasfilm sent to the company that made a laser-pointer alleged to infringe the Lucas trademark on lightsabers sold recently on eBay for a whopping $3,850. The winning bidder has moderate eBay history (12 transactions), which suggests that this isn't (merely) a publicity stunt.
I recently bought a house and decided to turn the guest bathroom into a "chamber of horrors". I made a list of the things my mom would never let me have when I was a kid, and at the top of the list was a real live (dead) shrunken head. But where the heck would I go to get one?
EBay of course! It turns out that the Jivaro Indians in Ecuador have toned down their warlike nature for the sake of commerce, and they're cranking out tsantsa (their word for shrunken heads) by the carload. Thankfully, they make them from goat and alpaca skins now, instead of their neighbors. These specialized tribal craftsmen haven't quite mastered the delicate art of quality control, so the heads vary in quality from laughably fake to chillingly realistic. It takes some know-how to score a really good one.
There are two philosophies to shrunken head buying at eBay... If you like gambling, buy a lot of five or more at a time. The variability of the manufacturing process guarantees that each head is totally unique and has its own personality. You may have to sift through a bunch to find the one you like. You can always give away the rejects as hostess gifts at parties for the next few years. If you are a dedicated soul and desire a "de-luxe model", scour eBay until just the right head turns up. You might pay a bit more, but you'll have the perfect facial features and hair color to match your home's decor.
Facebook, Google, Yahoo and eBay have written a letter to Britain's Pirate-Finder General, Peter Mandelson, objecting to his proposal to introduce the Digital Economy Bill with provisions that allow him to make up any copyright law and penalty he likes. He's responded saying, "Don't worry, no one would ever abuse that power, ever, ever. Why would they?"
"The law must keep pace with technology, so that the Government can act if new ways of seriously infringing copyright develop in the future," a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis).
The consortium believe that if Clause 17, as it is known, is approved it will give "any future Secretary of State" the ability to amend copyright laws as they see fit.
"This power could be used, for example, to introduce additional technical measures or increase monitoring of user data even where no illegal practice has taken place," the letter read.
This would "discourage innovation" and "impose unnecessary costs" representatives of the firms wrote.
Bis said that clause 17 was a necessary extension of its plans to reduce copyright theft and that fears that government would mould copyright laws to their needs were unfounded.
In the comments, one "eviladrian" wrote: "Try searching ebay for 'haunted dolls,'" and included this link.
Suffice to say, if you're in the market for a haunted doll, today is your lucky day.
This is one of the MANY dolls given to me by my Grandmother,her name is JENNA. JENNA IS THE LOVING POSITIVE SPIRIT OF A 9 YEAR OLD LITTLE GIRL. LITTLE JENNA HAD A ROUGH SHORT LIFE. HER FATHER RAPED, AND BEAT HER ON A DAILY BASIS. AS A VICTIM OF HER FATHERS TORTURE SHE HAD NO ONE TO TALK TO ABOUT IT. SHE WAS ALL ALONE, HER MOTHER PASSED AWAY DURING HER BIRTH, AND LEFT JENNA WITH HER FATHER A MONSTER. IF JENNA DIDNT DO SOMETHING TO HER FATHERS LIKING LIKE CLEAN HER BEDROOM, SHE KNEW WHAT AWAITED, SHE WOULD BE THRASHED SEVERLY THEN HANDCUFFED IN HER BEDROOM CLOSET WITH NO RESTROOM PRIVALAGES, NO FOOD, NOTHING. THE ABUSE BEGAN WHILE JENNA WAS ONLY 2 AND CONTINUED UNTIL THE DAY SHE PASSED. JENNA WAS COURAGEOUS AND WAS AFFRAID TO ESCAPE, HER FATHER WOULD TELL HER THAT SHE WOULD NOT BE BELIEVED AND THAT THEY WOULD ONLY TAKE HER AWAY TO A PLACE MORE HORRIBLE THEN WHERE SHE LIVED. JENNA BROKE DOWN, AND COULD NOT HANDLE THE ABUSE ANY LONGER. ON THE DAY AFTER HER NINTH BIRTHDAY, SHE TOOK AN OVERDOSE OF PRESCRIPTION MEDICINE HER FATHER HAD, SHE WENT TO SLEEP AND NEVER WOKE UP.~IF YOU FEEL A CONNECTION TO JENNA THEN YOU SHOULD BID, YOU COULD BE THE ONE DESTINED TO WATCH OVER HER AND KEEP HER SAFE FROM HARM!~
Prospective bidders, please note: "These dolls and their spirit hosts do not perform on command, they are the vessel of live spirits, from someone who lived and attached their spirits with the doll for some reason or another." Also? Her Aunt Celeste "read" the dolls. Finally, "Due to the fact that paranormal item or items are involved in this sale, I am 'forced' by Ebay's rules and regulations to make the following statement: this is for entertainment purposes only."