Donald Trump thinks the wheel was invented by Americans

In the latest example of Trump's Used-Car-Salesman tactics of free-association to find any word that sticks with a listener just to close a deal, the Commander In Chief of the US Armed Forces said today on CNBC that the wheel was invented by an innovative American capitalist, as an example of the corporate ingenuity that must be protected at all costs.

It's not particularly notable or remarkable that Trump also credits Thomas Edison with the invention of the light bulb. It is true that Edison (through his company) perfected and patented a practical modern light bulb for use in American homes. But people across the globe had been experimenting with incandescent bulbs for a century before Edison locked it down; in fact, Edison's initial patent was denied because it was too derivative of the work done by William Sawyer.

But of course Edison gets all the credit. And in this case, that's not really an indictment on Trump. It is, however, a painfully accurate metaphor for the kind of "innovators" who actually get rewarded under American Capitalism — savvy business people who navigate legal loopholes to profit off of someone else's labor and ideas.

This all reminds me of something I saw on Twitter once. I can't find the original source right now, but the argument was essentially that American colonists used the wheel to prove their superiority over Native Americans. Read the rest

Review: bug-zapping lightbulbs are worthless

I got one of those bug-zapping LED lightbulbs, in hopes of murdering the flies drifting into my office during the increasingly warm and muggy Pennsylvania summer. I got mine from Home Depot, but the bulbs at Lowes, Wal-Mart and Amazon are all obviously identical. There are two lights in each bulb: an ultraviolet one inside an electrified bug-zapping cage, and a standard 60W-equivalent LED element to light the room. You can have one or both lit simply by turning the light off and on repeatedly within a second: it sounds clunky, but in practice is an ingenious way to cycle the options without adding interface elements.

But it doesn't matter, because they're useless.

I installed my bulb in three locations, moving it every couple of days until a week had passed. As a control, I moved one of those traditional gooey fly strips likewise.

Subjectively, neither did much to stop the flies, a job clearly best accomplished by closing the damn windows.

Objectively, the death tolls were as follows:

Traditional fly strip: 9 bugs, 3 large.

Bug-zapping lightbulb: 4 bugs, all tiny. (The bulb is pictured here, without cleaning)

VERDICT: Don't be tempted: they're not half as good as fly strips and are many times the price. The only advantage they have is not being quite so gross when you throw them in the trash. Read the rest

LED flood light bulbs 6-pack for $(removed)

I've been replacing all the old bulbs (CFL and incandescent) with LED bulbs. They have become very affordable in recent months, and most are rated to last about 20 years (but read Steampunk Banana's excellent post about why this claim is dubious). TCP is selling a six-pack of 65 Watt equivalent flood light LED bulbs for $(removed) on Amazon. (Dimmable bulbs are available too, for $(removed) a bulb). Read the rest

The LED light bulb you've been waiting for

Briam Lam figured out the best LED lightbulb, and explains why it will eventually pay for itself: "They'll last 15-25 years compared to about a year for regular bulbs [and] 1/5th of the power ... so they can eventually save you hundreds of dollars." [Wirecutter] Read the rest