It may not have seemed like an inflationary decade just passed, but click here to see. The squeeze was on, even as middle-class income declined.


I hate checking luggage, not least because there’s now a charge to do it; so sometimes I FedEx light bulky stuff ahead to a hotel.

Back when I felt rich, I sent stuff three-day air, figuring I was an ‘express-saver’ – and how much more could it cost than FedEx Ground or UPS?

Well, like a billion dollars more, as it turns out.

Last month I FedExed a 14.4-pound box for $11.19 that arrived, by ground, three business days later. It would have cost $40.61 to arrive the same day if I had used express-saver air … $62.97 if I had gone for 2-day air … $98.17 for “next afternoon” … $112.56 for next morning by 10:30am …$139.31 for next morning even earlier.

Same box.  Plan ahead.  Save big.

(I had intended to run this item two weeks before Christmas, to be more useful to you.  I guess it’s not enough simply to plan ahead, you have to act.  Who knew?)


Ken Doran:  “Mark Knapp is living in a fool’s paradise.  What if a 50-mile-wide asteroid hits?  It will wipe out Dropbox and SugarSync and Jungle Disk and his desktop and his laptop.  What will he do then?”

☞  Good point.


Russell Turpin:  “Dogs don’t know placebos.  But their owners do.  In a single-blind study, patients don’t know whether they are receiving a placebo.  In a double-blind study, the caregivers don’t know whether they are administering a placebo.  Double-blinding is important – though not always possible – because there is a documented placebo effect merely from caregivers knowing that a treatment is ‘real.’  This is so for animals as well.  It’s not hard to imagine why this might be. Even when a caregiver is careful to give individual patients no clue whether they are receiving placebo or treatment, even for patients who lack the ability to know, the caregiver might give more attention to one group, might differently evaluate changes seen, or might otherwise treat one group different from the other.  Often unconsciously.  When drugs are tested on animals, researchers use a blinding protocol, so they themselves don’t know which group is receiving the drug being tested.  It doesn’t matter that the animals don’t know.  If the people involved do, that is enough to create false results.”

☞  All true and well noted.  But there are so many reports of nearly immobile pets springing back to into action that, unscientific though it is, I’m guessing there’s something to it.  And to what it’s done for my knees.

Peter Kaczowka:  “In a true double-blind study the dog’s owner would not know whether the dog was getting glucosamine or a placebo.  Without that control, the dog reacts to the caregivers expectations, and in this case climbs the stairs.  We know dogs get sophisticated cues from owners, and so do horses.  Note that the owner of ‘Clever Hans’ was unaware he was giving cues; he believed he had a very smart horse.”

☞  Hans could only guess right when his owner knew the answers.  My pal The Amazing Randi offers “a story about a fake scent-tracking dog who, along with its handler, John Preston, helped wrongly convict and send people to prison.”

Tomorrow:  Cheaper GPS


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