After our post yesterday ended up crashing the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ consumer information website, we received an email from them. They said they wanted to explain how the site works to address some reader questions, as well as point out that you too can contribute to the rankings by filing complaints when your insurer does something objectionable.
So you suspect your health/auto/home insurer is run by the devil, but you’re not sure whether the alternative you’re considering is any better. Kiplinger Finance has posted a helpful article on how to find the complaint ratio of an insurer via the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website. Update: here’s how to file your own complaint.
Engine Industries used Google Trends to map the frequency of search terms like “used car,” “new car,” and “buy car” through Google. They found that “people search car-related keyterms most in the summer and least in the winter, with a small spike right before Christmas.”
Now, you know what they say about green M&Ms. That isn’t true. But have you heard what they say about blue M&Ms? That the dye they contain can help the body to repair damage from spinal cord injuries? That one’s true. Oh, and the dye also turns rodents blue.
A PR person just contacted us on behalf of the U.S. Treasury Department to point out that there are $16 billion in unredeemed bonds that are no longer earning interest. “Specifically, there are 40 million Series E savings bonds purchased between 1941 and 1978 that are over 30 years old and therefore have fully matured. They can be cashed out today for at least four times their face value.”
The latest study of people who take large amounts of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) indicates that, contrary to what earlier studies suggested, they don’t seem to cut the risk of developing Alzheimer’s. In fact, it’s just the opposite: “During the study, 476 people developed dementia, and heavy NSAID users had a 66% higher risk of developing the condition than those with low or no use.”
That topical spray we mentioned last week—the one designed to help premature ejaculators—turns out to just be a mixture of lidocaine and prilocaine. Lidocaine is commonly used by dentists to numb the mouth, and prilocaine is used to numb skin before inserting a needle. But beyond that, Consumer Reports points out that side effects reported by the men and their partners in the study included a “rash on their penis” or “a burning sensation in their vagina.”
Within only a couple of hours of our posting some gross-out videos of bad Domino’s employees last night, our readers Amy Wilson and whyerhead managed to track down the location, call the store directly to alert the manager, and send the address to Domino’s corporate. The only two clues they had were the YouTube handle of the uploader and a quick glimpse of the surrounding area as viewed through the drive-through window in one of the clips.
Do you suffer from premature ejaculations? Waitdon’tanswertha—oh too late. Just know that help may be on the way, with the first topical spray proven in medical studies to delay the magic moment six times longer than without. It’s been approved for use in Great Britain but doesn’t have FDA approval in the US yet—although NBC News says we’ll likely see it here in the next couple of years. Update: Consumer Reports says the spray isn’t really all that after all. [MSNBC] (Photo: wili_hybrid)
A study by the Green Design Institute at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh states that when comparing getting a flash drive from Buy.com versus a physical retailer, Buy.com ends up being about 30% less damaging to the environment. To reach their conclusion, the researchers compared transportation, packaging, warehousing, and energy usage both by the consumer and the retailer.
The more credulous you are, either because you’re new to the whole line-of-credit experience or because you’re uneducated, the more likely you are to mistake a high line of credit for an indication of your future earnings potential. You can see how this can lead to bad things, as noted by the researchers who studied this unfortunate problem earlier this decade. Luckily, the savvier you get about credit cards, the less influence your credit limit has on you, which is yet another great reason to make financial literacy education mandatory.
Self-identified rational people take pride in the fact that they can’t be easily manipulated, but of course that’s the pride part of their dumb monkey brains talking. Here’s an interesting study that measured whether hard-to-pronounce words were perceived as riskier than words that were easier to pronounce—in this case, by comparing fake additives in food and asking which ones were more likely to be harmful.
Phishing attacks are pretty cleverly designed, because they skip most virus checkpoints altogether and go for the true weak spot in human-computer interaction, the human. Lorrie Faith Cranor, a computer security researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, has been studying phishing attacks to identify new ways to fight them.
Consumer Reports has set up some cute mall kiosks in the Boston Area so that shoppers can research products while they are shopping, but if you can’t get to Boston you can still give the website a try.
CBS says that they took a look at the research cited by the marketing campaign from the Corn Refiners Association — which features “people-in-the-know” rolling their eyes and scoffing at befuddled anti-corn-syrup zealots — and realized that “three were sponsored by groups that stand to profit from research that promotes HFCS. Two were never published so they’re funding sources are unclear. And one was sponsored by a Dutch foundation that represents the interests of the sugar industry.”
Very Short List notes that “America’s lotto kiosks are currently reporting heretofore unheard-of earnings,” despite the average rate of return—53%—being less than slot machines. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon recently completed a study in which they primed people to feel relatively poor, then offered them a chance to buy lottery tickets, and the results suggest that the poorer you feel, the more likely you’ll waste your money on a lottery.