Buy direct — from China

If Home Depot, or any of the other local “hardware” stores, carried this exact thing, it would cost about one dollar for two pieces. They have some very similar items that I would have been willing to use if I could have.

Package from China
Direct from China and 15% of the price.
Because they don’t have anything close enough I had to order direct from China, using eBay. It cost $6.76. For 100 pieces. There were a couple of U.S. source, but I would have needed to buy 5,000 and I really only needed one.

Can somebody please explain why it’s $1 for two at a local store and $6.76 for 100 from China?


The Illusion of Control posting reminded me of another concept. I have watched perfectly rational, intelligent people get upset during a card game because the cards were dealt out of order. Random cards, dealt out of order. Random.

I have seen people that I personally know to be very intelligent believe in all sorts of nonsense, and even seen them defend some of it in an almost religious intensity. Which, of course is the way that nonsense is typically defended. Pick your non-scientific favorite: typically right-wingers denying climate change or left-wingers spreading GMO fear. It can be difficult to comprehend, if it’s not something you already believe in, how others can think some stuff is true.

This phenomena has a name: Dysrationalia. I encountered the term while reading about why puzzles go viral, at the time when the “what is Cheryl’s birthday” meme was spreading. At least I thought I did, up until I looked through the article while writing this one I found that it isn’t mentioned.

So, learning about going viral wasn’t where I learned that dysrationalia existed as a research topic. I already know that we can’t trust our memories because they change over time. That means that I’ll just have to assume that I wanted an excuse to write about dysrationalia and that the illusion of control gave me an excuse to do it. Or that I liked the viral article and wanted an excuse to write about it.

More likely it was the article Why Smart People Do Stupid Things. Yep, that was it.

It makes no difference: this is written, so why not just press the publish button? You now have two more articles to read.

The illusion of control

I was recently reading “Press me! The buttons that lie to you” (

In brief, psychologist Ellen Langer, now a professor at Harvard, dealt one set of cards in a haphazard order during a five card draw game of poker. “Everybody,” she says, “got crazy. The cards somehow belonged to the other person even though you couldn’t see any of them.”

In 1975 she wrote a paper that described the significance of these beliefs and coined a term for the effect that they had on people. Langer called it the “illusion of control”.

When I read that phrase, there was a disjointed part of me that felt like I was reading an article about politics. It sometimes seems like we are just pressing a Placebo Like Button, especially when our only choices are to vote for one of the slightly lesser of two evils.

It turns out that there are quite a few buttons that exist only to make us feel better. Sometimes it’s that “press button to cross street” one, sometimes it’s voting Democratic in a district that has been gerrymandered into Republican control. Or vice versa.