Things 2: Acoustic standing waves, Aurora Sounds, Mammatus Clouds

(Originally sent in November 2007)

This week’s film, one line review
Unfortunately the story in Sleuth (2007) was changed from the original, so it was a bad story badly told.

I also saw the anime film “5 centimeters per second“, which was insanely beautiful.

Next week’s film
I’m going to see The Golden Compass some time next week. It’s too soon for ratings to appear on imdb or rotten tomatoes, although I am keen to see it just to boycott this boycott:

Golden Compass Trailer:

Prognosis: The weakest of an otherwise amazing trilogy, it’s worth going to see this just to make sure the rest get made.

A Puzzle
If you forget to turn off your away notifier in Outlook and then send an email to someone that also has an away notifier on, does this cause an infinite loop? And if not, why not? Do you get an away notifier if you email yourself?

A Quote
LaPlace: “An intelligence that, at a given instant, could comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the respective situation of the beings that make it up, if moreover it were vast enough to submit these data to analysis, would encompass in the same formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the lightest atoms. For such an intelligence nothing would be uncertain, and the future, like the past, would be open to its eyes.”

A Link
The Golden Compass was called Northern Lights when it was first published.

These days there is not much left in the realm of human experience that science cannot explain, and I find myself extremely fascinated by the few things that are left.

Here’s an interesting link that relates to both of these things:

Perhaps needless to say, there’s a lot of other interesting stuff there.

A video
Continuing the audio science theme, here’s a beautiful demonstration of acoustic standing waves:

A picture
Mammatus clouds are extremely rare. They also look extremely photoshopped. See below and judge for yourself.

There’s lots more over at Dark Roasted Blend.


Things 67: Metavideo special

Welcome to the first real live blog post of Things, formerly only available via email. Things 1 through to 66 will be republished here in blog form on Tuesdays (and in fact Things 1 has been posted already), while new Things will appear when the Things newsletter goes out which is usually on Fridays. If you’re reading this and don’t know about the newsletter, it’s like what you’re about to read but in email form. (And if you prefer that to a blog then I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until I get a proper mailing list set up).

If you’re curious about the name ‘Nothing About Potatoes’ then do check out the very first post.

Now, on with the Things:

Metavideo Special

Laurence brought this metatrailer to my attention:

Academy Award Winning Movie Trailer

This reminded me of Charlie Brooker’s excellent observations on standard news formats:

Charlie Brooker’s How To Report The News

At about the same time, The Onion came out with it’s own version of the form:

Breaking News: Some Bullshit Happening Somewhere

I guess this next video is tenuously linked in that it plays against certain tropes of the genre, but more importantly it’s just a really superb bit of storytelling, reaffirming something I learned from Tim Sheppard’s course: an audience relates to a story through the storyteller, not merely via.

Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty

And finally, not even tangentially related, I went to see this at the Barbican and it was fantastically surreal:

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot: Finches playing guitars

[Sadly this video is no longer findable :( – metatim 02/08/15]

[It’s back!! See below – metatim 06/02/2024]

You literally walk among a whole flock of finches playing six guitars as well as making noise on cymbals covered in bird feed. It’s free and on until May 23rd, and if you like the idea of it then you will certainly like the reality. Details are here.

A Quote
YouTube comments are famously crass and immature (although what might be termed a ‘moral majority’ clearly make good use of the thumbs up / down comment rating system) which made the following comment I saw against a trailer for Wolverine all the more heartwarming:

“I watched this movie May 2nd and it was so awesome that I can’t even say how awesome I love all film peace to peace I like Wolverine with his Adamantium Claws so much that I can’t say even how I like the film is awesome and it deserve the best in the world”

(Also, the comments on the first video in this post are actually pretty good)

Last Week’s Puzzle
Last week in the Things newsletter I asked about ways to tell where to stand on a London underground platform such that you will be by the doors of the tube carriage when it pulls up.

My original answer had been to look at the painted line on the edge of the platform and find the patches with additional wear/dirt, caused by a larger number of people walking there as they left the carriage. However, this is rarely obvious enough to spot.

Rob suggested noting where ‘mind the gap’ is written on the platform. This works perfectly at some stations (such as Hammersmith), but these notices don’t seem to be present in the majority of stations so cannot usually be used.

Xuan suggests waiting until the train slows down and then entering the no-man’s land beyond the yellow line and moving along to where you can then tell a door will stop, although he admits this is quite a risky move.

Miranda points out you can reliably predict where the doors will be if you are at either end of the platform, but this isn’t always easy to get to and is often suboptimal for making changes. On that note, Rob was the first to point out the existence of an app to help with exactly that problem:

My preferred solution is simply to use the large signs that say which station you’re at, as these are very often strategically placed where the doors will be for the convenience of those looking out when the train stops. You can go one step further (since judging by where other people tend to stand quite a few others have worked this out) by waiting sixteen square tiles further up or down the platform in order to be by the next set of doors along. Do note, however, that the sign trick does not work in stations where the architecture doesn’t allow free placement of signs, such as Mile End or Gloucester Road, where large pillars dictate the placement opportunities.


Things 1: Chintz, Time Travel, Human Tetris

(Originally sent in November 2007)

I like the culture of sharing interesting things by email, but my obsessive nature makes me want to formalise the process. So here is the first edition of what may become a weekly thing. [My obsessive nature later drove me to create this blog in order to document historic ‘Things’ emails; these will now be republished here on Tuesdays – metatim, 25/03/10]

This week’s film – one line review:
American Gangster was an amazing story very well put together, that just fell a little short of being a true classic.

Next week’s film:
Sleuth (2007)
Imdb rating: 7.1/10
Rotten Tomatoes rating (summary of critics’ reviews): 33%

Sleuth Trailer:

[I originally linked to wherever I had found a trailer – now I’m posting on a blog I’m embedding whichever seems like the most canonical YouTube video – metatim, 25,03/10]

Prognosis: Looks like a bad version of a good story.

A Puzzle:
The following words all share a certain property:
Almost, Biopsy, Chintz

Can you find a number with that property?

A Quote:
From when I was about 14:

Me: “Wow! I feel like I’m going faster than I really am!”
My sister: “You are!”

A Link:
Cat and Girl is a very intelligent comic about hipsters, literature, life and science. Here’s one of my favourite ones:
[archive has been recombobulated, here’s the new link – metatim, 25/03/10]

A video:
From the great tradition of Ridiculous Japanese Game Shows:

[original video removed – here’s an alternative – metatim, 25/03/10]
[replacement video removed – here’s another alternative – metatim, 22/11/12]
[replacement video removed – here’s another alternative – metatim, 06/12/13]

[Keeping up with takedowns clearly futile, so try searching like this – metatim, 02/08/15]

A picture:


No Things About Potatoes

In November 2007, I started sending out a weekly email called “Things”, which contained links to things I found interesting on the internet that week.

In March 2010, I created this blog in order to record historic Things and post new ones.

The question of what to call the blog was a difficult one – clearly “Things” is not particularly memorable, googleable, or unique, so would have to change. One day my good friend Clare, exasperated by terrible internet advertising, remarked:

“They’re like, ‘I see that you’re interested in potatoes. Why not visit my website,'”

Well, that’s a good name, and Things is almost entirely not about potatoes, so I asked if I could use it, and she very kindly said yes. Although .com seemed like overkill, so here we are, at*, a complete archive of old Things, and new ones on Fridays once a month whenever I manage to finish a draft instead of endlessly editing it. Enjoy!

*Cannot guarantee 100% potato-free