Tag Archives: question

Things 95: Modern Movies, How to be Happy, Mouse Mystery

Video
A beautiful demonstration of physics (or perhaps chemistry):
httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZGjwe-BCfms

Quote
Scott Rudin, quoted in this GQ article about why movies are all rubbish these days:

Studios are hardwired not to bet on execution, and the terrible thing is, they’re right. Because in terms of execution, most movies disappoint.

Incidentally, while there’s clearly a huge argument to be had about the relevance of the data to the argument, let’s just contextualise the “things are terrible now” discussion by looking at the breakdown of what proportion of pre-2010 films in the IMDb top 250 come from each decade:

We see a broad trend that is the opposite of the “films used to be better” argument, apart from a post-war spike.

As I said, this is a starting point for huge arguments, and if I was going to start one I would begin with one of the following:
-Any popularity poll will tend to bias more recent candidates
-Demographic bias of IMDb voters and the scoring calculation used for the IMDb Top 250 will skew the result away from the “Objective Truth” (ha ha ha) of the matter
-This data does not speak to the more important issue of ‘typical’ film quality by decade

This week’s question
A mouse can fall any distance and survive. How is this possible?

Picture
I’ve had this obvious-but-actually-important thought myself, and this is a pretty great way of expressing it:

Answer to the previous question
In Things 94, I asked why ovens didn’t come with a built-in thermomenter.

Uncharacteristically, the Things community was unable to answer – or perhaps you weren’t interested. So I asked the internet using my secret research alter-ego* on Yahoo Answers, and also on Quora just to try that out.

You can see the range of responses I received on Yahoo answers, some of which are quite useful. The question on Quora has yet to draw a response, so I’m guessing the community there is still too niche to cover this kind of thing.

Putting together the suggestions from YA and my own thoughts, this is my conclusion:

1) It’s difficult (and therefore expensive) to make an oven thermometer that will remain accurate for the device’s lifetime. If it wasn’t, I suspect ovens would be thermostat-based, and we wouldn’t have the problem to begin with. (As I said, baking books insist there is a problem, and anecdotally I can report my gas oven is almost two gas marks cooler than it should be, and adjusting for this significantly improved my baking results).

2) It also must be difficult (and therefore expensive) to design and calibrate an oven such that it accurately produces the intended temperatures throughout its lifetime, because (once again) if this wasn’t true the problem wouldn’t arise.

3) The solution to the problem is to have a separate thermometer and use it from time to time to calibrate your oven. That thermometer then doesn’t need to maintain integrity for every use of your oven, and even if it does break it’s much easier to replace than an integrated one would be.

4) Admitting there is even a problem looks bad, so any oven manufacturer supplying such a thermometer unit with its devices would be perceived as worse than those that pretend there isn’t a problem.

5) Even if a manufacturer did include a built-in thermometer, people unaware of the oven temperature problem would again presume the oven must be sub-standard to need one, and people that know enough to worry would realise an integral thermometer couldn’t be trusted for long.

I suspect similar principles apply to protective cases and screen protectors for mobile devices.

*A long time ago I thought it might be prudent to separate my question-asking online identity from my confident-and-opinionated online identity. This doesn’t seem quite as important any more, and now that Things is a blog it’s very easy for someone to connect the two anyway, so now I don’t worry about linking from one to the other. But I’ll still use it anyway.

Things 91: Dresden Codak, i.e., Paths of Flight

Link
In Things 48 (not yet blogged) I linked to an Aaron Diaz’s Dresden Codak update featuring 42 sharply observed 3rd-act plot twists, but recently realised that this may have misrepresented his work, which instead usually consists of astonishingly deft single-page stories revolving around simple but brilliant ideas.

Here’s 3 of my favourites to give you a much better idea of Diaz’s oeuvre:

Lantern Season:

Fabulous Prizes:

Girl vs Bear:

His blog on comic art theory is also well worth checking out if you are remotely interested in the art form.

Quote
During a characteristically interesting and varied conversation with Adam a few days ago, he suddenly revealed the following:

That reminds me of a really interesting thing I read in the Metro today – something like: 30,000 people… something. I can’t remember what it was, but it was really amazing.

Question
Sometimes I want to ask things in Things that are even more obviously not what people might call Puzzles than usual, so in these cases I’m going to be more direct and call a question a Question. So here is a Question.

When it comes to arguments about the English Language I tend to side with the people saying “most people say it this way so that’s now correct” against those saying “this is the way some Victorian guy wrote in a book that it should be said so everyone doing otherwise is wrong”, but I do admit that some distinctions are worth holding against a tide of misuse, one example being that I would correct instances of “i.e.” and “e.g.” being used in one another’s stead where polite and possible.

Fortunately, this didn’t come up very often.

Then in 2010 something terrible happened. About 95% of all instances of “i.e.” that I read were incorrect and should have been “e.g.”, which is particularly silly as it reads as if the author believes a set of many elements (e.g. social networks) consists of only one (e.g. “i.e. Facebook”).

So my question is this: have you also noticed such a sudden rise in “i.e.” misuse, or have I just been unlucky and/or suffered from confirmation bias?

Video
A while ago I realised you could collage time lapse photography of a flight path to obtain an image of a string of planes; I then realised you could do the same thing with video, but recognised that this was beyond my means to produce. Conveniently, GE have now done this:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN9otwGPND4