Things 93: Wormworld Saga, Newton and Pascal, Idiots and Maniacs

If you like webcomics, or just enjoy seeing examples of excellent use of light in digital paintings, do check out the first chapter of Wormworld Saga.

Einstein, Newton and Pascal decide to play hide and seek. Einstein is it, closes his eyes, counts to 10 then opens them. Pascal is no where to be seen. Newton is sitting right in front of Einstein, with a piece of chalk in his hand. He’s sitting in a box drawn on the ground, a meter to a side. Einstein says “Newton, you’re terrible, I’ve found you!” Newton says “No no, Einy. You’ve found one Newton per square meter. You’ve found Pascal.”

This sprang out of the discussion on language pedantry last week on the RAPP CC list.

In “Eats, Shoots and Leaves” Lynne Truss makes the following observation:

Yes, as Evelyn Waugh wrote: “Everyone has always regarded any usage but his own as either barbarous or pedantic.” Or, as Kingsley Amis put it less delicately in his book The King’s English (1997), the world or grammar is divided into “berks and wankers” – berks being those that are outrageously slipshod about language, and wankers those who are (in our view) abhorrently over-precise.

A similar observation in a different field is attributed to George Carlin:

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

It seems to me that grammatical precision and driving speed fall into a very particular category of behavioural spectra in which we seem to be highly critical of others who vary from our own view in one direction or the other, even slightly. Other examples I’ve observed being described in a similar way and heard people comment on with varying degrees of politeness are alcohol consumption, smartness of dress, household cleanliness, and various aspects of personal hygiene.

The question is, what is it about these behaviours that makes us so sensitive to differences?

I’m not at all sure this diagram works fully, but I like it a lot anyway:


Things 33: Fast Zombies, Eyeballing, Hallowe’en Pets

(Originally sent November 2008)

I’ve cancelled my Cineworld card because there’s a lot of stuff I need to do in the next couple of months.

I did see Quantum of Solace, which I found to be surprisingly poorly scripted, directed and edited. Mark Kermode expressed my thoughts precisely, and also has some insight as to why it ended up this way:


Puzzle Answers
I forgot to answer the car light mystery from Things 31. It turned out that the back lights were not actually on, and only came on when braking (which is why they were on when I parked to check) – I proved this by nudging the brakes and looking at the cats-eyes on the motorway light up in my rear view mirror. After fixing this by finding out that the light-controlling dial also had to be ‘popped out’ to engage the rear lights (crazy design idea), cars continued to flash at me, which I eventually discovered was in fact due to me using fog-lights, which was because instead of being controlled by the dial that did everything else to do with lights, these were controlled from another, unlabelled part of the dashboard.

As for the Busaba Toilets, I went into the other room marked with the curving lines, only to be confronted by some unimpressed women. I went back to the room with the kinked line and it was only on closer inspection that I realised there were cubicles, but they were designed so their doors blended completely into the wall. So watch out for that.

This week’s puzzle
Simon Pegg has written an insightful article about why the modern trend for fast rather than shambling zombies completely misses the point.

I think he’s missed something himself though, as the question that naturally arises is this:

If shambling zombies represent our fear of the inevitable slow approach of death, what do fast screaming attacking zombies represent?

A quote
I used to do parkour/free-running with a small gang of similarly mad individuals on my university’s campus. Being the most cautious of the group, I never sustained an injury, whereas at one time or another everyone else did. The least cautious was a crazy second-year called Andy. One particular February night had left our playground icy and treacherous, but Andy was still ready to go ahead.

He reassured us by explaining:

“There’s more grip, because of the ice.”

A video
If you’re familiar with Pinky and the Brain, then you’ll be happy to know that it was dubbed into several different languages, including the excellent intro music, in German:


A link
Last week, Bex reported an unbeatable score of 0 for the colour-matching game. Here is your next challenge: eyeballing.

A picture
An amazing collection of pet Hallowe’en costume photos.