Archive for the ‘Worth Distraction’ category
Spurious correlations are a common and obvious problem that afflicts a lot of science. Tyler Vigen’s site is dedicated to collecting them. They’re pointless fun to see. Here’s how the divorce rate in Maine is driven by the consumption of margarine across the US:
Wait But Why explores with an admirable depth the answers that have so far been posited for the Fermi Paradox, which they summarize as:
Some people stick with the traditional, feeling struck by the epic beauty or blown away by the insane scale of the universe. Personally, I go for the old “existential meltdown followed by acting weird for the next half hour.” But everyone feels something.
Physicist Enrico Fermi felt something too—”Where is everybody?”
Selected by The American Scholar, Roy Peter Clark explains why these sentences are so great. An interesting perspective, the list. Here’s their first, from The Great Gatsby:
Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
It is exactly what you expect. It is just as good as you expect.
Thanks so much for the latest round of work. Really coming together. Few points of feedback:
1 – Really liking the whole light thing but not totally sure about the naming system. “Day” and “night” are OK but we feel like there’s more we can do here. Thoughts? Definitely need to nail this down ASAP.
This little essay about the word’s every worker in a corporate business environment loves to hate is a bit breezy and probably simplified, but it’s a pleasant tour of some of the terms people use so much they loath:
For example, consultants are responsible for a lot of the veiled language used by today’s HR departments. “The consulting industry came up with a whole slew of euphemisms for firing people that has become universal,” said Matthew Stewart, the author of The Management Myth. “There’s a whole body of kind of Orwellian speak about developing human capital and managing people and all that.” Streamline, restructure, let go, create operational efficiencies: All of these are roundabout ways of saying that people are about to lose their jobs.
A fun little list of how people in business (and life, really) might ask for your time and really intend their question:
“Just a sec” = 5 minutes
“Just a minute” = 10 minutes
“Pick your brain” = 17 minutes or, in rare cases, 90 seconds
“Quick chat” = 48 minutes
“No more than five minutes” = 1 hour
(via The Browser)
This may be totally opaque to non-Americans — my best summary is that Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are two popular syndicated television show which typically run in the last few hours before prime-time TV but at local broadcaster’s chosen time — but I liked it. Here’s the summary chart, though do definitely click through for WAY more analysis.
Nothing’s really special about this collection of jokes, other than I happened across it. But I was literally laughing out load sporadically for a good ten minutes as I scrolled through it, so I had to share. For example (a bit violent, if that’s a sensitivity you have):
So, a man walks into a bar and… wait, did I just say “bar?” Weird. I don’t even have a southern accent. It’s pronounced “bear.”
A fun little depiction of the insanity that can occur in America’s legal system. Because of a policy change in how an Ohio county recorder’s office made records available to the public — they were going to change $2 per photocopied page rather letting bulk requests be distributed digitally — a case came about in which the best tactic was to refuse to answer a seemly simple question about a the term “photocopy machine” — the New York Times has a new series in which they have dramatized the whole exchange.
I’m a bit worried about believing etymologies on BuzzFeed, but they’re definitely interesting. Here’s the first, for “back to square one:”
Meaning back to the beginning, the phrase originated in the 1930s when the first radio broadcasts of football matches were made by the BBC.
To help listeners keep track of the game, The Radio Times devised a numbered grid system which they published in the magazine, enabling commentators to indicate to listeners exactly where the ball was on the pitch.
“Square One” was the goalkeeper’s area, and whenever the ball was passed back to him, play was referred to as being ‘back to square one’.