7 Quick Takes (5/13/13)

— 1 —

The theme for the week is technology solving problems you didn’t know you had.  For example, did you realize you needed a site that could rerhythmatize songs to a swing beat?  Now your friends can listen to songs they already like while you teach them the basic and underarm turns.

— 2 —

And this interactive illustration of different search algorithms is also a nice way to give novices a user-friendly intro to a delightful subject.

— 3 —

I don’t have any friends who are anything but novices at drill design, but I think we can all swoon over the cleverness of this mechanism for drilling rounded square holes anyway.

— 4 —

Here’s another unexpected solution to a problem I’d never thought about before: Disney animators use real people as stand-ins for characters, and this site has mashed up the references and the final frames.


— 5 —

Perhaps I’m getting a little far afield from my theme, but I never thought my relatively low desire to learn to juggle was a problem until I discovered combat juggling! (yes, you read that right).

Combat or gladiator is a game played by jugglers. In its most typical form, a number of players juggle three clubs each, attempting to interfere with other players’ juggling, with the winner being the last to remain juggling three clubs — not necessarily those they started with.

— 6 —

And who were the proto-aggregators who caused us to find unexpected solutions before the internet?  Reference librarians!  So perhaps you may want to page through this gallery of reference photos of librarians.

Can someone tell me the reference number for ‘smelling salts’?

To quote Questionable Content: “Dewey Decimal System?  Do we ever!”

— 7 —

Finally, I have two new blog posts up chez CFAR, both about the results of the Rationality Checklist surveys.  Subscribers of the CFAR newsletter answered questions about how often they notice confusion and realize they’re arguing with evidence, not evaluating it.   People gave us permission to print stories about these skills in action, and here’s one I particularly liked:

I spent last week trying to decide on a smartphone plan to replace my previous, voice-only plan. I spent several days comparing prices, and realized that my brain kept trying to argue for my current company even though it wasn’t the best price. I examined my reasons more carefully, and realized that there really were factors in the decision that were important to me other than money–company ethics, my personal experience with each company, and quality of customer support, specifically. I did end up choosing to stay with my current company, but count this as an example of #3 since noticing allowed me to evaluate based on the factors I really did value, rather than either unexamined factors or unexamined bias. My brain isn’t always wrong, but I like to know what it’s really doing. [emphasis added]


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  • Michael Haycock

    Regarding #4, you should look up “rotoscoping” 😉

  • grok87


    Re #7 “Subscribers of the CFAR newsletter answered questions about how often they notice confusion and realize they’re arguing with evidence, not evaluating it. ”

    You might be interested in this quote from today’s WSJ- Warren Buffett on Charles Darwin:


    “Mr. Buffett once noted about the scientist Charles Darwin that ‘whenever he ran into something that contradicted a conclusion he cherished, he was obliged to write the new finding down within 30 minutes. Otherwise his mind would work to reject the discordant information, much as the body rejects transplants. Man’s natural inclination is to cling to his beliefs, particularly if they are reinforced by recent experience.’ ”