Because it's Friday: Language and Thought

Does the language we speak change the way we think? This TED talk by Lera Boroditsky looks at how language structures like gendered nouns, or the way directions are described, might shape they way speakers of those languages think about things: This talk was cited by Bill Venables in his excellent keynote talk at the useR!2018 conference, where he also presented the results of an elegant designed experiment that looked at the influence of gendered nouns by comparing languages without gendered nouns (like Hungarian) with those that have multiple genders for nouns like Spanish (which has feminine and masculine nouns) and German (which adds neuter nouns, for three genders total). That’s all from us for this week. Have a great weekend, and we’ll be back next week. Enjoy!
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Language and Thought

Because it's Friday: Wavy Lines Illusion

Another fine illusion: in this one, the pairs of horizontal lines are all smooth sine curves, despite the appearance of the jagged zig-zags: It’s really hard for me at least to tell that the zig-zags in the light grey region are actually curved. Zooming all the way in may help if you want to check for yourself. That’s all from us at the blog for this week. Next week, we’ll be taking a break for the week of the US Independence Day holiday, but we’ll be back the week of Monday July 9, reporting from the useR! conference in Brisbane. In the meantime, have a great weekend!
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Wavy Lines Illusion

Because it's Friday: The lioness sleeps tonight

Handlers for the lion enclosure at San Diego Zoo have developed a novel way to provide stimulation for their big cats: let them play tug-of-war with people outside. People plural that is — it turns out that a young lioness is no match for a trio of pro wrestlers: 🤼‍♂️ How many #NXT #WWE superstar wrestlers does it take to win in tug of war with a 2 1/2 year old lion cub? Apparently more than 3! #NXTSanAntonio #SAZoo pic.twitter.com/avyPVwRYjN — San Antonio Zoo & Zoo School🦏 (@SanAntonioZoo) May 19, 2018 That’s all for this week. Have a great weekend (and a very happy Pride!) and we’ll be back next week.
Original Post: Because it's Friday: The lioness sleeps tonight

Because it's Friday: Olive Garden Bot

Comedy writer Keaton Patti claims this commercial script for a US Italian restaurant chain was generated by a bot: I forced a bot to watch over 1,000 hours of Olive Garden commercials and then asked it to write an Olive Garden commercial of its own. Here is the first page. pic.twitter.com/CKiDQTmLeH — Keaton Patti (@KeatonPatti) June 13, 2018 Of course this wasn’t bot-generated, but “what a bot might write” is fertile ground for comedy: I forced a bot to read over 1,000 tweets claiming to be scripts written by bots online, then asked it to write a script itself. It wrote these two pages, then hung itself. pic.twitter.com/KbFXStJuAb — Christine Love (@christinelove) June 1, 2018 That’s all from us here at the blog for this week. Have a great weekend, and we’ll be back next week.
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Olive Garden Bot

Because it's Friday: Buildings shake

In 1978, a 59-story skyscraper in New York City was at risk of collapse. An engineering flaw, serendipitously discovered by an architecture PhD candidate studying the Citigroup Center as a thesis project, meant the building was unexpectedly susceptible to winds — and hurricane Ella was bearing down on the eastern seaboard. Meanwhile, 2500 Red Cross volunteers were on standby to execute a 10-block-radius evacuation plan should the building topple (and possibly cause a domino-like chain reaction), while engineers worked to reinforce the structural integrity of the building. And all of this happened in secret. Credit: Joel Werner A recent tweet from a former resident of the building reminded me of this remarkable story. To learn more about the unusual stilt-based design of the building and how the design flaw was discovered, check out the article from 99% Invisible or listen to the accompanying…
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Buildings shake

Because it's Friday: Bad road

Sometimes I think the potholes in the roads in Chicago are bad, but then a road like this puts things into perspective: (Thanks to TH for the link.) Don’t miss the shots looking back near the end to see how many people are in that vehicle! That’s all from the blog for this week. Have a great weekend, and we’ll be back after the US holiday on Monday. Enjoy!
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Bad road

Because it's Friday: Laurel or Yanny

I can only assume you’ve heard about this already: it’s gone wildly viral in the USA, and I assume elsewhere in the world. But it’s a lovely example of an auditory illusion, and as regular readers know I like to collect such things (like this one and this one). What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel pic.twitter.com/jvHhCbMc8I — Cloe Feldman (@CloeCouture) May 15, 2018 Kottke has a useful roundup of the best scientific coverage of why some people hear “laurel” and others hear “yanny”. Linguist Rachel Gutman also provides a detailed analysis for The Atlantic. For the record though, all I can hear is “laurel”, and that indeed is what the actor said for a recording for Vocabulary.com.  That’s all from us for this week. Next week I’ll be at the ROpenSci unconference in Seattle, but we’ll back with more on…
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Laurel or Yanny

Because it's Friday: Every Wes Anderson Movie

I’ve found the Honest Trailers series a bit hit-and-miss: sometimes the virtual eyebrow arches just a bit too sharply. But this take on Wes Anderson’s films is spot on, and actually makes for a loving review of a series that’s a genre in its own right. By the way, apologies to anyone who came looking for the BIF post last Friday — I was simply having too much fun at the NY R Conference to make a post! In the meantime that’s all from us for this week: have a great weekend and we’ll be back with more next week (including your regularly scheduled Friday post).
Original Post: Because it's Friday: Every Wes Anderson Movie

Because it's Friday: The borders have changed. Film at 11.

There’s a lot of stupidity in the US news these days, but at least these reviews of bad maps on TV are amusing rather than infuriating. (Click through to see the entire thread.) That’s Iran in the first image by the way, although I confess I did have to check a map to be sure.  As a connoisseur of hilariously wrong TV news maps, that CBS “Syria” is nothing. Kids’ stuff.Friends, follow along on a tour of the world according to Cable TV News. pic.twitter.com/XumduDwyJM — Max Fisher (@Max_Fisher) April 11, 2018 That’s all from us for this week. Have a great weekend, and we’ll be back next week with more for the blog.
Original Post: Because it's Friday: The borders have changed. Film at 11.