This newsletter is a collection of things I have found in the last month that I enjoyed, found interesting, or simply wanted to share.
By 2012, the military was conducting research to determine what sort of test would better prepare troops for combat. “We identified 113 common soldier tasks and distilled those down to 11 that were of high [physical] demand,” says East. “Then we deconstructed those and found that there were five key physical constructs within those 11 tasks.” Stuff like moving under load and over obstacles, engaging in hand-to-hand combat, moving heavy weights quickly, and so on. Then from there it was simply R&D to find the right series of exercises that simulated those constructs.
Once upon a time, you could just go to Disneyland. You could get tickets at the gates, stand in line for rides, buy food and tchotchkes, even pick up copies of your favorite Disney movies at a local store. It wasn’t even that long ago. The last time I visited, in 2010, the company didn’t record what I ate for dinner or detect that I went on Pirates of the Caribbean five times. It was none of their business.
But sometime in the last few years, tracking and tracing became their business. Like many corporations out there, Walt Disney Studios spent the last decade transforming into a data company.
The theme parks alone are a data scientist’s dream. Just imagine: 50,000 visitors a day, most equipped with cell phones and a specialized app. Millions of location traces, along with rides statistics, lineup times, and food-order preferences. Thousands and thousands of credit card swipes, each populating a database with names and addresses, each one linking purchases across the park grounds.1 A QR-code scavenger hunt that records the path people took through Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Hotel keycards with entrance times, purchases, snack orders, and more. Millions of photos snapped on rides and security cameras throughout the park, feeding facial-recognition systems. Tickets with names, birthdates, and portraits attached. At Florida’s Disney World, MagicBands—bracelets using RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology—around visitors’ wrists gather all that information plus fingerprints in one place, while sensors ambiently detect their every move. What couldn’t you do with all that data?
These pictures remind us that while we study our children, they study us back. Before we speak, we see. For months before spoken language ever enters the relationship, a child gazes upon its mother for hours, every day. The gaze of the child is the least judgmental, the most accepting. When a child takes a portrait of their parent, there is an absence of so many of the elements that inherently exist in the portraits an adult makes. There is no moralizing, for one. No manipulation. They don’t bother to hide or deny the aspects we normally do in photos. In fact, unlike in every other photographic example, there is a total absence of forethought or editorializing.
Hit a J
I went through 790 plot summaries and wrote down each of the heroes’ names. Excitedly, I clicked Sort on the spreadsheet, not knowing what I’d find. After all, I’d already sunk quite a few hours into this. But as I scrolled down, I saw that my hunch was correct: Of these 790 movies, 33 percent have a male protagonist with a first name starting with the letter J. Thirty-three percent! The most popular J name among these strapping warriors was John, with 74 movies, followed by James, with 50 movies, and Jack, with 37. The second-most-common letter, M, with names like Max and Michael, showed up a comparatively measly 7 percent of the time.
- Chuck E. Cheese Still Uses Floppy Disks To Make Its Rodent Mascot Dance — For Now
- Lunar Lander Game
- The Buttolph Collection of Menus (1843-2008)
- Duo Dice
- Colombian Angel Alvarado solves three Rubik’s Cubes while juggling them
- MIT Robot Breaks Rubik’s Cube Record (2018)
- Photos from Orbit
- Every Possible Wordle Solution Visualized
- The Hundred Best Lists of All Time
- Museum of Failure
- I made a guitar out of IKEA products
- Why The Label On Your Bottle Of Angostura Bitters Is Oversized
- Awesome Falsehoods
- Behind The Scenes – Product Photography
- Inverse Cramer? The madness of modern Thematic ETFs
- Sony Design Gallery
Do not hesitate to reply to this months email to share links, wisdom, or thoughts.
Thanks for reading. Have a great month,