Podcast - This Is Only a Test

Episode 437 – Jabba’s Playset – 2/22/18

We review Black Panther without spoiling any details, discuss some toy news from this year’s Toy Fair, hear about Kishore’s recent roadtrip, and look at the specs of Qualcomm’s new VR headeset. Plus, a big change to Google search that startled us.

Comments (18)

18 thoughts on “Episode 437 – Jabba’s Playset – 2/22/18

  1. I was very excited to hear you all talk about the 10,000 year clock! I have been following this project for many years since Wired ran an article about it: https://www.wired.com/2011/06/10000-year-clock/all/1/

    The motivation for the project are to promote long term thinking and the article cites a cool story about an architect who built a hall at Oxford and planted rows of oak trees in front of the hall so that in 500 years they could be harvested to replace the oak beams used in the hall ceiling. His argument is that we could use more of this type of foresight.

    Yes, the design incorporates humans visiting the clock. When you enter the chamber your weight on a platform will wind the clock. If no humans visit the clock then it is wound by the thermal properties of metals expanding and contrasting as the weather changes during the day / at night.

  2. Norm – your statement about “not being qualified to give your opinion on Black Panther” is asinine. As an Asian, I couldn’t care less if people do or don’t give their opinion about “Crouching Tiger” (personally I hated it) or Jackie Chan movies or Ip Man or Korean Dramas or Cowboy Bebop or Porco Rosso . . . etc. That’s the wonderful thing about humans, critical thinking, and freedom of speech. I can hear someone’s opinion about something and potentially learn something new since it’s presented from a different perspective (it’s one of the main reasons I listen to and enjoy this podcast). I have no idea if the guy behind “Every Frame a Picture” is Asian or not, but I learned a lot from his video about Jackie Chan. Discussing the acting, narrative coherence, directing, technical details, and/or emotional resonance of Black Panther is something anyone and everyone SHOULD do WITHOUT apology. If someone wants to be an idiot and say stupid things, THAT IS OK. You DO NOT HAVE TO LISTEN TO HIM.

    What is it with this mentality that thinks silencing other people’s thoughts or implying that they aren’t worth considering (because of the person’s skin color, no less) is the right way to go about anything? How does that jive with an “Always be Testing” mentality?

    Sometimes I truly am baffled by how you guys think. I know you’re openly liberal (and thanks, Kishore, for the completely unnecessary sneer towards so-called conservatives complaining about potential Twitter targeting), but I really didn’t anticipate the “I’m not even allowed to excessively gush over Black Panther since I’m not black” meme. It’s a tough life y’all must lead – it’s like you have to walk on a carpet of invisible egg shells at all times.

  3. My intention with the comment around the bots and complaints from conservatives re: follower counts was just to direct our conversation towards the tech angle, as opposed delving into a political conversation, which is not the point of that segment. It certainly wasn’t a sneer – but a redirect. Maybe inartful.

  4. When she tried to get the first Harry Potter book published, JK Rowling was somewhat famously rejected by twelve different publishers before Bloomsbury agreed to take a chance on the book. Given the amount of money Bloomsbury has made off the series, it’s a pretty good analogy to Sony rejecting the marvel character movie rights.

  5. A reveal of the new Lego Millennium Falcon fro the Solo Movie indicates that the front sections actually detaches as some sort of pod revealing the two-pronged front that we are all used to. The pod ejects like an escape pod.

  6. Oh, interesting. I had heard that Scholastic paid an ungodly amount of money for the rights, but maybe they signed on for the US after Bloomsbury took the initial dive in the UK.

  7. I can understand Norm treading a safe line, even in Australia we’ve had a couple of articles about how excited the US AA community is about a inclusive movie that doesn’t involve the slavery era. Especially during a period in America where black people seem to be under threat to the point where they protest eg #blacklivesmatter

    In Australia we have a similar situation where we tread very carefully in our comments in all forms of media to ensure that we aren’t considered discriminatory and patronising. Hopefully it’s just the growing pains of a more inclusive society and we can move on past the sensitivity of these times.

  8. Regarding the Amazon wristband
    for workers story.

    Here’s
    a 1968 Italian cartoon (VIP super hero) that really shock as a kid (saw it in
    the 80’s in French).

    Part
    1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YAZtZD34kc

    Part
    2, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYqA-boeaYw&t=37s

    The
    best part is the max time calculated to be on the toilet, 100k volt and Zap.

    You
    don’t have to understand the Italian language to figure out what they are
    talking about, period of entertainment & vacation for workers. This was hilarious.
    (Sorry for the hyperlinks being flat, I’m still not allowed to post hypertext here)

  9. Please forgive me, Kishore. I’m sure I misunderstood your comment as being snarky when it was not intended to be such. To be fair, I couldn’t care less about so-called conservatives on Twitter, or for Twitter itself (I think it’s clearly one of the elements destroying society as we know it). However, on the other hand I’ve read numerous accounts which claim Twitter has unfairly and with great bias censored, banned, or shadow-banned folks who voice opinions considered conservative or nationalist, and no one should be surprised that Twitter employees many if not a majority of folks who lean moderately or dramatically to the left.

    All that to say, my apologies.

  10. Bit Workshop

    I’m pretty sure specific efforts to exclude specific peoples and specific opinions is not the path that leads to an inclusive society. I’m not really sure I even buy the entire concept of a manufactured “inclusive” society. The more we all seem to talk and obsess about it, the more fractured and divisive everything seems to become. Take, for instance, movies. Now, the first thing people talk about is not how well the story was crafted, the technical merits of the direction, the mis-en-scene employed . . .etc. Almost as some sort of knee jerk, pavlovian response, the first thing someone asks if it’s announced there will be a Batgirl movie is “Will it be directed by a woman?” If there’s a movie featuring an Asian character – “will it be directed/written/star Asians?” It’s a weird obsession that only serves to heighten the distance between people rather than foster any sort of inclusivity.

    I mean, what’s more inclusive? Everyone talking about Black Panther the same way they talked about Iron Man or Spider-Man 2? Or people saying they don’t feel comfortable talking about Black Panther because they’re not the right ethnicity?

    I will say, though, that Norm’s caution is probably, sadly, warranted. Liberal circles can be pretty vicious, and if one is caught accidentally saying (or even thinking) the wrong thing, regardless of one’s intent, it’s an immediate trip to the dog house with little chance of forgiveness. If one was in his position and made the wrong statement, I could easily see one losing one’s job, getting Twitter-hated and/or doxed, and having large numbers of associates either refuse to acknowledge one’s past relationship or even actively persecuting one as part of the torch carrying Twitter mob.

    Like I said, it’s a tough life living on a carpet of invisible egg shells.

  11. I’m glad I wasn’t the only person who saw something wrong with that and I agree with what you wrote. Well said.

    Many people aren’t open to actual conversation about things. I also took note of when Kishore felt that the movie didn’t quite flesh out T’challa’s character as much as he would have liked and Norm said something along the lines of ‘No. You need to go watch it again.’

    Can we not sometimes just agree to disagree on matters of opinion or at least try to find common ground?

  12. Regarding Compass the issue is likely not the algorithm but the data used. Essentially machine learning is just trying to find generalized patterns within data which unfortunately is what people do too. So if you exclude race as a factor but use other demographic data then it will still clump people together based on race for non racially diverse areas. So you take two guys convicted of the same crime but different backgrounds then the algorithm will present an automated bias against one over the other even if it doesn’t factor in anything else.

    I have heard discussions with people that like these kind of solutions in other areas where racial profiling is apparent because the thinking is if a computer is doing it then it’s not the same thing.

  13. I think that’s why Jeremy was adamant that if this software is to be used for this type of decisions, it needs to be open-sourced. Once we begin letting software and almost-opaque algorithms partake in the criminal-justice-system, it is important that we can know for sure how it arrives at its decisions… even if we can’t consume all the data and thus don’t fully know why it arrives at X-conclusion. Because if there is something we know for sure it is that there is a lot of money in prison in the states, which means it is in someone’s economic interest that this software produces false positives.

    If what happens is it recognizes that people from certain areas are likely to re-offend, then we need to be able to analyse the type of data it has access to and see if it traces back to potential causes for why people would become criminals. If it turns out the overrepresentation of a area also correlates with repeatedly with overpopulated schools and no after-school activities, that is something that can be fixed. If it turns out the data-set includes race, or name, then we have a problem (all the people who are named Joe in this set have reoffended, we have no clue why but statistically if your name is Joe you are more likely to reoffend than Horatio, because there are no Horatios in the dataset).

  14. Yep, Scholastic bought the American publishing rights after it was already a hit in Britain. Each of the first three books were available in the UK for months before a US version was released here. It made ordering them from the UK to read and share ahead of their availability in the US lots of fun.

    That is one of the great stories about a lack of prescience in publishing that gives authors hope.

  15. Jeremy’s Amazon comments were funny… I have been the “fast guy” at a job where other people were texting and making personal calls. I have also been the “slow guy” at a job where i was spending too much time on irrelevant details and thinking too much about the process. It was all a matter of the norms and culture of the work environment, and the nature of the job. But the best managers seem to understand the proper balances.

    Modern production systems, like Toyota, have people on the line itself do a lot of “bottom up” process efficiency improvement, as opposed to top down micromanagement. Amazon seems to have re-invented a primitive form of Taylorism – a production management system of the 1880s, long since abandoned as it tends to “cause enormous mental health problems” as we might say in modern language.

  16. Norm RE: Image search…

    All you have to do to visit the image only without going to the page is to right click the google pop up and click the option, “Open Image in New Tab”. Then it will take you to the image only. This is not a big deal.

  17. A lot of the images indexed on Google don’t actually show up on the page they are attached to in Image Search, or are a hassle to open requiring that you dig into the dev-tools with inspect to get a url.

    If you’re doing visual research and use google for gathering reference images, this is a ten-fold increase in the time it takes to grab those photos. Is it the end of the universe, no, but it is definitely a big impact on a lot of people’s workflows.

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