Friday Four

Friday, March 13, 2015

1. From the world of web design, an amusing sighting of post hoc ergo propter hoc in the wild:

I noticed that on the day you put my website live, my cell phone stopped getting good signal. You need to take the site down so I can get my signal back.
Humor aside, remember this the next time you hear someone push for iPads in elementary school or claim that, with the Internet and other communications technology, tyranny is impossible. Neither data alone nor the ability to communicate obviates the need for rational use of that data, and that goes for societies just as much as for individuals. Technology cannot save us from foolishness or folly.

2. I have enjoyed seeing Danny Welbeck playing for Arsenal this season, and have mentioned my gratitude towards the coach at his former club for making sure he left Manchester United with plenty of motivation:
"Danny Welbeck was here when he was nine," Van Gaal said. "He played [for] three seasons at Manchester United after [returning from loan at] Sunderland but he doesn't have the record of [Robin] Van Persie or [Wayne] Rooney and that is the standard. That is why we let him go, because [Radamel] Falcao [was available] but also the youngsters."
You can see Welbeck's reply below, around 3:20, in the form of a goal directly punishing a defensive error by his old club.

Yes! Welbeck scored the winning goal as Arsenal dumped Manchester United from the FA Cup Monday. Meanwhile, Falcao, who has been a disappointment this season, was an unused substitute.

3. A company, touting its product as "a groundbreaking advancement in the field of obsolescence", offers "USB typewriters":
Our USB Typewriter circuitry can transform your old manual typewriter into a retro-futuristic marvel. Use a gorgeous vintage typewriter as the computer keyboard for your Mac or PC, or type with ink-on-paper while electronically recording your keystrokes! The USB Typewriter also makes an outstanding keyboard dock for your iPad or tablet PC.
And if you don't want to perform the conversion yourself, there are pre-altered typewriters on offer. (It took me some time to confirm a suspicion I started having as I readied this for publication yesterday, but yes, I mentioned this some time back.)

4. I've read all the Harry Potter books and am just enough of a geek to have really gotten a kick out of "If Programming Languages Were Harry Potter Characters", by the "Slightly Disgruntled Scientist":
It's easy to forget about Bash. It just works away in the background there doing a thousand different tasks in a thousand different places that no other language really wants to do. It's kind of clunky and oafish, and it doesn't really like change, but there's a magnificent ecosystem out there that would devolve into chaos if it disappeared.

Bash is Rubeus Hagrid, the only one who knows where the food is for that SysV init script from 1989 that you didn't even know still lived in your distro.
Slightly Disgruntled even manages to work in Luna Lovegood.

-- CAV


Today: Corrected a typo. 


Snedcat said...

Yo, Gus, sometimes though post hoc ergo propter hoc isn't fallacious. Dunno if you were the one who sent me this story, but I've long been fond of it.

Gus Van Horn said...


It's fallacious when the conclusion about causality is based solely on the time sequence.

Your example, unfamiliar to me until now, illustrates this quite well. The engineer knew that there was something causing his customer's car to have trouble starting, and that it wasn't the flavor of the ice cream. The trouble would have arisen on any other errand with similar parameters (say, if the locations of the chocolate ice cream and the vanilla were switched in the store and the family had "chocolate night").