Friday Four

Friday, April 17, 2015

1. Any fears that our daughter has inherited Mrs. Van Horn's poor vision were allayed on a recent trip to Florida. While we were at a swimming pool, Pumpkin told me she saw a lizard. Naively thinking it might be green, I looked for it and came up empty.

"Where is it?" I asked.

"Near a wood chip," she said.

This was not terribly helpful, since we were near a small garden covered with a wood chip mulch.

"It's looking at us," she added.

Several minutes later, I finally spotted a strange-looking lizard whose coloration was a near-perfect match for the mulch. It was about three feet away, and it was indeed looking at us.

2. In an entertaining post about a ramen noodle museum in Japan, a traveler also imparts the lessons in entrepreneurship he learned there, including the following:

Don't wait for your customers to come. Go to them.

When [Momofuku] Ando introduced his [product] to the public, it was deemed ... a luxurious item because of the relatively high price point. It costs 6 times more than a bowl of traditional noodles. Although it did well, Ando felt that the product wasn't reaching enough people and he need[ed] people [to] spread the [word].

Instead of just waiting passively, he expanded his sales channel and directly targeted places like news stations and police stations. These places have the right demographic[:] people who worked late-night and [did]n't cook. This move paid huge dividends for [his company,] Nissin. [italics added]
Ando became quite wealthy from his product, despite not even getting started on it until he was nearly fifty and bankrupt.

3. The longest-running Wikipedia hoax known to date was recently exposed. The obscurity of the subject matter, Australian Aboriginal religion, probably helped it along, but we should still use the research tool with a healthy degree of skepticism:
On Monday night, [Gregory] Kohs wrapped upan experiment in which he inserted outlandish errors into 31 articles and tracked whether editors ever found them. After more than two months, half of his hoaxes still had not been found -- and those included errors on high-profile pages, like "Mediterranean climate" and "inflammation." (By his estimate, more than 100,000 people have now seen the claim that volcanic rock produced by the human body causes inflammation pain.)
And checking other sources is complicated by a phenomenon known as "citogenisis".

4. The author has mixed philosophical premises, but I can't help but wonder whether an opinion piece titled, "Skip the Sharing Kids", might reflect Ayn Rand's cultural influence:
How will they understand the importance of property rights to growing a free and prosperous ­society?

And this whole business about having some authority divvy up our spoils and arbitrarily decide who is most deserving of them sounds more like a socialist utopia than a practice for training our children to be democratic ­citizens.
The article also incidentally reminds me of my childhood reaction to my kindergarden's weekly "Share a Toy Day": not wanting the other kids to trash any of my favorites, I took a big, blue, metal, indestructible tractor I cared nothing about every single time. To her credit, my mother did not make a huge deal of this when the teachers inevitably caught on.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

Hi Gus,

Your Pumpkin sounds like she might have 'sniper eyes'. That is the capacity to distinguish a camouflaged entity against a similar background.

My youngest brother has this. He can pick out animal forms that I can't see until he directs my sight to the close general area. And even then I usually have to scan a couple of times. We can be driving by a 20 acre corn field at 50 mph, and he'll still pick them out with a single scan.

I think that it must have more to do with processing than just visual acuity. But I haven't seen any articles on the subject.

c. andrew

Gus Van Horn said...


It's interesting that there is a name for that since one of my brothers has done very similar things. He has better than 20/20 vision, too.

Once, a bat got into my mother's house while we were all there for Christmas and we were keeping an eye out for it to catch it. My brother at some point (and with everyone else in the room oblivious to it) nonchalantly spotted him against the top of a couch and we were able to bag it and get it out of the house.

Another time, when we were much younger, I had my new telescope out one night and he asked me how to spot planets. Among the things I told him were that they don't twinkle and that Saturn would look yellowish. Within a minute or so, we were looking at Saturn, rings and all.