Here's another entry in what's become an ongoingseries of awesome air safety videos. Virgin America has just started using this flight safety video on its planes. The call it the Virgin America Safety Dance:
Now, that'll make you pay attention to the inflight briefing! I've watched it several times already, and I'm not even on a plane (today, anyway). (Also, I was pleased to find upon checking that passenger planes do actually fly in the stratosphere — they've taken care with the words, and made them rhyme!) This New York Times article from September gives some background into the making of the video.
Kids these days have it easy. In my day, you had to walk in the snow uphill both ways just to see a grainy VHS copy of E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, but now it's just a tap o' the iPad away. But seriously, this video is sweet and sentimental and brings back some good memories of a time before streaming:
As longtime readers of this blog will know, I love optical illusions, and the checkerboard shadow illusion is one of my all-time favourites. If your not familiar with it, here's a rendering of the illusion done in Maya I found online; note that squares C3 (a white square) and B5 (a grey square) look as different as you'd expect in the top frame, but when you add a shadow-casting cylinder to the scene the two squares are almost exactly the same shade of grey onscreen, despite what your eyes are telling you.
While the illusion is real (and demonstrates effictively that you can't always believe what your eyes tell you about colour), there's something fishy going on in this real-world recreation of the scene:
The whole point of the illusion is that the middle tile is actually white, and appears white to our brains, but is dark grey on-screen. Yet the woman in the video drags the white tile to a dark tile, where it should definitely appear as a different color in the better-lit area. I guess they're maintaining the RGB color of the dragged tile in CGI, but I don't think this really helps to explain the illusion.
You've probably heard about the political trainwreck we're going through here in the US. There are many causes for what's going on, but a lot of the blame goes to the extreme polarization in US politics today. As Nate Silver notes, the degree of polarization in the Congress is higher than at any point in the 80 years. According to Gallup, 60% of Americans, a third political party is needed to break the ongoing political roadblock, but there's never been an enduring third party in this country. The reason? The winner-takes-all voting system:
Personally, I'm a fan of the Australian system: proportional representation voting ensures minor parties get some seats in parliament (and often have significant influence as the deciding bloc in coalitions), and compulsory voting means that campaigns (and policies) are targeted at the centrist majority instead of aimed at driving the single-issue extremes to the polls. And given the current state of politics here in the US, I'm warming to the idea of an all-powerful monarch that can just reboot the entire system when there's no way out of the gridlock.
As one of those people who always watches attentively before takeoff, I appreciate it when airlines take the time to make a good airline safety video. (Thank you, Virgin America, Delta, and Air New Zealand.) This one isn't real, it sure is funny (via Andrew Sullivan):
If you live in a big city, you'll know that there's a heartbeat to life there: from the early morning commuters, do the workaday life in the central business district, to Happy Hour, to restaurants, to late-night drinks, to the true night owls that prowl the street late at night. FourSquare have done an impressive job of capturing the pulse of that heartbeat, with these data visualizations of check-ins over a 24-hour period. Here's San Francisco:
I used to live in San Francisco, and this really captures a day in the life there: commuters flowing in from the Eastside in the morning, tourist traffic on the ferries during the day, the swell of office workers in the Financial District and downtown flowing to an evening out into the clustered bar/restaurant districts in the Haight, Castro, Noe Valley and elsewhere. You can also see the pulse of other large cities, including London, Tokyo and NYC.
Enjoy your weekend -- and if you check in while you're out, know that you're contributing to beautiful visualization projects like this. We'll be back on Monday.