Monday, August 7, 2017

Does Your Career Entail Reading A Large Volume Of Not Very Interesting Material? Here's a Simple Hack To Speed The Job Along

A repost from January 2016.

An apology is owed to xkcd's creator Randall Munroe.
I have fallen into the habit of reading xkcd at Explain XKCD and thus depriving him of that one extra pageview per day.
It's just that 'Explain's' sincere earnestness is so damn funny that I don't believe I will be able to stop.
I shall attempt to remedy the iniquity with links and cash spent at the xkcd store.

From Explain XKCD:

Substitutions 2
Title text: Within a few minutes, our roads will be full of uncontrollably-swerving cars and our skies full of Amazon delivery dogs.
This is a sequel to 1288: Substitutions, but there have been several comics using substitutions both before and after that comic.
In this table, Randall suggests substituting several common phrases in generic news with similar or related phrases that mean something different for comical effect. Some of the replacements are synonyms, some are antonyms, and some are plain different concepts; and, even though they would (most of the time) make a grammatically correct sentence, the resulting idea would, however, often sound absurd or bizarre.
Some of the examples might, also, mock the fact that many news contradict the actual facts or obvious results of a situation. For example, "[influential person] vows to do good to the world" would be replaced with with a more usual fact "[influential person] probably won't do good to the world" - see example below with North Korean leader.
The title text is an example of how the closing sentence of a given article or report might sound after using the substitutions in the comic.
Before substitutions: Within a few years, our roads will be full of self-driving cars and our skies full of Amazon delivery drones.
After substitutions: Within a few minutes, our roads will be full of uncontrollably-swerving cars and our skies full of Amazon delivery dogs.
The flying dogs could be a reference to 1614: Kites. Was the first of two in a row where Amazon is mentioned in the title text (next 1626: Judgment Day).

[edit]Table of substitutions

  • In this table the difference between the original and the substituted word (and the change to the sentences) will be explained.
DebateDance-offA 'debate' is often used between political candidates, to give the voters a chance to decide who they will vote for. One of the candidates is often called the winner of such a debate by some degree or other of consensus. Randall is indicating that they could just as well have performed a 'dance-off' where they would dance until one of them danced better than the other, as adjudged by the viewing crowd or a panel of judges. Such a dance-off is often seen in TV-shows or films etc.
Self drivingUncontrollablyswerving'Self driving' cars were also mentioned in 1623: 2016 Conversation Guide where it was stated that they would come surprisingly soon (within a few minutes according to the substitutions suggested here). But until they are safe it might be better to mention them as uncontrollably swerving cars?
PollPsychic readingA 'poll', especially regarding political issues, refers to opinion or exit polls. These tend to ask a carefully selected sample (for either balance or an intended inbalance, depending on the poll's neutrality) their opinions in order to extrapolate the global consensus, e.g. the future result of an election. This substitution is Randall's way of saying that they could just as well have used a psychic person to predict the result. A true psychic (if that they are) would reveal an accurate result, whilst a false one (skilled at 'cold reading' an audience) would likely wish to provide the answer that pleases those asking the question (the actual purpose of some polls), or else attempt to provide their actual 'best guess' as to future outcomes in order to improve their own legend.
CandidateAirbenderA 'candidate' usually refers to a political person who represents a certain political party in an election. He would then be that party's candidate, for instance for a presidential election. 'Airbender' refers to the show Avatar: The Last Airbender, where there are waterbenders, earthbenders, firebenders and (at this point) a single surviving airbender, the airbender in question being a pivotal character upon whose actions the future fate of world relies.
DroneDogDrones can be many things, for instance a male bee, but as used in the title text it refers to unmanned aerial vehicles. Amazon is about to use small drones to deliver parcels, and Randall has referred to these before (see 1523: Microdrones). However, until just before the recent trend of becoming popularised as a 'toy' or professional camera platform, the term became closely associated with military drones that have been used to observe (and, more recently, fire upon) enemy forces without risking any military personnel.
Vows toProbablywon'tVowing to do something means that you really promise to do this. But when politicians vow something, for instance, it seems to often end up becoming a forgotten promise. Hence the antonym substitution which means the opposite. From really will to probably won't.
...MORE, so much more