Lexifabricographer For when the right word just won’t do…

June 19, 2008

Around the interwebs today

Filed under: cricket,geekery,the interweb she provides — lexifab @ 2:22 pm

Lore Sjoberg cruelly pokes fun at the many hundreds of anonymous commentators who’ve had something insightful to shout about the D&D4E over at Wired. Mocking nerdrage is funny at the best of times, but seriously, the quality of ‘debate’ around this latest edition has been entertainingly shrill and gibbering, even by the usual standards of internet discourse. The main complaints (“they’re turning it into a video game”, “they’re forcing people to buy more books”, “they’re sacrificing too many sacred cows”, “it’s just not D&D any more“) would of course be risible enough on their own if they didn’t bear so indistinguishable a resemblance to the shrieking litany of complaints being sprayed about the last time a new edition was released.

This one is a bit old, but I promised Dr Clam that I would link to it and I never got around to it: an article about an experiment to replicate the shockwave effect in traffic (in summary: fast-fast-screech!-slow-faster-fast). Watch the film, it’s really cool. It might also make you think of science the next time you’re stuck in traffic, which might help while away the hours.

By switching from a right-to-left hand batting stance during the bowler’s runup and belting Scott Styris for six the other day,  Kevin Pieterson has introduced the first genuine batting innovation in cricket* since the slog-sweep (which was popular on the subcontinent for decades before it became popular with the wider Test-playing community). That would be amusing enough, but it appears that the normally staid and tradition-bound MCC is letting him get away with it, stating that the shot is within the laws of cricket. I think it will be a while before it enjoys widespread popularity though – it’s incredibly tricky to pull of and so stupid a risk that getting out while attempting it would cast one’s selection prospects in a very dark shadow. Few batsmen would be willing to put their careers on the line for a moment of glorious spectacle. Except KP, who’s clearly a bit mad.

(See, I can be a nerd about other things apart from roleplaying games and doughnuts!)

* At international level, that is. Of course people have been doing this in backyards and indoor cricket nets forever. Not me though, because I am really rather rubbish at batting.


  1. In reference to the shockwave effect (the experiment is really in a doughnut shape so I feel it is a subtle encouragement to keep the comments coming), for the last few months I have been perfecting a driving technique that counters the exact driving instincts that propagate the shockwave, to infact “dampen” the effect. The trick is to react gently to what is happening several cars in front of you, utilising the full space in front of you (and even allowing for the space behind you) to achieve this. As an example, you observe a car turning left several cars in front of you: Well before the car immediately in front of you slows down, tap on your break as a forward indicator to the car behind you, and let the gap with the car in front of you increase slightly. Then keep the slowdown as gradual as possible, aiming for the closest with the car in front of you to be at the time he would be ready to be past where the car turned. Then, once the car in front of you has started to speed up, speed up more gradually than they do, aiming the distance increase to be slightly beyond where it would be normally before matching it again.

    Similarly, at traffic lights, look ahead and start to coast as soon as you can tell you are going to have to stop for it – When you do stop, leave a bigger gap than normal in front of you, then when the light turns green, nudge forward in advance, aiming to be at a normal distance by the time the car in front of you takes off. DO NOT TRY THIS WITH YOUR WIFE IN THE CAR.

    Comment by Marco — June 21, 2008 @ 2:16 pm

  2. I think its obvious by the slow comment response that you need to discuss fried sweets if you wish to have fast and furious interest.

    Comment by Jenny — June 24, 2008 @ 10:22 am

  3. Well, to be fair, I haven’t gotten around to responding to Marco’s (mildly odd) suggestion, which I can appreciate on one level but see some practical issues with*. Nor have I posted anything new in the past few days. So I can hardly expect anyone else to keep the momentum rolling.

    * 1: This only works if none of the five vehicles ahead of you is a SUV with an oversized arse which prevents you from seeing one braking ahead of you. This issue may be mitigated if you yourself are driving a SUV with an oversized arse, but since I will never fit into that particular demographic for environmental, financial, safety and aesthetic reasons, it’s an academic point at best. 2: Urban environments with narrow and twisting roads – most major cities, for instance – are not conducive to this sort of forewarning either. 3: Leaving the sort of gap M describes in, say, Sydney, just guarantees that someone will pull into that gap. More than likely they will then slam on their brakes. 4: It’s not just wives, Marco – this sort of driving would send any passenger absolutely bonkers 🙂

    Comment by lexifab — June 24, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

  4. I drive pretty much like Marco recommends, but do practically all my driving on the highway where it is easy to see what the cars far ahead of me are doing. The main difference is that I was trained by my boss on the highways back of Charters Towers that brakes are to be saved for emergencies: unless you are about to hit something bigger than you are, only slow down using the gears…

    Comment by Chris Fellows — June 24, 2008 @ 6:00 pm

  5. I was also taught this by my driving instructor, and it made perfect sense to me until quite recently, when my wife pointed out the comparitive costs of replacement for gears as opposed to brake pads…

    Comment by lexifab — June 25, 2008 @ 11:01 am

  6. Only ever had to replace one gearbox, and that was on the paper delivery van, which was driven in a totally different- not to mention insane- manner. 🙂

    Comment by Chris Fellows — June 25, 2008 @ 6:11 pm

  7. 1. If the car/trucks in front of you totally disrupt visibility, this is an indication to leave a bigger than usual gap in front of you. If there is an alternative lane with better visibility, take it. I find that if you know where all the road hazards are, one can predict the forward flow without even being able to see it directly.

    2. Narrow, twisting roads are more of a challenge, but still worth pursuing. If you commute along a routine route, you can rely on your knowledge. There are some blind corners in my route that I coast along, knowing full well that nine times out of ten there is traffic banked up around the corner. My preference is to slip it in neutral for long coasts of that nature.

    3. The gap can be problematic, especially with unthinking, impatient co-commuters. I like to leave the gap the largest where the traffic is stopped and banked up all around me. This gets their attention and I can demonstrate the usefulness of doing it without them being able to infiltrate my defenses.

    4. Wives can punish you and humiliate you in front of your friends. Other passengers are fair game.

    Comment by Marco — June 26, 2008 @ 8:08 am

  8. Thanks for the link to the Wired article. That was spot on. Except that there should have been a euro-trash-surrender-monkey complaining in broken Engrish that the rules are USA centric and not inclusive of any/all other cultures. And another thing…

    Comment by winstoninabox — June 27, 2008 @ 10:55 pm

  9. So true.

    Comment by lexifab — June 27, 2008 @ 11:01 pm

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