14 things that will happen in 2019, according to the movies

And it will still be better than 2018. (via)

The whine of a nose-diving plane

That sound that we associate with nose-diving planes is called a ‘Jericho Trumpet’. It’s a siren mounted on German Ju87 Stuka Dive Bomber planes that was added as a psychological weapon, designed to cause panic and confusion in the enemy.

The slight variation in pitch is due to the Doppler effect. The increasing air speed causes the plane’s propellers to spin faster, increasing the pitch of the engine.

Going into a dive bomb was a difficult task. Stuka pilots would have to ensure:

  • Landing flaps at cruise position
  • Elevator at cruise position
  • Rudder trip at cruise position
  • Contact altimeter ON
  • Contact altimeter set to release altitude
  • Supercharger set at automatic
  • Throttle fully closed
  • Cooler flaps closed
  • Dive brakes open

As soon as the dive brakes were activated, the Stuka’s nose would automatically turn down and the plane would begin its descent. The maximum dive-speed was 600 km/h (373 mph).

In Star Wars, TIE fighters have a similar sound, which probably isn’t an accident:

Sound designer Ben Burtt created the distinctive TIE fighter sound effect by combining an elephant call with a car driving on wet pavement. In the book The Sounds of Star Wars, the engine roar is likened to German Junker Ju 87 “Stuka” bombers, who used sirens to frighten civilians on raids. This could have been a possible inspiration for the sound. Combat scenes between TIE fighters and the Millennium Falcon and Rebel Alliance X-wing fighters in Star Wars were meant to be reminiscent of World War II dogfight footage; editors used World War II air combat clips as placeholders while Industrial Light & Magic completed the movie’s special effects.

There’s no ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in Irish

Noah Ó Donnaile:

Irish is a Celtic language, spoken (spoiler alert) on the island of Ireland. It has 2 grammatical genders, 4-ish grammatical cases, VSO word order, and has no words for “yes” or “no”.

I found this interesting. In English, if you ask the question “is she OK?”, you’ll get ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in response.

Ask the same question in Irish—”an bhfuil sí ceart go leor?”—likely answers are ‘tá’ or ‘níl’. These literally mean “she is” and “she isn’t”.

The answers take the verb from the question and express it positively or negatively. This causes problems with machine translation; the question is needed to provide context, so you’ll often get a seemingly non-sensical answer like “isn’t” instead of ‘no’.

As noted above, Irish has a VSO (verb-subject-object) word order, whereas English uses SVO. Yoda uses OSV.

Kids and creativity

Austin Kleon recently posted two things that delighted me:

In praise of Garageband:

One afternoon a few years ago when we were bored, I showed my son Owen (now 6) how to make simple tracks on his little iPad mini, and ever since then, he’s been completely obsessed with the program. He spends, on average, at least an hour a day in Garageband. (He would spend way more if we didn’t limit his screen time, and we have to, because if we don’t he gets that weird zombie recording glaze in his eyes. [Musicians will know what I’m talking about.])

He has recorded 100s of songs. He started out, like most songwriters, covering songs by bands he likes. First, it was Kraftwerk. He came in one day after quiet time with this totally cool and insane version of “Autobahn.” Then he moved into parody. At my suggestion, he recorded Christmas versions of Kraftwerk songs. (“Christmasbahn,” “Trans Polar Express,” etc.) That was around the time he learned how to sample while looking for sleigh bells.

I have been searching for a way to get more Garageband in my life and I think I’ve found it. I knew my son would be useful for something. (Maybe we should follow Grimes and make an entire album on Garageband.)

A year of drawing:

My son Jules woke up on Christmas last year and started drawing. He was 2. (His birthday is in March.) […] I find it remarkable, at this point, how drawing for him still has nothing to do with the results. He does not care what you do with his drawings after he’s done making them. How he draws is intense and adorable at the same time: he will put down a few lines, and then stand back and shake while he admires them.

Fantastic that he already has his ‘great subject’—skeletons of all things. And the fact that his pile of drawings need sweeping up, there’s so many of them. Amazing.

Jules Kleon's great subject for drawing: skeletons

A pile of children's drawings being swept up with a broom

Elon Musk’s tunnel doesn’t scale, so it doesn’t matter

And yes, it would be great if this dalliance produces genuine improvements in tunnel technologies useful for building actual train-sized tunnels that can move the number of people who need to move. But Musk’s prairie-dog burrows are mostly hype, confusion, and elite projection. While delivering almost nothing useful, they are confusing elite opinion about whether we still need to build mass transit, which we do. Is any marginal benefit worth the resulting delay in getting the infrastructure we really need?

Source: Elon Musk’s Tunnel: It Doesn’t Scale, so it Doesn’t Matter — Human Transit

The referendum was only advisory, ffs

The late John Hirst, writing in 2009 about Ancient Greek democracy:

Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the great Athenian philosophers, who had severe doubts about Athenian democracy and whose criticisms help us to understand how it operated. They complained that the people were fickle; they were indecisive; they were ignorant; they were easily swayed. Government is a fine art that requires wisdom and judgment, which are not the possession of all citizens. The philosophers would be much happier with our system of representative democracy. No matter what we say about our representatives, they are usually better educated and better informed than the people as a whole.

Peter Weir wanted to fuck with cinema audiences in The Truman Show

Weir and Niccols’ focus was on the audience, who are embodied alternately as a bar full of city dwellers, a pair of shiftless cops, a middle-aged guy in his bathtub, and a pair of elderly women clutching Truman embroideries. We see them react with joy and consternation as Truman begins breaking the rules of the simulation. Weir originally wanted to install cameras in movie theaters and, at some point, cut to the actual audience watching the movie, as well; he toyed with the idea of playing Christof himself. Truman may be fictional, in other words, but its setting was real. We would do this, the film insisted—we would watch a man merely live a life out on television, rather than living one ourselves. We would turn a nobody into a celebrity through sheer collective will.

Source: The Truman Show was a delusion that came true

It think this would have sent me over the edge. Also: 20 years?


My son’s almost 15 months old. Some of the babies in his NCT cohort came out with full heads of hair; some of them grew hair quickly and have since had it cut several times.

His hair has grown somewhat patchily. Today he had his cut for the first time. A big mohawk for a while, the gaps slowly filling in. It’s curly, from his mum, and ginger, from his maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother. It seems to be darkening as it grows and thickens.

As your child grows up you have lots of firsts and I try to be part of as many of them as I can. I took extended parental leave then subsequently quit my job so I’ve been very lucky to have been there for his first word, step, meal, mega-tantrum. I feel very lucky compared with many of the other dads that I speak to, many of whom come back from work to find their child already in bed. It’s not all been straightforward but the past year-and-a-bit has made me happier than I’ve ever been.