I think it's a very good thing to be aware of this. So much of our information is received through indirect means, how many things do we watch on video without understanding how the image and sound has been enhanced? I've been surprised before to see something in person and realize the media representation is not accurate.
I was totally on the same wavelength with Karl Pilkington in An Idiot Abroad when he discovered they were right next to the city. It's such a weird censoring -- would people value them less if they knew how close they were to development?
For reference here is a traditional shot of the pyramids, and here is an aerial view of the adjoining urban area.
 - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_Gizah_Pyramids.j...
 - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giza-pyramids.JPG
This is what it looked like at the time of the siege; the city ended up growing around it
But it's actually this:
Yes. Also there's a road running right next one of the pyramids, a pizza hut overlooking it, and tons of trash in the sand.
Source: I played a lot of Pharaoh as a kid.
I suspect it is worse than that. Much of the actionable information that our civilization relies upon seems effectively "binary-only" and behind "firewalls" of field practice. Take water sanitation, for example. Exactly how does one set up an industrial-scale water sanitation plant for say, 5,000 residential units? There are design books and guides aplenty. But that aeration pump they say you need on page 315, how are you to know who makes one that will last, and is supported well? It's not like McMaster-Carr shows reviews from customers like Amazon. If you are outside the field, or new to it, then you come down to blindly guessing, getting told what to do by corporate policy, or getting the scoop from the grizzled veterans.
This seems pervasive to me, everywhere I turn. There seems to be a Simplifying Assumptions Field (SAF) around not just how information is presented, but how we actually model the information we consume, and it take assiduous effort to turn off in most people. Unless you place yourself into the mindset of "okay, if civilization ended and I could turn to no one else to figure this out, what problems will I run into trying to reproduce what I'm being told here from scratch, by myself?", it is all too easy to blindly accept the kinds of tricks you see on media, and one of the most pernicious tricks is accepting that being told information about something is almost as good as doing it, and doing it well.
I suppose this is why I'm not a fan of even most Internet-delivered broadcast media like Netflix/Hulu/Amazon-Video (not to speak of conventional media, aside from books): actionable information, that is, information I can take and reproduce an action/insight/process/result/object/etc. to the same fidelity/quality level (given enough practice), is very sparse in that part of the world. Documentaries are a gray area for me: if I could read a transcript and get the information 2-5X faster, I'd like them more, but I grow restless with the slow presentation in most documentaries (documentaries at 2X speed on YouTube generally can get my attention, though). Maker and MOOC content for example, seems more actionable to me, though of course YMMV.
I sometimes wonder if we are too harsh on those presenting information to make the information easily-digestible, and too rigid to accept that sometimes we simply don't know pieces of information or can't get the perfect video shot, and settle for entertainment value instead of actionable value.
Same with documentaries on engineering, I've seen 5-6 on jet engines and none of them goes into proper detail.
I've just inherited a legacy software system and I've been hunting down every podcast episode I can related to handling legacy projects holistically and there is a dearth of material.
Lots of the real world things I've learnt over the years I haven't even seen in books, at best books are incomplete and at worst hopelessly naive.
I've considered writing a book called "The hitchikers guide to software development: Surviving the bosses, the deadlines, the insane team members, this weeks buzzword management style - Towel is optional", I want material on programming in the real world not the idealised "and of course you should allocate time for <insert thing your boss will never understand the benefit off>".
Also on a similar related topic, why the hell are software visualisation systems so bloody useless, everything is optimised for creation not maintenance, I know my IDE has the data since it has internal state for things like autocompletion/jump to definition but when I do a "find usages" it gives me a table with each line and the filename...which is a pretty horrible way of visualising it, why can't I see a neat graph and re-orientate it around things like "find usages in this class and it's descendants" or "show me the class with the most usages of <foo>".
Even the best IDE's (I use intellij which is generally wonderful) still approach the problem from the wrong side sometimes, even the limited diagramming tools it has are very useful but you can't do much to interact with them.
IntelliJ in particular should have such tools - the IDE has all the right information. Just no tools that would be particularly useful for exploring codebase structure.
I don't know if this phenomena you and I are talking about is just my emotion-based but factually-incorrect perception, or an actual trend. I like to think it is an actual trend, because I look at fields like truck driving, and the boundaries of what is required to be known today by even average drivers seems greater than say, the 1930's. But the more specialist drivers have to know far more. Same with nurses, farmers, pipefitters, etc. It seems that while the "table stakes" to get into the entry level of many fields have gone up, certain specialties and career development paths simply didn't exist in the past, and they're far more demanding than the field used to expect of the average entrant. It is like the complexity level exploded across many fields as technology moved us forward, and we're not preparing students for the complex reality of the fields they are entering.
Might I suggest the book "Working effectively with legacy code" from Michael Feathers.
I also agree about "precious little instruction available at the intermediate level". Though some is out there, if you're willing to spend a lot of money and sift through a lot of dross.
But I definitely disagree about needing to pick up some thick textbooks or go to college to get from Hello World to employable junior. What you need to do is work. Textbooks or college (or bootcamp) are certainly a possibility, but there's no shortage of free material, if one has the grit to do the work.
I mean, shit. Entry into an upper-middle-class white collar job used to be a project of at least 4 years of full-time effort, with a cost (on top of cost of living) at least equal to a year of salary of that upper-middle-class job. Modern educational opportunities in the area of software engineering drop that by a factor of 2 or 3 or 4. But some people (the "everyone" in your "everyone seemed to think...") figure it has dropped by a factor of 100. It's preposterous. Would-be programmers have got it pretty damn good... that doesn't mean it's miraculous!
For instance, you remark
> But that aeration pump they say you need on page 315, how are you to know who makes one that will last, and is supported well?
And to that I would say that first of all there are general strategies that can be applied to answering questions like this (systematically breaking down the problem). Second, with a very small amount of training in how to research and learn things it's often possible to track down that indirection. To pick on your specific example, I bet you that there is a textbook out there that college civil engineering majors use in their class when they study public works and it probably has a chapter on pumps that would at least help you figure out the specs necessary.
There is also an argument that by omitting facts that can change based on location and time (companies go out of business) the information becomes more timeless and easily propagated.
But like I said I agree with you in general. I think part of the problem is that the scope of human knowledge is becoming ever more complex and high level. In general people seem to accept that "getting the scoop from the grizzled veterans" is a necessary part of the process.
There's an enormous gap between knowing the specs of a pump and knowing which company will make one that won't break and will provide decent service for it. A water sanitation plant that would work in one part the US (or one part of a state) might fail in another due to any among hundreds of factors.
Any time you're doing something that involves silt, algae, microorganisms, weather, human factors... etc... those factors are likely to make a fool of you and your textbook. The "scoop from a grizzled veteran" suddenly becomes essential.
There's a well-known example of a sludge field that worked on a small scale but did not work when executed on a large scale. Total disaster. Hugely expensive project, requiring hugely expensive cleanup.
Sure, there are plenty of realms within tech where "grizzled veterans" aren't needed and where solutions can transfer and scale nicely. You can't safely extrapolate that to real-world problems.
In many endeavors, local knowledge can't safely be ignored, and hubris leads to tragedy.
Nina Munk's reporting on the Millenium Villages Project is illustrative of the difficulties one can be blindsided by when trying to get something done with insufficient regard for local conditions:
With a few fast and hard rules mostly based on country of origin and price you can go a long way( specifically talking about water pumps ).
edit: a thread on this, although not exactly what I was thinking of: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9084466
I find that information density and technical depth are inversely proportional to my ability watch this content when I'm trying to relax or if I'm tired :)
Not a terribly surprising finding, but I'm glad some of this "more digestible" informative content is increasingly available. I'd usually rather watch that type of stuff than most fictional shows. I do like a good novel now and then though.
Likewise a picture of a sleeping person may look like a dead person. Stop with the pictures of dead people all over the place already!
I think a more accurate equivalent would be a widespread trend of depictions (pictures/tattoos) of people doing everyday activities with their eyes closed: surfing, winning awards, at the Eiffel tower, etc. That would certainly bother me because that is not the usual state for a waking person's eyes.
Edit: L'esprit de l'escalier moment - I should have used the arms-crossed-over-chest corpse-pose rather than eyes closed. Sometimes people assume that posture while living, but I mostly associate it with dead bodies prepared for burial.
In a field guide or specimen collection, I think it would make a lot of sense to show the whole wing. I don't think it's at the level of gizography and fake gun sounds (now those are a major pet peeve of mine, especially the suppressor misconception).
- They're all dead...
The life of the party!
It reminds me of this blog post on the topic of 'cuteness' in Japanese culture:
> Female protagonists in Japanese genre productions have to be cute, apparently. And cuteness is, I’m told, context-dependent. Big anime eyes and tiny pointed noses may be necessary but they are not sufficient. There must also be jeopardy.
Like you, I tend to see efficiency as most beautiful, especially when one simple structure fulfills several complex requirements simultaneously. A tiger or a gazelle is beautiful because it's very close to optimal for the niche it's evolved to fill.
You can't just mentally replace the dead butterfly with a living one on the same image. You have to keep in mind that the artist would create a completely different image for the living butterfly... And I really don't know how that would look like.
I'm no scholar of Japanese Art, but by removing that which nature puts into the thing, you remove the beauty of the thing.
Fortunately, we're bridging art and science here.
Why are you repeating yourself? ;)
I knew the difference between dead and alive butterfly/moth wing positions, but never consciously noticed the difference in artistic depictions. Heck, I volunteer at the Boston Museum of Science every week and must have seen that Monarchs poster a hundred times without noticing.
Comparing art that "did it right" and art that "did it wrong" -- yeah, if you do it right, it looks a LOT more realistic and "lively," even if I wouldn't have known why before reading this article. I'll have to keep an eye out from now on!
"Maybe it helps to think of illustrated butterflies as a kind of iconography...One of the first things little kids (especially girls) learn to draw is “a butterfly” (meaning, a dead butterfly). It will not have anything like natural coloring, and might have big friendly eyes, but will definitely have two curling antennae and spread, uplifted wings. It’s a heraldic image, like a lion rampant. Lions don’t look like that, but the symbol says what it needs to."
Now all I can think of is the perl6 butterfly, Camelia...
Making food aesthetically pleasing does add flavor to that first sample.
Banana flavoring is also based on the flavor of Gros Michel bananas, which is why it doesn’t taste like the Cavendish bananas commonly available today.
If you want to see a very yellow inside of a banana, get a very ripe plantain (completely black peel) and fry slices.
Also, the reproduction paintings were very unlikely to be faithful reproductions of anything but the base coat, and the base coat of any painting is going to look like crap.
The paint, however, may be very exotic. Certain colors and tones were infamous in the old world for being extremely expensive, be they hard to make or find, and often had to travel thousands of miles. When you painted your stuff, it was to show off that you were not only locally rich, but you had the connections internationally to get the really care stuff.
Not sure if that was the case with the Augustus statue in question, but it is common throughout Greek and Roman architecture.
Also, nature is loud if you don't disturb if.
If any of my friends are reading this; it's too late to tease me.
This is more representative: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/2b/Ac...
(See also: Cunningham's Law)
(Disclaimer: this has long been a pet peeve of mine, too, as my wife could testify!)
I found the article aesthetically as well as scientifically persuasive.
a dead butterfly is more aesthetically pleasing than a living one due to the outstretched wings
No it isn't; you're just used to seeing them that way. There's an excellent scientific reason for it, since it facilitates species identification, but I'd rather see butterflies portrayed alive than dead unless that's semantically appropriate (eg for a gothic aesthetic). I have a garden and we let it run fairly wild to attract bird and insect life, so I have lots of real butterflies, bees etc to look at.
Being used to things looking certain way is always factor in what people find aesthetically pleasing. It goes for color preferences, shapes and pretty much anything else too.
I did find this really interesting though. Sort of a window into a world i'd never otherwise think about.
I'm sorry, do you have evidence for this assertion? The author specifically addresses this, saying the position is atypical even during flight.
It just seems rude to me to dismiss the author's argument so flippantly with what seems to be an unfounded supposition.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o7a7ZAqWBIs&t=79 shows a butterfly manoeuvring in flight such that it stretches its wings forward. My statement was simply that if a butterfly is ever going to have its wings forward, it will be while it is in flight. Stop looking for drama where there isn't any.
For all we know, a butterfly could find such pictures attractive.
Half-baked analogy. A person in split-leg position is not natural. We rarely see people in such position. But to say that  is a picture of a dead person would be clearly nonsense.
This is hacker news and we have something special here. One-liners like that are deserving of your response.
That was the feeling evoked by the comment. I was taking a break from work and didn't spend time explaining.
There are so many reasons I find that comment bothersome. But mostly it's probably my upbringing in the deep south where any intellectual pursuit would put you into the category of "odd nut" whose time spent on a subject was worthy of dismissal because of "common sense" is more important.
viz. every cartoon with visible foot bottoms here: https://www.google.com/search?site=&tbm=isch&q=easter+bunny
Also… rabbits don't typically eat carrots, they eat carrot tops. (Just like how cats don't drink milk, and mice don't eat cheese. Sure, they like it, but where would a mouse find cheese in the wild?)
Slightly off topic (and related to moths not butterflies), but this sites includes wonderful detail on how moths are prepared high resolution scans:
I seem to recall that looking down on flying butterflies has them look an awful lot like I see in pictures, or even when they wiggle their wings perched, but that could be memory being fickle.
Incidentally, with a bit of practice you can sneak up to resting or feeding butterflies and photograph them close-up (e.g. with a smartphone), provided you don't make sudden movements. So now you can have proof of sighting and a permanent visual record without the need to kill them.
To make a long story short, illustrations tend to depict what you are trying to show. An unnatural position might be the best way to illustrate an organism if you are providing a guide for people to classify them with, especially if you can only provide a single photo.
The more natural depictions of birds, etc. can all basically be traced back to John James Audubon. Before then almost every illustration looked exceedingly staged.
There is a reason to drawn both wings in the same plane, is much easier to classificatory purposes and is needed in some special cases because butterflies can have totally different marks in its right and left wings.
Boycotting a technology you don't like is ineffective unless it's monopolized and there a single provider on whom to focus the boycott efforts. Extensions that filter out such annoyances (like adblockers) are somewhat effective but result in arms races. Subversion through 3rd party tagging or the creation of other undesirable second-order effects seems like the best strategy. Perhaps someone with more technical knowledge could come up with better suggestions.
It's a valid problem, which I encourage you to consider, write up, and submit in its own right.
I really thought the peeve was going to be about pictures of butterflies on people's mouths (Silence of the Lambs). That bugs me, but I guess with the movie it was supposed to.
Regardless, it's the "j sound" of "James" (as well as of both "edging" and "aging" for those of you who pronounce them the same) and not the "j sound" of "Jaques" (or the "z" sound of "azure").
(For those familiar with IPA, /be.'dʒiɲ/ not /be.'ʒiɲ/)
That is, IPA [t͡ɕ]
Edit: And if anyone's curious, there are four sounds in Mandarin that English-speakers will interpret as forms of "ch", varying based on aspiration and point(s) of articulation. In Pinyin, all four have distinct romanizations (which is one advantage Pinyin has over Wade-Giles).
Pinyin IPA Articulation Aspirated
ch [ʈ͡ʂʰ] postalveolar retroflex Y
zh [ʈ͡ʂ] postalveolar retroflex N
q [t͡ɕʰ] dual alveolo-palatal Y
j [t͡ɕ] dual alveolo-palatal N
I don't know IPA but BAY-jing (aging) vs BEH-jing (edging).