Linkfest 2020-11-13: Friday the Thirteenth Edition

Naive Modeling

In this post from John D Cook on creating models that miss the point references a classic example of an attempt to optimize the wrong thing, the amount of metal used in a can.


Letter from a cat food company to a math professor explaining why they don't make their cans in the shape that minimizes surface area for a given volume

Here is the can example.

The DMRtian Chronicles, 11/8/2020

I like reading roundup posts like this because it shows the incredible diversity and range of adventure fiction.

Inside the Operation Warp Speed effort to get Americans a COVID-19 vaccine

The military-led effort to distribute COVID vaccines looks to be done approximately the Apollo way.


Nate Silver, among others, has defended the clear miss of recent polling by saying that it is within the range of historical errors, but I think that intentionally conflates a clear one-way bias with a previous plus or minus range. I had hoped that polling organizations might have corrected the deficiencies from 2016, but it is clear that they failed to do so.


Why Gremlins worked as a movie when it shouldn’t have, according to standard ideas of what makes a movie successful.

Screenshot 2020-11-13 073454.png

The Exploding Whale remastered: 50th anniversary of legendary Oregon event

This month is the 50th anniversary of an ill-advised attempt to clear a beached whale using explosives.


The Long Walk is an incredibly popular book, but like Three Cups of Tea [Amazon link], is so as I know a fraudulent attempt to make money off of something not actually done. The known history of the author of the book doesn’t match up with his story, but it might match someone else’s.

The Long View: The Great Disappointment of 1844

Don’t expect too much of the end of the world.