Posts tagged ‘Stephen King’

Trend That Is Not A Trend: Creating a Trend From Measurement Changes

I was watching some excellent videos of recent Phoenix dust storms roll across the city.  I started thinking about a joke story:

Scientists report that the number of Phoenix dust storms have likely increased substantially since 1990.  Before that date, almost no cell phone videos exist of large dust storms in Phoenix.  Today, one can find hundreds of such videos on Youtube, mostly from the last three or four years.  Obviously we are seeing some sort of climate change

This would clearly be absurd -- there has been a change in measurement technology.  No cell phone cameras existed before 1990.  But equally absurd examples can be found every day.

  • With the summer of the shark, an increase in frequency of media coverage of shark attacks was mistaken for an increase in frequency of shark attacks themselves.
  • With tornadoes, improving detection of smaller twisters (e.g. by doppler radar and storm chasers)  has been mistaken by many (cough Al Gore cough) for an increase in the frequency of tornadoes.  In fact, all evidence points to declining tornado frequency
  • With electrical grid disturbances, a trend was created solely by the government owner of the data making a push with power companies to provide more complete reporting.
  • I have wondered whether the so-called cancer epidemic in India is real, or the results of better diagnosis and longer life spans

Postscript:  I remember when I first saw one of these storms rolling towards me after I moved to Phoenix.  Perhaps I should not have read Stephen King's The Mist, but I honestly wondered for a minute if I would live to regret not hopping in my car and racing to stay ahead of the wall coming towards me.


"Trend that is not a trend" is an occasional feature on this blog.  I could probably write three stories a day on this topic if I wished.  The media is filled with stories of supposed trends based on single data points or anecdotes rather than, you know, actual trend data.  More stories of this type are here.  It is not unusual to find that the trend data often support a trend in the opposite direction as claimed by media articles.

More on Our Dust Storm

I blogged on our dust storm last week.  It was really bizarre to watch it rolling in on us.  It was one of those things that you know intellectually is not really threatening but a steady diet of Stephen King and other authors had some part of my brain wondering if I shouldn't be driving north at 90MPH to stay ahead of it.

By the way, such storms are called a "haboob".

Radley Balko linked this time lapse video.

Indie Movie I Would Like to Make

I have read most of Stephen King's novels, and like many of them.  But some of my favorites were the four novels he wrote as Richard Bachman, in part because they were actually, you know, novel length rather than thousand-page monstrosities.

I have discussed in other posts that the Bachman book "the Running Man" is one of the movies I would most love to remake.  The movie was a silly farce where the lead actor (the governator) was out-acted by Richard Dawson, for God sakes.

This week while my daughter was sick I reread "the Long Walk."  Its one of those love it or hate it things -- the Amazon reviews are split between 5 star reviews and 1 star reviews.

I would love to make a movie of "the Long Walk."  It would not be that expensive to make -- the whole book takes place with a hundred teenage boys walking a couple hundred miles down a road.   Seriously, 10-12 unknown teenaged actors, 90 or so other extras, a couple of steadicams on a flatbed truck.  The crowd scenes at the end would take a lot of extras, don't know how expensive that would be, but I think a really interesting movie could be made.  I picture something ala Kirosawa, maybe even in black and white.  The concept also seems to suggest Tarantino, which reminds me of a movie called Battle Royale that is a sort of similar, but much more violent concept, which Tarantino once listed among his ten favorites.

PS-  This would also be a really cool play.  Picture a big moving conveyor belt from front to back of the stage, so the actors walk a steady pace through the whole show.

Airport Dystopia

Nearly every dystopic novel I have ever read usually has an all-powerful state that insists on televisions everywhere in all public and private spaces to spew government propaganda and rebellion-soothing-entertainment at the masses.  (Example:  Richard Bachman / Stephen King's Running Man, which is a much better novel than a movie.)

I am reminded of this every time I go to an airport.  Why is it every airport feels the need to have CNN blaring from televisions spaced out every 20 feet or so.  You can't escape it or turn it off.  Do they really think I am so much of a moron that I can't entertain myself or even sit quietly without video Valium blaring at me every second.  Can't we maybe have some little quiet TV-free rooms, like the smoking rooms spaced around the airport?

I am an active computer gamer and much of the talk in the community is the uproar EA has caused by putting ads in Battlefield 2042.  Much of the discussion is not fact-based, but just panicky rumor-mongering, but one can see how much people don't want advertising pushed at them.  Which is funny to me, because ubiquitous TV in airports seems a much more annoying push than a few ads in a game.