This blog covers everything except sports and gardening, unless we find a really good link about using dead professional bowlers for mulch. The author is a StarTribune columnist, has been passing off fiction and hyperbole as insight since 1997, has run his own website since the Jurassic era of AOL, and was online when today’s college sophomores were a year away from being born. So get off his lawn.

Debunking the Hypnotizing Cereal Study

Posted by: James Lileks under Architecture, Gripes, Praise Updated: April 7, 2014 - 12:42 PM

No, the Trix Rabbit is not trying to mesmerize your children. General Foods responded to the “absurd” cereal study that showed how cartoon mascots were trying to “hypnotize” kids. The story went all around the web. I did my part last week, but thought it was silly. Here’s General Food's blog: 

For example, the study supposedly found that the average shelf placement was 23 inches, and the average height of the supposedly downward looking gaze would therefore be 20.21 inches. Their data.

So we looked up –on Google – the average age that a child walks. Did you know three out of four children walk at around 13 months? We didn’t. We then looked up the average height of a 13-month old.  It’s around 30 inches tall.

If this research was in any way meaningful – which it’s not – these supposedly downward looking characters would be looking below eye level of the youngest kids possible.

Unless mom is dragging the kid on the floor. Or the kid is duck-walking.

The study’s author responds in the blog credits. I don’t doubt that there’s marketing psychology involved in the design of cereal boxes, but the idea that there’s something deeeevious and subliminally manipulative about it? No.

Final spanking:

P.S. Take one more look at the Cornell graphic.  Mr. T cereal disappeared, I think, in the early 1980s. That guy on the bottom shelf? It may be C3PO. Now that’s cutting edge research.

Ouch.

Speaking of which:

SCIENCE! ASA released some video of a solar flare and it’s beautiful. Absolutely deadly, but beautiful.

And that would seem to be enough; how can the experience be altered or improved or made worse? 

1. Google added a pop-up ad for cheesecake over the explosions on the sun, which you had to click to dismiss;

2. AP added a pop-up ad - technically, a slide-in ad - that recommended I watch someone skydive off a Dubai skyscraper, because 22 seconds into the video I was probably getting itchy, wondering WHAT NEXT, OH INTERNET, HELP ME PLEASE;

3. Buzzfeed reduced it to a several-second GIF in case the prospect of 43 seconds worth of video made you twitchy and impatient. Then they added another GiF of some guy saying “Science.”

URBAN STUDIES Heartening and not-so-good: ten years after two photographers canvased Gotham looking for venerable signage, they return to the scene to see how things changed. I have the original book, and it's fascinating. Anyway: Here’s one example, from 22 words:

Here’s the Google Street View image as of today:

Was it ravaged between the time the Google camera drove past, and the photographers took their picture? Wikipedia:

In 2012, a rent increase threatened to shutter the establishment.[4] In December 2012, it was announced that it would close at the end of the year.[5] However in January 2013 Reed said he was reopening at 333 Lenox Avenue and that it would have its iconic neon sign there.[6] Richard Notar, who owned the Nobu Restaurant chain and who took over the lease on the original 288 Lenox location, said he would maintain the decor of the original 288 lounge which does not yet have a name.

Here’s the current website for the Lenox Lounge. And by “current” I meant 2014. I'm confused. 

ICK I’ve always wondered about things like this. Consider this Atlas Obscura tale about severed limbs.

According to an old European belief, a candle made out of the dried, severed hand of a criminal who had been hanged — known as the Hand of Glory — had supernatural powers. Traditionally, a Hand of Glory was the “pickled” right hand of a felon, cut off while the body still hung from the gallows. It was used by burglars to send the sleeping victims in a house into a coma from which they were unable to wake.

Except, of course, that it didn’t, which anyone who tried it would have known. But they never had the chance to talk to anyone, since they were caught and hung. In old movies it’s always a sign you’re about to hear secret wisdom: “it is said.” It is said that if a man of pure heart places his hand on the Stone of Kali on the first midnight of the year, the passage shall open.A nd so it happens!

If you’re Indiana Jones.

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