Tag Archives: vox

Why do Classic Cartoon Characters wear white gloves? Animation | Science, Technology & Curiosity 02 FEB 2017

I’m familiar with the concept of a cartoon hand in animation being drawn with four fingers only (image simplification, cartoon proportions, etc), but I’ve never really pondered as to why so many of the classic cartoon characters (like say Mickey Mouse and Goofy from the Disney stable for example) wore white gloves.

Luckily for us then, the Vox team went in and took a closer look at the possible reasons as to why:

In summary (just in case you can’t view the video, you know, thanks to work restrictions or something like that):

1) Image simplification to save time and thus money. (Less details, curves instead of angles, etc.)
2) To contrast black hands against a black body in the age of early black and white animation.
3) Humanizing an anthropomorphic creature by giving them more human-like hands.
4) Vaudeville and blackface minstrels style that was originally associated with the art of early animation performances.

So a good number of plausible, possible and quite interesting reasons then!

Related Link: YouTube | Vox

The Pros and Cons of Police Sketches Science, Technology & Curiosity 13 SEP 2016

We tend to see facial composite or police sketch images in the news a lot. They’ve been around forever, and are essentially a graphical representation of an eyewitness’ memory of a face, as recorded by a composite (police sketch) artist. These are used pretty much exclusively by police as an aid in the investigation of serious crimes, though they are also sometimes used to reconstruct a victim’s face in hope of identifying them.


Therein lies the inherent problem however. Although there is a small success rate linked to the used of these identikits, this usually relies on the perpetrator having a really distinctive facial appearance. Human brains tend to process faces holistically, meaning that our ability to actually see (and remember) parts of the face when looking at a person and then recalling those pieces is not particularly great (never mind the fact that our recall of detail from memory is fallible to say the least!).

Vox had a look at this issue can produced a pretty good video around the topic:

As highlighted towards the end of the view, newer evolutionary systems based on full face recognition (like EvoFIT from the UK and ID from the University of Cape Town, South Africa) appear to hold a lot of promise going forward. Give it a couple of years and perhaps we may finally find it time to retire the venerable position of the police sketch artist?

Related Link: Vox | YouTube

The Origins of the Comic Book Font Science, Technology & Curiosity 02 SEP 2016

The basic font used in comic books is almost universally recognised – which is weird when you consider that there is no one comic book font.

Instead, fonts used in comic books generally all have the same look and feel, but for a very good reason – it all stems from the past where comic books were hand lettered, with the aim of getting as much information crammed into as small a space as possible, while at the same time keeping it legible enough despite the poor quality (read “super cheap”) of both paper and printing equipment of those early days.

comic book display

Vox’s Phil Edwards looked into it, and the result is this very slick video giving us a bit more information and history around the non-existent, yet universally recognised “comic book font”:

So, do you have a modern letterer whose comic book work you rather enjoy?

(I might not have a favourite, but I do know what I hate – the use of decorative cursive text in comic books. Those speech bubbles are pretty much entirely unreadable!)

Related Link: Vox | YouTube | Comicraft Fonts

Pills: Prescription Drug Ads on American TV Science, Technology & Curiosity 01 SEP 2016

One of the things that surprised me while I was over in the United States (California) this year was the sheer number and never ending stream of advertisements for prescription medicine on both television and radio.

It’s a ridiculous amount of hard, direct to consumer advertising that basically tells you if you feel something is slightly wrong, you should definitely see your doctor and ask him for drug X. (Thankfully though, the adverts are all forced to list major side effects of the advertised medicine as well, leading to quite interesting adverts where you learn that you can cure an upset stomach at the potential cost of developing low blood pressure).


Apparently in most parts of the world, this direct advertisement of prescription medicine to the public is deemed illegal, and I’m not sure as to whether or not that applies here in South Africa – but I do know that we don’t see half as many of these adverts as what the poor Americans are forced to sit through.

The team over at Vox had a look at this issue, weighing in on both the positive and negative impact that this massive surge in prescription medicine advertising on TV has on Americans:

A difficult one for sure. I suspect that I’m a bit on the fence here: I get the being better informed part definitely, but the concern of people pressuring doctors to prescribe medicine when it isn’t really necessary – that’s a bit worrying, isn’t it?

That said, this is America we are talking about. Rampant capitalism and all that…

Related Link: Vox | YouTube

How Snapchat’s clever Filters Work Science, Technology & Curiosity 01 JUL 2016

It’s pretty cool to see just how many of the then in their infancy fields from Computer Science back when I was doing my B.BusSc at the University of Cape Town have matured and now find themselves commonplace in general society today.

snapchat face filter rainbow vomit from a pretty girl

Take the extremely clever Snapchat video filters for example. The app basically runs facial recognition combined with mesh building algorithms in real time, with the end result being a frightfully good, augmented reality system… on a smartphone!

The always informative Vox takes a closer look:

That is some seriously clever algorithm work in action!

Related Link: Vox | YouTube

How does an Airplane Black Box (Flight Recorder) Work? Science, Technology & Curiosity 20 JUN 2016

No one is 100% sure why we refer to airplane flight recorders as black boxes – considering the fact that they are almost always painted bright orange! It could be that maybe the name comes from the fact that after an accident, the box is usually blackened thanks to the fire damage, or perhaps it simply took on the engineering term for an input device which given some inputs, does some magic internally and then spits out something else.

However, despite the media’s preference for calling this device a black box, it is more correct to call it a flight recorder – after all, that’s how the aviation industry refers to it in the first place!

bright orange flight recorder airplane black box

Anyway, the media team over at Vox have put together a nice video explaining just how these data recorders are put together, as well as what data they store:

So, with cockpit audio recordings as well as numerous airplane instrument readouts stored, it is no wonder that flight recorders are so invaluable to investigators following an air disaster!

Related Link: Vox | YouTube

Hints of Evolution left behind in Your Body Science, Technology & Curiosity 05 APR 2016

Vox magazine sometimes puts together some pretty interesting, well made and informative videos that have absolutely nothing to do with politics or liberal America in general – like this one for instance in which they highlight some of the very peculiar anomalies in our bodies that seem to indicate some prior use case, i.e. an argument in favour of evolution.

I kind of agree with them on pretty much all of this:

On that note, the art of wiggling one’s ears still eludes me, no matter how much I try.


Related Link: Vox | YouTube