It's time for our regular segment in which @Gafgarian (AKA Jeremiah Palmer) provides answers to the burning questions left unanswered in each episode of the Rooster Teeth Podcast. Read on to get closure for When the Ball Drops – #419.
Are the Tesla Model 3 preorders running behind?
Perhaps not. Despite the relative quiet from Musk's factory on the subject and a steady decline in stock value over the last year (largely because of the silence), reports as recently as last week say that we may see the Model 3 sooner than later – perhaps much sooner. Concerns over the potential missed delivery date of mid-2018 have been exacerbated over the last few months because of two missed deadlines which Tesla has remained mum on as well. Those are the December 31, 2016 and March 1, 2017 self-assigned due dates for a delivery of a "beta prototype" and "completed beta," respectively. In addition to not having anything to show investors, Musk's team also seemed to have completely ignored these deliverables, opting instead to just not say anything.
It should be noted that with both the Model S and Model X, Tesla also missed these so-called "prototype" deadlines, choosing to instead show off their test model months later. In both of these cases, they were able to claim that they "succeeded" in providing the test model as promised, despite not delivering on any of the incremental stages between. This left many investors in the dark during the production of those models, and, while both were ultimately released later than intended, the overall opinion of investors remained positive enough to trigger future investment in the Model 3.
As time has passed since the record-breaking pre-orders associated with the Model 3 and little information has come from Tesla, investors have predictably gotten nervous, causing some to dump their investment. However, a recent Forbes articles has led some to feel that a few may have preemptively jumped ship. According to anonymous sources within Tesla that were privy to a private investor call, Musk may have made the surprising executive decision to skip the "Beta Prototype" phase completely. Musk reportedly stated, "...release candidates should be ready for driving internally within two weeks." This means that the standard release cycle of pre-alpha, alpha, beta, release candidate, pre-production, and finally production may have been internally usurped. While apparently skipping over the beta stages of development and going straight to release candidates has served to further fray some nerves, Musk elaborated on the subject a bit by pointing out that lessons learned from previous Tesla iterations have allowed them to walk into this production with more preparation. Pointing out that, "The Model 3 has 1.5 kilometers of wiring. The Model S has 3 kilometers of wiring, so we simplified the wiring system considerably." Production details like these have been further streamlined allowing for better scalability of the model's production.
What does all of this mean? Possibly nothing. Ultimately, the company's track records say a lot about their opinions on the importance of a timely delivery. At this point I think that Tesla is going to do what Tesla thinks is best for the business, product, and the consumer. If this means @gus waits a year for his Model 3 then that is just what he signed up for. Given previous knowledge of their past delivery schedules, it would be foolish to "bank" on the idea that you will be driving your Model 3 by this time next year. In this case, "hoping for the best but preparing for the worst" seems key, and a year or more from now, when you are $30k+ poorer and a brand new Model 3 pulls into your driveway, you can be just as surprised as the Tesla investors are.
The forced perspective of Cinderella's Castle?
Fair warning to those who don't want some of the magic of Disney spoiled, you may want to keep scrolling. I know that discussing the truths of Disney can sometimes be compared to discussing other "magical" truths and I'll not be responsible for any of that nonsense. So, those of you are still sporting your Mouseketeer hats from back when you had to pay for Disney on TV, be warned, you may want to keep scrolling.
We learned a little bit about this in a previous Podcast Answers post on the Disney lore, but to elaborate, Disney is absolute not a rookie when it comes to the integration of forced perspective. Both Disneyland and Disney World have leveraged the power of forced perspective since their original inception and design. Various attractions take advantage of this optical illusion in order to make the visitor feel smaller, larger, closer, farther, etc. Notable uses of this method include the walls in the "growing room" of the Haunted Mansion, and the slightly elongated bricks, windows, and door frames of Main Street USA so the walk to Cinderella's Castle feels much longer than the walk out of the park in the other direction. The buildings of Main Street USA are built with a forced perspective vertically as well since most of them do not have functional upper floors. This makes the buildings appear taller than they actually are, which, at various angles from within the park, allow the rest of the scenery beyond Main Street USA to be visible.
As @bgibbles suggested, the castles are no exception to the use of forced perspective with every castle throughout the various Disney parks taking advantage of it in some way. Again, as mentioned by Blaine, the primary reason for this, at least in Florida, is due to a height requirement by the FAA which states that any structure taller than 200 feet must be equipped with a flashing red light to warn approaching aircraft. The desire to not have a flashing red light, combined with the desire to make the castles look immense, led the Disney Imagineers to rely on the powers of forced perspective. By shrinking the bricks as they ascend the towers and making the iconic top spire half of its actual scaled size, the impression of the top of the castle being much further away from you on the ground is easily conveyed. The actual height of Cinderella's Florida home is only 189 feet and it is still the second tallest castle of all Disney parks, eclipsed only by the Enchanted Storybook Castle in Shanghai, China; and even then by a mere 8 foot difference.
Perhaps one of the greatest uses of forced perspective in all of Disney, however, is that of Beast's castle. Revealed to the public in early 2012, the looming presence of Beast's cursed home on the hill was a welcome addition to the FantasyLand expansion. With the added ability to eat "inside" it at Be Our Guest restaurant, guests were immediately captured by the magic of Disney World's latest destination. I personally was there shortly before Be Our Guest opened and was able to easily make out the looming ramparts of Beast's home. Looking back on it, there is no doubt that I assumed the castle to be a huge structure... I now know that I could not have been more wrong.
Here is a picture in case you doubted the power of imagination, a bit of training in forced perspective engineering, and some well-placed scenery.
Why don't dishwashers always run the sanitize setting?
The short answer is mostly related to energy consumption, but there is also a healthy amount of concern toward melting certain items. Formerly known as the National Sanitation Foundation, NSF International has determined that the temperature required to "sanitize" non-porous dishes is no less than 150 degrees Fahrenheit. A standard dishwasher cycle runs with your hot water at its base temperature. In other words, no additional heating takes place and your dishes are washed in water that is typically around 120 degrees. During a sanitize cycle, a dishwasher will run that water through heating coils prior to the wash cycle beginning. This will temporarily bump the water temperature beyond the 150-degree sanitization point. Naturally this additional step adds time and energy consumption to the process. The exact amount of additional time and energy consumed varies based on the make, model, and age of your dishwasher, but, on average, the full cycle tends to be around 5–18 minutes longer and uses an additional 0.5–1 kilowatt hour.
This extra time and energy, the possibility of melting anything plastic, and the additional wear to your machine has led most appliance companies to suggest that the use of the sanitization cycle should not be considered a regular use case in most households.
What is Potassium Permanganate?
Potassium Permanganate is an antiseptic and is a key ingredient in water purification, various medicines, and, curiously, emergency marking snow. Also known as Condy's Crystals, the normally grayish-black powder can be purchased at most home improvement stores and is also sometimes found at wilderness equipment and camping retailers.
When combined with various other ingredients, even in small amounts, this versatile powder can have drastically different outcomes. For example, if combined with Glycerine or antifreeze, it will start a chemical fire. The addition of sugar will produce a large amount of smoke and, in the case of Onoway, Alberta, a mixture with water is used for purification purposes. While larger quantities can absolutely be harmful if ingested, a toxic dose would require above a 100 mg per kilogram of body weight concentration, which is much higher than Onoway's mixture. At that concentration, the solution would actually become a more solidified purple-ish soup. If pink, however, it is perfectly safe to consume even if it does look like a watered down slime from Ghostbusters II. That said, the pink solution has been known to cause a few stains on your clothing, so, if your water is pink, maybe hold off on doing the laundry at least.
What would happen if your balls never dropped before puberty?
If your balls do not descend by age one, it is recommended that you immediately confer with a urologist and surgeon to discuss options. Most initial treatments will include some type of hormone therapy in order to attempt to artificially "trigger" the natural movement of the testes. By age three, if they still have not dropped, invasive surgery is highly recommended. While undescended testicles through puberty are extremely rare, usually due to an early age diagnosis and treatment if it were an issue, delays in ball "droppage" has been linked to extremely low sperm count and even some forms of testicular cancer though there have been very few studies on the subject to the general rarity of the condition.
Can you choose your cell phone's area code?
For the most part, yes. Most cell phone providers will give you the option of choosing whichever area code you prefer, though, depending on which representative is helping you, they may or may not actually ask you. Similarly, most providers also allow you change the area code of your existing phone number. Sprint even goes so far as to offer it through a simple automated form on their website.
Why are TV show seasons so short these days?
In the long long ago, the before time if-you-will, TV seasons had more episodes. Most had upwards of 20+ and, in the very early days of television, it wasn't unusual for seasons to be longer still. Lucille Ball and her critically acclaimed 1951 sitcom, I Love Lucy, debuted with a 35-episode first season. It ran from October to June and, because of a scheduling quirk, even released new episodes on Christmas and New Year's Eve. The next few decades of broadcast television saw the average television season length decline considerably, and by the late 1970s, the "standard" 22 episode model had been pretty strongly established. Then came cable TV...
Initially cable stations stuck to the standard model of shorter episodes and longer seasons; however, when premium cable stations like HBO and Showtime began offering their own original programming, opting for what they deemed to be "quality over quantity," the game began to change. The shorter seasons, with longer episodes and no commercial breaks, allowed for an arguably more impressive scripting process. Additionally, the promise of a limited engagement began to draw well-known names into the story. Perhaps sensing the shift, the standard cable channels began embracing the scripted series, and networks like USA, WB, and TNT all started dropping the 22-episode standard in favor of the more conservative 13 or so.
As with most things, the major broadcast channels were slow to follow and really have only started to really embrace the shorter season within the last few years. The cable channels quickly noticed another perk beyond the draw of viewers and advertising: the shorter season fit very nicely into a calendar quarter, essentially allowing a channel to base earnings or losses on a show's popularity. Programming for multiple shows became a much easier thing to manage, and show quality was more easily measured due to more severe changes in viewership. According to AMC president, Charlie Collier, planning a show became more about great storytelling and less about filling a predetermined timeslot, and it was evident to the networks and viewers. He stated that, “We would look for the window, no matter the length, where we thought our storytelling could stand out."
The season lengths continue to dwindle, and while there is some evidence to suggest that dipping under the "8 episode" mark is too few for American audiences, most cable stations have attempted this at one time or another. Reasons vary by channel, but most programming directors point to shorter seasons as a way to finance new possible hits. In other words, if Game of Thrones is limited to a seven-episode season, then some of the money saved can be dedicated to Westworld's $100 million budget. A larger catalog of shows naturally attracts a larger overall audience. This is imperative as streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu continue to cut into the premium original content business. While HBO execs have remained pretty quiet on the subject, it is a pretty common thread that by producing shorter seasons of already established shows they save money on production as well as free up the schedule for other potential hits.
Another likely factor in the creation of shorter seasons of your favorite shows is changes to the "syndication" model since streaming services became more mainstream. The past formula for syndication required hitting the critical "100-episode" mark in order to lock down distribution. Essentially, once an episode reaches the syndication minimum of 100 episodes, the host network would be able to begin selling older episodes of the show to air as reruns on other channels. This not only potentially drove new viewers back to the still-running show, but also brought additional monies to all those financially involved with its original production. Until a few years ago, syndication was something of a "Holy Grail" pinnacle of television production, and, while it doesn't guarantee continued success, most syndicated shows are able to bring about at least a little bit of extra money for those involved. The elusive 100-episode mark has also been viewed as somewhat of a "hostage" situation in certain cases, most notably with popular shows like Community and My Name is Earl "losing" and being canceled only a few episodes shy of the syndication threshold. With the growing popularity of the streaming services listed above, the idea of "syndication" has shifted dramatically, with Netflix and Amazon both being quick – sometimes after only a few weeks – to pick up even marginally popular new shows for what could be thought of as modern "syndication."
Perhaps a bit surprisingly, some of the biggest proponents, in general, of these shorter seasons are the shows' production teams! From showrunners to writers and cast and crew, all seem to really prefer the 10-episode arc over the 20-something. Naturally their reasons vary, but whether it is less of a rush through writing and production or the ability to gain a greater understanding of the character, I don't know that I really mind the shorter seasons. Personally, the binge model championed by both Netflix and Amazon is one of my favorite parts about streaming television, and it would be a nightmare to stream a full day's worth of television, especially given that I likely only give a shit about half of those episodes. That said, interested in your thoughts here. Do you all prefer the streaming binge model, the shorter seasons, or would you like to see Game of Thrones go the way of General Hospital and give us a new episode every day as long as each was accompanied by at least one gratuitous nude person?
P.S. For those wondering about the differences between British television and American television, the point I made in the last paragraph is really a good explainer on that as well. To hear the BBC writer/producers explain it, "British TV is about writing a great story and American TV is about selling a great product." I'm not sure how true that actually is, but I do know that BBC One only has adverts between shows, and the writing staff is typically MUCH smaller for British shows. Those are the facts; I leave you to your own conclusions...
How do they pick people for jury duty?
Great question! Unfortunately there is not really a short answer for this, as each state has some variances in their selection process as well the rules surrounding exemptions, qualifications, pay, level of involvement, etc. At the federal level, your qualification for being selected is that you are a registered voter and/or you have a driver's license or state-issued ID in that particular district. In attempts to ensure a fairly randomized selection, your name will be removed from the pool if you have served in the last two years; however, it should be noted that this will likely not disqualify you from serving as a state juror for your local county, and it is not unusual for some to be called multiple times in their lifetime. A study by the National Center for State Courts determined that while 32 million potential jurors may be summoned for jury duty in a year, the average service is only around 8 million, so it is very possible for you to get summoned for jury duty but not actually "called," which would cause your name to be dropped back into the pool.
In addition to the legal qualifications for jury duty, there are few options at your disposal to excuse yourself from serving. Aside from current incarceration, military service, and medical emergency, there are precious few additional resources at your disposal to get out of serving. If you have no interest in serving, you are much better off attending the summons as requested and, during selection, ensuring that you are disqualifying yourself. Obviously, I am not suggesting you lie, but, in most cases, being fully honest will disqualify you anyway.
As someone who has served as a juror twice, I highly recommend approaching it with an honest curiosity and openness. It obviously isn't an experience that is for everyone, but it could quite literally be an experience that you may never have another chance to be a part of. Despite a somewhat "uncomfortable" experience due to the content of the last case I sat on, I would absolutely participate if I were once again chosen.
In my research, I stumbled across this interactive test created by the NY Times where you can see if you would be selected as a juror for a particular case and why, or why not. Be sure to comment below with your result.
I was not chosen because apparently the plaintiff was "scared of how biased I would be in favor of the defendant."
What is the American equivalent of "dogging"?
Best I can tell, there is no "American equivalent" excepting the more formalized bucket of "exhibitionism." I suppose that the concept of "parking" is similar, though neither exhibitionism or parking really capture what "dogging" is all about. For those not in the know, Urban Dictionary tells me that dogging is the British slang term for engaging in public sex while others, typically strangers, watch. Roughly a decade ago, the internet blew up with various articles stemming from "insider reports" on what is apparently quite the craze in British society. While dodging (read "getting distracted by") several websites dedicated to a more visual appreciation for the pastime, I was able to glean that it has progressively become more of a mainstream act in America as well, with "dogging" forums and impromptu meetups becoming a relatively normal site in several popular parks within major cities.
I, personally, was a bit surprised to learn how much this is apparently a thing, and now I don't know if I should feel disappointingly old and out-of-touch or strangely okay that I've never had to witness/participate in this...