Saturday, May 28, 2022

Absurd Headline of the Week

From Accuweather:

Asteroid the size of 350 giraffes to fly past Earth this week

I'm so out of touch that I've never even seen anything measured in numbers of giraffes.  What does "the size of 350 giraffes" size mean?  If you had 350 giraffes milling around in a field, feeding, fighting, fleeing and doing whatever else giraffes do, 350 would only be the height of the tallest one and the width or length of 250 giraffes would depend on how close to each other they stand.  Unless you had them stand on each other's backs, which would work until the ones on the bottoms started collapsing from broken limbs. It would work better if you had them stand shoulder to shoulder, then the width of 350 giraffes would depend on how wide they are.  To use the term from electronics, is that 350 giraffes in series our parallel?

In the actual text of the article, they use a more familiar unit, saying the asteroid is "1.1 miles across."  I'm going to assume that's the long dimension and that it's probably an irregular shape.  Probably not 1.1 by 1.0 mile but 1.1 by 1.0 is still probably more likely than being 1.1 miles long and 100 feet wide.  

Asteroids fly past the Earth on a regular basis, but Asteroid 7335 (1989 JA) is bigger than many of them, measuring 1.1 miles (5,900 feet) across. For comparison, it is four times larger than the Empire State Building and more than twice as large as the Burj Khalifa, located in Dubai, UAE, and the tallest building on the planet. It is also about as tall as 350 giraffes.

I hate it when magazines and other places try to be cute by using absurd units like that.  "As tall as 350 giraffes" is completely meaningless to anyone other than the person that came up with it.

The close approach of Asteroid 1989 JA was yesterday, and at its closest, it was 2-1/2 million miles from Earth, or around 10 times the distance of the moon from us.  While tracked as a "potentially hazardous" asteroid, this is the closest approach to earth calculated so far.  The calculations are through 2187, and the next closest approach to us is about 4 times the distance from Earth in May of 2114.  The "potentially hazardous" identifier is to keep an eye on it and make sure its orbit doesn't get bumped by another planet or something. 

There.  Now you know a bit more about the size of a giraffe.  Not enough, but 350 giraffes makes more sense.  Image search says this was from a blog that now returns a "blog not found" message.


  1. But which giraffe species? There's like 5 of them alive now, and more in the past, and they vary in size from relatively short to humungously tall.

    Why not state it as X number of bananas? But then you'd need to specify large bananas, small bananas, those little itty bitty bananas, or organic bananas.

    Better yet, why not X number of cars? But then you'd have to specify the make, model and year of car, along with features and number of dead bodies in the trunk (if the cars are from Jew Jersey.)

    Now, what if, and this is the crazy part, we had a system of measurements that gave length, width, height, volume, mass and density. Not like there's two major measurement systems to chose from, but still, if you go with metric (hwack-ptoie) most people can get it. Better if it's in American Imperial, after all, so far only American Imperial has made it outside the solar system and to the Moon.

    Stupid newsies.

    1. You silly! Bananas are used as a unit for radiation exposure! The unit to be used in this case is 'Spacebound Teslas', as you so insightfully implied (which may or may not have a dead hooker in the trunk) as a unit of volume. With David Bowie playing on a loop, which will serve as a unit of EM radiation. Unfortunately, it's not possible to use 'YoMammas' as a uniform unit of mass, due to the 'YoMamma' having a gravitational field, which interferes with measurement in a standard gravitational field. Lacking constants, it can't be solved with a simple differential equation.

      Being a former college student, I suggest that matters of volume be designated in 'cases of beer', which would also serve as a unit of mass. This would of course require the adoption of an International Standard Beer. I leave that as an exercise for the students.

  2. Replies
    1. ZD. I didn't see any units of pizza on the list, that could be simply that I didn't see the UP (Units of Pizza) line, or that the bewildering variety of pizza would require a large conversion table just to get UP into another form.

    2. There is the whole problem of Chicago deep-dish versus square trays, etc.

  3. From the early days of social distancing, a Florida county recommended using an "adult alligator" as the unit for social distancing. "Keep an alligator between you and other people..." That would have cut down on interactions...

    Upstart Americans brandish alligators at the almighty Reg Standards Soviet

    "Of course, this is nonsense. Average American alligators measure around 21 and a half linguine in length, or just over a tenth of a brontosaurus if that’s too difficult to imagine. The largest specimens, by contrast, measure about half a standardised double-decker bus from snout to tail. All of this is far longer than the single Osman of social distancing, a much shorter 14.1 strands of linguine. While the US measure increases the distance between you and a potentially infectious person, it's… well, just not cricket."

  4. We should also use the "Rogan" as a measure, as in, "That's 8 Rogans tall".

  5. Replies
    1. We clearly need a standard giraffe. I think the International Bureau of Weights and Measures folks have a place on the shelf, now that the standard kilogram and meter are gone.

  6. There were a number of units that we jokingly used when I was in the Navy. Those sailors sure do use an alternative measuring system. Keep in mind that "curse like a sailor" is very apt.

    RCH: A Red C*nt Hair. The smallest measurement known to sailors. As in: "Send that thing to the machine shop and have them shave an RCH off the end."

    Shitload: A large amount. More than one sailor can carry. As in: Run down to the lighting shop and get a shitload of new lightbulbs.

    F*ck Ton: 3.7 metric shitloads. As in: "The last time we pulled into Mallorca for a port visit, the sailors on that ship drank a f*ck ton of beer, and a shitload of them got into trouble."