Want to see what Los Angeles traffic looks like on a typical Friday evening? You can! A co-worker pointed out to me that you can view statistical traffic on Google Maps in addition to live traffic. To see it, go to Google Maps, enable traffic, then look at the inset traffic key and hit “change.” You’ll be able to choose a day of the week and time.

A Scott Pilgrim fan tracked down the real-life locations in Toronto that Brian Lee O’Malley used as reference, then took photos to match them up with the comic panels.

It reminds me of a story that O’Malley told at Comic-Con last(?) year about the movie production. They tried to use actual locations when possible, and at one point went to film a scene with a particular phone booth, only to find it had been torn out. They rebuilt the phone booth for the scene!

How To Be a Retronaut has a fascinating gallery of illustrations from the 1976 Soviet edition of The Hobbit. (via @dixonium)

Copyblogger presents: Five Grammatical Errors that Make You Look Dumb. Please, people: learn the differences between your and you’re, and between they’re, their and there! (via This Is True)

A university library has put together a great parody of the Old Spice ad campaign: Study Like a Scholar, Scholar. (also via This Is True )

NPR story: In Politics, Sometimes The Facts Don’t Matter

New research suggests that misinformed people rarely change their minds when presented with the facts — and often become even more attached to their beliefs. The finding raises questions about a key principle of a strong democracy: that a well-informed electorate is best.

This makes me feel a little less enthused about the next two items:

It’s incredibly cool that we’ve got photos of the Apollo 16 landing site. (via Phil Plait) But that won’t convince people who are absolutely certain that the landings were faked.

And a U.S. Department of Transportation investigation of Toyota crashes blamed on sudden acceleration has implicated driver error in nearly all cases. Of the 75 fatal crashes investigates, only one could be verified as a problem with the vehicle: the Lexus crash last August in which the accelerator was caught on the floor mat, leading to a recall. Of course, the court of popular opinion has already made up its mind…

I tried out the Typealizer, which purports to analyze the text of a blog and determine the author’s personality type. Interestingly enough, it came up with different results depending on which of my blogs I pointed it to.

LiveJournal: ESTP – The Doers
K-Squared Ramblings: ESTJ – The Guardians (technically this one’s a group blog, but it looks like the tool only grabs the front page.)
Speed Force: ENTJ – The Executives
Opera Community blog: ISTP – The Mechanics

I seem to recall coming out as INTJ the last time I took the Myers-Briggs personality profile. The funny thing is that 3 of 4 classified me as extroverted. If you’ve ever met me in person, you know I’m not an extrovert.

(via Laughing at the Pieces)

VXWorld: Crossing the Uncanny Valley – on the current state of the art of photorealistic computer animation, from Final Fantasy through Polar Express to Pirates of the Caribbean and Beowulf. As pointed out, one reason that Davy Jones worked so well is that he doesn’t look human. (via Neil Gaiman)

Firefox Floppy Disks – remember when software came on 3½-inch floppy disks? Or 5¼″? Just for fun, someone split the Firefox installer across 5 disks, complete with appropriate labels… and even took it a step farther

I saw an interesting article on Slate the other day: The Undead Zone: Why realistic graphics make humans look creepy.

The basic thrust of the article is that when something looks slightly human – say a cartoon, or a C3PO-like robot – we fill in the gaps. But when something looks almost, but not quite human, we start to focus on the things that look wrong instead. This was observed by roboticist Masahiro Mori, who called it the uncanny valley. The term refers to the appearance of a graph plotting emotional response (y) against how closely something resembles normal humans (x). Up to a point – say 90% – the more humanlike something is, the better people respond to it, until it reaches that almost-but-not-quite-there point where instead of responding positively, people start responding with revulsion and active dislike. Eventually, as things get closer to “real,” the curve swings back up again until the reaction is the same as to a normal person.

So what does this mean for video games? At least for some people — including the article’s author — state-of-the-art graphics are in that valley. We can get a very good representation of a lifeless but moving human being. Getting those last few details, pushing up the far side of the valley, is going to be very hard.