Methinks the cabinet doth protest too much

Duting my initial survey of the office I now work in, I came across this box:

No sandwiches, either.

I have honestly been having a really hard time putting into words precisely how this sign made me feel. It’s been bothering me. And after literally hours of musing on and off, and several failed attempts at writing it up, I realized it was simple — I felt deeply and abidingly suspicious that there were in fact some fuses in that cabinet. And I felt compelled to tell it that okay, okay, whatever, I believed it.

I mean, why would a cabinet that didn’t have fuses in it need a sign saying so?

In fact, come to think of it, why do we put signs on things at all?

We label things when two conditions are satisfied:

  1. There is a cost associated with people not knowing the information
  2. The information isn’t plain to see

For example, take “CAUTION: HIGH VOLTAGE”, and other warnings. The cost of not knowing about the high voltage is a potentially lethal shock. And electricity is invisible. Sure, let’s let people know about that.

With something like “Recycling: Plastics and Glass Only”, the cost of not knowing is recyclable materials might be put in landfill or inappropriate materials might contaminate the recyclables. And it’s not possible to know where some bucket will be carted off to without some indication. So that makes sense.

But this NO FUSES business? Granted, unless you have x-ray vision, you wouldn’t be able to tell without opening the cabinet that there were no fuses in it. But what’s the cost of someone not knowing that in advance? In order for it to make any sense, there has to be some consequence to being wrong about the presence or absence of fuses in that cabinet. So it’s possible that there used to be people who were desperately looking for fuses all the time, and they couldn’t afford the precious seconds looking for them in the wrong place. But then why don’t I see that sign on everything that doesn’t have fuses in it?

Or maybe there are many more people than I would think who under no circumstances want to see fuses. Like maybe fuses killed their parents. And that sign is just to let them know that it’s totally safe to open that cabinet without their having to confront the painful past.

Of course those two scenarios are absurd. Consequently, failing to come up with a way to reconcile that sign’s message with the two requisites for rational signage, I cannot take it at face value. The most obvious conclusion is that the sign is trying to deceive me. Because fuses were in high demand in that office, but the fuses in that cabinet were already being used for something important. So in order to keep people who would go to any length, no matter how nefarious, from stealing fuses that were already in use, someone put up a sign that claimed that cabinet had none. Crazy? Definitely. But, not as far fetched as what I’d need to believe to think that there really weren’t any fuses in there.

Maybe the sign is trying to be sarcastic. What do you think? What could possibly explain that sign? Oh, and no, I haven’t yet checked inside the cabinet.

UPDATE: after much urging from the peanut gallery, I went ahead and investigated the oh-so-innocent sounding box. What I found was surprising.

If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise?

If Marijuana Is Legal, Will Addiction Rise? – Room for Debate Blog – NYTimes.com.

I came across this collection of arguments for legalizing pot a couple of weeks ago. I have to say that while all of the essays are good, I find  former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper’s essay to be the best (it’s the last one). He begins:

Any law disobeyed by more than 100 million Americans, the number who’ve tried marijuana at least once, is bad public policy. As a 34-year police veteran, I’ve seen how marijuana prohibition breeds disrespect for the law, and contempt for those who enforce it.

Tetsuo!!! Kaneda!!! (The Abridged Akira)

Katushiro Otomo’s anime adaptation of his manga of the same name, Akira, is now 20 years old (and then some). While the film sadly lacks much of the subtlety and richness of the manga, it nonetheless remains one of the greatest animated stories of all time. One notable aspect of the adaptation is that it was released with an english dubbing in the USA only six months after it was released in Japan. (This is my recollection and wikipedia agrees with me, while IMDb does not.) Not only was that unprecedented, but even now, when all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films are being brought to the US with a high budget translation by Disney, these releases trail by up to a year.

One of the downsides of the film was the original english dubbing was a little… shall we say… cheesy1. As cheesy as the animation was superlative. This much was evident when I saw it for the first time the very week it was released. After the 2nd viewing I noticed something interesting: much of the dialog was composed of the main characters, Kaneda and Tetsuo screaming each others’ names. By 1995 I’d envisioned an abridged version of the movie, nothing more than the clips of those moments stitched together. Back then, the tools to implement my vision were not really available to me, so it was just a thought experiment, but one I’d share with other anime-loving friends now and again.

Imagine my blistering irritation when I saw this commercial on Adult Swim for the animated Inuyasha… that was my idea! Or at least very close. But that was a few years ago, and by then there was QuickTime, and iMovie, and Handbrake, and really I had all the tools I needed!

So now it’s done, and amazingly, I can see something that I didn’t know would be the case when I imagined it: that The Abridged Akira completely encapsulates the emotional struggle between the two characters.

I couldn’t get my hands on the original dubbing, and the 2001 Pioneer release actually has decent voice acting2, so some of what I’d envisioned is missing. Nonetheless, I present to you… The Abridged Akira.

Big, big, big ups to my friend M who supplied the DVD and helped a lot with the initial clip marking and cutting.

  1. There is hot debate on this topic, many feel the original dub is the best
  2. again, this is debated.