Some Things that Bug Me

Something I have always found a trifle irritating is the way storage temperatures are given on medicines. It is not unusual to find one reading "Store at 59 to 77F in a dry place." One cannot help but feel anxious that one's storage place might drop to 58 without one noticing. Or what would happen to the product if the temperature suddenly shot up to 78? Those figures are so precise they must be true borderline temperatures. At least it's not 59.0, etc., so presumably 58.5 rounded off to 59 is still OK, and 77.4 on the high end.

But wait! 58.5 to 59.4F--both round off to 59-- would be 14.7 to 15.2C, and 76.5 to 77.4F would be 24.7 to 25.2C. You don't suppose that the scientists who made the product wrote that it would store well at 15 to 25C, nice round non-anxiety producing numbers? Let's see... Fifteen-point-zero degrees Celsius would be 59.0F and 25.0C would be 77.0F. Someone probably not paid enough to think translated nice round approximate Celsius degrees into narrow precise Fahrenheit degrees!

Here's one that does it in reverse! A foot powder that says, very sensibly, "Store between 15 and 30C." Nice, round numbers, that suggest they mean "about 15 degrees," etc. Then it adds, "(59 and 86F)"! Now, 15C is 58.1~59.7F, and 30C is 84.9~86.9F even if we ignore the "about" implication; I really think it should be safe to store the powder between 60 and 85F. Or how about the "at room temperature" many other products advise?

Out of here
It's not just drug storage temperatures. The way metrics are treated in general is often annoying.

In the early 70s the federal government advised the public that we would be converting to the metric system. Almost immediately the highways in Indiana, where I was living at the time, sprouted new road signs, with information like this: "Indianapolis 20 Mi (32.187 Km)." Yeah, like "20 Mi" means 20.000 miles! I don't know whether that was stupidity, or a deliberate attempt to sabotage the conversion by showing people how awful the metric system is.

Recently Time came out with this gem on its "10 Questions" page (2010-04-26 p. 4). Diane Sawyer is quoted as saying, with regard to doing a story on West Virginia miners, "I am deeply moved by the choice to work three miles [4.8 km] inside a mine ..."

Didn't anyone notice how silly it would sound to say "How brave they are to work 4.8 kilometers inside a mine"? There is absolutely no need to add a metric conversion here at all; what it means is "... work three miles [a long way] inside ..." Anyway, they actually chose to work five kilometers inside the mine.
Out of here
Ads for binoculars often seem designed to insult the potential buyer's intelligence.

Here is one that I used to get in the mail a lot.

I'm not entirely sure what "Normal" is supposed to mean. The implication seems to be that this is what the balloons would look like unmagnified.

But then "12X" shows them twice that size, so maybe "Normal" means "six power"? But the lowest power of these binoculars is twelve power!

Then in the "100X" view the bottom balloon in the "12X" image is almost 2 times larger. But 100X divided by 12X should make the balloon more than eight times larger--too big to fully fit in the little circle--not two-and-a half!

Weird binoculars?

Another ad that I have observed a couple of times says you can "See up to 35 miles with these high-powered binoculars." Do they imagine anyone would really spend $30 on binoculars you can't even see the moon with?

Out of here