Nerdometrics Episode 8 – Constructing the Monster

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You can listen to the podcast here —> http://nerdometrics.podomatic.com/entry/2014-05-14T21_36_06-07_00

I attended Kirk (Von) Hammett’s Fear Festevil in February, and since it was in the Bay Area I called up friend of Nerdometrics (and podcaster himself for Carry the One Radio) Sama Ahmed and we sat down for a bit to talk about… well, to be honest I didn’t really have a reason. So I thought about it a little and drafted up a few questions kicking around in my head so Sama and I could have a conversation with “a little more than zero” focus. The ensuing discussion, presented here, rolled around on a few topics, encompassing superheroes, giant monsters, the need for sleep, whales and of course hip hop.

Nerdometrics 08 pie chart

(Note: please do not nitpick Godzilla’s height.  I know this era Godzilla is 55 meters or so tall, which is ‘not quite’ 200 feet, I’m just rounding up).

Special thanks to Sama Ahmed! You can check out his excellent podcast here: http://www.carrytheoneradio.com/   And of course, you can listen to Nerdometrics Episode 5 on Pacific Rim neuroscience if you haven’t checked it out yet for more science-dropping, courtesy of Sama.

You can listen to the podcast here —> http://nerdometrics.podomatic.com/entry/2014-05-14T21_36_06-07_00

Episode 7 – Of Solos and their Percentage in Metal

You can listen to the episode here!

Just as we did with the concept of ‘Epicity’ in Episode 1 of Nerdometrics, my cousin (and Heavy metal aficionado) Jon Palombi and I sat down this episode to arrive at the ‘soloin-est’ metal records of all time.

And much like with Epicity, the sheer volume of metal both Jon and I listened to throughout our lives allowed us to perform a lot of pre-selection here.  The goal was to get representative albums of groups known for their guitar virtuosity and chose the following:

Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Slayer – Reign in Blood
Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force – Marching Out
Helmet – Meantime
Megadeth – Rust in Peace
Metallica – Master of Puppets
Guns n Roses – Appetite for Destruction
Vinnie Vincent Invasion
Joe Satriani – Flying in a  Blue Dream
Steve Vai – Passion and Warfare

I like to think this is a good sample of what’s out there – although there are hundreds of other albums we could have chosen (other ‘Sunset Strip’ bands like Motley Crue or LA Guns instead of Guns n Roses, other thrash bands like Exodus, Overkill and Testament, other ‘guitar gods like Paul Gilbert who I refer to his as ‘Brad’ during the episode) these albums are pretty representative.  Plus, odds are every metal fan is familiar with these records, whether they loved them, listened to them or just ‘knew’ about them). I don’t think the results would vary that much if we substituted those lesser-known subgenre bands.

Now, an obvious note: even just looking at that list, you see some clear stratification there; Steve Vai and Joe Satriani make pure solo records that fit thematically more with jazz than metal (as pointed out by Jon in the audio).  So they’re going to be fighting it out in their own arena.  Omitting those from the list it sure sets up to be a two-horse race between Yngwie Malmsteen and Vinnie Vincent, well-know guitar noodlers. But questions still exist: how much more do they solo than everyone else? When you listen to a metal record that ‘feels right’ in terms of how much soloing there is, what percentage is that?  And are some preconceived notions about bands like Guns n Roses and Slayer true?

METHODOLOGY

I listened to all these songs with a stopwatch, noting length of the song and length of solos.  The percentages we used are for ‘guitar solo percentage for the entire album’, though there are some fun things we can do with the numbers on a song-by song basis (perhaps as an addendum to the episode).

THE FINDINGS

The results are below (pics of the numbers), so peruse them as you will!

You can listen to the episode here!

stats-solos-2

stats-solos-3

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And,

SPOILER ALERT FOR EPISODE CONTENTS -

here’s how the albums ended up.

N07 Solo Graphic

Jon and I discuss the majority of the findings on the podcast, so make sure to listen here!

I do want to mention a couple post-show notes – Guns n Roses charted high! I was surprised to see how high they ended up, considering I find ‘Appetite for Destruction’ somewhat tasteful in its soloing.  I’m intrigued enough to where I’d like to listen to a few more hair metal albums and see if generally those type of albums result in a higher percentage of solos on average than say thrash metal (my hunch is they would).

CORRECTIONS

1. Vinnie Vincent actually won!  It turns out my spreadsheet had an error at the time we recorded, and it turns out Jon and I’s desire to proclaim Vinnie Vincent was weel-founded and correct.

2. Oh, and as mentioned in the episode, ‘Master of Reality’ by Black Sabbath – a post-show addition to see how Tommy Iommi fared – ended up at 10.3 %. Only Helmet charts lower.

3. I wanted to address an omission many people might notice: DRAGONFORCE.  They were part of the initial design of the episode, but got cut in the early stages.  To quote Jon: “We made a conscious decision to leave them out, there wasn’t enough room for showboating.” Well, there is a little room here – I listened through the ‘Inhuman Rampage’ album and it registered at a whopping 32.4 % (barely shy of Yngwie Malmsteen). The only thing keeping it from being even higher? That keyboard/keytar solos don’t count, otherwise it would have gone even higher.

FINAL NOTES ON THE EPISODE: The portion of this episode with Jon was recorded immediately after Episode 1 (the most epic metal song ever), I recorded both during a visit to Philadelphia in June 2013.   I mention that because there are a fair amount of references to the “Epicity” episode since it was fresh in our minds, so if you haven’t listened to that you may want to check that out prior to this one.  Also, when we recorded I wasn’t able to complete my research for the episode and had not listened to Meantime (but it came in as I thought), Appetite for Destruction (which scored higher than I thought) and the rest of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (which ended up jumping a few spots in the rankings based on the second half of the album). So keep that in mind when you listen!

Oh, and don’t forget to click these links below for some videos!

‘I’ll See the Light Tonight’ by Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force

‘Boys are Gonna Rock’ (I don’t want to spoil it, but things start to get awesome at the 3:55 mark) by Vinnie Vincent Invasion

Episode 6 – Giant Monsters All-Out Attack! (Panel Discussion)

 

On November 3, I hosted a panel at the Comic and Pop Culture show ‘Comikaze’ here in LA – we were thrilled to see a lot of people come out for the panel where we discussed giant monsters for almost an hour! I was joined by the following panelists:

- Chris Mowry (writer, Godzilla: Rulers of Earth)
– Frank Woodward (director, Men in Suits)
– Steve Ryfle (Godzilla author, Bringing Godzilla Down to Size, Godzilla DVD commentary)

You can listen to the episode here.

What passes as this episode is mainly the raw audio from that panel, recorded into my portable recorder. There are some limitations with the audio, but you can hear everything said.

Thanks to everyone who took part in the panel with us! As for everyone else, thanks for listening and hopefully we’ll catch you in person next time.

(Pictured L-R: Chris Mowry, Keith Foster, Frank Woodward, Steve Ryfle)

Episode 5 – Man/Machine Interfaces and Pacific Rim (with ‘Carry the One’)

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How close are we to controlling large pieces of machinery with our brains and bodies? Is the neuroscience in Pacific Rim far-fetched, or within the realm of plausibility? What’s being controlled this way, and who’s doing it?

You can listen to the podcast here.

More importantly, how close are we to me getting in a Jaeger and beating the living crap out of some Kaiju that just came out of the breach?

For this podcast (and the answers, more or less, to these questions) we reached out to our friends at Carry the One Radio – mainly the show’s Founder and lead interviewer Sama Ahmed – to talk about the Neuroscience Behind Pacific Rim.

We discussed Man/Machine Interfaces, how they relate to Pacific Rim, and where were are today with this technology. Sama – himself a very knowledgeable person on the subject – brought in a Subject Matter Expert (Joey) to talk things out.

This episode is a co-podcast with Carry the one, hope you enjoy it!

You can find more out about Carry the one here:

http://www.carrytheoneradio.com/about

Art Credit: Rory Smith (http://www.recsfx.blogspot.com/)

Star Wars: A conversation with Sean from Centives on building the Death Star

For Episode 4 of Nerdometrics I talked with Sean from Centives – who did some great research on building the Death Star over at his blog Centives.

You can listen to Nerdometrics Episode 4 here!

As for the Centives research, You can click this text or use this link:

http://www.centives.net/S/2012/how-much-would-it-cost-to-build-the-death-star/

Since this episode was originally planned to be part of Episode 2 (Godzilla rebuilding), I start things off with a conversation I had with Kyle Yount of the Kaijucast about the Centives research.  At the end of our conversation I mention (of course mockingly) that “you can talk about these lead times with your fancy-pants research but the Death Star got built in 60 years and that’s the way it is”, but of course that isn’t the way it is. After reading the Centives piece it becomes quite obvious that a timeline in the hundreds of thousands of years is much closer to how things would really happen.

Sean was cool enough to grant some time for us to discuss his research, and we had a great time doing so.  We even took some shots at ways to “fix” the issues around cost and lead time – but every attempt at a solution or explanation generated even more questions (sure, you could tap a couple thousand planets worth of steel to address lead time concerns, but then… how do you get all this steel to one place?  What sort of receiving dock system do you have?)  We even riffed on how things might go if the Earth built a Death Star of its own.

Pacific Rim: Kaiju Attacks and the Walls to stop them (?)

Originally at the end of Nerdometrics Episode 2 I wanted to share a few thoughts with Kyle Yount (Kaijucast) on Pacific Rim.  Partly due to schedule and partly due to the subject we decided we needed a separate discussion, AND we needed someone else to join the discussion and got just that! I had two main thoughts I wanted to crunch some numbers on and not only spoke to Kyle, but Andy Camble of Kaiju 101 joined in on the conversation!

SPOILER ALERTS GALORE. If you haven’t seen the movie yet you should! So go do it now!

You can listen to the episode here!

KAIJU ATTACK FREQUENCY

The first thought was on the frequency of Kaiju attacks in Pacific Rim continuity: in both the movie and the (movie) novelization, one of the scientists discusses the frequency of Kaiju attacks and uses this data to predict (a) that the frequency doubles over time (that is, each successive attack is assumed to happen in half the time it took between the previous attacks) and (b) that there will be a ‘double event’ where two Kaiju come through the breach, then three, and so on.  Based on this you’d expect the frequency of attacks, when mapped out over time to look something like this in terms of shape:

Nerdometrics 03 - Time between attacks (expected)

Instead, when I charted all of the Kaiju attack information (chronicled in detail in the Pacific Rim novelization) I got this.  Important note: the chart of the left is what I discussed with Kyle and Andy on the podcast, however in discussing it I realized I had errors (missing the 2023 attacks).  The second chart is not only a corrected chart, but a chart I made that assumed the attacks happened as close to the formula above as possible.

Nerdometrics 03 - Time between attacks A Nerdometrics 03 - Time between attacks B

I’m sure you can’t help but notice these charts look nothing like what the expected value.

BUILDING THE KAIJU WALL VERSUS BUILDING JAEGERS

In the movie, the governments of the world decide at a certain point to pull funding from the Jaeger project so they can focus their monies and efforts on building an ‘Anti-Kaiju Wall’, a huge structure presumably 30 stories high, with all kinds of reinforcements, that builds a perimeter around the entire Pacific Ring of Fire itself. When I first heard that my first thought was: why? At the point this decision got made, yes the PPDC had lost plenty of Jaegers but (1) you would have to think they had taken out more Kaiju than the numbers of jaegers they had (proven true by the book) and (2) since there weren’t any Kaiju stomping around the globe at the time it’s safe to say the Jaegers were 100% effective in their goal.  Compare that to a future where Kaiju stomp unhappily around the world, kept out by a wall as their numbers increase and their strategy didn’t seem to make sense.

But to a larger point, are Jaegers really that expensive in the grand scheme of things?  Worldwide GDP in 2012 was $70 Trillion, or $70,000 billion (which builds 1,167 Jaegers at a cost of $60 billion each, if we were to divert all of the world’s funds to such a project).  Of course we wouldn’t do that, but what are we spending on defense right now?

Nerdometrics 03 - Defense spending 2012

The top 9 Defense spenders in the world alone spent $1,239 Billion last year on defense, meaning – the Top Nine countries could reroute existing funds and build 20 Jaegers starting tomorrow.   In other words, even if everyone decided we needed something additional to assist the Jaegers – like an anti-Kaiju wall – such an undertaking could be pursued without touching current defense budgets.

Godzilla x Economics: How feasible is rebuilding Japan after Godzilla attacks?

I’m not going to say it’s an omnipresent meme or anything, but a meme I’ve seen with some regularity over the years is  “Wow, Japan is so resilient to rebuild itself time after time in the wake of Giant Monster Attacks, nyuk nyuk nyuk” – I’ve even tried to get a few nyuks myself along those lines. But how unrealistic is it? I needed to know the answer, once and for all.

And not only that, once I got some answers I needed to run the information by an expert in all things Kaiju, so I called Kyle Yount of the Kaijucast to talk things out – when it comes to Godzilla this dude knows his stuff, and when it comes to Godzilla podcasters there is no higher authority.

You can listen to the audio here!

METHODOLOGY AND ASSUMPTIONS

First I went through all the Godzilla films, notepad at my side, and made notes of what got destroyed.  I focused on infrastructure things – buildings, bridges / tunnels / power plants and highway overpasses. (For whatever reason it feels like overpasses are disproportionately targeted by giant monsters – something I feel received a short homage in Pacific Rim, where Gipsy Danger – one of the protagonists of the film – purposely steps over an overpass to save it from being crushed). Things like boats, cars, planes etc weren’t factored in – my assumption being there are a lot of these things to go around and then could be replaced relatively easily.

Another key assumption: I only looked at Godzilla films and a few additional films from Toho (Rodan, Mothra and Varan). It’s a slippery slope if you include Gamera films, because while I wanted to include the Gamera Trilogy from 1996, if I did that it would mean I’d have to inlude early Gamera films… and if I did that I’d have to include ‘The X From Outer Space’… and the next thing you know I’m scrutining ‘Death Gappa’.  Better to just avoid. I also made one key assumption that all of these movies happened on the same timeline (which we discuss during the podcast).

THE NUMBERS STUFF

Once I had a list of the infrastructure measurements I had to assign both a cost value and a time value to each. My research yielded the following:

Power Plant / bridge: $650 mil, 3 year lead time
Building: $3 million per floor constructed and five months to build regardless of size
Overpass: $8.48 million, six months

Doing some simple math I was able to get a total cost estimate for each film and a time estimate from each film. However, in calculating the time I made an important assumption: first, note the power plant / bridge lead time is much longer than the other lead times – therefore it’s the ‘critical path’ lead time (meaning ‘it’s the lead time that can change how long it takes to complete the project on its own’). A lead time of three years is reasonable under *normal* circumstances, but as we discuss on the podcast a lot of that lead time has to do with meetings, permits and other things that would be waived to rebuild following the wrath of Daikaiju (so we cut the lead time in half). I also assumed that all things would be rebuilt in parallel, the rebuild effort would be swift.

Back to cost: having a cost estimate isn’t enough – the rate of inflation has to be measured since a dollar (or yen) had far more purchasing power in 1954 (first Godzilla film) than it does now. The cost estimates were adjusted to account for inflation of currency through the years.

Okay, so we have total cost estimate to rebuild and a reasonable time estimate to rebuild – you’d think we’re done right? Well, almost – we need to look at one more thing: simply looking at money doesn’t mean anything in and of itself, so what I did was look at the cost in rebuilding as a percent of Japan’s GDP that year (GDP being ‘the monetary value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a given time period’). GDP is viewed as the standard measure of economic strength for a nation, because that’s what – at the end of the day – you’ve actually provided to everyone. It’s all well and good if Monster (x) – or ‘Monster X’ for that matter – does a certain amount of damage, but even more important is a country’s ability to absorb that damage.  Wealthier nations afford themselves more of a buffer in dealing with things of this nature, just like wealthy people can afford to lose 20 bucks much more so than I can. This is why ‘Destruction as a percentage of GDP’ is a better indicator of the effect the monster really had.

FINDINGS

1) In almost every case the time to rebuild and the money involved to rebuild could have happened.
2) Any time there was more than a one-year gap between films, the rebuild would have happened easily.
3) The target cities of Giant Monster rampages varied enough where one city didn’t get hit too hard (with one exception, more on that in second).
4) The Giant Monster Attacks after the Japanese economic expansion could have been easily sustained due to Japan’s financial strength.

However, there are two things in the data that raised my eyebrow.

1. In the Millennium series of Godzilla films (named because they began in the year 2000) Giant Monsters repeatedly attack Tokyo. Year after year, Tokyo got hit – the time to rebuild would have been seriously challenged in getting that taken care of. That being said… you could make the case the timelines would get accelerated even MORE than I’ve assumed, making the rebuild even more reasonable (since all we’re really talking about here is a gap of about six months).

2. The first movie Gojira (1954) was easily the one to hit Japan the hardest – not only was Tokyo laid to waste by Godzilla but it was 2.4 percent of GDP (more than double the impact of the second-most impactful film from a Giant Monster perspective – Destroy All Monsters).

Godzilla-destruction graph

Now, I know it doesn’t sound like much when I say 2 percent of GDP, so let me try to put that in perspective.

- 2 percent of US GDP today is $299 billion dollars.
– That money alone could buy 14 Big Macs each for every man, woman and child on this planet.
– With $2 billion left over.

But yet again, as much as that is? It could still be dealt with economically despite Japan’s status as a nation before the economic boom.

FINAL CONCLUSION: Rebuilding Japan in the wake of Giant Monster Attacks is at no times infeasible – in fact it’s pretty darn realistic.

Thanks to Kyle from Kaijucast again for making himself available to talk on this!  You can check out Kyle’s podcast here if not familiar with it already – if it happens in the world of Daikaiju, Kyle is there to cover it and talk about it. Go check it out now!

Oh, and one more note – as part of our discussion I talked with Kyle and compared his thoughts on the ‘most destructive’ Daikaiju films with my calculations on said films, kind of as a double-check to see how my calculations lined up.  What the numbers showed (and Kyle agreed with) is after the top three movies there was a drop-off and a bunch of films that vied for the Number 4 spot.  Once among those films, my numbers favored Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack aka ‘G.M.K.’ while Kyle’s thoughts favored Godzilla vs Space Godzilla, but all in all things lined up really clean.