Good catch, thanks!
I came up with the same answer, though I just excluded the
that weren’t amenable to nice linear models and didn’t notice the patterns you did.
Israeli vaccinations run 24⁄7, even on Shabbat, which would normally prohibit most of the tasks involved with an organized vaccination effort (e.g.: driving, writing). The decision to vaccinate on shabbat is in fact endorsed by most of the more religious aspects of the society since saving lives is a sort of prime directive in Judaism that overrides other concerns in most situations.
All this is simply to say that I think that even if December was a holiday season in Israel, they would likely have made similar progress by now, simply because the culture and government is okay with suspending normal behavior for emergencies (a product of having an emergency every week or so for the last 70-odd years + the religious quirk). Compare to the US where vaccinations took Christmas off while doses sat on the shelf...
Could Europe and the US have moved to war footing in mid-December and not allowed the holidays to slow down their vaccination work? Yes.
Yes, yes indeed!
I never thought I’d be this sad about the death of an invisible ear-worm.
Non-human communication and signaling could also be a source of inspiration.
Edit: E.g. bees! I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere trying to use pheromones, but KatjaGrace already mentioned dancing as communication.
I don’t think any of what I’m about to say properly qualifies as language, but there are lots of cases where information is communicated by the manipulation of physical objects. The only examples I can think of require either a pre-determined agreement (verbal, written, or maybe a social norm) or shared context/knowledge. With a pre-arranged encoding scheme any message could be written out using some number of objects (e.g., reading lit and unlit candles in a window as the binary representation of ASCII characters, though this quickly needs a lot of candles).
What I came up with in about ten minutes, loosely categorized by use case:
War and Espionage
From Paul Revere’s Ride: “One if by land, two if by sea” to signal British troop movements (possibly apocryphal now that I think about it)
Also from American Revolutionary war history: the Culper spy ring used petticoats hung on clotheslines as signals (I’m not sure if they were interpreted as letters or words or just preset messages like “meet at the farmhouse at sundown”).
Boxes/bags left on a doorstep to say “this is for you”
A raised flag on a mailbox to say “please take my mail”
Closing the door, turning off lights, etc. at a business to signal “we are in the process of closing/already closed”
IDK where I read this from, but IIRC during some era Italian(?) courtesans/prostitutes would replace white flowers outside their residences with red ones to indicate they were taking their monthly time off
Accepting a gift to show you accept an apology
Hugging/kissing your current boyfriend’s when your ex walks into the party to say “no, we are not getting back together”
Packing your belongings up and leaving your ring on the kitchen table to say “I want a divorce”
I could see a world where “the end of the world” is Moody’s stock response to questions like “what’s the worst that could happen?” if Harry Potter is the one asking the question, but not in general.
I like this idea. Maybe she could even say something in particular that reminds them?
Possible typo (bold):
Hmm, said a small voice in his ear. Difficult. Very difficult. Plenty of courage, I see. Not a bad mind, either. There’s talent, oh my goodness, yes – and a nice thirst to prove yourself, now that’s interesting … So where shall I put you?(I assume this is Luna’s ear. Unless it isn’t a typo, in which case I didn’t know who that was referring to. But if it isn’t a typo, it’s possible I’m not meant to know?)
I liked it! Especially her questioning of the sorting hat. Her first instinct is to find a good reference class :)
I think a precise way to explain why I felt like adding “at all” is because I had already restricted myself to thinking about the most extreme spiral-of-silence cases. The Evergreen State-Bret Weinstein fiasco is a salient example. These kinds of situations are where a solution to spiral of silence-type phenomena would have the greatest impact, but I suppose there could be cases where the group dynamic is not as hostile, but still unforgiving enough that people will essentially want to test out ideas in front of their peers before publicly endorsing them, as ring signatures allow. I don’t know where such a group could be found or created.
I guess I am having difficulty imagining a group that would be heterodox enough to agree to talk about whatever “unpopular” ideas get endorsed on their ring signature, but would still be orthodox enough that individuals would feel the need to use the ring system in the first place—it seems to me like that would require holding contradictory beliefs about how one’s peers would react if you expressed support for a “toxic” idea. I’ve noticed I have an easier time than most being that person though (and if I’m totally honest, it’s a part of my personality that I like, and I probably consciously turn it up), so maybe this is a failure of imagination on my part.
I’ve never heard of ring signatures before 60 seconds ago, but it seems like it would require a preexisting agreement among a group of people to create and use some way to ‘endorse’ messages with their signatures. If this understanding is correct, it doesn’t solve the spiral of silence at all, since you’d have to get the same people that all of the emailers are afraid of to agree to it.
These challenges deserve a lot of credit for pushing me to make an account and finally start posting and commenting, so I’m glad I caught one before they go dark for a bit.
Use a match.
Use a handheld lighter.
Use flint & steel.
Use a fire bow and some tinder.
Any of the above methods, but only using your feet.
Turn on a gas stove or oven.
Keep the gas stove or oven turned off; use the pilot light instead.
Turn up your thermostat and leave the candle by the radiator.
Use a lens or curved mirror to focus another light source on the wick.
Turn to one of the other people doing the challenge and ask to borrow their (already lit) candle.
Go into the kitchen and start a grease fire; burn down the entire house, containing the candle.
Get chosen to carry the Olympic Torch; take a short detour to light the candle with it.
Go to a shabbat dinner and swap it in for one of the shabbat candles when nobody is looking.
Give it to your pyromaniac friend.
Bet someone $10 they can’t light the candle within 24 hours. (This method costs about $10.)
Rub some sticks together until they burn. Stick the wick in the fire.
Put the candle in a suitcase and leave the suitcase somewhere, like a mall or airport, with sufficiently cautious security such that it gets blown up for you.
Ask Elon Musk to demonstrate one of his flamethrowers.
Buy up all the candles you can get your hands on. Once you create a local shortage, start selling candles back to the community, starting with the one you want to light.
Throw a birthday party.
Find someone smoking a cigar or cigarette and use their lit cigar/cigarette.
Find someone and ask them if they know the difference between a hippo and Zippo. If they say no, you respond, “One is a very heavy, and the other is a little lighter.” Now that you’ve broken the ice, you can ask to borrow a lighter. You also made a friend!
Throw said candle into a campfire, wood oven, pit of lava, main sequence star (it wouldn’t technically burn but I think it counts for the spirit of the question), etc.
Go to Burning Man and toss it into a bonfire.
Take a chemistry course and bring the candle to the first lab session involving bunsen burners.
Smash two rocks together to make sparks, optionally making stereotypical caveman noises.
Use the candle to short-circuit a household appliance.
Leave the candle somewhere it will get hit by lightning.
Eat the candle. To the extent your body does digest it, some of it will be through combustion reactions, aka burning. (If it turns out this doesn’t count, you can always self-immolate afterward.)
Leave the candle on a launchpad before a spaceflight.
Make sure it’s the only candle available to some people and remove all battery-powered lights like flashlights and cellphones. Wait until dark and then cut their power.
Have a romantic candlelit dinner with a significant other.
Go into a church/other house of worship with lit candles laying around. Add your candle to the stacks of available candles, or use one of their lit candles to light yours.
Go into a store and put it in a box of Chanukah candles the week before Chanukah starts.
Find a way to preserve it until the sun expands and engulfs the planet.
Record yourself going into a store, buying matches, and lighting the candle at the cash register as some sort of weird TikTok trend.
Find a fancy restaurant that has branded matchbooks; go out to eat and take some matches with you.
Tie or glue the candle to a firework fuse on July 3rd (in the US).
Attend or host a barbecue on July 4th. Disguise the candle as a hot dog (or hamburger if it’s more disc-shaped).
Practice firearm marksmanship daily for several years. Once you’re able to make a sufficiently precise shot, graze the candle’s wick with a bullet, lighting it via friction.
Find a building that is about to be demolished. Leave the candle by some explosive.
Discover that dragons are real, and that they can breathe fire. Befriend one and ask it to light your candle, or piss one off sufficiently that it lights you on fire while you’re holding the candle.
Toss the candle into the intake of a jet engine.
Grind up/dissolve the candle in gasoline. Use the gasoline to fuel a car.
Sneak into a fire station and hide in a fire engine. When it eventually leaves to put out a fire, get off and toss the candle into the fire.
If a totalitarian movement starts in your country, attend one of their book burnings. Hide the candle inside a hollowed-out section of one of their targeted books.
Leave the candle in a wildfire-prone area during a particularly dry time of year.
Rub the candle against a rough surface, heating it by friction until it burns.
Tell your friend about a cool trick you saw online involving a lit candle. When they ask for a demonstration, give them the candle and ask them to light it.
Find a municipality that incinerates garbage and toss the candle in the trash in that area.
Run for office with controversial politics and messaging, resulting in mass riots upon your election. Find a burning car or building to light your candle with.
Join a mennonite community that doesn’t use electric lighting. Keep your candle handy, someone will need it soon enough.
Attend a seance or satanic ritual. Offer to bring candles.
Join a slash-and-burn farming population. Next time you burn, add your candle.
Go Christmas caroling and insist that your caroling chorus hold lit candles if they don’t already.
Infiltrate a terrorist organization and leave the candle in a building they use. Tip off the appropriate military about the building’s location and importance.
Sneak into a military base or ammunition factory and hide the candle inside of a tank shell/etc.
Go hot air ballooning. Stick the candle above the burner as you’re going up.
Crash a vehicle. Put the candle in the burning wreckage.
Order a flaming cocktail and light the candle before you drink.
Build a flamethrower trombone and leave the candle out during a jazzy solo.
Take your local boy scout troop camping for a fun night of ghost stories and S’mores. Disguise the candle as a marshmallow.
Microwave some split grapes under the candle wick.
Use the candle as a prop during a Dungeons and Dragons game. Your level-6 elf wizard character casts a spell of fireball!
Offer your candle plus an identical candle to two friends, who wish to play timed chess but lack a chess clock.
Find someone who needs to press a seal into hot wax, but doesn’t have a candle. Offer them yours.
Go to a pottery workshop and slip the candle inside something about to go into the kiln.
Go into a bakery and disguise the candle as unbaked dough ready for the oven.
Give the candle to your friend and say you’ve mailed them a secret message in invisible ink, which can be turned visible by heat.
Bring your candle to a memorial/protest where people are carrying lit candles. When someone sees that yours has ‘gone out’ they will light it with theirs.
Claim that you created a fireproof candle and tell your friends, call local news, file for a patent, etc. Allow anyone who cares to test your claim.
Threaten to hit someone with the candle unless they light it.
Start or join a cult with an initiation ritual that includes lighting a candle.
Engineer a terrifying virus in your garage that causes the CDC to recommend firebombing your lab.
Give the candle to a friend as a gift, explaining that it has a very unique, exotic scent added to it, and that you’re excited to discuss the scent with them after they’ve experienced it.
Specify in your will that you would like a candlelit vigil held in your memory. Wait to die, leaving the candle somewhere it is easily found.
Hide a secret (fireproof) clue inside the candle, and use it in a scavenger hunt you put together.
Infiltrate the KKK. Leave your candle near the base of any crosses they burn.
Find a restaurant that routinely uses similar candles on their tables; leave the candle in their stockpile.
Start or join a conspiracy to bring about global nuclear armageddon. Succeed.
Offer to supply props and costumes to a local historical society or theater group reenacting Paul Revere’s ride. Make sure your candle is in the lantern.
Put your candle in a calorimeter and measure its energy content.
Strike a match against a boot or a pair of jeans like they do in the movies.
Use a high-powered laser.
Leave the candle on an oil rig until there is an explosive accident.
Find an arsonist. Threaten to reveal their identity to police unless they include your candle at their next crime scene.
Join a circus act juggling flaming objects. Add your candle to the list of juggled objects.
Accept an offer to consumer-test a new lighter.
Write to a lighter company explaining the last lighter you bought from them came empty. When they send you an apology and replacement, light your candle.
Steal an object that is important to someone else and lock it in a box. Put the key to that box inside the candle, and then put the candle in another box. Leave an opening and enough room to stick the end of a lighter in but, not enough to reach inside and remove the candle. Leave a hole in the bottom of the box that would allow the key to fall through if it was removed from inside the candle (but is too small for the candle itself to fit through). Explain to the object’s original owner what you have done and hand them some matches.
Hide the candle inside of an effigy of an unpopular political figure before a protest.
Reinstitute witch burnings and leave the candle in the first unfortunate victim’s pocket.
Specify you wish to be cremated in whatever clothes you die in. Never go anywhere without the candle in your pocket.
Shoot the candle with a flaming arrow.
Toss the candle into somebody’s funeral pyre.
Tell a pothead that the wax is infused with cannabis oil and the candle is thus ideal for “setting a chill vibe.”
Add your candle to a molotov cocktail.
Use the candle as a cannon fuse.
Ask a welder to misuse his metalworking tools.
Send the candle to the international space station and ask an astronaut to demonstrate how flames look in zero gravity.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has “DON’T PANIC” printed in “large, friendly letters.” The description of the PANIC button here is similar. Might not be related.
I use qualifiers rarely in writing, and only when I wish to emphasize my own lack of confidence or conviction. I think I am even less likely to use them in speech.
There are some situations where altering your language to drive down overconfidence (or the opposite) seems to be a good idea—namely ones where you don’t want to trust your intuition or reasoning very much (or when you realize you are too epistemically humble). According to Sapir-Whorf, intentionally injecting or excluding qualifiers in a statement can change a speaker’s/listener’s/reader’s perceived level of confidence in the statement, as you alluded to in your question.
Politicians (much like many smarter-than-average children) like to use qualifiers so they don’t have to commit to anything, or so that two sides of a debate can each interpret their statement to map a candidate onto their side. Take this slightly exaggerated example where, I started with “X is happening” and inserted three qualifying fluffs (“as it has been presented” vs first-person observation, “seems to” vs definitely, “look like” vs some form of “to be”):
“The situation as it has been presented to me seems to look like X”—Candidate
If you believe in X, the candidate confirmed that they also believe in X, so you can support them. If you believe in Not X, but you wanted to support the candidate anyway, this formulation allows you to tell yourself that they:
don’t really strongly believe in X; or,
maybe they will change their mind once they are in office/have all of the facts/etc.; or,
they really believe in Not X but they have to try to win an election so they need to give off the impression that they support X to not piss off special interests/the party elite/primary voters/etc.
The third option in particular tends to be transparent mental gymnastics to anyone else but the believer. It’s a way to resolve or bury cognitive dissonance created when someone supports a candidate they don’t 100% agree with.