Blog, Me

In which things change

A lot of things are changing. It’s not just because I’m moving and starting a new job; I’ve also been finding that this blog doesn’t fill the role in my life that I want it to fulfill anymore.

I started this blog because I wanted to get back in the habit of writing regularly, but lately it’s become more of an obligation than anything else. I still want to write, but now I want to write for myself: the long-form fiction that I started out with twelve years ago, and more of the vignettes I already post here.

Furthermore, I want my writing to be more than just an exercise in self-indulgence. Former NDP leader Jack Layton’s passing has made me realize that just shouting into the ether isn’t enough for me anymore. I want to start doing something with my opinion.

I still want to blog. Anyone who follows me on Google+ or Mlkshk or Twitter knows that I repost a lot of articles. But I no longer have time for the thousand-word-essays that used to occupy this space. I’ll be emulating the Daring Fireball blog in future posts: a link, a quote, and a single line with my thoughts. Occasionally I’ll still write an opinion piece, but by and large a shorter format will allow me to update more frequently, and be a bit less constrained in what I write about. Sometimes I just don’t have that much to say, you know?

As for the mailing list, don’t worry. I’m not going to send out an email every time I post a link; instead, you’ll only get notices for long posts and a weekly round-up of the highlights.

Hope you guys stick around.

Blog, Me

Site news: Aug 2012

The site is done! Hurray! Hurrah!

That only took me four solid days of coding, no big deal. At least I learned a bunch about how to use WordPress.

I still need to slowly add art to the ‘et cetera’ section over the next little while, but by and large it’s ready to face the world.

Link based

Weekly Link Round-Up

London is Burning
There were riots in London over the weekend. Here’s a beautiful timelapse of fires burning over Tottenham in North London.

Faux-Vintage: Afghanistan and the Nostalgia for War
This article from The Society Pages discusses the recent trend in editing war photos to have vintage and classic visual effects, and what that means for how we relate to the mental image of war in general.

Shock, awe: British government agrees that copyright has gone too far
The British government pledged to enact significant changes to copyright law, finally recognizing that the degree to which copyright law has been allowed to control innovation is going too far.

Tea Partiers Cheer the Downgrade of America’s Credit Rating
So you know that thing that happened last week that has everyone freaking out about the outlook of the global economy? That unprecedented downgrade of the US’s debt rating? Yeah, the Tea Partiers are pretty damn proud of themselves for being credited for having caused the crisis. I don’t think they even understand what they’ve done.


RSA Animate: The Empathic Civilization
RSA Animate is a series of highly popular educational YouTube videos about a variety of subjects run by the Royal Society of Arts in England, an institution whose primary aim is to, well, improve society. This excellent video discusses the mirror genes and whether the concept of empathy is softwired in our brains and something that is unlearned as we grow up in a society structured around self-interest and capitalism. It’s 10 minutes long, but doesn’t feel it. I normally dislike YouTube videos a lot, but this is really fantastic.

Street Art Notebook
This neat Street Art Notebook seems to be a collection of street photographs that you can draw over and “graffiti” in your own right.

Where Children Sleep
This really fantastic gallery from the New York Times shows children from around the world in their bedrooms. It’s a fascinating look at how different children’s lives are, and how much your ‘habitat’ tells about you.

CAPTCHAs to keep idiots out of comment threads
Here’s an idea for grammar-based CAPTCHAs that prevent people who don’t know how to use English properly from commenting. (I feel obligated to point out that this is unfair to people with learning disabilities and that knowledge of grammar doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not an asshole…I’ll shut up now.) Metafilter commenter Ian A. T. has a much better idea: reading comprehension based CAPTCHAs.

Unofficial Recommended Users
If you’re still stuck for who to follow on Google+, here’s a handy tool that divides up cool users by interest.

Speaking of Google+, here’s my take of why that service is popular (click for full size):

And to cap off a fairly heavy link round-up in a lighthearted manner, here’s a video of a fan playing the movie theme to Harry Potter in heavy metal style.


Beyond The Walled Garden

There’s a book called  “Future Stuff” that was written in 1989 that tried to make predictions about what gadgets in the year 2000 would be like, based on interviews with people who were actively working on the predecessors of those gadgets. Blogger and writer Leonard Richardson from read the book in 2008 and wrote up a blow-by-blow report on exactly how wrong these predictions were.

The authors Abrams and Bernstein thought that the future would be filled with single-purpose gadgets like the GPS that would be very good at doing one specific thing. If you needed to know what the weather was, you’d pick up your weather cube and it would give you amazing meteorological predictions and forecasts pulled from the most advanced institutes. Instead, of course, we now know that the future–our present–is populated with all-purpose devices that are practically schizophrenic in the variety of functions that they offer. You can use your computer or phone for virtually anything you want it to: from tracking expenses to watching movies to creating art.

Continue reading

Link based

Weekly Link Round-Up

In the time that I’ve been gone, I’ve finished my exams, moved to Toronto, and written some nostalgic stuff about immigration.

Here are the links for the week:

Fundamentalism Kills
In the wake of the tragedy in Norway, here’s a really great analysis from a weekly columnist at the political blog Truthdig about how fundamentalism as a way of life, regardless of whether the fundamentalism is in support of religion or secularism, is the real enemy of rationality and logic and progress.

The Centrist Cop-Out
Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugment strikes out against the media for pretending that the problem with American political discourse is a lack of bipartisan compromise, rather than the continued tyranny of Republican extremism. Love this guy.

She’s Not Out of Your League
“No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz” is a great blog that highlights what it terms masculist (think ‘feminist’ for men) issues. This post in particular explains why thinking in terms of ‘leagues’ and kowtowing to ‘hawtness’ is counterproductive and detrimental for all parties involved.

Harry Potter: “Big Beat Repeat” Music Video
This awesome trailer mash-up takes scenes from the sixth Harry Potter movie and re-imagines it as a teen comedy. Quite well done.

In Praise of Joanne Rowling’s Hermione Granger Series
This blogpost reimagines the Harry Potter universe through the lens of Hermione Granger, and makes an eloquent and convincing argument for why everyone’s favourite bookworm is the true hero of a series that defined a generation.

In which we betray our gender
Gabby from Gabby’s Playhouse explains in hilarious but sobering webcomic form what it’s like to be ‘out’ as a girl in every internet discussion, ever.

Thanks, Public Libraries
This Tumblr has a really great concept: it collects reader submitted memories of how the existence of public libraries in their neighbourhoods have changed their lives for the better, and makes an argument against the encroaching cuts in municipal budgets everywhere that threaten this great institution. Spread it far and wide.

Blackboard Yearbook
A school in Russia decides to go beyond the typical yearbook photographs and allow their students to create their own backdrops. The result is quite stunning.


These fantastic illustrations from Noma Bar use negative space to create double-entendres in the style of those great IBM ads that were going around a while back.


Children’s Story Posters
This set of posters from Square Inch Design re-imagines minimalist book covers for classic children’s fairy tales.