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Weekly Round-Up

Happy Hallowe’en everyone! I went as Lilo, from Lilo and Stitch. I wish I had a picture I could post, but you’ll just have to use your imagination. For what it’s worth, I was cute.

Here are the links from G+ and Twitter:

It’s Not a Sprint, it’s a Marathon: NaNoWriMo is upon us again…but writing 50,000 words in one month isn’t everyone’s style. If you’d prefer to build up a regular habit of writing everyday, Johnny Dale offers you a Couch-to-5K type of regimen for writing.

Mountie Comics: Internet favourite Kate Beaton illustrates Canadian attitudes towards American visitors. Originally posted here.

Adventures in Depression: Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half tells you what it’s like to feel depressed. The story doesn’t have an uplifting ending, necessarily, but it’s an incredibly accurate depiction of the mental voice depressed people have in their heads all the time.

Bartender set alight in Gay Slaying: 28-year-old gay bartender Stuart Walker from England was tied to a lamp-post, beaten, and then set on fire left to burn to death last week. Yes, we live in the 21st century. What the hell, people.

Have a Who Hallowe’en: For my Doctor Who fans, do I have the mother lode for you. Cast and Crew of Doctor Who lip-dub to The Proclaimers’ “I wanna be (500 miles)”. John Barrowman, Catherine Tate, and David Tennant salute Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner for an epic run on NuWho…in song. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill beatbox the Doctor Who theme in an elevator. Catherine Tate and David Tennant do a hilarious skit for Red Nose Comic Relief, and sing a duet in Much Ado About Nothing.

Here are the posts from around the blog:


The Hero We Deserve: The hypocrisy of the left in embracing elitist Jon Stewart and shunning everyman Michael Moore.

Sex Workers are Daughters Too: A fascinating ad campaign that attempts to humanize sex workers.

Coda: Ray Bradbury laments affirmative action in works of literature and art.

Type Nerdery: Two Flash games for those of you who fancy yourselves font snobs and amateur typographers.


I started a Doctor Who Tumblr because I was coming across too many awesome pics that I didn’t want to repost it all to my Mlkshk.

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Type nerdery

Getting up in arms about Comic Sans is so 2001. If you have vehement opinions about why you prefer Georgia over Palatino Linotype, and why Calibri is barely an improvement over that most sacriligious Helvetica-rip-off, Arial, you might enjoy these two typeface-related games:

Kern Type: drag the letters around for optimal kerning and get evaluated on how closely your final product matches that of a professional typographer.

Shape Type, made by the same people, lets you shape the contours and outlines of individual letters from well-known and respected typefaces and compare them to the end product.

Yes, I may have had a bit too much fun with these. My kerning, by the way, is top notch.

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Coda, by Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury, on including minorities in works of art for the sake of including them:

But, for now, the university wrote back that they hardly dared do my play—it had no women in it! And the ERA ladies on campus would descend with ball-bats if the drama department even tried!

Grinding my bicuspids into powder, I suggested that would mean, from now on, no more productions of Boys in the Band (no women), or The Women (no men). Or, counting heads, male and female, a good lot of Shakespeare that would never be seen again, especially if you count lines and find that all the good stuff went to the males!

I wrote back maybe they should do my play one week, and The Women the next. They probably thought I was joking, and I’m not sure that I wasn’t.

The essay also has this beautiful line in it:

There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people run­ning about with lit matches.

Anyone who’s hung around the blog for more than a few posts knows that I’m all for feminism and equality. But denying the worth of works of art just because they focus on one specific group over another, or were the victims of the social circumstances in which they were produced, is just ridiculous.

I want to fight for more TV shows and movies that have female leads, more publication of female authors in genres other than romance, more inclusion of female researchers in STEM-fields….but does that mean I would reject a TV show, movie, academic paper, or novel on the sole basis that it features, or was written by, a (cis-)man? Wouldn’t that make me just as bigoted as the worst misogynist?

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The hero we deserve?

This article offers a really interesting and cutting look at Jon Stewart’s popularity in contrast to Michael Moore’s unpopularity, and what that says about the American left:

Stewart’s entire persona is based around a smug self-satisfaction that speaks for his audience’s sanctimonious self-confidence in being right. Whether he’s doing something righteous…he does so arrogantly in order to project the image his followers love when they look in the mirror: The erudite, sophisticated critic who knows better than everyone else.

Moore, while taking all the right positions and displaying all the right characteristics for a political and cultural leader – courage, boldness, uncompromised expression of contested beliefs – represents everything that the modern, educated liberal casts as inferior. Moore is obese. His appearance is consistently sloppy and working class. He’s a college dropout. He has an apartment in New York City, but continues to spend most of his time living in Michigan. He’s devoutly Catholic.

An overweight, relatively uneducated, Midwestern Catholic is the image that most liberals mentally sketch when they consider the cultural enemy. Stewart, on the other hand, is the physically fit, son of a physics professor, a college graduate, and an avatar of the intellectually superior style of yuppie political communication. His format allows him to express it perfectly – play a clip of a Republican saying something predictably stupid, make a bemused facial expression, and then cut it down in an exaggerated tone of disbelief or sarcastic agreement. Cue audience applause.


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Two weeks’ worth of links

Been super busy at work lately and went through a bout of flu, so there was no round-up last week. Here’s everything from the past 14 days:

Links from Google+ and Twitter:

The guy who founded We are the 53 percent? Turns out the three jobs he complains about in his posts are two freelance gigs and a CNN job that pays him more than $160K a year. Oh, and the house he can’t sell? Is a new house he bought in February of this year, in addition to his primary residence. Hmm.

Not everyone who is rich is devoid of compassion. We are the 1 percent. We stand with the 99 percent. And if you’re in the mood for something heartwarming, this article from Daily Kos reaches out to the “53-percenters” and actually demonstrates empathy while advancing the cause:

“Look, you’re a tough kid.  And you have a right to be proud of that.  But not everybody is as tough as you, or as strong, or as young.  Does pride in what you’ve accomplish mean that you have contempt for anybody who can’t keep up with you?  Does it mean that the single mother who can’t work on her feet longer than 50 hours a week doesn’t deserve a good life?  Does it mean the older man who struggles with modern technology and can’t seem to keep up with the pace set by younger workers should just go throw himself off a cliff?”

Great stuff.

This cartoon captures, to use its own words, a ‘brief history of corpoate whining‘.

Muammar Gaddafi was killed last week. Al Jazeera, as usual, has excellent coverage.

Marco Arment’s update to Instapaper, the popular offline reading app, is beautiful. Unfortunately, iOS 5 has some new quirks that may accidentally erase your data, so you should probably read this overview so you’re not caught unawares. In tangentially related news, Facebook finally has an iPad-ready app.

If you’re a Photoshop poweruser, here’s how to keep a back-up of your presets via Dropbox.

A Reddit user conducted some extensive content analysis on Reddit comments and posts to figure out if there has been a downward trend in comment quality, as many fear.

This German TV commercial for yogurt is surprisingly delightful.


Posts from the blog


$100 laptop or $50 Kindle? Thoughts on development costs of technology and giving aid to third-world countries.


Calorie counts aren’t always accurate – NYT on misleading food labels.

Criticism and identity – A movie critic says some harsh things, and is eventually confronted with the subject of her criticism.

Who goes Nazi – A 1940s article speculating on the character traits that would compel someone to join the Nazis.

Economic policy as culture war – Why the left/right divide is more about identity than ideology.

Who are the protesters – The New Yorker looks at “We are the 99 percent” and does some demographic analysis. More OWS stats.

Keep your head down – On why there is such popular opposition to Occupy Wall Street from the very people who would benefit.

Video Games are humbling – Thoughts on video games from someone picking up a controller for the first time.

Saying no as much as you can – A strategy to help you turn down the projects you don’t want so you can focus on what you love.

Since it must be so – Linguistic quirks that give individual languages a unique emotional flavour.



I got an honorable mention on Planet Money!


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Since it must be so

A bit of linguistic fun for you today, from the good folks over at Johnson:

YOU know how some people are always cold? There’s a word for that in Spanish—that is, there’s a word, rather than the small string of words I used in English. A woman who is always cold is a friolera (or if she’s Catalan: a fredolica).

Fredolica would be a cute nickname. (I’m one of those people who is always cold.)

The post goes on to discuss the abstract and often emotional concepts packed behind individual words:

We can see this in Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s riff on the Japanese word sayonara, which translates as “since it must be so”. She prefers it to the French au revoir, which has the “bravado” of predicting the next meeting, or the English “farewell,” which evades the issue by talking about what the person is going to do.

Be sure to check out the full post – they link to lots of other fun resources as well.

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More OWS Stats

Approximately 1,600 supporters of Occupy Wall Street (based on visits to the OWS website) were surveyed by a CUNY sociologist to glean some measure of demographic data. Things I found notable:

  • More than nine in ten (92.1 per cent) are either in college or have graduated.
  • Half (50.4 per cent) work full-time. A fifth (20.4 per cent) work part-time. Roughly one-in-eight (13.1 per cent) are unemployed.

Wait, so 71% of OWS-ers are employed and 92% of them have some level of college education? What was that about layabouts and good-for-nothings?

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Saying no as much as you can

David Sparks hosts the podcast Mac Power Users, and he suggests a thing called the “No Journal”. As transcribed by Eddie from Practically Efficient, the “No Journal” follows this concept:

Every time you find yourself having to say no because of how many commitments you have, write it down. I started doing that and looking at the things I was saying no to… and then weighing those against the things I was saying yes to.

Eddie adds:

No also gets easier to say once you realize that no is only negative on the surface. Underneath it’s powerfully affirmative. Saying no means repeatedly saying yes—to the things you’ve decided matter more.