Addicted To Being Good? The Psychopathology of Heroism

X-altruists are compelled to good, even when doing so makes no sense and brings harm upon them. The cannot tolerate injustice, and go to extreme lengths to help those who have been wronged, regardless of their personal relationship to them. Now, I am not speaking of the guy who helps an old lady cross the street. I am speaking of the guy who throws himself in front of a speeding…

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Death to the file, long live the URL

Part of an Ars Technica review of Google’s new operating system. Longtime Ars readers may be familiar with my periodic rants about the increasing disutility of the “volume/directory/file” metaphor for modern networked machines. Saving files, copying them, syncing them–this is all pointless clerical work that I want my computer to do for me. Bravo.

Blogging in the USA

One of my students posted this on her blog… she’ll be presenting it tonight in class.  I’m looking forward to it!  Here’s a parody, by Meagan Gemperlein At the beginning of the semester, I had blogged about hating blogging, but really in the end it wasn’t that terrible. I came to see how it can be useful in a classroom setting and help promote classroom discussion. So the song parody…

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Listening to the Kindle

I’ve had a Kindle DX for a few weeks now. I’ve been using it as I read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland to my daughter. I haven’t yet used the Kindle to buy any books, but I’ve stuffed it with out-of-copyright classics and academic PDFs. It takes maybe 5-10 minutes to set up the text files, break them into chapters, and set my text-to-speech program to generate the MP3s.  Depending…

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Top 10 Bad Messages From Good Movies

Wired gives Star Wars a good drubbing, focusing on the ending: There are somewhere between 20 and 30 one-man fighters in the assault, right? And of all of those guys, only Luke, Wedge and some guy in a Y-wing make it back (and Han and Chewie, of course, but they weren’t part of the original team). So that means that in this fight, despite its amazing success, the rebels lost…

Casual Gameplay Design Competition #7! Walkthrough Guide, Review, Discussion, Hints and Tips at Jay is Games

Via Jay is Games We are pleased to announce a very special Casual Gameplay Design Competition, one focused entirely on interactive fiction! For CGDC #7, we’re calling on IF authors to craft one-room games incorporating the theme “escape”. It’s text-only this time around, so you can spend your time polishing puzzles instead of pixels. Full details are below, so fire up your Z-code compiler and get to writing! Design a…

Oxford Word of the Year 2009: Unfriend

unfriend – verb – To remove someone as a ‘friend’ on a social networking site such as Facebook. As in, “I decided to unfriend my roommate on Facebook after we had a fight.” “It has both currency and potential longevity,” notes Christine Lindberg, Senior Lexicographer for Oxford’s US dictionary program. “In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this…

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Three Notebooks

The age of the notebook is rapidly passing us. I know it still has places in many circles, and that for some, the function of the notebook will never go away, replaced by weblogs and online diaries and bookmark lists; but the nature of these written-out sketches of crashing ideas overlaying each other and betraying time, emotion and reasoning as it bleeds through a wood pulp page is almost gone.…