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Google: “how can u” vs. “how can an individual” is not really about grammar

Yes, I got a chuckle over this, but if we present this as evidence of a link between grammar and class / morality / character, that requires a bit of circular thinking. First of all, the substitution of “u” for “you” has nothing to do with grammar, it’s just a shortcut often made by people who are typing on phones. Typing “u” for “you” does not affect the function the…

The Mystery of Charles Dickens by Joyce Carol Oates

Dickens is so brilliant a stylist, his vision of the world so idiosyncratic and yet so telling, that one might say that his subject is his unique rendering of his subject, in an echo of Mark Rothko’s statement, “The subject of the painting is the painting”—except of course, Dickens’s great subject was nothing so subjective or so exclusionary, but as much of the world as he could render. If Dickens’s…

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Sci-Fi Airshow: Guided Tour

Fantastic series of photos, showing sci-fi spaceships digitally inserted into photos that appear to have been taken at real airshows. To be more believable, we probably need to see more poorly-framed, snapshot-style “here’s my kid standing in front of a Moonbase Alpha Eagle,” but this was still a lot of fun. Sci-Fi Airshow: Guided Tour.

Our Brains See Men as Whole and Women as Parts: Scientific American

Fascinating… asking test subjects to think more globally (in terms of the relationships between the parts that make the whole) reduced the bias that makes people think of women as body parts. People were also better at discerning women’s individual body parts than they were at men’s individual body parts, further confirming the local processing, or objectification, that was happening. [Cleavage Countdown: 8 Facts About Breasts] “It’s both men and…

The Portable Writing desk — the Victorian laptop

Focusing on the materiality of writing, this page offers a brief but fascinating overview of how design and culture affect the act of writing (and vice-versa). Just as we find laptops essential for writing, researching, and storing valuable information, the Victorians found their writing desks indispensable for storing writing materials; valuables, including money and jewelry; vital documents, such as passports and wills; and private correspondence, such as billets-doux. There were…

Khan Academy: The hype and the reality

Sal Khan has done something remarkable in creating such a vast and varied library, and he deserves to be recognized. His commitment to making the site free is a rare and selfless act, and he deserves to be praised. Sal Khan is a good guy with a good mission. What he’s not, though, is a good teacher. Unfortunately, the media hype surrounding Khan Academy has created a level of expectation…

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The Xplor Store: The Forgotten Carnegie Science Center Exhibit? (Guest Post by Leigh Jerz)

The other day, my wife suggested a Carnegie Science Center-related post. Only once before — in 2003 — has she volunteered a topic like that, so I took her up on the offer. I’ve noticed that, on every trip to the CSC, my wife slips away to browse the museum store while I’m watching the kids. Here’s what she wrote about this important part of our family trips: After a…

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Hacking the WordPress Social Plugin to Include Pages in Addition to Posts

I love the WordPress Social plugin, which grabs Twitter and Facebook responses to a WordPress post, and compiles them as comments along with the original post. But I get plenty of social media attention on the stand-alone pages on my site — that is, instructional handouts that I use year after year, so it’s posted in a hierarchical layout, not a chronological order like my blog. Once I learned that…