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The Days of Microsoft Internet Explorer Are Numbered—But Its Sorry Legacy Will Live On

Starting today, Microsoft will no longer support most versions of Internet Explorer, one of the most contentious pieces of software in history. … By insisting on following its own path with IE rather than follow generally accepted standards, Microsoft dictated web design by years. That probably drove many aspiring web developers [to] careers that didn’t require trying to figure out why the margins between images looked different from one browser to…

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How Mickey Mouse Evades the Public Domain

I get my fill of Disney pretty quick. In the 90s I chose the time period 1920-1950 for my dissertation, because at the time works published in the early 1920s were entering the public domain in the US. I figured I could publish online annotated editions of the works I had studied, as each fell out of copyright. A certain rodent changed all that. Every time Disney’s beloved mouse is…

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Books Wield a Dangerous Power

While we might point to violent video games or sexually explicit films as potentially dangerous and corrupting influences on tender or vulnerable minds, the novel is treated as uplifting and salutary, regardless of its content: a kale smoothie for the soul. When we do talk about books being ‘dangerous’, it is usually with a knowing nod and a wink: and the implication is that those of us in the know…

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Kids Turn Bratz into Star Wars Rey Dolls

Sometimes, I catch myself thinking there may be hope for the future.    There has been something of an outcry over the toy merchandising associated with Star Wars: The Force Awakens with the apparent dearth of Rey dolls in play sets (Rey being the lead female character in the film). Parts and Crafts, a family makerspace and community workshop based in Somerville, MA, decided to take matters into their own…

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Rest assured, there will soon be enough Rey toys to monetize the imaginations of the little girls who grew out of princess worship

The problems of female characters being under-represented in geek merchandise is real. But when it’s a secondary character like Gamora or Black Widow, at least toy companies have an excuse. When the girl is not just the star of the movie, but of the whole franchise, that’s another story. That character, of course, is Rey, the main character of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the latest problem has to…

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When Asking the Question is Part of the News Story (New Example: Clinton Supporters)

I ask my journalism students to avoid using the phrase “When asked about…” as a default transition in news stories. While they are taught in freshman comp classes to introduce their quotes and then explain the significance of the quotes, to a journalist that’s just filler. This story from the Daily Mail (a UK publication which has a reputation for being gossipy and conservative) covers shows pictures of teens and…