A Merry Look at Journalism in “The Year Without a Santa Claus”

In the classic stop-action TV special “The Year Without a Santa Claus” (1974), newspaper headlines provide exposition and offer a low-budget way to depict widespread reaction to the events of the plot. Newspapers also introduce a plot hole that’s bothered me ever since I was a kid. When I watched the show again this year, I noticed some typographical oddities in the prop newspapers. First of all, the elves have…

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Vanessa Otero’s Complex vs. Clickbait, Liberal vs. Conservative Media Chart

Vanessa Otero created an impressive chart that visualizes the problem with a simplistic “real news / fake news” dichotomy. News that skews left or right can still be valuable, and news that scrupulously avoids bias can still be vacuous clickbait. While you or I might disagree on whether the HuffPo/Occupy Democrats oval really parallels the Fox News / RedState oval, or we might quibble over the placement of some of…

Principal fires security guards to hire art teachers — and transforms elementary school

The school was plagued by violence and disorder from the start, and by 2010 it was rank [sic] in the bottom five of all public schools in the state of Massachusetts. That was when Andrew Bott — the sixth principal in seven years — showed up, and everything started to change. “We got rid of the security guards,” said Bott, who reinvested all the money used for security infrastructure into the…

Astaire Unwound (Ceiling Dance from “Royal Wedding”)

My high school physics teacher, Admiral Peebles, showed us episodes of this nerdy, awesome science video, which demonstrated what various common motions (a falling ball, a rolling ball) look like from fixed and moving frames of reference. The 1969 movie 2001: A Space Odyssey featured a huge rotating set, a realistic representation of artificial gravity in the interior of a space ship. I pored over stills from this scene a few years…