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How To Talk To Babies About Semiotics (and Marxist Theory)

BABY: read dog book again ME: okay fine show me where the yellow doggie is on this page BABY: [points] ME: good now show me where the brown doggie is on this page BABY: [points] ME: now show me where the author is BABY: [stares blankly] ME: that’s right the author is dead via Mallory Ortberg, How To Talk To Babies About Semiotics. BABY: [sleeps] ME: HAVE YOU QUESTIONED ANYTHING…

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What Is Gamergate, and Why? An Explainer for Non-Geeks

I’ve been following the frustrating slow burn that is #Gamergate for some time. I’m planning to introduce it in my online Video Game Culture and Theory class this January. This ground-level introduction will help add context to the mayhem. Until recently, you might have lived a life blissfully unaware of the online #Gamergate movement. But last week, computing giant Intel pulled its ads from an independent game-development site thanks to…

Chilling Dawn's treatment of the Poe story.
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The Masque of the Red Death, by Edgar Allan Poe

So, who else is taking advantage of current events and assigning “The Masque of the Red Death”? Are we thoughtful educators? Shameless opportunists? Both? (The disease Poe describes is more sudden than that caused by the ebola virus.) No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal—the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then…

Ada Lovelace at 17
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The First Programmer Was a Lady

Over a hundred years before a monstrous array of vacuum tubes surged into history in an overheated room in Pennsylvania, a properly attired Victorian Gentleman demonstrated an elegant little mechanism of wood and brass in a London drawing room. One of the ladies attending this demonstration brought along the daughter of a friend. She was a teenager with long dark hair, a talent for mathematics, and a weakness for wagering…

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The right — and surprisingly wrong — ways to get kids to sit still in class

When it came time for me to make suggestions to the school about how they could best meet this little boy’s needs, my answer was simple: “He needs more time to play and move his body. Fifteen minutes of recess is not enough. I recommend an hour-long recess session everyday.” Most of these teachers had already read my article about why kids fidget and agree with this philosophy. It didn’t…

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Harvard University says it can’t afford journal publishers’ prices

Robert Darnton, director of Harvard Library told the Guardian: “I hope that other universities will take similar action. We all face the same paradox. We faculty do the research, write the papers, referee papers by other researchers, serve on editorial boards, all of it for free … and then we buy back the results of our labour at outrageous prices. “The system is absurd, and it is inflicting terrible damage…

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Writing a Cutline (Caption): Three Examples

In journalism, the “cutline” is the text below a picture, explaining what the reader is looking at. It’s what most people call a caption, but to a journalist, a “caption” is more like a title, while the “cutline” first describes what is happening in the picture, and then explains the significance of the event depicted. Here, we see a dry, pointless cutline offers nothing at all that the reader can’t gather…