Stephen Coles’ The Anatomy of Type, reviewed.

Talk nerdy to me. You’re my type. What about old friend Helvetica, Miss Typography of 1957 (and pretty much every year after)? Coles theorizes that its universality stems from the fact that its “shapes and widths are unusually uniform.” This homogeneity makes it perfect for big display logos but “not as effective for long passages of text, where dynamic rhythm and unique lettershapes are vital.” Keep leafing around. Garamond Premier…


Study shows college students think they’re more special than ever…even those that can’t read or write and barely study

A hype-heavy treatment of a recent study (named vaguely as the “American Freshman Survey,” in the article, but not actually cited or dated… I found a copy of a 2011 report). While students are much more likely to call themselves gifted in writing abilities, objective test scores actually show that their writing abilities are far less than those of their 1960s counterparts. Also on the decline is the amount of…


Family Questions Boy’s Suspension Over Gun Gesture

A six-year-old who was warned not to pretend to shoot his classmates with scissors later made a shooting gesture with his fingers, and has now been suspended. A parent reacting to the story told a reporter “I wouldn’t expect someone to do that to my child, and if they did, I would expect some type of punishment.” (CBS Baltimore) Here’s what I suggest. Sit the kid sit in front of…


A Message from Hester Prynne (Student Video)

Have I mentioned lately that I have awesome students? For a “Creative Critical Presentation” in my online American Literature survey, English major Tyler Carter created A Message from Hester Prynne,  a 9-minute video that explores Hester’s psychology and spirituality, through music, dance, poetry, and cinematography. All the technology Seton Hill offers to its students would be worthless, in my opinion, if we could not point to projects like this one,…


“A Mushroom at Last… A Mushroom Forever”

I asked my 10yo why she was moping. “Because I don’t want to be a dancing mushroom,” she said, in a tone that added an unspoken “duh!” Like most of her theater friends, she is on pins and needles, waiting for Stage Right to announce the cast list for next month’s production of Annie “What makes you bring up mushrooms, honey?” She shifted on her bed. “The cast list.” I…

Screen Shot 2012-11-03 at 9.32.06 PM

Why ‘Gangnam Style’ Is Actually a Study in Mind Control

I’m not sure “thank you” is the right way to acknowledge this painful link from Paul Crossman. “Oh, come on,” you’re probably saying. “It’s not the music that’s addictive. It’s the dance, from the goofy video. That’s what went viral.” (There’s that word again.) Well, it turns out that this programming effect could be embedded in visual images as well, at least according to the theory outlined in Snow Crash. So let’s…

Kids Play the Way Scientists Work

Toddlers, multiple experiments have shown, can test hypotheses about how machines work—for example, they can figure out which blocks made a machine play when some but not all blocks trigger the toy. We have to be careful, though. This exploratory, quasi-scientific approach to the world doesn’t last if adults teach kids to do something else: Kids will let adult instruction override their natural curiosity.– Discover Magazine.

Neverending stories

The reason they survive to this day, Zipes suggests, is because the classic fairy tales—such as Snow White, Cinderella, and Rapunzel, which all have analogues in cultures throughout the world—are perfect examples of “memetic” engineering. Drawing on the notion of the meme coined by Richard Dawkins, Zipes imagines the elements of fairy tales competing for mental space over generations of cultural evolution, until only the fittest tales survived. And what…