Mars Is a Hellhole: Colonizing the red planet is a ridiculous way to help humanity.

Some of Elon Musk’s stunts have caught my attention. He was involved in founding the company that became PayPal (which I use from time to time, to accept freelance payments and to pay other freelancers), and I can see a lot of people would benefit from the high-speed train systems he has advocated, but I have never been inspired by anything he says. In The Atlantic, Shannon Stirone does a…

I can’t believe I’m fact-checking a viral story about the gender of a plastic potato with detachable body parts.

  I can’t believe I’m fact-checking a viral story about a plastic potato, but Hasbro is removing the “Mr.” from its “Potato Head” logo, and offering a new mix-and-match package that includes two potato bodies, one baby potato, and a bunch of loose parts that will let kids put them together however they want. That doesn’t mean it’s discarding or re-gendering the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head characters.  (Though the…

Most Americans have a high opinion of the humanities, and 81% use at least one humanities-related skill on the job

While some survey respondents were unfamiliar with the term “humanities” (apparently guessing that it had to do with the study of the human body), once they were given the definition “studying or participating in activities related to literature, languages, history, and philosophy,” most respondents had a high opinion of the subject. Predictably, people who were educated at liberal-arts colleges were the most favorable towards the humanities, but science and engineering…

People hate reading instructions, and will only glance at them after they are already frustrated and behind schedule.

I already bought the thing, and I’m only looking in the manual because I can’t figure out what’s wrong with the non-working piece of junk, so I don’t really want to read a chipper note congratulating me on my purchase. People hate reading instructions, and will only glance at them after they are already frustrated and behind schedule. Write for busy grouches who want to jump directly to the section…

A Career-Aligned Major Isn’t Enough

I’ve taken over teaching the English department’s relatively new career focus sequence, so I’m more than usually invested in these ideas. It’s time for faculty and administrators to be blunt: postgraduation success, more than ever, requires a demanding curriculum that includes extensive writing, facility with data and statistics, and extensive opportunities for collaboration and critical thinking. What the pandemic should have taught us is that we need to double down…