Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Atlantic Monthly

Sunday!

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* SFW (at least in my estimation) photography project depicting porn actresses with and without makeup. Discussion thread at MeFi, which links to a few more discussion threads at Reddit that are pretty soul-crushing.

The Scariest Jobs Chart Ever Isn’t Scary Enough.

* The science of sleeplessness.

* The truth about Vikings.

My three year old daughter and I play a lot of old games together. Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario… So what else am I supposed to do? Now I’m up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline. Also via MeFi.

The Britannica Advantage was not only illusory, it also reflected the way in which the market economy always finds a way to turn things that are good in themselves into means to an end.

When the Pope Is Chosen, His Tailors Will Be Ready.

* Salaried Atlantic writer argues current Atlantic freelancing policy is just fine.

A Dangerous ‘New Normal’ in College Debt.

8 Studies That Debunk Male Gender Stereotypes.

* And some more interesting SF from Eliezer Yudkowsky: “Three Worlds Collide.”

Tuesday Night Links

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* This Is What the Fresh Prince Theme Song Sounds Like After You Run It Through Every Language in Google Translate.

* Ten Percent Of U.S. High School Students Graduating Without Basic Object Permanence Skills.

* Teachers in Seattle boycotting standardized testing.

* Neoliberalism watch: Under this plan, financed by Pitney Bowes, the entire Postal Service would become a series of private companies that would process and transport the mail to your US Postal Service Letter Carrier who would deliver it. The rational of this misguided plan is that they can eliminate hundreds of thousands of good union middle class jobs and replace them with low wage and benefit challenged employees . Then disguise it by still having your trusted Letter Carrier still bring it to your door.

* End of history watch: The 14 rules for predicting future geopolitical events.

* Alas, Atlantic: Boing Boing and The Onion twist the knife.

* And it looks like Republicans are now full-on committed to trying to rig the Electoral College in their favor. Bring on the next manufactured political crisis! Adventure!

Evening Links

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* World saved from Zack Snyder Star Wars movie.

But it was too late for the Atlantic, powerless before Tom Cruise’s superpowers.

* 2013 in franchise science fiction, from io9. Only Brad Bird’s 1952 can save us now.

* New York Times already hyping Ender’s Game.

* The best companion says she won’t be back for Who‘s 50th.

* The Disneyland of paranoia. See also McSweeney’s:

First, they came for unregulated handguns in the possession of citizens with violent criminal records, and I said, “You know, that sounds reasonable. Someone with a violent criminal record has probably lost his or her right to possess a handgun. So, yeah, sounds good.”

Then they came to require background checks, gun licenses, and regular gun safety courses, and I said, “All of this sounds fine to me. Guns are dangerous, and we regulate every other dangerous product. So, really, whatever you want to do on this is also fine.”

Then they came for my assault rifle, and I said, “Assault rifles? You should have started with assault rifles. You’re doing this backwards. But OK, of course you can have my assault rifle. Why do I need an assault rifle?”

Then they came to guarantee mental health care to everyone, because our treatment of our most vulnerable citizens is a measure of our dignity as a society, and I said, “This one is obvious. In fact, I can’t believe we HAVEN’T been guaranteeing mental health care for everyone who needs it. Let’s get going on this.”

* And just one political link: The high price of being single in America.

Lazy Sunday Reading

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Some articles for this lazy Sunday.

* “A Boy’s Life”: Biology, politics, and transgender children in America.

Brandon raced by, arm in arm with his new friend, giggling. Tina and Bill didn’t know this yet, but Brandon had already started telling the other kids that his name was Bridget, after the pet mouse he’d recently buried (“My beloved Bridget. Rest With the Lord,” the memorial in his room read). The comment of an older transsexual from Brooklyn who’d sat behind Tina in a session earlier that day echoed in my head. He’d had his sex-change operation when he was in his 50s, and in his wild, wispy wig, he looked like a biblical prophet, with breasts. “You think you have troubles now,” he’d yelled out to Tina. “Wait until next week. Once you let the genie out of the bottle, she’s not going back in!”

* “Rock, Paper, Scissors”: A history of the polls.

Voting in America, it’s fair to say, used to be different. “Are you not a man in the full vigor of manhood and strength?” a member of the House Committee on Elections asked another Harrison supporter who, like Kyle, went to the polls but turned back without voting (and who happened to stand six feet and weigh more than two hundred pounds). The hearings established a precedent. “To vacate an election,” an election-law textbook subsequently advised, “it must clearly appear that there was such a display of force as ought to have intimidated men of ordinary firmness.”

* “Red Sex, Blue Sex.”

During the campaign, the media has largely respected calls to treat Bristol Palin’s pregnancy as a private matter. But the reactions to it have exposed a cultural rift that mirrors America’s dominant political divide. Social liberals in the country’s “blue states” tend to support sex education and are not particularly troubled by the idea that many teen-agers have sex before marriage, but would regard a teen-age daughter’s pregnancy as devastating news. And the social conservatives in “red states” generally advocate abstinence-only education and denounce sex before marriage, but are relatively unruffled if a teen-ager becomes pregnant, as long as she doesn’t choose to have an abortion.

* “The Things He Carried”: Jeffrey Goldberg exposes the joke that is airport security.

During one secondary inspection, at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, I was wearing under my shirt a spectacular, only-in-America device called a “Beerbelly,” a neoprene sling that holds a polyurethane bladder and drinking tube. The Beerbelly, designed originally to sneak alcohol—up to 80 ounces—into football games, can quite obviously be used to sneak up to 80 ounces of liquid through airport security. (The company that manufactures the Beerbelly also makes something called a “Winerack,” a bra that holds up to 25 ounces of booze and is recommended, according to the company’s Web site, for PTA meetings.) My Beerbelly, which fit comfortably over my beer belly, contained two cans’ worth of Bud Light at the time of the inspection. It went undetected. The eight-ounce bottle of water in my carry-on bag, however, was seized by the federal government.

* “Verbage”: The Republican war on words.

Doesn’t this reflect a deep suspicion of language itself? It’s as if Republican practitioners saw words the way Captain Ahab saw “all visible objects”—as “pasteboard masks,” concealing acts and deeds and things—and, like Ahab, were bent on striking through those masks. The Melvillean atmosphere may not be accidental, since, beyond the familiar American anti-intellectualism—to work with words is not to work at all—there’s a residual Puritanism. The letter killeth, as St. Paul has it, but the spirit giveth life. (In that first debate, McCain twice charged his opponent with the misdeed of “parsing words.”) In this vision, there is something Pharisaical about words. They confuse, they corrupt; they get in the way of Jesus.

* “Thumbspeak”: A brief history of texting.

Texting is international. It may have come late to the United States because personal computers became a routine part of life much earlier here than in other countries, and so people could e-mail and Instant Message (which shares a lot of texting lingo). Crystal provides lists of text abbreviations in eleven languages besides English. And it is clear from the lists that different cultures have had to solve the problem of squeezing commonly delivered messages onto the cell-phone screen according to their own particular national needs. In the Czech Republic, for example, “hosipa” is used for “Hovno si pamatuju”: “I can’t remember anything.” One can imagine a wide range of contexts in which Czech texters might have recourse to that sentiment. French texters have devised “ght2v1,” which means “J’ai acheté du vin.” In Germany, “nok” is an efficient solution to the problem of how to explain “Nicht ohne Kondom”—“not without condom.” If you receive a text reading “aun” from the fine Finnish lady you met in the airport lounge, she is telling you “Älä unta nää”—in English, “Dream on.”

Written by gerrycanavan

November 9, 2008 at 6:19 pm