UK surveillance bill condemned by a Parliamentary committee, for the third time

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Paul Strasburger sits in the House of Lords as a Libdem peer; he sits on the Joint Select Committee that is the latest Parliamentary group to scrutinise the Investigatory Powers Bill (AKA the Snoopers Charter) and, as with the previous investigations, he's concluded that the spying bill is a dangerous, poorly drafted, overbroad dog's breakfast. Read the rest

Alternatives to "Resting Bitch Face"

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On McSweeney's, Susan Harlan rounds up some less-objectionable alternatives we can use to describe so-called "Resting Bitch Face," such as "Yes I Really Do Just Want to Sit Here and Read My Book Unmolested Face." Read the rest

Watch: AMAZING slam poem about policing women's speech habits

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Melissa Lozada-Oliva's spoken word piece "Like Totally Whatever," performed at the National Poetry Slam 2015, in Oakland, CA. Kick ass. (via Pro Choice America) Read the rest

Menu at Toronto's "Azure" was a work of fictitious fine-dining fraud

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Azure is the posh restaurant Intercontinental Hotel Toronto Centre, where the menu boasts "BC salmon" (which turns out to mean "boned and cleaned" not "British Columbia"), "freshly squeezed" orange juice (comes out of a bottle that boasts that the oranges were freshly squeezed before bottling), and some out-and-out lies, like calling boxed Quaker Harvest Crunch granola "organic granola" and store-bought salad dressing "home made." Read the rest

"Late stage capitalism" is the new "Christ, what an asshole"

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If you've grown weary of recaptioning your New Yorker cartoons with any of the other universal punchlines ("Christ, what an asshole," "Hello, I'd like to add you to my professional network on Linkedin" and "What a misunderstanding," to name only three), Matthew Garret invites you to try "Late stage capitalism." Works a treat! Read the rest

The evolution of anti-evolution bills

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In a new paper in Science (paywalled), Nicholas J. Matzke from the National University of Australia demonstrates the evolutionary connection between anti-evolution bills introduced into US state legislatures in a series of iterated attempts to ban or weaken the teaching of evolution by natural selection and to promote Biblical creationism in various guises in its stead. Read the rest

500 computer-generated novels: the Nanogenmo 2015 entrants

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To enter Nanogenmo, you have to write a program that generates a novel, then post it, along with the novel and the training data used to produce it. 500 teams' entries have been posted to Github. Read the rest

A linguist explains the "YouTube voice"

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YouTube stars employ a watered-down, carnival-barker style of annunciation to keep viewers interested, says Julie Beck of The Atlantic, who asked to Naomi Baron, a professor of linguistics at American University, to explain what's going on. Baron identified the following distinguishing components of the YouTube voice: Overstressed vowels - "eh-xactly" instead of "exactly." Sneaky extra vowels between consonants - “terraping” instead of "trapping." Long vowels - "fiiive" instead of "five" for emphasis and bounce. Long consonants - “fffascinatingly” instead of “fascinatingly” Aspiration - puffing more air to make a word stand out.

So it turns out the “YouTube voice” is just a variety of ways of emphasizing words, none of which are actually exclusive to YouTube—people employ these devices in speech all the time. But they generally do it to grab the listener’s attention, and when you’re just talking to a camera without much action, it takes a little more to get, and keep, that attention. All the videos I used as examples in this article come from popular YouTube accounts, with hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers—in other words, from people who know how to engage an audience.

Read the rest

Steven Pinker's list of the 58 most-abused English words and phrases

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In his latest book, The Sense of Style, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker sets out to create a new English stylebook that celebrates the language's fluidity while still striving for clarity -- an anti-authoritarian, "evidence-based" manifesto for clear and vivid communications. Read the rest

Randall "XCKD" Munroe's Thing Explainer: delightful exploded diagrams labelled with simple words

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Randall "XKCD" Munroe's Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words arrives in stores today: it combines technical diagrams and wordplay in pure display of everything that makes XKCD brilliant and wonderful in every way.

500 phrases from scientific publications that are correlated with bullshit

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Matthew Hankins catalogs 500 phrases used in scientific articles that researchers use to figleaf the fact that their results aren't statistically significant, and to hand-wave-away the fact that they're publishing anyway. Read the rest

Ar ar humor: Generating jokes algorithmically with Wolfram Mathematica

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Kathryn Cramer writes, "Jesse Friedman, age 14, has developed some code for getting Wolfram Language to tell a few jokes. Although most of WL's jokes are not funny, the generative language tools are an interesting toy." Read the rest

Donald Trump Lorem Ipsum generator

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Todd writes, "I made this ridiculous thing. Click on his head for more lorem."

Read the rest

#HMAnagrams: 13 anagrams for "The Haunted Mansion" that describe the ride

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@ridetheory created 13 spooky anagrams for "THE HAUNTED MANSION" that spelled out scenes from the ride ("...THAT HEINOUS MAN: END" "HUH? NOT MANSE DETAIN!" "...I THEN UNTO HEADSMAN" and so on!). Read the rest

@trippingbot: Character Level Recurrent Neural Network twitterbot tweets on "hallucinogens"

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Shardcore's latest twitterbot (previously) is @trippingbot, which trains a Character Level Recurrent Neural Network with drug reports from Erowid, where people post running logs of their drug experiences. Read the rest

The word "software" sounded ridiculous when it was coined in '53

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Computing pioneer Paul Niquette's memoir begins with the tale of how he came to coin the term "software" in 1953, to the ridicule of his colleague, and how the idea of a computer whose code was separate from its machinery took hold and changed the way we think about computation forever. Read the rest

“Mom, Dad, where do emoji come from?” The Unicode Consortium, son.

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The New York Times profiles the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit that “serves as the midwife to new emojis.”

People who aren't nerds never cared much about the Unicode Consortium until everyone started caring, a lot, about emoji. Read the rest

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