CNBC's secure password tutorial sent your password in the clear to 30 advertisers

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CNBC's Big Crunch blog put up a well-intentioned, but disastrously designed tutorial on secure password creation, which invited users to paste their passwords into a field to have them graded on how difficult it would be to guess them. Read the rest

Names that break databases

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Jennifer Null is impossible: her name can't be entered into most modern databases (plane reservations, wedding registries) because "null" is used to separate fields in databases themselves. Read the rest

XKCD is coming to America's science textbooks

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Textbook giant Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishes Randall Munroe's amazing Thing Explainer, and a lucky accident happened when someone in the textbook division noticed Munroe's amazing explanatory graphics, annotated with simple language (the book restricts itself to the thousand most common English words) and decided to include some of them in the next editions of its high-school chemistry, biology and physics textbooks. Read the rest

Supercut: cursing without cuss-words

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Burgerfiction assembles a greatest hits reel of scenes where filmmakers have ingeniously dodged the bullet of a PG-13 or R rating by having characters substitute their own epithets for our favorite Anglo-Saxon monosyllables. (via Metafilter) Read the rest

The Third Electronic Literature Anthology: Unity, Javascript & Twitterbots

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Mark Marino writes, "Kick your Norton Anthology to the curb, and check out the latest collection of digitally born literature. Published by the Electronic Literature Organization, the collection contains 114 works from 26 countries in 12 languages. The Electronic Literature Collection, vol. 3 offers a glimpse at just how wide the world of digital literature has become, including a diverse array of works, from Twitter bots to poem generators to Twine tales to poetic apps. Read the rest

Markovbot creates eerily plausible Drumpf speeches

Churba writes, "Victor from Frostworks threw together a Markov Chain Bot that randomly generates and spits out eerily accurate Trump speeches at the push of a button." Read the rest

KKK vs D&D: the surprising, high fantasy vocabulary of racism

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As John Holbo notes, the Ku Klux Klan's extensive, bizarre, fanciful "titles and vocabulary," set out in a 1916 volume called the "Kloran," has enough weirdness to match the Monster Manual for its "hydras, furies, nighthawks, giants, goblins, ghouls, titans, magi, monks, grand turks, dragons, wizards, cyclops." Read the rest

Politician given green-light to name developer's new streets with synonyms for greed and deceit

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A New York State Supreme Court judge has confirmed that Staten Island Borough President James Oddo can name three streets in a new property development with words that imply greediness and deceitfulness on the part of the developers. Read the rest

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

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