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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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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.