"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.

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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."

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#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

A Swedish doctor's collection of English anatomical idioms

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Harvard Medical School's Per-Olof Hasselgren moved from Sweden to the USA more than 30 years ago, and ever since he got here, he's been noting down the large and bizarre universe of anatomical idioms in the glorious hairball that is the English language. Read the rest

Car accidents aren't accidents

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The use of the term "accident" gives cops and courts the cover to excuse murder. In a brutal editorial, Hsi-Pei Liao talks about his daughter, who was killed by a driver when she was three. The driver got a ticket for failure to yeild and failure to use due care, and those tickets were eventually thrown out by a DMV judge who considered the case for 47 seconds. Read the rest

How to flip someone off with THREE middle-fingers

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When your scorn cannot be contained in the anatomy of a bilaterally symmetrical life-form. Baffle your enemies! Win the admiration of your friends! Improve your manual dexterity! (via Super Punch) Read the rest

Execspeak singularity: the spectacular bullshit of Blackberry's CEO

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It takes a top-notch MBA and years of training to be able to improvise and enunciate statements like this 2010 gem: "I'm going to really frame our mobile architectural distinction. We've taken two fundamentally different approaches in their causalness. It's a causal difference, not just nuance." Read the rest

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