If women wrote men the way men write women


Drew Mackie's video above, remixing the homoerotic glory of 80's anime Saint Seiya, is your shot. Meg Elison's short story at McSweeney's, "If women wrote men the way men write women", is your chaser. (Previously) Read the rest

The evolution of the "baseball game equality" meme


Craig Froehle tracks the odd convolutions of his famous illustration of how conservatives and liberals view the notion of equality. It's been simplified, expanded, twisted, tucked in and turned inside-out—and even redrawn by professional artists.

Are the worst versions the ones that bury the simple point in condescending explanation?

Or the ones that seek to subvert it entirely, in as much as stamping "THIS IS FUCKING STUPID" over it counts as subversion?

The cannier mutations contextualize it for local audiences:

I am giddy that my little graphic has helped so many people think about the issue of equity and has spawned so many conversations in just the past few years. I’m not upset by the many way it’s been reimagined. In fact, I’m delighted, because the modifications just make it that much more useful to people.

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Enormous Smallness – Work hard and you can become a poet (not a message kids often hear)


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Enormous Smallness: The Story of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess Enchanted Lion Books 2015, 64 pages, 8.4 x 11.5 x 0.7 inches $12 Buy a copy on Amazon

Enormous Smallness, written by Matthew Burgess and illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo, details the life of poet E.E. Cummings for fans of all ages. From Cummings’s fairly ordinary childhood in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to his adventures in Europe and New York City, the book spans the decades of writing, working, and experiencing the world that made Cummings an extraordinary artist.

The story that emerges is one of a boy who loved observing the world as much as he did participating in it — a boy who said “yes” to everything. As Burgess writes, “Yes to the heart and the roundness of the moon, to birds, elephants, trees, and everything he loved.” But the story doesn’t shy away from the good or the bad, including both the praise and support young Cummings got from his parents and teachers, as well as the negative criticism his first book of poems received.

The message to kids is twofold and clear: one, making art is hard work that requires the same dedication and persistence that any other job does for success. And two, so long as you put in the work, you can be a poet or an artist, too. It’s not a message kids hear often but it’s important. As Cummings said in his Harvard graduation speech, we need artists to challenge the way we see and think. Read the rest

The "dark tales" spoken by an amazingly prolific sleep-talker


Dion McGregor talked in his sleep. But he did more than just that: he narrated tales so dark his roommates began recording them for the world to hear.

Normally, we can only catch a few shards of the shattered dreamscape; as much as we may try to cling onto the fragments of thoughts, feelings and sensations, they soon evaporate in the glare of our waking consciousness.

In contrast, McGregor’s tapes offer hundreds of hours of one man’s slumbers narrated in astonishing detail. The stories are full of eccentric characters like Edwina; they occupy a sinister place where a simple Lazy Susan can suddenly inspire a dangerous game of Russian roulette.

One intriguing finding from a study of the transcripts: his stories are less bizarre than "average" dreams. [via @greatdismal] Read the rest

Top creepypasta stories to read before bed


Creepypasta, for those somehow unawares, are short, shonky, mutated ghost and horror tales, nth-generation copies of something dimly-remembered. Gizmodo's Kiona Smith-Strickland collects some of the best.

Children are creepy, and the poster who shared “Bad Dream” knows it. Of course, the thing sleeping on the other side of the bed is even creepier.

Psychosis” is one of the classics of the creepypasta canon, and it’s a piece of psychological horror that would have been right at home on The Twilight Zone. One poster’s creepy encounter with a stranger in another classic,

Smiling Man” will make you think twice about walking alone at night.

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A true science horror story

In which a graduate student in cancer genetics regales us all with a tale of the disgustingly horrific things that can end up growing in a cell culture plate if you aren't careful. Do not read while eating. Read the rest

Two great long reads about fire, science, and the human lives caught in between

At Outside, Kyle Dickman interviews the lone survivor of the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighting team and tells the story of the decisions that lead to the deaths of 19 men. Read it, and then head over to The New York Times Magazine, which has an amazing piece by Paul Tullis about the scientists, fire fighters, and forest rangers who are trying to get a better handle on how wildfires behave ... and how best to control and limit the damage they cause. That's no small task when you're talking about a force of nature capable of creating its own weather systems. Read the rest

True tales of a laboratory safety officer

Science journalist John Rennie is an amazing story teller. In this recording from Story Collider, he explains how he became the lab safety officer in his post-undergrad biology laboratory in the early 1980s (it involves being the only person who was concerned when other people started scooping up mercury with their bare hands). The peak of his experience: The day he stuck his arm, up past the elbow, into a barrel of liquid nitrogen. Good times.

Audio link Read the rest

Powerful writing on miscarriage and the decisions women face when pregnancy goes wrong

At the Context and Variation blog (one of the best sources around for solid information on the science of ladybusiness, btw), an anonymous guest post recounts the story of a woman's recent miscarriage, how she ended up deciding to end the pregnancy with surgical dilation and curettage, and what that experience and its aftermath were like. It's powerful, moving, and very much worth reading. (For context, I wrote about my own miscarriage here at BoingBoing last year, and that post is referenced in this article.) Read the rest

"I faxed Carl Sagan"

Here's a great story from the science storytelling project Story Collider and physicist David Morgan. Morgan starts telling a story about how Sagan influenced him to become a scientist and how the beginning of that career was tied up with an attempt to get in touch with Sagan — pre-ubiquitous e-mail — in the year 1995. Read the rest

Scrub your brain of these "folk neuroscience" misconceptions

There is no such thing as "left brained" or "right brained". You really and truly cannot break down rationality and creativity in that way. And that's not the only thing we all think we know about the brain that turns out to be totally wrong. At the Guardian Vaughan Bell writes about the rise of folk neuroscience, why these misconceptions are actually problematic, and which bits of false information we need to stop repeating to one another. Read the rest

The (true) legend of Stagolee

The story of a deadly bar fight between a guy named Billy and a guy named Stagolee (or Stack Lee, or Stagger Lee) has worked its way into a broad swath of 20th-century music — from the blues of 1930s Southern prisoners, to Duke Ellington, to James Brown, to the Grateful Dead. At Davey D's Hip Hop History 101, Cecil Brown traces the true story behind the legend back to the red light district of St. Louis in 1895. Read the rest

Narrative long reads that make climate change make sense

Anecdotes aren't data, but they do make data memorable. Alice Bell has a list of books that use storytelling and narrative to explain the often complicated science of climate change. One of the books on the list — Spencer Weart's The Discovery of Global Warming — is an oft-recommended favorite of mine. If for no other reason than the fact that I like to see how people react when I explain that we have known about the science behind climate change since the 19th century. And if it didn't work the way we think it does, then Earth would be a cold wasteland, like Mars. (Bonus, Weart and the Institute of Physics have a fantastic website that delves deeper into Weart's sources and can help you do your own research and answer follow-up questions.) Read the rest

A fantastic story of a love affair with physics

"At its most base level, everything is nuts. So f#*$ it." In which a bartender from Queens becomes obsessed with theoretical physics. Read the rest

A must-read for anyone who wants to be less stupid

When it comes to discerning truth from myth, our enemy is ourselves — and ourselves really, Really, REALLY like to turn chance events into coherent narratives. (Via Kellan) Read the rest

How science turned into science fiction

Moran Cerf is a neuroscientist. In the video above, which Cory posted on Friday, he tells the story of how a paper he published in the journal Nature ended up getting him phone calls from Apple and invitations to appear with Christopher Nolan on the publicity tour for Inception. The problem: Nolan, Apple, and a lot of other people thought Cerf had figured out a way to record dreams. He hadn't. Not even close.

Cory's piece, and a link that Xeni sent me to the video, got me reading up on this case and I wanted to provide more of the scientific background—so you can see clearly what Cerf's research was really about and how the media got wrong. Back in 2010, Cerf and his colleagues were trying to figure out how humans look at a world cluttered with different faces, objects, smells, and sounds and manage to filter out the specific things we're interested in. What happens when I look at a messy desk and immediately focus in on one piece of paper? If there are two objects on the desk that are familiar to me, but only one of them really matters, how does my brain resolve the conflict and direct my attention in a single direction?

Turns out, at least under laboratory conditions, humans can filter out the important stuff by consciously controlling the firing of neurons in their own brains. Here's how Alison Abbott at Nature News described the research at the time:

In the last six years or so they have shown that single neurons can fire when subjects recognise — or even imagine — just one particular person or object.

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The mother of invention is teamwork

The Atlantic has a collection of stories, demonstrating how major inventions usually have more than one "Father". The stories we like to tell each other about one dude who had one great idea and changed the world are usually just that—stories. Reality is more complicated. For instance, the telegraph was invented by Samuel Morse ... and Charles Wheatstone, Sir William Fothergill Cooke, Edward Davy, and Carl August von Steinhiel. Pretty much all at the same time. Read the rest

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