Shared posts

23 Nov 19:00

There are way more gifted kids from disadvantaged backgrounds than we usually find

by Matthew Yglesias

Gifted and talented programs at most school districts that have them disproportionately feature kids from higher-income families. There are a lot of factors behind that, but new research from David Card and Laura Giuliano, who studied "one of the largest and most diverse" school districts in the nation (the actual district is anonymized), shows that a fairly simple administrative tweak can greatly close the gap.

Depressingly, however, the research also shows that even though the tweak was extremely successful, it was abandoned rapidly in the face of budgetary pressure, and all the gains for low-income kids have since been erased.

The rise and fall of low-income gifted kids

The basic story is that the district in question used to rely on an informal referral process wherein teachers would get certain first- and second-grade kids tested for admission to the gifted and talent program. Then the pool of recommended kids was narrowed by IQ testing as well as by evaluations for motivation, creativity, and adaptability. The district offered free IQ testing, but affluent parents also could (and did) pay for private psychologists to administer extra tests to kids whose parents wanted them to try again if they fell short.

 Card & Giuliano

The result, as you might expect, was a huge gap in the socioeconomic status of the admitted students.

Then, starting in 2006, the district changed the system. In addition to the informal referrals, it gave all second-graders an aptitude test and pushed everyone who met certain thresholds on to the next level of screening. This resulted in a small increase in the number of affluent students who qualified as gifted and talented and a large increase in the number of low-income G&T students. And it was all achieved without any relaxation in G&T standards. The number of Hispanic students increased by 130 percent and the number of black students by 80 percent.

A huge triumph!

But then it all unraveled in subsequent years. Universal screening meant conducting more IQ tests, and the extra 1,300 annual tests required money for overtime. When the recession hit, the school district starting cutting back overtime, and enrollment in the G&T program started to fall. In 2011, to save money, it eliminated universal screening entirely and went back to the old system that had systematically undercounted promising students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The result? Promising students from disadvantaged backgrounds are now just as undercounted as they were back in 2005, before the reform.

08 Nov 13:06

10,000 wax cylinders digititzed and free to download

by Cory Doctorow


The University of California at Santa Barbara library has undertaken an heroic digitization effort for its world-class archive of 19th and early 20th century wax cylinder recordings, and has placed over 10,000 songs online for anyone to download, stream and re-use. (more…)

05 Nov 15:55

3 Depressing Findings From A Huge New Study Of The Gender Pay Gap

by Bryce Covert

No matter their industry, education, or job level, women can expect to make less.

The post 3 Depressing Findings From A Huge New Study Of The Gender Pay Gap appeared first on ThinkProgress.

04 Nov 19:11

Foodborne Outbreaks: More Complex, Deadlier, Harder To Stop

by Maryn McKenna

The complex paths that ingredients take to become the foods we eat, and that foods follow to reach our plates, are creating foodborne disease outbreaks that occur in many places at once and are more common and more deadly than ever before.

That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released Tuesday at the same time that fast-casual chain Chipotle Mexican Grill is struggling with an outbreak of E. coli that has sickened 37 of it customers in several states. More than half of the deaths due to food that occurred in the United States between 2010 and 2014 came from multi-state food-related outbreaks, the CDC said. Overall, outbreaks that crossed state lines accounted for only 3 percent of the 4,163 food-related outbreaks the agency analyzed—but those outbreaks accounted for much more illness and death than usual, including 11 percent of the 71,747 food-related illnesses, 34 percent of the 4,247 hospitalizations, and 56 percent of the 118 deaths attributed to food.

Produce is the leading cause of outbreaks, the CDC said.
Produce is the leading cause of outbreaks, the CDC said.
Pixabay, CC

Such outbreaks are becoming more virulent: The multi-state outbreaks were more likely to be caused by Salmonella, Listeria or toxin-producing strains of E. coli, while outbreaks that were confined to individual states tended to be caused by the vomiting disease norovirus. They are also becoming more common: There were fewer than three per year between 1973 and 1980. The CDC said Tuesday that there are an average of 24 per year now.

“On average, there are about two (outbreaks) per month, and they can be big and they can be lethal,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in a briefing for reporters.

Frieden said the disease-detective agency hopes the food industry will work with federal officials to take more responsibility for delineating the complex processes that both assemble ingredients into finished foods and also distribute them through nationwide—sometimes worldwide—networks.

The Chipotle outbreak of pathogenic E. coli, which has affected customers in two states, sending 12 of them to hospitals, has led the chain to close 43 of its West Coast restaurants. The company is meeting with federal officials, according to Dr. Kathleen Gensheimer of the Food and Drug Administration, who shared the media briefing with Frieden.

Even the simplest foods can have astoundingly complex “supply chains.” In the graphic below, the European nonprofit Forest 500 traces the components of a burger, fries and packaging from a typical fast-food meal served in Europe, and identifies 75 different supply chains that escort the various ingredients through more than a dozen countries, sometimes traveling halfway around the world.

The nonprofit organization Forest 500 estimates that the ingredients and packaging for a typical burger (served in Europe) come from 75 supply chains.
The nonprofit organization Forest 500 estimates that the ingredients and packaging for a typical burger (served in Europe) come from 75 supply chains.
Graphic by Forest 500, original here.

And at the 2013 Digital Disease Detection conference in San Francisco, former military epidemiologist Amy Kircher, DrPH, director of the University of Minnesota’s Food Protection and Defense Institute, said the average American burger contains the products of 82 supply chains—and that importing those components opens a portal not just for naturally occurring diseases but for deliberate contamination as well.

The CDC sad Tuesday that 15 percent of complicated outbreaks over the past five years originated in imported food, mostly from Mexico and secondarily from Turkey. Fruit, nuts and seeds, fish and vegetables, and bagged salad mix were the main foreign culprits.

Frieden said the CDC is relying on the reorganization of federal food safety created by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA for short), which gave the FDA new tracking and enforcement powers, and aims to push the responsibility for detecting contaminated imports from the very limited federal workforce to foreign governments cooperating with the US.

But, as Helena B. Evich of Politico reported in an investigation published last July, the 2010 FSMA is effectively an unfunded mandate, all but abandoned by the administration that pushed so hard for its passage. The FDA, she said, is $276 million short of what it needs to implement the law’s sweeping changes and has not been able to implement any of the tough new rules it created.

Funding is the critical component that would allow federal food safety to peer into supply chains and keep such large outbreaks from occurring again, agreed Sandra Eskin, director of food safety at The Pew Charitable Trusts. She points out that, according to the CDC’s report,  fresh produce causes an ever-larger proportion of complex outbreaks, and that the unpredictable contamination that occurs in fields demands sophisticated, predictive responses that agencies can’t now afford.

“These outbreaks underscore the need for FDA’s new prevention-based safety standards for fruits and vegetables,” she said. “However, If FDA does not receive the funding necessary to effectively implement these standards, then consumers will continue to be sickened with foodborne illnesses that are largely preventable.”


15 Jul 15:59

If A Girl Isn’t Interested In Science, It’s Not Because She’s A Girl

by Melissa L. Bates

A woman using narrative to teach geometry? Gee golly, we didn't know it was possible.

Illustration from a 14th century copy of Euclid's Elementa. via the British Library (Wikimedia Commons)

I think a lot about the reasons I became a scientist. There are so many aspects of science that I adore. I love the feeling of having new data to pour over. I love analysis and statistics and creating mathematical models to explain my findings. I love tinkering with equipment in the laboratory. I love soldering and wiring and getting my hands dirty. I love generating new hypotheses and testing them, and I love to harass my fellow scientists about whether their experiments contain the proper controls. There is no doubt that I find joy and fulfillment in the technical aspects of my job.

But, as I work to establish a new lab at a new university, where I will lead a group of scientists in making their own discoveries, I am aware that my job will involve more than just data collection and technical work. My new job will rely heavily on my ability to be an effective teacher, communicator, and fundraiser. I am excited to be starting this new adventure, but traveling this path hasn’t been easy, especially as a woman scientist. I am painfully aware of the limited number of women in my field. That’s why it seriously chaps my hide when someone suggests that the reason there are so few senior women in science is because there is something inherent to our biology that makes us unsuited for these careers.

In her recent article “If a girl isn’t interested in science, don’t force her to be,” Telegraph columnist Mary Kenny claims that women are inherently less interested in science. Science, she argues, is based in fact and the “laboratory testing of elements,” career features that interest men alone. Women, meanwhile, are interested in careers where the story or narrative is important and the job is centered around people; “biography, psychology and language” are a few of the career examples she gives. This fundamental difference between men and women deters women from science careers, she concludes.

What Kenny misunderstands is that science is narrative. If she believes that women’s sole interest in narrative is what keeps them out of science, then her article only highlights how out of touch she is with modern science. In fact, I would expect that if a love for narrative were the critical factor determining women’s success in science, women should be excelling. Yet they are leaving science disproportionately. Women don’t leave science en masse as girls. They leave after they’ve received all of their technical training and have put in years of commitment to their fields. They leave when they reach the narrative part of their career.

As a new professor and group leader, my primary job is the narrative. Although I’ve had more than a decade of technical training from biologists, engineers, and surgeons, the majority of my time is now spent mentoring students and helping them find the story in their data so that we can communicate their findings to others. I believe it is critical to teach these younger scientists to find their narrative and to tell their story flawlessly. Importantly, because research dollars are becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain, the success of my research program depends on my ability to craft a convincing narrative. If I want to keep my research afloat, my narrative skills are critical in convincing funding agencies to support our work.

However, my use of the narrative is not born purely of necessity. I love telling people about our work, especially non-scientists. In one of my favorite experiments, which we recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, we studied a group of adults that were born as preemies in the late 1990’s. These folks looked and acted completely normal when we met them—but when we stressed them by giving them low oxygen to breathe, they responded completely abnormally. Unlike our subjects that had been born full-term, they didn’t increase their breathing to compensate for the low oxygen. This novel finding certainly has consequences for future problems they may develop as they age. Not only did we make sure to communicate this to our physician and scientist colleagues by publishing our work, but I also spent a lot of time talking to members of the media about our findings and explaining why our future work is so important.

Women face bigger challenges than our biology and our nature. We still receive unequal pay as faculty, have to make headway in a system that favors an “old boy’s network”, we tend to doubt our abilities more and ask for less, our careers are their most vulnerable during our childbearing years, and our training requires frequent, long distance moves. There are so many factors that keep women from advancing in science, none of which is our love for a good yarn. While Kenny’s hypothesis about the lack of narrative keeping women out of science is provocative, it’s based in a fictional world. If we want to create a narrative about women leaving science, let’s ground it in reality.

Melissa L. Bates, PhD
University of Wisconsin, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine and
The John Rankin Laboratory of Pulmonary Medicine

01 Aug 14:00

Turn a Shoe Rack into a Toy Car Wall Garage

by Melanie Pinola

If you’re a parent whose kid likes toy cars, you’ve probably got toy car clutter. A cheap, DIY solution to ditch that clutter: A shoe rack.


02 Jul 12:58

Social networking illusion makes things look falsely popular

by Rob Beschizza

Things we perceive to be virally popular online are often not. Sometimes we fall victim to an illusion emerging from the nature of social networking that makes rare things seem common. Read the rest

23 Oct 12:34

Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century, in 20 minutes

by Cory Doctorow

Piketty's bestselling economics book is seismic, a vital infusion of data into the ideological debate over economics -- but it's also 700 pages long. Read the rest

30 Oct 15:41

Color palette generator for designers in a hurry

by Andrea James

Coolors is "the super fast color scheme generator for cool designers." Just hit the space bar to see a new palette, and get inspired. Read the rest

04 Nov 15:35

Supreme Court disinterest leaves Sherlock Holmes firmly in the public domain

by Ivan Hernandez

After the US Supreme Court declined to hear the Conan Doyle estate's appeal in a case against author Leslie Klinger, the character of Sherlock Holmes has been firmly entrenched in the public domain. Read the rest
11 Oct 12:37

GME! Anime Fun Time Episode #06 – Princess Jellyfish

by gooberzilla


September has come and gone, but let’s all pretend this was published on time. It’s the sixth episode of GME! Anime Fun Time, in which Clarissa and Gerald of Anime World Order join me to talk about Princess Jellyfish. Topics of discussion include embarrassing real-life otaku experiences, in-group vs. out-group behavior, the way perception and self-image shape social interactions, and whether there is an intrinsically gendered component to the concept of character growth. CLICK HERE or on the promotional image above to download our review of the show.


jellyfish princess_president_chiba

We sort of forgot to mention that Kuranosuke’s uncle (that’s him on the left) is the Prime Minister of Japan.

06 Oct 12:12

Survey of women who left tech: "it's the culture"

by Rob Beschizza

Fortune's Kieran Snyder surveyed women who left tech, and finds that "the industry’s culture is the primary culprit, not any issues related to science education." Read the rest

25 Jul 12:30

This Free MIT Photojournalism Course Helps You Take Meaningful Photos

by Alan Henry

This Free MIT Photojournalism Course Helps You Take Meaningful Photos

We highlight a number of free online courses in our Lifehacker U series, but this free course from MIT on documentary photography and photojournalism is completely free, open to the public, and will teach you to improve your photography skills, even if you're not trying to catch a scoop.


21 Jul 14:45

Seriously, Fuck You, "Kindle Unlimited"

by Maria Bustillos
by Maria Bustillos

0y1FZ1pZjopvtctnlyX0BUDro1_1280Last week, Amazon informed us that for ten dollars per month, Kindle users can have unlimited access to over six hundred thousand books in its library. But it shouldn't cost a thing to borrow a book, Amazon, you foul, horrible, profiteering enemies of civilization.

For a monthly cost of zero dollars, it is possible to read six million e-texts at the Open Library, right now. On a Kindle, or any other tablet or screen thing. You can borrow up to five titles for two weeks at no cost, and read them in-browser or in any of several other formats (not all titles are supported in all formats, but most offer at least a couple): PDF, .mobi, Kindle or ePub (you'll need to download the Bluefire Reader—for free—in order to read ePub format on Kindle.) I currently have on loan Alan Moore's Watchmen, Original Sin by P.D. James, and The Dead Zone by Stephen King.

Perhaps you would prefer to download books onto your Kindle, and keep them there permanently. In that case, please hie yourself over to Project Gutenberg, which has been offering free public domain e-texts since 1971. There, you may download any of over forty-five thousand books onto your Kindle. Or one of thousands of Librivox audiobook recordings made by volunteers, all in the public domain. (R.I.P. Michael Hart, founder of Project Gutenberg and one of the Internet's greatest benefactors.)

You can do anything you like with the public domain books and recordings you download from Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive: Make a literary Girl Talk-type mashup with them, hide Satanic messages in there via "backmasking," make letterpress reprints of the books and illuminate them by hand with gold leaf like a medieval monk and sell the results on Etsy. It's all free and legal. That is what "public domain" means. (By the bye, I wrote to the PR contact supplied by Amazon in the subject press release, and asked how many of these six hundred thousand titles offered through Kindle Unlimited are in the public domain and therefore, already free to the public, but did not receive an answer.)

Are you interested in borrowing the most recent titles? Perhaps you belong to a public library. I live in Los Angeles, and am a grateful and loyal patron of the Los Angeles Public Library, and of all the lucky things in this world, I live about ten minutes' drive away from our gloriously beautiful and fantastic main library downtown. But maybe I don't feel like driving ten minutes—in which case I can use my Kindle to check out e-books from the library, zillions of them. There are all different e-book programs, such as OverDrive, and countless recent popular books to check out, including Insurgent, which is the sequel to that daft Divergent book. (I saw the movie on the plane, I don't know! I can't help myself.)

Maria Bustillos is a writer and critic in Los Angeles. She also started an auction site for rare books, once upon a dot com.


The post Seriously, Fuck You, "Kindle Unlimited" appeared first on The Awl.

10 Jul 13:22

Star Trek Mirror Mirror beach towel

by Cory Doctorow

The Star Trek Mirror Mirror beach towel ($20) features Juan Ortiz's retro-art celebrating one of the greatest classic Star Trek episodes, and the origin of the evil-twin/goatee trope.

05 Jul 14:00

Noisetrade Collects Free and Legal Ebooks and Music

by Dave Greenbaum

Noisetrade Collects Free and Legal Ebooks and Music

Although we've covered many ways of getting free books and music before, Noisetrade has a huge selection of both—and it's all legal.


29 Jun 14:00

Contribution Explorer Shows Who Is Contributing to Politicians

by Dave Greenbaum

Contribution Explorer Shows Who Is Contributing to Politicians

If you've ever wondered who contributed to your Congressional delegation, you could use public records to look it up. Brian Clifton has created a web site that will do all that looking up for you.


27 Jun 06:47

Cyber-crooks turn to Bitcoin extortion

by Cory Doctorow

Security journalist Brian Krebs documents a string of escalating extortion crimes perpetrated with help from the net, and proposes that the growth of extortion as a tactic preferred over traditional identity theft and botnetting is driven by Bitcoin, which provides a safe way for crooks to get payouts from their victims. Read the rest

27 Jun 07:13

Publishers offer free/discounted ebooks of the print books you own with Bitlit

by Cory Doctorow

I'll have to try this out to see if the particular service works, but this sort of free or extra cheap access to digital versions of stuff you bought physically is a thing that should happen.

Bitlit works with publishers to get you free or discounted access to digital copies of books you own in print: you use the free app (Android/Ios) to take a picture of the book's copyright page with your name printed in ink, and the publisher unlocks a free or discounted ebook version.

Read the rest
24 Jun 13:34

How to make those disgusting, disneyland smoked turkey legs

by Jason Weisberger

Attention Gerald


Amazing Ribs offers this recipe for making festival-style smoked turkey legs. Unnaturally, there is some additive to get that gross color: Prague powder.

24 Jun 14:15

That Big Study About How the Student Debt Nightmare Is in Your Head? It's Garbage

by Choire Sicha
by Choire Sicha

The worries are exaggerated: Only 7% of young adults with student debt have $50,000 or more.

— David Leonhardt (@DLeonhardt) June 24, 2014

Doesn't that sound like a fact? Well, it's something that might be a fact.

The Brookings Institute Institution (!!!) is here to tell you that the whole fable of debt-panicked young people in America is a lie! And their study comes complete with a huge announcement in the New York Times, which puts a rather snide slant on the whole thing. It's all in your head, millennials! "Only 7 percent of young-adult households with education debt have $50,000 or more of it," summarizes the Times up top. (There's a quiet and enormous caveat in that sentence, which we'll get to shortly!)

But then they must backtrack from this tale a bit:

The first thing to acknowledge is that student debt has risen over the last two decades. In 2010, 36 percent of households with people between the ages of 20 and 40 had education debt, up from 14 percent in 1989. The median amount of debt—among those with debt—more than doubled, to $8,500 from $3,517, after adjusting for inflation.

So let's see: people with college debt saw their debt double, and also the number of those households with debt more than doubled. That is not exactly undermining this supposedly fake narrative of the increase of student debt! What's more, the Times notes, tuition and fees at public colleges are up 50% in the last ten years.

Then they must come to this graph.

Do you see where that says "based on households with people between 20 to 40 years old with at least some education debt"? That's actually quite a bit of a fudge!

What's the deal with these numbers? GLAD YOU ASKED. It's not what it sounds like!

• Those aren't households with people between 20 and 40; those are households headed by people between 20 and 40. Which is to say, this data excludes all people living in households headed by, say, their parents, or other adults. The way Brookings put this is: "households led by adults between the ages of 20 and 40." Just another way to say it excludes all households led by anyone over 40! (Those households might be identical in student debt to "young" households! Or they might not? WHO KNOWS!)

• One effect of this age spread sample is that it includes college graduates from up to almost 20 years ago. This is literally not at all a study of college graduates of the last five years, or even ten years. We're talking about people up to the age of 40, well into Gen X.

• Also, in this survey, when there are multiple people in the household, the Brookings Institution simply divided the amount of college debt by number of people in the household. So one person's $20,000 college debt becomes two people's $10,000 college debt. This works out mathematically, of course, but not structurally.

• And finally: The number of the people making up this data is quite small.

Where does it come from? GLAD YOU ASKED.

All this data comes from the Survey of Consumer Finances, which is conducted by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Department of Treasury. It takes place every three years, since 1983. It samples about 4500 households in the U.S., usually, but recently expanded to 6500 households. And this isn't new data; this is the data from their 2010 survey. (The 2013 survey will be published in 2015.)

Of all the households in that study, only about 1711 have "household heads" that are younger than 40. That's what they're extrapolating from. (And, intriguingly, a small number of those have a head of household younger than 18.) This is not a big sample!

What, obviously, does this data completely omit? Well, one obvious thing is… households who are headed by someone who is not under 40. One thing we know is that, in 2012, 36% of Americans aged 18 to 31 were not their head of household, because they were living with their families.

This survey also clearly combines family and non-family households. (Also, there's some unknown amount of statistical imbalance from same-sex households; 31% of same-sex households are likely to have two college-degreed people, compared to 24% of opposite-sex married households and just 12% of opposite-sex cohabitating households.)

And finally… this survey is, essentially, of rich people. No, literally!

We apply survey weights throughout the analysis so that the results are representative of the U.S.
population of households. The use of survey weights is particularly important in the SCF because
the sample design oversamples high-income households to properly measure the full distribution of
wealth and assets in the United States. This high-income sample makes up approximately 25 percent of
households in the SCF.

Literally what they are saying there is that the information on which they are basing a sweeping assessment of American student loan debt is based on a sample in which 25% of those surveyed were "high-income households." This is insane. (Update: I wanted to clarify that I get it that they are weighting this over-representation down to represent the population at large; that's not my beef, entirely. Mostly I think it shows a further weakness in their non-rich sample at large.)

Here's a fun footnote in the actual Brookings Institution report:

These statistics are based on households that had education debt, annual wage income of at least $1,000,
and that were making positive monthly payments on student loans. Between 24 and 36 percent of
borrowers with wage income of at least $1,000 were not making positive monthly payments, likely due
to use of deferment and forbearance….

So… they… set aside as much as 1/3rd of people in the survey sample because they weren't paying off their student debt. That's an intriguing class of debtors, don't you think? They claim that dismissing these people from the sample did not "qualitatively alter the pattern of results reported above"; so why dismiss them at all?

It's shocking that the Times presents this survey in this way. This study does actually tell us things! It's not actually a pack of lies. It just doesn't tell us necessarily what people are saying it's telling us. And no one of course will actually read the whole survey, so its repackaging will now enter the narrative, thanks to bloggers….

Great @dleonhardt piece on research by @chingos and @bethakersed suggesting the sky isn't falling on student debt

— Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt) June 24, 2014

The new DC parlor game: Find some random economic or social shift. Blame it on student loan debt. Ignore data. Repeat yourself. Meme started

— Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) June 24, 2014

… and professional policy wonks alike. And that's a huge disservice.


I wanted to specifically call attention to this criticism at Quartz, which actually… doesn't really disagree with anything either here or in the report. It's full of good points, but what it's not is any kind of defense of either the Brookings Institution study or of the marketing of that study. Saying that it's a small-ish percentage of debt-havers that are carrying massive amounts of debt isn't controversial or unreasonable. It's actually probable! But presenting a definitive landscape of America's student debt based on heavily sampled data most recently updated in 2010 and heavily weighted to "reflect" America as a whole is lot less useful. (Have we not been through this on a daily basis with the Huffington Post Science section, after all?)


The post That Big Study About How the Student Debt Nightmare Is in Your Head? It's Garbage appeared first on The Awl.

15 Jun 20:00

The Best Things to Buy at Whole Foods for Better Value

by Dave Greenbaum

The Best Things to Buy at Whole Foods for Better Value

We've already covered what some of the best buys are at Costco and Trader Joe's , but another popular shopping destination is Whole Foods. Believe it or not, some items are cheaper at Whole Foods when compared with other stores.


12 Jun 21:00

The bell hooks Hotline: For When You'd Rather Not Give Out Your Number

by Emma Carmichael
by Emma Carmichael

An anonymous angel from New York delivered a wonderful public service today: "a phone line that automatically reads quotations from bell hooks." From our savior, via email:

The idea came to me after the NYPost printed bikini photos of the woman who "spurned" Elliot Rodgers. Despite the fact that she was only 10 years old at the time they met, she was portrayed as having romantically rejected Rodgers.

The idea is to pass that off as one's own number if you're in a dicey situation, afraid to give out your personal cell phone number or outright reject somebody. The number is 669-221-6251. (We originally wanted 669/UGH-ASIF, but it was taken…)

It will automatically respond to text messages as well as calls! That way, you don't have to deal with a threatening person, *and* they get some free feminist lessons thrown in.

We are thinking of putting up a gmail account too, which would automatically respond with "Thank you for your note. However, I am away on vacation — from the patriarchy."

Give it a try, and then promptly memorize the number: 669-221-6251. [Feminist Phone Intervention, screengrab via Bitch Media]

15 Jun 06:24

Last Unicorn clothes

by Cory Doctorow

Zack writes, "From the horse's mouth, so to speak (read: author Peter S. Beagle): A line of clothes based on Beagle's classic fantasy novel, memorably adapted as a 1982 animated film and an IDW graphic novel. If you've ever wanted 'Schmendrick Leggings,' or a 'Red Bull Poncho Tank,' now's your chance.

The Last Unicorn (Thanks, Zack!) Read the rest

06 Jun 14:44

Bosch's 600 year old butt-music from hell

by Cory Doctorow

Robbo writes, "My friend, SF author J.M. Frey, posted this curious thing she found where a detail in Hieronymus Bosch's painting 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' features musical notation inscribed on some dude's ass. Of course, someone has taken the time to transcribe these notes and have now presented to the interwebs a piano interpretation of the 600 Year Old Butt Music From Hell of Hieronymous Bosch. Feel free to gavotte along." Read the rest

05 Jun 15:01

Harvard admits to owning book bound in human skin

by Bryan Alexander

Harvard University's libraries own at least one book bound in human skin, they allow.  Arsène Houssaye's Des destinées de l'ame underwent a series of forensic tests, and the conclusion was anthropodermic bibliopegy:

“The analytical data, taken together with the provenance of Des destinées de l’ame, make it very unlikely that the source could be other than human...”

This note helps clarify the story.

Here's the book's front cover:


Let's take a closer look, shall we? Book_boundinhumanskin_Haavaad_closeup

Such fine texture. What a surface! Sometimes beauty is skin deep.

(thanks to Jesse Walker, Steven Kaye, and other Infocult ghouls)

05 Jun 23:00

LEGO Figures Make Perfect Cable Holders

by Melanie Pinola

Sadly I think this will only work for device charging cables and not a lot of PC cables (like monitor or desktop power cables) but still. Most adorable cable management yet.

LEGO Figures Make Perfect Cable Holders

Who knew that LEGO designed their figures' hands perfectly to hold Apple lightning and other types of cables? Stick a LEGO brick on your desk, attach LEGO figure(s), and, voilà, an ingenious cord-catching solution.


06 Jun 13:50

HBO's Historical Revisionism

by John Herrman
by John Herrman

Congratulations to Game of Thrones and its infinitely frustrating creator: The show is now the "most popular series in HBO’s history." That's an average audience 18.4 million compared to 18.2 for The Sopranos.

Speaking of history! HBO has a strange sense of its own. The network has, for the last ten years, minimized its pre-Sopranos existence as much as possible, full as it was with late night softcore porn and of-the-moment comedy specials. Now, with HBO Go, the company has been given a chance to fully rewrite its story, and it has taken it: The "All Series" section of HBO Go presents what looks and feels like an exhaustive look back at HBO's original programming history (Little Britain USA is right there next to The Wire). The popular series you're looking for is probably there. There's porn and boxing and documentaries and children's programming. The network's rotating lineup of movies gets a section, as does HBO Latino.

But "All Series" does not mean "All Series," or anything close. The further back you go, the thinner things get relative to HBO's actual catalog, until there's almost nothing at all (there seems to be an unofficial soft cutoff at about… Oz). This is intuitive enough: Potential viewership for 1st & Ten is low, and rights issues seem like they would be more complicated over time—I mean, I don't know, if some HBO executive said these things to me I would think, ok, sure, that explains why there's no Tales From The Crypt on my Apple TV. But a lot of the network's older shows are genuinely interesting, both as entertainment and as curiosities. I'd love to revisit Tanner ’88, maybe, for an episode or two! (I suppose I can, but only on Hulu Plus or DVD.) I would also like to take a look at Dream On, the show that gave us the ubiquitous HBO static intro. The Larry Sanders Show certainly holds up well: I know because I watched the entire thing on Netflix, from which it has since been removed, and then began watching it again on Amazon before it was removed from that, too. Amazon recently inked a fresh deal with HBO, which seems to mirror HBO Go's content, but which does not include Larry Sanders. Garry Shandling has been written out of HBO's past.

And what about Mr. Show? Here's what its creators said about the show's exclusion from Go in a q&a last year:

(Bob here) HBO has a hate-hate relationship with the show.
(Brian here) They are not aware that we did the show.
(David, back) They hate having to google Mr. Show.

A legitimate cult classic! But again, these are shows from the before times, pre-David Chase and prior to cable's prestige programming rush. It is not unusual for old shows from any network to be sent to the licensing and syndication glue factory for processing and extraction. HBO's treatment of more recent shows, however, is outright revisionist. Luck, which was available as it was airing on HBO Go, has been removed. There's no John From Cincinnati (though David Milch can still revisit old episodes of Deadwood, if he wants). Funny or Die Presents has been pulled, as has The Life and Times of Tim. HBO is actively curating Go like some sort of premium cable dating profile: Carnivale wasn't there and then it was; In Treatment just showed up one day, mysteriously, just like Tell Me You Love Me. Pulled shows exist in HBO Go's search results, but any attempt to watch them returns an "Unknown Error."

This is always what happens when data gets vacuumed up into some new app or service, even the ones that imply completeness; Google does not actually "organize the world's information;" Wikipedia is a great summary of information about the world that was already on the internet; Spotify and iTunes are staggering resources with no deliberate sense of history or context. The Kindle library is arbitrarily selective but purports, or at least feigns, to serve as the be-all, end-all of words on pages.

But HBO can do whatever it wants, all it has to do is digitize and host its own shows. It's a TV network's job to figure out what to write out of its future, not what to delete from its past. Give us the bad stuff with the good! HBO, own your turds! They're better than most of what's on Netflix, anyway, and I'm getting tired of clicking.


The post HBO's Historical Revisionism appeared first on The Awl.

02 Jun 16:30

How to Make a Good Salad Without Dumb Leaves

by Dan Nosowitz
by Dan Nosowitz

kaaaaaaleWhen someone says salad, your first thought is probably a bunch of leaves, like lettuce or spinach or kale, plus some other stuff, and a dressing. Here’s the thing about the word “salad”: it means nothing. It doesn’t mean something cold; it doesn’t mean something raw; it doesn’t mean something with lots of different ingredients; it doesn’t mean something vegetable-based; and it CERTAINLY doesn’t mean a pile of leaves.

Leaves, even the stronger-tasting ones, are filler. No one has ever once thought, “Dang, this salad is good, but it’d be more good with more lettuce in it.” This idea of a leafy salad is perpetuated by make-your-own-salad joints that ask you to pick which kind of leaves you want. Do you want the spinach? How about the baby spring mix? Have you ever said “no leaves, thanks?” THIS WILL FLUMMOX MOST SALAD-MAKERS.

But there are a lot of reasons to ban leaves from salads! They go bad quickly, forcing you to consistently throw out half of each bag of salad greens you buy; they wilt even once they’re in the salad; they cannot be kept as leftovers, ever, since they rapidly turn into slimy organic compost. Also, making your salad consist of anywhere from thirty to sixty per cent leaves really limits your creativity. So let us forgo leaves. Let us not require our salads to rely on our least-favorite ingredient. Let us shape our own salad destiny.

Here are some good leaf-free summer salads.

1. Some version of a som tam salad.
Som tam is a Thai salad consisting of green, unripe papaya as its base. Other essential ingredients include peanuts and a lime/fish sauce dressing. Here is a good recipe. But it, like all salad recipes, is flexible. If you can’t find green papaya (I usually cannot!), you can substitute pretty much anything that’s crunchy and mild. Cucumber, zucchini, summer squash, sugar snap peas, and green beans all work very well when raw or very lightly cooked. You can substitute brown sugar for palm sugar, sambal oelek for fresh chili, and omit the dried shrimp if you can’t find any. The dressing—savory from the fish sauce, tart from the lime juice, sweet from the sugar, and spicy from the chili—is PERFECT. It can be hard to go back to vinaigrettes after you’ve made it. Note: this can also be done as a stir-fry (AKA “hot salad”): stir-fry some garlic, ginger, scallions, and chili in the bottom of a wok, add peanuts, then add in whatever (non-cucumber/mango) vegetable you’re using. Top with the same dressing.

2. Israeli salad
Israeli salad can and should only be made in the summertime, when you can get good tomatoes. Do not make this with bad tomatoes! If you do you’ll eat it and be like “IDK that was fine, I guess.” At its core, it is very simple: chopped tomato, cucumber, red onion, and parsley, with lemon juice and olive oil. But you can add lots of things to it: chickpeas for protein or feta cheese for salt and creaminess or bits of toasted pita chips for more crunch are both very good. This recipe recommends adding sumac. I’ve never done that, but sumac is good as heck; maybe I’ll try it and maybe you should too.

ceez3. Non-leaf Caesar salad
Caesar salad is, like, really delicious, if it’s done right. That anchovy-mustardy-lemony dressing is pretty amazing. So don’t ruin it by dumping it on some dumb Romaine lettuce that can never really appreciate its charms. Caesars are great with pretty much any raw vegetable, but right now is asparagus season, so let’s do that! Here’s a good recipe.

tatoes 4. Potato salad
I like the supermarket jugs of near-mashed mayo-y picnic salads as much as anyone, and I appreciate that potato salad has no leaves, but I think—as with coleslaw—that a vinegar-based dressing makes for a better, more refreshing, less-likely-to-make-you-feel-like-you’re-gonna-ralph salad than mayonnaise. Mark Bittman has a good recipe for a potato salad with a mustard vinaigrette, which I have tried and which is excellent. This salad is also good with pickled red onion/shallot.

5. Celeriac remoulade
This is a Jurassic-era French recipe, the kind of thing Julia Child would make and that I feel like you’d have a hard time finding in Paris today. I first had it in Montreal, where they still serve a lot of these old-ass uncool French dishes, and MAN IT IS DELICIOUS. Celeriac, or celery root, is the, um, root of the celery plant. It looks like a dumb idiot gnarled cancerous root system, but if you cut away all that nonsense and peel it, it turns out to be this fragrant delicious root vegetable that’s reminiscent of, but not quite like, celery. Celeriac remoulade calls for raw, grated celeriac, plus a very sour mayonnaise (the sourness coming from mustard and lemon juice). It’s kind of like French coleslaw! Here’s a good recipe.

berrybro6. Fruit salad
I LOVE FRUIT SALAD. Never ever buy a fruit salad. Always make your own fruit salad. If you make your own fruit salad, you will never again eat cantaloupe or honeydew with the flavor and texture of a raw Idaho potato. You are garbage, prepackaged fruit salad melon! Get in the garbage! Anyway, the key to fruit salad is to not be lazy. Don’t put a segment of orange or grapefruit in there with the pith or skin still on it. Supreme your citrus. Do not put whole strawberries in there; trim and slice them. Fruit salad should have a dressing, and it should have fresh herbs, like chopped-up basil and/or mint. Always. It’s also good to squeeze a little bit of lime juice and maybe some honey over the top to add some extra kick. As for ingredients, I don’t care, add literally whatever you want, but try to have a variety of flavors and textures. If you have something sweet and soft, like a banana, try to add something crunchy and tart, like a Granny Smith apple. Also, avocado is a fruit. Add it to fruit salad! Especially if you have grapefruit in there too.

7. Chana chaat
Chana chaat is an Indian chickpea salad, although I don’t think they refer to it as a salad? it seems like a salad to me. Anyway, chana chaat is basically chickpeas with a dressing, often with tamarind. This recipe is pretty good, although obviously you can use canned chickpeas and cumin powder (instead of toasting and grinding whole cumin seeds). Sure, it’d be better if you made your own chaat masala spice blend with whole spices and sure it’d be better if you used asafoetida (a spice which smells like actual poop), but, like, you don’t need to. Mostly this salad is about the chickpeas and the tamarind dressing, which is spicy and sour and sweet all at once. (Tamarind paste can be found in Indian and Mexican markets or Whole Foods, obvs.) I’d recommend adding a few things to this recipe (not leaves!), like sliced radish or cucumber or carrot or cauliflower for some crunch, and maybe some boiled potatoes because potatoes are good.

Armed with these recipes you can go forth and ENJOY your salad, rather than just eating it because it’s salad and you’re supposed to eat it to look thin and beautiful even though it looks and tastes like something you raked up. Eat good salads! Leave Leaves Behind!

Dan Nosowitz is a freelance writer/editor who lives in Brooklyn. He has serious opinions about the MTV Real World/Road Rules Challenge.

Photos by Dwight Sipler, Young Sok Yun, Lynn Gardner, Jacqueline, tracy benjamin, Daniel, madlyinlovewithlife, and Garrett Ziegler, respectively, via Flickr Creative Commons


The post How to Make a Good Salad Without Dumb Leaves appeared first on The Awl.

29 May 20:11

Google offers new tool to confirm that your ISP sucks at video

by Xeni Jardin

Does YouTube stutter and buffer poorly when you try to stream a video? If you're in the USA, check out Google's new Video Quality Report, in which major internet service providers are ranked on the quality of their YouTube stream delivery.

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