Shared posts

29 May 09:54

Why the subway isn’t getting a move on already

by Nathan Yau

Subway Delay story

You're headed to the subway platform and you hear a train coming. The warm musty air that blows directly into your nostrils is near. So you speed up your steps. Oh forget it, who are you trying to impress? You run to make sure you get to the platform. Yes, you made it! You hop on with your heart rate up a few beats. Nice.

But the doors stay open.

The train isn't moving.

What gives? ARGH.

Of course, there's a perfectly logical explanation. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority provides a scenario in 8-bit format.

As we've seen, it doesn't take much to throw off the schedule of a transportation system. Sometimes the weird delay you experience is just the system trying to make things better overall. [Thanks, @reconbot]

Tags: subway, transportation

26 May 16:05

crystalpools: wuqs: please look at this entire page This is...


So much laughing.



please look at this entire page


This is the first time the Internet has really made me laugh out loud since my oral surgery ten days ago.

Thanks, Internet.

15 May 08:08


by Ben Hutchings


I made this as a present for my sister Sarah’s birthday but then it took me 7 months to finish.

12 May 14:44

Which country has the most venomous animals? (Hint - not...

Which country has the most venomous animals? (Hint - not Canada.) (map by redditor lanson15)

19 May 09:53

This Is How Lesbians Have Sex


It's buzzfeed but pretty funny! Also a little bit NSFW.

17 May 22:40

Set the budgies free! Indian Courts find for the birds

by Bob Gosford

Further to a landmark decision of the Indian Supreme Court in May 2014, the High Court in Delhi has found that birds have the fundamental right to “live with dignity” and fly in the sky without being kept in cages or subjected to cruelty, Delhi High Court has said while holding that running their trade was a “violation of their rights”. As reported in The Indian Express, birds have:

… the fundamental right to “live with dignity” and fly in the sky without being kept in cages or subjected to cruelty, Delhi High Court has said while holding that running their trade was a “violation of their rights”. Justice Manmohan Singh expressed anguish that instead of being allowed to fly free, they were “exported illegally to foreign countries without availability of proper food, water or medical aid”.

This case follows a 2011 decision in the High Court in Gujarat where Justice M R Shah emphasised the importance of fundamental rights of the birds to fly in the open sky. Criticising the manner in which the birds were kept, the court observed that “Nobody has a right to inflict pain or suffering to others, including animals and birds. To keep birds in cages would be tantamount to illegal confinement of the birds, which is in violation of right of the birds to live in free air and sky.””

In May 2014 the Indian Supreme Court banned the popular post-harvest Jallikattu (taming the bull) or bullfights in Tamil Nadu and bullock-cart racing in Maharashtra, Punjab and other states, saying they violated provisions of the 50-year-old Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Significantly, the court favoured constitutional status for rights of animals similar to those enjoyed by (human) citizens, saying that “Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honour.”

08 May 13:22

Original illustrations by Tebe Interesno

by abvh

Original illustrations by Tebe Interesno

22 Apr 17:27

What plane seating would look like, laid out on the basis of the U.S. income distribution

by Chris Blattman

As I boarded a flight last night, I tweeted that airline boarding is the new caste system.

It could be worse. Suresh Naidu pointed me to Kieran Healy’s terrific illustration of the Air Gini. Here’s what seating in an Airbus A330-300 would look like if space were proportional to the US income distribution:


If there were more than three classes, I have to imagine the people in the back would be sitting four to a seat.

The post What plane seating would look like, laid out on the basis of the U.S. income distribution appeared first on Chris Blattman.

17 Apr 15:08

theWAREHOUSE comic 944 – Epithet Epitath

by carlh


He’s got me dead to rights.

16 Apr 23:55

So books get on your mark and spark that old censorship. Drats and double drats, I smiggedy-smacked the weekend.

by ben
22 Apr 22:50

say anything

by kris


yeah. we were happy once. but that was a long time ago

22 Apr 16:21

jennipoos: kungfucarrie: thessalian:oracleanne:good-night-white...






Really happy to see this at my local library

OOOOH. *happy YA librarian dance*

I want this in every library, everywhere. After all, some kids won’t even google this stuff because they don’t want parents/siblings checking their browser history.

This is really awesome. And if you’re not familiar with how the Dewey Decimal system works - the numbers subject-based, which means these numbers are applicable in EVERY library. So if you see something you want to research on this list - look for those same numbers in any of your local libraries.

Libraries!  The best.

Libraries AND librarians = the best!

01 May 18:58

The Night CafeVR experience by Mac Cauley recreates scenes and...

The Night Cafe

VR experience by Mac Cauley recreates scenes and objects from paintings by artist Vincent Van Gogh for you to explore. The work is a submission for the Oculus VR Jam:

What did the world look like through Van Gogh’s eyes? Enter into his painting to find out.

More Here

14 Apr 07:02

It’s All Greek (or Chinese or Spanish or…) to Me

by Nathan Yau


In English, there's an idiom that notes confusion: "It's all Greek to me." Other languages have similar sayings, but they don't use Greek as their point of confusion, and of course — there's a Wikipedia page for that. Mark Liberman graphed the relationships several years ago, but the table on Wikipedia references more languages now. So I messed around with it a bit.

"Chinese" is the leading point of confusion, then Spanish and Greek, and then you just move out from there. Languages with lighter border and towards the edges don't have any other languages that point to them.

Obviously the Wikipedia page isn't comprehensive, but hey, it was fun to poke at.

Tags: language

09 Apr 10:34

A tall graphic to show Mt. Everest scale

by Nathan Yau

Mt Everest scale

Mt. Everest is a tall mountain. How tall is it?? Glad you asked. The Washington Post has a tall scrolling graphic to help you understand the scale of the world's tallest mountain. But, instead of scrolling down the page, the scroller takes you to the bottom of the mountain first and against all preconceived notions of scrolling on the internet, you scroll up. Gasp.

Tags: Mt. Everest, scale, Washington Post

28 Mar 11:37

Every TV News Report on the Economy Ever

by Alex Tabarrok

Hat tip: Daniel Altman.

04 Apr 13:52


by Victor Mair

A month ago, we studied the enigma of "Anti-mouth-bowls" (3/1/15).  It was Jan Söhlke who had sent me a photograph of what were labeled "Anti-Mund-Schuessel" ("anti-mouth-bowl").  He mentioned that the same Viennese shop had other bowls with equally mystifying names and promised to go back and take pictures of them.  Jan has now delivered on his promise by sending the following photographs:


German translation of the Chinese:  "Anti-Rand Schuessel"

English translation of the German:  "anti-edge / rim bowl"

Chinese:  fǎnkǒu wǎn 反口碗

English translation of the Chinese:  "bowl with everted rim; flare-rimmed bowl"

Notes:  Is the German trying to say "bowl without an edge / rim"?  Could there be such a thing?


German translation:  "Anti-Bowl"

English translation of the German:  "anti-bowl"

Chinese:  fǎnkǒu wǎn 反口碗

English translation of the Chinese:  "bowl with everted rim; flare-rimmed bowl"

Notes:  This sounds like something from Nietzsche's kitchen or a particle physicist's laboratory.  Very mysterious.  Is the bowl meant to prevent something?  What is the bowl against?


German translation:  "Fashion Plattenspieler"

English translation of the German:  "fashion turntable"

Chinese:  shíshàng zhuǎnjiǎo pán 时尚转角盘

English translation of the Chinese:  "fashionably undulating plate"

Notes:  The German comes from Google Translate.  The Chinese word for "turntable" is zhuǎnpán 转盘.  The literal translation of zhuǎnjiǎo pán 转角盘 would be something like "plate with corners that turn".  So far as I know, "fashion" is not a German word; the German equivalent would be "Mode".

From Jan:

As for "Platte", there are two relevant meanings in this context and it isn't that straightforward: A "Teller" (plate in English) is the dish you put in front of you and it serves as the last station from which food goes to the mouth. The thing in the picture looks like a "Teller" to me. Then, there is German "Platte", the etymological relative to English plate. A "Platte" would hold a dish in the middle of the table (as in "Schlachteplatte", butcher's plate). In my mental lexicon it would be something much larger which would never be used as a "Teller", where a "Teller" could occasionally fulfill the duties of a "Platte".

The other meaning of "Platte" is "record" (think vinyl, 33 rpm). Here "Platte" is short for "Langspielplatte" (long playing plate). Thus, a record player is a "Plattenspieler".

4. (the type of bowl in the previous post)

German translation:  "Anti-Mund-Schuessel"

English translation of the German:  "anti-mouth-bowl"

Chinese:  fǎnkǒu wǎn 反口碗

English translation of the Chinese:  "bowl with everted rim; flare-rimmed bowl"

Notes:  The first two bowls in this post and the bowl in the previous post all have the same name in Chinese:  fǎnkǒu wǎn 反口碗 ("bowl with everted rim; flare-rimmed bowl").  They also have the same shape.  Their only difference is in size, and consequently in price.  How could the translator(s) come up with three such dissimilar German translations?

1. "Anti-Rand Schuessel"

2. "Anti-Bowl"

4. "Anti-Mund-Schuessel"

All of this reminds me somewhat of IKEA naming practices, which we have addressed before on Language Log:

However, this shop in Vienna has an entirely different, and much more haphazard, system, one given to generating conundrums.

26 Mar 23:30

Where/What/Who is Scandinavia? 

by ericmortensen


Where/What/Who is Scandinavia? 

23 Mar 18:01

High definition Pluto needs names

by Jason Kottke

HD Pluto

Ok, Pluto fans. They evicted Pluto from our solar system's planetary pantheon, but a NASA mission launched in 2006 is nearing the dwarf planet with its cameras. We'll soon have photos of Pluto that are much more high resolution than we currently have, which means scientists will need names for all the new geographic features. The Our Pluto site has been set up to help suggest and vote on names for these features. Naming themes include historic explorers, travelers to the underworld, and scientists and engineers. Go vote! (via slate)

Tags: astronomy   language   NASA   Pluto   science   space
22 Mar 22:05

Bollywood does Seinfeld?

by Chris Blattman


Last week Jerry Seinfeld cancelled his first ever performance in India because of traffic and parking issues. Two Indians responded with this South Asian Seinfeld spoof. Brilliant.

The post Bollywood does Seinfeld? appeared first on Chris Blattman.

20 Mar 15:11

Xiangjun Shi: Why Do I Study Physics?

by S. Abbas Raza
14 Mar 14:44

Boing Boing Hiné Mizushima’s lovely felt Apple Watch.

10 Mar 19:14

simpleescapism:flavorcountry:Dr. Mae Jemison, MD, the first...

by ajlobster

Onboard shuttle Endeavour in 1992

As Lt Palmer in TNG s06e24, "Second Chances"



Dr. Mae Jemison, MD, the first black woman in space and first actual astronaut to appear on a Star Trek show, one of the very few people on this planet of whom two pictures can be posted depicting them doing their job on a spaceship with entirely different contexts.

Holy shit this is a serious contender for the best post I’ve ever seen on tumblr.


12 Mar 21:40

R.I.P. Terry Pratchett

by abvh

R.I.P. Terry Pratchett

03 Mar 13:28


by abvh


08 Mar 09:57

The loudest bird in the world? The Blue-winged Kookaburra, Dacelo leachii

by Bob Gosford

These birds are INSANE

Last week I was sitting outside watching the last light of day slip over the edge of the world when I heard a maniacal cackle from the trees above me. First a croaky, throaty chuckle, then a deep rattle as annoying and impossible to ignore as a kid running a stick along a corrugated-iron fence.

I’d not heard Blue-winged Kookaburras call at close quarters for some time–they don’t live near where I do in the Darwin suburbs–but I’d seen a few around where I was staying on the outskirts of Katherine and was well-pleased to hear the calls of a family home to roost for the evening above my cabin.

But what I’d forgotten was just how raucous they can get and for the next ten minutes or so the calls of not only the family above me but those occupying nearby territories drowned out all other sounds.

I don’t know if this species is the loudest bird in the world but I reckon even the FA-18s from the nearby Tindal RAAF base would be hard-pressed to cut through the Blue-winged Kookaburra’s cacophonous clatter at close quarters. These guys just don’t give a shit, and have a great time doing it. I particularly like the cheeky chuckles and the sense of simultaneous black humour and sinister intent that so infects these calls that i have recorded for your listening pleasure (?) below.

You can read more about these wonderfully cheeky birds in Sarah Legge’s Kookaburra: King of the Bush. And here is their evening chorus.

Blue-Winged Kookaburra, Katherine NT. 4 March 2015

Photo: Cool-critters at Tumblr.

27 Feb 06:11

suzeart: pannan-art:Modern Disney Girls! Who’s gonna be...





Modern Disney Girls! Who’s gonna be next?

You choose!

EDIT: Updated the post to put all new Gilrs in one place!


Bonus Modern Disney Girl - my version of Leia.

Update - NEW ONES! 

Alice in Wonderland guided by Shanti (Jungle Book ), Kida and Tinkerbell
UPDATE! Lakota Tiger Lily and Polish Wendy.

So perfect

28 Feb 13:30

Clarity about ‘the gay thing’

by SoniaT

Sometimes, we say what we don’t really mean. ‘You look really tired’, for example, when we mean to be caring rather than disparaging of appearance. ‘I thought you were older than that!’ when we mean to applaud maturity rather than further disparage appearance.

And so it is with the gay thing. The accidental difference between what people are saying or writing, and their intended meaning, is becoming perplexingly polarized. It’s becoming an issue because respected news sources with style guides to guard the objectivity of their reporting are straying away from neutral. And this, in turn, is influencing what we consider to be untainted, unprejudiced language about what I’m technically going to call ‘the gay thing’.

The lexicon around neutral language when reporting or writing about lesbian and gay people can lead to misunderstanding. There are several words that sit outside the flagrantly offensive, but in a grey area. It’s not malice, but misunderstanding that causes people to use these murky terms. They don’t intend to insult, but they do intend to be unbiased. Clarity is lost with the terminology we think is clear and plain English. It’s not.

Here are some examples.

What people say: sexual preference
What they really mean: sexual orientation

I actually think that at least three quarters of people and organizations that use this term, are intending to mean something else. If you believe, as all the science available to us indicates, that being gay is attributed to nature and not nurture; that it’s genetic and not a choice, then this term is a common misuse.

My preference is for mocha rather than latte; mashed potato rather than boiled; Madonna rather than Kylie. My sexual orientation is not a casual preference or a choice, like choosing whether I want pizza or pasta. I don’t merely prefer men to women. It’s something innate.

Some gay people find it offensive when it’s suggested that their sexual orientation is a choice; it trivializes the discrimination they’ve had to overcome by suggesting that they’ve just been obstinate and could always have chosen another path. It can also load with ammunition the traditional enemies to equality who’ll argue any measures to accommodate someone’s picky preference are not high priority. 

Sexual orientation is clearer and less likely to lead to misunderstanding – without being overly fussy, it strongly insinuates that you’re born with an imaginary inner compass that points in a certain direction on the Kinsey Scale.

Even if you do believe nurture plays a part in sexual orientation, the term sexual preference could still be a misnomer. Some parts of our character are so deeply ingrained from the nurture of our early childhoods, that we have little conscious choice over how they manifest as adults. When deconstructed, the term ‘preference’ relating to sexuality seems, quite frankly, peculiar.

It’s particularly peculiar when it comes from progressive news outlets, such as the Guardian.

What people say: homosexual / homosexuals
What they really mean: gay / gay people

The Guardian, however, listens and learns as language moves on from where it once stigmatized. I write a monthly column for the Guardian’s ‘Mind your language’ section and I successfully challenged them to drop homosexual used as a noun from their official style guide. It has now been replaced with gay people.

Why did I do this? Calling gay people homosexuals is the cold, medical, dehumanizing language used when homosexuality was, until 1992, classified as a mental disorder. It’s like calling people ‘homo sapiens.’ It’s stuffy, it jars and, I argued, it can no longer be deemed to come from a neutral, objective place due to the word’s unsavoury history on medical statutes, such as those used to chemically castrate Alan Turing for being gay.

When working at gay equality charity Stonewall, I also perceived the term homosexualsto be used by enemies of equality in a very clever way; they weren’t using outright insulting language that could easily be called out, but instead this careful, distanced, clinical language that makes gay people seem like an alien breed, worthy of scientific experiment. The term’s insidiousness is its insult.

What people say: gay rights
What they really mean: equality

Fighting for gay rights all sounds very Harvey Milk and uplifting. But the term may not be as empowering as it seems. Introducing gay rights sounds like a long list of special, extra demands gay people insist on having while beating drums and shouting. When, in fact, what I believe the majority of people are really intending when they say gay rights is equality. Why is this important? Equality is measured, palatable, entirely reasonable and sensible, and more likely to be accepted by all classes, people on both the left and right of the political divide. It sounds less entitled. It’s also far harder to argue against.

Gay rights, in effect, insinuates gay people want to be treated specially and differently when in fact the opposite is true. We want to be treated the same. That’s why measures such as an equal age of consent use the vernacular of equality, as opposed to rights.

What people say: gay marriage
What they really mean: marriage

Before marriage finally became a legal reality for same-sex couples in Britain last year, much was written in the media about ‘gay marriage’ as if it were a separate institution, requiring that qualifying prefix. ‘The campaign for equal marriage’ would’ve been a more accurate descriptor of what lay behind the campaign, in a similar rationale to the significant semantics around ‘rights vs equality’. As a Facebook friend of mine posted at the time: “I’m just going to get on my gay bus with my gay girlfriend and then we’re going to the gay airport on a gay holiday” – the prefix feels superfluous on all these words, just as it does with marriage.

What people say: tolerance
What they really mean: acceptance

Another linguistic bugbear of mine. I tolerate mushrooms; I don’t really like them. I can tolerate the pain of getting a tattoo done, though I’d prefer to do without it. I tolerate people walking slowly and aimlessly in front of me – just – but I hardly welcome it. Yet, in many of the places I’ve heard ‘tolerance’ used as a synonym for open-mindedness, I’ve often felt that acceptance is the clearer term – gently implying warmth, but, in a very British way, keeping it understated and straightforward.

I accept, though, that not everyone will tolerate this.

A version of this blog post first appeared on the OxfordWords blog.

Image Credit: “Mr. and Mr. Marriage Equality.” Photo by Purple Sherbert Photography. CC by 2.0 via Flickr.

The post Clarity about ‘the gay thing’ appeared first on OUPblog.

22 Feb 17:42

ofsparrows:Breakfast sorcery: the only superpower I want to...


Breakfast sorcery: the only superpower I want to have.

12 Feb 16:46

True color picture of our moon, unfiltered by our nitrogen rich...

True color picture of our moon, unfiltered by our nitrogen rich blue atmosphere.