Suburbs, as seen by Florida artist Matthew Cornell

Friday, 27 March, 2015

Artwork by Matthew Cornell

The work of Florida based artist Matthew Cornell brings to mind an idealised notion of suburbia that lurks in my mind… in a serenity of the neighbourhood in the cool evening air, sort of way.

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The words invented by James Joyce

Friday, 27 March, 2015

Maybe if I had persevered with A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the first novel by Irish writer James Joyce, I might have noticed one, or more, of the seventeen words he is said to have created. As it was, I found “Portrait” ever more forlorn, as I progressed through the story.

A botch-up on my part? Possibly. Because while Joyce didn’t devise the word “botch”, he did introduce us to the term “botch-up”. Other of his neologisms include “Ringroundabout”, “Tattarrattat”, and “Whenceness”.

Then of course there is “Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunnt-rovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk”. That might be useful to know of if you’re a Scrabble player.

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“Growth Factor”, a short animated film by Ryosuke Oshiro

Friday, 27 March, 2015

A short film, Growth Factor, by Japanese animator Ryosuke Oshiro… a subject matter that seems quite familiar.

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Computers do many things well, cooking may not be one of them

Friday, 27 March, 2015

An IBM supercomputer, who I discovered one addresses as “Watson”, has been learning all about the foods that people enjoy, and is now crafting cooking recipes as a result. I guess you could describe Watson’s… style as experimental?

Watson does, however, produce some genuinely interesting combinations. I’m taken with the idea of adding marjoram to a blackberry and cherry cobbler, porcini powder to a spiced pumpkin tart and tamarind to a cabbage slaw. Sometimes, he reaffirms classic matches. No doubt the whole of Italy will breathe a sigh of relief when it sees his tomato and mozzarella tart. Phew. There’s no such endorsement for tomato, basil and mozzarella, though I spy a dish that has me wondering whether it could replace everyone’s fallback summer salad.

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Iconic photos, retaken

Thursday, 26 March, 2015

Photo by Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegge

Swiss photographers Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegge have an intriguing hobby or side project… they recreate iconic photos, by building intricate scale models and dioramas.

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A story of the origins of the percent sign

Thursday, 26 March, 2015

Ah, the % (percent) sign… why ever don’t we use something more like the ‰ (per mille) sign instead? Here’s an explanation by Keith Houston, together with a history of how the percent sign came to be.

I had assumed that the percent sign was shaped so as to invoke the idea of a vulgar fraction, with a tiny zero aligned on either side of a solidus ( / ), or fraction slash.

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Children must master many skills, especially these seven

Thursday, 26 March, 2015

Reading, conversation, collaboration, engagement, flexible/lateral thinking, and well-being, are skills all children should acquire while they are at school, with perhaps, if you were to ask me, a particular emphasis on inquiry:

Children are born wanting to find things out. But schools have, by and large, done little to build on this valuable impulse. In fact, when children get to school, they ask fewer questions, explore less often and with less intensity, and become less curious. One of the great ironies of our educational system is that it seems to squelch the impulse most essential to learning new things and to pursuing scientific discovery and invention.

It seems to me if something’s not covered in the book as it were, that is, if there are no explicit instructions as to how deal with a certain situation, then there is little interest in trying to resolve the matter. A little more of the inquiry attribute might remedy this.

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A rose by any other name will still be Internet Explorer?

Thursday, 26 March, 2015

I’m not sure about anyone else, but news that Microsoft is doing away with web browser Internet Explorer, or IE, would surely have caught the attention of web developers and designers, passed and present.

For a time there, and we’re talking awhile back now, IE was about the only dependable browser around, though I think its bane days far outnumber the boon times. IE6 anyone?

Microsoft has tried, unsuccessfully, to shake off the negative image of Internet Explorer over the past several years with a series of amusing campaigns mocking Internet Explorer 6. The ads didn’t improve the situation, and Microsoft’s former Internet Explorer chief left the company in December, signalling a new era for the browser.

Mind you the web browser isn’t really going though, it’s just being renamed. I’ll probably be sticking with FireFox and Chrome for the time being however.

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Taking a closer look at the first and final frames of well known films

Wednesday, 25 March, 2015

Filmmaker Jacob Swinney takes fifty-five well known movies, and juxtaposes their first and last frames, or scenes. Aren’t the Birdman scenes interesting. As are Somewhere, and of course 2001: A Space Odyssey.

I think I’m going to start paying a lot more attention to these particular frames from now on.

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The best sort of science fiction novel? A fix up of course

Wednesday, 25 March, 2015

A “fix-up” is a science fiction book, or novel, written by an author who has created the work by stitching together a number of their earlier shorter stories. Some of these fix-up titles are in fact quite well known:

The “fix-up” is a novel that’s constructed out of short stories that were previously published on their own. And a lot of classic science fiction novels were “fix-ups.” Asimov’s I, Robot and Foundation were both published as groups of short stories before becoming books. There’s Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, too. There’s also Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, and Leigh Brackett’s Alpha Centauri or Die!.

I dare say fix-ups are not limited to sci-fi writing though.

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