Tuesday Links (07/02/13)

Why MBA-Bound Johnny Still Can’t Write: Sure, I’m a writer, so I have a bit of a bias here. But I majored in physics. I learnt this stuff in high school, and I wasn’t about to hand in sloppy work during the odd humanities elective of my post-secondary coursework. But graduate program business majors, portrayed here as the quintessential D-students, study everything from business communication to marketing, then complain about being put upon for basic writing skills like grammar, punctuation, and spelling. It’s called branding, friends. Employers want someone smart and hard-working, and this isn’t how you project that image. Way to devalue the degree.

21 Jokes Only Nerds Will Understand: I’m afraid there are two I just don’t get.

What You Wish For: Windows 8 is the worst.

Tuesday Links (06/04/13)

This 27-year-old repaid $28,115 in debt – in under two years: A lesson in austerity and belt-tightening.

Paul Krugman’s right: Austerity kills: Aaannnd here’s the bad news. Is it a surprise they call economics “the dismal science”? You just can’t win.

Bosses more likely to be psychopaths, study says: I know, right? Actually this is nothing new, studies about the higher incidence of psychopathy in certain fields have been around for years, and it’s not surprising that someone with minimal empathy and maximal manipulative abilities would rise to the top in certain workplace cultures (if not most). But the top ten lists for careers that attract the highest and lowest numbers of psychopaths are new to me. It seems I make both lists. So which of my two major careers represents the “real” me?

Care2 Blog Weekly Roundup (02/16/13)

A number of posts so far this month, with perhaps a handful more upcoming.

It’s Darwin Day: Discover a New (to You) Species

Too Hard to Regulate Dog Breeders? Just Forget It, Then!

The Westminster Dog Show is Hurting Dogs

Tuesday Links (11/20/12)

 Given Tablets but No Teachers, Ethiopian Children Teach Themselves: “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village … Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and [thie children] figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”

Tardigrades (or “Water Bears”); First Animals to Survive in Space: This is so cool, I’m just going to embed the video below. Some surprising evidence in favour of panspermia? Who’da thunk it?

Tuesday Links (10/30/12)

Email Is The New Pony Express–And It’s Time To Put It Down: “Email . . . may just be the biggest time killer in the modern workplace. Here’s where companies are headed next.”

The Saga of Epsilon and Zeta:The story of the seemingly never-ending 2005 hurricane season.

How to Eat a Triceratops: “Step two: tear the head off to expose the tasty neck muscles.”

Tuesday Links (10/23/12)

Hobbit coins worth thousands to become legal tender in New Zealand: From the fictional land that brought you all manner of magic rings, only some of which are evil, this lovely new set of commemorative coins.

It is the Future, Here is Your Jetpack: The lack of jetpacks in the twenty-first century is officially something we can no longer complain about. People will probably still whine about the lack of flying cars, however.

My dog: the paradox (an Oatmeal comic): “My dog does not fear automobiles, garbage trucks, or airplanes . . . but he is terrified of hair dryers.”

Ada Lovelace, Throughout the Ages: Did you miss Ada Lovelace day?

How to Protect Yourself Against Supernatural Creatures (Dinosaur Comics): “Rather than punishing bad behaviour, reinforce your lycanthropes desirable behaviour at the moment it happens with a click and a treat.”

Pissing People Off With My Writing

It happens, sometimes. Not intentionally. I try to be fair, perform some honest research, leave polemicism out of it. But sometimes there are people out there with an interest in my writing something very different than what I have, in fact, chosen to write.

Some time ago I wrote on Care2 about a fossil fuel shill who managed to get an instructor gig in one of those massive, science-for-humanities-majors intro courses, in Canada’s own Carleton University. I was alerted to the story by one of the science policy/education watchdog groups I keep in touch with (and have done since before I wrote about this sort of stuff — science teachers need to know about attacks on reality as much as science/environment writers do).

The story was easily verified by checking out the actual course information on Carleton’s own website, and the sort of falsehoods being propagated by this climate denier in the classroom are neither subtle nor relative. Just the other day, Tom Harris left a comment both on that months-old article, and here on the site (on my About page). He wants me to take down the article. I won’t be doing that.

There’s no need to respond to his message point-by-point because he complains my article is inaccurate, when it simply isn’t. You either understand and buy into the scientific method, or you think you can just make anything up you want. I’m not going to attempt a rational conversation with someone who falls into the latter group.

Also recently, I received a message about a restaurant I reviewed here on the site, my local Zesto’s. I had a bad experience there, but didn’t pile on (I think) too much. It’s not the first response I’ve received to that review: not long after the posting went up, somebody commented on Urban Spoon (to which I linked in the review) that I was full of it. It was a bit suspicious (the user made an account apparently just to comment on my review and has never made another posting since I last checked), and in any case, there was little to it other than name-calling.

But the message I received this week was from the actual restaurant owner apologizing for the issues I experienced,and inviting us back for another meal. I give her credit for that. I appreciate the difficulty in finding good people in the service industry, and I’m happy to know that that particular employee’s behaviour is at least not official Zesto’s policy.

I won’t be taking up that meal offer, but I acknowledge it here. She’s trying to make up for a bad first impression, which is difficult to do. At the very least, a polite, honest communication is more likely to get a response from me than ad hominems.

LJ Reviews Roundup

My first three Library Journal reviews have run, and are partially or completely available online. Parts of my review of X and the City can be found here.

My full review of Benoit Mandelbrot’s memoir, The Fractalist, is quoted on the Barnes and Noble page for the book here.

My review of the coffee table book, Spectrums, gets the lead in a recent Xpress Reviews post at the Library Journal online.