Some Stuff That’s Nifty (4/20/14)

It’s Easter and National Stoner’s Day (as my students so love to remind me).  Make of that conflation what you will.


1. Fred Clark writes about why he still claims the evangelical identity.  I admire his resolve, but for myself there’s too much of the identity wrapped up in a particular political stance.

2. Richard Beck: “There is the simple intellectual recognition that faith is provisional, and then there is the cognitive and emotional obsession over that fact. There is a doubt that doesn’t bring about negative mood, and then there is the ruminative doubt that creates or exacerbates depression and anxiety.”


1. John Scalzi is a very intelligent writer, and I very much enjoy following his blog.  This recent post about the background bigotry that we’re all guilty of and how it turns into overt bigotry is really good, and I recommend you read it.  Yes, you.

2. As a white, fairly middle class person, I have somewhat varied tastes in food.  My coworkers complained very vocally last year when I said we were going to eat sushi for my birthday.  I told them to deal with it, because when we eat out, it’s usually at places with very limited options and lots of really greasy food, and I wanted to eat what I like for my birthday.  That’s all fair and in good fun, because I get along with my coworkers and we’re all adults who accept that we have different tastes in food.  Also, we’re empowered to eat what we like because we’re, y’know, grown-ups.  This article highlights an issue with how extracurriculars tend to be run at schools nowadays.  I remember pretty clearly from my days in marching band that it was the parents who could afford to donate their free time instead of working extra shifts to pay their families’ bills who did all the volunteer work for us.  They were a great group who went the extra mile to make sure marching band was fun for us students.  They also understood something that I think the parents highlighted in that article fail to remember: there can be huge economic diversity in an extracurricular, and it’s never a good idea to try to impose your own tastes on the realities that the students have to deal with.  If you can afford to help them, that’s fantastic; they are grateful.  Just don’t alienate them with sushi and spring rolls when it’s your job to feed them something simple and nourishing.  Leave that to messing with your coworkers.

3. I didn’t do policy debate when I was in college, but the debate society that I participated in did put an emphasis on a specific kind of oratory.  I find this article fascinating because it highlights a tension between the traditional values of order and decorum that my debate society prized in public speaking and a more recent trend towards highly theatrical oratory that’s not typically “white.”


Surly Link Is A Terrific Video Game Figure

Surly Link is Best Link. (Image credit: Kotaku)

1. Edgar Allan Poe is getting a statue in Boston.  The model features Poe doing a badass walk while a heart and a bunch of papers spill out of his suitcase behind him.  If anyone ever makes a scale model that could sit comfortably on a desk, I’d seriously consider buying it.

2. It’s not that I really like Frozen or anything.  It’s just that this video makes the same joke about super powers that I did in my post about that movie, and it tickles me.  Also, I feel like Wolverine singing Broadway is on the verge of becoming a major internet meme.

3. Bob Ross was a phenomenon before my time.  I mean, I get the schtick: the white man afro, the soothing voice, the happy little trees.  I can see how that could be pretty cool.  This remix video of Ross is really cool.

4. Myers-Briggs personality types mapped to Disney characters.  It’s fun, if completely unscientific (and there is absolutely no reason to read into the fact that my personality type matches up with Elsa from Frozen).

5. What happens when Bill Shatner travels back in time to kill Bill Shakespeare (in LEGO)?  Action Bill.

6. I enjoy the Harry Potter series, but I’m not a gigantic fan like a lot of people.  Nonetheless, I am very impressed with the polish on this fan project: Hogwarts is Here.  It’s a website where you can sign up to take free classes as a Hogwarts student and do actual homework for actual grades.

7. Screen caps from a 1974 book that explained to children how to do magic.  Not having lived through the ’70s myself, all I can conclude from artifacts like this are that it was a weird decade.


1. The culture surrounding Islam is an interesting and often alien one to Western audiences.  This essay highlights some concepts in the aesthetic of Islamic artwork that could make for some really nifty innovations in game design.

2. For your weekly Minecraft here’s some 3D printed models of a guy’s Minecraft creations.  Yes, you can now have 3D printed models made of stuff you build in Minecraft.


1. I posted this bit of news on Facebook when I first saw it, but I’m adding it in here as well just because I think this is too cool.  I try to donate blood as often as I can (and if you’re eligible you should do the same), and advances like this are a really big deal.  Yes, it may mean that someday I don’t get to go have free cookies every couple months in exchange for a bodily fluid that I’m constantly producing anyway (although realistically I think that’s doubtful; donated blood is almost certainly always cheaper to obtain than blood that must be bought), but I think that’s a small price to pay for better medical technology.

2. Scientists have discovered a bug in South America whose females have a never before seen sexual organ that they’ve termed a gynosome.  That’s cool.  What’s not cool is describing the discovery as “females with penises!”  The only similarity between the two organs is that they’re inserted into the mate.  There’s a good rant over at io9 to go along with that point.

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