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U+FBF9

Via O’Reilly Radar, Funny Characters in Unicode. Mmm, the intersection of philology and computing, one of my favorite topics.

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Dear Facebook

Dear Facebook,

Look, I like you. You allow me to keep in touch casually with a lot of old friends whom I don’t have time to email individually. You let me see cute pictures of my friends’ kids who live halfway around the world. And you let me quietly ignore people whose status updates get on my nerves.

But this whole “reconnect” nonsense has got to go. First, you suggested I reconnect with my father, who passed away two months ago. I know your algorithm has no way of knowing who is and isn’t still with us, I’m a programmer too, but still, way to ruin my day, guys. Now you keep suggesting I chat with, message, or otherwise reconnect with friends. Let me make this very clear: I already have a Jewish mother. I do not need you to monitor my communications and keep track of how often I chat with Olivia or how many friends Steve has. You are a tool, a means of contacting people, not a Big Brother, and especially not a Guilt Generator. I talked to Paula yesterday and emailed her this morning, I don’t need to post on her Wall this afternoon. I know you do this so that I can click around to other people’s pages and see more advertising there, but if you keep making your service more annoying instead of more useful, your users are going to leave.

Or at least we’re going to read it on the iPhone where there is less stupid crap.

Thanks,
Alex.

Dr. Carol Greider

This interview with Dr. Greider, a winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine, is great reading. A few choice quotes:

  • “One of the things I was thinking about today is that as a kid I had dyslexia.” … “I learned to memorize things very well because I just couldn’t spell words. So later when I got to take classes like chemistry and anatomy where I had to memorize things, it turned out I was very good at that.”
  • “When Lawrence Summers, then the Harvard president, made that statement a few years ago about why there were fewer successful women in science, I thought, “Oh, he couldn’t really mean that.”’ “
  • “One of the things I did with the press conference that Johns Hopkins gave was to have my two kids there. In the newspapers, there’s a picture of me and my kids right there. How many men have won the Nobel in the last few years, and they have kids the same age as mine, and their kids aren’t in the picture?”

Random Hacks of Kindness

If I were either more qualified, or in the Bay Area, or both, I’d be attending the Random Hacks of Kindness event, a codejam where programmers and disaster relief experts get together to try to use technology to solve some difficult problems. I’m really interested in this problem – how do we use tech to make crisis response better – and this sounds like an event where things will actually get done, instead of just another PR gimmick where the first world sends computers to the third world without first checking if they have electricity. Even if you can’t make it, check out their website and look at the preliminary project definitions. It’s interesting and important work.

SuperBetter

Via O’Reilly Radar: SuperBetter is one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen in a long time. The idea is that when you’re recovering from a major injury or coping with an illness, you turn your recovery into a game, and recruit your friends to play too. My dad would have loved this.

Best out-of-context science quote of the day

“It’s not your grandmother’s water on the moon.”

Television

I confess, I read Jennifer Ouellette’s blog not for the science writing, but for her recommendations of TV shows with physics in them. There’s nothing like rationalizing cheesy TV by saying “But it’s for SCIENCE!”


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