You’re probably using the wrong dictionary

July 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

If you value the crafting prose or the study of language then you certainly need to read this post by James Somers; since you are probably using the wrong dictionary.

But somehow for McPhee, the dictionary — the dictionary! — was the fount of fine prose, the first place he’d go to filch a phrase, to steal fire from the gods.

He then lays out some beautiful examples showing how a dictionary can not only be source of inspiration but also of nuance and character.

Notice, too, how much less certain the Webster definition seems about itself, even though it’s more complete — as if to remind you that the word came first, that the word isn’t defined by its definition here, in this humble dictionary, that definitions grasp, tentatively, at words, but that what words really are is this haze and halo of associations and evocations, a little networked cloud of uses and contexts.


Most important, it describes a word worth using: a mere six letters that have come to stand for something huge, for a complex meta-emotion with mythic roots. Such is the power of actual English.

Who is the author of this beautiful book of prose that happens to define words as well? None other than Noah Webster; a man who’s name has become synonymous with definition.

Noah Webster is not the best-known of the Founding Fathers but he has been called “the father of American scholarship and education.” There’s actually this great history of how he almost singlehandedly invented the very idea of American English, defining the native tongue of the new republic, “rescuing” it from “the clamour of pedantry” imposed by the Brits.

“[R]escuing” it from “the clamour of pedantry” imposed by the Brits. Hehe.

Mr. Somers also goes into some detailed instructions for setting up your Mac to use Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913 + 1828) but I prefer this simple installer from the Convert Webster’s github project. If you want to install it on a Kindle or Mobile device see the Appendix for details.

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12 Basic Principles of Animation

May 23rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The illusion of life does a lovely job of laying out 12 guiding principles developed by some of the original animators at Disney in the 1930’s.

The illusion of life from cento lodigiani on Vimeo.

There is something about this that reminds me of Apple. These guys took the time to find the subtle details that add an emotional connection to animated material. I watched the video without knowing it was related to disney but seeing the little box obey these rules I was immediately reminded of old school Disney animation. None of the rules are required to make animation, but without them you end up with the Android equivalent; flat, emotionless and ultimately unsatisfying.

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Winners of the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest 2013

August 30th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The Red Bull Illume Photo Contest has been a fantastic source for sports photography for the past couple years and 2013 is the best I’ve seen yet. There is no way I can pick a favorite so I’ll just a few here and insist that you check out the selection put together by the talented folks at The Atlantic’s In Focus photo blog.

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WRITERS ON WRITING; Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle – New York Times

August 21st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Elmore Leonard, known for writing books that were later adapted to film like Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Rum Punch (which became Jackie Brown), died yesterday at the age of 87. He left us with not only a trove of great literature but some very sound advice for writers. There are ten rules and my favorite is the last.

10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

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Intellectual Property Rights at Work

August 19th, 2013 § 1 comment § permalink

Marvin Gaye’s family claims that “Blurred Lines“is too similar to Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” and is attempting to extort money from Robin Thicke. In a bold move Mr. Thicke has filed a preemptive lawsuit in the hopes that the court will rule in his favor. Take a listen for yourself:

Marvin Gaye:

Robin Thicke:

While one cannot deny that there is a similarity they are clearly different songs. Robin Thicke was almost certainly influenced by the original work but that does not give the Mr. Gaye’s heirs the right exert control over the derivative work. Whether you think this is an isolated case of fair use or you believe, as I do, that Everything is a Remix I don’t see how one can argue that Mr. Thicke owes anything but appreciation. Even if you don’t care for the song surely society is better off when artists can create new material without having to worry about being sued.

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26 Years of Growth: Shanghai Then and Now

August 14th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

The changes that Shanghai has undergone in the past few decades are staggering and these two pictures taken from the same spot 26 years apart do an amazing job of showing that change.

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Tokyo Tower Gigapixel Panorama

August 14th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

An amazing panorama of the world’s most populous city: Tokyo. Taken from Tokyo Tower the city stretches to the horizon and is filled with an absurd number of very large buildings.

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August 13th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Gotta love watching a 75 year old artist do their craft. Bobby Jaber is a former chemistry teacher that wanted to combine science & art and is making some beautiful clay & porcelain figures. I want to learn how to make those carbon molecules!

PORCELAINIA from Dave Altizer on Vimeo.

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From One Second To The Next

August 12th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

We’ve all done it. A quick text message while driving seems pretty harmless and it is 99% of the time. Rarely do we stop to consider what that 1% risk represents though. Sometimes it takes a work of art to make us stop and evaluate such things and the short film From One Second To The Next by Werner Herzog does just that. It replaces grisly accident scenes and patronizing police officers with heartfelt testimony from both victims and the people that are having to live with their decision to text and drive. If you can be diligent about putting sunscreen on your children and limiting their processed sugar intake then surly you can take some time out of your busy life to watch a video that could very well save their lives.

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