Tag Archives: thank god for the internet

Yosemite

6 Jun

I don’t care if I’m being trite and cliché, I absolutely love time-lapse videos of the stars. So this video is total Jane-bait.

h/t to Andrew Sullivan.

 

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Must-Reads

1 Jun

So, I read a lot. The internet serves up most of my reading material, although I’m waiting eagerly for Kate to finish “The Psychopath Test” so I can get started. In the past three days, I’ve read three excellent pieces of long-form journalism on three very different subjects.

First up, “The Shadow Scholar”, by Ed Dante. My sister pointed me in this direction and I have to say, it was fascinating. Ed Dante (haha, Edumund Dantes, get it?) makes a living writing papers for a custom essay company. A paper mill, in other terms. Something like 4 out of 5 of college students admit to cheating in school. It’s a fascinating look at the dirty underside of college homework.

Switching gears, over at the New Yorker, Michael Wolff’s experiences with his elderly mother and eldercare in general lead to a haunting picture of growing old. How long should we hold on to those loved ones? Healthier lifestyles and medical advances mean a longer lived populace. This leads to the absurd realization that the healthier you are, the longer and more drawn out your decline. It’s horrifying and personally kind of scary.

Finally, the New York Times photo blog Lens has a thing up on Kiani Hayeri, a young woman living in Tehran. Her photo series, “Your Veil is a Battleground”, looks at life in Iran for the young and restless, showing the faces they wear behind closed doors as well as their public lives. I personally loved the diptych photos, especially the purple lipstick Mona (no. 17) wears.

I’m always up to reading an interesting article, so if you find some fascinating journalism, don’t hesitate to send something my way!

Mental Health Break

28 May

I’m an information junkie. I get twitchy if I’m not plugged into at least one device at a time. Currently, I have music running, fifteen open tabs on my browser, a half-watched movie on pause (the first Robert Downey Jr Sherlock, fyi), and three half-read books waiting for me on calibre. When the internet goes down I panic. When my laptop runs out of juice, it’s the end of my world. Last summer I suffered the worst torment imaginable when I arrived home from college to find that the house had no internet access and all the books had been boxed up. I was irritable the entire two weeks before my precious internet access was restored.

This information addiction isn’t all that strange. Our brains have been wired to find information rewarding. When you learn something new, dopamine neurons are released, so novelty-seeking is a pleasurable activity for your brain.* Of course, this ADD approach to information isn’t without downsides: the dopamine system doesn’t have satiety built in, so you can end up refreshing that page over and over, with less positive results as time goes on. Puts checking your Facebook and email ten times a day in perspective, doesn’t it?

Today, when trawling through tumblr, I came across the quiet place. It’s a 90 second relaxation exercise. Even jumped up on caffeine, I found it to be clever, cute, and very, very useful. So next time you find yourself stressing and the calming manatee isn’t enough, head on over there for some soothing music and deep breaths.

*Science parts have been stolen from here and here. Yes, I realize the irony about having a bunch of links at the end of a post on stopping and just taking a break for a minute.

The Great Firewall

25 May

Yesterday, my VPN died an ignoble and inglorious death. Thankfully, after a bit of computer necromancy, I managed to resurrect it today. But for one whole day, I had to deal with the Chinese internet, and boy, was that a pain.

For one thing, I had forgotten how much the Great Firewall censors.

For those in the audience who aren’t computer geeks, a VPN (or virtual private network) is what allows me to surf the net without those petty restrictions the CCP thinks should be available to the general public. Basically, I have a little program on my laptop that, courtesy of the University of Florida, makes my internet connection believe it’s sitting in Library West. Technically, it’s meant for accessing library resources off-campus. In practice, it means I can get to the sites I want, without paying money for another VPN service.*

Yesterday, I was reminded quite abruptly of what the Great Firewall believes is inappropriate. Facebook, Youtube, tumblr. No dice. Blogger, IMDB, Livejournal. Gone. THIS SITE ITSELF. No access to WordPress at all – so almost no blog update. Half of those random links you go to? Gone. It was infuriating. And the sites you could access? Incredibly slow load times. Like, I think we had a dial-up modem in the 90s that was faster.

On the other hand, Baidu and Tudou were practically lightning speed, even for videos. Well played, Great Firewall. Well played.

 

 

For more on this topic, you should read James Fallows’s report on the Great Firewall, found here. It’s an oldie but a goodie.

 

*To my credit, I have used it to access library resources while not on campus. How do you think I did any research at all here? Baidu? Don’t make me laugh.

Historically Hardcore

28 Mar

These aren’t real ads for the Smithsonian, but by god they’re awesome. History nerds are the best.

Apparently, the Smithsonian wasn’t too happy about these (from a branding perspective) but frankly, anything that gets people interested in history is a good thing.

Images from the Historically Hardcore imagr.