Friday, August 31, 2007

The Matter of Seggri

I recently added a new flavor entitled "The Matter of Seggri". This flavor will mark posts dealing with gender issues. The title of the flavor is taken from a popular Ursula K. LeGuin short story of the same name.

"The Matter of Seggri" won the James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 1994 (the first time this award was ever given to a work of short fiction) and in the words of the Triptree Award Judges, has been called "A how-to manual on how to explore gender issues through the use of science fiction (Ellen Kushner)" and "Fascinating for its anthropological detail (Pat Murphy)". Praise and a brief description are below:

"Seggri deals with gender issues in a way that only science fiction can: by creating a society that has different assumptions than ours, thus forcing us to examine our own." (Pat Murphy)

"On Seggri, women far outnumber the men, an imbalance that, notes one Hainish observer, "has produced a society in which, as far as I can tell, the men have all the privilege and the women have all the power." Men and boys over the age of 11 live in hierarchically organized "castles." They gain glory by competing in games, cheered on by the women; the women do all the productive and political work of the society, and the two genders meet only in the "fuckeries." The women may enjoy sex with men, but naturally they form their primary erotic and social bonds with other women. Both the society and the story are complex, covering several generations and told from various viewpoints. Though undeniably different from our own society, Seggri eerily echoes it, and like several of this year's shortlisted works-notably Arnason's "The Lovers" and Charnas's The Furies-the focus is on those who, by asking questions and/or not fitting in, become harbingers of change." (Susanna J. Sturgis)

You can find "The Matter of Seggri" in Birthdays of the World and Other Stories and old issue of crank magazine. I highly recomend it as a must read. An excerpt may be had at Ursula K. LeGuin's website.

You can also find a copy of this post in the comments of the Candy Machine.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Myths About Girls, Math and Science

Live Science has this article "5 Myths About Girls, Math and Science" regarding persistent stereotypes of girls learning Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects (Are you listening parents with girls?). Of particular interest is Myth 5 "At the college level, changing the [Science] curriculum runs the risk of watering down important "sink or swim" coursework".

In my experience, (having taken extensive courses in an all female Physics Department at my Alma Mater and also at the predominately male Physics Department at their nearby, co-ed "Brother" College) predominately male programs place an emphasis on an aggressive weeding out of perceived "weaker" students while the female programs placed an emphasis on group coursework and team projects. The males often perceived this as a "watering down" of the material and complained the female-dominated seminars were easier. However, the Princeton Review of both Departments (which occurred during my Senior year) concluded that the males and females from both departments scored similarly on the same achievement tests.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Top 100 Undiscovered Websites

PC Magazine in the perpetrator of this grand list of awesome stops along the information highway, "The Top 100 Undiscovered Web Sites". At least 50 of these should be bookmarked in your favorites.

My favorites include "Wikisky" (A superb star resource for astronomy geeks), "Luminosity" (games lab tested to improve brain power!) and "Extratasty" (pop in all the ingredients of your bar and out pop drink recipes), all of which will soon be featured in CandyBuffet.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Age of Steampunk

The "Nagy Magical-Movable-Type Pixello-Dynamotronic Computational Engine" or simply "Computational Engine" by Datamancer. What looks like a book on the stand at right is actually a flatbed scanner and the circular centerpiece is a cd-rom drive. And yes, the keyboard has typewriter keys.

The Boston Globe is running a lovely article "The Age of Steampunk" on art/techno/victoriana-philes creating steampunk-like artifacts out of modern technology. At the heart of the article is the transcendence of our own modern ornamentation. Ours is an era of sleek minamalism that is ultimately forgetable. There are those (no one I know of course) that long for the heft of anachronistic apparati.

Take a look at some of the inventive conversions and wonderful works of art in the Globe's Gallery. Also, don't forget to take a look at Datamancer's works, many of which are higlighted in the article.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pick The Brain is a website dedicated to self improvement by focusing on increasing productivity, researching motivation, explaining positive psychology and encouraging self education. I rather like it. From the person who never got around to reading that book on how to stop procrastination (seriously, I had it for year and never read it, I finally had to give it away) PickTheBrain offers a nifty little blog with distilled wisdom in small bites. Recent articles include 14 Ways to Procrastinate Productively (one of my favorites), "How to Grow the Action Habit", which focuses on habits you should cultivate in order to put ideas into action and "21 Proven Motivation Tactics", which I wish I'd read when I was Drum Major of the marching band in High School but is still a winner for those of us in leadership and managerial positions. Next time you need a distraction, waste a little time browsing at PickTheBrain. You won't feel so guilty when you pick up tidbits on how to get things done.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Acorn Studios

Acorn Studios carries the geekiest gifts made from recycled electronics. Amaze your geeky friends with earrings and clocks made from circuitboards, notebooks with floppy disk covers or (my personal favorite) magnet sets made from discarded keyboard and cash registers keys (pictured at left). Bask in the glow that while you are spreading geekdom through out the world, you are still marvelously eco-conscious.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

J.K. Rowling Fan Interview

At the end of last month, J.K. Rowling gave a informative, no-holds-barred web-interview to fans through London publisher detailing the aftermath of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and what sorts of things happened to our heroes (and their foils) in the oncoming years. Fans e-mailed over 120,000 requests in a little over an hour's time and were ruthless with their questions, both thought provoking and comedic.

J.K. Rowling is very free with even the most detailed of the requests and the insight to her thought process and how she detailed her world is quite fascinating.

Fan website "The Leaky Cauldron" has the full text of the interview. Don't even click if you haven't read her seventh book. The interview is spoiltastic.

Monday, August 20, 2007


The hypophora is a rhetorical and literary device we were all likely enamoured with in the earliest stages in our academic careers, but have probably not ever been able to identify by name. Simply put, it is a figure of speech where the speaker poses a question and then answers it. The answer or discussion of possible answers (no matter how lengthy, you thesis writers) may be referred to as anthypophora.

I always like to think of hypophora as "Hyper Paragraphs" (a useful mnemonic since I am not too fond of the device). However, the use of the self-answered question is well documented in ancient Greek and has quite a historic literary fan club including Cicero, Quintillian, and Paul the Apostle and one can't really make it through an anti-war protest without its familiar trappings (When do we want change? We want it now!).

So instead of asking, "Is that a rhetorical question?", you may try "Hypophoras are traditionally answered by the speaker" (Just try to be as snotty as possible during delivery). Just be wary of using hypophora too often in a domestic argument, (Did you put away the dishes? No. Did you vacuum like I asked? No.) You may find that over use could mean a wearing out of the hypophora's welcome as well as your own.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

L’Oreal’s Fake Eyelashes

Vindication at last! Anyone who would listen has heard CandyBuffet's rage against the use of fake eyelashes in mascara advertisements. How I missed this news article from the London Times a couple of weeks ago is just astonishing (and proof that I should be reading more often). Do you here that noise? Those are my tears of joy that justice is being served.

Advertising watchdog in a flutter over L’Oreal’s fake eyelashes

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Jupiter rising over the Tetons

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) contains the largest collection of annotated astronomical images on the internet. Run by two professional astronomers (Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell) their sources include professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, photographers and NASA. The pictures are stunning, the annotation liberal, and the archives are extensive.

Each day a different image or photograph of our universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. The picture of the day is often related to current events or new problems in Astronomy or space exploration.

Expand your astronomical acumen or just get some kickin' wallpaper images.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Um, ick?

Thank goodness for Boing Boing, who caught this piece from the U.S. News and World Report about 10 Things You Didn't Know About Karl Rove coinciding with Rove's departure from the White House. Go ahead, read it. Then take a shower.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Halo 3: Fastest Selling Pre-ordered Game Ever

In a strategy utilized by other big entertainment launches, retailers around the world have begun taking preorders for Halo 3 by Bungie for the Xbox 360. Were you thinking of going in for the ultra-collectible Legendary Edition of the game? Then you'd better hurry, because demand has been so strong for the Legendary Edition of the game that it is expected to be sold out by the time the game launches on September 25 making presales for Halo 3 the fastest in video game history.

How big is the hype? Mountain Dew will be co-branding soda cans in the first ever soft drink game release collaboration. Burger King Corp. will be sponsoring the launched with themed packaging for customers and exclusive on-line content. 7-Eleven has announced in-store promotions including Halo 3 branded Slurpee cups and Pontiac will be holding special Garage testing of the game with the release of it upcoming G6 GXP Street (1,000 Pontiac buyers will receive the game with their car purchase). And Comcast will be featuring High Definition videos on its ON-DEMAND Service.

The Game Gods include an official update on the release at their website. CandyBuffet's advice? Buy early. Buy hard mis amigos.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


CandyBuffet loves the stars. Candybuffet also loves fresh indie music. Now there is a website that combines the two. pops up a map of your musical solar system after you enter an artist you love. Each planet is a different band in your selections orbit (varying by style, instruments, genre, epoch, etc.). The larger the planet, the more popular the group. The nearer the planets are to your entry, the greater the chance that you will like it. Pan across your new musical universe with your mouse or print out your new musical solar system map and hang it up in your cubicle.

Liveplasma has also recently launched a similar search based on your favorite movies, directors and actors. You hear that Netflixers? Go forth and conquer.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


CNN ran this story, "Game Focuses on Immigration Issues" last Friday about a new video game developed by Mallika Dutt at Breakthrough that focuses on Immigration issues. The kicker is that the game invites players to step into the shoes of foreigners who run afoul of the U.S. immigration system. Two of the characters are a Japanese computer science student who fails to take a full load of university classes and loses his student visa and a 10th-grade Indian girl detained because of a high school essay she wrote on the Department of Homeland Security. Players try to avoid deportation by keeping a low profile and performing community service. Shoplifting or jumping a subway turnstile loses points. Lose too many, and your character ends up in a federal detention facility.

Bit of a step apart from the "Oregon Trail" game I used to play in middle school.

ICED is part of a new trend of games and new media developed to highlight social issues around the world. And immigration isn't the only serious topic being addressed by groups with an agenda. This article from the LA Times last week, "Immigration Debate Finds Itself in Play", notes how political candidates are using games to reach voters, starbucks recently partnered with an environmental organization to create a game about global warming, and students at the University of Denver developed a video game called "Squeezed" designed to raise empathy for migrant laborers.

Last Tuesday, the Colbert Report interviewed author and game analyst, Ian Bogost, about his new book Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Bogost explores the value of using games as education or tools to explore different complex issues in a meaningful way, like disrupting fundamental attitudes and beliefs about the world (a game that deals with China's treasury bond threats against the U.S. dollar? How about cultural collisions (and compromises) when global economies collide?)

ICED (or "I Can End Deportation" and a double entendre for the acronym for the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement office) will be released in October 2007 and available for play for free online (I'll be posting it in my sweetshop when it comes out).

You can read the first chapter of Persuasive Games by Ian Bogost, here.

Monday, August 6, 2007

8 Important Lessons Learned From 80's Cartoons

Well, I had so much fun on Cracked the other day that I was browsing there again and came across this little gem article, 8 Important Lessons Learned From 80's Cartoons. The first item should come as no surprise to any of my friends from the 80's, primarily that communism works and the Smurfs are here to prove it. Also, a couple of nights ago, completely without prompting, some friends were over and came up with He-man's little secret all on their own.

Personally, I think that the list should be expanded to include the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon, where the lesson would be: That whining complainer in the back of the group? Guess what? He's right.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Less Talky, More Typey

In On Writing, Stephen King's collective essays about the writing process, he suggests aspiring wordsmiths set a goal of 1,000 words a day (or as he calls it, "getting the black on white"). I myself, aspire to this industrious goal, but I struggle even more with calculating how many words I have written that day. I'm too lazy (or perhaps it's too tedious) to repeatedly use the word count tool in Microsoft Word to figure out if I've missed my mark (or need to celebrate because I've exceeded it).

Enter this nifty little Macro from Allen Wyatt's Word Tips on Displaying a Live Word Count. Read the article then copy the Visual Basic program onto your clipboard. If you don't know how to install a Macro in Word then read the instructions below:

  1. Open the Microsoft Word document where you want a live word count.
  2. Go to Tools --> Macro --> Record New Macro.
  3. Enter a unique Macro name; Assign the Macro to the Toolbar; and under "Store Macro in" select your open document.
  4. Press "Okay" and the little stop button comes up. Press Stop.
  5. Go to Tools --> Macro --> Macros.
  6. Highlight the Macro you just recorded and click "Step Into".
  7. Paste Allen Wyatt's Program over the contents (the entire contents including Sub and End) and save.
Wallah! Now in the title bar next to the file name, a word count appears that continually updates as you write. Allen Wyatt has a ton of nifty tips for manipulating Microsoft Word into the bendy shapes you wished it came with, so feel free to check out his entire site.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The 9 Most Typecast Actors of All Time

This article, The 9 Most Typecast Actors of All Time, from Cracked made me giggle and giggle. Especially number 7 (Kelsey Grammer) and number 5 (Samuel L. Jackson).

I was hoping that this would be a list of bit character actors (you know, the people you've seen a million times but you can't remember their names). It's not, but I've been inspired to make my own. Stay tuned for my 10 Most Typecast Character Actors of All Time.