Everything you ever wanted to know about fonts

I really don’t know a lot about fonts, and rarely venture beyond Times New Roman, Georgia, and Arial, but I’ve always found the subject fascinating (and I do enjoy playing around with them in MS Word from time to time).  Anyway, I therefore loved this video on “The History of Typography” (in stop-motion animation, no less).


Also, a great interview with the creator in the Atlantic.

Where the money comes from

Nice piece in the Atlantic highlighting five charts that show how big money is increasingly influencing politics.  The title is, “How Big Money Created the Most Polarized Congress in a Century: 5 Charts”  which I think anybody who’s even taken a class on political parties should be able to debunk (i.e., while big money may be a contributing factor in no way is it the chief causal driver of a polarized Congress), the charts are still quite illustrative.  I like this one the best:

PAC whos.png

This is all in 2012 dollars.  A little explanation:

The trend from 1978 to 2012 is pretty astounding: PACs gave just $34.1 million to candidates at the start of that span, compared to $425.5 million in 2012. But the PAC data also tells a story about who’s gaining and who’s losing power in contemporary America. Look at what labor PACs spend back in 1978 — more than corporate groups, and nearly as much as trade groups. Since then, all three groups have grown, but while unions’ share has remained surprisingly flat since 1996 or so, trade groups and especially corporate PACs have far outpaced them:

Short version– corporate and trade group spending has come to completely dominate outside funding in elections.  And you better believe that has consequences for whom are politicians listen to.

The best way to potty train is…

Apparently, nobody actually knows.  Turns out, we need some hard-nosed rigorous social science in the area, but it’s sorely lacking.  Slate’s Melinda Wenner Moyer decided to research the issue thoroughly, and came away with this:

I’ve read studies with titles like “Dry Pants: A Rapid Method of Toilet Training Children,” published in journals with names like Neurourology and Urodynamics. I’ve talked to several developmental pediatricians who have spent their careers studying toilet training. And what I’ve discovered is that, although there’s some good information suggesting when parents should potty train, and studies detailing which kids have an easier or harder time doing it, the how best to potty train part has still been largely unanswered. Why? One report put it this way: “Toilet training for healthy children is not a subject that invokes passion among researchers.”

I get it—cure cancer, or watch kids poop all day? I know what I’d choose. But the net result is that parents are bombarded with “best” techniques that have never been backed by much (if any) science. Worse, much of the research that does exist is hard to decipher. (I still don’t know what it means to “hover within the prompt.”)

Damn.  I was hoping for the answer.  That said, I’ve got three kids potty trained and the fourth really ought to be getting with the program one of these days.  Still, as long as it’s taken with each one, I was hoping for some answers.  My one piece of advice is that why pull-ups have their place, they do not actually help at all in potty training.

The NC Brand redux

NC Journalist extraordinaire Mark Binker shared a link to the public radio show Marketplace covering the Moral Monday protests (nothing you don’t already know).   Rather, Binker’s thoughts sharing the link are what struck me:

So what does it say that NPR’s [Ed.  it’s actually American Public Media] business news show covered Moral Monday’s last night? Are they still a “peripheral issue” in job recruiting, as the governor suggested?

Ummm, yep.  I was actually thinking about this very issue today while driving through the part of Cary all full of tech companies, etc., and thinking that all this craziness sure is not going to encourage forward-thinking companies to locate here in the future.  Depressing.

And as long as I’m on the brand issue, Pino writes in comments:

The anti-gay laws I get. But the rest?


The whole Sharia thing doesn’t matter to me, guns in bars? I think that a bar should be able to decide. As for the schools? Well, there is little evidence that shows better funding increases outcomes.

And the “once proud? UNC? Is it no longer proud? And shrinking the budget of a University is somehow crazy because?

First, I love the fact that he just writes off the most absurd aspect of this with “doesn’t matter to me.”  I would argue that the crazies in the legislature embarrassing our state should concern all North Carolinians who care about the future of our state.

And, of course, better funding increasing educational outcomes.  Yes, it’s complicated and there’s lots of moving parts, but ceteris paribus, you sure want your kids schools better funded than not.  If you believe that people respond to economic incentives, among other things you’d have to believe that money invested in better teacher compensation would result in keeping more good teachers in the classroom.   From the Shanker Institute:

  1. Does money matter? Yes. On average, aggregate measures of per-pupil spending are positively associated with improved or higher student outcomes. In some studies, the size of this effect is larger than in others and, in some cases, additional funding appears to matter more for some students than others. Clearly, there are other factors that may moderate the influence of funding on student outcomes, such as how that money is spent – in other words, money must be spent wisely to yield benefits. But, on balance, in direct tests of the relationship between financial resources and student outcomes, money matters.

As for the once proud university, ask all my students who cannot get courses they need because of the classes we are busy cutting due to budget cuts how they feel about this.

Photo of the day

Via the Greensboro News & Record— Uncle Sam gets arrested at yesterday’s Moral Monday:

NAACP Protests 1

Sam Hummel of Greensboro, dressed as Uncle Sam, is arrested during “Moral Monday” demonstrations at the General Assembly in Raleigh, Monday, July 8, 2013. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

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