Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Font of Goodness

This makes my rebellious little heart almost giddy with happiness. Hating Comic Sans is Ableist. Now before I go on I have to say that I hate the word "ableist". I hate pretty much any recently coined word that ends in "ist". But I won't get any further into that now. I have never had any strong feelings about Comic Sans one way or the other. It's just a font; it's kind of cute, informal, probably shouldn't be used for resumes or term papers but if you did I don't think it would be a deadly sin or anything like that.

Look, I can understand people having font preferences and dislikes and that they might differ from mine. But I will never understand the amount of energy some people waste on hating Comic Sans. I mean, it's not that it's difficult to read, the only legitimate reason for hating a font; people just hate it for no good reason - because it's casual, I guess. But whatever the reason, the way people express their dislike for it is just too over-the-top. Come on, people; there are many things in the world more worthy of all that hate, if you must hate.

Now, here is an excellent reason to demand tolerance for comic sans.

The day my sister, Jessica, discovered Comic Sans, her entire world changed. She’s dyslexic and struggled through school until she was finally diagnosed in her early twenties, enabling her to build up a personal set of tools for navigating the written world.

“For me, being able to use Comic Sans is similar to a mobility aid, or a visual aid, or a hearing aid,” she tells me while we’re both visiting our family in Maryland. “I have other ways of writing and reading, but they’re not like they are for someone who’s not dyslexic.”

The irregular shapes of the letters in Comic Sans allow her to focus on the individual parts of words. While many fonts use repeated shapes to create different letters, such as a “p” rotated to made a “q,” Comic Sans uses few repeated shapes, creating distinct letters (although it does have a mirrored “b” and “d”). Comic Sans is one of a few typefaces recommended by influential organizations like the British Dyslexia Association and the Dyslexia Association of Ireland. Using Comic Sans has made it possible for Jessica to complete a rigorous program in marine zoology at Bangor University in Wales.

As the article notes, there are other fonts designed for dyslexics but some still find Comic Sans the easiest to read and I think people, disabled or not, should be allowed to choose what makes their lives easier without ridicule from self-appointed guardians of good taste. Okay, I have to admit, I lean toward being a guardian of good taste myself in some ways like, for example, if your bra straps are showing and it's obviously not an accident I definitely think badly of you but I'm not going start a website devoted to outrage over exposed bra straps. It's all about the amount of energy you put into hating relatively unimportant things. Comic Sans might be a serious irritant to some people but it's not up there with bigotry, poverty, and a whole long list of actual problems. So, Comic Sans? Just get over it, people. It's only a font.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Quote

From Helliconia Spring by Brian W. Aldiss:

...life has a quality rulers cannot touch.

I have thought about this but something that good writers can do that most of us can't is state a thought simply and elegantly that most of us take whole paragraphs to try to say without ever really getting the point across.

Interesting Sweet Potato Recipe

I saw this Melting Sweet Potatoes recipe on Facebook and want to link to it here so I can find it again. It's very simple but interesting to me for some reason. You might laugh at me but, to be honest, the 500 degree oven temp kind of freaks me out a little bit but I'm going to try this sometime.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hello February

It seems like everyone hates February. I often hear people say that the only good thing about is that it's short. It's true that we have had some of our worst weather ever in February but to me February feels sort of... I'm not sure this is the word I really want to use but sort of hopeful. This is because the days are getting noticeably longer. It's a little less dark. It's increasingly possible to imagine spring. (March, on the other hand, makes me impatient because it's usually still cold in March and it starts to feel like winter will never end.)

Saturday it was 80F. Today it's gray and cold, more like February is "supposed to be" but that's okay. I had Saturday and today it's still not freezing and the sun will come out and it will warm up again soon. February is okay.

I took the picture in this post a few minutes ago, between 8:15 and 8:30.

Valentines Day

I don't really care much about Valentines Day one way or the other. It's a nice little "holiday" I suppose but I'm not that emotionally invested in it. We're not really overtly romantic people which suits me just fine. Too often things that look romantic in the movies come across as creepy in real life. Guys who have been called "creepy" might want to make a note of this. Don't try too hard. Just be real.

I think the jewelry stores, and in particular DeBeer's, have ruined Valentines Day. When we were kids it was just that fun little day when everyone got those little Valentine cards that always had some kind of silly pun on them and when you were grown up you would get a prettier card and if he was really serious maybe a heart shaped box of chocolates, a third to a half of which are slightly icky (Seriously, why doesn't anyone make Valentines chocolates that are all one kind, like all chocolate covered cherries or all coconut so you can have a whole box of your favorite kind?) and that was pretty much all there was to it. Just a nice, fun little day.

Now it's become so complicated. Guys are expected to come up with the perfect gift, "perfect" meaning expensive, and there's a definite suggestion that the woman is expected to "put out" in response to this perfect gift. Sorry folks but if that's the way it works that's a payment for services, not a gift. Also, there's now a stigma against being alone on Valentines Day - like it's so sad and the worst thing in the world. I blame sitcoms for that.

Listen people, the movies are not real life. TV is not real life. DeBeer's commercials are not real life. Just because we see it on TV does not mean that we are required to play along. Just do your own thing, whatever feels right, whatever makes you happy and don't be all angsty about it. Take back Valentines Day and make it the cute, silly little day it used to be.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Earth Images of the Week

I was watching a documentary series about Antarctica Saturday so I decided to do a little exploring on Google Earth. Not much to see down there but this area looks sort of interesting.

From farther out:

Fortunately, it's quite a bit warmer on my part of the planet.

Friday, February 10, 2017

A Bit of Spring in February

More Books

As I already mentioned, I was reading Neal Asher's Dark Intelligence. Excellent story, great fun. It's the first of a trilogy set in his Polity universe and features a very interesting AI character - one of the insane ones - seen in earlier novels. This AI is being hunted separately by two humans, one of whom is being rapidly transformed into something not human.

As I said in the my earlier post I have the second book in that trilogy and I thought about reading it next but since the third book hasn't been published yet I decided there was no point in getting in a hurry about it. So I read Binti instead. You can read an excerpt here. It is not long, a novella, and I read it all in one day. It is excellent and unique, about a teenage girl from a tribal culture who is accepted by a university off world but her parents forbid her to go and her brothers and sisters ridicule her ambitions so of course she sneaks away and goes anyway. On the way she meets people who look down on her because of her traditions and vicious aliens who hate humans. A very worthwhile read.

What do you do when you have two books you want to read immediately? You go looking for a third one. I looked to see if there was anything in my Kindle Recommendations and was shocked and awed (in a good way) to find Brian Aldiss' Helliconia Trilogy for $5 and change. I had found Helliconia Spring over a decade ago in a used bookstore and loved it but I couldn't find Summer and Winter anywhere. After a while I gave up searching and mostly forgot about it. So of course that's what I'm reading now.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Just a Few Links

Vintage Wallpaper - Very interesting designs. I guess it's just as well they don't make it like this anymore. I would have a terrible time deciding what I want on my walls.

How to Transfer a Photo to Wood - A fun thing to try sometime

Fairy Doors

Fat Cat Art

Reading for Longevity - People who read books live longer.

Fy Nyth - Life in a tiny house in Wyoming. Gorgeous nature photography. Take some time to browse the archives.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Science Fiction & Fantasy on TV

Just a few short notes about some of the shows I have been watching:

Pure Genius - This show is about an advanced medical facility that regularly comes up with miracle cures, usually without waiting for FDA approval. The center's founder is a young billionaire genius (but not a doctor) with a lot of heart, enthusiasm, and impatience. In a current ongoing story line he gives a patient an experimental drug that has not been approved by the FDA which leads to a lot of drama but I'm sitting there thinking, "What about all those other times you used treatments that were not approved by the FDA or the AMA or anyone because they were made up on the spot and it was apparently perfectly okay?" Three stars. Or maybe only two and half.

* * *

Beyond is on Freeform, a network I had never heard of until I saw this advertised on another network and discovered to my surprise that we do get it. A young man wakes up after having been in a coma for 12 years. In addition to having to catch up on all the things he missed, like high school and learning to drive, he has to deal with some pretty weird stuff going on - people he's never met who apparently know him and some strange powers. Not bad but not great. Three stars.

* * *

Emerald City (NBC) - As you might guess from the title, this is a re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz but it has very little in common with the original. A rather fun show with entertaining characters but the story is a bit confusing so far. Still, I'm going to give it four stars because it's imaginative and, overall, well done.

* * *

Gotham - You really need to be watching this show! Everything about it is brilliant! The writing, the acting, the set design. For those who haven't heard of it, it's a Batman prequel. Bruce Wayne is about 13 or 14, I think, in the first season. Penguin is one of the few villains who is already known by his Batman villain name. Brilliantly portrayed by Robin Lord Taylor, he is now my favorite Penguin ever! There's really just no way I can convey to you how entertaining this guy is. Edward Nygma is just a shy guy with issues - issues that come out more and more as the show progresses. And he who will someday be The Joker has only recently made an appearance. Morena Baccarin, of Firefly fame, has a role as a medical examiner.

Interestingly, Gotham has a 30s/40s noir ambiance but mixes both old and new elements. We see both cell phones (flip phones only, no smart phones) and rotary dial desk phones. Cars are not really "vintage" but I haven't noticed any current models either. Actually, to be honest I haven't paid a whole lot of attention to the cars. Anyway, the whole thing seems designed to make it impossible to tell what era it's in. I love this show. Five stars.

* * *

The Expanse - Second season premiered this week. Based on the series of novels by James S.A. Corey, this is another excellent show. Most of the action takes place aboard space ships and space stations but I hesitate to call it "space opera" because of the associations that term has for some people. The portrayal of life in space is the best and most realistic I have ever seen. I am not a scientist or geeky enough to tell you if they got everything right but it looks very believable to me. Five stars.