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Blogosphere...What we’re on about

The basketball coach was on the subway yesterday evening on my ride home from work. . . . Like most panhandlers, he has his standard plug, and it hasn’t changed in the past year: “I’m a basketball coach, and even though I lost all my fingers on one hand, I’m still able to coach and keep the kids in Queens off the streets, thanks to the good folks riding the N train; if you have spare change, I’d appreciate it, but if not, a smile’ll do. Alright, show me those smiles.” And then, he proceeds through the car, grinning back at the passengers: “Hey, look at that smile! Beautiful smile there, honey. Alriiiight. Thanks for the smile.” The ability of New Yorkers to easily ignore panhandlers falters in the case of the basketball coach. I, too, flashed him a big grin.
Natalie Parke, F08, Fletcher Reflections

split pants
They are all over China, but nowhere have I noticed it more than in Beijing. The concept, for those unfamiliar, is a split in the back of a child’s pants to enable him or her to go to the bathroom with a simple squat. Chinese cite the money saved on diapers as a plus, but it is cold in Beijing—the kids’ cheeks resemble a sunburn. Additionally, anytime and any place seems to be the motto—I was walking closely behind a mother and her child when suddenly he stopped, squatted, and let go. That’s enough about that.
Edward Casabian, A04, Do it while you can . . .
“Just about five months traveling around the world”

sub-prime mortgages
As usual, the proposals coming out of Congress are way off the mark. Either they will underregulate and not solve anything, or they will overregulate and keep people with mixed credit histories from getting mortgages. What they need to do is apply human factors. The regulation should not say what mortgages are allowed or not allowed (but keeping the basic framework defining what borrowers can afford). It should require lenders to inform applicants exactly what the terms and risks of the loan are and then let them choose. This requires human factors because the current financial and legal gobbledygook is incomprehensible to the average borrower. A good human factors analysis could identify some structure that would solve the problem.
Marc Resnick, E89, Human Factors

visual grammar
I’ve recently been thinking quite a lot about how best to start testing my theories of visual language grammar. . . . One of the main ideas I had was starting off using a corpus of comic strips, so I wouldn’t be biasing the study with my own drawings. I hit on the thought that Peanuts strips would be perfect for this since 1) there are a ton of wordless ones, 2) they’re well recognized culturally, and 3) they use a fairly simple bare bones structure with 4) nearly always four panels.

So, thanks to a very kind donation from Fantagraphics, I am now poring through several volumes of The Complete Peanuts strips. . . . Hopefully, by summer I should be testing people’s intuitions on the grammar of these strips, and eventually looking at their brainwaves while processing them.
Neil T. Cohn, G11, The Visual Linguist,

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