West Indian Humour

November 26, 2010

When you hear “West Indian Dub Videos”,
this is probably not what you expect.

Guyanese Dora and Boots:

Trinidadian Slap Chop:

Thanks to Pasha and Gerry for Facebooking these.

Ees da tack see ohn eets wey?

November 25, 2010

My friend Michelle sent me this. I turned it up very loud and marched in place for a few minutes. I’m in really good shape now.

Rua Sésamo

November 4, 2010

Here are Portuguese muppets Egas e Becas, with that old Sesame classic,
“Oooooo…. peixe, peixe, peixe, peixe!”

Here’s another classic, pretty easy to understand:

Obrigada to Helder for the tip!


September 2, 2010

Awesome spelling bee kid.

Man, spelling bees encourage great life skills. Look at this kid taking his time, asking questions to clarify, gathering information, making deductions, and taking risks. Not to mention laughing his face off.

Thanks to Kelly for the tip.

Vivid Language in the Emergency Department

June 2, 2010

“You need to put her under — deeply — and basically recreate the injury. Don’t be wimpy about it: you have to go medieval on her. There’ll be a nasty crunch as you complete the ulnar fracture; don’t worry about that. Make sure you have the parents sitting down or out of the room.”

Dr. Shadowfax talks about the value of using really vivid, colourful language when giving directions in the ER. Maybe it’s not for you if you’re squeamish, but I enjoyed this post.

Build A Title

May 12, 2010

Here’s a fun game for your next road trip:

1. Pick a movie title. For instance, Dawn of the Dead.
2. Pick another movie title that can build onto either end of the first title; it can be the whole word or just a syllable. For instance: Crimson Dawn + Dawn of the Dead. Or Dawn of the Dead + Dead Man Walking.
3. Continue, taking turns. Part of the game is that in order to add on a new title, you have to repeat the whole entire thing from memory.

Helder and I killed this game today:

Crimson Dawn of the Dead Man Walking TAll Dogs Go to Heavenly Creat(j)ursey Girl Next Do(OrCa)nadian BacUnforgiv(Envy)Event Horizon.

And then:

Good Morning VietnAmeliEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MIndependence Day(Dave)(A)VPeeWee Herman’s Big AdventureLand Before Time CopLand of the Lost at Sea No Evil Hear No Evil Deadward Scissorhands.

Try it, it’s a lot of fun (…ny People) Versus Larry Flynterview With A VampiReservoir Dogs.

A question about learning.

March 22, 2010

When you were a kid, what was that thing that took you extra-long to learn? For me, it was telling time. For some of my friends, it was reading. I am very curious to know about that thing. Why didn’t you understand it? What was it that you were doing wrong? What was the one simple “key” that an adult could have given you to unlock the mystery?

Until I was 10, I had no idea how a watch represented time. I saw numbers and understood that they referred to the time of day. I did not understand why there were two different hands pointing to those numbers. If someone had said to me, “The little hand points at the hour number. The long hand is not pointing at any numbers- it’s marking off fractions!”, then I would have understood. Although I was also confused about the fact that there were so many ways to say the time (15 minutes = quarter past, etc). I guess I needed to start with 60=hour, 30=half, 15=quarter… I don’t remember anyone ever explaining that to me. I do remember sitting there in a fog and staring at the two hands and mentally adding together or multiplying the numbers each hand pointed to, trying in vain to get numbers as big as 15, 30, 45. So confusing. I was always a pretty good student, but while my peers learned to tell time in first grade, I was clueless until about fifth grade. I like to think this is the reason I’m usually late.

A friend who’s been diagnosed as dyslexic told me that she learned to read by memorizing the overall shapes of words. So to her, the word yellow was coded basically by its silhouette, as “dangly-normal-tall-tall-normal”. She didn’t really look at the individual letters, but rather at their relative heights. Obviously this is not helpful when you’re later presented with Yellow or YELLOW. She memorized the overall shape-variations of a zillion words instead of learning to look at words as being made of individual letters, inefficient system that leaves you lost when you encounter a new word, which will of course snowball into anxiety for a child who’s learning to read so much slower than her peers.

Another friend said she thought that the important parts of letters were the negative space inside of them, not the line itself. So to her, a capital B was two stacked semi-circles, not a straight line and two curved lines. When she wrote, she would carefully draw the negative space instead of the line, which means her printing didn’t translate naturally into handwriting. This also made word recognition tough for her when she encountered new fonts and handwriting.

I think these little learning quirks are really interesting. I bet they’d be worthwhile considerations for teachers, too- I always think it’s important to learn not only that I’m doing something wrong, but why it made sense to think that wrong thing, and how the wrong-yet-intuitive answer relates to the real answer. Do you remember the things you took forever to understand? What was the key that led to your AHA! moment?

Flash game: Blocks With Letters On

March 8, 2010

Have an afternoon you don’t need any more? Spend it playing Blocks with Letters On, shifting around little blocks to spell out words. Fun Flash game with delightful Britshy little animation as a reward for each level. It gets pretty tricky- I’m currently stuck at level 32. Also available for the iPhone. Get ready to ignore all your friends at the bar.

Oh, looks like I can’t link directly to the game. Hit Puzzle/Quiz (47) on the right side, then the game will be on the left about 6 options down.


That was pretty satisfying. Mostly because now I can put some pants on and leave the apartment again.

Gay vs. Homosexual: Words Matter

February 16, 2010

If you poll Americans about how they feel about military service being open to people of different sexual orientations, some will respond differently depending on whether you use the term “homosexual” or the words “gay men and lesibans”.

I’ve also read interesting commentary about very subtly coded language biases in journalism, when news outlets choose to say things like “this person was killed” or “this person died”. Same phenomenon being described, but the words can frame the story- and suggest who to blame- pretty differently. Worth thinking about if you write or consume factual content- a lot of biases can be buried in seemingly-neutral copywriting.

I’d be really interested to see a poll where these same Americans are asked to “name a famous homosexual” and “name a famous gay man or lesbian”. Wonder how divergent the answers would be?

How to disagree on the Internet

January 2, 2010

Paul Graham has identified a hierarchy of disagreement styles, starting with the lowest form of “name-calling”, and moving up the ladder to “clear refutation of the writer’s central point”:

Most intellectual dishonesty is unintentional. Someone arguing against the tone of something he disagrees with may believe he’s really saying something. Zooming out and seeing his current position on the disagreement hierarchy may inspire him to try moving up to counterargument or refutation.

It’s a good read: online here.