A Distraction from Distraction

> The latest ripple from the Michael Sam story was the Oprah network’s plan to shoot a “docu-series” about his journey to the NFL, and its subsequent decision to postpone the show to avoid creating any “distractions” for Sam, the Rams, and the NFL. The irony, of course, is that football and its world of 10,000 square foot jumbotrons and gyrating half-naked women on the sideline is America’s favorite distraction. A distraction from a distraction could force all of us to have a more intimate relationship with our social universe.

[Well said, Joshua Neuman.](http://magazine.good.is/articles/the-other-person-who-made-history-when-the-rams-drafted-michael-sam)

Speaking from the Command Line

One of eight tips from [Mitchell Cohen][] points out that you can not only use Mac OS X’s built-in *Text to Speech* engine from the command line (`say “some text”`), but, even more usefully, you can save the results to an audio file–again, all from the command line:

say -f mytext.txt -o myaudio.aiff

[Mitchell Cohen]: http://www.mitchchn.me/2014/os-x-terminal/

Space Jam

I grab a lot of these images for my daughter, who loves science and, most especially, space, which this image visualizes rather ingloriously: all the satellites of Earth in two images. Whoa.

Satellites of Earth

Satellites of Earth

ReStructured Text

I have used, and continue to use [Markdown][] for a variety of purposes, one of which is writing this blog, and as much as I love it and depend upon it for a variety of tasks, I also recognize that it has its limitations. For one, when John Gruber and Aaron Swartz set out to implement it, they meant it as a shortcut to HTML.

And, well, let’s face it, HTML is a presentation language, not a semantic language: it cannot tell you what something is, beyond simple things like “this is a heading” or “this is a link.” I have tried to use Markdown, or the more powerful implementation of it, [MultiMarkdown][], to create more complex kinds of documents, but, in the end, it always feels like you’re trying to drill a hole with screw driver: it just isn’t the right tool for the job.

Well, along comes my interesting in computational forms of text analysis and my decision to commit to [Python][] for the time being, and I find myself introduced to [ReStructured Text][]. ReST, as it is abbreviated, was designed as a document creation language for the kinds of technical documents that accompany a language like Python. It offers a lot of power, if also a set of markup features that I find vaguely confusing at this point.

I have a number of things I want to do this summer — markup my collection of legends in TEI, investigate DoD funding of narrative research, learn to code — but one of the things I plan to do is to teach myself ReST, and the focus of that work is going to be my [vita][], which is currently maintained, quite poorly, simultaneously in a Pages document and in Markdown: the slashes in front of the dates reveal that I could find no other way to defeat Markdown’s impulse to transform any number at the beginning of a line into an ordered list. *Sigh.* I’ll post news of the results as soon as I have them. (I’m also thinking that an introduction to ReST might be a good post for [ProfHacker][].)

In the mean time, here’s a .

[Markdown]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markdown
[MultiMarkdown ]: http://fletcherpenney.net/multimarkdown/
[Python]: http://python.org/
[ReStructured Text]: http://docutils.sourceforge.net/rst.html
[vita]: http://johnlaudun.org/vita/
[ProfHacker]: http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/
: http://showmedo.com/videotutorials/video?name=980010&fromSeriesID=98

Castle Laudun

It would appear that the [family home is for sale][]. With 8 bedrooms, 1 full bath, and 2 partial baths packed into 12,000 square feet — and currently listed at $5 million — it’s safe to say they don’t build them like they did in 1650.

[family home is for sale]: http://www.christiesrealestate.com/eng/sales/detail/170-l-78234-f1305091616711329/sale-castle-laudun-other-france-fr-30290

Subject: Classic

> A local civic group decided to sponsor a health and wellness seminar early one morning in its meeting room. A doctor from Johns Hopkins was addressing the surprisingly large audience:
>
> “The material we put into our stomachs is enough to have killed most of us sitting here years ago. Red meat is awful. Soft drinks corrode your stomach lining. Chinese food is loaded with MSG. High-fat diets can be disastrous, and none of us realizes the long-term harm caused by the germs in our drinking water. But there is one thing that is the most dangerous of all and we all have, or will, eat it. Can anyone here tell me what food it is that causes the most grief and suffering for years after eating it?”
>
> After several seconds of quiet, an elderly gentleman in the front row raised his hand and said softly, “Wedding cake.”

15 Sorting Algorithms

Okay, I confess that I found this visualization/auralization of sorting algorithms absolutely mesmerizing, which may or may not reveal something (terribly wrong with or) about me. For those curious, the algorithms are:

> selection sort, insertion sort, quick sort, merge sort, heap sort, radix sort (LSD), radix sort (MSD), std::sort (intro sort), std::stable_sort (adaptive merge sort), shell sort, bubble sort, cocktail shaker sort, gnome sort, bitonic sort and bogo sort (30 seconds of it).

[Link][] for more information.

[Link]: http://panthema.net/2013/sound-of-sorting/