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Whilst I have yet to work out what career I would find most fulfilling, there are certain career-paths I find somewhat interesting. Talking to people in those professions would involve, you know, talking to people, and, therefore is out of the question. Luckily, there are webcomics about geeks that illustrate the ins and outs of those professions so I can get an idea of what it’d be like to work in those fields without having to spend years working my way into the career only to discover I hated it.
Join me in a tour of the lives of:
Web designers: .net by Brad Colbow, Ah, the life of a web designer. You just want to be simultaneously geeky and creative and the people who will give you money to do those things are entirely lacking geekiness or creativity.
The Oatmeal has a hilarious example of this, as well.
Software developers: Not Invented Here by Bill Barnes and Paul Southworth. Sort of like Dilbert but more tech and less misogyny. And there’s a Goth character.
Internet service providers: User Friendly [this is currently on hiatus, but if you start at the beginning there are daily strips from 1997 to 2009. Hopefully, Illiad will eventually return to us with regularly scheduled strips.]
Video game developers: The Trenches by Mike Krahulik, Jerry Holkins, Scott Kurtz. The comic itself is enlightening, but the blog posts beneath each comic are written by people in the video game industry and those are…eye-opening.
Librarians: Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum. Books! Books everywhere! And the general public! The general public everywhere!
Grad students: PHD by Jorge Cham. Sometimes I think that if I excelled at structured learning, I’d enjoy a life in academia. Then I realise I’d have to get through grad school…
fucknogradschool is a Tumblr account (page? blog?) rather than a comic, but it gives an excellent idea of what post-grads feel/think/experience.
On the other hand…
In a similar vein, Penny Arcade is about gamers and gaming, written by gamers. I have never played a first person shooter or MMORPG or…most other types of very popular games, but I enjoy learning about them and hearing people’s reactions to them. Their blog is also amusing and informative and helps me keep up with what my gamer friends are on about.
Also, PA is where I learned about 3-D printing, thanks to these strips:
Here is a video of 3-D printing:
Super Extra Bonus Content!
Shapeways is a site with lots of nifty products created by the general public…who happen to know how to design in three dimensions. You can also create your own designs and they’ll print them for you.
Thank you for joining me in this tour of careers-I-find-interesting-but-not-interesting-enough-to-pursue.
And if you know of any web comics about writers or bookshop employees, please leave a comment.
by technology (see this post for a longer explanation).
So have this photo instead. I hope it makes up for my reading slackness.
I’m not saying you should be offended by my not posting a reading review this week, I just enjoy this quote. And Stephen Fry.
Resurrection men dug up corpses to sell to doctors who wanted to dissect them (taking apart God’s most beloved creatures–humans–was frowned upon at the time) or for use in medical lectures. They were also called body snatchers, but, as this occurred during the 19th century, ‘Resurrection Men’ is more poetic and fitting, I think.
It was such a problem that people would opt to be buried in mortsafes to ensure their final resting place was indeed their final resting place.
This is a practise I find interesting, but, for some reason, isn’t covered in film very often.
So imagine my surprise and delight to discover there was not only a film about Burke and Hare* –two very famous resurrection men who sort of … hurried things along if the usual crops weren’t ripening fast enough, if you get my drift–but it starred Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis, as well. It was released in 2010 and must have received very little press, because I would have remembered hearing about it. Because, you know, body snatchers and Simon Pegg.
And it’s not as though Pegg and Serkis were alone on some indy picture. They were accompanied by Tom Wilkinson, Isla Fischer and Jessica Hynes. It was directed by John Landis. He directed American Werewolf in London and the long-form music video to Thriller amongst others. AND every other male British comedian seemed to have a cameo. Short list: Tim Curry, Bill Bailey (without a beard! weird), Michael Smiley, Christopher Lee, Ronnie Corbett, Reece Shearsmith, Hugh Bonneville, Jenny Agutter (not a man, admittedly)… there are more. It was a constant, ‘Oh my god! It’s [insert name here] .’
So why didn’t I hear about this?
It must have been something to do with not knowing how to market the thing. Here is the film poster:
It looks like some mindless goofball comedy from the ’80s, and it definitely has its goofy moments, but it’s worth more than that. I give it 8/10. Go watch it.
Another film about body-snatchers with a clueless marketing team was I Sell the Dead, which is about a pair of resurrection men who discover that some of their charges aren’t as dead as they should be. We have zombies and vampires and … other things. It’s a highly enjoyable, slightly above B-movie, with several laugh-out-loud moments. This one had an even bigger problem with marketing. Here are the movie posters available for it:
This one most accurately conveys the feel of the movie, though it’s still not quite right.
I give this one 7/10. It is what it is, but I must address the ‘surpasses Shaun of the Dead’ comment on the rock video poster: No. Not even close. It will appeal to fans of Shaun of the Dead, but doesn’t surpass it by a long chalk.
*If you’re interested in reading more about Burke and Hare, Gutenberg.org has both The History of Burke and Hare and of the Resurrectionist Times by George Mac Gregor (it’s free on Amazon ) and The Court of Cacus or the Story of Burke and Hare by Alexander Leighton ( Amazon link ).
You know you can fill your brain with interesting information you’ll never need by following one Wikipedia link to the next (there’s even a game based around that very thing ), but the Internet can make you smarter in other, more permanent ways. Using the magic of video.
[Warning: you can lose hours of your life on the following pages because there's always 'one...more...video...']
They do regular shows on experiments, science news, pioneers in scientific fields and loads of other geeky things. One of their newest features is the SciShow Talk Show. The initial episode:
Which leads directly to The Brain Scoop , a channel by Emily Graslie that focuses on the ‘interesting’ things behind the scenes at a Zoological museum. They have a shirt that says ‘ Everything is Dead ‘. That should tell you a lot.
Here’s a video for you to watch. Then watch more of hers.
I mentioned the vlogbrothers above, and they have a channel, Crash Course , which is what it sounds like. Quick courses on History (US & World) & English Literature, as well as Ecology, Chemistry and Biology.
This is the intro to English Literature.
Then there’s Vsauce , which has science, as well, but is also heavy on general trivia. Vsauce like to explain/answer interesting questions. Like the science of the friend-zone:
If you like your trivia heavier on the funny and delivered with an English accent, head over to the Quite Interesting channel , with all of the QI episodes. You’ll laugh your arse off and learn a few things, as well.
Back in the States, Ze Frank is always funny, but his True Facts about animals are hilarious.
Speaking of learning to code, K has also done a Coursera course on Python; one of the assignments of which was making a rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock game and the final was to build your own asteroid-shooter game so he enjoyed himself immensely. He’s also taken a course through Udacity and recommends that, as well. There are loads of free courses online, but I’m only including those I’ve personally heard good things about. If you’ve tried a site you liked, hit up the comments and let me know.
There’s a Coursera course coming up in March on Self Knowledge I’m considering doing, though my life is going to be in some turmoil due to employment fun, so we’ll see how that goes. If you’re taking it, please let me know. Perhaps we can be study-buddies.
If you need an information-fix and don’t have time to watch videos for some reason, there’s the Twitter.
I’ve recently got onto the Twitter and one of my favourite accounts is Curiosity , the most recent inhabitant of Mars. It posts in the first person, which is bloody fantastic.
How do I take selfies on Mars? By taking multiple pics w/ a camera at the end of my arm. Here’s how it’s done: http://go.nasa.gov/UHonU2
BECAUSE IT TAKES SELFIES ON MARS YOU GUISE
The fabulous Professor Brian Cox ( @ProfBrianCox ) has a twitter feed that’s just as enjoyable as you’d think.
There are a bajillionty [totally scientific number] of other educational twitter feeds, please let me know which ones you like. Before I end this post, I have to mention @BBCNews , because just today it brought this to my iPod:
Thanks to their feed, I got to watch that before I was even out of bed this morning. Learning things rocks
There is an implicit code that customers rely on. If a book cover has raised lettering, metallic lettering, or raised metallic lettering, then it is telling the reader: Hello. I am an easy-to-read work on espionage, romance, a celebrity and/or murder. To readers who do not care for such things, this lettering tells them: Hello. I am Crap. Such books can use only glossy paper for the jacket; Serious Books can use glossy finish as well, but it is only Serious Books that are allowed to use matte finish.
Diminutively sized paperbacks, like serial romances or westerns or dieting and astrology guides, are aimed at the uneducated. But diminutively sized hardcover books are aimed at the educated—excepting those that are very diminutive, which are religious books aimed at the uneducated—and unless they are in a highly rectangular format, in which case they are point-of-purchase books aimed at the somewhat-but-not entirely educated. However, vertically rectangular diminutive softcover books, which tend to be pocket travel guides, are aimed at the educated. But horizontally rectangular diminutive softcover books—a genre pioneered by Garfield Gains Weight—are not.
Then there are the colours. Bright colours, and shiny colours, are necessary for the aforementioned books with raised lettering. Black will work too, but only if used to set off the bright and shiny colours. Because, remember, with the customer base in mind, the book will need to be a bright and shiny object. Conversely, a work of Serious Literature will have muted, tea-stained colours. Black is okay here too, but only if used to accentuate cool blues and greys and greens.
Woe and alas to any who transgress these laws. A number of reviewers railed against The Bridges of Madison County, because it used the diminutive hardcover size and muted colour scheme of, say, an Annie Dillard book—thus cruelly tricking readers of Serious Literature into buying crap. Not to be outdone, the Harvard University Press issued Walter Benjamin’s opus The Arcades Project with gigantic raised metallic lettering. One can only imagine the disgust of blowhard fiftysomethings in bomber jackets as they slowly realised that the Project they were reading about was a cultural analysis of 19th century Parisian bourgeoisie—and not, say, a tale involving renegade Russian scientists and a mad general aboard a nuclear submarine.
Finally, on Serious Books and Crap alike there will be a head-shot photo of The Author sitting while looking pensive or smiling faintly into the indeterminate distance—the one pose that has no existence in the author’s actual daily life. The size of this photo will be in inverse proportion to the quality of the book. If the photo is rendered in colour, it is not a Serious Book. If there is no author photo at all, then it is a Serious Book indeed—perhaps even a textbook.
If a colour photo of the author occupies the entire front cover, the book is unequivocal Crap.
(swiped without permission from Paul Collins’ excellent Sixpence House )
From The Guardian: Writers’ Favourite Classic Book Illustrations with Pictures . The captions make it, for me. Beatrix Potter was… interesting. [Bonus 1: I've just started playing Peter Rabbit's Garden on my iPod and it's lovely--really captures the feel of the books, but without the horrors. Bonus 2: The illustration below was Bryan Talbot's choice for the article. Complete set of Dore illustrations of with the Longfellow translation of The Divine Comedy in this 30MB zip file .]
This article from Slate explains why we think disasters make people regress to their primal selves, when it’s simply not so. Bonus info: There’s something called ‘disaster science’ and I’m loving the new term ‘elite panic’, which is when white people get a-scared the non-white people are going to start looting and robbing the second the electrics are off for more than ten minutes. The big takeaway from this article is that people are kinda great when it benefits the entire tribe (meaning all the people).
Gawker has an article about an advice column about how men can best deal with women-times . The title of the article is ‘MEN: Is Your Lady on ‘a Period’: Learn How to Deal in the Most Ridiculous Period-Advice Column Ever’ and I thought I was in for one of those delightfully amusing advice columns from the 1820s. But no. How I wish that had been the case.
I’d be remiss if I left an article on genitals of the other sex: Fleshbot has an…enlightening article about 3-D printing your willy . So, so very NSFW . My husband read this part to me, (italicized bit was his commentary):
They even hand mix their own colors, and not only do they do four flesh tones (cashew, caramel, hazelnut, and chocolate) [WHY ARE THEY ALL FOODS?!] but they can also capture undertones, such as the reddish-purple luster of a swollen dong. They’re true artisans.
The article is hilarious and reminds me a great deal of Grant Stoddard’s excellent I Did it For Science column on Nerve.
And apparently, since sex seems to be the unofficial topic of this week’s links, have an article from The Atlantic entitled Where Masturbation and Homosexuality Do Not Exist , which is about the Aka and Ngandu tribes in central Africa. When a population has a high infant mortality rate but relies on having several children, sex, though enjoyable, is used as a reproduction tool (sorry). The article also discusses the way Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich Democratic societies (WEIRD)–which is even better than ‘elite panic’–approach the idea of sex when studying non-WEIRD groups. I find the sociology of anthropology very interesting, so this article was a great read.