For some ridiculous reason, to which, however, I’ve no desire to be disloyal,Happy leap day! Here's some stuff to read/watch/look at/hear, none of which has anything to do with the fact that the year is (just slightly under) 365.25 days long.
Some person in authority, I don’t know who, very likely the Astronomer Royal,
Has decided that, although for such a beastly month as February,
twenty-eight days as a rule are plenty,
One year in every four his days shall be reckoned as nine and twenty.
-- W. S. Gilbert, The Pirates of Penzance
Don't skip the "other" section just because it ain't sorted like politics, comics and humor are... great stuff there too. Actually, just to try and make sure you don't, let's start with miscellaneous this time, and work backwards from there.
• I linked to this in passing recently, but it deserves a little more focus: every year Beloit college makes a list of what first-year students -- assuming they are eighteen years old -- know, not in a "aren't students ignorant" sort of way, but just in terms of generational experience: what teachers tend to think of as helpful contemporary comparisons are as foreign to them as the War of 1812. They have all their lists from 1998 - 2007 online (for classes of 2002 - 2011), and they make very interesting reading, particularly (I suspect) if you were born before, oh, say, 1980. (Via Charles Stross, who made a UK-centric version of such a list.)
• This N+1 essay on using Adderall as a lifestyle (?) drug in the Ivy League is absolutely fascinating, making it sound both tempting and scary. (via)
• Jo Walton on the Industrial Ruins of Elfland -- just marvelous. (Via Patrick, who also links to this piece on the Roman Ruins of Seattle.)
• The lion-eating poet in the stone den -- with audio!
• I'd read George Chauncey's fabulous book Gay New York before -- for my Ph.D. general exams, I think -- but I didn't know the amazing story behind it (and Chauncey's career), as written up by the always-amazing Rick Perlstein (taking a day off from his usual beat).
• Terry Teachout on how aiming for greatness sometimes sabotages getting there, while just trying to do good work actually leads to great work. (via)
• The single best campaign-finance plan I've ever heard about. Too bad this isn't getting more play; it's two different, wonderful ideas.
• You've probably seen the headlines about Nobel-prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calculating that the Iraq War will cost the US $3,000,000,000,000, but the details are really worth reading about.
• Tom Englehardt on Iraq's vanishing from the (US) headlines.
• Diebold accidentally leaks results of 2008 election nine months early.
• The Wilsonian roots of our current international politics.
• The history of hope: Obama in context.
• Tintin and Alph-Art is Herge's final, unfinished work; via Derik's review of the unfinished version, it turns out that someone has produced a finished version of it. I have to admit I haven't read the whole thing; but it looks fabulous...
• While we're on the subject of Tintin, this list of Tintin's adventures in twenty-first century terms is quite clever, and not simply the one-note joke you might think.
• I've enthused about Matt Madden's 99 Ways to Tell a Story several times before (online samples here). I've even mentioned the great guest-artists versions (to which I am a proud contributor). Well, there are some new guest-artist versions up that are all worth checking out: three at Madden's own blog, and one fabulous one in the style of a Harvey Pekar script here (also, scroll down the comments for a real sample page from a Pekar script for comparison!)
• More Maddenania: Pantoum comics.
• I linked earlier to his preliminary list, but Dick Hyacinth has now completed his final tabulation of the top 100 comics of 2007, collating results from best-of lists from all over the place. The community consensus of the best -- as near as can be determined. Interesting stuff.
Good for a Giggle
• Everyone's linking to this, but the reason is that it's so damn funny.
• A forgotten feminist icon.
...And that's all, folks!
How quaint the ways of Paradox!
At common sense she gaily mocks!
Though counting in the usual way,
Years twenty-one I’ve been alive.
Yet, reckoning by my natal day,
Yet, reckoning by my natal day,
I am a little boy of five!