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blog archive

Behold the Gender Genie!

Following up on yesterday’s post (scroll down), here’s an application that uses a super-secret algorithm to determine, from a writing sample, whether you’re male or female.

I tried to stump it, but to no avail. The Gender Genie correctly guessed “male” with every sample I entered. Clearly, then, I’m all man. It’s scientific.


I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Well then. Not at all what I expected. This nifty little application analyzes your writing—with a “statistical analysis tool,” no less—and tells you what famous author it most resembles.

So I had a short story scrutinized, followed by a handful of articles and feature stories, then some random long-form stuff I’ve done here at AMD. Apart from the occasional anomaly (H.P. Lovecraft, George Orwell), the overwhelming consensus seems to be that I write like Stephen King.

That’s a pretty strong case for a raise, I’m thinking.

Architectural Eye Candy


There are some questionable choices in this list of the most important works of architecture created since 1980 – on purely aesthetic grounds, anyway. But then, 52 experts can’t be wrong, can they?

BONUS! Click on the link to see a pop-up ad featuring Angelina Jolie looking even more fetching than usual!

Would a Hobo Eat a Ham Sandwich?

As someone who tried Facebook for a while, let me assure you that the answer to the question “Has Facebook fatigue set in?” is a resounding yes.

Yes, I know, I’m a bit of a misanthrope, but still. Stick a fork in it.

Now, if only Twitter would go away.

Our First Sports Post!

So. LeBron James has decided to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. Apparently, this is a huge deal. Who knew?

There seems to be an inordinately large number of people donning sackcloth and ashes—as if James’ decision actually meant something other than an NBA superstar’s self-interest. And it’s not just fans and sportswriters. Politicians are even involved.

The best part of the whole affair is the open letter posted on the  Cavaliers’ website by majority owner Dan Gilbert. Ignore, if you can, Gilbert’s egregious abuse of quotation marks, the four-period ellipses that evidently serve as terminal punctuation, the confusion surrounding the use of hyphens. No, no—take a look instead at the font. Is it…could it be…?

Yes! It’s Comic Sans!

Now you know he’s serious.

On Divas

Courtesy of Alex Ross, whose blog The Rest Is Noise should be required reading for lovers of the new classical music scene, comes this, from the Metrpolitan Opera’s head of costumes Lesley C. Weston:

“I’ve seen more divalike behavior in Starbucks over soy milk than I’ve seen backstage at the Metropolitan Opera.”

The full article is here.

A Look Back

Excerpted from an article by William A. Fetter entitled “Computer Graphics at Boeing,” Print magazine, November/December 1966:

“My conviction about the possible change in some creative processes brought about by the computer is that speculation in this matter is valuable so long as it is coupled with a conscious effort to shape the technology toward meeting basic human goals—including human creativity. I feel it is not completely a question of what the computer will do to us, but a determination of what we will best have the computer do for us.”

This entire issue of Print (still a relevant design publication today) was dedicated to “The Designer and the Computer.” Here’s the opening line from the editors: “What will the effect of the new computer technology be on graphic design? On the designer himself? On the total design environment?”

Quote of the Week

“The malady of our age is mediocrity.”

I found this several years ago while reading a volume of the collected spiritual writings of Kierkegaard, edited by Charles E. Moore (the line is actually Moore’s).

The thought stands on its own, of course—apart from any spiritual meaning.

“The wood nymph fairies blissfully pranced…”

Speaking of bad writing, it seems the winners of the 2010 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest have been announced. Named for Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, the man behind “It was a dark and stormy night,” the contest challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

This year’s grand prize winner is Seattle’s Molly Ringle, who penned the following:

For the first month of Ricardo and Felicity’s affair, they greeted one another at every stolen rendezvous with a kiss—a lengthy, ravenous kiss, Ricardo lapping and sucking at Felicity’s mouth as if she were a giant cage-mounted water bottle and he were the world’s thirstiest gerbil.

A brief history of the contest, as well as contributions from winners and runners-up in categories like adventure and purple prose, can be found here.

Summer Reading

I’ve often puzzled over summer reading recommendations, the implicit assumption being that we all have more time to read during June, July, and August. Or that people who normally find fulfillment in So You Think You Can Dance will suddenly turn to Dostoevsky simply because there’s more light in the day.

With that said however, I offer the last word‘s first book recommendation, which just so happens to be a great summer read—if for no other reason than I just finished it, and it’s summer.

It’s Philip K. Dick’s Dr. Bloodmoney, or How We Got Along after the Bomb. It’s a brilliant—and creepy—story of a group of World War III survivors that includes a phocomelus with psychokinetic powers, an eight-year-old girl and her parasitic twin, a talking dog, and a paranoid atomic physicist. Great stuff.

Time for Tattoos?

Some of you will be receiving via mail the latest edition of PROOF! magazine, a biannual publication that, in each issue, focuses on a uniquely creative individual—and also showcases Johnston Printing’s capabilities.

AMD is responsible for subject selection, writing, design, and photo art direction. PROOF! 03 features wonderful images by Chad Ramsey and Jennifer Raudebaugh. If you would like to receive your free copy of this issue, or to sign up for future magazines, visit

Welcome Roundballers!

In a couple of days, Spokane will make its annual sacrifice to the basketball gods—and more than 200,000 players, fans, and volunteers will do their part to ensure Hoopfest’s status as the world’s largest 3-on-3 street basketball tournament.

Not only do I heartily approve of the economic shot in the arm, I also gape at the military-like precision with which the entire downtown area undergoes a remarkable transformation.

Particularly when it comes to handling the, er…load. Perhaps mindful of the Turkish proverb “Nerede çokluk, orada bokluk” (“Where there are people, there is excrement”) Hoopfest organizers have done yeoman’s work in securing what certainly must be the Western hemisphere’s entire inventory of Porta-Potties—and tastefully assembled them to properly serve 40 city blocks.

Yeah, sure, the athletes are great and all that, but this is truly an impressive feat.

A Word of Warning to Aspiring Writers

To those who read the last word and say, “Hey, I can do that”—and  then wonder what’s to stop them from reaping untold riches by putting some words together and selling them on the open market—I point to scientist and scholar Charles Murray.

He’s way smarter than I am, writes way better than I do, and, frankly, he’s a lot better looking. Yet the New York Times pays him only $75 for an 800-word opinion piece.


How to Impress an 18-Year-Old

A week ago, our oldest daughter graduated from high school. The following Sunday, this milestone was celebrated with family, friends, and classmates. It was a beautiful event. The house, yard, and deck were as perfect as we could make them. The weather, food, and invited guests were delightful. We could have stopped right there and be left with all the wonderful memories this rite of passage has to offer. But no, that wasn’t enough for her graphic designer parents. This needed to be a branded event—with the proper messaging, colors, and tchotchkes!

There were the prerequisite and strategically placed streamers and balloons, pictures from birth through her 18th birthday, and various trophies with academic achievements from grade school on up. But we just had to special order and display her future school’s branded materials. And we couldn’t be without those custom-colored M&Ms featuring the guest of honor’s miniature likeness, favorite sayings, and her college’s color scheme.

Even the custom event T-shirts were important. They featured the names of her close-knit circle of friends along with their universities of choice. Fortunately, we considered the demographic (and high GPAs) and opted for the bright lime green shirt color. As it turned out, her high school friends and their parents loved the free giveaway (many could be seen wearing them throughout the evening). This, of course, only goes to prove the value of branding. After all, there really is no better testament to this than hearing an 18-year-old scream, laugh, and nearly cry over a shirt with her name on it.

Deep Thoughts

A few years ago, the journal Philosophy and Literature sponsored the Bad Writing Contest, its aim to celebrate “the most stylistically lamentable passages found in scholarly books and articles published in the last few years.”

The first-place prize in 1998—the fourth and final year of the contest—went to  Judith Butler, a Guggenheim Fellowship-winning professor of rhetoric and comparative literature at the University of California at Berkeley. The following sentence (yes, it’s one sentence) appeared  in “Further Reflections on the Conversations of Our Time,” an article published in the scholarly journal Diacritics:

The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

I was reminded of Ms. Butler’s steaming pile of prose when I came across an observation by British essayist Walter Bagehot. “In the faculty of writing nonsense,” he wrote, “stupidity is no match for genius.”

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