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New Tysto

The new Tysto

2009.08.23 — Culture | Internet | by Derek Jensen

The new Tysto is coming. Tysto went live on March 7, 2004. Five-and-a-half years is a long time to stick with a look. WordPress has come a long way in that time, and we use WordPress over at Zarban's House of Commentaries as a content management system. As a magazine-style blog, it should be even better.


The origin of rock and roll

2009.05.30 — Entertainment | Music | by Andrew Cole


What was the origin of rock and roll? Scholars (and by scholars I mean stoner music majors) have debated it for centuries, at least as far back as 1750, when Methius Palmer observed: "The backbeat in the Negro jump music causes one's body to rock, but the rhythm in the Negro spiritual causes one's body to roll. This, say I, is the original 'rock and roll' and not, as some have claimed, the polka." Indeed. But what exactly was the origin of rock and roll?


Panthers, and 5 other real animals that don’t exist


2009.03.31— Culture | Language | by Roland Grant

It isn't just mythical animals that have difficulty being properly identified. Some perfectly ordinary animals you might pass everyday on your way to work might just not exist. It's easy to imagine one group of people giving an animal a good name and another group of people hundreds or thousands of miles away encountering the very same animal and accidentally giving it a different name. Conveniently, these sorts of mistakes are cleared up by scientists who give the animal an entirely different name in a dead language.


Unicorns, and 5 other mythical animals that really exist

2009.03.17 — Culture | Language | by Roland Grant


Being a Medieval zoologist was tough, and documenting exotic animals from far-off lands was particularly difficult given the limited availability of freezers and photographs at the time. Most such information came north from the Mediterranean, generally from Rome and often ultimately from Greece and Egypt.

Good tales grow taller as they travel, and tales of great African animals grew and morphed as they went to northern Europe. And Europeans had no problem making up animals altogether, usually from parts of other animals. But some of those mythical animals were real, albeit in ways that Medieval readers would not have recognized.



Hamlet in brief

2009.02.17 — Culture | Language | by Roland Grant

While watching a movie adaptation of Hamlet (I won't muddy the waters with which version), it occurred to me that a lot of the play is just words, words, words. If there weren't so much talking, it would be a lot simpler—so simple, I suspect, that sixth graders could put it on. Brevity being the soul of wit, as I always say, what follows is Hamlet in brief.


Recording audio books

2008.01.06 — Culture | Books | Audio | by Derek Jensen

Audio recording setup

I love listening to audio books. I've been a customer at Audible for years and have also found some great classic (that is: public domain) works to enjoy at LibriVox, where the books are free and contributed by users. On the forums, I've seen posts by long-haul truckers, students, housewives, and others who listen to the free audio books and want to participate. Some readers are very talented, and so, being creative, bored, and competitive myself, I decided to try my hand—or mouth. That is, to put my mouth where my... mouth is. Whatever.



Off-beat holiday gift ideas

2007.11.28 — Culture | Technology | by BB Rodriguez

The gift-buying season is here and once again you're wondering what to get that hard-to-buy for guy or gal who has everything. If you've done all your shopping at the mall and Amazon, here are some ideas you probably haven't even considered.


Washington DC

Getting your free lunch

2007.11.18 — Culture | Technology | by Derek Jensen

There is a world of free, open-source, community-contributed content out there. At last, you really can get a free lunch. Are you getting yours? Sure, you know all about Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and free, ad-supported news and opinion at thousands of sites, but do you know about these...?



Postcards from the District

Washington DC

2007.10.22 — Culture | Postcards | Travel | by Derek Jensen

Finding myself with still more time on my hands and access to air and hotel points, I decided a few weeks ago to book a trip to Washington, DC for a long weekend. It was too short of notice to get a ticket to the White House tour, but that's how my business trips to DC have been in the past too. I planned to knock around the town for a couple of days and make a more comprehensive trip with White House tour in a few months.


Observations from traffic in India

Frank Stobie

2007.08.18 — Culture | Travel | by Frank Stobie

Having traveled to India on four separate occasions I’ve developed a love-hate type relation with the place. My first trip, in September—October of 2005 for approximately four weeks was to deliver training to the staff in Bangalore who would be performing billing exception work for a natural gas utility in Ohio. This is a gentle way of saying we were outsourcing work done in the states to Bangalore.


Jensen-Barry Wedding

2007.06.27 — Culture | Postcards | Wedding | by Derek Jensen

Nicole and Kevin

Congratulations to Nicole and Kevin on their wedding on Saturday, June 23! This is a selection of the best of the photographs I shot of the wedding and surrounding events. I have made full photo sets available on my Fotki galleries for the rehearsal, ceremony, and reception. The Rehearsal gallery contains 116 photos of the rehearsal on Friday. The Ceremony gallery contains 138 photos of the preparations, posings, ceremony, and license-signing. The Reception gallery contains 59 photos of the wedding reception.


Unifying English

George Bernard Shaw

2007.06.18 — Culture | Language | Spelling | by Roland Grant

The old joke about the United States and United Kingdom is that they "are two countries separated by a common language." That was observed by George Bernard Shaw, the playwright and spelling reform advocate. When it comes to spelling, I myself have joked about "stubborn backwardness of our friends on the Small Island." But the truth is that English has a fairly awful spelling system compared to other European languages, regardless of which version (or mixture of them) you cling to. I've carefully considered the differences between US and UK English and the choices made by Canadian, Australian, and New Zealand writers and have produced these recommendations for unifying English writing at last.


Manhattan traffic

Manhattan redux

2007.06.04 — Culture | Postcards | Travel | by Derek Jensen

Back in 2004, I posted some photos I had taken in Manhattan while I was working across the way in Newark. At the time, I decided that 1400 x 1050 was high enough resolution for these, but recently I decided to post the full 5 megapixel resolution images of these (they were taken when I still had my old Olympus snapshot camera).


Making a better keyboard

2007.05.01 — Culture | Language | Computers | by Roland Grant


Way back in 2005, I wrote about my lifelong frustration with computer keyboard layouts. The hateful tilde, reverse apostrophe, filthy backslash, and strange and alien pipe are all horrible remnants of another time when dinosaurs ruled the earth and typed clumsy snail mail to send to each other. I tried a few keyboard remapper tools, but they were either unreliable or cost more than I wanted to pay (approximately nothing). Fortunately, I eventually found that Microsoft provides just such a tool, that it's reliable, and easy to use—for a Microsoft workaround product.


7 British words Americans should adopt


2007.04.12 — Culture | Language | by Roland Grant

America and the Britain are famously said to be two nations divided by a common language. We sometimes use different words to refer to the same things and refer to different things sometimes by the same words (studying to be a chemist is very different in the US and the UK). It is inevitable that some Briticisms must be better than their American counterparts. Here are some of the best.


More in this category...

Postcards from the stage of rage

A walking tour of Pittsburgh

Postcards from Pittsburgh

Tysto’s year-start look-forward spectacular



Archived culture articles from 2006...

Archived culture articles from 2005...

Archived culture articles from 2004...


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