You Might Like … to Reflect on Nerf Guns, Big Bangs, Big Data, Bike Locks, the Inner Child and More

This is a post in a series appearing each Friday, setting out some articles, videos, podcasts and the like that contributors at Slaw are enjoying and that you might find interesting. The articles tend to be longer than blog posts and shorter than books, just right for that stolen half hour on the weekend. It’s also likely that most of them won’t be about law — just right for etc.

Please let us have your recommendations for what we and our readers might like.

Wired – How Nerf Became the World’s Best Purveyor of Big Guns for Kids – Jason Fagone – Boys, blasters, bullets (of foam), and “bang-bang-your’e-dead.” All in good fun. After all I was there as a kid with cap guns. But still. . . .

The Morning News – Apocalypse How – Mike Deri Smith – Well, there are bangs and then there are really really very very large bangs. “The years-long winter envisioned by George R.R. Martin in A Game of Thrones isn’t so far off the mark should a strong enough volcano erupt—and the eruption of an unexpected super-volcano like in Volcano is closer to the truth than many of us are willing to accept.”

What if? – What would the world be like if the land masses were spread out the same way as now – only rotated by an angle of 90 degrees? – xkcd – While we’re messing with the earth’s fundament, why not twist it to the right? Arctic Canada becomes tropical, hurricanes threaten Baffin Island. Oh, and the Maritimes — but then what’s new about that? (All brought to you courtesy of the guy who does the brilliant XKCD Comic.)

Network Awesome – Collection: Great White North – The Sadnesses – But at the moment things are the right way up, so the title of this collection of TV and film is still accurate. See on YouTube: Bob & Doug Mckenzie, Marshall McLuhan, Michael Snow, Paul Anka and Cronenberg’s Scanners.

Edge – Reinventing Society In The Wake Of Big Data – Alex (Sandy) Pentland – McLuhan might well have liked this analysis — and Cronenberg is the right man to film it: This top MIT data scientist speculates about what the world might look like in a little while as big data gets, well, bigger. Might be good, might be . . . wretched. As usual with Edge, there’s a video and an audio segment to go along with the text of the conversation.

Priceonomics – How to Lock Your Bicycle – Rohin Dhar – Even if the world gets no worse than it is now, you need to lock up your bike. Likely, you already know how — or think you do. Are you sure you’re doing it right? Find out here.

Chemical & Engineering News – Forensic Science And The Innocence Project – Carmen Drahl – It’s been nicked. You’ve been nicked. You’re narked because you’re innocent. This surprisingly readable piece explores challenges facing the Innocence Project (US) with respect to really serious crimes and the justice system and what chemical science can do to help it meet those challenges.

The New Yorker – An Open Letter to Wikipedia About Anatole Broyard and “The Human Stain” – Philip Roth – Identity’s a problem everywhere. At least DNA wasn’t involved in this challenge to identity, merely a letter (this one) to the New Yorker to provide corroboration that Roth is that Roth so he can fix up a Wikipedia entry about what was or was not in his mind. – The Forest of Advocacy – David Lazer – You don’t get big data without big money; and you can’t track big money without good data. Here’s a set of animated charts (and an explanatory video) from Northeastern University revealing “hidden patterns of political contributions.” Took me a while to decode it, though. Oh, and the video (with sound) starts as soon as you load the URL, by the way.

Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings – Ted Hughes on Our Universal Inner Child, in a Beautiful Letter to His Son – Ted Hughes – Very small data, to finish with, so small that they rarely escape our selves. Which is one reason we need poets.


  1. One compares the ‘how to lock your bike’ published in September 2012 with this, published in the West Annex News in Toronto in March 2011. At least inspiration, perhaps enough added in 2012 so as not to be complete plagiarism. The later author may live in a riskier city…