If you've ever been confused by the definitions of mean, median, or mode, this series of cartoons from Ben Orlin, a British math teacher, will probably just confuse you even more. Titled "Why not to trust statistics," the cartoons consist of a series of statements like "our average starting salary is $80,000 per year," followed by a graph of the data behind the statistics, showing (in this case) that one outlier severely skewed the average.
Brandon Ambrosino has come up with a dozen snappy replies to rejections and other nettlesome comments from editors to freelancers, including this answer to a $20 payment for a story: "That’s very generous. By the way, I saw your publication’s last 27 articles railing against unfair wages. I particularly like how passionate you all seem about raising the minimum wage. Just so you know, the story you want to pay me $20 for took 10 hours to complete. Do the math."
Forget the standing desk. Julia Calderone tests the ultimate in ergonomically advanced office furniture, the $5,000 "lying desk," which puts the user flat on his or her back with legs elevated: "The setup looks like a combination between a dentist's chair and a La-Z-Boy. The motorized recliner is fully adjustable to various configurations. A large frame supports a swinging monitor stand and a giant adjustable computer tray. The chair itself is wrapped in memory foam with a microfiber cover."
Did you read the story about the non-Catholic pope? How about the time God parted the Dead Sea? Or the headline that mentioned python venom, with an objection from John Cleese? All of those pratfalls appeared during the past year and are mentioned in a roundup by corrections spotter Craig Silverman. More from Alexios Mantzarlis and Jim Romenesko. Also see the corrections on the first two of those corrections posts.
Ted Geltner thought he was burning out as a newspaper editor, and he imagined an alternative: "Wouldn’t it be nice, I would tell myself as I rushed to meetings and faced down one deadline after another, if I had a job where I could just sit completely still for eight hours a day. No duties, no meetings, no responsibilities — just enter some kind of building, sit down at a desk and collect a paycheck at the end of the week." Then his wish came true and his bubble burst.
A Toronto advertising agency came up this clever take about working on spec but it's likely to attract knowing sighs from freelance journalists. Tim Nudd provides the context for the short video, in which "a guy approaches real men and women (not actors) in other businesses and asks them to provide him with a product or service for free, to see if he likes it before committing to more." The video was produced for an annual awards event last week but has now gone viral.
Sadie Stein gets too many online newsletters in her inbox and she blames herself — or at least her hoarder-like inability to let go of them: "There are the discount offers, of course. Don’t we all get those? Dirt-cheap massages! Flash sales! Exorbitant shoes made merely overpriced! And wait — the sale has been extended! Here’s the Project Runway contestant you started following nine years ago because you were so moved by his tears when he was told to pack his things."
Jack Limpert's typewriter reminiscences about the good old days, when it was the focal point of the office instead of forgotten in the basement: "I remember hearing the salespeople say that if we spent $100,000 on their computers, we’d be able to save that much in salaries because the computers were so efficient. Ha! The staff is bigger than ever, and we now have two guys called IT managers and everyone treats them like the most important people in the office."
Bryn Nelson riffs on the new economics of journalism, where the pay is less than lawnmowing wages and getting your point across to your readers counts for less than page views, shares, and upvotes: "Think of it as a marginally kinder and gentler 'Hunger Games' for journalists. You see, my pay is contingent on each post being in the top 10% of all articles every month. Plus, if I’m one of the lucky six writers with the most points, I earn the unheard-of bonus of $150!"
Josh Jones wonders who wrote the famous filler type and discovers the answer starts with Cicero, with help from a long-forgotten typesetter. Quoting Richard McClintock of Hampden-Sydney College: "It has been used as filler text since the sixteenth century when — as McClintock theorized — 'some typesetter had to make a type specimen book, to demo different fonts' and decided that 'the text should be insensible, so as not to distract from the page’s graphical features.'"