A funny thing happened on the way to this Monday… 21st Century Publishing Success Stories, Bieber gets to shake Obama’s hand

-o- Kim Jong Il dies at age 69
CNN‘s coverage on Kim Jong Un, the successor; The Washington Post‘s coverage of the event; The New York Timesstory on the anxiety in the region.

-o- 7 new apps to download this week
From Mashable; see the piece here. My favorite? “Santa’s Big Helper”… if you can stomach the idea of downloading a Christmas app (and then using it to trick your kids…)

-o- Michelle Bachmann on Kinsey’s estimate of the gay population
When asked by a self-proclaimed “gay-friendly Iowan” if she was aware that 10% of Americans are gay, Bachmann replied that those numbers were according to “the Kinsey report” and have been known to be wrong for years now. Bachmann’s husband, who works at a clinic long-suspected of trying to “cure” homosexuality, backed his wife, informing the questioner that Kinsey’s work is no longer considered “valid.”
Dr. Kinsey is famous for his research on human sexual behavior in the 1940s and 1950s; he shocked the world when he claimed 10% of the male population was gay. Studies and polls since then have come up with numbers from1%-8%. Here’s the story on CNN’s political ticker blog.

-o- 21st Century Publishing success stories
21st-century publishing seems a terrifying field, but it is the industry I want to be a part of. I found this article from The Guardian on successful publishing in the digital age inspiring.

-o- 10 most popular Twitter pics this week
Also from Mashable – see all the 10 most popular photos on Twitter this week here. Among them? Taylor Swift’s new red shoes, Justin Bieber shaking hands with Barack Obama, and a conversation between Santa and Jesus.

-o- Eat This, Not That’s NEW Worst Supermarket Foods
Reading these lists can be upsetting, but it’s so worth it! Slideshow, List.

-o- The Ultimate Christmas Gift
With the holidays looming, I would venture to guess no one has time to make these this year. But still, drool over the photo on Gojee and file it somewhere for the day you are determined to give them a try!

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A funny thing happened on the way to this Monday…

Good morning! I’m going to start a new series of weekly blog posts that will highlight interesting articles, stories or photos I found over the weekend that I feel are worth a visit.

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-o- The 21st-century literary salon
What to do when you are unmoored, highly educated, and have been looking for a job for over a year in the publishing world? Why, start your own literary salon, of course. And that’s just what a group of young men and women in New York City did. Read about The New Inquiry in The New York Times.

-o- The Worst Book Ever
Despite my proclaimed literary aspirations I must admit I only recently discovered the Publisher’s Weekly blog and I generally find it informative and amusing. Last week they declared Microwave for One by Sonia Allison the absolute worst book ever. This book’s awfulness even trumped two previous nominees for Worst Book Ever – How to Avoid Huge Ships and Dildo Cay.

-o- 45 possible winners of the National Geographic Photo Contest 2011
National Geographic granted The Atlantic‘s In Focus with Alan Taylor an early peek at some of the entries to this year’s photo contest. Find them here. (My favorite is #12 but man, #16 is cool… oh no, just got to #33. I am obviously biased toward the Nature/Animal photos.)

-o- Facebook is expanding
Facebook announced an expansion plan in a press conference attended by New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg as well as other officials. Facebook is opening its first non West Coast-based software center in New York; the facility is slated to be up and running by early next year. Facebook also bought Gowalla, a Texas-based social networking company. Read BBC’s coverage.

-o- Cain steps aside, Trump decides to host a debate
So who will it be? Mitt Romney still seems to hold “national electability” appeal (love those politico-phrases), but Gingrich appears to have a lot of momentum behind him. And now Rick Santorum has thrown his hat in the ring. The Washington Post  asks, will Cain endorse Gingrich? And Donald Trump decides to host a debate between remaining candidates for the primary, but Ron Paul says he won’t attend what he’s sure will be a circus-like event.

-o- 13 Pet Apps
I went back and forth on including this but hey, they’re fun! Mashable’s Charlie White posted 13 helpful apps for pets – here they are!

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Going a little app sh*t: If only my smartphone could do that

I am currently working as a freelance editor for a life sciences media group, and I am in the middle of creating a slideshow of useful biotechnology- and pharmaceutical-related mobile applications. It’s amazing what some of these apps can do, and that got me thinking – if you let go of realistic creative solutions momentarily, what kinds of imaginative apps would I find exciting and enjoy using?

Coincidentally, today when I opened The New Yorker I found one artist’s answer to that question. Check out the original spread by Barry Britt on The New Yorker website.

Two of the applications Britt illustrates are the Security Wand and the iProjectile. The Security Wand works sort of like the Harry Potter wand application in which you use your smartphone as a wand, complete with specific swirls and jabs, except this Wand is for scanning those around you for dangerous objects. You could see how that could come in useful. The iProjectile, by far my favorite, is most beautiful in its simplicity. The application transforms the smartphone into a shot put-like weapon which can be used against enemies when necessary.

With Britt’s series and the pharmaceutical industry as inspirations, I began to muse, and the following is my “I Wish These Apps Existed” list.

1) Outfit database/suggestion software
Remember in the beginning of Clueless when Cher opens her computer and shuffles through all the clothes she owns and then attempts to make combinations? And when she chooses a shirt and a skirt that don’t match, the system tells her so and lets her keep choosing. Now, after she finds an outfit, the clothes in her closet also move along their motorized racks and appear in front of her… I do not wish that of my smartphone app. Oh no, I am much more reasonable. I simply want to catalog all my clothing and accessories into an application, and then use a search-and-match device to find outfits. As a bonus, I’d like to be able to take a picture of what I’m currently wearing and have the app tell me whether or not it works. When I stopped living with women I lost that help, and I miss it sorely.

2) The Accio spell
There are some cool spells in the Harry Potter series. But the Summoning Charm is, I think, the most useful on a daily basis. Especially if the time and space problems ignored in the HP series were eliminated; for example, what happens when there are solid objects in the way of what is being summoned? But anyway, this would be most useful in the kitchen when cooking, on the couch when tired, in bed when sleepy, etc.

3) Space heater
Relatively self-explanatory. If only my smartphone could, upon activation of an app, emanate heat in varying degrees and amounts and for various amounts of time. I went to Six Flags America with some awesome people a few weeks ago for Fright Fest, and the only dampener on the experience was the arguably unseasonable chilliness.

4) Time traveler
I wonder what would happen with your smartphone if you traveled with it into the future or the past. As far as I can remember, in time travel movies the actual time machine is transported into existence at another point in time along with the traveler(s) and at least sometimes it is used move through time again. Now, if I brought my smartphone with me into the past before the technology was invented, before satellite networks were in place and touch screens had been thought of, could I still use it? How about just the camera?
Anyway. I wish I could go back in time. Not in my life, that just confuses me (though I think I did finally work out the plot of HP III and found it well-done), but to see centuries past and where we manage to go.

5) Lighter/torch/flashlight
Backlights are cool and all, but what if my smartphone could create fire?!

6) Restroom locator (friendly and understanding staff a must)
Okay, so it’s embarrassing and maybe a little early in my blog’s life to be admitting it, but I’m one of those people who goes to the bathroom before leaving for somewhere and has to go upon arrival. This is usually no problem, but sometimes availability is scarce and it would be awesome if I just knew which places near me would be find with me quickly using their restroom. Or, alternatively, if my smartphone would locate the nearest public bathroom.

7) Quick chocolate truffle maker
Though I do like the attempt to incorporate some sort of structure and rules into the universe, it’s a real shame that conjuring food out of mid air is impossible even in Harry Potter’s world – it’s one of the five exceptions to  Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration. And if I could conjure only one type of food it would be dark chocolate truffles. Now, my love for truffles is seriously rivaled by my love for cheese and for fresh tomatoes. But the visceral desire I feel for chocolate on occasion makes this the last of my if-only apps.

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I want to say I didn’t mean for Harry Potter to pervade this post, but I do like that its repeated presence shows that what I really want is a WAND!

What’s the coolest thing your smartphone can do? My partner discovered voice control on mine the other day and had lots of fun with it- and Stephen Colbert played with it on his new iPhone 4S in the beginning of his show the other night. We got a glimpse of his if-only desires then too; that or his iPhone responded to his commands with some pretty impressive insight.