Jekyll: friendly to 99 out of 100 users

My old blog ran on Wordpress, which was a reliable source of annoyances. Formatting annoyances, mostly. Links were nudged above or below the rest of the text. Post previews mysteriously blanked out. Themes didn't work well on mobile devices. After yet another evening wasted combing through other people's CSS, I was ready to change platforms – but to what?

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Teach Yourself Icelandic review

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Teach Yourself books. On the one hand, they are often the only textbook for less-commonly-taught languages, and I've appreciated the way they let you bootstrap up to more complicated books. On the other hand, Teach Yourself's quality control is spotty, and if there are two or three textbooks for a language, there's probably a better one.

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I see a whale!

Beginner's Icelandic wants you to learn the words hvalaskoðun, "whale watching", and jökull, "glacier", because that's pretty much why you're visiting Iceland in the first place. Unfortunately Jeremy in Chapter 9 can't appreciate them because he is sjóveikur, "seasick".

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The algebra of cat toys

"$4.50 PKG (2)", said the American Science and Surplus listing. $2.25 apiece seemed a little steep for some feathers glued to a weight, but our cat loves them. He chirps when they come down from the top of the fridge. He sings them a little song. He chases them with so much gusto he spins out on the kitchen floor. And, bit by bit, they get deplumed.

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Gerda disappears, but she never goes away

Claude Piron's Gerda Malaperis ("Gerda Vanished") is a rare treat – not because it’s an original Esperanto novel (there are loads of those), but because it's an instructional text that's both cleverly constructed and entertaining in its own right. And I just found out that someone filmed the whole thing!

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Invent something new, so I can steal it

Con artists specialize. Not in who they pretend to be – a stock-market scam can be refitted as a horse-racing scam if that's what fires the mark's greed. They specialize in their relationship with the mark while the con plays out.

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