Category Archives: Words

“the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings”

Your Brain on Fiction: The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that […]

makes people uncomfortable

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Removed From School in Mississippi: Eighth graders in Biloxi, Miss., will no longer be required to read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about racial inequality and the civil rights movement that has been taught in countless classrooms and influenced generations of readers. Kenny Holloway, the vice president […]

Twitter Becomes Less Twittery

Twitter is increasing their character limit from 140 to 280: We want every person around the world to easily express themselves on Twitter, so we’re doing something new: we’re going to try out a longer limit, 280 characters, in languages impacted by cramming (which is all except Japanese, Chinese, and Korean). Huh? The 140-character limit […]

This is your assignment.

The words from a collaborative poster project by illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and writer Courtney E. Martin: This is your assignment. Feel all the things. Feel the hard things. The inexplicable things, the things that make you disavow humanity’s capacity for redemption. Feel all the maddening paradoxes. Feel overwhelmed, crazy. Feel uncertain. Feel angry. Feel afraid. […]

Learning to Learn

Learning to Learn: You, Too, Can Rewire Your Brain: Dr. Oakley is not the only person teaching students how to use tools drawn from neuroscience to enhance learning. But her popularity is a testament to her skill at presenting the material, and also to the course’s message of hope. Many of her online students are […]

“He struggled with reading and was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and dyslexia”

The New York Times has an interesting profile on writer Gabriel Tallent and his debut novel, “My Absolute Darling”: He was more comfortable in the woods than in school. He struggled with reading and was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder and dyslexia. When he finally started reading fluidly, he began binging on pulp science fiction […]

Trump’s Words

The New York Times has an interesting look at how Trump used words to brand his opponents: The word choice is memorable. But it’s also the repetition that’s important. In its simplicity and consistency, that message is textbook marketing, said William Cron, a professor of marketing at Texas Christian University. “This is what the product […]

“Bixby, get back in the kitchen and make me a goddamn sandwich!”

Samsung adds and swiftly removes sexist Bixby descriptor tags: Samsung’s new voice assistant Bixby has finally arrived, and unfortunately, it was accompanied by sexist descriptions for its male and female voice options. Under “language and speaking style” in the Bixby menu, as several have pointed out on Twitter, the female voice was accompanied by descriptive […]

“Who,” Not “That”

Over at The New York Times, Frank Bruni asks, What Happened to Who?: I first noticed it during the 2016 Republican presidential debates, which were crazy-making for so many reasons that I’m not sure how I zeroed in on this one. “Who” was being exiled from its rightful habitat. It was a linguistic bonobo: endangered, […]

Nerds Need Your Help

This is an actual headline at Gizmodo: Daylight Saving Time Is Like Sex in the Spring This is the problem with nerds: They can’t tell the difference between sex and an hour time-shift. Many nerds are frail, weak, and the only light they ever see, ironically, comes from their computer screens. They need your help.

Irony vs Coincidence

It seems I’m encountering people every other day who use ‘irony’ when they mean ‘coincidence.’ One of the best explanations of the distinction between these two words I ever read is by George Carlin in his 1998 book, Brain Droppings: Irony deals with opposites; it has nothing to do with coincidence. If two baseball players […]