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"Spastic" and a different kind of "word crime"

Weird Al Yankovic's new song "Word Crimes" has generated a lot of heated discussion among linguists and other descriptivist types who didn't take kindly to its litany of language peeves — satire or no satire. (See my original post and Lauren Squires' guest post for extended discussion.) But in detailing various "word crimes," Weird Al […]

Sunday Fun: The Flintstones take a Smoke Break

A blast from the past.  Fred and Barney let their wives do all the work, pull out a pack of Winston’s: Originally posted in 2008. Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Obama Administration Approves Seismic Airgun Use off the Atlantic Coast In Spite of Local Opposition and Threats to Marine Life

A North Atlantic right whale, a critically endangered species that will be impacted by this decision. (Photo: FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute / Flickr Creative Commons) For more than 30 years, the Atlantic coast has been off limits to offshore drilling. Show More Summary

Slide wildfire video describes firefighting strategy

The Southwest Fire Science Consortium posted a video report on the Slide wildfire on Vimeo. They described it: The Slide Fire ignited on May 20, 2014, 2014 in Oak Creek Canyon between Flagstaff and Sedona, Arizona. Firefighters first...Show More Summary

Eating Meat is Funny and Sexy. Don’t Stop Eating Meat.

Activist Carol Adams has famously argued that the common phenomenon of sexualizing meat products is designed to make us feel better about eating animals. One of the ways it does this is by making it funny.  She explains: Uneasiness becomes sexual energy… and everybody knows what to do about sexual energy.  You can laugh at it, you can talk […]

Whose Word Crimes?

Yesterday, "Weird Al" Yankovic released a video for his song "Word Crimes", a parody of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines". Since a lot of people I know are language folks of one sort or another, I saw it flow and re-flow through various streams of social media. Show More Summary

Surf’s up in Rivendell

So you know that whole thing about how the elves in The Lord of the Rings are all, so, we’re getting in our fancy boats and sailing off into the sunset on our exclusive party cruise? Well, they said that’s what they were doing, but I think “west” must be code for “settling down in […]

How to Start Learning a New Language (Right Now. Today. Seriously).

Let me ask you a question: If you really wanted to learn a new language, what would you be doing right now to make that happen? The thing with language learning, and really with any goal or desire we have in life, is that we spend a lot of time thinking about what we want and talking about […]

Word Crimes

For his new album Mandatory Fun, Weird Al Yankovic has crafted the ultimate peever's anthem: "Word Crimes," to the tune of last summer's big hit, "Blurred Lines." It's a cleverly composed parody, despite the inevitable "cunning linguist" joke: I hate these word crimes You really need a Full-time proofreader You dumb mouthbreather Well, you should […]

Do You Have to Learn How to Get High?

If you stop and think about it, alcohol is just the worst. Almost every one who drinks has experienced the pain of a mean morning hangover (at least once). Also, the experience of being drunk… why is that enjoyable? When drunk you slur your words, it’s hard to think straight, you’re liable to say or […]

Kure Beach Mayor’s Support for Seismic Airgun Blasting Spurs Public Outcry

Kure Beach citizens show their opposition to Kure Beach Mayor Dean Lambeth’s support for seismic airgun blasting. (Photo: Oceana / Randy Sturgill) In January, Kure Beach, North Carolina Mayor Dean Lambeth voiced his support for the American Energy Forum’s push to approve seismic airgun blasting off the Atlantic coast. Show More Summary

“Trophy Scarves”: Race, Gender, and the Woman-as-Prop Trope (NSFW)

At the end of last year, Robin Thicke took a lot of heat for both the lyrics of his song, Blurred Lines, and the accompanying video.  The latter is a transparent  instance of a very common strategy for making men look cool: surround them with beautiful and preferably naked women. It seems especially effective if the men […]

Advertising Co-opts Social Science

By Sally Raskoff Have you seen the videos circulating that purport to be stories informed by social science? They are passed on to “enlighten” us about social issues and solutions. I have a few examples to share with you. The...

Saturday Night at the Oldies: Self-Pity

Marianne Faithfull, The Boulevard of Broken Dreams Warren Zevon, Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me. The female version by Linda Ronstadt. She blows Zevon's version clean out of the water, and she is prettier too. Beatles, I'm a Loser Ted Daffan, Born...

Influencing Climate Policy on the Back of a Lame Horse

Paul C. "Chip" Knappenberger and Patrick J. Michaels Global Science Report is a feature from the Center for the Study of Science, where we highlight one or two important new items in the scientific literature or the popular media. For...Show More Summary

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