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Russia Conspiracy Theories Trap Putin Malaysia Airlines MH17

An old journalism joke suggests that, during the Cold War, the USSR state-run news agency reported the results of a two-car race this way: “Soviet car finishes second; Americans next-to-last.” In a culture without a free press, the official story is the only story. Did you know that the crash of MH17 was all part of an American conspiracy to provoke a big war with Russia? Well, it’s all true—at…

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Buzz Aldrin: It’s Time to Put a Man on Mars

There are eight U.S. astronauts left out of the 12 who walked on the moon. All of us are in the eighth decade of our lives. Each of us can attest to the importance of continuing human exploration of space and the tremendous impact it has had on so many facets of our society. The technical innovations, scientific achievements, medical breakthroughs, environmental enhancements, national defense improvements and educational impacts have…

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Apple faces threat of legal action over ‘in app’ payments

I haven’t taken the plunge and installed a new iOS app on a whim in quite some time, because so many of them require in-app purchases in order to be useful. Now I carefully read the reviews first. Among the issues regulators have highlighted is a default setting within Apple’s app store where, after a payment is made, there is a 15-minute window allowing purchases without requiring a password. The…

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The Surprisingly Savvy Weird Al Internet Machine

When he talks about his business being threatened by YouTube parody video-makers, he’s talking about the fact that the public’s yen for parodies is being met by amateurs. Earlier this week, a young woman turned an infamous recording of a Comcast customer service call into a belty ballad. Between the release of that recording and its conversion into digital video fodder, fewer than 24 hours had elapsed. This is an…

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Stop Using ‘Poet Voice’

This article analyzes (and skewers) that lilting steamroller tone of voice that so many poets use when reciting their work. During this banter the poet uses a slightly performative but mostly natural voice. It’s the voice they’d use to introduce you to their grandmother. Then they read the title of their first poem and launch into the first line. But now their voice is different. It’s as if at some…

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Language Log » 25 Questions for Teaching with “Word Crimes”

A little perspective is good. So is genre awareness… anybody who takes this song literally is missing the point of satire. After the apocalypse happens and society collapses, my knowledge of the difference between irony and coincidence won’t help me escape the zombie hordes. While “grammar nerds” are psyched about Weird Al’s new “Word Crimes” video, many linguists are shaking their heads and feeling a little hopeless about what the…

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Listening to Weird Al’s “Word Crimes.” Awesome.

My teaching method does not involve shaming students who make mistakes, and I’m not in the habit of correcting my peers and acquaintances when they make typos or use internet shorthand. I use abbreviations myself when I text message, and I make mistakes when I am distracted or when I’m more concerned with finding out when my daughter needs to be picked up than in writing complete sentences on my…

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The 3 Scariest Words A Boy Can Hear (“Be a Man”)

Former NFL player and current pastor Joe Ehrmann reflects on the power coaches have over the identities of boys. There’s two kinds of coaches in America: You’re either transactional or you’re transformational. Transactional coaches basically use young people for their own identity, their own validation, their own ends. It’s always about them — the team first, players’ needs down the road. And then you have transformational coaches. They understand the…

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The Truth About Test Scores

It’s not hard to design a test that has a high likelihood of producing just about any outcome desired. Let’s not forget that a test cannot possibly measure all that is taught. Therefore, designers rely on sampling what they believe are the most important concepts in any given subject. But suppose the mission is to sort out students (e.g., the SAT). If the test were heavily loaded up with items…

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What Happens When Digital Cities Are Abandoned?

“The great paradox about these digital communities is that they’re easily kept around forever, and they are even more easily deleted utterly,” said Jason Scott, an Internet advocate and archivist who launched a digital preservation team that year…. I recently tried to revisit my own first homepage, a wonder of center-aligned blinking text, purple tiled backgrounds, clever “Under Construction” gifs and pixel-art icons I had traded with other GeoCities page…