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Why Drag It Out?

The ways that the informal speech of women impacts the language is soooo underexplored. For the past five years, Sali Tagliamonte, a linguist at the University of Toronto, has been gathering digital-communications data from students. In analyzing nearly 4 million words, she’s found some interesting patterns. “This reduplication of letters, it’s not all crazy,” she told me. Certain vowels—o, a, and e—are the most-frequent candidates for multiplication. Words are most frequently…

Surprise! ‘Star Trek’ gold shirts more deadly than red shirts

Fascinating. Barsalou then goes all math geek and applies to the data the Bayes’ Theorem formula for calculating conditional probabilities. After a little mathematical shake and bake, he determines there is a 61.9 percent chance that any given casualty is wearing a red shirt. That still sounds high, but it’s not really once you consider the sheer number of redshirts running around the Starship. “Although Enterprise crew members in redshirts…

Students boycott final to challenge professor’s grading policy (and get As)

Since he started teaching at Johns Hopkins University in 2005, Professor Peter Fröhlich has maintained a grading curve in which each class’s highest grade on the final counts as an A, with all other scores adjusted accordingly. So if a midterm is worth 40 points, and the highest actual score is 36 points, “that person gets 100 percent and everybody else gets a percentage relative to it,” said Fröhlich. This…

From the Philosophy of the Open to the Ideology of the User-Friendly

Apple’s marketing strategy in the 1980s presented its products as democratic and liberating, but the freedoms the Apple users enjoy include the inability to customize or otherwise access the working interior. Apple users trade freedom for security. In short, expansion slots made standardization impossible (partly because software writers needed consistent underlying hardware to produce widely functioning products) whereas what Raskin and Jobs both sought was a system which was an…