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Why I Was Wrong About Liberal-Arts Majors

It’s a little bit shallow and solipsistic to say a liberal arts degree is valuable because it can make you a better Borg drone in the technohive, but this guy seems to mean well. Most liberal arts degrees encourage a well-rounded curriculum that can give students exposure to programming alongside the humanities. Philosophy, literature, art, history and language give students a thorough understanding of how people document the human experience.…

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Ex-Pope Benedict says the Selfish Gene is science fiction. He’s half right

The Selfish Gene is a brilliant phrase. It’s also accurate, so long as you realise that “selfish” doesn’t mean selfish, “gene” doesn’t mean gene, and the definite article is a bit of an abstraction. But taken as the literal truth, it’s about as much use as “In the beginning was the word”. Given Dawkins’s hostility to everyone else’s metaphysics, this is an unfortunate weakness. “Science fiction” may not be the…

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Work-Life Balance, from 11(!) Years Ago

I think I’m managing work-life balance pretty well. I’m not ready to give up the sweet cheeks and sticky paws — not yet. I’m being pawed and kissed by a lollipop-slurping preschooler at the moment, so I’m signing off for now. Everything else is going to have to wait. Source: So, What’s in It for Me? | Jerz’s Literacy Weblog

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Katie Couric Gun Documentary Undermined By Manipulative Editing : NPR

Interviewer Katie Couric asks a group of gun owners the question: “If there are no background checks for gun purchasers, how do you prevent felons or terrorists from purchasing a gun?” The gun owners respond right away, according to audio recorded by one of the participants. But in the documentary Under the Gun, footage taken from elsewhere in the interview shows members of a gun advocacy group looking down, not answering, for…

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Homage to Poe

Michael Dirda offers a thoughtful assessment of Poe’s career. My initial puzzlement about Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) was hardly surprising. His fiction can seem too rhetorical, too thickly textured, too literary for most young people. Still, Basil Rathbone’s recording did persuade me to give the writer another try—sometime. The opportunity finally arose in high school when I opened my new English textbook and discovered the revenge story “The Cask of…

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Could We Just Lose the Adverb (Already)?

I can’t really get myself that worked up over prescriptive grammar issues, but I do enjoy reading the arguments. The adverb is an incoherent lexical category, a catchall. How are “there,” “yesterday,” “quite,” “assiduously,” and “indeed” all members of the same family? As we learn in school — in a definition that dates from Dionysius Thrax in the second century B.C. — adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, noun phrases,…