My 20-year-old Java Program Is Broken!

So a harmless little Java program I wrote in 1997 no longer works, due to security updates in modern browsers. It’s a simulation of medieval pageant wagons in the town of York, England. I wish I’d recorded a screencast of myself demonstrating it while it worked. I imagine it will be possible to get it working somehow, but it will no longer simply work as an app embedded in a…

America’s Shakespeare

Shakespeare continues to be the most performed playwright in the United States, but his appeal has a global extension, and it has long been so. Sublimity has ever called to sublimity. The great modern nations boast great writers who depict and define the national life and character: Victor Hugo for the French, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe for the Germans, Leo Tolstoy the Russians, Herman Melville and Mark Twain the Americans,…

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Shakespeare Popularized Falconry Terms

English is full of figures of speech popularized by Shakespeare. Some of those terms Shakespeare’s interest in falconry. “Hold onto Lima,” Healy-Rennison commanded, as I tightly pinched the speckle-feathered bird’s jesses, or tethers, under my thumb. “Now she’s ‘under your thumb’,” Healy-Rennison explained with a smile. “Quite literally,” I replied, amused to learn the etymology of a phrase that I’ve used for most of my life. Only now I was…

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Lie to Me: Fiction in the Post-Truth Era

I’m trying to remember what it was like, a few months ago when I was thinking about picking “fake news” as the topic for a media course, when I was briefly worried I wouldn’t be able to find enough background reading on the issue. I’m no longer worried about that. (I am, however, a lot more worried about fake news.) The problem with our “post-truth” politics is that a large…

Take my feedback if you want to pass.

As my students in a compressed online course start writing a term paper, I ponder the importance of feedback. I can’t force them to read it, but I do intend to give it. Should they choose to ignore it, I simply have to evaluate their work fairly and, if they ask for an explanation, encourage them to go back and read the feedback I’ve already given. From my perspective, I can…

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English Is the Language of Science. That Isn’t Always a Good Thing

English speakers tend to assume that all the important research is published in English. More than half of the non-English papers observed in this study had no English title, abstract or keywords, making them all but invisible to most scientists doing database searches in English. […] This problem is a two-way street Not only does the larger scientific community miss out on research published in non-English languages. But the dominance of…