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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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Your Brain Does Not Work Like a Computer

The brain-as-computer is a powerful meme. It’s no more accurate than metaphors inspired by fluid dynamics or automata, which were cutting-edge technology in their time, says Robert Epstein. The invention of hydraulic engineering in the 3rd century BCE led to the popularity of a hydraulic model of human intelligence, the idea that the flow of different fluids in the body – the ‘humours’ – accounted for both our physical and…

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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,…