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What Part of “No, Totally” Don’t You Understand?

English continues to evolve. I noticed this construction several times today. “No, totally.” “No, definitely.” “No, exactly.” “No, yes.” These curious uses turn “no” into a kind of contranym: a word that can function as its own opposite. Out of the million-odd words in the English language, perhaps a hundred have this property. You can seed a field, in which case you are adding seeds, or seed a grape, in…

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Apple’s new diverse emoji are even more problematic than before

This author did a great job articulating the unease I felt when I learned about Apple’s racially diverse emoji. I don’t like it when interfaces translate my textual emoticons ;-) into graphic symbols. Now I feel like I’ll have to think deliberately about whatever color the autocorrect chooses for those graphics. Because I’m black, should I now feel compelled to use the “appropriate” brown-skinned nail-painting emoji? Why would I use the…

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Fraternity Announces “Legal Action” Against Rolling Stone

“The Rolling Stone article viewed by millions fueled a court of public opinion that ostracized Phi Kappa Psi members and led to vandalism of the fraternity house,” the fraternity’s statement said. “Clearly our fraternity and its members have been defamed, but more importantly we fear this entire episode may prompt some victims to remain in the shadows, fearful to confront their attackers,” said Stephen Scipione, president of the the University…

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Rolling Stone and UVA: The Columbia School of Journalism Report

Sloppy journalism can ruin lives. Check your sources. Before publishing accusations against someone, get that person’s side of the story. My personal belief is that it’s silly to want to join clubs with greek letters, but then again in my spare time in the past few weeks I have pretended to be shot by a lyric soprano in Sweeney Todd and I’ve pretended to help crucify Jesus in JC Superstar,…

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Pizza, Religious Freedom, Bigotry, and Yellow Journalism

I have not seen the pizzeria TV interview in question, I have not been following developments in the controversy, and I won’t link to any of the coverage. Yellow journalism is bad when it supports an unjust status quo, or when it simply creates noise that distracts us from more important things. But it is also bad when it exposes bigotry. Of course, I don’t defend bigotry or claim the victims…