Just don’t do it

language: a feminist guide

This week everyone’s been talking about an article in the Economist explaining how men’s use of language undermines their authority. According to the author, a senior manager at Microsoft, men have a bad habit of punctuating everything they say with sentence adverbs like ‘actually’, ‘obviously’, ‘seriously’ and ‘frankly’. This verbal tic makes them sound like pompous bullshitters, so that people switch off and stop listening to what they’re saying. If they want to be successful, this is something men need to address.

OK, people haven’t been talking about that article—mainly because I made it up. No one writes articles telling men how they’re damaging their career prospects by using the wrong words. With women, on the other hand, it’s a regular occurrence. This post was inspired by a case in point: a piece published last month in Business Insider, in which a former Google executive named Ellen Petry Leanse…

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Pretty in Pink: Rethinking Elle Woods

Pretty in Pink: Rethinking Elle Woods

The opening sequence of Legally Blonde is all pink products and blond hair. We cut between scenes of college and sorority life – a girl being catcalled by frat guys as she bikes past their house, girls in pink workout gear on treadmills, those Tiffany’s heart bracelets everywhere – and Reese Witherspoon’s silky hair and perfectly manicured hands surrounded by beauty-products and markers of traditionally recognizable, material femininity: Herbal Essences “True Color” Blonde hair-dye; nail polishes; dried roses on a stack of Cosmopolitans; a Homecoming Queen banner; a lovingly decorated “President” sorority paddle. Everything that could be pink is pink, from the bedspread, to the glitter pens used to write on a pink card in a pink envelope, to the doggy-sweater for Bruiser, Elle Wood’s chic Chihuahua.

Just four minutes into the movie, a salesgirl sizes Elle up the way many viewers – my thirteen year-old self included –…

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Some Thoughts on the Role of Animals in Medicine

Some Thoughts on the Role of Animals in Medicine

REMEDIA

By Stephanie Eichberg

In 2012, a book appeared on the shelves of popular science that (re)acquainted the public with a medical revelation; namely that animals share with humans a wide range of acute and chronic diseases as well as psychological disorders, and that they can accordingly ‘teach us about being human’. From the point of view of the history of medicine, it appears strange that this is presented as ‘new’ knowledge, considering human-animal comparisons have long formed the backbone of anatomical, physiological and clinical research. No matter what historical period you investigate, you’ll find that the diseased bodies, brains and behaviors of animals have always been serving as surrogates for our own afflicted bodies, brains and behaviors.

Source: Mizzou magazine Source: Mizzou magazine

Today, disciplines including Experimental Pharmacology, Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology provide modern medical researchers with a well-established scientific framework for practicing ‘zoobiquity.’[1]Steph 2However, the resemblance of human and animal bodily structures and…

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The Victorian Search for Gorillas, Evolution, and Humanness

The Victorian Search for Gorillas, Evolution, and Humanness

i heart literati

du Chaillu hunts gorilla

In 1857, less than two years before the publication of On the Origin of Species, Richard Owen delivered a lecture about gorillas. As Europe’s preeminent zoologist / public intellectual—a Carl Sagan of the Victorian era—Owen’s opinion carried a lot of weight. And in his opinion, the brains of man and gorilla differed so greatly that the two species could not be linked by “transmutation” (evolution). In other words: humans did not descend from apes, and the brain was the anatomical bulwark that separated man from beast. It was an argument for human exceptionalism and against Darwinian evolution.

Owen was wrong, but his idea is emblematic of a larger conflict. A paradigm-shifting concept—evolution by natural selection—was meeting a profoundly hierarchical society obsessed with quantifying distinctions in race, class, gender, culture, and ability. The gorilla was right in the middle, and what followed was Victorian England’s “gorilla wars.”

• • •

When Owen delivered his…

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“Playwright” vs. “Playwrite”

It's Kind of a Long Story

(This is a revised version of a post that was first published in October 2009.  I went back and changed some stuff so it sounded better.)

*  *  *  *  *

Playwright.“play”, from the Saxon “plega“, meaning “recreation”; and “wright,” from the Old English “wryhta“, meaning “worker.”  First recorded use of word: 1687.

I am a compulsive word-use-corrector, a ruthless proofreader, a highly-critical grammar snob.  Anyone who has ever made the mistake of asking me to edit a paper for them can verify that this is true.  I love my red proofreading pen with an unhealthy passion.  While it’s partly because I’m a judgmental pain in the ass, it’s also because I’m a giant etymology geek.  I love words (certainly I use a lot of them) and I find them really interesting.  Which is why the word “playwright” fascinates me.  It drives me bonkers when…

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The Internet of First Responder Things (IoFRT)

the Chief Seattle Geek blog

IoT-toasterThe “Internet of Things” or IoT is a common buzzword in the technology community these days.  It refers to the increasingly prevalent distribution of sensors throughout the natural world, and the connection of those sensors – as well as other machines – to the Internet.

The running joke is that IoT is about putting your home refrigerator, thermostat, washer, dryer, microwave, range, TVs, computers, smart phones and even toasters on the Internet, or at least connecting them so they can talk to each other.  Now what a toaster would say to a TV, or what the conversations between a washer and a dryer might include, could certainly make for a lot of talk show jokes and lists on a David Letterman show (should he return).

But clearly creating such an “Internet of Household Things” or IoHT would be quite useful.  Take, for example, the urgent water crisis in California and…

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Taking My Time: Randon Billings Noble on The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies

Randon Billings Noble author photo

Randon Billings Noble is an essayist. Her work has appeared in the Modern Love column of The New York Times; Brain, Child; The Georgia Review; Shenandoah; The Rumpus; Brevity; Fourth Genre and elsewhere.  She is a nonfiction editor at r.kv.r.y quarterly, Reviews Editor at PANK, and a reviewer for The A.V. Club.  You can read more of her work at www.randonbillingsnoble.com.


30 April

Today I read to page 32 in The Folded Clock and loved it so much I started writing a letter to a friend – a real letter, not an email or message or text – to tell her about it.  This friend and I used to live in the same city, but now we don’t, so we write letters to each other maybe once a month or so.

I like to write letters. I like addressing the envelope, picking out a stamp that fits the…

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Serial kid-producer reveals top 10 reasons not to have kids

Barb Taub

Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.

imgresI was lying awake last night, trying to memorize the feeling of everything being right with my family. We’re all healthy, happy, and remarkably satisfied with where we are in life at this exact moment. Even Child #4 has just taken her last ever Uni final, and pronounced herself ready to go off the family payroll.

A friend asked if I ever regretted having so many kids, or the time/money/everything that it took to raise them. She said her book club (having dispensed with the required 8.5 minutes of book-related discussion) were all talking about the reasons their grown children were not producing grandchildren.

That reminded me of this blast-from-the-past I wrote a few years ago.


Top 10 reasons not to have kids

There are actually LOTS of reasons not to have kids. As a serial kid-producer, I offer a revised list:

10. Vermin =…

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When did Australia start its terminal decline into a boring dystopia?

piratespobox

Australia was once considered “the lucky country”. We sold dirt to every continent and received all the fancy household goods and nick knacks we could possibly desire. Those other nations never bothered us because we were too stupid to be a threat, and we kept dealing the lovely cheap dirt out like a donkey following a carrot. What happened to those fruitful years of plenty? What happened to the seemingly endless economic prosperity that fuelled our first world society? Well, like most failed civilisations, Australians and the Australians who ran Australia were particularly too stupid. You probably have all the crazy ideas and common sense to see why we are screwed as a nation but I want to alert you only to the tipping point toward our decline.

The point at which this country made a turn for the worse was simply when Pizza-Hut restaurants started closing their doors. You…

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