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Making a point

Wikipedia | Groucho Marx | Later YearsDuring a tour of...

March 09, 2008

I Dream of Hillary . . . I Dream of Barack

I Dream of Hillary ... I Dream of Barack I...

Evolution at Work

BBC NEWS | Americas | US drinkers upstage smoking ban...

March 08, 2008

San Francisco to be covered in pesticide

State plans Bay Area pesticide spraying

The state agriculture department plans to use airplanes at night this summer to spray a farm pesticide over urban San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay, intending to eradicate a potentially destructive moth.

The little-known proposal to wipe out the light brown apple moth, which if it became established could destroy the region's agricultural industry, has developed increasing opposition among some residents who fear for their health.

Hundreds of people whose homes and yards were sprayed in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties from September to December have filed reports that said the pesticide seems to have caused coughing, wheezing, muscle aches and headaches, among other symptoms. One Monterey family reported that a child had a first-time asthma attack.

State officials say the amount of pesticide applied shouldn't pose severe health risks, but they've also refused to rule out that the spray can affect humans, particularly sensitive people such as children and the elderly.

*Thanks, Jessica!*

March 07, 2008

New slang emerging from the default texting dictionary

Language Log: lytdybr continued

In case you aren't as compulsive a text messager as are the huge majority of today's teenagers, the T9 dictionary speeds up text composition by allowing users to press only one key to enter a character. As each key contains three of four letters, the T9 keeps track of a sequence of keystrokes and then suggests an intended word by matching the possible combinations of those three or four letters to the words in a dictionary.

It's a remarkably efficient system, but it does have a few problems where two words can be produced from one sequence. Some simple examples are 'of'/'me' and 'if'/'he'.

There are also some more amusing ones, mostly caused by the limitations of the T9 dictionary particularly with regards to brand names.

For instance, the name of Vodka brand Smirnoff is rendered as 'poisoned'. This has become a slang term among some young people, normally bringing a laugh of recognition the first time it is brought up. Misspellings can also cause confusion, and I have heard people talk about their 'plans for unoppo', which is what results from forgetting the m in 'tomorrow'. Thanks to the prudes at Nokia and Samsung similar problems arise with swear words. The first suggested word for 'bitch' is 'chubi', which has gained some popularity as a word on its own. There are many other examples that I could give you, but I will finish with the term 'book' meaning 'cool' which is something I used to hear a lot in London.

California outlawing homeschooling by non-teachers

Homeschoolers' setback sends shock waves through state

I know we have some home-schooling experts around here. What are your thoughts on this?

A California appeals court ruling clamping down on homeschooling by parents without teaching credentials sent shock waves across the state this week, leaving an estimated 166,000 children as possible truants and their parents at risk of prosecution.

The homeschooling movement never saw the case coming.

"At first, there was a sense of, 'No way,' " said homeschool parent Loren Mavromati, a resident of Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County) who is active with a homeschool association. "Then there was a little bit of fear. I think it has moved now into indignation."

The ruling arose from a child welfare dispute between the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and Philip and Mary Long of Lynwood, who have been homeschooling their eight children. Mary Long is their teacher, but holds no teaching credential.