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September 06, 2012

David Foster Wallace is hiding in your mac's thesaurus

These are the words DFW wrote usage notes for: as, all of, beg, bland, critique, dialogue, dysphesia, effete, feckless, fervent, focus, hairy, if, impossibly, individual, loan, mucous, myriad, noma (at canker), privilege, pulchritude (at beauty), that, toward, unique, utilize. A Discovery | d a v e m a d d e n
This post is for Mac users, chiefly. And especially those Mac users who are writers. A couple years ago, I blogged about my beloved Oxford American Writer’s Thesaurus, and how it includes little bits of copy about words and their usage by writers like David Foster Wallace, Francine Prose, Zadie Smith, Simon Winchester, and the composer Stephin Merritt (among others). I bought a copy online and keep it always near my desk. Did you know everyone already has a copy on his or her Mac? It’s part of the built-in dictionary. Type in a word, click on “Thesaurus” in the little bar above, and you’ll get the word-for-word entry from this book I paid money for. Better yet, it also has all the “Word Notes” by these writers. For instance, this DFW gem: pulchritude A paradoxical noun because it means beauty but is itself one of the ugliest words in the language. Same goes for the adjectival form pulchritudinous. They’re part of a tiny elite cadre of words that possess the very opposite of the qualities they denote. Diminutive, big, foreign, fancy (adjective), colloquialism, and monosyllabic are some others; there are at least a dozen more. Inviting your school-age kids to list as many paradoxical words as they can is a neat way to deepen their relationship to English and help them see that words are both symbols for things and very real things themselves. — DFW Here, as a public service, is the list of words with notes by DFW: as, all of, beg, bland, critique, dialogue, dysphesia, effete, feckless, fervent, focus, hairy, if, impossibly, individual, loan, mucous, myriad, noma (at canker), privilege, pulchritude (at beauty), that, toward, unique, utilize.

September 04, 2012

26 States Cut Education Budgets for this School Year

26 States Cut Their Education Budgets For This School Year | ThinkProgress

Most affirmitive action recipients are white and wealthy

File Under: The Corruption of the Meritocracy. At the elite colleges - dim white kids - The Boston Globe
What they almost never say is that many of the applicants who were rejected were far more qualified than those accepted. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, it was not the black and Hispanic beneficiaries of affirmative action, but the rich white kids with cash and connections who elbowed most of the worthier applicants aside. Researchers with access to closely guarded college admissions data have found that, on the whole, about 15 percent of freshmen enrolled at America's highly selective colleges are white teens who failed to meet their institutions' minimum admissions standards. Five years ago, two researchers working for the Educational Testing Service, Anthony Carnevale and Stephen Rose, took the academic profiles of students admitted into 146 colleges in the top two tiers of Barron's college guide and matched them up against the institutions' advertised requirements in terms of high school grade point average, SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation, and records of involvement in extracurricular activities. White students who failed to make the grade on all counts were nearly twice as prevalent on such campuses as black and Hispanic students who received an admissions break based on their ethnicity or race.

August 30, 2012

100 Harvard undergrads under investigation for cheating scandal

The punchline is that the class they were caught cheating in is "Introduction to Congress." Harvard Students Suspected Of Cheating In ‘Introduction To Congress’ | TPMMuckraker
More than 100 Harvard undergraduates are under investigation for allegedly plagiarizing on a certain class’ final take-home exam last spring. The class? Government 1310: “Introduction to Congress.” The Harvard Crimson, a student newspaper, reported Thursday that nearly half of the 279 students who took the course, taught by professor Matthew Platt, are now under scrutiny from Harvard College’s disciplinary board. Dean of Undergraduate Education Jay Harris called the the alleged cheating incident “unprecedented in anyone’s living memory.” According to the Crimson, Platt noticed similarities in “10 to 20” exams back in May, and brought them to the attention of the school’s Administrative Board. The Board then reviewed each final exam submitted in the course, and concluded that 125 were suspicious.

August 27, 2012

Moral Relativism and Rigid Thinking

This is worth your 10 minutes, even if you aren't...

August 22, 2012

Recommended Reading: After the Apocalypse by Maureen McHugh

What a terrific read, both as individual stories and...