About those seven words (not George Carlin’s seven)

I guess it could seem silly, how fascism works—from the micro to the macro—that seven reasonable terms would become forbidden for the CDC to use. That’s the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The Atlanta-based federal agency that the U.S. turns to when during vulnerable times, when there’s a need for evidence-based and science-based research so that the diversity of the whole population can stay safe from things like Zika virus or an Ebola outbreak or zombies (see also: Season 1 of The Walking Dead; and Max Brooks’ World War Z).

These are the seven words, as reported by The Washington Post, that the Trump Administration is forbidding policy analysts at the CDC from using:

Continue reading “About those seven words (not George Carlin’s seven)”


Meanwhile, Russia has made a gun-totin’ robot

The question is: Can it shoot and move? (Doesn’t appear so.)

I don’t think this is how memory works

Or is it? What if your phone alerted you every time a new memory was stored in your mind? Or are memories only embedded in things outside us?


A short history of Twitter

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2006: The first tweet: just setting up my twttr

2007: Twitter finds users: Everyone at SXSW is doing it, and now #hashtags

2008: Barack Obama blows up Twitter: #YesWeCan

2009: Finding followers becomes a thing followuback #ff fun

2010: One of the most popular accounts becomes @shitmydadsays (it later becomes a short-live sitcom starring William Shatner)

2011: Political activism found a voice in #ArabSpring

2012: Clickbait tweets arrive and you won’t believe what happens next (remember seeing tweets like this? They’ve all but disappeared)

2013: Twitter adds photos, and the #Oreo Cookie Superbowl power outage may have been the greatest of the year

2014: Then came Ellen Degeneres and the famous #OscarSelfie

2015: #LoveWins

2016: Remember when people thought 2016 was the worst year EVAH!

2017: We don’t need 280 characters to say “WE’RE ALL DOOMED!!!”


From the Chronicle of Higher Education, Lindsay Waters, the executive editor for the humanities at Harvard University Press, is calling for a “revolution in reading” by asking people at all levels to read slowly for the pleasure of the words, as opposed to reading quickly to synthesize the information.

This seems like a brilliant idea. In my teaching of university students (mostly writing courses), I find that they are able to synthesize material and engage readings in abstract ways, but they are ill-equipped to deal with the materiality of language — seeing how the words on the page work, or using words to make a logical argument or describe a vivid scene.

Here’s an excerpt from Waters’ essay:

There is something similar between a reading method that focuses primarily on the bottom-line meaning of a story in a novel and the economic emphasis on the bottom line that makes automobile manufacturers speed up assembly lines. If there is any truth to the analogy, it provides grounds for concern.

I want to ask what reading would look like if we were to reintroduce, forcefully, the matter of time. Let’s leave Evelyn Wood behind, and let’s leave Franco Moretti behind, too. The mighty imperative is to speed everything up, but there might be some advantage in slowing things down. People are trying slow eating. Why not slow reading?

Nietzsche defined philology as the art of teaching people “to go aside, to take time, to become still, to become slow.” If we look at the dynamics of what I call “slow reading,” we might be able to explore the values of a methodology that has links to what was once called “close reading” — but that goes beyond close reading in a number of ways that might prove particularly valuable today. The one thing necessary is that we put aside our normal adherence to punch-clock time, a universal measure that has us all in its grip.

The most skillful writers are always playing with our timing as readers, for example by retarding our progress through their works, causing us to linger and pay closer attention than we might have wanted. The late literary critic William Empson said that the poet uses the physical properties of words not to stop us, but to make us dally through the great amount of thought crushed into a few lines.

The full essay is behind a paywall.

Some other interesting links: