Friday, December 29, 2006

The Passive: Problem or Symptom?

Language Log: Two ways to look at the passive:
It is true that some writers seem to be overfond of the passive, and can use some encouragement to re-word. My impression, from working with students, is that the problem is rarely a simple fondness for passives, but usually involves a more complex set of difficulties in organizing discourses for an audience. The ineffective passives are just a symptom of a larger problem.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


fissiparous. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.:
ADJECTIVE: 1. Reproducing by biological fission. 2. Tending to break up into parts or break away from a main body; factious.
This term seems to be a pet word of Christopher Tyerman’s. My sense of its stylistic appropriateness, however, is a bit different.

I'm so jealous

AKMA’s Random Thoughts:
I know it’s inappropriate to boast, but . . . today I have an “I’m blogging this” t-shirt on.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas, unless ...

... you're British. Then, it's Happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Jingle Bells

James Lord Pierpont:
The colorful James Pierpont was the author of 'One Horse Open Sleigh' which was first published in 1857. In 1859, he reissued the song under a new name: 'Jingle Bells.' It was a 'sleighing song' which was a popular topic of the time and had nothing to do with Christmas, or for that matter, Thanksgiving.
Even more surprising is that the original chorus had a different melody.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Eggnog Ice Cream

Naturally, this time of year we have eggnog to drink. I was looking at the ingredient list on a container and it looked very much like the same ingredients for ice cream, except in liquid form. So I poured some into an ice cream maker, and, voilĂ , eggnog ice cream.

It now occurs to me that, with all the nutmeg in eggnog, it would make a good base for pumpkin ice cream. But this will require figuring the right amount of pumpkin to add (and whether to compensate with more sugar). Another possibility is adding chocolate syrup to eggnog to make chocolate ice cream.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Recipes : City Ham (Good Eats)

This past weekend we had my wife's side of the family over for an early Christmas celebration. I was in charge of the ham, and Alton Brown's city ham recipe from Good Eats turned out to be a huge hit. Recommended!

(Warning: clean up is a pain.)

UPDATE: I made it a second time and forgot to tent the ham during the first baking period. It makes a difference, so be sure to remember it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Punk Rock Version of Hava Nagila? - Culture: Hava Nagila's Long Strange Trip:
The popularity of Hava Nagila only continued to grow in the 1960s and 1970s, as it came to be featured in Israeli films and American Jewish celebrations of all sorts. . . . In recent years, the number of new interpretations have multiplied exponentially to include avant-garde jazz, punk rock (to listen to Me First and the Gimme Gimmes' version, click here), and reggae recordings.
Apparently so.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Guide to Grading Exams

Concurring Opinions: A Guide to Grading Exams:
It's that time of year again. Students have taken their finals, and now it is time to grade them. It is something professors have been looking forward to all semester. Exactness in grading is a well-honed skill, taking considerable expertise and years of practice to master. The purpose of this post is to serve as a guide to young professors about how to perfect their grading skills and as a way for students to learn the mysterious science of how their grades are determined.
OK, so it's an old joke, but the pictures make it priceless.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A Dead Indian Language Is Brought Back to Life -

A Dead Indian Language Is Brought Back to Life -
But now, in a story with starring roles for a university linguist, sloppy 17th-century scribes and a perfectionist Hollywood director making a movie about Jamestown, the language that scholars call Virginia Algonquian has come back from the dead.
The audience's desire for realism in movies is turning up in unexpected ways, including employment for linguists.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

kata ton biblon: In over my head?

kata ton biblon: In over my head?:
It is the first time that I've seen a New Testament scholar use the words 'dog doo' in their work.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What American accent do you have?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
North Central
The West
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz
Actually, I call carbonated drinks "soda."

What Kind of Reader Are You?

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Book Snob

You like to think you're one of the literati, but actually you're just a snob who can read. You read mostly for the social credit you can get out of it.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Dedicated Reader
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

via Idle musings of a bookseller

Monday, December 04, 2006

Wizz RSS News Reader

Bloglines is getting flaky sometimes; I need to check this out: Wizz RSS News Reader.

The Future of Journalism?

The Washington Post has an article about an experiment in journalism, A Newspaper Chain Sees Its Future, And It's Online and Hyper-Local:
Myron, 27, is a reporter for the Fort Myers News-Press and one of its fleet of mobile journalists, or "mojos." The mojos have high-tech tools -- ThinkPads, digital audio recorders, digital still and video cameras -- but no desk, no chair, no nameplate, no land line, no office. They spend their time on the road looking for stories, filing several a day for the newspaper's Web site, and often for the print edition, too. Their guiding principle: A constantly updated stream of intensely local, fresh Web content -- regardless of its traditional news value -- is key to building online and newspaper readership.
It seems to me that traditional journalism has an advantage over the web and the blogosphere in paying people to specialize in reporting. The media will survive when it figures that reporting new and worthwhile information, not opinion, is its actual competitive advantage over all the web-based amateurs.

Language Log: art, arts, arting, arted

Language Log: art, arts, arting, arted:
When I was a kid in Newfoundland, we said the Lord's Prayer every morning at school. (It was a secular public school, but derived from the Protestant half of a historically denominationally organized school system; old habits die hard.) I knew 'art' was a verb, in 'Our Father, who art in heaven', but I understood it as some verbal counterpart of the noun 'art', as in skill, work, magic, the opposite of the 'dark arts' -- you know, arcane, mysterious art. 'To art' in this sense would mean something like, 'to work (magic)'. So I thought we were intended to be addressing 'Our Father, who works (magic) in heaven...' It wasn't until much later that it occurred to me that this was in fact just an arcane, mysterious form of the verb 'to be'.
Sometimes, kids comprehend the darndest things.

A similar example is in mishearing that portion of the Pledge of Allegiance as "and to the Republic, where witches stand, ..."