Posts Tagged: Washington Post

That Sounds About Right

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The Internet loves correcting other people’s grammar. But you’re your grammar mistakes are often the result of how the brain functions rather than ignorance, cognitive scientists have learned. The Washington Post reports that the reason we often end up with homophone errors is that the brain double checks our writing with the way a word sounds, leading to common errors:

The brain doesn’t always consult a word’s sound, but studies have shown that it frequently falls back on it, and sound tells us nothing about the difference between “you’re” and “your.” Research on typing errors reveals that sound creates even odder mistakes, such as people writing “28” when they mean to type “20A.” It’s no wonder that people who know better will routinely confound closer pairings such as “it’s” and “its” or “know” and “no.”

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Taylor Swift: Grammar Crusader?

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Proving that the quest for high scores on the SAT is as tragically unhip as ever, The Princeton Review is making headlines for setting off a grammar grudge match with pop sensation Taylor Swift. Swift’s lyrics are not only included in a section on pronoun agreement errors, they’re misquoted (although as Eugene Volokh points out at WaPo, this doesn’t seem to have changed the grammatical point in question). The debate over using “they” as a singular pronoun (“somebody tells you they love you, you’re gonna believe them,” quoth Swift) remains as ferocious as ever.

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Branding Books

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Even after spending so much time, effort and money on getting the dust jacket just right, most publishers go back to the drawing board to design the paperback version. That always seems to me like a waste of hard-won brand awareness, but I’m told most books don’t sell well enough to establish any brand awareness…

For the Washington Post, Ron Charles looks at how publishers re-brand books once they move to paperback.

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Amazon Attempts to Drive Wedge Between Authors and Hachette

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The standoff between Amazon and Hachette has harmed authors more than either corporation. The corporations are surviving on massive war chests and alternate revenue streams. Authors, however, are far more adversely affected by reduced book pre-sales and the sale of electronic books (available immediately) versus physical books (artificially delayed by Amazon).

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Word of the Day: Ucalegon

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(n.) a neighbor whose house is on fire; from the Ancient Greek character Ucalegon, an Elder of Troy whose house was set on fire by the Achaeans when they invaded the city.

Accomack is a small county that looked half-gutted even before the fire started, where love and fire could combine to transform two ordinary people’s lives into an epic romance.

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Trolls Are “Sadists and Psychopaths”

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Common wisdom has it that the Internet has disconnected people from their sense of empathy—but maybe it’s just exposed society at large to greater numbers of people who were already unempathetic.

This Washington Post blog post reports on a Canadian study which “found that trolling correlated with higher rates of sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism, a certain lack of scruples when it comes to deceiving or manipulating other people.”

Is that better or worse?

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David Biespiel’s Poetry Wire: What Alexandra Petri Should Have Said in the Washington Post.

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Kelly Clarkson’s Inaugural Song Means the Death of Country Music

Inaugural country singer Kelly Clarkson said that her story is America’s story.

If that’s the case, America should be slightly concerned. Ms. Clarkson is a walking example of the American dream — as she eloquently puts it, “the American story is in many ways my story — I even played Brenda Lee in a TV show called “American Dreams.’”

She has overcome numerous obstacles, struggled against opposition both internal and external — in order to excel in country western singing, a field that may very well be obsolete.

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Undergrads Beware

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An article in the Atlantic discusses the Washington Post’s graph that charts undergraduate degrees and their expected income levels.

The Post’s graph seems pretty deterministic (or maybe it just reflects how trendy it is to plot income level against groups of people), implying that all humanities majors get ready for frugal lifestyles in education and social work.

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Foreign Until Proven Innocent

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Joe Lieberman is introducing something he calls the Terrorist Expatriation Act–TEA Act for short, though the redundancy seems lost on them–which would make it possible for the State Department to strip the citizenship from anyone they determine is “involved with terrorist activities.”

Lieberman claims that he’s simply trying to update existing law.

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