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Results for "February, 2009"

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  • British scientists warn, if Facebook doesn't kill you, it'll drive you nuts

    Lady Susan Greenfield, the British neuroscientist, told the House of Lords last week that social networking sites like Facebook pose significant dangers for developing young minds. She called for research to investigate whether "the near total submersion of our culture in screen technologies over the last decade" might account for dramatic increases during that period in autism and ADD (even though autism and ADD tend to be diagnosed long before children spend much time on line).

    In the same week Dr. Aric Sigman, a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, launched a second broadside directed at the online world, warning that facebooking, blogging, and other digital technologies put us at risk for cancer, strokes, heart disease, and dementia. 

  • English may run out of words

    English, perhaps the biggest, most influential world language ever, is showing some signs of coming apart at the seams, according to evolutionary biologists at Reading University, who are predicting that a number of the English words you probably used today, common ones like dirty, bad, and turn, may go extinct over the next 700 – 800 years.

    Mark Pagel and his bioinformatics team fed millions of words into their supercomputers and discovered that the most stable words in English and other modern Indo-European languages are the numbers two, three, and five, and the pronouns I, thou, and who. Pagel estimates that they are up to 20,000 years old and not likely to disappear any time soon.

  • U.S. refuses to participate in International Mother Language Day until it's celebrated only in English

    UNESCO has designated today, Feb. 21, 2009, as the tenth annual International Mother Language Day, dedicated to the preservation of first languages, heritage languages, and endangered languages everywhere. But avoiding all foreign entanglements, the U.S. has refused to sign on to Mother Language Day until American immigrants agree to celebrate it only in English.

  • The opening of the first draft of the Gettysburg Address

    Lincoln the writer at 200: the statesman and orator constantly revised his prose

    It's the 200th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, or to mix 19th- with 21st-century styles, the man whom CNN and Time would call "16" was born ten score years ago today.

  • New Jersey High School bans foreign languages, then eats its words

    Teachers at Vineland High School North will no longer be allowed to ban foreign languages in their classes. According to an NBC report, at least two math teachers at the New Jersey school required students to sign a Classroom Protocol Contract. In addition to bans on cursing, wearing coats and hoodies, and chewing gum in class, the contract stated, "This is an English speaking school and classroom – any other [sic] language other than English will not be tolerated."