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Results for "December, 2009"

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  • TSA bans reading on international flights

    On Christmas day, a man from Nigeria tried to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253, a transatlantic flight about to land in Detroit, by using explosive chemicals sewn into his underwear. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) immediately responded to this new terrorist threat by ordering passengers not to read during the last hour of their flight. The bomb-maker sneaked his bomb onto the plane past tight security checks in Amsterdam, and when his planned explosion fizzled, he was subdued not by security officials (there were none on the plane) but by passengers and the plane's flight attendants. But in order to discourage similar attacks in the future, the TSA has seen fit to order passengers to remain seated while the plane begins its descent, to return their seat backs and tray tables to their upright position, and to stow all personal items, including books and magazines.

  • Say goodbye to the decade with no name

    We prepared for the first decade of the new millennium of the Common Era by wondering what to call it: the 0's? the 0-0's? the double zeroes, the aughts, naughts or naughties? We wound up calling it nothing, but not because nothing happened -- in some ways, too much happened too quickly, and the decade filled up with new words and phrases we'd just as soon forget. But because no one came up with a good name for the ten-year period that's about to expire, I'm calling it the decade with no name.

  • This post contains adult themes and ideas about language that readers may find disturbing. That's not a warning, it's a promise.

    Language lessons: It's time for English teachers to stop teaching that the earth is flat

    When I asked a class of prospective teachers to discuss the impact on students of prescriptive rules like "Don't split infinitives," "Don't end sentences with prepositions," and "Don't use contractions," one student ignored the descriptive grammar we had been studying and instead equated correctness in language with intelligent design: