blog postsJust words: Is it plagiarism, homage, or business as usual when public figures like Obama and Clinton "forget" to footnote?Feb 21, 2008 4:15 pm918 views Hillary Clinton has been charging that her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Barack Obama, offers voters words, not deeds, and worse than that, the words aren’t even his own. But the former first lady hasn’t always credited her sources, either, whether for her award-winning but ghost-written book It takes a village to raise a child, or her campaign slogan, "Solutions for America," a phrase whose trademark is owned by a university. That’s only a problem if you expect public figures to adhere to the same code of ethics we demand of college students.If you haven’t been conscious for the last few days, here’s what this war of words is all about. In response to Clinton’s charge that he’s all talk, no action, Obama borrowed some words from the playbook of his long-time friend and Harvard Law School classmate, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick.Quebec language police order Irish pub to get rid of EnglishFeb 19, 2008 11:15 pm1329 views Last week Québec’s language police ordered a popular Montréal watering hole to get rid of its English signs, and the outraged pub owner took his case to the media. Now the dispute has been settled, and both sides can sit down to a friendly glass of Guinness (or a pichet de rouge, if they prefer). The pub’s owner has agreed to translate everything on his menus, and he’ll greet customers in French if they look like francophones. In turn, the pub can keep its English-language cultural paraphernalia. The authorities maintain that they had never asked for a name change to McKibbin’s Pub Irlandais, and they insist that cultural signs are allowed in any language, so long as the proprietors get approval from the linguistic authorities before displaying them.Doomsday machine? Engineers devise model to predict when your language is going to die . . .Feb 15, 2008 5:00 pm1178 views Two engineers from Cornell University’s Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics have devised a mathematical model to predict when the language that you’re speaking right now is going to die. After studying what’s been happening to Gaelic and Welsh, which are succumbing to English, and Quechua, an indigenous language of South America that is being eroded by Spanish, Daniel Abrams and Steven Strogatz used probability theory and some graphs to prove that when languages compete, one of them will go extinct. The winner then moves on to the next round in the game of survival of the fittest language.No more Autobus Magico, as Nevada school district bans Spanish on the busFeb 4, 2008 12:09 am1813 views First a Kansas school bans any language but English on school grounds. Now a Nevada school district has banned Spanish on the bus. In October, 2007, Robert Aumaugher, superintendent of the Esmeralda County Schools, sent a note informing parents of students attending Fish Lake Valley High School that their children would not be allowed to speak Spanish on the school bus.Aumaugher, whose office is in Goldfield, the Esmeralda county seat, decided to go English-only on the bus after learning that Nevada’s Spanish-speaking students have lower rates of high school graduation than English speakers. Plus the bus drivers, who don’t speak Spanish, are convinced that students are disrespecting them by speaking Spanish.Goldfield, pop. 440, is a ghost town that once boasted Virgil Earp as its deputy sheriff. But since it no longer has a high school, students from Goldfield, Dyer, and other nearby towns are bussed to Fish Lake Valley in nearby Nye County. Good handwriting still important . . . for that successful stick-up noteFeb 2, 2008 12:45 am6146 views Since the computer came on the scene and rendered all other forms of writing obsolete, no one needs good handwriting anymore, not for school, not for work, not even for bar mitzvah invitations. But Emily Post reminds us that the Palmer method isnt dead after all. A legible, handwritten note may not get you into an Ivy League college, but its still de rigueur if you want to pull off a good bank heist.