Thursday File Buzz

News, photos and quotes I have found interesting.

twitter.com/thursdayfile:

    Photo I: Pro-Russian protesters in Donetsk on Monday. // Photo II: Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier // Photo III: vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel // Photo IV: Christiane Wirtz, spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel
    Germany warns of war in Europe
    April 14 2014 - http://www.thelocal.de
    Germany warned of war in Europe on Monday, with vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel stating the continent was being “dragged” into a “smouldering conflict” with Russia over Ukraine.
     Gabriel - at an event commemorating World War I with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls - warned of resurgent nationalist forces both within Europe and “in its neighbourhood”.
    He said that good news several months ago from Ukraine - including an end to bloody violence against protesters - had since given way to "an ongoing military confrontation" and the realization that "Russia is apparently willing to let tanks cross European borders."
    "Suddenly, we are being dragged from the observer’s position into a long smouldering and incendiary conflict, which is also demanding a price from Europe in the form of sanctions against Russia," he said.
    Foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, meanwhile, called the danger of Europe splitting a “real one”.
    Responsible foreign policy has to make sure that this is prevented,” he told Swiss newspaper the Neue Zürcher Zeitung.
    “Whether this is achieved depends not only on us but also on what Russia has planned. Moscow needs to show whether it is ready to leave the route it put itself on by annexing Crimea,” Steinmeier added.
    He told the paper that he believed Russia was testing the West through it’s handling of Crimea. “It cannot be, seven decades after the end of the second world war and 25 years after the end of the cold war, that we start changing borders based on ethic, linguistic or religious factors.“
    Berlin also said it saw indications Russia was supporting pro-Kremlin militias who seized government buildings in eastern Ukraine.
    Christiane Wirtz, spokeswoman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said: "There are many signs that the armed groups active in eastern Ukraine are receiving support from Russia,” she said, adding that Merkel had discussed the crisis with British Prime Minister David Cameron by phone on Monday morning.
    "A look at the appearance, uniforms and weaponry of some of these groups hardly suggests that they are defence forces spontaneously formed by civilians," she said.
    “We therefore see Russia as having a particular responsibility to prevent a further escalation, and to contribute to stabilizing the situation in Ukraine.
    "This includes withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border, lowering gas prices and using moderate language. It must be clear that violence is not an option for resolving disputes, and this also goes for Russia."

    — 16 hours ago with 3 notes
    #TF What is up around us  #tf germany  #tf Ukraine  #Pro-Russian protesters  #Frank-Walter Steinmeier  #Sigmar Gabriel  #Christiane Wirtz  #tf faces in germany  #tf russia 
    Nudity no longer naughty in MunichOne of Germany’s largest cities has legalised public nudity By Ben Lazarus — April 14 2014 — http://www.telegraph.co.ukPhoto: People sunbathing nude at the banks of the river Isar, Flaucher Germany’s third largest city, Munich, has legalised public nudity by introducing six designated nudist zones.Since last autumn - when statewide laws stopping nude sunbathing expired - the issue of public nudity has been debated in the city.It has now been decided that nudists are officially welcome to strip.The six designated nudist areas are not fenced off or hidden away, although their location in parkland grants them a degree of privacy.One nudist zone is situated in a main tourist spot along a stream, which is barely 10 minutes away from Munich’s main square.  Public nudity in Munich has gone on for years, and it is common to see people walking around unclothed in several spots in the city, such as the Englischer Garten, and various spots along the Isar River.Nudity is not restricted to Munich; the practice is common across Germany, where the first naturist beach was set up back in 1920.The country is famed for its love of all activities that involve FKK – Freikörperkultur (Free Body Culture, or plain nudity to you and me), said Telegraph Travel writer Adrian Bridge, who reported on the Naked Sledding World Championship held in the spa town of Braunlage recently.

    Nudity no longer naughty in Munich
    One of Germany’s largest cities has legalised public nudity
    By Ben Lazarus — April 14 2014 — http://www.telegraph.co.uk
    Photo: People sunbathing nude at the banks of the river Isar, Flaucher
     Germany’s third largest city, Munich, has legalised public nudity by introducing six designated nudist zones.
    Since last autumn - when statewide laws stopping nude sunbathing expired - the issue of public nudity has been debated in the city.
    It has now been decided that nudists are officially welcome to strip.
    The six designated nudist areas are not fenced off or hidden away, although their location in parkland grants them a degree of privacy.
    One nudist zone is situated in a main tourist spot along a stream, which is barely 10 minutes away from Munich’s main square.
     Public nudity in Munich has gone on for years, and it is common to see people walking around unclothed in several spots in the city, such as the Englischer Garten, and various spots along the Isar River.
    Nudity is not restricted to Munich; the practice is common across Germany, where the first naturist beach was set up back in 1920.
    The country is famed for its love of all activities that involve FKK – Freikörperkultur (Free Body Culture, or plain nudity to you and me), said Telegraph Travel writer Adrian Bridge, who reported on the Naked Sledding World Championship held in the spa town of Braunlage recently.

    — 1 day ago with 3 notes
    #TF What is up around us  #tf germany  #Munich  #Public nudity 

    Photo I: Steinbeck // Photo II: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell and Dorris Bowdon in John Ford’s film of John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath // Photo III: First edition of The Grapes of Wrath
    The Grapes of Wrath: 10 surprising facts about John Steinbeck’s novel
    John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath is 75 years old today. Here are 10 things you might not know about the classic of American literature
    By Martin Chilton, Culture Editor online — April 14 2014 — http://www.telegraph.co.uk
    John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962. His 1939 book The Grapes of Wrath, published 75 years ago on April 14, has sold more than 14 million copies in the past 75 years. Here are 10 things about the novel that may surprise you.
    • The book gave Route 66 its nickname
    In The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck became the first writer to refer to Route 66 – the two-lane, 2,448-mile-road that connects Chicago to Los Angeles – as the “Mother Road”. In doing so, he helped capture the road’s image of redemption and turn it into a cultural icon. The fictional Joad family of the novel was an example of the thousands of people migrating to California to escape the despair of the Dust Bowl states, and many used Route 66. “66 is the mother road,” Steinbeck wrote, “the road of flight.”
     • His novel was burned and banned
    The Associated Farmers of California dismissed the novel as a “pack of lies” and “communist propaganda”. The book was briefly banned in the Soviet Union by Joseph Stalin, because the ruling Communist Party was troubled by the thought that it showed that even the most destitute Americans could afford a car. Steinbeck received death threats and the FBI put him under surveillance. The book was banned in many libraries and copies were symbolically burned in towns across America. When WB Camp, one of the most successful cotton producers in California, presided over its burning in Bakersfield, he said: ”We are angry, not because we were attacked but because we were attacked by a book obscene in the extreme sense of the word.”
    • It came out on a Friday
    The book was published on Friday April 14, 1939, on the same day that the film Wuthering Heights, starring Laurence Olivier, had its premiere in New York. It was also the day that President Roosevelt wrote to Hitler to say: “Are you willing to give assurance that your armed forces will not attack or invade the territory or possessions of the following independent nations?” with a list that included Poland, Belgium, France, Great Britain and Ireland.
    • Writing the book stretched Steinbeck’s nerves
    The novel was written over five months (June-October 1938) and his diaries (Working Days: The Journal of The Grapes of Wrath) show a man losing control and confidence. He was writing shortly after the death of his brother-in-law and it was a time in his life when he was plagued by doubts about the prospect of war and worries over the sale of his house in California. “Did ever a book get written under such excitement,” he wrote. “My whole nervous system is battered. I hope I’m not headed for a nervous breakdown. My nerves are going fast… I wish I could just disappear for a while. So many things to drive me nuts. I’m afraid this book is going to pieces. If it does, I do too.” When it was finished he wrote: “It isn’t the great book I had hoped it would be. It’s just a run-of-the-mill book.” The run-of-the-mill book won the 1940 Pulitzer Prize for Literature.
     • He was proud of his research
    While writing The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck visited Arvin Federal Government Camp near Bakersfield, portrayed as “Weedpatch Camp” in the novel. The camp is still used by migrant workers.
    • You should have kept your first edition
    The first edition Viking Press hardback was 619 pages (260,000 words), cost $2.75 and had a dust jacket illustrated by Elmer Hader. There were around 50,000 printed and it became the bestselling book in America in 1939. By February 1940 the novel was already in its eleventh printing, and 428,900 copies had been sold. A mint condition first edition is now worth more than £15,000.
    • How the title came about
    The title was taken from The Battle Hymn of the Republic (Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord/He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored) written by abolitionist Julia Ward Howe in 1861. “I like the song because it is a kind of march and this book is a kind of march,” said Steinbeck. The novel has been chosen only once as the Desert Island Discs book of choice, by former newspaper editor Derek Jameson, although singer Petula Clark picked his collected short stories.
    • Steinbeck loved Henry Fonda’s portrayal of Tom Joad
    Darryl Zanuck purchased the film rights for The Grapes of Wrath for $75,000. Concerned about controversy, Zanuck decided to hold the premiere of The Grapes of Wrath in New York. The film, directed by John Ford, received glowing reviews. Steinbeck said Henry Fonda’s performance as Tom Joad made him “believe my own words”. Steinbeck and Fonda remained friends and the actor read Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem Ulysses at Steinbeck’s funeral in 1968.
     • The Wrath of Grapes
    Steinbeck is not the only author to use the title The Grapes of Wrath for a book. In 1917 Boyd Cable (1878-1943) wrote a book of stories under that name, subtitled ‘Twenty-four Hours in the Life of a Private Soldier’, about the First World War. There was also a Twenties temperance book called The Grapes of Wrath. In 2003, Lewis Perdue wrote a book called The Wrath of Grapes, about the wine industry.
    • Bruce bonus
    Bruce Springsteen is the proud owner of a bronze bust of John Steinbeck, presented to him with his Steinbeck Award in 1996 from the Steinbeck Centre at San Jose State University, in California. Springsteen, inspired by the songs of Woody Guthrie about the Dust Bowl era, had recorded a song based on The Grapes of Wrath called The Ghost of Tom Joad.

    — 1 day ago with 3 notes
    #TF What is up around us  #tf books  #tf first editions  #steinbeck  #henry fonda  #The Grapes of Wrath 

    CBC must deal with new reality
    April 13 2014 - Toronto Sun -
    No one can say they didn’t see it coming. The writing has been on the wall at the CBC for quite some time.
    Last Thursday, state broadcaster CEO Hubert Lacroix announced 657 positions were being cut.
    Those of us in the news media take no joy in learning of job cuts to our industry. After all, pretty much every major news organization in North America has made similar announcements in recent years.
    But the CBC has always played by different rules. They’re insulated from many of the realities of the industry. So we don’t buy the complaints that followed the announcements.
    Some people would like to entirely blame these woes on their reduced government funding determined in 2012 — from $1.03 billion to $913 million 2014-2015.
    But this ignores the fact that ratings were lower and the entire industry is struggling with the TV ad market.
    For a long time, the network was known as the place for hockey, The Simpsons reruns and Coronation Street.
    And this is a public broadcaster?! Their existential crisis isn’t just starting — they lost their way years ago.
    The loss of hockey is only going to compound the challenges.
    In April 2013 executive vice-president of English services Kirstine Stewart left the CBC to work for Twitter. This is an example of a mid-career executive moving from a company on the decline to one with its good years ahead of it.
    There’s been a lot of belt tightening on Parliament Hill. As there should be. We need to clean up our books. The CBC should not be immune to such pressures.
    That near billion-dollar budget doesn’t come out of thin air. Taxpayers just faced some tough economic times; Canadians are right to question such budgets.
    Just the other day the NDP called on the Conservatives to give more support to the state broadcaster.
    The lobby group Friends of Canadian Broadcasting aims to “Restore CBC’s fiscal capacity so that it can reduce its dependence on commercial revenue.” Most people wouldn’t call $900 million a lack of fiscal capacity.
    Perhaps if the CBC privatizes or reinvents itself to be like TVO or PBS they could work with a smaller budget.
    But the bottom line is they need to come to grips with reality.

    Logo:  This is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s current corporate logo. The red “gem”, adopted by the CBC in 1992, is a simplified version of the corporation’s logo used between 1974 and 1992. The logo was simplified to improve its visibility on analogue television screens. The logo’s simplification also made reproduction easier, as it is made up of only 13 geometric sections, as opposed to 25 in the previous logo. The full corporate logo has the legends “CBC” and “Radio-Canada” on each side of it, in the Frutiger typeface. For the first several years of its use, the accompanying font appeared in heavy bold and used “SRC” in place of “Radio-Canada”.

    — 1 day ago with 4 notes
    #TF What is up around us  #tf Canada  #CBC  #Radio-Canada  #canadian broadcasting corporation 

    Photo I: It was an apocalyptic scene as the flames covered the city in a bright glow // Photo II: The blaze forced thousands of residents to evacuate and leave most of their belongings behind // Photo III: Some residents returned to discover that their homes had been destroyed / Photo IV: Map of Chile
    Chile fire in Valparaiso kills 12 and forces thousands to evacuate
    April 13 2014 - http://www.bbc.com
    More than 10,000 people have been evacuated from Chile’s port city of Valparaiso to escape a moving fire that has killed at least 12 residents.
    Some 1,200 firefighters are battling the large blaze, which has destroyed hundreds of homes since Saturday.
    President Michelle Bachelet put the army in charge of the evacuation after declaring the city, 110km (70 miles) west of Santiago, a disaster zone.
    Security forces are on the streets to maintain order and prevent looting.
    Earlier, the authorities said 16 residents had died, but it turned out that one family had been counted twice.
    One official said it was the “worst catastrophe” he had ever seen.
    "We fear that the fire will spread to the centre of the city, which would increase the severity of the emergency," regional governor Ricardo Bravo, a life-long resident of Valparaiso, said.
    The old centre is a Unesco World Heritage Site, packed with old buildings that are vulnerable to fire.
    Difficult job
    Strong Pacific coast winds have pushed the fire deeper into the neighbourhoods of Valparaiso, hampering the battle to contain the blaze.
    The city is built on a series of steep hills, separated by narrow winding streets, making the job of firefighters all the more difficult, says the BBC’s Gideon Long in Santiago.
    Large parts of Valparaiso are without electricity, and residents were said to be suffering from smoke inhalation.
    President Bachelet is in the city to oversee an emergency committee’s response.
    "The people of Valparaiso have courage, have strength and they aren’t alone," she said during a tour of the worst-hit areas.
    "In some places the fires have started again so we’re working on this and people will continue to be protected," the president added.
    Temporary shelters have been set up for residents who were forced to flee.
    The Chilean Red Cross has appealed for donations, such as food and other basic supplies, to help those who were left homeless.
    "We will send all of this to the people because they lost everything," a Red Cross volunteer told the BBC.
    Chile, Valparaiso map
    The fire started on Saturday, and most of the damage was done overnight.
    'Hell'
    Those residents who managed to return to their homes discovered that they had been destroyed.
    "It’s all burned down. My sister’s house also burnt to the ground," Rosa Guzman told the Reuters news agency.
    Another resident said the blaze felt as if “hell encircled my family”.
    "The fire raced down the hills and destroyed everything in its path," Miguel Ramirez told the AFP news agency.
    This is the second emergency that President Bachelet has had to face in the first month of her second term in office, after an 8.2 earthquake hit northern Chile on 1 April.
    Fires are frequent in central Chile, where summer sends temperatures soaring.

    — 1 day ago with 3 notes
    #TF What is up around us  #tf Chile  #Valparaiso  #fire 
    Total eclipse of the moon: a primer

    Total eclipse of the moon: a primer

    — 1 day ago with 3 notes
    #moon  #eclipse  #tf space  #TF What is up around us 
    Go Ahead, Vladimir, Make My Dayby Thomas L. Friedman - April 12 2014 - The New York TimesSo the latest news is that President Vladimir Putin of Russia has threatened to turn off gas supplies to Ukraine if Kiev doesn’t pay its overdue bill, and, by the way, Ukraine’s pipelines are the transit route for 15 percent of gas consumption for Europe. If I’m actually rooting for Putin to go ahead and shut off the gas, does that make me a bad guy?Because that is what I’m rooting for, and I’d be happy to subsidize Ukraine through the pain. Because such an oil shock, though disruptive in the short run, could have the same long-term impact as the 1973 Arab oil embargo — only more so. That 1973 embargo led to the first auto mileage standards in America and propelled the solar, wind and energy efficiency industries. A Putin embargo today would be even more valuable because it would happen at a time when the solar, wind, natural gas and energy efficiency industries are all poised to take off and scale. So Vladimir, do us all a favor, get crazy, shut off the oil and gas to Ukraine and, even better, to all of Europe. Embargo! You’ll have a great day, and the rest of the planet will have a great century.“Clean energy is at an inflection point,” explains Hal Harvey, C.E.O. of Energy Innovation. “The price reductions in the last five years have been nothing less than spectacular: Solar cells, for example, have dropped in cost by more than 80 percent in the last five years. This trend is underway, if a bit less dramatically, for wind, batteries, solid state lighting, new window technologies, vehicle drive trains, grid management, and more. What this means is that clean energy is moving from boutique to mainstream, and that opens up a wealth of opportunities.”New houses in California now use one-fourth of the energy they used 25 years ago, added Harvey. Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford are in a contest to make the most efficient pickup — because their customers want to spend less on gasoline — so they are deploying new engines and lighter truck bodies. Texas now has enough wind to power more than 3 million homes. New Jersey generates more solar watts per person than California.And check out Opower, which just went public. Opower works with utilities and consumers to lower electricity usage and bills using behavioral economics, explained Alex Laskey, the company’s co-founder, at their Arlington, Va., office. They do it by giving people personalized communications that display in simple, clear terms how their own energy usage compares with that of their neighbors. Once people understand where they are wasting energy — and how they compare with their neighbors — many start consuming less. And, as their consumption falls, utilities can meet their customers’ demand without having to build new power plants to handle peak loads a few days of the year. Everybody wins. Opower just signed up the Tokyo Electric Power Company and its 20 million homes.Putting all its customers together since it was founded in 2007, said Laskey, Opower has already saved about “4 terawatt hours of energy” and expects to be soon saving that annually. The Hoover Dam produces about 4 terawatts hours of energy a year. So we just got a new Hoover Dam — for free — in Arlington, Va.A gas embargo by Putin would also reinforce the message of the United Nations’ latest climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned with greater confidence than ever that human-created carbon emissions are steadily melting more ice, creating more dangerous sea level rise, stressing ecosystems around the globe and creating more ocean acidification, from oceans absorbing more C02, posing “a fundamental challenge to marine organisms and ecosystems.”Sunday, at 10 p.m. Eastern time, Showtime will begin airing a compelling nine-part series, called “Years of Living Dangerously,” about how environmental and climate stresses affect real people. The first episode features Harrison Ford confronting Indonesian officials about the runaway deforestation in one of their national parks, Don Cheadle following evangelicals in Texas wrestling with the tension between their faith and what is happening to their environment, and this columnist exploring how the prolonged drought in Syria contributed to the uprising there. The ninth episode is an in-depth interview with President Obama on environment and climate issues.I asked Harrison Ford, a longtime board member of Conservation International, whether working on the documentary left him feeling it was all too late. “It isn’t too late; it can’t be too late,” he said. “Is it too late to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong? If we are not ready to redress something happening on our watch, how can we expect our kids to do something about it?” Remember, he added, “nature will be just fine without us. Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. That is why we can’t save ourselves without saving nature.”Ford is right. We can still do this. We are closer to both irreversible dangers on climate and scale solutions on clean tech than people realize. Just a little leadership now by America — or a little scare by Putin — would make a big difference.
Question - What do you think? What will happen if Putin pulls the plug and stops the gas?

    Go Ahead, Vladimir, Make My Day
    by Thomas L. Friedman - April 12 2014 - The New York Times
    So the latest news is that President Vladimir Putin of Russia has threatened to turn off gas supplies to Ukraine if Kiev doesn’t pay its overdue bill, and, by the way, Ukraine’s pipelines are the transit route for 15 percent of gas consumption for Europe. If I’m actually rooting for Putin to go ahead and shut off the gas, does that make me a bad guy?
    Because that is what I’m rooting for, and I’d be happy to subsidize Ukraine through the pain. Because such an oil shock, though disruptive in the short run, could have the same long-term impact as the 1973 Arab oil embargo — only more so. That 1973 embargo led to the first auto mileage standards in America and propelled the solar, wind and energy efficiency industries. A Putin embargo today would be even more valuable because it would happen at a time when the solar, wind, natural gas and energy efficiency industries are all poised to take off and scale. So Vladimir, do us all a favor, get crazy, shut off the oil and gas to Ukraine and, even better, to all of Europe. Embargo! You’ll have a great day, and the rest of the planet will have a great century.
    “Clean energy is at an inflection point,” explains Hal Harvey, C.E.O. of Energy Innovation. “The price reductions in the last five years have been nothing less than spectacular: Solar cells, for example, have dropped in cost by more than 80 percent in the last five years. This trend is underway, if a bit less dramatically, for wind, batteries, solid state lighting, new window technologies, vehicle drive trains, grid management, and more. What this means is that clean energy is moving from boutique to mainstream, and that opens up a wealth of opportunities.”
    New houses in California now use one-fourth of the energy they used 25 years ago, added Harvey. Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford are in a contest to make the most efficient pickup — because their customers want to spend less on gasoline — so they are deploying new engines and lighter truck bodies. Texas now has enough wind to power more than 3 million homes. New Jersey generates more solar watts per person than California.
    And check out Opower, which just went public. Opower works with utilities and consumers to lower electricity usage and bills using behavioral economics, explained Alex Laskey, the company’s co-founder, at their Arlington, Va., office. They do it by giving people personalized communications that display in simple, clear terms how their own energy usage compares with that of their neighbors. Once people understand where they are wasting energy — and how they compare with their neighbors — many start consuming less. And, as their consumption falls, utilities can meet their customers’ demand without having to build new power plants to handle peak loads a few days of the year. Everybody wins. Opower just signed up the Tokyo Electric Power Company and its 20 million homes.
    Putting all its customers together since it was founded in 2007, said Laskey, Opower has already saved about “4 terawatt hours of energy” and expects to be soon saving that annually. The Hoover Dam produces about 4 terawatts hours of energy a year. So we just got a new Hoover Dam — for free — in Arlington, Va.
    A gas embargo by Putin would also reinforce the message of the United Nations’ latest climate report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned with greater confidence than ever that human-created carbon emissions are steadily melting more ice, creating more dangerous sea level rise, stressing ecosystems around the globe and creating more ocean acidification, from oceans absorbing more C02, posing “a fundamental challenge to marine organisms and ecosystems.”
    Sunday, at 10 p.m. Eastern time, Showtime will begin airing a compelling nine-part series, called “Years of Living Dangerously,” about how environmental and climate stresses affect real people. The first episode features Harrison Ford confronting Indonesian officials about the runaway deforestation in one of their national parks, Don Cheadle following evangelicals in Texas wrestling with the tension between their faith and what is happening to their environment, and this columnist exploring how the prolonged drought in Syria contributed to the uprising there. The ninth episode is an in-depth interview with President Obama on environment and climate issues.
    I asked Harrison Ford, a longtime board member of Conservation International, whether working on the documentary left him feeling it was all too late. “It isn’t too late; it can’t be too late,” he said. “Is it too late to teach our kids the difference between right and wrong? If we are not ready to redress something happening on our watch, how can we expect our kids to do something about it?” Remember, he added, “nature will be just fine without us. Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature. That is why we can’t save ourselves without saving nature.”
    Ford is right. We can still do this. We are closer to both irreversible dangers on climate and scale solutions on clean tech than people realize. Just a little leadership now by America — or a little scare by Putin — would make a big difference.

    Question - What do you think? What will happen if Putin pulls the plug and stops the gas?

    — 2 days ago with 3 notes
    #TF What is up around us  #TF opinions  #tf Ukraine  #tf Russia  #Gas Pipelines  #tf europe 
    Ten words to cut from your writingShanna Mallon — Friday, April 11 2014 — As Mark Twain famously wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” His point? Strong writing is lean writing.When you want to make your writing more powerful, cut out words you don’t need – such as the 10 included in this post:1. Just: The word “just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely affects meaning, but rather, the deletion tightens a sentence.2. Really: Using the word “really” is an example of writing the way you talk. It’s a verbal emphasis that doesn’t translate perfectly into text. In conversation, people use the word frequently, but in written content it’s unnecessary. Think about the difference between saying a rock is “hard” and “really hard,” for example. What does the word add? Better to cut it out to make your message stronger.3. Very: Everything that applies to “really” applies to “very.” It’s a weak word. Cut it.4. Perhaps/maybe: Do you want your audience to think you’re uncertain about what you’re saying? When you use words like “maybe” and “perhaps,” uncertainty is exactly what you’re communicating.5. Quite: When someone uses “quite,” he or she either means “a bit” or “completely” or “almost.” Sometimes the word adds meaning; sometimes it’s fluff. Learn to tell the difference–but, when in doubt, cut it out.6. Amazing: The meaning of “amazing” is causing great wonder or surprise – but some writers use the word so often that the meaning gets lost. How can something be amazing if everything is? Ditch this diluted word.7. Literally: When something is true in a literal sense, you don’t have to add the word “literally.” The only reason it makes sense to use the word is when it clarifies meaning (i.e., to explain you aren’t joking when it seems you are).8. Stuff: Unless you are aiming at informality, don’t use the word “stuff.” It’s casual, it’s generic, and it usually stands in for something better.9. Things: Writers use the word “things” to avoid using a clearer, more specific word that would communicate more meaning. Be specific. Don’t tell us about the “10 things,” tell us about the “10 books” or “10 strategies.” Specificity makes for better writing.10. Got: Think of all the ways we use the vague word “got” in conversation: “I’ve got to go,” “I got a ball,” or “I got up this morning.” Though it’s fine for conversation, in writing, “got” misses valuable opportunities. Rather than writing a lazy word, look for clearer, more descriptive language: “I promised I’d leave by 9,” “I picked up a ball,” or “I woke up today,” for example.Whether you’ve been writing for a few days or for many years, you’ll benefit from evaluating the words you use. Cut the filler to make your writing stronger.

    Ten words to cut from your writing
    Shanna Mallon — Friday, April 11 2014 —
    As Mark Twain famously wrote, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” His point? Strong writing is lean writing.
    When you want to make your writing more powerful, cut out words you don’t need – such as the 10 included in this post:
    1. Just: The word “just” is a filler word that weakens your writing. Removing it rarely affects meaning, but rather, the deletion tightens a sentence.
    2. Really: Using the word “really” is an example of writing the way you talk. It’s a verbal emphasis that doesn’t translate perfectly into text. In conversation, people use the word frequently, but in written content it’s unnecessary. Think about the difference between saying a rock is “hard” and “really hard,” for example. What does the word add? Better to cut it out to make your message stronger.
    3. Very: Everything that applies to “really” applies to “very.” It’s a weak word. Cut it.
    4. Perhaps/maybe: Do you want your audience to think you’re uncertain about what you’re saying? When you use words like “maybe” and “perhaps,” uncertainty is exactly what you’re communicating.
    5. Quite: When someone uses “quite,” he or she either means “a bit” or “completely” or “almost.” Sometimes the word adds meaning; sometimes it’s fluff. Learn to tell the difference–but, when in doubt, cut it out.
    6. Amazing: The meaning of “amazing” is causing great wonder or surprise – but some writers use the word so often that the meaning gets lost. How can something be amazing if everything is? Ditch this diluted word.
    7. Literally: When something is true in a literal sense, you don’t have to add the word “literally.” The only reason it makes sense to use the word is when it clarifies meaning (i.e., to explain you aren’t joking when it seems you are).
    8. Stuff: Unless you are aiming at informality, don’t use the word “stuff.” It’s casual, it’s generic, and it usually stands in for something better.
    9. Things: Writers use the word “things” to avoid using a clearer, more specific word that would communicate more meaning. Be specific. Don’t tell us about the “10 things,” tell us about the “10 books” or “10 strategies.” Specificity makes for better writing.
    10. Got: Think of all the ways we use the vague word “got” in conversation: “I’ve got to go,” “I got a ball,” or “I got up this morning.” Though it’s fine for conversation, in writing, “got” misses valuable opportunities. Rather than writing a lazy word, look for clearer, more descriptive language: “I promised I’d leave by 9,” “I picked up a ball,” or “I woke up today,” for example.
    Whether you’ve been writing for a few days or for many years, you’ll benefit from evaluating the words you use. Cut the filler to make your writing stronger.

    — 3 days ago with 6 notes
    #tf language  #tf english  #writting 
    neurosciencestuff:

Language Structure… You’re Born with It
Humans are unique in their ability to acquire language. But how? A new study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences shows that we are in fact born with the basic fundamental knowledge of language, thus shedding light on the age-old linguistic “nature vs. nurture” debate.
THE STUDY
While languages differ from each other in many ways, certain aspects appear to be shared across languages. These aspects might stem from linguistic principles that are active in all human brains. A natural question then arises: are infants born with knowledge of how the human words might sound like? Are infants biased to consider certain sound sequences as more word-like than others? “The results of this new study suggest that, the sound patterns of human languages are the product of an inborn biological instinct, very much like birdsong,” said Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University in Boston, who co-authored the study with a research team from the International School of Advanced Studies in Italy, headed by Dr. Jacques Mehler. The study’s first author is Dr. David Gómez.
BLA, ShBA, LBA
Consider, for instance, the sound-combinations that occur at the beginning of words. While many languages have words that begin by bl (e.g., blando in Italian, blink in English, and blusa in Spanish), few languages have words that begin with lb. Russian is such a language (e.g., lbu, a word related to lob, “forehead”), but even in Russian such words are extremely rare and outnumbered by words starting with bl. Linguists have suggested that such patterns occur because human brains are biased to favor syllables such as bla over lba. In line with this possibility, past experimental research from Dr. Berent’s lab has shown that adult speakers display such preferences, even if their native language has no words resembling either bla or lba. But where does this knowledge stem from? Is it due to some universal linguistic principle, or to adults’ lifelong experience with listening and producing their native language?
THE EXPERIMENT
These questions motivated our team to look carefully at how young babies perceive different types of words. We used near-infrared spectroscopy, a silent and non-invasive technique that tells us how the oxygenation of the brain cortex (those very first centimeters of gray matter just below the scalp) changes in time, to look at the brain reactions of Italian newborn babies when listening to good and bad word candidates as described above (e.g., blif, lbif).
Working with Italian newborn infants and their families, we observed that newborns react differently to good and bad word candidates, similar to what adults do. Young infants have not learned any words yet, they do not even babble yet, and still they share with us a sense of how words should sound. This finding shows that we are born with the basic, foundational knowledge about the sound pattern of human languages.
It is hard to imagine how differently languages would sound if humans did not share such type of knowledge. We are fortunate that we do, and so our babies can come to the world with the certainty that they will readily recognize the sound patterns of words–no matter the language they will grow up with.

    neurosciencestuff:

    Language Structure… You’re Born with It

    Humans are unique in their ability to acquire language. But how? A new study published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences shows that we are in fact born with the basic fundamental knowledge of language, thus shedding light on the age-old linguistic “nature vs. nurture” debate.

    THE STUDY

    While languages differ from each other in many ways, certain aspects appear to be shared across languages. These aspects might stem from linguistic principles that are active in all human brains. A natural question then arises: are infants born with knowledge of how the human words might sound like? Are infants biased to consider certain sound sequences as more word-like than others? “The results of this new study suggest that, the sound patterns of human languages are the product of an inborn biological instinct, very much like birdsong,” said Prof. Iris Berent of Northeastern University in Boston, who co-authored the study with a research team from the International School of Advanced Studies in Italy, headed by Dr. Jacques Mehler. The study’s first author is Dr. David Gómez.

    BLA, ShBA, LBA

    Consider, for instance, the sound-combinations that occur at the beginning of words. While many languages have words that begin by bl (e.g., blando in Italian, blink in English, and blusa in Spanish), few languages have words that begin with lb. Russian is such a language (e.g., lbu, a word related to lob, “forehead”), but even in Russian such words are extremely rare and outnumbered by words starting with bl. Linguists have suggested that such patterns occur because human brains are biased to favor syllables such as bla over lba. In line with this possibility, past experimental research from Dr. Berent’s lab has shown that adult speakers display such preferences, even if their native language has no words resembling either bla or lba. But where does this knowledge stem from? Is it due to some universal linguistic principle, or to adults’ lifelong experience with listening and producing their native language?

    THE EXPERIMENT

    These questions motivated our team to look carefully at how young babies perceive different types of words. We used near-infrared spectroscopy, a silent and non-invasive technique that tells us how the oxygenation of the brain cortex (those very first centimeters of gray matter just below the scalp) changes in time, to look at the brain reactions of Italian newborn babies when listening to good and bad word candidates as described above (e.g., blif, lbif).

    Working with Italian newborn infants and their families, we observed that newborns react differently to good and bad word candidates, similar to what adults do. Young infants have not learned any words yet, they do not even babble yet, and still they share with us a sense of how words should sound. This finding shows that we are born with the basic, foundational knowledge about the sound pattern of human languages.

    It is hard to imagine how differently languages would sound if humans did not share such type of knowledge. We are fortunate that we do, and so our babies can come to the world with the certainty that they will readily recognize the sound patterns of words–no matter the language they will grow up with.

    (via thenewenlightenmentage)

    — 4 days ago with 591 notes
    #tf language 
    Satellites Show Russian Forces Poised Near UkraineBy David M. Herszenhorn - April 10 2014 - http://www.nytimes.comPhoto: A satellite image from DigitalGlobe, a commercial vendor, shows what NATO officials say is a Russian artillery battalion in Novocherkassk, not far from the border with Ukraine.MOSCOW — NATO released satellite photographs on Thursday showing Russian military equipment, including fighter jets and tanks, that it described as part of a deployment of as many as 40,000 troops near the border with Ukraine. The release came the same day that President Vladimir V. Putin reiterated a threat to curtail gas sales to Ukraine.The photographs, taken by a commercial satellite imaging company called DigitalGlobe, offered some of the first documentary evidence of a military buildup that the West says Russia could use to invade Ukraine at any moment. They were released at a news conference in Belgium by Brig. Gary Deakin, the director of NATO’s Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Center.The Kremlin has accused the West of exaggerating Russia’s military presence along the Ukrainian border and has insisted that it has no plans for a second military incursion after its lightning-quick occupation and annexation of Crimea. Still, Russia has warned that it may take military action to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine if they are threatened. - Full Article

    Satellites Show Russian Forces Poised Near Ukraine
    By David M. Herszenhorn - April 10 2014 - http://www.nytimes.com
    Photo: A satellite image from DigitalGlobe, a commercial vendor, shows what NATO officials say is a Russian artillery battalion in Novocherkassk, not far from the border with Ukraine.
    MOSCOW — NATO released satellite photographs on Thursday showing Russian military equipment, including fighter jets and tanks, that it described as part of a deployment of as many as 40,000 troops near the border with Ukraine. The release came the same day that President Vladimir V. Putin reiterated a threat to curtail gas sales to Ukraine.
    The photographs, taken by a commercial satellite imaging company called DigitalGlobe, offered some of the first documentary evidence of a military buildup that the West says Russia could use to invade Ukraine at any moment. They were released at a news conference in Belgium by Brig. Gary Deakin, the director of NATO’s Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Center.
    The Kremlin has accused the West of exaggerating Russia’s military presence along the Ukrainian border and has insisted that it has no plans for a second military incursion after its lightning-quick occupation and annexation of Crimea. Still, Russia has warned that it may take military action to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine if they are threatened. - Full Article

    — 4 days ago with 4 notes
    #TF What is up around us  #tf Ukraine  #tf Russia  #Vladimir V. Putin  #NATO