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“Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.” Your favorite grammatically valid English sentence for the next five minutes.

by Alesh Houdek, posted 1344 days ago · Comment [1]

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The use of #hashtags on Twitter has become increasingly sophisticated, have you noticed? Susan Orlean sure has, and she breaks down the various uses, which are surprisingly interesting. BTW, you can follow me on twitter.

by Alesh Houdek, posted 1385 days ago · Comment

Gushing fiasco
The strange language of the BP oil spill aftermath

BP killed aquaman

Are you like me — have you been waiting for someone to use the phrase “black swan” in reference to the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the gulf? Well, it’s happened, so let’s look at the literary consequences thus far of this thing. I bet the science fiction writers are kicking themselves for not thinking of a disaster like this. I don’t know what SF writers could do with the scenario, but presumably something more coherent than our collective slack-jawed response of the worldwide media. But let’s put aside the obvious need for a sweeping explanation of what this means for humanity, and instead look at some of the fun wordplay that has come out of the disaster.

There is of course the much commented-on string of failed hole-patching attempts: “top kill,” “containment dome,” “blowout preventer,” “junk shot,” and the latest, “sweeping arm system.” One wonders who’s naming these procedures; is it BP’s engineering department or public relations team, or is it some sort of in-house poetry department? (I do not believe BP has a poetry department, but it really would not be so far-fetched. This is a company which, were it a country, would have the 34th largest economy in the world — larger than Finland — and which in any case produces two magazines for public consumption.)

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