Category Archives: Get off my lawn!

Obscurantism at the New Yorker

As I’ve said, I’m going to let my New Yorker subscription lapse for good when it expires at the end of March. The magazine has become too social-justicey; I dislike editor David “Invertebrate” Remnick’s craven decision to cancel the New Yorker Festival invitation to Steve Bannon after the liberal readers and other participants raised a […]

Words and phrases that need to get off my lawn

From time to time I put up words or phrases that grate on me, and then readers can vent their gripes as well. Note that yes, I know that language evolves. So does food, but you don’t have to like neologisms, just as you don’t have to like nouvelle cuisine (I don’t). Here are a […]

Play-Doh, coloring books and puppies: colleges coddle students during finals week

I may sound grinch-y here; I already know it and so you needn’t repeat it below. Why, as one of my friends put it, do I have “Mr. Grump in my tummy” this fine afternoon? Because the fragility of college students, as described by Lukianoff and Haidt in The Coddling of the American Mind, has […]

What’s with the blue hair?

This is just a question to dispel my ignorance. A lot of the kids, and some adults, are dyeing their hair fluorescent colors like blue, red, and green. I’ve seen it on both men and women. Now I think it’s ugly, but that’s their choice, and I’m not going to hair-shame. Often the dyed-hair crowd […]

I hate fruit stickers

You know what really bothers me? It’s when every single piece of fruit you buy has a sticker tightly affixed to it. And I mean tightly: tighter than Donald Trump and Putin. Despite rumors to the contrary, those stickers aren’t edible.  After lunch today I was all set to have a nice, tart Granny Smith apple […]

Grammatical annoyances of the week

This one I heard two days ago on NPR; I can’t remember the exact word in quotes, but the announcer’s sentence went something like this: “The evidence, quote, unquote.” If you’re going to use verbal air quotes, please place them properly. In this case it’s, “The quote evidence, unquote.” Is that so hard? And I hate […]

More words I abhor

I’m starting to realize that neologisms in popular culture often spread not because they are more pleasing to the ear or more expressive, but because the speaker sounds “cool”—is that word still used?—when using the latest argot. One I’ve seen all over the place lately, perhaps because of the success of the “Crazy Rich Asians” […]

The odious double “is”

I just heard this on NPR—by someone who’s supposed to be eloquent: “The main point is, is that. . . . “ Yes, it’s the odious “double is”. I often hear it this way: “The thing is, is that. . . “, which is similar to the phrase above. Now you may say that language […]

Guess the dads!

These young men both had famous fathers, and their fathers played in the same band. Guess who they are. The answer is here, and it isn’t hard. If you guessed correctly, it shows, as I used to demonstrate to my class, that the variation among people in their facial features has substantial heritability: that is, […]

Oscars create “blockbuster film” category

The  New York Times reports that, because of waning interest in the televised Academy Awards, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is creating a new category for Oscars: an award for “outstanding achievement in popular films.” As the paper reports below, part of this decision also reflects the public’s lack of interest in the […]