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Schott's Vocab: Smart Writing About Words

I've been enjoying Schott's Vocab, a new blog from the New York Times. It's about words and word usement (sorry, LA Story reference). Word-nerd Ben Schott has a passion for "lexicographical trifles," and is attempting to document language as it evolves, day-to-day. Today the blog is about the swine flu -- just like every other piece of media in every paper everywhere. But Schott's article isn't about deaths, epidemiology, or where to get a SARS Guard; it's about the language used to describe the current flu. Here's a sample (minus a bunch of embedded links Schott uses to reference his sources):

Pork producers, for obvious reasons, also favor the (non-porcine) term Mexican flu; the European Union's Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou has advocated (the already out-of-date) "novel flu"; and World Animal Health proposed (the curiously specific) "North American flu."

The non-profit SaveCalifornia.com decided that what A (H1N1) needed was an alarmist prefix, and promptly re-branded the disease "killer Mexican flu." British Professor John Oxford went one step further, warning that swine flu could combine with avian flu to form an "Armageddon virus."

Satirical Web site The Spoof suggested that, to reassure tourists, the virus be called "Miss Piggy Flu" - which was disturbingly close to The Sun's recent headline, "Piggies in The Muddle."

Read the rest or check out the main Schott's Vocab page for a great look at today's words.

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Animals
Watch a Rogue Pet Dog Interrupt a Russian News Anchor on Air
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iStock

Last week, a Russian news broadcast briefly went to the dogs after its host was startled by a surprise co-anchor: a friendly black canine that wandered on set, announced its presence with a loud bark, and climbed onto her desk.

 

As TODAY reports, Mir24 TV anchor Ilona Linarte went off script for a few minutes, telling viewers "I've got a dog here. What is this dog doing in the studio?" After the initial shock wore off, she gave her furry guest a tepid welcome, patting its head as she gently pushed it off the desk. ("I actually prefer cats,'' Linarte remarked. "I'm a cat lady.")

Linarte’s query was answered when the TV station announced that the dog had accompanied another show’s guest on set, and somehow got loose. That said, rogue animals have a proud tradition of crashing live news broadcasts around the world, so we’re assuming this won’t be the last time a news anchor is upstaged by an adorable guest star (some of which have better hair than them).

[h/t TODAY]

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Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
SpaceX Is Sending Two Private Citizens Around the Moon
Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0
Falcon Heavy and Dragon. Image credit: SpaceX via Wikimedia Commons // CC0 1.0

Two members of the public are set to take an historic trip around the Moon, according to an announcement from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk. As The Verge reports, the anonymous private citizens have already placed substantial deposits on the commercial space flight.

The private spacecraft company SpaceX revealed on Monday that the Falcon Heavy rocket will be launching with its Crew Dragon spacecraft in late 2018. The mission will consist of a circumnavigation of the Moon, passing over the body’s surface before traveling farther into space and returning to Earth. In total, the trip will cover 300,000 to 400,000 miles and take a week to complete.

A noteworthy part of the plan is the human cargo that will be on board. Instead of professional astronauts, the craft will carry two paying customers into space. The passengers, who’ve yet to be named, will both need to pass several fitness tests before they're permitted to make the journey. According to The Verge, Musk said the customers are “very serious” and that the cost of the trip is “comparable” to that of a crewed mission to the International Space Station. The goal for SpaceX is to eventually send one or two commercial flights into space each year, which could account for 10 to 20 percent of the company’s earnings.

[h/t The Verge]

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