WWII slang from the front

As seen in War Slang: American Fighting Words & Phrases Since the Civil War: "Royal Order of Whale Bangers. An 'exclusive' club open only to airmen who have mistakenly dropped depth charges on whales, supposing them to be enemy submarines." Read the rest

The strange stories behind country-code top-level domains

James Bridle writes, "A couple of months ago I released a browser extension - Citizen Ex - which tracks your browsing (entirely privately) in order to show you your "Algorithmic Citizenship" - where your browsing actually goes, and what this means for your rights." Read the rest

A fucking interesting history of swearing on television!

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I distinctly remember my glee as an 8-year-old watching Hawkeye say "Son of a bitch" on M*A*S*H in 1979, the first time that phrase was used on US television. Read the rest

Naomi Wolf wants young women to stop speaking with "vocal fry"

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"Vocal fry" is term used to describe the creaky sound some people make at the end of an utterance (especially by people from Southern California, and extra-especially by young women from Southern California). Read the rest

Man wins French Scrabble championship but doesn't speak French

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Nigel Richards of Christchurch, New Zealand won the French-language Scrabble world championship yet he doesn't actually speak the language. Richards, a former US and World Scrabble Champ simply studied the dictionary for a couple months.

"He doesn't speak French at all, he just learnt the words. He won't know what they mean, wouldn't be able to carry out a conversation in French I wouldn't think," said Richards' friend Liz Fagerlund, former president of the New Zealand Scrabble Association. "He does have a reputation for being the best Scrabble player ever and they know about him already, but they probably didn't necessarily expect him to go in for the first time and beat them at their own game."

(NZ Herald) Read the rest

The “There Their and They're” Song, by Jonathan Mann

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Two years ago today, Jonathan “Song A Day” Mann published this song. It's as timely as ever.

Does this McDonald's Minions toy say "What the fuck?"

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Some parents are complaining that a Minions talking toy available at McDonald's sounds like it says "What the fuck!" Gotta love audio pareidolia. Read the rest

Calvin and Markov: text-chaining new, weird computer humor

Josh Millard's Calvin and Markov uses a small perl script to mine transcripts of Calvin and Hobbes strips using Markov chains to make new, weird, computer humor. Read the rest

Scalia insult-generator

Justice Antonin Scalia's intemperate dissenting opinion in the Supreme Court's landmark marriage equality case included some epic old dude grumpery, including the phrases "pure applesauce" and "jiggery-pokery." Read the rest

The evolution of the word 'dude'

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"Dude" was the "hipster" of the 1880s.

Read the rest

Why people don't like the word "moist"

When I was younger, I had a friend who frequently expressed her hatred for the word "moist." It wasn't until the Internet that I understood this to be a commonly-despised word. Read the rest

Space Oddity meets Up-Goer Five

Alaska Robotics perform a very special cover of Space Oddity in constrained-vocabulary phrasing that restates the lyrics using only the 100 most common English words, in the style of Randall "XKCD" Munroe's Thing Explainer/Up-Goer Five. (via Vi Hart) Read the rest

Heavy Metal band-name generator

The internet’s official heavy metal band name generator: pretty good names, with a brilliant presentation. What webfonts are for! (Thanks, Eirik!) Read the rest

Randall "XKCD" Munroe's next book: THING EXPLAINER

Coming this November (pre-order here), Thing Explainer expands the premise of Up Goer Five, Munroe's blueprint of the Saturn Five rocket that restricted its vocabulary to the thousand most common English words. Read the rest

Leetspeak, circa 1901

The telegraph operators of the early 20th century had a rich vocabulary of wrist-saving abbreviations they used among themselves: "Is tt exa tr et?" ("Is that extra there yet?") Read the rest

English is weird

Put the word "only" between any two words of this sentence: "She told him that she loved him." Read the rest

Clean Reader is a free speech issue

My latest Guardian column, Allow Clean Reader to swap 'bad' words in books – it's a matter of free speech expands on last week's editorial about the controversial ebook reader, which lets readers mangle the books they read by programatically swapping swear-words for milder alternatives. Read the rest

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