linguistic weapons: ISIS, ISIL, IS or Daesh?

France, always the blazing non-conformist, has recently decided to stop calling ISIS by the name ISIS... or ISIL, or the Islamic State. Instead, its foreign minister recently announced that the French government would begin calling the group "Daesh." Why am I writing about this? A great question, my Discerning Reader. Here's the reason: words matter, and …

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how to define “barbarian”: a case study on ISIS

A few days ago, I retweeted this from a fellow Mizzou journalist (ignore the fact that he's a national correspondent a the L.A. Times and I'm a first-semester grad student--we're essentially colleagues): Oh boy, this got people talking. "As if they have to be mutually exclusive" responded one Twitterer. "Tech savvy barbarians are still barbarians," said …

by way of books: accidental peeks into strangers’ lives

A year ago, I discovered Strand's Tumblr, a corner of the Internet curated by employees of the 18-mile long used bookstore in New York. People who sell their books to Strand often leave behind pieces of themselves in the books, whether through notes scribbled in the margins or postcards used as bookmarks. Strand finds the …

thoughts on the seventy-fifth anniversary of the invasion of poland

September 1, 1939: Seventy-five years ago today, when my grandparents were twelve years old, Adolf Hitler invaded their country. My grandparents lived in a village near Lwow in the eastern part of Poland.  Dziadziu (my grandpa) had been in love with Babcia (my grandma) since kindergarden, and, according to stories from my mother, his preferred courting …