Every year, Merriam-Webster releases a list of words added to the new version of its Collegiate Dictionary. The editors decide which words make the cut based on one rule: usage. They figure out which words people are using most often and in what context.
And every year, you’ll find articles about how the words we’re using signal that the English language is dead. But is it really? Sure, the 2012 list certainly says something about our culture, with additions including F-Bomb, sexting, mash-up, earworm, bucket list, brain cramp, gastropub, aha moment, life coach and man cave.
But how bad is that compared to the list of words that made it into dictionaries back in 1929 and 1930, when F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Edith Wharton were the writers of the day? That list includes effing, whoop de-do, snack bar, whodunit and moxie, another word for a sense of audacity and spunk. Spunk, by the way, made its first appearance in 1582.
If your kid is Ivy League material, congratulations. You’re in deep trouble.
The average cost of tuition, room and board for four years at a private college in the U.S. was $119,400 last year, according to The College Board. That’s just an average. Harvard University already will set you back more than $54,000 a year.
College costs are rising at about six percent a year, far faster than inflation. If you have an infant, four years at a private college will cost, on average, $340,800 by the time he or she is ready to enroll. Even in-state tuition at a state school will set you back $95,000.
You need a plan, Stan. Specifically, a 529 plan.
I'll credit Tom Emmer with this much: He got me thinking.
In 2010, Target gave $100,000 in cash and another $50,000 in goods to a political action committee called MN Forward. MN Forward used that money to support the gubernatorial campaign of Tom Emmer.
Tom Emmer wanted to cut the minimum wage for workers that earn tips, which would disproportionately impact low-wage women. He wanted a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman. He opposed Minnesota’s indoor smoking ban, saying it violated individual rights.
Not my guy. I didn't want my money going to a company that supported causes I so totally disagreed with. Time to vote with my wallet, I figured. I bought a Costco membership.
In July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of a controversial chemical, BPA, or bisphenol-A, in bottles and sippy cups. BPA is widely used in plastics, but in animal studies it’s been shown to mimic the hormone estrogen and to interfere with nervous and reproductive system development.
Unfortunately, the FDA’s decision isn’t all that progressive. The plastics industry actually asked the FDA to ban the use of BPA in sippy cups and bottles, since manufacturers had already stopped using it and other proposals floating around Congress would have been much more restrictive, banning BPA from all food packaging and water bottles.
The result: There’s plenty of BPA still out there, in places you might not suspect. Because BPA is used in the liners of aluminum cans, you’re often better off eating food that has been stored in plastic than you are eating canned food. That surprised me, as did the fact that BPA is even found in recycled paper products.
Here are some common sources of BPA, and a few suggestions about how you can avoid it.
Add extra virgin olive oil to the list of foods that might not be what they claim to be.
Now that the tomatoes in our garden are starting to ripen, I wanted to make sure I had everything I need to make bruschetta — toasted bread topped with tomatoes that have been tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and basil. But as I set out to research new extra virgin olive oils to try this summer (some people try different wines, I experiment with olive oil and balsamic vinegar), I came across Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by New Yorker writer Tom Mueller.
Mueller, who lives in Italy in a stone medieval farmhouse surrounded by olive groves with his family, found that bottles labeled "extra virgin olive oil" aren’t as virgin as they claim — extra-virgin olive oil means the oil was made from crushed olives, with nothing else added or other processes involved. What he found out about the way resellers add lower-grade oils and artificial coloring to create so-called extra virgin olive oil is enough to give any bread-dipping olive oil lover pause.
It was also enough to turn Mueller into an olive oil activist. He’s launched the “Truth in Olive Oil” movement to bring attention to the fact that some olive oil isn’t even made from olives at all.