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October 6, 2008


George Orwell, Blogger?
Course Correction
Don't IM Ur Term Paper
Tonight's Homework: Finding a Date
Fowl Crowds in Miami
When Sushi Met Science

George Orwell, Blogger?
Sept. 7, 1938: "Overheard local English resident: '...Hitler's going to have Czechoslovakia all right. If he doesn't get it now, he'll go on and on till he does.' " This diary entry was written by George Orwell, the British author whose works include 1984 and Animal Farm. Orwell's diaries are now being published in blog form (orwelldiaries.wordpress.com). Each entry is being published 70 years to the day after it was written. Orwell, who died in 1950, was as prolific as any blogger. His collected writings filled 20 volumes, and he was a keen observer. Organizers of the blog hope to attract a younger generation they say Orwell would have wanted to reach. Jean Seaton, a professor at the University of Westminster in London, says Orwell's diaries are "written against this almost traumatized understanding that there is going to be a second world war."

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Course Correction
Responding to a torrent of criticism, the women's pro golf tour has dropped a plan to suspend players who are not conversant in English. The policy, announced in August, was said to be the first of its kind in a major sport. It drew criticism that the Ladies Professional Golf Association was discriminating against foreign players. There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the U.S.-based L.P.G.A. tour, including 45 from South Korea. L.P.G.A. officials say they devised the language policy so that players could better communicate with fans, the media, and sponsors. The tour plans to announce a revised policy, with no playing penalties, by the end of the year. Lorena Ochoa, the No. 1 player, is from Mexico. Ochoa, who speaks English, had called the proposed suspension of non-English-speaking players "a little drastic." Golfers, she says, are better judged by their performance.

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Don't IM Ur Term Paper
Nearly two thirds of 700 students surveyed said their e-communication style shows up in their schoolwork, according to a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. About half said they sometimes omit punctuation or capitalization; a quarter use smiley faces and other emoticons. Richard Sterling, who teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, says that when e-mail shorthand appears in schoolwork, it gives teachers an opportunity to explain that while these usages are OK online, they don't belong in school assignments. The study also found that most teens don't think of e-mail and texting as "real writing."

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Tonight's Homework: Finding a Date
It seems like a typical college mixer: a room full of chattering young men and women. But it's actually a college course at Singapore Polytechnic on "love relations for life." Giggling and banter are all part of the coursework, as students learn the basics of dating and falling in love. The course is an extension of government efforts to increase Singapore's low birthrate. Over the past 25 years, other government matchmaking programs—tea dances, cruises, and cooking classes—have been less than successful. Singapore, a city-state in Southeast Asia just south of Malaysia, has one of the world's lowest fertility rates: 1.08 children per woman of childbearing age—far below the 2.5 needed to maintain the population.

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Fowl Crowds in Miami
The proud peacocks hanging out in Miami are wearing out their welcome. Roaming freely in packs of nearly a dozen, they emit earsplitting screeches that sound like someone's being attacked, and drop guano on $60,000 cars. When the 13-pounders land on someone's roof, they sound like elephants. In Miami's Coconut Grove neighborhood, a growing number of residents are demanding that city officials take action against the pesky peafowl. But Miami is a bird sanctuary, and it's illegal to kill or trap a peacock or peahen. Some people actually like having the exotic birds around. One resident says she puts out bowls of birdseed for the peacocks "out of self-defense." Otherwise, she says, they steal food from her cats.

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When Sushi Met Science
Was the pricey sushi being sold as white tuna the real deal? Two high school students decided to find out. Kate Stoeckle and Louisa Strauss, who both graduated this spring from Trinity School in New York, sent 60 seafood samples off to a lab for DNA fingerprinting. They found that 2 of the 4 restaurants and 6 of the 10 grocery stores they sampled in Manhattan had sold them mislabeled sushi. A piece of "white tuna" was really tilapia, a much cheaper fish. Seven pieces labeled "red snapper" turned out to be anything from Atlantic cod to Acadian redfish, an endangered species. The sushi project is an example of how DNA technology once restricted to scientists and crime labs is now available to the general public. Strauss and Stoeckle both enrolled this fall at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. Neither plans to major in the sciences: Strauss prefers art history and Stoeckle might major in writing.

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