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Reinforcing the patriarchy: tricksters in literature and mythology

Have you ever noticed how much your favorite stories have in common? Boy meets girl, falls in love, gets married. Hero goes on a quest, meets a wise old man, and saves the day. There’s a reason for this repetition, if you believe the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung. Jung found that his psychotherapy patients would tell stories containing elements of ancient mythology, even when they had never been exposed to these myths.

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5 facts that help us understand the world of early American yoga

Long and varied as yoga’s history on the Indian subcontinent may be, its comparatively short residency on American soil is no less interesting. Early American yoga—a concept held together only by the fact that it appears to belong to a cast of characters who call themselves yogis—oscillates between the menacing and the marvelous, the magical and the mechanical, the strange and the familiar.

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Breaking down the Internet’s influence on grammar and punctuation [excerpt]

The Internet has become a key part of modern communication. But how has it influenced language structure? Surprisingly, formal writing remains unchanged. Informal writing, however, has seen an influx of stylistic changes. In the following shortened extract from Making Sense: The Glamorous Story of English Grammar, renowned linguist David Crystal breaks down the grammatical and syntactical evolution of language in the Internet-era.

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Singing resistance on the border

At an early age, Américo Paredes was preoccupied with the inexorable passing of time, which would leave an imprint in his academic career. Devoting his academic career to preserving and displaying Mexican-American traditions through thorough analysis and recording of folk-songs, it is clear that Paredes kept his focus on beating back the forces of time and amnesia. Indeed, Paredes’ lessons are still very much relevant today.

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Allen Ginsberg and Ann Coulter walk into an auditorium…

Ann Coulter, a controversial right-wing author and commentator, was tentatively scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley on April 27 until pre-speech protests turned into violent clashes, and her speech was canceled. In response, Coulter tweeted, “It’s sickening when a radical thuggish institution like Berkeley can so easily snuff out the cherished American right to free speech.”

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How private are your prescription records?

Urgent public health crises generate pressures for access to information to protect the public’s health. Identifying patients with contagious conditions and tracing their contacts may seem imperative for serious diseases such as Ebola or SARS. But pressures for information reach far more broadly than the threat of deadly contagion. Such is the situation with the opioid epidemic, at least in Utah,

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What can baker’s yeast tell us about drug response?

Pharmaceutical drugs are an integral part of healthcare, but a treatment regimen that works for one individual may not produce the same benefit for another. Additionally, a given drug dose may be well-tolerated by some, but produce undesired (and sometimes severe) adverse effects in others. In the United States (with similar statistics in other parts of the world), serious drug adverse reactions account for over 6% of hospitalisations

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The price of travel: is it worth it?

As I set out to unpack the challenges of happy travel, I first had to confront my assumption that travel truly is a worthwhile investment of time and money. We certainly seem to think it is. When people sit down to construct a bucket list, travel goals shoot right to the top. A quick browse through the website bucketlist.org reveals a deep longing for far-flung adventures

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English: The Journal of the English Association cover

Ivanka Trump’s sleeves (too long; didn’t read)

Like our students, we scholars don’t always finish our reading – but unlike our students, we are professionally cultivated in the crucial tasks of deciding what to read and how to read it. We might better equip our students if we openly discussed TL;DR instead, thereby acknowledging not only the great unread but the existence of a wide variety of reading modes, always working in concert with our cherished close reading.

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Bluegrass festivals: a summertime staple

For more than fifty years, bluegrass musicians and fans from around the world have gathered in shady bowers and open fields to trade songs in parking lot picking sessions; hear top local, regional, and national bluegrass bands as they present onstage performances; and buy instruments, books, recordings, and memorabilia from vendors. These bluegrass festivals serve as vital meeting spaces for members of the bluegrass community, and they play a key role in the music’s ongoing economic vitality.

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Two numerals: “six” and “hundred,” part 2: “hundred”

Like the history of some other words denoting numbers, the history of hundred is full of sticks and stones. To begin with, we notice that hundred, like dozen, thousand, million, and billion, is a noun rather than a numeral and requires an article (compare six people versus a hundred people); it also has a regular plural (a numeral, to have the plural form, has to be turned into a noun, or substantivized, as in twos and threes, at sixes and sevens, on all fours, and the like).

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From the life of words, part 1

From time to time, various organizations invite me to speak about the history of words. The main question I hear is why words change their meaning. Obviously, I have nothing new to say on this subject, for there is a chapter on semantic change in countless books, both popular and special.

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At bay: where is that bay?

To keep somebody or something at bay means “to keep a dangerous opponent at a distance; to hold off, ward off a disaster, etc.” The very first interpreters of this idiom guessed its origin correctly. They stated that bay here means “to bark” and that at bay refers to hunting.

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The origins of dance styles

There is an amazing variety of types, styles, and genres of dancing – from street to disco, to folk dancing and ballroom. Some are recent inventions, stemming from social and political changes, whilst others have origins as old as civilisation itself. Do you know your Jive from your Jazz, your Salsa from your Samba? Read on to discover the surprisingly controversial origins of the Waltz, and the dark history of the American Tango.

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Ten facts about children’s literature

Most of us have a favourite story, or selection of stories, from our childhood. Perhaps they were read to us as we drifted off to sleep, or they were read aloud to the family in front of an open fire, or maybe we read them ourselves by the light of a torch when we were supposed to be sleeping. No matter where you read them, or who read them to you, the characters (and their stories) often stick with you forever.

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How new is “fake news”?

President Donald Trump’s administration is accused of disseminating “fake news” to the shock of the media, tens of millions of Americans, and to many others around the world. So many people think this is a new, ugly turn of events in American politics. What does American history have to say about this? When George Washington announced that he did not want to serve as president for a third term, Thomas Jefferson let it be known that he was interested in the job.

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