What is the Word of the Year?

If you said ‘selfie’, forget it; Merriam-Webster says it is ‘science’

Word of the YearImage credit: ThinkStock

What makes a word the word of the year?” asks Arika Okrent in Mental Floss.

Last month, Oxford Dictionaries crowned “selfie” the word of the year because it was “judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.”

Merriam-Webster takes another approach, starting not with an assessment of the general cultural zeitgeist, but with a look at the number of look-ups on its online dictionary. This year, the word with the greatest increase in look-ups—176 percent—was science.

Word of year

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A couple of stories on Christmas gift giving. But first may I remind you that there’s no better gift than a book; you know that, right?

Mother Jones offers 7 Simple Tips for Guilt-Free Holiday Shopping

Your gifts don’t have to support horrific working conditions in distant garment factories, Dana Liebelson reminds us.

Last month, I reported on the “sumangali girls” in India, workers who are lured to textile factories on the promise that they will earn enough money for a dowry or higher education—but instead end up working long hours for little pay in exploitative conditions.

Since the story came out, many readers have asked how they can support fair labor with their purchases. Here are seven tips to keep in your pocket during your holiday shopping:

Check the labelCheck the label

Guilt-free shopping
 
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Then there are some tips from Naomi Kritze.

Gift Shopping for People You Hate: the Passive-Aggressive Shopping Guide

Those who used to follow my blog over on LiveJournal may remember that for several years now I’ve done a list of suggested gifts you could give to someone you didn’t like very much, but had to buy a gift for anyway.  I’ve actually never run into this problem myself, but I know an awful lot of people who seem to have it, and as an unfailingly supportive and sympathetic friend, I wanted to be helpful.

There are a couple of principles that hold true every year.

1. Subtlety!  If you want an open declaration of war, or if you want to insult them and have them KNOW they were insulted, that’s easy and you don’t need my help to come up with that one.  You want them to feel totally disappointed, but like they still have to say “thank you, it’s lovely.”

Pie in a jarnuf said

Gifts for people you hate

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And for the kids?

Top 10 comic books

Comic book creator Robin Etherington, author of Monkey Nuts: The Diamond Egg of Wonders, chose his top 10 graphic novels for the Guardian.

I’ve always liked making top ten lists. During my time here on planet earth I’ve happily categorised my favourite books, films, games, sports, foodstuffs, road kill, enemies, colours, credit cards, teeth and spam email, to name but a few. And to be honest they were all pretty easy (all except for movies, which I had to break into innumerable sub-divisions, from Thrillers Featuring Log Cabins to Comedies Featuring an Amusingly Small Dog).

But then we reach comics; my achilles heel. Where does one start? To pick just 10 titles from the oodles of awesomeness that fill the shelves of book stores and comic shops the world over, well, it seems a shame.”

Calvin and Hobbes
Calvin and Hobbes

Best comics

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World’s leading authors say state surveillance of personal data is theft

More than 500 of the world’s leading authors, including five Nobel prize winners, have condemned the scale of state surveillance.

AuthorsClockwise from top left, eight of the people who have signed the petition: Hanif Kureishi, Björk, Arundhati Roy, Don DeLillo, Ian McEwan, Tom Stoppard, Margaret Atwood and Martin Amis

In a story in the Guardian, Matthew Taylor and Nick Hopkins report that the authors warned that spy agencies are undermining democracy and must be curbed by a new international charter.

The signatories, who come from 81 different countries and include Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, Orhan Pamuk, Günter Grass and Arundhati Roy, say the capacity of intelligence agencies to spy on millions of people’s digital communications is turning everyone into potential suspects, with worrying implications for the way societies work.

They have urged the United Nations to create an international bill of digital rights that would enshrine the protection of civil rights in the internet age.    
 
Authors speak out on spying

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Quote of the Day

Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway.” ~ -Eleanor Roosevelt
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Alma Alexander

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