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Showing posts from January, 2015

Fun With Duolingo

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Lately I've been having a lot of fun with the website Duolingo. It's a gamified language learning website where you can choose one or more languages to learn, take placement tests if you know something already, and move up a learning tree lesson by lesson.

Before I discovered Duolingo, I used the website Livemocha. It also has many languages to learn (more than Duolingo) and has all sorts of lessons to go through. After Livemocha was bought by Rosetta Stone and revamped their website, though, I lost interest. Tied in with Rosetta Stone's business, it seems to have lost its focus on website accessibility and intuitive learning.

One area in which Livemocha still excels is in pairing learners with native speakers. (Duolingo has no equivalent.) Livemocha facilitates finding, chatting with, and getting feedback from native speakers of whatever language you're learning. You can also give others feedback on submissions in whatever your own native language is. It all goes bac…

West Coast vs. East Coast City Choices, Round One

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Wherever you might live in the United States—north, south, east, west, or middle—it's important to know whether you're a West Coast or East Coast person.

Choose which city you'd prefer to live in out of the following pairs to determine whether you're a West Coast or East Coast. (Keep track of the number you choose on each side.)

*Note: These cities are not meant to be perfect counterparts to each other, just interesting choices.

Here's round one:


Is it East or West that's winning so far? Let's settle the question once and for all in an upcoming round two.

Unhealthy Obsession with the "First Americans"

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Just yesterday I saw National Geographic's current magazine cover at a grocery store checkstand.


There's nothing particularly offensive or disturbing about the cover—or the story in the magazine, I'm sure. (I didn't read it.) Still, I couldn't help but think that this is yet another example of a weird American phenomenon: We are obsessed with finding out who came to the Americas first, when they did it, and how.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I've gotten the feeling over the past few years that Americans (and Canadians too, probably) are far more invested in archaeological finds related to the first people to arrive where they live now than people anywhere else on earth. Non-academic non-archaeologist Americans seriously argue about whether the Bering Land Bridge theory is legitimate or not, or whether people arrived in the Americas 10,000, 15,000, or 20,000 years ago.

Does any other society today have an equivalent? Is there controversy in China concerning the genet…