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Greg Hill’s Weekly Column

Not what we say, but how we say it

09/11/2014 12:11 pm : Greg's Weekly Column

Buddha once said, “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care, for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” He was seconded by Raymond Chandler’s “The High Window,” in which hard-boiled detective Philip Marlowe encountered a “long-limbed, languorous type of showgirl blond.” “From thirty feet away she looked like a lot of class,” Marlowe thought, but that was dispelled when she opened her mouth and said “don’t” instead of “doesn’t” improperly along with other grammatical misstatements. “Where’s your refinement?” Marlow wondered.

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The Power of Word

09/05/2014 8:43 am : Greg's Weekly Column

We’re lucky that our school district pays attention to its libraries, since that’s where students get grounded in navigating the immense world of information that they’ll deal with all their lives. Sadly, it’s not like that in many American cities, despite repeated studies showing that reading scores improve markedly when school libraries are enhanced in any way: more librarians, more books, even repainting the walls. The district’s Library Media Services Department (LMS) coordinates the purchasing of digital resources, training the school library staffs, and otherwise boosts the libraries’ performance.

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From Marvelous to Awesome

09/04/2014 12:52 pm : Greg's Weekly Column

The British writer Holbrook Jackson once said, “Your library is your portrait,” but he was only speaking of people who care enough about books to possess some. When it comes to book lovers, you can tell a lot about them by looking at their collections. This can be extended to the books they keep in their principal restroom, although these collections tend more towards diversion rather than deep tomes. For example, the Hill family bathroom currently contains a variety of small, distracting works, including the appropriate “Toilets of the World” and “The Garden Book,” both heavily-illustrated books smaller than five inches tall, as well as extracts from Ambrose Bierce’s “Devil’s Dictionary,” a collection of jokes titled “A Man Walks into a Bar,” and of course a Webster’s pocket dictionary.

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A Hospital Of The Mind

08/29/2014 5:56 pm : Greg's Weekly Column

Some anonymous ancient wise guy once called his library “a hospital of the mind.” That applies to my personal library, too, especially when surgery’s involved. Then it’s important to set aside a variety of entertaining books to distract my mind from the painful present, but presupposing what reading I’ll be in the mood for is always challenging. Prior to my recent knee replacement the selection ran from detailed historical nonfiction and biographies to humorous diversion and comics.
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It takes big dreams

08/22/2014 9:58 am : Greg's Weekly Column

It takes big dreams to make big things happen. Take space elevators, for example. “Space Elevators Are Totally Possible,” an online article last February by Meghan Neal describes a “long, strong tether is anchored at the equator and extends into geosynchronous orbit some 62,000 miles above the Earth. At the other end is a counterweight far enough away to keep the center of the mass in orbit with the Earth so the cable stays over the same point above the equator as the planet rotates. The rotation keeps the cable taut, to counter the gravitational pull as robotic, electric ‘climbers’ ride the line up into space carrying the payload.”

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