Independent learning suggests ideas such as “self-taught,” or “autodidact.” These imply that independence means working solo. But that’s just not how it happens. People don’t learn in isolation. When I talk about independent learners, I don’t mean people learning alone. I’m talking about learning that happens independent of schools.
Anyone who really wants to learn without school has to find other people to learn with and from. That’s the open secret of learning outside of school. It’s a social act. Learning is something we do together.
Independent learners are interdependent learners.
Mark Twain on “sponsored content” and “native advertising,” 1873.
This is how humor works: It’s a conflict of synergies — we mashup these things that don’t belong together that temporarily exist in out minds.
A TED salon curated by Helen Walters, titled “Design Is Everywhere,” New Yorker cartoons editor Bob Mankoff illustrates his theory of humor with his most famous cartoon, which juxtaposes the syntax of politeness with the content of rudeness.
He also notes that the magazine calls cartoons “idea drawings” because an idea drawing “it requires thinking on behalf of cartoonish and thinking on behalf of reader to make it work.”
For more illustrative epitomes in action, see The Big New Yorker Book of Dogs.
A woman working on an all-female team of data scientists in the gaming industry pulls an ingenious prank on her male CEO and replaces the scantily clad female comic character he has a soft (hard?) spot for with another kind of poster.
But lest we forget, one of the brave everyday women at the helm of the Second Wave of Feminism did the exact same thing 40 years ago and shared it on the “social media” of her day.
Wazzock was a particularly prevalent—and particularly loutish—insult in the 1990s. At the time, “lad culture” ran throughout British music and television, and wazzock, a North-England accented contraction of the sarcastic wiseacre (a know-it-all) became a powerful tool to shoot people down in an argument.
Though the etymology of lummox is heavily disputed, one thing is for certain: It came from East Anglia, the coastal outcrop of Britain above London. There, around 1825, someone threw out the word as an insult, and it stuck, becoming a typically British go-to term. Some linguists believe it comes from the verb lummock, which typified a lummox: it means a clumsy oaf.
Skivers and shirkers are one and the same. Someone who manages to duck under any responsibility and loaf around, doing very little, is a skiver. The origins of this particular insult are contested: some think it’s from an Old Norse word—skifa—meaning “slice,” whereby the worker slices off as much work as possible.
Often hurled at the opposite sex, to call someone a minger is to say they are objectively unattractive. Though etymologists struggle to agree where the word came from, it seems likely that it stems from the Old Scots word meng, meaning “sh**.” We didn’t say it was pretty.
For such a colloquial word, nincompoop actually has a very learned past. Samuel Johnson, the compiler of England’s first proper dictionary, claims the word comes from the Latin phrase non compos mentis (“not of right mind”), and was originally a legal term.
As words are used more regularly, the laziness of pronunciation can often warp them slightly. So it was with pillock. Originally pillicock (a Norwegian slang word for penis), the word has since been condensed to plain old pillock—though its meaning remains.
- CLOD HOPPER
According to the brilliant Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, dating back to 1811 and compiled by Captain Francis Grose, a clod hopper refers to a country farmer or ploughman—with the implication nowadays that you’re slow witted and bumbling.
Grose’s Dictionary of vulgarities is a rich seam of overlooked insults. In the 200 years since it was published, there have been several terms that have fallen out of favor. One of them is dunaker, a common thief of cows and calves.
By calling someone a git, you’re invoking the old Scots word get, which means “bastard.” When it came down south of the border, it lost its harsh vowel sound and became something softer, albeit with the required spikiness in.
But not all graduation speeches are created equal: Here are some of history’s most timelessly uplifting and thought-provoking speakers: Greil Marcus, Ann Patchett, Jacqueline Novogratz, Neil Gaiman, David Foster Wallace, Ellen DeGeneres, Aaron Sorkin, Barack Obama, Ray Bradbury, J. K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, Robert Krulwich, Meryl Streep, and Jeff Bezos.
Don’t tell us that it’s impossible and that there is no budget for glitter. Give us a wheel to reinvent. … We are more than the sum of our parts. We get presidents elected.
Pair with 5 manifestos for the creative life.
Pair with The Politics of Homosexuality, the seminal 1993 article that turned the tide.