Steve Cotler

Steve Cotler

Category Archives: Language

Anthropocene: What’s in a Name?

Geological epochs are defined by the major events that separate them, as when green algae in primeval seas put oxygen into the atmosphere and made animal life on earth possible. Has human technology become one of these epoch-defining events? Elizabeth Kolbert, a New Yorker staff writer who is aware and knowledgeable about the discussions and […]

Being Positive Anymore

Try this experiment? Write a declarative sentence using the word “anymore” that does not include a negative. You are not allowed to split the word into “any more” as in: “If there are any more interruptions, I shall clear the courtroom.” I’ll wait while you cogitate… The vast majority of you will not be able […]

One More Guggle-Muggle for the Road

Like most families, the nostrums necessary to palliate childhood ills were administered by my mother and grandmother. One, however, came from my father, and until last night, I thought it was his invention. Winter in Southern California is barely winter. But colds, coughs, and bad dreams can besiege a child in any clime. I was […]

Blue Moon Bloops

According to almost every online source that commented on it, the round disk in the sky on the last day of 2009 was a “blue moon,” a term commonly used for the second full moon in any calendar month. Commonly—and erroneously. The internet offers near-instant access to information. It is ironic that in some cases […]

What About Dessert?

Pork Included In a recent blog post, Dan Jurafsky, a San Franciscan who writes The Language of Food, speaks eloquently and intelligently of sweetness, pork products, and cultural differences. It is worth a read taste. Here are a few bites: …the nearby hipster donut shop, Dynamo, whose most popular item is the Maple Glazed Bacon […]

Palms Up Gesture

photo: New York Times Most gestures are inherently ambiguous. A wink, for example, can be an invitation or a warning. A wave can mean hello or go away. Today I was trying to complete this phrase: palms up in a gesture of _____? I was stymied because that gesture seems to have an unusually wide […]

Racial Identity: “Hapa” Obama

A comment on my recent post (Rule Book Racism: Can a Black Athlete Celebrate?) deserves a full response. Lanny writes: “A young, black, athletic man will soon be our president.” Why don’t you call him white? He’s just as much white as black. Is my wife, Karina, yellow or white, Japanese or American? Her mother […]

Planetarium Earmark

As former chairman of the Summer Science Program (SSP), an academic enrichment program for the very brightest teenagers, I know a bit about astronomy, the focus of SSP’s curriculum. I also know a bit about planetariums [“planetaria” is also accepted, but that sounds like a type of worm to me]. And since SSP once investigated, […]

Draw Your Brakes–A Jamaican Creole Shout

Some art, like the 1969 Hopper/Fonda film, Easy Rider, flashes boldly in its moment and ages to insignificance or embarrassment. Some, like the soundtrack of the 1972 reggae film, The Harder They Come, is timeless. I owned the soundtrack early and played the cassette until it was lost. Almost 35 years later, I bought the […]

Protecting America from Immigrants

She makes a terific argumint. – The sign in the background reads: ——–Tejas no es una colonia mexicana. A tip of the hat to Robert Rummel-Hudson’s Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords blog. –