Sow vs. sew and the case of the explosive underwear

A story in today’s Times contains this bit of curious phrasing. As I read, I imagined this misguided chap bent over in an airport restroom in Amsterdam, his drawers at his knees, and accomplices scattering cluster bombs about his briefs....

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Rock-paper-scissors and caption writing at the NYT

 The basic rules of caption writing are pretty straightforward: 1. Tell readers who is in a picture and what they are doing. 2. Provide a bit of context that draws readers into a story or helps them understand that story better. There...

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Say what you mean, but learn to verb the web

The school year started this week with the usual rush of frenetic energy and confusion. That set the stage perfectly for some of the things I was reading and hearing. Beware of cyclonic language I did a double-take when NPR said...

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Why is the Style section mooning me? Or, a lesson in context

I stared hazily at the folded newspaper lying atop the dining room table. Right there, next to the Chex and the napkins, the New York Times Style section was mooning me. I picked it up and blinked several times, finally walking...

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A lesson about ‘refute’ from the NYT crossword puzzle

Lessons often come from unexpected places. Yesterday, it was the New York Times crossword puzzle. Clues for the crossword often push the boundaries of obscurity (that’s what makes the puzzles challenging), but rarely are they downright wrong. This clue in the Times...

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