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Give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile. How many times have you heard that expression used to warn about conceding even a little to someone who is likely to take excessive advantage of your generosity? Better, then, not to give an inch. We frequently seem to quite literally measure moments in our lives through idiomatic expressions (often...

German Green MEP Terry Reintke commented that "Euro English is the everyday, pidgin version of the language, as spoken by the people working in the EU's institutions - an amalgam of jargon, British English, the English spoken by non-native speakers with all its inherent quirks and common mistakes, and terms borrowed from the 23 other official...

How blindly we adopted a term that someone somewhere mooted to describe a very new situation, without questioning the underlying concept. Social distancing is the culprit. The term 'social distance' is usually measured by the amount of social contact between groups. So not measurement by metres but by the extent to which people from different...

"It will soon be possible to transmit wireless messages all over the world so simply that any individual can carry and operate his own apparatus." Before reading further, take a guess at when this quote was published. You'd be forgiven for placing it just before the 'wireless revolution' of the 1990s. In fact, Nikola Tesla suggested this in 1909...

A few blogs ago, close on the heels of perhaps the most (in)famous footballer of his generation, I wrote about the influence of numbers on our way of thinking. Now, with COVID-19 vaccines in the spotlight, and the very recent name change for one that has been beset by controversy, I turn my attention to the way names and their...

In October 2020, Australian rock band King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard released the separate audio components of the song Automation, a fairly opaque riff on human reliance on machines. The explicit instruction was for fans to create remixes and upload these to YouTube. YouTube had other ideas: its automated copyright detection system compared the...

In 1980 The Buggles came up with the one-hit single, Video Killed the Radio Star, a kind of lament for the old and the heralding of the new. The lyric "rewritten by machine and new technology" was not only a sign of the times but a foretaste of the digital age to come. Yet nobody could have predicted, despite...

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