Posts Tagged: etymology

How We Got So "Comfortable With That"

"Comfortable" is a flexible term. Any one person’s threshold for comfort can differ from another’s. For the individual, comfort is relative: a heat wave in Edmonton, Canada, say, no longer agonizes after one has endured a heat wave in New York. When a person says "comfortable," they often mean "pleasant." Other times "comfortable" translates to just "bearable" or "satisfactory." While the word "comfortable" doesn’t change, a person’s definition of it can, and usually does, with time—that is, with age and experience. It might happen gradually, incrementally, with constant comparisons between then and now. Comfort itself is relative, its meaning elastic.

The word "comfortable" has been thrown around since the Middle [...]


Are "Cougars" Unsafe For Children, Or For The Whole Human Race In General?

The founder of the "pairing older ladies with younger men" dating site is pretty peeved at Google for sticking ads for her site and other similarly themed ones in the "non-family-safe" section of its ad-sales repository, while ads for similar sites that cater to older men looking for younger women (or Americans seeking out brides from abroad) were given the all clear for advertising on, say, Double standard, or just your everyday example of garden-variety sexism? A flack for the search engine/ad company said that the company wasn't sexist — just that there were certain words and images within the ad copy and sites that triggered [...]


A Little History Of Blackmail

Part of a two-week series on the pull of bad influences in our lives and in the culture.

The word “blackmail” has deceit written all over it. Nine letters to connote all the dirtiness and manipulation that comes with the threat of disclosure. But when you think of "blackmail," do you picture, well, mail? Confidential missives that threaten to enter the wrong hands? I’m always reminded of Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Purloined Letter," where the narrative winds to follow the possible locations of an incriminating letter. In daytime soaps and murder mysteries, blackmail regularly happens through the transfer of mail. As we know, letters are by nature compromising—not only [...]


Twitter-Themed TV Show's Censorship Sets Sail

Correction: The William Shatner-led sitcom adaptation of the "Shit My Dad Says" Twitter feed has been dubbed Bleep My Dad Says, not Shat My Dad Says as originally hoped/feared. Although is "Bleep" that much better? Either way, it will be pitted against 30 Rock, which I'm sure will have something to say about its combination of stunt casting and silly titling, at 8:30 p.m. ET on Thursdays.