Category: Nonfiction

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Odd Punctuation Marks

Punctuation marks are a fairly modern phenomenon. From antiquity up through the Middle Ages, words were written together in great long strings, with little spacing or punctuation. These kind of texts were meant to...

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The Beauty of Barcelona’s Eixample

Barcelona is a beautiful city at any scale. Take a walk down La Rambla or visit the Sagrada Familia and you’ll see some of the greatest urban spaces in the world. Then take a...

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The Rise and Fall of Neutral Moresnet

Borders can cause a lot of problems. I’ve already talked about how shifting rivers can create odd little enclaves on the landscape. But borders can be tricky even when there aren’t rivers involved. This...

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Homage to Catalan

If you’ve ever been to Barcelona, you might know that they don’t speak Spanish. It comes as a shock to many first-time tourists, but the language spoken in Barcelona isn’t Spanish. It’s Catalan. I’ve...

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Neo-Feudalism in the Space Age

In the Dune universe, set tens of thousands of years in the future, humanity is organized into feudal fiefdoms and guilds. I wrote about this last year, but I think it’s worth delving into...

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Soda vs Pop (vs. Coke)

American English is remarkably uniform. While there are slight differences in pronunciation, especially in the older parts of the country, most Americans can understand each other with ease. But there are differences in dialect....

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The Little-Known 49-Star Flag

Back in the 1800s, the American Flag changed every couple of years. Every time they added a new state, they added a new star. By the twentieth century however, Manifest Destiny had run its...

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Tom’s Diner: An Influential Song

It’s such a simple little song, a two-minute ditty about a woman sitting in a diner. Eight simple notes played in several variations, with a catchy a capella “doo doo doo doo doo doo...

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5 Best New Arrested Development Characters

I’ve loved “Arrested Development” ever since the first episode. I remember watching it on Fox, hoping the TV network would keep the show going. I was disappointed, but unsurprised, when they canceled and doubled...

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Birth Control and Equality

There are many technological advances that have made our society was it is today. Steel and concrete make our cities grow taller while cars and trains make them wider and better connected. The internet...