Bill Weye

Tag: Words

Grabbing attention with the thematic and visual impact of words

Wordle is a tool that can help you visually demonstrate to your students what a passage of text is about, what the author was emphasizing in their writing. The above word cloud was created based on the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln. The bigger the word, the more it’s prominance in the text you’ve asked to be analyzed. Of course, the assumption is that the more often a word is used, the more important it is to the meaning of the text. Do you think that’s a good representation of the Gettysburg Address?

A practical application for this tool in online teaching might be including these word clouds on the introduction or splash pages for your modules. If you were teaching an English course that was discussing Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” then you might include the following graphic that’s based on part 1 of the poem.

song of myself word cloud

How else can we use these word clouds in online education?

Update: Here are 10 uses for Wordle for learning.


How to loose 60 Twitter followers in a matter of minutes

What a drag. I wasn’t trying to spam anyone, market to anyone, or be a pain in the ass; I was just trying to pass along what I thought was a nice story. This experience sort of reminds me of the saying “no good deed goes unpunished”. But more to the point, the lesson to be learned is that using services offering automatic actions on your Twitter account based on keywords is an inexact science. I wrote a Tweet and immediately 60 people (out of roughly 1,000) stopped following me.

Here’s the offending Tweet:

It’s a cool story about how this marketing dude helped a homeless man hone his pitch for donations by doing some A/B split testing. Check out the story, I think you’ll like it.

Services like SocialToo (which I subscribe to) gives you the ability to automatically unsubscribe from someone you follow based on defined keywords they might use in Tweets, like “marketing”. But I wasn’t trying to market to anybody! Too bad.

Besides “marketing,” what other keywords would you put on your automatic unfollow blacklist?

What’s buzzing on the Web [list]

Things that buzz seem to be popular on the World Wide Web. I don’t know why; maybe because it’s a funny word to say?

According to WordNet Search, buzz is defined as any of the following:


  • (n) buzz, bombilation, bombination (sound of rapid vibration) “the buzz of a bumble bee”
  • (n) buzz (a confusion of activity and gossip) “the buzz of excitement was so great that a formal denial was issued”


  • (v) buzz, bombinate, bombilate (make a buzzing sound) “bees were buzzing around the hive”
  • (v) buzz (fly low) “Planes buzzed the crowds in the square”
  • (v) hum, buzz, seethe (be noisy with activity) “This office is buzzing with activity”
  • (v) buzz (call with a buzzer) “he buzzed the servant”

So, what’s buzzing on the Web?

Help me out, leave a comment and link with more things that are buzzing on the Web.

Photo of Buzz Out Loud co-host Molly Wood. She buzzes. (cc): Wikimedia Commons

7 Most popular Twitter hashtags in #WesternMA

One of the things I love about Twitter is the ability to both broadcast and narrowcast tweets at the same time. Using hashtags (defined) you can target a locale like Western Massachusetts (#WesternMA). I’ve used this technique to help a client with a radio show airing nationwide target communication to those communities.

Every region develops its own vocabulary. Here’s a list of the current most popular hashtags being used in Western Mass. Note: I’m not including any for profit brands or businesses … they can do their own publicity.

Did I miss any? Please include your additions in the comments below.

Other Twitter hashtag, abbreviation, or initialism resources

Images of “evil”

photo from flickr
Go take a look on Flickr and see what people think is evil. These are photos that people have tagged with “evil”. Some of the photos are kind of funny, like this one of “Evil Bert,” but there are also photos of land mines, clowns, dogs . . . well, at this point there are 20,244 photos of evil.

If you want, check out what people think is good, true, a lie, smart, or dumb.

Truth in the USA

What is a truth commission? The United States Institute of Peace defines truth commissions thus:

Generally, truth commissions are bodies established to research and report on human rights abuses over a certain period of time in a particular country or in relation to a particular conflict. Truth commissions allow victims, their relatives and perpetrators to give evidence of human rights abuses, providing an official forum for their accounts. In most instances, truth commissions are also required by their mandate to provide recommendations on steps to prevent a recurrence of such abuses. They are created, vested with authority, sponsored, and/or funded by governments, international organizations, or both.

An article on the site Beyond Intractability catalogs all of the truth commissions that have existed around the world, listing 25 different commissions as of the article’s publication. Some countries, like Uruguay and Uganda, have needed truth commissions on different occassions (I guess they forgot the past and needed more truth exposed). WikiPedia also gives a list of truth commissions along with their corresponding Web sites.

The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an on-going truth commission in this country, needed because of conflicting interpretations of a horrible event (read the site).

I think after the Bush2 (Bush squared) Administration is either impeached or finishes its term, this country is going to need a truth commission. The catalog of lies, corruption and general mendacity has far exheeded the norm; on the Bell Curve of mendacity, Bush2 is off the bell and on the bell handle. A fucking abomination. Truly.

It might be that we need to create a new word to describe the crawling mendacity of Bush2. The Germans did it; they created the word Vergangenheitsbewältigung to describe the atrocities of the Third Reich and their trying to cope with them. In english the word means “struggle to come to terms with the past.” That’s what we are going to have to do–struggle.

The origins of ‘Manny being Manny’

With all the talk about “Manny being Manny” (Ramirez, that is . . . from the Boston Red Sox), I started wondering where and when the phrase originated. Using a Lexis-Nexis search of all major newspapers, I discovered that Manny started being Manny when he was in Cleveland, his first baseball team.

On May 7, 1998, for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Bud Shaw wrote:

If there’s anyone who should be careful not to invite dumb blond jokes, it’s Manny Ramirez.

But that’s what he’s done with a combination of his tinted locks, sluggish bat, shaky glove and curious case of sore calves.

It is possible that Ramirez strained his calves while lifting weights, as he says. He ran as if he carried ankle weights and a 20-pound backpack. But Manny being Manny, there could be any number of explanations, short of him moonlighting with the Rockettes. Not his kind of music.


Manny being Manny is usually part of the problem in the field and on the basepaths. But his offense outweighs the frequency of his trips to outer space on Hale-Bopp. The competition isn’t even close.

Three years later, just after signing a $160 million contract with the Boston Red Sox, Manny started being Manny, again. Steve Buckley, writing for The Boston Herald on March 3, 2001, knew it was bound to happen:

A couple of months ago, when the Red Sox introduced Manny Ramirez to New England baseball fans via a Fenway Park press conference, the event was a joyous and very, very gabby affair.

Manny answered questions. Manny did live shots. Manny did radio interviews. Manny posed for pictures.

Put the uniform top on?

No problem.


We all knew it wouldn’t last. We knew there would come a day, Manny being Manny, that he’d clam up and ask to be left alone, that he’d find himself a little hiding place in the clubhouse, a place that would be off-limits to the knights of the keyboard.

In the last Manny Ramirez being Manny Ramirez reference I’ll quote here, Michael Holley, writing on September 14, 2002 in a column in The Boston Globe titled “Manny Mishaps Nothing New,” gives us a hint as to how this phrase became attached to Manny Ramirez:

You can debate the package and if it’s worth an average of $20 million per season, but the contents of the package are essentially the same. Manny has played for five managers – Mike Hargrove, Charlie Manuel, Jimy Williams, Joe Kerrigan, and Grady Little – and all of them have accepted, reluctantly, the fact that they need to massage the rules for the man with the Hall of Fame bat.

Hargrove, currently managing the Orioles, was asked about his former slugger. “Manny has a big heart,” the manager said. “I wish Manny was with us.” Hargrove acknowledged he used the popular phrase “That’s Manny being Manny” several times in Cleveland.

I just thought I would add one more reference to the phrase, but it does not concern Manny Ramirez, but rather a high school basketball player. This time, Manny being Manny is a good thing for the team. Writing about a game in The Washington Post on January 10, 2004, Tarik El-Bashir quotes the coach: “What you saw tonight was Manny being Manny,” St. Albans Coach Bob Brown said. “There are just some guys who refuse to let their team lose. And he’s one of those guys.”

See, Manny being Manny doesn’t have to be a negative thing, or an excuse for a poor attention span.

Photo by Jay。宋 and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Frog Marching

Ambassador Joseph Wilson, whose wife was outed as a CIA operative (NOC–non-official cover), has defended his wife saying that “At the end of the day, it’s of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove _*frog-marched*_ out of the White House in handcuffs.” Frog-marched? I had never heard of a frog march, but here are some definitions and citations of usage from [“Apostropher (Apostropher about frog marching)”:]:

bq.. Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang:

Especially police. to carry (a resisting person) face downward by the arms and legs; (hence now solely) to propel (a resisting person) forward, as by seizing his collar and the seat of his trousers or by pinioning his arms behind his back.

1871 in OED: “They did not give the defendant the frog’s march.”

1873 Slang Dictionary by Hotten: “Frog’s March, the manner in which four or more policemen carry a drunken or turbulent man to the station-house. The victim is held face downwards, one constable being at each shoulder, while the others hold on above the knees. Often…another…officer… beats time…on the recalcitrant hero’s posteriors.”

1969 in OEDS: “He. . . took me by the collar and the seat of my pants and frogmarched me the length of the caf.”

1992 Newsday (CNN-TV) (Dec. 9): “Tightly bound and frogmarched away.”

Vicious Wedgie

Boy, those Brits sure know how to have fun, and on the BBC Web site no less. There is a story about Wedgies and all the different kinds of them, including the Vicious Wedgie, Full Melvin Wedgie, and the Cheap Shot Wedgie. This is an excerpt from one of the discussions on the page:

few weeks ago me and some mates were in a club. My mate had shnogged about 3 girls already and was dancing with his fourth. they got romantic, started kissing when what happened…I ran up and gave him a wedgie….he was not pleased, went to the toilet to fix himself and came back and she had gone…funny…

HA! Those Brits!

[Update: the following links are dead. I am trying to get the content of the site and put it here. Sorry.]

A wedgie can make a guy recall his childhood with fondness, as this story does, which begins thus:

I’m 18 now and haven’t had any wedgies since this experience and even though I was embarrassed at the time and didn’t want anymore wedgies, now I wish I could have a lot more.

Is that strange? Well, there is a whole Web site devoted to wedgies, which includes over 73 techniques. If my memory hasn’t failed, I think I was the victim of some atomic wedgies when I was young, but of the listed wedgies I think the egg wedgie and kangaroo wedgie sound like the most fun (!?). The site has pictures of wedgies, and even a section of Dilbert wedgies.

Photo by j.lee43 and republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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