Author Archives: Bob Welbaum

English Grows Again in 2024

One thing you can say about English, it’s dynamic. (Whoever thought Google would become a verb?) New words get added every year. For example, Dictionary.com has recently added or updated more than 1,700 words. Here are some of the more interesting examples — Bed rotting — “noun. The practice of spending many hours in bed during the day,

Read More

What is The 1619 Project?

“Essential for anyone who wants to understand the America we live in today, and the threads of its history, from the awful to the inspirational.” “I purchased because my daughter had to read this unsubstantiated, hollow and falsehood comic book. “ “This is one of the best books I have read. Full of history, compassion, suffering,

Read More

You Use Your Appendix For What?

When I was a preschooler (I can’t remember my exact age), a first cousin died from a ruptured appendix. I barely remember her, but I still vividly recall every detail of the night she died. All my life, I’ve had the impression the appendix was a useless organ. It simply existed in our digestive tracts,

Read More

Black History Month: The Backstory

Sometimes in the study of history, the backstory is more fascinating than the actual event. Take February. Forget Ground Hog Day, this is also Black History Month. According to the History Channel website (https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month), this all began in September, 1915 when historian Carter G. Woodson and minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the

Read More

How to Avoid Mass Starvation

An image of the Castle Bravo nuclear detonation. (Image credit: Shutterstock) When I was growing up in the 1950s and 60s, the Cold War was a very real thing. The great fear was a major nuclear exchange could virtually end civilization itself. Recently an article headline jolted me back to that time — “Mass Starvation After

Read More

A Galaxy Without Stars?

The rainbow-colored light is an artist’s concept of a galaxy without stars called J0613+52. The stars in this image are foreground stars, in our own Milky Way galaxy, from an actual starfield from the Palomar Sky Survey II. Illustration via NSF/ NRAO/ AUI/ P.Vosteen/ Green Bank Observatory. Just when scientists think they have seen it all,

Read More

Word For Today: Aptonym

Would you be surprised if I told you Frank Fish was a marine biologist? Or that Carla Dove is the director of the Feather Identification Lab at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.? These are examples of aptonyms, –people with names that fit their careers. This concept shouldn’t be too surprising,

Read More

Revisiting the Know Nothings

To those who are concerned about the impact of waves of immigrants upon this country, we’ve been there before. In 1845, the Irish potato crop was attacked by a plant disease. Spreading rapidly, this mold-based scourge ruined as much as one-half of the crop that year; about three-quarters of the crop over the next seven

Read More

Words of Wisdom From “The Morning”

If you’re not tired of articles giving advice on how to approach the new year, I’ve found something that has caught my eye. I receive an email from The New York Times entitled “The Morning”. On Saturday, December 30, it published “the best advice that readers of “The Morning” received this year,” with the logic

Read More