First, we heard Thandie Newton delivering a talk on "Embracing otherness, embracing myself."
We considered this listening-comprehension exercise:
- Newton believes that we each have a selfa. ... that has been evident from the day we were born.b. ... that begins to develop when we are given our names.c. ... that remains unformed and primitive.d. ... that was not there when we were born.
- The self becomes a vehicle for navigating our social world,a. ... even though it is a projection based on other people's projections.b. ... according to the nuns at Newton's Catholic school.c. ... but without it we panic and become confused.d. ... because separateness is all that is real in this world.
- "I was an anomaly":a. ... I was able to fit and belong.b. ... I was an atheist in a Catholic school.c. ... I couldn't hatch plans and climb the staircase of popularity.d. ... I was other before even being a girl.
- At the age of sixteen, Newton stumbled across an opportunity:a. ... she began to realize that she was a really good dancer.b. ... she began to confront her dysfunctional self.c. ... she applied to her university's anthropology department.d. ... she earned a film role.
- Dancing and acting allowed Newton to:a. ... spend time not dreading her self-hood.b. ... put all her emotions into her struggles with self.c. ... develop a stronger connection between her self and her body.d. ... assure her anxious parents that she could succeed despite heridentity problems.
- Anthropologist Phyllis Lee's understanding of racea. ... asserts that all human beings are black to some degree, exceptNorwegians.b. ... is based on variations in skin color.c. ... is based on calculations of the time needed to create genetic diversity.d. ... deny that race has any biological basis.
- Academic and career achievements gave Newtona. ... bulimia and a therapist's couch, but led to a car crash.b. ... little or no relief from her desire to disappear.c. ... an entire value system and a physical reality to support the worth ofself.d. ... a clever brain to cheat herself from the reality of death.
- Newton believes that healthy selves, connected with their creator and with our oneness,a. ... understand their origins as projections, and respect their functions.b. ... cannot resist the temptations of iPods, Pads, and bling.c. ... will continue to surge through the cracks in our constructed world.d. … will still be freaked out by our bountiful nothingness.
Erin McKean's TED talk on "The joy of lexicography" came next:
... And we considered these open-ended questions:
- "And just by saying double dactyl, I've sent the geek needle all the way into the red." What does Erin mean by sending the "geek needle all the way into the red"?
- As a lexicographer, Erin McKean does not want to be a "traffic cop." What does she actually not want to do? Metaphorically, what profession would she prefer to compare her job with?
- Describing an online dictionary, McKean says "This is flat.... There's not a lot of clickiness." What does the word "flat" mean when used about online media?
- "And when you improve searchability, you actually take away the one advantage of print, which is serendipity." What is "serendipity"?
- What is the point of the "ham butt" story? What characteristics of traditional dictionaries is McKean referring to by using this story?
- What makes a word real?
- "Newspaper archive goes back to 1759. 58.1 million newspaper pages. If only one in 100 of those pages had an un-dictionaried word on it, it would be an entire other OED. That's 500,000 more words." What is the OED and what is her point here?
- "One of them [the definitions of the word 'set' in the OED] is just labeled 'miscellaneous technical senses.' Do you know what that says to me? That says to me it was Friday afternoon and somebody wanted to go down to the pub." In other words, what is her explanation for this definition?
- "So again, lexicography is not rocket science." When somebody says "X is not rocket science," what are they saying about X?
- "And this is a little-known technological fact about the Internet, but the Internet is actually made up of words and enthusiasm. And words and enthusiasm actually happen to be the recipe for lexicography." What additional characteristic does McKean wish all word-collecting sites on the Internet had?
- The Internet could be the site for dictionaries that are not simply being regarded "synecdotichically," but include...what?