Weekend Reading: Happy Birthday, Missed Diagnoses, Avocados, Scammer Linguistics

Weekend Reading is a collation of 3-5 articles that have caught my attention, published on Saturday mornings. Previous editions can be found here.

1. “Happy Birthday: is public domain, former owner Warner/Chapell to pay $14M (Ars Technica)

The settlement is a result of a lawsuit originally filed in 2013 by filmmaker Jennifer Nelson, who challenged the “Happy Birthday” copyright. “Happy Birthday” has the same melody as “Good Morning to You,” a children’s song dating to the 19th Century. But despite the song’s murky early history, music publisher Warner/Chappell has stuck to its story that the song was copyrighted in 1935, and a royalty had to be paid for any public use of it—until now.

2. The lost girls: ‘Chaotic and curious, women with ADHD all have missed red flags that haunt us’ (The Guardian)

On a good day, it’s like watching a train whizz past you while you’re trying to read the text on the side and make out faces in the windows. On a bad, a bird might land in front of you. Curious, you pull out your phone, Google the bird and get stuck in a “pigeons of the world” vortex. You discover cassowary eggs are bright green and in 2005, UK police found a leg of swan in the Queen’s Master of Music’s freezer. Two terrine recipes later, the train has long passed and night has fallen. Dazed, you sink under a dark cloud of self-loathing, lamenting another lost day. You don’t remember what kind of bird it was.

The default assumption about ADHD is that it’s what makes little boys disruptive. But it can also make little girls feel like they’ll never be good enough. Statistics have traditionally shown ADHD is more prevalent in males, but recent research suggests this could, in part, be due to misdiagnosis. Unsurprisingly, ADHD in women is hugely under-researched – females weren’t even adequately included in findings until the late 90s. And it wasn’t until 2002 that we got our own long-term study.

3. How to Grow Avocados (WikiHow)

Avocados — the smooth, creamy, nutrient-filled fruit that is essential to dishes like guacamole, can be grown from the pit that is leftover after eating the fruit. Though avocado trees grown from a pit can take quite some time to produce fruit of their own (sometimes as long as 7-15 years), growing an avocado tree is a fun, rewarding project that leaves you with a great-looking tree in the meantime.

4. The Life-Changing Linguistics of Nigerian Scam Emails (Jstor Daily)

It’s well-known that most of the emails are composed by nonnative speakers of English, as is clear from the many grammatical and punctuation mistakes, broken syntax, missing words, and malapropisms (“the will to personify the façade to its practical conclusion” for “pursue the charade”). With so many mistakes, how can this language really fool anyone? Often, victims know the message comes from a nonnative speaker, or they may be nonnative English speakers themselves and may not always recognize grammatical errors. These are the ludicrous linguistic warning signs that helpfully remove most people who are savvy enough to escape the trap and leave the much smaller percentage who stay to be intrigued, starry-eyed, by an implausible story.

2 thoughts on “Weekend Reading: Happy Birthday, Missed Diagnoses, Avocados, Scammer Linguistics

  1. I have a book on growing avocados that was popular with my mother and her friends and dates to her era.”The Avocado Pit Grower’s Indoor How-to Book” was published in 1965 by Hazel Pepper. I am not sure that I ever got an avocado past the stage of four toothpicks suspending the pit over a vase of water. But the book itself is a valued sentimental link to my teenage years.


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