Blog

Check out my weekly posts (163 and counting) about communications, information, motivation, writing, branding, creativity, media, marketing, persuasion, messages, learning, etc. 

Viruses Don’t Have Passports

Viruses Don’t Have Passports

On a March morning, an American soldier named Albert Gitchell woke up with a sore throat, fever and headache. Within hours, many of the people on his army base were symptomatic. The year was 1918. By some accounts, Gitchell was the first victim of the Spanish flu,...

Keep Your Distance, But Don’t be Distant

Keep Your Distance, But Don’t be Distant

As a longtime freelancer, working out of a home office, I know a thing or two about social distancing. What we’re really talking about in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak is physical distancing, not social. It’s a whole lot easier to do so these days with the...

What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of?

Guess the deadliest animal on Earth. Sharks? Crocodiles? Lions? Not even close. Globally, sharks kill about a half dozen people a year, lions roughly 100, and crocodiles 1,000 give or take. Meanwhile, humans are responsible for some 475,000 homicides a year. Even with...

Are You Ready to March Forth?

Are You Ready to March Forth?

March 4th, when I’m posting this, is big for word nerds like me. It’s not just a date but a directive. That’s if you hear it differently. You see, “march” is a homograph and “fourth” is a homophone. Homographs are words that are spelled the same but have different...

Why Social Media Can Make You Envious – Even of Yourself

Why Social Media Can Make You Envious – Even of Yourself

Worried that your life is boring? Especially compared to others? Don’t sweat it. All those smiling faces on social media are often masks. Earlier this month, Natalia Taylor recently pulled a stunt to make the point. She posted some photos on Instagram about her trip...

Reclining Seats and the Contagion of Rudeness

Reclining Seats and the Contagion of Rudeness

Air travel doesn’t always bring out the best in people. Maybe it’s the airport lineups, cramped quarters and long days. Wikipedia has a page on air rage, detailing incidents where passengers act violently, abusively or disruptively. Consider the woman who let loose...

The Shape of the Heart

The Shape of the Heart

Symbols can often speak more powerfully than languages. Anywhere you go, a circle with a slash through it says “no”. A skull and crossbones indicates poison. A red octagon means “stop”. No words needed. With Valentine’s Day approaching, another more positive symbol...

Bringing Order to an Alphabet Soup

Bringing Order to an Alphabet Soup

The other day on Twitter, I was following a thread about the most ridiculous demand a customer ever made of them. The responses were wild. One person wrote that when he was working at a gas station, a customer wanted a refund on the gas he had just pumped into his...

Do You Experience Word Aversion?

Do You Experience Word Aversion?

You have a least favourite word? One that makes you cringe or grosses you out? There’s a name for that: logomisia. It refers to a distaste for a certain word. The phenomenon is also called word aversion. In studies, moist often tops the most disliked list. Other words...

Are We Living in the Golden Age of Ignorance?

Are We Living in the Golden Age of Ignorance?

Only 36% of Americans can pass a multiple choice quiz that includes questions from the U.S. Citizenship Test. That’s according to a survey by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. Don’t gloat. In Canada, Forum conducted a similar survey. They asked...