June 10th, 2009, by

“Web 2.0” became the one-millionth English word Wednesday (Does “one-millionth” count as a word?), according to The Global Language Monitor, a Texas-based Web site that tracks the creation of new English words.

One million English words? (And does “one million” count as one word or as two words that contribute to a one-word idea?)

Nonsense!” say some linguists. It’s impossible to count words. A “stunt,” say others. There are no certified rules for legitimizing words. (And would “legitimize” count as one word and “legitimizing” as another word? Seems a bit redundant.) 

Ultimately experts call the entire idea of counting words rubbish but admit that English has more recognized words than any other world language. (Do we count “words” and “word” separately? Make that two for “word/words.”)

The Global Language Monitor says it’s a celebration of the world’s wordiest language at the very least. (We’re counting “it’s” as a word along with “it” and “is” just for fun).

Let’s celebrate English! Yippee!

Is “yippee” even a word?

June 4th, 2009, by

President Obama’s highly anticipated speech Thursday morning in Cairo has received a variety of responses from communities in the Middle East.

Obama began his speech with the Arabic greeting “As-Salamu Alaykum” and attempted to balance competing interests throughout the region in his address.  How successful he was at doing that remains to be seen.

But all of this preparation for the big Mideast speech seems to have put the White House in “America <3 Muslims” mode.  In the run-up to the speech, the White House thought it would “share with you a few stories of Muslim Americans who are proudly serving the nation in the federal government.”

Check out the video and also tell us what you thought of Obama’s speech about America’s relationship with the Muslim world.


May 29th, 2009, by

Based on recommendations from a 60-day cyberspace policy review, President Obama announced Friday that he will appoint a cyber-security czar to oversee the security of government and business computer networks and to guard against an attack on our digital infrastructure or, as he called it, a “weapon of mass disruption.”

Now, if you’re concerned that a “cyber-security czar” sounds a lot like “Big Brother,” Obama offered this reassurance in his speech: “Our pursuit of cyber security will not include — I repeat will not include monitoring private-sector networks or Internet traffic. We will preserve and protect the personal privacy and civil liberties that we cherish as Americans.”

May 27th, 2009, by

A day after the California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 to uphold the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages (a.k.a. Proposition 8), the case is going federal.

The attorneys on opposite ends of the 2000 Bush v. Gore presidential court battle (how weird is that?) have asked a federal judge in San Francisco to block California from enforcing Prop. 8.

Not so fast” say several gay rights groups including Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. They would rather battle state-by-state, and they call the federal challenge “premature.”

All the same, the federal judge has set a July 2 hearing in the matter.

Check out our special feature page on “The Right to Marry” for video, interviews and other blog posts on same-sex marriage across the country.

May 18th, 2009, by

In a report out this week, the Economic Policy Institute says that more than half of African American children will likely be living in poverty next year. The numbers are staggering. The overall childhood poverty rate will climb to 27% and the poverty rate for African American children will reach 52.3% in 2010.

May 14th, 2009, by

President Obama delivered the first of three commencement addresses Wednesday night at Arizona State University. He urged young people to “step up” and even mentioned the dust-up over his not receiving an honorary degree from the university.

Next stops for the president: the University of Notre Dame and the United States Naval Academy.


May 8th, 2009, by

Before you drop a lot of cash on your mother this weekend, keep a few things in mind.

First, Mother’s Day began as an anti-war protest and was not intended to be the commercial holiday that it’s become.

Second, flower retailers are gearing up for you to send humongous bouquets to the mothers in your life, but moms really just want to spend time with their children.

And finally, if you insist on spending cash on mom during these tough economic times, at least check out some organic gift ideas, tips on buying green jewelry and a round-up of recession-friendly doo-dads for under $25.

Oh, and from all of us here at Young Voices, Happy Mother’s Day!

May 6th, 2009, by

Do you get your information from newspapers, on television, on the radio or online? Do you think everyone in your community has access to the networks they need (online or in-person) to find important information? How would you improve the quality of information available to the general public?

Fascinating questions, huh? Even more fascinating when you consider the fact that we’re living in a democracy and we (the people) need to be well informed.

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy has taken up the task of posing these and other questions as part of a study that assesses how information needs are being met in communities nationwide.

The study is in its public input phase right now, and that’s where PBS Engage comes in.

PBS Engage has created an interactive page for this project and would like Americans (that means you) to share how you get (and would like to get) your information in this digital age.

So check out the project, add your input and, of course, share your thoughts with the Young Voices below.

April 22nd, 2009, by

Today marks the 39th Earth Day. And even though the annual celebration on April 22nd began in the United States, it’s now a global celebration, with a billion people expected to participate this year.

Here are some articles to read, ideas to ponder, ways to observe the day and a documentary to watch (or not watch, depending on who’s reviewing it), all in the name of the Earth.

1) Before you start celebrating the day by weatherizing your home and installing that solar panel, be sure to bone up on the backstory. For instance, the history of Earth Day is tied to the late U.S. Senator Gaylor Nelson from Wisconsin, and the history of the Environmental Protection Agency is tied to President Nixon, who created the agency months after the first Earth Day.

2) There are many ways to observe Earth Day at home or at work, including carpooling, starting a compost pile in your backyard and taking lessons from “green boomers.”

3) And, if you’re looking for a little “change” in your Earth Day activities, look no further than the White House. The Obama administration‘s “green jobs” czar Van Jones says that the new administration makes this Earth Day special. See video with Van Jones below.

4) After you complete your Earth Day contributions, round up the family and check out the new Disney documentary Earth, which opens today. Film reviews are mixed (see here and here).

5) Be sure to break out your camera, snap some photos and join an Earth Day photo contest, including one that will plot photos from around the globe on a map.

6) And finally, tell us how you participated in Earth Day. 


April 17th, 2009, by

Actually, since the staff here is made up of “Young Voices,” we haven’t seen this in our lifetime. But we digress.

President Obama made a speech at the Summit of the Americas on Friday that called for a “new day” in U.S.-Cuba relations, and he has taken steps to lift restrictions for Cuban Americans on family travel and remittances that were put in place by President Bush.

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