Is “normal” writing, the language in books, articles, and newspapers, being swept aside by the hordes on the Internet, be it on email, on Twitter, or on social media? Should we care? Gretchen McCullough is the expert of cloud English, a linguist fascinated by and smart about the dizzying changes occurring where least we expect it. “Because Internet: Understanding how Language Is Changing” is McCullough’s odyssey, thesis, and paean to the new. Whether she is exploring emoji or dissecting social patterns in Twitter usage or how slang morphs within different Internet communities, she is erudite, entertaining, and generous. In the end, she emerges as a champion of the new. A rambunctious yet robust tour of a fascinating new land.
The hair on the back of my neck stood up in astonished wonder in the closing moments of the first episode of the sophomore season of “Succession.” That’s something that rarely happens to this jaded viewer but the sheer brutal savagery, the corporate savagery, displayed in the swift closing scene … well, that takes the breath away. I guess what helped propel a regular scene into this territory was also the recognition that this is the truth, a truth I gained from three decades in the corporate sector. At the start of this season, Logan Roy, head of the Murdoch-class empire, is under corporate siege, and Brian Cox revs up this role to its loathsome peak. His children – shell-shocked Kendall (perfectly played by Jeremy Strong), rapier-shit-smart Shiv (oh, just watch Sarah Snook!), and super-sneery Roman (Kieran Culkin in fine form) – revolve in endless games of intrigue under Logan’s ambit. This first episode’s set scenes – a trip back from a health spa, a palatial country house – glitter. Not a moment is wasted, nothing good will eventuate, but somehow the scriptwriters wring some humanity out of each character’s vileness. Superb.