TIME language

Oxford Dictionaries Add ‘Janky,’ ‘EGOT’ and ‘Ridesharing’

Dictionary
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From the dictionary that keeps track of modern usage

Oxford Dictionaries Online added hundreds of words and phrases to its online database Thursday, many of which reflect the technology-influenced world we live in.

This branch of the Oxford family is focused on modern usage: the language people are using now. And if the addition is any indication, we are talking a lot about tech—from ridesharing to bioprinting—, not to mention using more abbreviations and acronyms as words.

Here are some highlights from the quarterly update, along with definitions:

AFAIC (abbrev.): abbreviation for ‘as far as I’m concerned.’

awk (adj.): of a situation, causing uneasy embarrassment; awkward or uncomfortable.

bioprinting (n.): the use of 3D printing technology with materials that incorporate viable living cells, e.g. to produce tissue for reconstructive surgery.

colorblocking (n.): in fashion and design, the use of contrasting blocks or panels of solid, typically bright color.

data scientist (n.): a person employed to analyze and interpret complex digital data, such as the usage statistics of a website, especially in order to assist a business in its decision-making.

divey (adj.): of a bar or similar establishment, shabby or sleazy

EGOT (n.): the achievement of having won all four of the major American entertainment awards (i.e., anEmmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony).

janky (adj.): of extremely poor or unreliable quality.

koozie (n.): an insulating sleeve used to keep a canned or bottled drink cold.

McTwist (n.): in skateboarding and snowboarding, an aerial maneuver in which the boarder spins one and a half times while holding the edge of the board with one hand.

party foul (n.): an act or instance of unpleasant or unacceptable behavior at a party or other social gathering.

patient zero (n.): used to refer to the person identified as the first carrier of a communicable disease in an outbreak of related cases.

ridesharing (v.): to participate in an arrangement in which a passenger travels in a private vehicle driven by its owner, for free or for a fee, especially as arranged by means of a website or app.

sharing economy (n.): an economic system in which assets or services are shared between private individuals, either for free or for a fee, typically by means of the Internet.

superfan (n.): a person who has an extreme or obsessive admiration for a particular person or thing.

teachable moment (n.): an event or experience that presents a good opportunity for learning something about aparticular aspect of life.

unbox (v.): remove (something, especially a newly purchased product) from a box or other packaging.

vishing (v.): the fraudulent practice of making phone calls or leaving voice messages purporting to be fromreputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as bankdetails and credit card numbers.

TIME

Chewing Tobacco Could Be Banned In California Ballparks

Colorado Rockies v Milwaukee Brewers
Jeffrey Phelps—Getty Images A baseball and chewing tobacco before Colorado Rockies v Milwaukee Brewers baseball game at Miller Park on April 20, 2012 in Milwaukee.

Lawmakers want the substance, linked to cancer and nicotine addiction, thrown out of the homes of America's national pastime

Two California lawmakers are teaming up to take on a classic trapping of American baseball: chewing tobacco.

At a baseball field near the state capitol, Assemblyman Tony Thurmond introduced first-in-the-nation legislation on Wednesday that would prohibit the use of smokeless tobacco—including electronic cigarettes—wherever organized baseball is being played. San Francisco supervisor Mark Farrell is slated to introduce a similar bill in the coming days, which could put at ban in place at the San Francisco Giants’ stadium even if Thurmond’s measure fails.

If Thurmond’s bill passes, that would mean no more chaw for fans, coaches or players at the state’s five major league stadiums, as well as smaller ballparks.

On Tuesday, the Washington D.C.-based Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids announced their support for legislation that “will send a simple and powerful message to kids as spring training gets underway: baseball and tobacco don’t mix.” Advocates behind the measure are calling it the “Knock Tobacco Out of the Park” campaign, saying that the substance linked to cancer and nicotine addiction has no place in the homes of America’s national pastime. “We have a great opportunity to protect our players and stand up for kids by getting tobacco out of the game,” Thurmond said in a statement.

“It’s time for San Francisco and California to lead by example by showing our youth and the public that tobacco is proven to be harmful and has no place where our children play or look up to their favorite sports hero,” said Farrell.

Major League Baseball officials endorsed the idea in a statement on Tuesday:

“Major League Baseball has long supported a ban of smokeless tobacco at the Major League level. We have sought a ban of its use on-field in discussions with the Major League Baseball Players Association. Currently, players, managers and coaches cannot use smokeless tobacco during interviews or Club appearances. Personnel may not carry tobacco products in uniform when fans are in the ballpark. The use of smokeless tobacco has long been banned in the Minor Leagues, where the matter is not subject to collective bargaining.”

An official ban would have to be decided in coordination with the major league players association, and some have already expressed skepticism. “Some players are probably going to fight it,” Oakland A’s outfielder Josh Reddick told the San Francisco Chronicle. “I know players who put in a dip every inning.”

TIME Drugs

Marijuana Is Now Officially Legal in Alaska

Alaska Marijuana
Mark Thiessen--AP Alaska Cannabis Club CEO Charlo Greene prepares to roll a joint at the medical marijuana dispensary in Anchorage, Alaska, on Feb. 20, 2015

In small amounts, for use in private, if you are over the age of 21

On Tuesday, Alaska’s new marijuana law officially goes into effect, which means that as of Feb. 24 recreational weed is now a legal substance in three states. Oregon is set to follow in July.

Adult residents in America’s northernmost state are now able to personally consume weed in their homes — as well as grow up to six plants — and confidently be on the right side of the law. If they get pulled over for expired tags and have up to an ounce of weed on their person, the latter is no longer going to get them in trouble. (So long as they haven’t been toking and driving.)

Consuming weed in public remains illegal. As Cynthia Franklin, director of the state’s liquor control board, said on Monday “People will not be legally lighting up out in the park tomorrow.” Should someone feel compelled to celebrate the occasion in public, they’re looking at a $100 fine. In the hopes of keeping everyone informed and behaving, legalization-advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project will also be launching ads on the sides of Anchorage buses with messages like “Consume responsibly” and “With great marijuana laws comes great responsibility.”

MORE How Colleges Are Dealing With Legal Pot

Weed has been quasi-legal in Alaska since 1975, when the state’s supreme court ruled that Alaska’s constitutional right to privacy included the ability to possess and use a small amount of marijuana at home. But the force of that historic ruling became unclear when lawmakers explicitly criminalized the possession of pot, even at home, in 2006. While getting arrested for smoking weed at home was not a common occurrence before Alaska voters legalized it in 2014, Franklin says Tuesday marks a moment of clarity. “For the people of Alaska, it’s a day where all of this ‘Is it legal?’ or ‘Isn’t it legal?’ is straightened out,” she says.

Franklin’s team at the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board is in charge of setting up the state’s legal market. Tuesday also marks the first day they can get to work, though Franklin says she isn’t quite sure what that job will look like in a few months. On Feb. 22, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker introduced a bill that would set up a new Marijuana Control Board to oversee and enforce the law, rather than leaving it to the board that oversees liquor licenses. Franklin is also expecting lawmakers, currently in the midst of a busy session, to pass other marijuana-related bills that will affect the scope of their work, like legally defining the term edibles, or food prepared with marijuana.

Alaska officials have already visited Colorado to see how the social experiment is being run there, and they’re planning on a visit to Washington soon. Franklin is grateful that her state, the fourth to legalize marijuana, had a chance to learn from those trailblazers’ successes and challenges. A prime example is what she calls “the gummy bear problem” of children accidentally ingesting THC-packed treats that look like regular candy or snacks. She says that edibles in Alaska will be well labeled with recommended serving sizes and may be going before a board, one-by-one, to get pre-approved before they go to market.

But those details are just a few in a pile that officials will be racing through in hopes of getting the first marijuana business licenses issued in early 2016. “It’s really just the beginning for us,” Franklin says.

Read next: 7 Dizzying GIFs of Spinning Cannabis Strains

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Family

The Dad 2.0 Summit: Making the Case for a New Kind of Manhood

Father with baby son on shoulders
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"Traditional ideas of masculinity can get in our way of being the kind of fathers we want to be”

At the fourth annual Dad 2.0 Summit, Dr. Michael Kimmel reviews the four classic rules for what it means to be a “real man”:

  • No sissy stuff.
  • Be a big wheel.
  • Be a sturdy oak.
  • And give ’em hell.

Or so they say. “Traditional ideas of masculinity,” Kimmel says, “can get in our way of being the kind of fathers we want to be.”

This summit, nearly double the size it was in 2012, has been at the forefront of an ongoing revolution in how America perceives fatherhood. The new dad, the kind Kimmel’s talking about, is one who is sexy and strong because he’s involved and nurturing — just as capable of being a parent as Mom is and happily doing half the work. The attendees that Kimmel is giving his keynote speech to in San Francisco are the kind of daddy bloggers (and mommy bloggers) who have raged against the “bumbling father” stereotypes, as well as the many, many sponsors who subsidized their tickets.

For all the progress the revolution has made, Kimmel, executive director at the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities at Stony Brook University in New York, is here to spread the message that it’s not time for back-patting yet, that men need to do more to support other men if America is really going to redefine what masculinity looks like (e.g., not just a big emotionless tree).

Young fathers today are more involved than previous generations. They are doing more housework. They are doing more of the child care. Yet, Kimmel says, the fact that a generation of men is doing more than their fathers did — which might have been financially supporting the family and never touching a diaper — can lead to “premature self-congratulation” that belies how much work there is left to do. Since 1965, according to the Pew Research Center, women have nearly tripled the amount of paid work they do each week, and while fathers are doing more to help with the house and kids, they’re still doing half what the moms are. Millennial and Gen X fathers often say they believe in having absolutely equal, 50-50, split-down-the-line relationships, but the reality is that more of the caregiving is still falling to Mom.

One of Kimmel’s core culprits when it comes to that gap is parental leave, as well as the lack of men taking it when it is available. Some companies that are dying to be on the cutting-edge of employee care, like Google and Facebook, are handing out three or more months of paid paternity leave, and some cities are working to mandate time off for moms and dads. But the U.S. is sorely lagging. Unlike almost all industrialized nations in the world, the American government does not mandate paid parental leave. Only about half of first-time moms are able to take paid leave. And according to the Society for Human Resource Management, only 12% of U.S. employers offer any paid paternity leave. So staying home in the early days, with or without pay, more often falls to the women.

The cycle of Mom staying at home in the first few weeks or months while Dad works can lead to a storyline like this: Man and woman believe they’re in a completely equal relationship. Man and woman have child. Woman takes maternity leave while Dad works. She gets more practice at child care. More child-care tasks start falling to her. Over the years, thing after thing related to the household and family falls to woman, many times unnoticed. A little cleaning here. A little appointment-scheduling there. Eventually, the relationship is decidedly unequal, even though that’s not what either of them planned. Opening his speech, Kimmel showed a picture of his son holding up a sign. It read, “I need feminism because it’s easy to ignore sexism when it works in our favor. #ItsOnUs.”

In his work with corporations, Kimmel was early on told that many men weren’t taking paternity leave when it was offered. So where’s the need the offer it?!, the corporations said. This is where the men-supporting-men thing comes in. Kimmel went and talked to men who hadn’t taken leave when their children came. What he found out was that when they told male colleagues they were considering it, they got responses like, “Oh, so you’re not really dedicated to your career.” Another man was told, “Oh, that’s great. You should go. We’ll just put you on the daddy track.” (Read: Not up for the next promotion.)

Upon finding out that one man was considering leave, a partner at his firm leaned over to him and said that he was 64 years-old with three grown kids and he didn’t know any of their birthdays; men have to make sacrifices at home. In many cases, this kind of anti-dad response was enough to keep men from taking the benefits they could. A fella doesn’t have to be a major league baseball player missing games to be with a newborn in order to be derided for putting family ahead of work.

“For the past 40 years, women have been coming out as workers,” Kimmel said toward the end of his speech. “Now men have to come out in public, in our workplaces, as dads.”

Joseph Fowler, a 38-year-old father at the summit, has gone all in and is staying at home with his two kids, a 5-year-old girl and 3-year-old boy. He’s walking around the sponsor room at the summit, where radial saws are being touted next to apple sauce, where the Lego displays are crowned with red flags and pink umbrellas. Fowler says that the lessons he learned about how to be a man from his father were precisely the rules that Kimmel laid out in his speech — to be tough, to be stoic. He looks tough, with broad shoulders and a giant ring he got after the college-football team he coached went to the Orange Bowl. And he says he’s trying to raise his son with a different idea of what it means to be a man. “You can be manly and compassionate,” he says. “And it’s O.K. to show your emotions.” He calls himself a “dad advocate” and says he’s mentoring other dads in the same vein, teaching them that it’s masculine to be a present, responsive father.

The brands at the summit, in far greater number than 2012, are clamoring to be on the right side of people like Fowler. Esquire is live-streaming dad talk at the summit. Lee is giving dads a custom-fit pair of jeans. Kia is letting them test-drive cars. Lego is throwing a party at LucasFilm studios with actual storm troopers walking around. The primary sponsor of the event continues to be Dove Men+Care, which ran a much-talked-about ad during the Super Bowl that featured loving fathers who exemplified “real strength” (which was also the wi-fi password at the summit). These ads for a new generation of dads have been pushed in part by conferences like this, and they’re going to help make it harder for men to scoff at other men who want to put home on par with, or before, the office. General Mills wants to be the official “cereal of dadhood,” which is a 180 from the 2012 Huggies commercial — which showed dads with babies in the vein of monkeys with typewriters — that prompted protest among (and got tons of attention for) the dads at the first Dad 2.0 conference.

At one point the head marketer at Unilever, Dove’s parent company, takes the stage. Behind her flash pictures of men playing with their kids and holding their kids. “This is what being a strong man looks like,” says Jennifer Bremner. “Showing emotion, helping a friend, consoling a child.” She tells the crowd that she has been in marketing a long time and her brother had never much commented on her career, until he saw their ad with the same message that played during the Super Bowl. The text she got from him had two words on it, she says: “About time.” The crowd filled the hall with claps of approval.

TIME Drugs

The Marijuana Wars Claim New Fronts in Congress, Courts

Mason Tvert
David Zalubowski—AP Mason Tvert, spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, talks during a news conference in reaction to the announcement that a federal lawsuit is being filed on behalf of two Colorado citizens by a Washington D.C.-based group to shut down the state's $700-million-a-year marijuana industry, Feb. 19, 2015, in Denver.

The tug-of-war over marijuana continues

The fight over marijuana has moved to Capitol Hill — and the courtroom.

On Feb. 20, Colorado Rep. Jared Polis and Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer introduced bills in Congress that would legalize and tax marijuana on a federal level. “Over the past year, Colorado has demonstrated that regulating marijuana like alcohol takes money away from criminals and cartels, grows our economy, and keeps marijuana out of the hands of children,” Polis said in a statement. Both lawmakers are from states where residents have already voted to legalize recreational bud, along with Alaska, Washington and Washington, D.C.

The Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act would remove marijuana from the federal government’s schedule of illegal drugs and transition marijuana oversight to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act would impose new taxes on the sale of recreational marijuana, starting at 10% and rising to 25% over time, as well as occupational taxes of marijuana businesses.

But the draw of revenue is unlikely to inspire Republican-controlled Congress to take up the bills. According to Gallup, a slim majority of Americans, 51%, favor legalizing weed, but less than a third of conservatives do. And similar bills, though branded differently, have gone nowhere in Congress.

In February, the final tallies for sales figures in Colorado came out: stores and dispensaries sold nearly $700 million worth of legal medical and recreational marijuana in 2014, the first full year when legal sales of recreational marijuana existed anywhere in the world. In the month of December, the state made an estimated $8.5 million in marijuana-related taxes, licenses in fees.

In his press release announcing the legislation, Polis acknowledged that the federal prohibition of marijuana puts players in the new legal markets at risk. “[S]mall business owners, medical marijuana patients and others who follow state laws still live with the fear that a new administration—or this one—could reverse course and turn them into criminals,” he said.

That’s no abstract argument, either. Opponents of marijuana legalization have already turned to the courts.

Polis and Blumenauer made their announcement a day after two federal lawsuits were filed in Colorado that aim to “end the sale of recreational marijuana in this state,” as one of the plaintiff’s lawyers said at a press conference. Both suits claim that legal marijuana shops are causing nuisances that puts them in violation of federal anti-racketeering laws, claiming that all players in state-legalized pot enterprises are de facto racketeers.

In one suit, a couple joined by the Safe Street Alliance—a D.C.-based group that opposes legalization—claims that the building of a marijuana cultivation facility next to their vacation home is obscuring “sweeping mountain vistas that include views of Pike’s Peak” that has made the property less suitable to hiking and horseback riding. In the other suit, a Holiday Inn in Frisco, Colo., is claiming that the planned opening of a marijuana shop nearby is already hurting their business, driving away families who won’t book there anymore.

These come after the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma asked the Supreme Court to strike down Colorado’s legalization law in December, claiming that sales of marijuana in the neighboring state are undermining their own bans on marijuana, costing them money and making more work for their law enforcement officers. The Colorado Attorney General said that case, which is ongoing, is “without merit.”

Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, calls the two new suits “fairly frivolous” and the complaints “flimsy.” Marijuana law expert Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver suggested that the suits had flaws in comments made to the Denver Post, saying that the businesses the plaintiffs are objecting to aren’t even operating yet—and that being angered by obscured views might not be enough of a legal nuisance to stand on. “You have to show that your business or property interest were harmed by a corrupt organization,” Kamin told the Post. “Displeasure is not good enough.” Christian Sederberg, a Colorado lawyer dedicated to working with marijuana businesses, says that the suits appear to have a “a real challenge in terms of showing actual injuries.”

While there’s still no clear winner in the battle over legalizing weed, advocates for the cause are moving apace. In recent weeks, they’ve helped push several state bills to decriminalize or legalize marijuana in places from Texas to Vermont. In response to the Holiday Inn lawsuit, MPP began a Change.org petition on Friday, calling on people to boycott the entire hotel chain until the lawsuit is dropped. In 13 hours, the petition gained more than 5,000 signatures.

TIME animals

Why Hundreds of Starving Sea Lion Pups Are Washing Up in California

Starving Baby Sea Lions Washing Up On California Beaches
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images A sick California sea lion pup sits in an enclosure at the Marine Mammal Center on Feb. 12, 2015 in Sausalito, California.

It's getting so bad that many rescue networks are at capacity

There are now so many young sea lions being stranded on the West Coast that federal officials say they can’t keep up. As a result, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued some brutal advice Wednesday: If you see a beached sea lion pup, call the authorities, but be prepared for them not to come—at least for a while.

Normally the marine mammal stranding network, a series of facilities dotted along the U.S. coastline, will send staff to take in any seal or sea lion pup found stranded and do their best to rehabilitate it. But many facilities in the network are nearing capacity as sea lions wash ashore at a much higher than average rate. Since Jan. 1, rescuers in California have taken in about 1,000 pups—nearly four times the typical total for the first four months of the year.

“The reality is that we can’t get to all of these animals,” says NOAA stranding coordinator Justin Viezbicke.

So what’s going on? Experts at NOAA say that the culprit is rising ocean temperatures. (On a call with reporters Wednesday, a NOAA climate expert said that they do not believe the stranding increase is tied to climate change.) The warm temperatures are somehow affecting the squid, sardines and other animals that are the core diet of sea lions, perhaps driving the prey deeper into the water or farther offshore. So when mothers swim off to forage from the Channel Islands, where pups are weaned every year, they are having to stay away longer before they can come back to nurse. With less frequent nursing, pups are losing weight at unprecedented rates, and experts suspect that these weak, under-grown animals are being driven to look for food on their own before they are ready.

“They’re not really capable of diving deep or traveling far,” says Sharon Melin, a NOAA wildlife biologist. “They’re not really capable of being out on their own.” And so the pups are washing up on shore, emaciated.

The root cause of the crisis, officials believe, is the odd wind patterns that aren’t cooling the ocean like they normally do. They aren’t certain of what’s behind the lack of cold winds, but they believe the patterns are creating a ripple effect through the food chain. The sea lions, at the top of that chain, are signaling that bigger things may be amiss among the larger marine food web. “There are a lot of puzzles here that we’re trying to put together,” says Nate Mantua, a NOAA climatologist. “We don’t understand it. It’s a mystery.”

This is the third bleak year in the past decade for sea lion pups. In 2013, up to 70% of all the sea lion pups born the previous year may have died due to environmental events, according to Melin, twice the amount that might not make it to maturity in a normal year. Officials say this year’s pups appear more under-nourished than any they’ve observed in the past 40 years.

And even when pups get to a rehabilitation facility, they might not make it back to sea. The Marine Mammal Center, the largest facility in California’s stranding network, saved about 60% of the animals who came to them in 2013. “The sea lion pups arriving at the Marine Mammal Center may look like barely more than skin and bones,” says Shawn Johnson, the facility’s director of veterinary science, “but these are the lucky ones.”

The mass strandings have not diminished the overall population of California sea lions, which has been thriving since becoming a protected species in the 1970s. Now around 300,000 in number, NOAA’s Melin says that another factor at work in the current crisis may be that the species is approaching its resource limit in the environment. “Based on what we’re seeing at the colonies,” she says, “we should be bracing for a lot more animals to be coming in.”

TIME Government

Government Officials May Be Using Less Mumbo Jumbo

Courtesy of the Center for Plain Language This report card shows how well federal government agencies did in 2014, in terms of speaking plainly when communicating with the public. It was released on Jan. 27, 2015.

"They just don’t write that well"

On Tuesday, the non-profit Center for Plain Language released its third annual report card for federal government agencies. Those who are following the spirit and letter of the Plain Writing Act—a 2010 law designed to eliminate bureaucratic gobbledygook—got A’s. Those who failed to abide and didn’t submit documents to be reviewed earned big fat F’s.

The bad news is that government agencies are still using words like weatherization, gasification, grantsmanship and interdependencies. The good news is that, overall, the average grade is going up, with 16 of 22 departments improving over the previous year’s grades.

That means fewer sentences like this, from the Department of Defense:

The Deputy Secretary, the second-highest ranking official in the DoD, is delegated full power and authority to act for the Secretary and to exercise the powers of the Secretary on any and all matters for which the Secretary is authorized to act.

And more sentences like this, from the Social Security Administration:

You need a Social Security number to get a job, collect Social Security benefits and get some other government services.

As well as fewer sentences like this, from the Department of Education (note, this really is just one sentence):

Comparison teachers included those from traditional routes to certification (those who completed all requirements for certification, typically through an undergraduate or graduate program in education, before they began to teach) and teachers from less selective alternative routes to certification (programs that allowed teachers to begin to teach before completing all requirements for certification, but that were not as selective as TFA and the Teaching Fellows programs).

And more sentences like this, from the Transportation Security Administration:

Fireworks are not permitted in checked or carry-on baggage.

But the Center for Plain Language also did things a little bit differently this time around. Rather than just grading compliance (Does the agency appoint someone to oversee their plain language endeavors? Is there a way for the public to give the agency feedback about their language?), they gave each agency a grade for compliance, writing samples and information design. The latter is a web-inspired category that’s all about using typeface and white space and graphics to make complex ideas easier to digest. In that area, most agencies came away with C’s.

“They just don’t write that well,” Annetta Cheek, co-founder of the Center for Plain Language, says about government employees. “There’s a lot of feeling that if it doesn’t look complex and legal maybe it’s not legal … It’s just counter to the culture of the government, and people struggle to write plainly.” When it comes to visual elements, she says that’s not even on most agencies’ radars. They’re all text and no pictures. “It will be a while before they dig themselves out of the hole and get to the high level that some private sector companies already have,” she says.

Cheek has been lobbying for Washington, D.C., denizens to speak simply with the public for the past 20 years. And she says that despite the government’s taste for overwrought sentences, “we are finally seeing some significant progress.”

The full report card is above. Cheek says that they’ll likely be dropping the compliance grade next year, since almost every agency has figured out how to follow the letter of the law (note all the A’s). And rather than letting the agencies cherry-pick samples to submit—which forces some skepticism about how much these grades really convey—the Center’s researchers will be making their own selections. The grades for writing were determined by feeding example documents through a software program that picked out red flags like long words, needless words and passive verbs. The information design scores were determined by two people independently scoring the documents’ visual elements.

The Act itself doesn’t include a process for oversight, which is why the Center for Plain Language developed this annual process for rewarding straightforward speech and holding jargon-lovers’ feet to the fire.

TIME weather

Here’s a Closer Look at the ‘Snowmenclature’ People Are Using

Literal is so hot right now

Every great blizzard that hits the U.S. sends people running to the grocery store to stockpile canned goods and, in recent years, to their keyboards for rampant hashtagging. As snow hit the Northeast on Monday and Tuesday, social media was rife with references to the #snowicane, the #snowjam and the #snownado.

TIME partnered with Hashtracking to find out which trending hashtags were getting the most traction on Twitter, as New York residents geared up for chaos that never really hit and New Englanders battened down the hatches. The results are in: The top hashtag for tweeting about the storm is the quite literal #blizzardof2015. (You can get a closer look at the chart here.)

Chart complied by Hashtracking

But, as with many competitions, the winners aren’t as interesting as the losers. Juno, the green line above in a solid third place, is the name for the storm chosen by the Weather Channel. That cable network decided two years ago that it would start giving names to winter storms like the government does for hurricanes, a move many saw as a branding “ploy”.

The government hasn’t endorsed the Weather Channel’s names and doesn’t name winter storms itself because snowstorms are more frequent and more ambiguous than events like hurricanes. The network has said its aim is to make people more aware of such events, but it appears that people prefer to orient themselves with the more straightforward #blizzardof2015 than the more arbitrary #Juno.

That unpoetic hashtag has also trumped the long-dominant blizzard-time puns #snowmageddon and #snowpocalypse. This blizzard may mark the first time some people are hearing this duo of “portmansnows”—as Stanford University linguist Arnold Zwicky dubbed them—but they have been around for at least a decade. And they may finally have reached a point of exposure where they’re on the way out.

Ben Zimmer, executive editor at Vocabulary.com, found evidence of bloggers using this “snowmenclature” when storms hit the U.S. in 2005. But, he says, they didn’t really blow up until Twitter had taken hold in 2010. Even President Barack Obama was on board that year. “Hashtags lend themselves to this play with blended words,” Zimmer says. “And a successful blend, one people recognize and understand, is one where the parts are obvious at first glance, like snowmageddon.”

MORE: Why Blizzards Turn Us Into Irrational Hoarders at the Grocery Store

Clearly snowmageddon is a blend of the white precipitation commonly known as snow and Armageddon, the final battle between good and evil that leaves the earth in ashes—just as snowpocalypse is a blend of snow and apocalypse, a last catastrophe that marks the end of the world.

But what really makes these words irresistible (at least for a while) is the nature of the events that inspired them. As Zimmer says, “It makes you feel like you’re in a disaster movie.” And what’s the best part of a huge snowstorm or a zombie takeover that leaves 10 newly acquainted survivors huddled in a farmhouse? The same thing. There’s a suspension of the rules. You’re expected to figure things out for yourself and you get to do things you wouldn’t on any regular day. Walking right down the middle of what is usually a busy street is a thrilling little treat, whether everybody’s dead or everybody’s cars are stuck in their driveways.

Just like those survivors in the farmhouse, there is also a sudden solidarity among everyone who is having their normal lives upended. “There’s something kind of exciting and it kind of draws everybody together,” says Tom Skilling, top weather broadcaster for WGN in Chicago. “‘We’re about to go through this as a group and if we all deal with this together, we’ll get through this.’ Major weather events affect everybody, all ages, all demographic groups. And if it doesn’t happen too often, there’s a drawing together that goes on.”

That said, Skilling is not a big fan of these “gimmicky” words. He’s more of a #blizzardof2015 kind of guy. The fact that they’re so hyperbolic—clearly no one is taking a snowstorm as seriously as an apocalypse—makes them playful. And the fact that they’re playful might lead to people not taking dangerous weather events as seriously as they should, he says. “You’re dealing with an event in nature that really does have great consequence,” he says. “Sometimes we’re better off just dealing with facts.” (Then Skilling apologizes for being a killjoy.)

Here is a short selection of puns and plays on words the people are using to get themselves through this cold, dark time.

#snowbomb
#snowboken
#SnowCountryForOldMen
#SnowEndInSight
#snowghazi
#snowgate
#snowicane
#snowjam
#snowjob
#snowku (for haikus about the storm)
#snowlarvortex
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TIME Drugs

Report Predicts 18 States Will Legalize Pot by 2020

Whether that pans out depends on Colorado, cash and the federal government

A new report predicts that 18 U.S. states will have legalized recreational marijuana in the next five years, a huge increase from the four states that currently have or are in the process of creating legal markets for pot.

The report, set to be released in February from ArcView Market Research, a firm that pairs investors with marijuana-related businesses, was sponsored by marijuana-industry groups and has a prolegalization tone. But their prediction is not simply self-serving optimism. The map below shows the states where ArcView’s researchers believe recreational pot shops will open their doors:

This chart appears in the executive summary of Arcview Market Research's Marijuana Markets report, 3rd Edition.
This chart appears in the executive summary of Arcview Market Research’s Marijuana Markets report, 3rd Edition.

 

The map has a lot of overlap with the places where the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the group that helped launch legal weed in Colorado, already has workers on the ground in preparation for legalization votes over the next two years. Yet MPP is a bit more cautious in its outlook: the group believes 12 states could join Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska in allowing recreational pot by 2017. Unlike ArcView (whose executive director sits on MPP’s board), they’re not banking on legalization taking root in Montana, New Jersey or Connecticut over the next few years, according to spokesperson Morgan Fox. He says they’re concentrating current efforts in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada. They see Texas — yes, Texas —as an outside possibility.

In the report, ArcView claims that “2014 will be remembered as a year when … a sense of inevitability about national legalization became conventional wisdom among elected officials and the general public.” But the issue and the mood of the electorate are far from settled. In November, Gallup released a poll showing that a majority of Americans favor legalization. But it’s a slim majority of 51%, down from 58% in 2013, with many conservatives still balking at the idea.

As with so many other political issues, the speed at which states legalize marijuana is going to be affected by the rate at which donors are willing to pour money into elections and lobbying. In 2014, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson proved that there is a Republican with deep pockets willing to spend big to fight against legalization. In Florida’s midterm election, voters considered an amendment to legalize medical marijuana, and Adelson shelled out at least $5.5 million to defeat the measure. It failed by a 2% margin, just shy of the 60% required to pass.

Meanwhile, legalization advocates have lost stalwart funders like Peter Lewis, the chairman of Progressive Insurance who died in 2013. By one estimate, he had spent $40 on legalization efforts since the 1980s. His allies have been scrambling to fill the funding hole left by Lewis. In Florida, the effort to legalize medical marijuana was largely bankrolled by one man, personal-injury lawyer John Morgan, who was behind about $4 million in funds. He has vowed to try again in 2016, but legalization advocates fighting for reform in other states can’t necessarily count on his support. MPP’s Mason Tvert says that while money is obviously important for their cause, “there’s no one individual who is going to be responsible for passing these measures.”

Two other factors will be key to determining if the above map proves accurate: whether the federal government continues to keep its distance from state experiments with legalization (which remain illegal under federal law), and whether states with existing legal markets encounter any major problems.

In Colorado, for example, parties are gearing up for a political fight over edibles, which have led to children who accidentally ingested them being hospitalized. One of those groups is Smart Colorado, which includes parents concerned about the pace at which marijuana laws have been liberalized. “We’re looking out for public safety and our kids,” founder Gina Carbone told TIME in an earlier interview about edibles regulations, “not just expanding this huge market.” According to the new report, legal weed yielded $2.7 billion in retail and wholesale sales in 2014.

Tvert says there’s also the possibility of an “unexpected event” that could thwart or boost their cause, like an endorsement from a major, mainstream celebrity or a high-profile incident that could set the movement back. “A big part of this is really optics,” he says.

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