Lael Ewy

Language commentator

Lael Ewy is a co-founder and editor of EastWesterly Review, a journal of literary satire at www.postmodernvillage.com and a writer whose work has appeared in such venues as Denver Quarterly, New Orleans Review, and has been anthologized in Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh.

He provided commentary for the Wichita City Paper and journalism for Naked City.

He holds an MFA in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of General Studies from Wichita State. Lael supports his writing and reading habits as a lecturer in English at WSU and as a peer educator at WSU's Center for Community Support and Research.

He runs an unaccredited Volvo hospice and is the current caretaker of a family heirloom, a 1965 Ford Mustang.

For fun he wrestles philosophy and literary theory.

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Commentary
12:00 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

OnWords: Look Past Numbers, See The People

Credit macrophile, flickr Creative Commons

Stories are quick, powerful ways to present complex, human themes, so why do we often insist on using discrete, numerical approaches to complex, human problems?

A case in point recently aired on NPR's Morning Edition. Shankar Vedantam covered a study in which the techniques of Cognitive Behavior Therapy were used to help at-risk youth think through conflicts in order to prevent violent acts.

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Commentary
12:00 pm
Tue July 30, 2013

OnWords: A Racist Linguistic Environment

Image of Paula Deen taken as part of a public relations campaign for the nonprofit group Civitan.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

We shouldn’t be surprised that Paula Deen lost her culinary empire because of racist remarks during an interview. We should, however, be surprised by the media’s reaction.

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Commentary
12:35 pm
Tue July 16, 2013

OnWords: How Much Is Wealth Worth?

Château de Maisons-Laffitte
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Wealth is a social relationship.

For as much as we obsess over the subject, you'd think we'd know this by now.

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Commentary
12:00 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

OnWords: Don't Believe The Hype

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The power of hype is its ability to radically lower our expectations.

I remember vividly the 1980s TV show That's Incredible! featuring a yogi so flexible he was able to fold himself into a tiny Plexiglas box.

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Commentary
12:30 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

OnWords: How Scandals Keep The Irrelevant Relevant

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks. Photo taken on March 20, 2010.
Credit Espen Moe / flickr Creative Commons

Aside from being the name of a long-forgotten New Wave band, scandal has become the primary means for the party out of power to stay relevant on the political scene.

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Commentary
12:00 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

OnWords: Is Childhood Innocence Only For Grown-Ups?

Credit jeevan jose / Wikimedia Commons

Innocence is much more about a grown-up sense of loss than a precious quality of childhood. At best, our ideas about innocence evoke a pining sort of regret; at worst, they're used to make nostalgia a form of tyranny.

After all, it's a child's job to grow up, and so he's active every day trying to lose that innocence that he sees as keeping him away from adult freedom and power. Our attempts to preserve that child's innocence just reinforce his sense of powerlessness. This only serves to exacerbate his little rebellions, his need to prove how grown up he is.

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Commentary
12:00 pm
Tue May 21, 2013

OnWords: Jargon Is Sometimes Necessary, Sometimes Annoying

Credit Gavin Llewellyn / flickr Creative Commons

Even if we can agree that jargon is absolutely necessary, we still can't help but be annoyed by it.

Every profession has jargon: specialties and sub-specialties are shot-through with special terms like “endoplasmic reticulum” or “moment of inertia” particular to them.

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Commentary
11:42 am
Tue May 7, 2013

OnWords: The Real Cost Of Austerity

Credit Alex Proimos / Wikimedia Commons

When we say something is austere, we evoke everything from an image of monastic poverty to the stark beauty of Modernist design. Because of this, “austerity” as a fiscal policy brings with it the suggestion of a deliberate and disciplined approach to a nation's economy.

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Commentary
12:00 pm
Tue April 23, 2013

OnWords: Do You Have A Sense Of Entitlement?

Calling Social Security an entitlement program implies that those who receive the benefits do not deserve them. - Lael Ewy

The recent history of the word “entitlement” shows how a word’s connotation can take over its existence and taint everything it touches.

As opposed to its denotation, or dictionary definition, a word’s connotation is about the associations we have with a word. In the case of the word entitlement, it’s almost all negative.

The phrase “sense of entitlement” is at fault for this negative connotation.

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Commentary
12:00 pm
Tue April 9, 2013

OnWords: That's So Meta

Andy Warhol presented pop culture as fine art, turning meta-art into an act of meta-art appreciation.
Credit _rockinfree / flickr Creative Commons

Formerly a prefix, “meta” has now taken on a life of its own, indicating works that are self-consciously self-referential. Ben Zimmer, writing in the Boston Globe in 2012, notes examples in the tech field going as far back as the 1970s.

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