Try J-Grams yourself Jeopardy N-Grams by James Somers 4

Try the tool yourself at J-Grams.com! You can even quiz yourself by trying to answer the questions that your search returns.

The name is a shortened version of “Jeopardy! N-Grams.” Read more about what an n-gram is and what inspired this project here.

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J-Grams Jeopardy N-Grams by James Somers 4

Try the tool yourself at J-Grams.com! You can even quiz yourself by trying to answer the questions that your search returns.

The name is a shortened version of “Jeopardy! N-Grams.” Read more about what an n-gram is and what inspired this project here.

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Harvard Jeopardy N-Grams by James Somers 4

Harvard is actually the most mentioned American university in basically any corpus you could try: books, rap lyrics, even New York Times wedding announcements. It is in fact the symbol of elite education in America.

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“millennial” Jeopardy N-Grams by James Somers 4

We can actually track this unfortunate word, too, using J-Grams. Thankfully it seems to have gotten very little play on the show:

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The strength of your own perception Uncertainty and Reperception by James Somers 4

Unless you’ve experienced something like it, it’s hard to wrap your head around the idea that a girl who’s bolemic actually sees something different—different from what her friends and parents see—when she looks in a mirror. But she does; the brain is that powerful.

And the truth is of course you’ve experienced something similar. I remember telling a group of friends that my haircut, which they all had just said was fantastic, that in fact I had done it myself, and they all instantly reperceived it as a terrible haircut ridden with uneven strands. I once thought a girl was impossibly cute and even up close and then I kissed her and it wasn’t any good, she was nervous and afraid and self-conscious and I never looked at her the same, she literally lost her cuteness in my eyes, the same girl instantly looked different and worse.

Developing a warm picture of someone, emotionally, feeling closer to them or better about them, has a literal physical visual impact, it's no different and perhaps even more powerful than putting that person in candlelight. Just as regarding someone coldly can be like throwing fluorescents on them.

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What better reminder Uncertainty and Reperception by James Somers 4

When I think of radical reperception I can’t help but also think of films that invert or fork or fuck with time, like Primer and Memento. By fucking with time they’re able to pack a scene with more than one meaning. There’s a moment in each of these films where you really do reperceive the whole thing. You see each scene as something other than what it was. It’s incredibly jarring. You’re shocked by how wrong you had it. And that’s one of the things that makes it such good fiction.

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For the very same sentence Uncertainty and Reperception by James Somers 4

It might seem strange that after spending so much time with a piece of writing I should have trouble deciding how good it is. After all, I can judge someone else’s work in just one sitting; effortlessly I can say exactly what I do and don’t like about it. Why should my own words be so specially nebulous?

I think that’ll always be a bit of a mystery, but surely it has something to do with all the rereading you do in the course of writing, all the microediting. You know how many times I retouched some of my own sentences? High hundreds is my guess. And when you read a sentence two hundred times the life drains out of it. It’s no longer even really a sentence, it’s a jigsaw piece with no picture on it, it’s a bit of cardboard with a size and a shape and a place—a thing that fits somewhere.

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The coffees I’d decided to drink or not Uncertainty and Reperception by James Somers 4

I am deeply conflicted about coffee. It sounds ridiculous but this is an addiction I actually struggle with.

On the one hand I love my mind on coffee—it seems to move faster. I think often of that story, that’s true, about Paul Erdős and speed. Erdős was maybe the most prolific mathematician who ever lived; he published 1,525 papers. And he was also addicted to benzedrine. There’s a story about a wager he once made with a friend who said he couldn’t stay off it for a month, but he did, and people say mathematics has been a month behind ever since.

I’m usually in a better mood when I’m “coffeed up”: I have grander ambitions, I regard the things I read more rosily and I’m a little bit kinder. Coffee instantly reverses that mood I’m sometimes in when I’m tired and hungry and cranky.

But I have some form of acid reflux or at least sensitive foodtubes and I get a lot of discomfort when I eat poorly. Alcohol is the second-worst in terms of bringing on the “symptoms” and coffee is by far the first-worst.

And so I struggle a bit. It’s just very hard to resist coffee: it has the prenominate stimulating effects but it also tastes amazing and there is a whole cultish culture promoting it, it has become a built-in feature of the American morning and the American workplace (Staples sells Keurig machines) and so I often feel about it the way alcoholics in their mid-twenties must feel about going out.

I am high on coffee now, if you couldn’t already tell.

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