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Emotionally, We All Might Be Open Books


Five stories that have North Texas talking: UT Prof. says tracking emotions through text could be the next big thing, public memorial is set for Kaufman County D.A. and wife, San Antonio tries to scoop up Dallas teachers and more.

Combing through romance novels, how-to manuals and biographies may be the best way to get a read on our emotions. A psychologist from the University of Texas says while results from this study are early days, using books to highlight trends in emotion might be the most unbiased way to track how people are feeling over time.

More on a whim than anything else, a group of English researchers set up an experiment a few years ago. They searched millions of 20th century books online for billions of “emotion words.” They searched for 146 different words that connote anger; 92 words for fear; 224 for joy; 115 for sadness; 30 for disgust; and 41 words for surprise. After spreading out their research, they found clear patterns. The rip-roaring 1920s were tops for joy related words and sadness peaked in 1941, when America joined WWII. And even though we might think we’re more in touch with our feelings today than our repressed ancestors were at the turn of the century, the books don’t lie. We used emotion words less in the year 2000 than folks did in 1900. [NPR]

  • A public memorial service for slain Kaufman County D.A. Mike McLelland and his wife Cynthia is set for later this week. A full police escort flanked the hearse all the way to Grand Prairie. The U.S. Honor Flag will stay in North Texas until the McLellands' burial. The public memorial will be held Thursday, April 4 at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Sunnyvale, 3018 North Belt Line Road. The McLellands' funeral is set for Friday April 5 at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Wortham, 300 South 3rd Street. An interim D.A. has also been named in Kaufman County. First Assistant District Attorney Brandi Fernandez will fill the position for 21 days or until Governor Rick Perry appoints a successor. [WFAA]

  • Wanted: Teachers with Pre-K patience who are game for a change of scenery. The City of San Antonio will be in Dallas Thursday to recruit teachers for its “Pre-K 4 SA” effort. The initiative is spearheaded by San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and will provide full-day preschool to four year olds throughout the city. Officials are hiring more than 100 teachers and support staffers. Master teachers are needed at a starting salary of $60,000 per year. An informational job fair is scheduled for Thursday, April 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Dallas Public Library (East/West Rooms) located at 1515 Young St. in Dallas. [Dallas Morning News]

  • It turns out free higher education has mass appeal, even if it’s not for credit and especially when you can take notes in your pajamas. So far, 15,000 people have signed up for the University of Texas’ first four widely available online courses. Offered free of charge this fall? Energy 101, The Impact of Drug Development, Ideas of the 20th Century and Age of Globalization. These types of courses don’t yet count toward graduation requirements, but that might be on the horizon for traditional entry level courses. [Dallas Morning News]

  • Gesundheit, Dallas. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America ranked the 100 worst cities in America for allergy sufferers and Dallas cracked the top 25 for the second year in a row. Ranked 23rd Dallas gets especially low marks for a crazy high pollen count and worse than average number of board certified allergists per patient. Pollinating trees to watch out for in Big D include the Mountain Cedar, Arizona Cypress, Elm, Ash and Poplar. But things could be worse; McAllen was ranked fourth worst in the nation. No other Texas cities made the top 50. View the complete list here.
Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.