Fulbright scholar and Moroccan professor Abdellatif Akbib will give a reading of his works Tuesday (April 20) on the Washington State University campus in Pullman. The public reading will be at 4 p.m. in Avery Hall’s Bundy Reading Room. A book signing will follow. This is Akbib’s second Fulbright grant to WSU. A professor at Essaadi University in Tetouan, Morocco, Akbib has taught English language and literature there for 20 years. Akbib is the first major writer from Morocco to write fiction — both short story and novel — in English. For more, see http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4509

Washington State University Vancouver will host a series of Earth Week (April 19-23) activities beginning April 20 with a “Sustainability in Southwest Washington” eco-fair from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fair exhibitors include non-profit environmental organizations and vendors who offer eco-friendly and/or local products addressing air, water, waste and building concerns. For more information, see http://wsunews.wsu.edu/detail.asp?StoryID=4505

As part of the lecture series on elections, campaigns and opinion polls sponsored by the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, Kenneth Goldstein from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, will present “Early Lessons From the 2004 Ad Wars” from 3-4:30 p.m. Thursday (April 22) in Todd Hall, Room 430. For more on the Foley Institute, see http://libarts.wsu.edu/foleyinst/.

In the news

Googling English: Write “English usage” into your Google search engine, and one of the first sites you will encounter is “Common Errors in English,” a site created and maintained by Paul Brians, an English professor at Washington State University. Type in such varied phrases as “The Satanic Verses,” “Martian Chronicles” or “Japanese love poetry,” one comes to Brians’ site first. Google ranks search results based on their popularity, which is measured by the number of sites linked to them. Brians said that “Common Errors in English” is designed to be a friendly, entertaining guide with simple, clear examples to explain English usage. Since its creation in 1997, the site has attracted some 3.5 million visitors, including editors, professional writers, students, people just curious about a word or phrase and people from other countries learning English. Brians said he is not a writing teacher or a professional grammarian, just a humanities professor who likes good writing and tries to help people improve their prose. The Web site has also spawned a book by Brians, “Common Errors in English Usage,” published by William, James. His site is accessible at http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/. Brians can be reached at 509.335.5689 or brians@wsu.edu.

The ephedra ban: Last week, a federal ban went into effect against sales of ephedra, a dietary supplement. Dr. Moris L. Silber, a medical doctor and researcher in Washington State University’s natural resource sciences department, was a scientific adviser and nutrition consultant to the USSR National and Olympic teams from 1976-1989. Silber held the same position with the U.S. Olympic Women’s Swimming Team in 1995. He said the action by the Food and Drug Administration represents just one approach to dealing with the problem of unregulated supplements. When the FDA finds that a pharmaceutical threatens health, it moves to ban it. Unfortunately, such bans are often not effective. Silber points to what is going on in competitive sports. When a pharmaceutical is banned, hundreds of counterfeit substances flood the market. An alternative, preventative approach has been practiced for years in Europe and Asia. Silber said in those countries, physicians are routinely trained in the skills of alternative medicine, along with mainstream medicine. As a result, these over-the-counter natural health products are treated as prescription medicines and are prescribed and monitored by trained physicians. Silber is available at silber@mail.wsu.edu or 509.335.7756.