Friday, October 31, 2008

Prescriptivists at the train station...

So, I am waiting for the train to take to the office, talking with the "usuals" who take the same train with me. We were, of course, talking about the election. I commented that my philosophy is that there really aren't any "undecideds." If people haven't been able to decide after 2 years, there's no hope. I think these "undecideds" are just vying for attention. I made the comment: "I believe everyone knows whom they're going to vote for." An older guy (CPA, of course) said, "Don't you mean "for whom they're going to vote"? Then it started. The whole prescriptivist/descriptivist argument. I challenged him to check the CMS, and he said his style manual says you can't end sentences with prepositions. Then he said it. "I can't stand this despicable lowering of standards we are seeing in the English language.

Despicable? He was seething. Why does language cause that kind of a reaction?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Only 84 days...

Until GWB is out of office. I have a ticker in my office that ticks off, second by second, the amount of time left in Bush's presidency. Right now it's at 84 days; 10 hours; 0 min., .5 seconds.

I cannot believe the election is only one week away. I wonder if Obama will be persuasive in his "closing argument" in Ohio. I hope so, but I am not thinking this is over yet. There are too many racists in this country for that.

My darling daughter sent me this (I don't know the source), and I thought it was an incredibly clever comparison of "blue states" versus "red states:"

"Dear Red States:

We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren't aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all of the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly: You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches. We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood. We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom. We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss. We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama. We get two-thirds of the tax revenue; you get to make the red states pay their fair share. Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms. Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro gay-rights, pro-choice and anti-war, and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq, and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines, 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia. We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38 percent of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62 percent believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in
9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are the people with higher morals then we lefties.

Peace out,
Blue States"


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Literature Map

Z, from epea pteroenta, posted a great Literature Map site. As z suggests, list 3 books that have influenced your life, and then put them into the map. The results are amazing. I found that I should be reading Joyce Carol Oates, Ernest Hemmingway, Toni Morrison, Mark Twain, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, and Socrates...among many. Quite a grouping.

Thanks for that, Z!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

And to continue with limericks on "epicaricacy"...

Sean had suggested that I intersperse these posts with "epicaricacy" limericks every so often. That is such a good idea. Here is my next one:

"Epicaricacy" is a word
(Though Simpson would say, "that's absurd!")
Where you take lots of joy
In one's misery...Oy!
Though it'll only be used by the nerd!

Note: John Simpson is the editor of the OED, and "epicaricacy" isn't, nor has it ever been, included in the OED.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Limerick Judging

Blogs can be a good place to blow off a little steam. So here goes...

We have a limerick game on Wordcraft. It started out simply enough with a few of us having fun writing limericks about places. The place might be Hong Kong or London or Paris. However, as happens in life, I suppose, it has gotten serious. People from OEDILF have joined us. People aren't happy with just one submission, so they've been submitting lots more. The judging has been fair, I suppose, but I surely haven't always agreed with it, on many different fronts. Then there is my intense competitiveness. Not winning has been wearing on me. So, I've decided not to submit limericks anymore. I like my limericks, and I am not going to let others make me feel bad about them.

Speaking of limericks, here is the limerick that will start a chapter I am writing:

In nursing let's bring to fruition
A standardized course to transition
New nurses to practice,
Like docs, cuz the fact is
It's a safety, no-brainer position!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Cuban in London

I enjoy Google Alerts because they keep me updated on all new "epicaricacy" citations in the Internet. This was a nice discussion of the word. I'd love to see A Cuban in London on Wordcraft!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Reviewing Abstracts

Recently I have had the privilege of reviewing some abstracts for the Institute of Healthcare Improvement (IHI) and the British Medical Journal (BMJ). The conference planners of course gave us lots of information about what they wanted us to consider in the reviews. What they didn't give us, though, was how to evaluate international abstracts. I have to say, it was hard to be completely objective with some of them. For example, one abstract from Iran said, "Praise be to God if this abstract gets accepted." Many were very unclear and ungrammatical, but it was most likely because English was obviously their second language. Others were at quite an elementary level, but again those countries (like Albania) are not as medically advanced as the U.S. is.

So, it wasn't easy to be objective, but I believe I succeeded. It was so interesting to see the difference across the world.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another Limerick

For president Sarah L. Palin
Campaigns, though it clearly is failin'.
Joe six pack's not working,
And doubts are sure lurking,
With all the supporters she's hailin'!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Political Disdain of Words

This has been the strangest political campaign. The candidates who have excelled in communication, including both writing and speaking, are being criticized for it. Indeed, a command of the English language has been laughed at. Being able to put together an intelligent, rational sentence and to support your views with facts and figures, and other evidence, is considered elitist. Instead, we're told, you must use "down-home" words and phrases like "Joe Six-Pack" or string together a bunch of words that make no sense at all. The New Yorker says it best with this article.

Just think, in less than a month this campaign will all be over. YES!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Nathan Bierma's Columns are Missing

The Chicago Tribune changed their format. Some like it, and some don't. It's thinner, though busy, and more like the Internet. In fact, on the top of the page, an arrow shows you where you are in relation to the other sections. I found that rather innovative. In general, though, it seems less intellectual and more glitzy. I've always loved the separate book section of the Tribune, and now it's just one page in the regular paper. Then one of my favorite columns, Nathan Bierma's "On Language" won't appear anymore. Doesn't that just figure? The comics and food section and fashion are all there. Why take away the intellectual sections. I suppose it's yet another comment on society.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Language of Sarah

There is so much ammunition that I don't know where to begin. Do we really want a VP (or God forbid a President?) who says, "How long have I been at this, like 5 weeks?" She speaks so informally, similar to a 16-year-old, not a 44-year-old. And what about "Joe six-pack" or "I am a hockey mom"? Is she really so stupid to think that being a "mom" qualifies her to be the head of one of the most powerful countries in the world? Puleezzz! She can't even pronounce Shiites, much less know anything about them. And why didn't the media pick that gaffe up? Further, twice she called Senator Biden "O'Biden" and nobody mentioned that. Is the media afraid of her? Are they afraid she'll say the media is against her? What a load of you know what!

I found this link that Proofreader sent me quite funny, and this link within it, about diagramming sentences, is precious. Then there is this diagram of her debate.

Have we Americans really descended this far that this woman is actually a VP candidate. I don't think they'll win, but, still, they could.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Being Right

This is not an epicaricacy post (I note that Mozilla cites epicaricacy as a misspelled word), nor a word post. However, I am wondering, why is it that smart people always want to be right? And worst yet, why is it when smart people are wrong, many don't admit it? They beat around the bush and rationalize or become quiet. However, to merely say, "I'm wrong" is too much. Strange.

Sometimes I feel that we can't have an intellectual conversation on Wordcraft because somebody has to point out somebody's gaffe or some very small, always insignificant, side subject. Perhaps it's the Internet. People don't have to face each other and say, after someone's questioned the meaning of a sentence, "I think it's clear enough." Or maybe intelligent people just have a stronger need for being correct. I tend to think it's the latter. As for me, I am tired of it, though I guess it's the nature of things on the Internet. However, it is irritating.

Speaking of irritating, those of us who live in Chicago are irritated with our Cubs. I wrote this for Wordcraft:

Higgledy Piggledy
Cubs of Chicagoans
Got us excited for
Winning it all.

Now in the play-offs they've
Lost the first two and they
Surely will fall!

Here's another DD about one of my gaffe (which surely was pointed out to me!):

Higgledy Piggledy
Arnie, the Londoner,
Rightly concludes that the
Plaintiff is "he."

Kalleh, however, so
Took it quite literally.
How can that be?!!!