Friday, May 22, 2009

Are you amazed?

A poster on Wordcraft says, "Pardon my cynicism, but I think it goes deeper: I am not amazed at what humans can do to one another or think they can get away with." That is in response to this: "It is amazing what politicians think they can get away with, isn't it? Just imagine that our ex-governor wanted money in exchange for Barack Obama's senate seat! We Illinoisians may have you beat!"

I wasn't sure what the "deeper" means. It seems to me that he is just saying that humans have the capabilities of doing awful things to each other. When you think about Nazi Germany or what's going on in Africa or other places, I see his point. But in general, I am not that cynical. In everything, including with human beings, there are outliers. However, the normal person I will trust with my life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Epicarcacy is scarce

It has been a dry season for "epicaricacy." I checked Google news to see if my alerts haven't been working, but there is nothing. When I put it in Google, there still are 6,200 sites that come up, but it is positive that my Blog is on the first page! Otherwise, there isn't much to get excited about with this word.

"Schadenfreude," on the other hand, has 360 sites on Google news and 1,330,ooo on Google. Woe is I (in case there are any prescriptivists who read this)!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last words

On Wordcraft our dear Jerry has died. This is a great YouTube to remember him by (yikes! I've ended a sentence with a preposition!). What struck many of us is that this was his very last post, on April 3, 2009, with us:

"When my second wife was dying I overheard her saying to a helpful Hospice person, 'I'm dying.'

The reply, worthy of thought, 'All of us are.'"

Did he know, even though he hadn't been diagnosed yet?

Then there was Craig Arnold, a professor and poet from Wyoming, who also loved volcanoes. Indeed, he was hiking a volcano in a tiny island in Japan when he accidentally fell and was killed. His last Blog entry was on April 26th and included this comment:

"There is a rustle in the canes, and out comes a long lean tawny body, rippling squirrel-like over the sidewalk: a mongoose or a weasel. Clearly it is thinking about crossing the road, and a car is coming. You click your tongue at it, tsk-tsk, and it stops and gives you a look before ducking back into the brush. If nothing else you have saved a life today.

A life other than your own, that is. Danger has a way of cutting through melancholy, the real fear blinding you to the fear dimly imagined. If you could only always just have escaped death, you would never be sad again."

As a nurse I've seen so many patients live just until their daughter got married or make it just to their next birthday or to Christmas. I've always wondered about that. Clearly there is a mystery to death that we don't know about.

Good bye, Jerry. We know you are smiling upon us.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My day at the office would irritate descriptivists...

So...I was talking to our editor today. He had gotten a document to review from one of my colleagues. Apparently my colleague did something unforgivable: She...[drum roll!]...ended a sentence with a preposition. This editor was just livid. He was storming around my office like a caged lion, saying, "She should know better! She has a PhD! I only have a master's degree, and I knew that!"

Oy vey. That's a normal day for me. It's no wonder I react like I do on Wordcraft.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

June 10th, 2009, 10:22 a.m. Stratford-on Avon time

According to JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst at the Global Language Monitor, their algorithms show that on June 22, 2009, at precisely 10:22 a.m., Stratford-on Avon time, the millionth English word will be reached. Some, whom I respect, actually believe it! The Smithsonian magazine printed a flattering article about it, and part of it was quoted on Boing Boing, which I also respect. What are they thinking? [Boing Boing does note that in their "about" page on the Global Language Monitor, they had misspelled "dictionary." I assume it's corrected now.]

Of course, the more elite know the real story. On Wordcraft we've discussed this ridiculous concept for awhile now. Language Log and DC Blog have disputed it in a very scholarly way.

In the end there will be no way to actually find them wrong. Let them continue with their drivel, but let's hope people will at least read both sides of the debate. So often these days people pick up one study or read one article, and they make up their minds. A good example of this is happening in Texas right now. The "brilliant" legislators are calling for one study to "prove" that we need clinical experiences in nursing education. Forget that nursing is a practice discipline. Forget that there is expert consensus that nurses need supervised clinical experiences. Forget that all other health care professionals have supervised clinical experiences. One study, these "knowledgeable" legislators believe, will be enough to change the whole course of nursing. What a bunch of dufuses (or is it dufi?!). What they don't consider is that someday they will get sick, or their children, or their parents, and they will be cared by a "nurse" who has never picked up a syringe, touched a patient, read an EKG, or picked up on a subtle change in a patient's condition. What then? Off to the courts!

The point is, and I have wandered a bit, do not just believe this JJ Payack until you have read and considered both sides of the story. When you do, I predict you will agree with the Brits in DC Blog...this is a load of rubbish!