peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
This is a pile of frustration I've been saving up for a good weekend dumping. Therefore, as all good LJ posters should, I will now include an LJ cut. )
peristaltor: (The Captain's Prop)
Okay, folks, you want political correctness*? I've got political correctness.



You've undoubtedly seen this, haven't you? Good. Everyone now knows that this icon is a symbol designated by the international community to indicate wheelchair accessability (as defined by international parameters). Internationally recognized iconography is, in my most un-humble opinion, of paramount importance for encouraging the exchange of people and their ideas across the face of this fine oblate spheriod.

Others are not so certain. )

*"Political Correctness" is an oxymoron. A "political" decision is necessarily a compromise between opposing points of interest and involvement in any given subject, while a "correct" decision can only be accurate, not accommodating.

X-Posted to [livejournal.com profile] talk_politics.
peristaltor: (Default)
I made a rash observation the other day, noting in another's LJ my difficulty embracing a newish term "cis," used to describe people who are not transgendered. "Cis" is, apparently, a Latin prefix meaning "on this side of." So if you were born with an inherent desire to remain in your gender, you are "on the same side of" your birth. I honestly didn't know why it seems fadish and ethereal to me, destined, I felt, to go the way of Sunshine Unit or the improper use of education. (We're still waiting on the latter one, I know, I know.)

The weird part is, well, weird; I agree with the sentiments of using the term. I really do. What I disagree with is the extremely narrow group of society that actively uses the term to the point where many outside that group would not even recognize the term when used. We see this all the time with terms used in specialized fields, yes; but I hold that a term used in conversation should bear a definition on which all involved in the conversation can agree. Otherwise, I might literally say something that a third of the room interprets positively, a third negatively, and a third are left scratching their heads.


See what I mean?


Out of the mass who dog-piled me with accusations laced with F-bombs and references to idiots, exactly one person finally—Finally!—pointed out the source of my disquiet with an explanation I can understand. To the observation! )
peristaltor: (Default)
Saw a silly campaign sign the other day. (Driving, though, and unable to take a pic. Those that would take the pic anyway are going to kill someone, so please stop that. Just sayin'.)

Obama
Lacks
Honor


Vote for Romney and Ryan



What's more, this was a hand-inked sign (hand dreeped*, more like). What a powerful message, do you say?

I stared at it for sometime at the light and finally realized what made the sentiment complete bullshit: "honor" is one of those words that means something only if something completely opposite doesn't happen. It is therefore a word completely without objective meaning.

Think about it. Who is honorable? Someone who has yet to be disgraced or dishonored. Like "safety," like "freedom," there is no intrinsic, measurable honor, only the extension of
honor from one person to the other prior to obvious evidence of disgraceful conduct. Importantly, extending this benefit of the doubt is a courtesy only. No one is under any obligation to assume honor in another.

I have never seen the President conduct himself in ways that would suggest dishonor as the sign implies. I have seen one very evident characteristic that speaks to the real heart of the sign, though. I've even thought of a bit of midnight graffiti to get the point across. It's a hand-dreeped sign, right? Why not add a something something?

Obama
Lacks
Whiteness


Vote for Romney and Ryan



That should clear things up.

Oh, and we still need a word to describe these empty conditional words!


*"Dreep" is a word my parents invented and used around the house but didn't bother to tell us was an invented word. Take a Magic Marker. Mark something. The sound it makes across the page is "dreeeeep." So Magic Markers were called dreeps. Which explains the befuddled looks I got in school when I asked for same. Until fourth grade. Thanks, Mom. Oh, and while I'm on the subject, Dad, cutting implements are only spelled kinniffees.

Privilege?

Dec. 29th, 2011 06:55 pm
peristaltor: (Default)
Lately I've been reminded that I am woefully behind the times. The language has changed, and this time the word that I used to think I recognized has apparently been given a new meaning.

The word is privilege.

From recent reading, it literally means "private law." (Pratchett, The Truth, I can dig up the page number if you wish.) This makes sense. The privileged classes were in the past given to different courts (depending upon one's alleged offense) than the lower classes. This was especially true in the Medieval times when the landed were also the knights and supposedly the crown's own police force, sometimes the only people allowed to carry certain weapons. They were the law.

Over time, "privilege" came to mean circumstances where one party was given perks or advantages of other parties. In marine navigation, for example, the vessel with right-of-way was the "privileged" vessel, and the other the "stand down" vessel that needed to yield. Privileged access meant getting backstage, or into the private party, or whatever.

Now. . . I'm not sure, but it's being used and contorted as a negative. Someone with "privilege" supposedly has no right commenting about someone who has none, since (it should be obvious, by the tone given) that person's life circumstances make him (and yes, it's usually him) unable to empathize with another. Someone actually got excited when I mentioned I grew up poor, because that circumstance separated me from the "privileged." She said this as a kind of relief. Since we later dated, I wonder now if that was a kind of litmus test.

You see, I'm confused because, though poor, I had many of the amenities of life my richer friends envied. I could do things they could not. (I realize now it was because my folks trusted me, based on previous experience.) I had things they didn't. (Probably because I didn't break them.) And our family never felt poor, simply because we were taught at a young age the importance of pinching a penny until Lincoln stopped screaming.

Sure, I'm a guy. Pretty low on the scrotum pole, but swingin' a bagged pair nonetheless. Yes, I'm pale. My ancestors hailed from those pale countries where they were so unwanted their countries dumped them here in the States five or six generations ago. Those ancestors of my namesake were so addled with hunger after the Lumpers rotted Dad had now way to follow the family tree to its roots. We're from Ireland, true; but where exactly, we know not. Great-great granddad and his family was too hungry to remember.

And yes, I can understand where some of this privilege bashing comes from. Some guys act like jerks. I notice it and take joy in condemning it when I can. They treat the testes- and pale skin-free with contempt. That doesn't, though, mean it might be high time to abuse another fine word to describe what they do as an automatic element of their born condition, does it?

Problems happen when people can't agree on what the words they use mean in the ears over there. Winston Churchill noted that the British and the Americans were "two people divided by a common language." Heck, "fanny" means "butt" over here, and is slang for "vagina" over there. That's completely backwards.

So hey, Dear Readers. Slide a supposedly privileged guy a hint. Where did this word's new meaning come from? Is is worth the new meaning, or dismissable like, say, "empower?" If you can illuminate this debate, or even note with some certainty that it is debatable, I'd appreciate the input. I'll refrain from marking this one with my "Language Abuse! No Biscuit!" tag in the meantime.


Addendum: The Next Day: Enough have weighed in for "privilege" to be the latest example of language abuse. From here on no biscuit shall be given to misusers.

Aspirants

Jun. 25th, 2011 12:28 pm
peristaltor: (Default)
The Wife thought she had stumbled upon an egregious misspelling in a silly travel magazine – twice. Why? Simply because she had never read the word before. The word was "tony", and was used with both nearby Kirkland and Bellevue. Kirkland, according to a blurb, was a "tony burg"; Bellevue was a "tony town." She thought the author had meant "tiny", as in, well, tiny.

I had heard the word before in this use. What's interesting here is that the silly travel mag author (perhaps of both pieces, but only one was credited) just tipped his hand. He is not himself, you see, tony in any way. He is, rather, just the opposite. And what makes me say this? )
peristaltor: (Default)
I recently mentioned that, in order to receive "full status" on my work's health insurance program, I have to complete a course littered with hurdles and chicanes. Supposedly, these programs (for which I am eligible for four or five) will show me steps to correct the unhealthy lifestyles with which I am currently destroying my productive longevity and get me on the path to Healthy Living(TM) . . . or, more specifically and honestly, to reduce the cost my employer is contractually obligated to provide me.

We've been doing this program for three years now. At first, the requirements were simple. There are three standards of status: gold, silver, and bronze. Fill out the initial form and Shazam! you're a Bronze Age winner. Participate in a "program" and Voila! you get the Silver Standard. Actually complete some goals along the way and Ta Da! I got the Gold standard.

There is a financial "incentive" (as much as the promise of beating someone with a stick with progressive intensity if they don't do what they're told is an "incentive"). Gold standard folks pay fewer deductibles and lower co-pays. For the very healthy, there would therefore be no reason to even participate. Anticipate actually going to a doctor once a year, though, and your out-of-pocket expenses increase with your decreased level of participation.

While a laudable goal, there is a sneaky long game in the midst of all this calming talk and helpful hinting. Each year, the act of successfully obtaining a Golden Ticket have gotten progressively more difficult. I thought this would happen. It seems I'm proving to be right. This strategy gives my employer the option of blaming the participants for their increased out-of-pocket costs. In fact, my head employer was on the radio. He first claimed that the program had reduced medical costs by $22 million for the county. I think he's probably right about that. Sadly, this means that $22 million in expenses has probably been shifted to the insured through increased out-of-pocket costs. When asked about the increasing difficulty keeping full benefits, he dismissively said that those who refuse to participate in the program -- or who fail to complete the increasingly onerous requirements -- just "don't want to be healthy".

Yes, he's a politician. He's adept at obfuscation, at misdirection. Rather than simply blather about this mendacity, I've decided to continue what I started in that one-off link above and let you be the judge. I'm going to copy the suggested stress management topics from the program, along with background "education" provided by the program as needed, and then post my journal responses rebutting their claim. Are they, as I suspect, pushing snake oil notions or double-plus good self-help duck speak? Or are the lessons provided actually useful and I'm just a curmudgeonly bastard for not listening to good advice when it's offered? I'll let you be the judge.




I don't believe it. I intended to do exactly what I wrote I would do above, I really did. But it seems I can't.

Somehow, with this mornings random keystrokes and link hunting, I completed the program. It didn't tell me what I actually did to complete everything, no. It just, well, "completed" me. While that's good news finance-wise, it seems that once I crossed that unseen finish line and completed the program the system deleted all my journal entries. It's now asking me to re-enroll in the program, as if I have never visited their site before.

Folks, imagine this: LJ has a program where, once you complete a hundred, a thousand, a million entries (insert your arbitrary number here), it deletes all of those entries and has you re-enter as a new user. Just imagine this. That's what has just happened to me.

I just sent them an angry letter demanding my entries back, saying how losing them would be unacceptably stressful. One would assume a program designed to reduce a person's stress wouldn't constantly subject them to more. There's some real and poignant irony in their doing this, don't you think? For that, they've just earned my "Language abuse! No Biscuit!" tag.

Bastards.
peristaltor: (Default)
To reduce costs, my employer mandates everyone complete something called the Healthy Incentives program before we receive "full" health benefits. Though the benefit reduction language is couched in avoidance and equivocation, that's the idea, to deny people the benefits they used to have while blaming them for that loss.

So even though I don't use these benefits (choosing instead to use The Wife's better benefits), I refuse to let my own benefits lapse due to my own laziness. I will make them pay.

The program gets you by making you undergo programs that will supposedly make you healthier in the long run. Not a bad goal, mind you, but the implementation is wonky and inconsistent. Since I'm a pretty mellow guy, I chose the Stress Management program.

Here's what the program had to say about being assertive:

When you’re assertive, you stand up for your rights and don’t let others take advantage of you. You’re willing to ask for what you want or need and to confront problems and resolve them. On the other hand, you respect other peoples’ needs and realize they have a right to their own opinions.

When you’re assertive, you’re more likely to see your problems clearly. You’re also less likely to have nagging, unresolved problems that bother you.


Really? What in the word "assertive" mandates an awareness of "other peoples' needs"? Continuing, look what revisionism they exercise on the word "agressive":

People who interact aggressively try to control and intimidate other people. They express what they want, but don’t care about other peoples’ needs and feelings. Though they may get what they want temporarily, they damage their relationships and cause others to view them negatively. Being aggressive can lead to physical tension.


One is touchy-feely just getting what you deserve; the other is meany-nastiness just short of tantrum land. Bullshit, say I and the English language. My Quicky Dict. defines "aggressive" as "forceful and sometimes overly assertive pursuit of one's aims and interests." So, one cannot separate assertive and aggressive acts so very neatly, if one is just the over-emphasis of the other, can one? We are dealing not with two separate genera of action, but of closely related members of the same action species. Aggression is merely assertion amped.

As part of my "education", I'm to journal my thoughts on the "lessons" provided. Sometimes I just rehash old LJ entries. Just for fun, I thought I'd reverse that trend and share with the LJ what I typed for the Incentivisors. I'll cut it for the aggressively disinterested. )
peristaltor: (Default)
I'll be the first to confess: I am sometimes a real idiot. For just one example, listening to people yammer on but say nothing drives me completely batty. If you have nothing to add, why not shut up? (Then again, I do the same, so I don't vocalize this thought often.)

Inconsequential talk that really gets me, though, is often couched with real words that, when considered closely, actually mean nothing. It finally hit me this morning why those words mean nothing: because they denote not specific states themselves, but the absence of other states. In other words, by using these key words, one can make a completely accurate statement without being held to any particulars simply because the words they use can refer to as wide a range of situations as the language can describe, some of them even contradictory.

What words are these? Very, very common words, ones we should all try to immediately avoid. Really, what's so funny 'bout peace, love and understanding? )


*Y'know, this usage proves so common in our language that there must be a word to describe words dependent upon absence. I would be happy to wrack my brains for a new one, if necessary, but I'd like to find and resurrect the existing one if at all possible first. Can anyone think of that word, the word I could use instead of all the terms qualified by these asterisks?
peristaltor: (Default)


His vision allows for neither conservative nor progressive ideology, simply because "There is nothing left to conserve and no direction to progress."

Dark, yes; but I feel accurate. With one notable correction: He's calling the wrong people "Generation X." I mean, fer cryin' out loud, Bruce, you must have been to Vancouver. You coauthored a book with Gibson, already. If you're too lazy to read his book, just call Douglas Coupland and ask him, the author of Generation X, how old Gen X-ers are. They ain't that young!
peristaltor: (Default)
I'd like to introduce everyone to David Brock, author of Blinded by the Right and The Republican Noise Machine. In Blinded, he introduces himself as a progressive and idealistic young lad who had a rude awakening during his college days in Berkeley. He went to cover Jeane Kirkpatrick's speech to the college, and was deeply disturbed when protesters interrupted her until she was forced to leave the stage:

The scene shook me deeply: Was the harassment of an unpopular speaker the legacy of the Berkeley-campus Free Speech Movement, when students demanded the right to canvass for any and all political causes on the campus's Sproul Plaza? Wasn't free speech a liberal value? How, I wondered, could this thought police call itself liberal?. . . . The few outspoken conservatives on the faculty, and the Reagan regents, raised their voices in support of Kirkpatrick's free speech rights. The liberals seemed to me to be defending censorship.

(David Brock, Blinded by the Right, Three Rivers Press, 2002, p. 4.)


This and other incidents burned in his mind, Brock turned from liberal and progressive issues and became a cheerleader for the Other Side. He rose in prominence, changing the course of American history as he ascended. )
peristaltor: (Default)
First things first: I'm not someone who appreciates absolute descriptions. I see the planet and its people interacting in a myriad of ways best described with a myriad shades of grays, not blacks and whites. Is an act of offering someone a job, for example, capitalist exploitation or one of beneficent opportunity? For me, it depends on the job and the wage.

How about the decision one must make if one is "communist" or "capitalist?" In Orson Welles: A Biography, Welles tells his biographer of an encounter he had with an FBI agent during the Cold War. Agents were common in theater, since Hoover thought all entertainers were Commies until proven otherwise. Welles finally cornered the G-Man tailing him and asked him why he was being followed. The Fed said to prove he wasn't a communist. Welles asked him what a communist was. The Fed said, "Someone who gives his money to the government."

Welles pointed out that since he was at the top of the income bracket, he therefore paid 90% of everything he made in income taxes. "I guess that makes me 90% Communist," he concluded.

His answer always resonated with my belief in a spectrum of conditions providing one the boundaries of any given definition, as opposed to a binary "either/or" declaration of definition. More and more, though, I realize how unique I must be in this regard. I see in so many people the need to absolutely declare beyond any and all argument that X situation must be called X-ism, and that this definition must be maintained in perpetuity for all to see and learn from. These people can be found on both the right and the left sides of the political spectrum. The need to define and categorize knows no philosophical boundary. However, I have noticed one disturbing trend that does follow party lines, though not a way most could expect. )

So where are we? By abandoning nuance in favor of the bourgeois/proletariat divide, many on the left have created a blind spot in their thinking that fails to observe, collate and consider subtle distinctions in individual capitalist situations. The broad brush cannot fill in the tiny but important details. That's a problem, to be sure; but I hesitate to suggest it is a deliberate problem. No, economic theory can be complex and therefore might cause confusion. Cultural differences, historical context, personal myopia, all conspire to distort a more accurate portrayal of circumstances and the language that should be used to describe said circumstances. It's not deliberate; it's just complex.

I cannot, however, say the same is true of the right. I'm sorry, folks, but the language is in much graver danger of abuse from the more conservative elements of our society, a claim I intend to support with argument backed by evidence in Part II.
peristaltor: (Default)
Ah, you can't get away from Microsoft's promotion of their new search engine Bing, can you? According to Patrick Cox of PRI's The World in Words podcast, Microsoft's Chief Exec hoped the name would "verb up," presumably to become a verb much as Google has over the years.

They might not have chosen wisely, though. Cox continued to note that Bing has many different meanings in Chinese (presumably Mandarin), but the meaning of "the fourth tone . . . means 'sickness.'

"It actually gets worse," Cox continues. "If you add another character to it, du -- so it would be bing du -- that means virus."

Nice one, Redmond. Is this another example of subtle truth in advertising like Wall Mart's Assterisk, or a complete oversight boner? Either way, it's Puerto Rico's Chevy Nova all over again: It doesn't go.
peristaltor: (Default)
I've been fighting a rage of a rant for the last half a day. I'm sure most of you know the rage one gets when something really gets under one's craw, the spitting nails and fire feeling, the need to pound. The problem -- even though I felt this rage, I wasn't exactly sure what triggered it, let alone what kept it fiery. I think I've figured it out. )
peristaltor: (Default)
By this it appears how necessary it is for any man that aspires to true Knowledge, to examine the Definitions of former Authors; and either to correct them, where they are negligently set down; or to make them himselfe. For the errours of Definitions multiply themselves, according as the reckoning proceeds; and lead men into absurdities, which at last they see, but cannot avoyd, without reckoning anew from the beginning; in which lyes the foundation of their errours.

--Hobbes, Leviathan


I read this quote years ago not in the original source, but quoted in Neil Stephenson's Quicksilver. The quote appears at the head of a chapter titled Epsom, 1665-1666 in the first book (the original Baroque Cycle consists of three large volumes broken each into three books). For those reading Quicksilver, the irony/dissonance of the quote should be immediately apparent. You see, Stephenson makes masterful use of modern terms by exploring their etymology and probable origins, weaving words like "phant'sy" and concepts like what the enlightenment would resemble before it has actually happened. For the most part, he also avoids using modern terms like "scientist" (coined by William Whewell in 1833).

This encyclopedic research into our language's history becomes all the more puzzling, though, when he slips. His former care makes his errors glare.


Gottfried Leibniz


One of the many historical characters making an appearance in the fiction, Gottfried Leibniz says, "I concluded that there was little point in jury-rigging something." (Stephenson, Quicksilver, Harper Collins, 2003, p. 273)

Jury-rigging? Ah, no.

To be fair, Stephenson is hardly the first respectable author to have been tripped by this phonetic corruption. It sounds right. After all, one hears all the time about rigged juries, a convened panel of peers illegally influenced to side with either the defense or the prosecution. Since this smacks of manipulation, fiddling about with complex systems to effect repairs or (more often) poorly-executed engineering changes seems consistent as a definition.

Larry Niven made this mistake at least once in his early sci-fi writings, but changed after he started collaborating with Jerry Pournelle. Pournelle, better versed in military history than Niven, realized that "jury-rigged" was a phonetic corruption of "jerry-rigged," a term of derision dating back to the Great War. Anti-german sentiment ran high in the United States during what later had to be renamed the First World War. Patriotic restauranteurs pulled hamburgers from the menu, serving fried ground beef paddies as Victory Steaks. Frankfurters and Wieners became Victory Dogs, later just Hot Dogs. Americans adopted a favorite racially derisive term for low-cost baling-wire fixes and re-applied their scorn toward the jerries. For some reason, long after the war, long after folks forgot the emnity toward all things German, the conflation with juries was made, even though many still use the term to describe metal, rectangular portable gas cans.*

With this in mind, I hardly think the Austrian Leibniz would describe low budget fudging in decidedly anti-German terms, especially not 250 years before Americans coined the term itself.



Stephenson later refers to the barbaric act of bear bating. This was once a popular past time in Europe. Essentially one captures a bear, stakes it in the center of a square, then attacks it with several hungry hounds. Betting ensues. Sometimes the bear wins, sometimes not, but blood will be shed. The trouble is, throughout the books Stephenson calls it "bear baiting." (He's not alone; check out the name of the graphic I appropriated. The website source makes the same mistake. It's becoming far too common. Sigh.)

This mistake I can almost understand. You see, there is such a thing as bear baiting, often employed prior to bating. One sets something sweet and fragrant to lure bears to a trap. I was once, in fact, introduced to a very German sweet honey liqueur called bärenbat (sp?), or bear bait, a name which supposedly reflects the reason it was originally distilled.

After the bear is caught, though, a very different bating commences for the entertainment. "Bating" shares a root with the modern term "abate," both based upon a Middle English legal term meaning "to stop." The bears were stopped by a chain -- held at bay -- from chasing the hounds that beset them. (The bear in the above woodcut got lucky!) From this meaning we can also better understand Shakespeare's “Shall I bend low and, in a bondman’s key, / With bated breath and whisp’ring humbleness, / Say this ...” from The Merchant of Venice.

(Addendum December 3, 2007: It seems Stephenson committed an even greater misuse than I originally thought. Later in Quicksilver, I read: ". . . I am only bating until I have raised money for the passage. . . ." (ibid, p. 725) That's right, a correct use of the term, albeit outside any reference to bears.)

I don't mean for my complaints to scare potential Stephenson readers. Despite the slips, The Baroque Cycle is often a mesmerizing read (though it takes place about 50 years before Franz Anton Mesmer made his fortunes, secured his fame and later infamy; but that's another story). I've read each of the three volumes twice now, and regard his Zodiac as one of my favorite novels ever. Do, please, read Stephenson.

But do be aware that, as a writer, if you choose to execute a difficult style, sometimes readers will most easily remember those times you trip along the way.


*Giving further credence to Hobbes' quote, see [livejournal.com profile] firstashore's correction below.
peristaltor: (Default)
From this article:

Ann Coulter is stunned. How is it, she asks, that she could go through 12 years of public school, then college and law school, and still not know that it was Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution that fueled Hitler’s ovens.


(Yes, I just referenced Ann Coulter. I'll give everyone a moment to recover. And to check out the link.)

After reading the first article, those with no familiarity with Darwin's actual theory might hesitate. Was Hitler so motivated? How about the Columbine Killers? Did they also follow Darwin's words? The quick answer (as espoused by the article): Maybe. The real answer: No fucking way. )



PS. Thanks everyone for the umlaut help.

X-posted to [livejournal.com profile] antitheism

"Classy"

Jan. 11th, 2007 10:02 pm
peristaltor: (Default)
In Western society today, many can recognize the subtleties that separate those with and without, for lack of a better term, "It." One can spot It with surprising ease.

Those with It speak with greater grace and clarity on topics that hold attention without ostentatious delivery or overly attenuated volume. Their It-speak is perfect, with graceful alides, puctuated staccattos, effortless yet obvious accomplishments in vocal, glottal, dental and labial coordination. The It resort seldom to intentional rhyme or other obvious grammatical instrument, preferring to wax with rapt elocution on mesmerizing thoughts, with deftly constructed sentences and dizzying logic, and always with self-depracating humility.

Those with It dress like everyone else, in shirts and pants and dresses and shoes; but with It they look better. The same clothes on those with It fit better than they would on the rest of us, molding their bodies like well hung draperies, clinging to and accenting their better attributes while invisibly drawing notice from what many would consider physical detriments. No matter what we may pay to dress as well, we can only pale in comparison to those dressed with and by It.

Most commonly, those with It have in their command and possession more material wealth. One can denote the choice home or homes, the better automobiles, bespoke clothing and footwear, mechanical timepieces worn loosely and casually on the wrist that often mesh more moving parts in their works than most automobiles. Other accoutrements that draw the eye and the mind to the It conclusion and must therefore be noted include the casual bangles, baubles and trinkets pinned, clasped, pierced and hung from It bodies and clothes that command respectful glances and monetary appraisals.

These differences of distinction often find a source in early rearing. The It often come from sound genetic stock, parentage with plenty of It to share with the world. The wealth mentioned above allows their children attend the finest schools, institutions that often inculcate more than educate, instilling a distillation of higher quality in poise, outlook, diction, and other of the social graces obvious to even the most jaded or oblivious observer.

However, a caution: with all the shining and lofty language one can summon to express that inexpressible quality one sees in those with It, one should never, and I do mean this as an absolute prohibition without possible exception or allowance, refer to It with certain base terms.

Fer example, It ain't never right to sayz thems with It is "classy."
peristaltor: (Default)
This installation of my "Language Abuse -- No Biscuit!" tag concerns two opposing schools of thought defaming words to support their personal conceptual biases. What's interesting is not that people are doing this -- people do this all the time, every day, without giving it even a hint of critical thought. No, what's interesting here is how extremely polar these two camps are to each other, how little ground they hold in common -- and on this issue how very wrong I hope to show both camps to be.

Sure, it's a bit lengthy; but remember the temptation of Dick! )
peristaltor: (Default)
Last night, I heard about a horrible case of English abuse at the corporate headquarters of a large retail clothing outlet.

There the corporate-speakers refer to the points raised and the conclusions reached at various meetings as learnings!

My friend, who has worked there for years, always thought this improper usage a bit grating, but was so used to it she said nothing. She mentioned it only last night because a senior vice-president got a bit perturbed when his auto-spellchecker flagged the word as an egregious error, and cursed his computer!

Most of you people out there have jobs. What other abuses lurk in corporate halls undetected by the outside world?

"Produce"

Sep. 4th, 2005 12:38 pm
peristaltor: (Default)
In the aftermath of Katrina, I heard an oil executive sum up the status of his industry. In referring to the off-shore oil platforms in the Gulf, however, he stated that these platforms would soon be able to "produce" again, depending upon the extent of the damage inflicted by the storm.

Produce?

An oil platform at sea is exactly like a derrick drilling on land, which is exaclty like a well tapping water, instead of oil. Do we say water wells "produce?" No, we say that wells "extract." Why? Wells, be they oil or water, simply draw a substance from below the surface of the earth; they do not apply any added value to that substance.

This distinction is similar to my diatribe against the logging industry, and seems to be based upon the various industries' desire to spin their activities in the best possible light. A well cannot produce, no matter that you call the extracted substance that issues from the well "product." Sure, it has value since you can sell it; but until you refine it, adding value to the crude, you have no product. Crude oil remains raw material, placed in the ground by natural forces. It is like freshly scooped mineral ore or a newly-felled tree from an old-growth forest.

Calling any naturally-occurring extracted material a product, be it animal, vegetable, or mineral, is to misrepresent the industry that performs the extraction. Sorry, Folks, natural raw materials can never be considered products. Get over yourselves.

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