Posts Tagged For the Public Indifference

Make a Million Bucks

If someone can come up with a functional reverse dictionary, I think they could make a great deal of money on the ads they would no doubt coat their webpage with, since that’s how it’s done these days.

For example, take a word like homunculus.  Say you want a similar word, but with a non-person meaning.  (If it were a math equation imagine Homunculus – person + thing)  As in a perfectly formed tiny version of a thing.  Maybe it’d give you simulacrum or something similar as a result, even though it doesn’t quite match the parameters.

My point being that English has a metric stuffload of words and it’d be nice if it came with a manual to navigate from word to word so you could fall back upon it when your mental reference materials inevitably came up short.


, , ,

Leave a comment

We Three or Four Things

This man is was an artistic wizard.

How in the name of Willy Wonka does Mr. Slugworth find out that Charlie has a ticket so fast?  Was he hiding in the back of the store?  (More Likely: He’s a demon with the ability to teleport)

3A–To the multitudes of news organizations, and most importantly, your editors:
Please stop using the word An before words that begin with a hard H.  (If you’ve ever said An hard H aloud without cringing, you are either deaf or actively seek the downfall of the English language, and your help in bringing about said downfall is completely unnecessary)
The point of adding a consonant to the article A is to break up what would otherwise be an awkward diaeresis. (Notice the flow: an anchor, an order, anathema, versus “Hey guys, let’s go to a Arby’s and get a order of curly fries from that A. Athema girl!”(Just call her Ann!))

It sounds like your dinner plans are being made by Porky Pig.   Adding the consonant before another consonant is backtracking into the realm of awkward phonetics again, and you’re more likely to start tripping over words, which is a shame.   An honor is correct.  An historic event is not, unless you talk like a British maid and pronounce it ‘istoric.  If you are a British maid, carry on.

3B–You guys again:
Please stop abusing the construction Everything is not.  I don’t know if using it to mean Not everything is has been labeled Grammatically Incorrect yet, but if it hasn’t, it certainly should be.

Shakespeare–and his All that glitters is not–is able to get away with it, because he has the excuse of being poetic, and possibly because that kind of thing was completely kosher among Elizabethans.  Unless you’re trying to say “Nothing is,” which you hardly ever are, don’t do it.

The construction works with gerunds, because there’s no ambiguity.
“Running is good.”  Not ambiguous.  The speaker is expressing positive feelings about the act of running.
“Not running is good.”   Not ambiguous.  Similar to number one, except focused on the act of not running.
“Running is not good.”  Not ambiguous.  Same as number one, only with negative feelings toward running.

“Everything is awesome.”  Not ambiguous.
(Debate the mistreatment use of that poor word as you wish.  I’m sorry if a certain song gets lodged in your head.)
“Not everything is awesome.”  Also not ambiguous.
Nobody would assume the use of Not everything as a substitute for Nothing, because saying Not everything when you mean Nothing is needlessly confusing, (not to mention that the two are logically unequal*) so it’s safe to say the speaker was making the point that out of the many things that are, there are some that the speaker would find to be not awesome.
“Everything is not awesome.”  Apparently ambiguous, although it really shouldn’t be.
If the phrase is read correctly (in a reasonable manner) the not is modifying the following word, awesome, just as it did with good in the running example above, indicating the speaker believes that out of all of the things, none of them are awesome.  It does not mean that some things are awesome and some are not.  There is an unambiguous way to express that some things are awesome.  Not everything is awesome.  (Or, even better, Some things are awesome.)
Conveniently, this frees up Everything is not awesome to do its job explaining a sentiment similar to nothing is awesome.

Ideally, (and I am quite guilty of not doing this) you would use a completely different word.


*Take a set A containing a tray of biscuits and a Tibetan Mastiff.  If one were to say that out of set A “Nothing is a Tibetan Mastiff,” that would be completely different from saying “Not everything is a Tibetan Mastiff.”  (Not to mention that it would be untrue.)

, , ,

Leave a comment

[Space exceeded]

One-eyed, One-horned Eater of Flying Purple People
The Necessity of Clarity in Nomenclature
How to Profit from Uncle Sam’s Dissipation and Survive on Marginal Writing Ability

So I’ve been back to Popular Politics and Such Science again, in part because there are still occasional science-like updates despite their best efforts.

Article one: Government Should Fund Unpopular Science

Article two: Imposing Restrictions on What Gets Funding Is Bad

The fiscally conservative part of me thinks the idea of cementing the continuation of funding for studies of duck genitals for the sake of whatever it is that studies like that will do for the common good (or for the sake of science, and as we all know part of America has a massive science-related inferiority complex entirely due to us #&$% creationists trying to make children hate all science and entirely not because of one or more systemic problems with America’s education system)–securing funding for that sort of thing seems, to put it quite mildly, frivolous.   Both the government and the American scientific machine have much more important problems to deal with; in the case of the government, funding studies of duck parts might be exacerbating (if only slightly) an increasingly problematic budget issue.

The rest of me has decided that funding that kind of silt is awesome, because I can make money from it.

How, you ask?  Simple.  By writing a grant proposal that somehow manages to stand above research on anatid anatomy.  I don’t foresee much difficulty.

So I will propose an expedition to Bora Bora to answer a pressing scientific question:  Are there suitable ways to distinguish between the varieties of one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people eaters? 
As you may well know, in the song from decades ago the eponymous creature happens to eat purple people.  For most of us, this would not present any major trouble.  I am not purple, and I do not know any purple people.

(Why undertake the study in Bora Bora, you ask, though the answer should be quite obvious?
Because it’s for science, and science says exotic things seem to hang out in the tropics.  Also, coincidentally, Bora Bora is what happens when love gets landscaping priviliges.)

However…  The title of the aforementioned song suggests the existence of as many as five different creatures, all essentially indistinguishable by common name.   (I’m unaware of any scientific names for any of them-this would be rectified by the end of the study.   Everyone knows that scientific names for animals are nothing more than a couple of keyboard accidents with –us added to the end.  Unless you’re a toad, or a gorilla, or a bison, or never mind shut up.)

The creature could be:

1.  Purple, having one eye and one horn, known to fly and eat people.
2. One-eyed and one-horned, known to fly and eat purple people.
3. One-eyed and one-horned, known to eat flying purple people.
4. One-eyed, known to eat one-horned, flying purple people.
5. Completely unidentified, possibly amorphous, and known to eat one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people.

Clearly, the last four are unlikely to pose a danger to the general public.  Following the suggestion of Popular Science, however, this fact alone does not render further studies undeserving of public funds.

In fact, such a study could prove useful to society anyway.

A creature known to eat violet, airborne, cyclopean humans with keratin production disorders would have a great deal of trouble locating food.  Any child born in a developed nation with all of these genetic mutations would be sold to the circus; a counterpart in a developing country would likely be removed from the village and burned under a full moon.
The chances that one of these creatures (the specific subspecies of flying purple people eater) would be in the right location at the right time to feed on said child are ludicrously small.   A possible explanation for the creatures’ survival (that doesn’t involve ridiculous odds or the need to feed once every three-and-a-half millenia) would be an innate ability to smell genetic mutations over great distances.  This ability, if harnessed, could be used medically, to provide early cancer warnings or screen for late-onset genetic disorders.

On a separate note, imagine you’re a purple person with two horns.  If one of them is removed and you hop onto a Qantas jet and head to Sydney, are you then vulnerable to attack?
Maybe you’re simply a purple person, and your feet leave the ground.  Is this enough to provoke an eater of flying purple people?  ICBMs operate similarly, leaving under their own power and following a ballistic path back to earth, and I doubt anyone would argue against calling it flight.

Mind you, if that proposal falls through, I have more.

Is it possible to go back in time by standing at the north pole and spinning clockwise?  Would the south pole behave similarly, spun in an unnatural counterclockwise circle?

Maybe you’re still awake at this point.  You’ve no doubt concluded that these are all valid questions meriting public monetary support.
Maybe you’re busy scheming to write grant proposals of your own.   By all means, do so!  Share the idea with your friends!  Write until your hands wear thin from rubbing against so much tree matter or poking all of those keys.

I only expect a place on your expedition if you get funded.

, , ,

Leave a comment