Archive for February, 2013

It Must Be A Duck

Posted on February 19, 2013. Filed under: Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

3rd in the series The Manipulators

Your old saw for the day:

  • If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…  it must be a duck

Your words for the day (definitions according to Dean):

  • reporting = observing and retelling an event as factually as possible without inserting personal opinion or conclusions
  • commentary = using an occurrence or news item to showcase personal prejudices, opinions, judgments, et cetera
  • journalism = winging it; making it up as you go; use of facts optional
  • story = that mix of reporting, commentary, and journalism that The Big P pours over our mindsets on a daily basis.  And they call it “news.”

Well, we got your STORY right here:  The Houston Chronicle, January 16, 2013, Section A, page 1, title:  US unmoved by plight of dying daughterAuthor:  Jenny Stonebottom.*  (I made that name up; it might be considered bad form to openly criticize a writer for The Big Pee.)

What Stonebottom shared with us:

The article opens under the topic  I M M I G R A T I O N  on the front page.  A dying illegal immigrant (Mexican) cannot see her parents (in Mexico) because the US government says, “Uh uh!  No way.”  Parents (legally in Mexico) haven’t seen her in 9 years.  She is 20 years old, has a husband but her last name is not his, and she has a daughter about 6 years old from “husband” with a different name; he is also from Mexico, but, is in the US legally with a green card.

The US bureaucratic reasoning for denial is covered in-depth, apparently to illustrate their remorse for being the unfeeling, callous, and unmoved bastards that they are — albeit legal in their obstinate denial of a sanctioned entry.

A local Catholic official chimes in with his 2-bits of criticism:  the bureaucracy is out of touch and US immigration law needs to be overhauled.

When her illegal status was revealed, the sick woman was booted out of one hospital which was named in the article, apparently to instill shame in them for their heartlessness.  She did no better with the backup plan because the freebie government hospital would not do surgery since “the tumor was inoperable.”

The “husband” cannot afford to get her back home before she dies, a Plan B, so to speak, for dealing with cold-hearted bureaucratic obstinacy.  He says he will pay for a post-mortem trip back home.

Stonebottom did give a little bit of fill-in of facts:  Those distraught parents can’t get the furlough because a decade ago they flouted US immigration law and lived in the US illegally until caught and deported.  Even though it has been 9 years since the parents last saw their daughter, they are still being denied one last look.

The tone of the article is clearly designed to (1) wring from the reader empathy for an unfortunate fellow-soul caught in circumstance and bureaucratic coldness, and (2) to give the writer a leg up in the journalistic “we-are-so-much-better-than-that” achievement competition.

I would wager that most readers identified with the empathy angle of Stonebottom’s article.  After all, it was on page one of the local major, so all the facts must have merit.  But, that’s…

…NOT WHAT I READ.  I read about a hotbed of criminal activity being whitewashed by a Pulitzer-seeking graduate of PAU.**   Note the following points:

  • Mom and Dad (in Mexico…   now) have a history of circumventing US immigration law.  That makes them UNDESIRABLE ALIENS.
  • Mom and Dad have not seen their “beloved little girl” in nine years.  The concerned, bereaved parents, then, sent (or left) their 11-year old daughter alone into a foreign land for what purposes, only God knows.  HUMAN TRAFFICKING?
  • That 11-year old girl was transported across the US-Mexico border under dangerous conditions (exposure to elements AND illegal smuggling operations).  Sounds like CHILD ENDANGERMENT.
  • The 20-year old illegal alien has a child, apparently about 6-years old.  That means that someone had sex with her at least once when she was about 13 years old.  No way around this one:  SEXUAL ASSAULT OF A MINOR, which reinforces the HUMAN TRAFFICKING observation.

Clearly, the 20-year old dying woman is a victim of many injustices, but none of them committed by the US bureaucracy or US immigration law, as writer Stonebottom is alluding.  At first glance, one might think she was fortunate to have found someone to look out for her, say…   her “husband” who entered the US legally and has a green card.  She is lucky;  the US is not:

  • Husband who has a different last name and a legal green card is apparently the father of her child.  IF THIS IS SO, he would be the RAPIST who SEXUALLY ASSAULTED A MINOR.  As “husband,” it is likely an ongoing criminal act.
  • Husband who has a legal green card has been HARBORING A FUGITIVE FROM US IMMIGRATION LAW ENFORCEMENT for years.
  • If husband with legal green card was instrumental in TRANSPORTING an ll-year old minor illegally across the US-Mexico border, how many other laws besides CHILD ENDANGERMENT did he violate?
  • Has husband with the legal green card demonstrated RESPECT FOR and COMPLIANCE WITH US laws and customs, which would be a condition of his continued LEGAL residence in the country of the United States of America?  Or is he, like his purported in-laws, an UNDESIRABLE ALIEN who should be deported immediately?

And how ’bout that Catholic Church Official for Migration (not immigration, mind you…   MIGRATION…)?  He unflinchingly casts rocks at US immigration law — and the bureaucrats charged with implementing them — from behind the walls of the institution that has become infamous for shielding pedophiles (a form of CRIMINALITY) from public accountability.  Instead of self-righteously wasting time — time the dying daughter does not have — reviling the United States government and getting his name in the papers, why hasn’t he petitioned his Church (which surely has more money than God) to foot the bill for taking the dying woman back to her parents for her passing?  Caesar gets his due, the God-fearing, hapless 20-year old gets reunited with her parents, and Stonebottom gets her Pulitzer for some other story (or at least a shot at the finals) without irritating the likes of me.  Win-win-win-win, am I right?

_________________________

* May I have the envelope, please?  er-r-r-i-i-p…  And the winner for BEST JOURNALISTIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR DECEIVING THE PUBLIC isHARVEY RICE and AURORA LOSADA of The Houston Chronicle, Houston, Texas, for “U.S. not moved by plight of dying daughter,” January 16, 2013, Section A, page 1.  C’mon, give it up, folks —  clap-clap-clap-clap-clap…   (Please, someone get me a bag.)

** Piss Ant University

_________________________

Next up:  Stroking the hot buttons of public perception

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Smoke and Mirrors

Posted on February 18, 2013. Filed under: General Interest, Journalism | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

2nd in the series The Manipulators

Your old saw for the day:

  • What’s good for the goose is good for the gander

Your words for the day (definitions my way):

  • migrate = the tendency of life forms to follow a repeating pattern of movement
  • immigrate = the regulated movement of life forms from one area to another
  • invade = the unregulated movement of life forms from one area to another
  • bias = to display partiality toward one thing over another
  • favoritism = obvious bias
  • The Big Pee = The Press (all news media)

Now, we gotta play catch up.  Last post, I left you skulking at the border trying to catch a break.  To draw a clear parallel between the treatment of US citizen criminals and non-citizen criminals, here is a list of the crimes illegal entrants are willing to commit:

  1. Violate United States immigration law.
  2. Violate United States customs law.
  3. Falsify official identity documents.
  4. Falsify government documents whenever necessary to look legal.
  5. Engage in criminal conspiracies to evade US authorities at the point of entry and in the ongoing tenure of illegal occupancy.
  6. Endanger minors (children) by transporting them through dangerous terrain and situations in this illicit search for a better life.
  7. Criminally trespass onto the private property of bona fide US citizens, using it as though it were theirs, vandalizing and stealing the unattended personal property of the land owner.
  8. Falsify United States federal and state documents to acquire government benefits illegally.
  9. Criminally conspire with friends or relatives to assist in their efforts to evade detection and ejection and to acquire benefits that they are not entitled to have.  Those friends or relatives are co-conspirators in the criminal lifestyle of the illegal entrant, whether US citizen or previous legal immigrant or illegal entrant.

This list is very similar to that for which US citizens get excoriated (previous post).

But, it’s alright, Brazen Criminal.  Your advocate has your back.  The Big Pee will cover (up) your criminal acts as though they are simply incidental occurrences in your quest for a better quality of life.  It will gloss over your persistent, daily acts of criminal conspiracy to defraud the US government, and your criminal falsification of government documents in your quest for a better quality of life (that phrase has a humanitarian and oh-we-do-so-understand-you ring to it).  It will focus on the cruelty “to undocumented immigrants” by human smugglers who pack 30 adults and 10 children into a locked cargo container, but fail to call attention to the illegal 30 adults’ disregard for the safety of children while dragging them across hundreds of miles of dangerous terrain in the presence of dangerous criminals.  It will categorize your tendency to grab 13-year olds for sex (you call it “marriage”) as excusable on the grounds that “it is a custom prevalent where you came from.”

Conversely, The Pee rains vehemence on US citizens for unavoidable child endangerment, marginal statutory rape, shading the truth to get government benefits, alleged sexual assault of a minor, then perfunctorily signs off on the resultant PRISON TERMS for these heinous US citizens…   they had it coming!

Can anyone out there define “double standard?”  If you need refreshment on that, it is a lot like “speaking with fork-ed tongue.”   (Hmmmm…   How about “sleight of tine?”  Sorry.  Just wandering a little.)  Why would The Big Pee practice that?   …just simply playing to the audience (that be us)…   and the panel of judges overseeing the in-house self-lauding Pulitzer committee.  And, let’s not leave out the watchful eyes of judges in a slew of local and national media “ain’t we the living end” contests.  Out here in the land of irrelevance, we all fancy ourselves as possessing moral superiority over our neighbor.  We just have to have a cause to rally around, either mentally or actively.  The Big Pee‘s got causes down to a science.

Do you need an example of my assertions?  No problem.  Let’s look at Jenny Stonebottom’s story (The Houston Chronicle, January 16, 2013) of a callous bureaucracy and a victimized illegal occupant.

Next up:  If it looks like a duck…

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Crime: It’s Just A Word

Posted on February 16, 2013. Filed under: Journalism, Piss Ants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

1st in the series The Manipulators

Your words for the day:

  • citizen = a legal, voting resident of the United States of America
  • non-citizen = not a citizen of the US of A
  • legal = according to law
  • illegal = NOT according to law
  • crime = violation (wittingly or unwittingly) of a law
  • The Big P = The Press (a.k.a., all media involved in the annual Pulitzer contest)

Hack!  Sputter, cough!  Hack, hack…

…stay with me a moment while I clear my craw…

  • Night court.  Traffic Court.  His honor begins his address:  “You are all here because you have committed a crime.”  Hmmm!  One guy got cited for 5-miles over the speed limit, another changed lanes safely without using the turn signal, and that lady over there was flaunting an expired inspection sticker…   you get the drift.  He said other stuff, but that bit about the “criminality” of minor traffic violations has stuck in my craw for a couple of decades.
  • A US CITIZEN single mother, with limited resources and spotty assistance from relatives, attempts to work for money to support her child and herself, can’t find a baby-sitter, so the child is left alone while she works.  She is a criminal (child abandonment, endangerment, etc., whatever the DA can tag her with) and prosecuted.  (Gotta be an item on page 1, section 1.)
  • A US CITIZEN home invader goes through your property collecting whatever he can find to improve the quality of his life.  He gets caught and is treated like a common thief.  (If not a famous invader, Press coverage somewhere in section 1.)
  • She is 17 years and 6 months old.  He is a “mature” US CITIZEN of 20 years age.  They are in love.  If you are really slow on this, he is an adult, she is a minor.  He might catch a break here if the DA is not running for re-election before she turns 18.  Just pray — if you are that “mature” US citizen — that you did not provide alcohol to an under-aged female to disable her resistance.  (Should have gotten press coverage on the first page of section 1.)
  • He is a US CITIZEN accused of sexual assault of a minor, on the run for 6 years.  He is finally apprehended and is treated like a heinous criminal, complete with public humiliation by the Press (with the big pee) and does jail time.  (Not just section 1, but headline ranking.)
  • You are a US CITIZEN, a relative of a legally entitled government benefit recipient.  The recipient dies, you keep on cashing those government checks issued in the name of the no longer responsive legal benefit recipient.  When you get caught for improving the quality of your life, think lawyer and act quickly.  Your federal government will treat you — an unquestioned US CITIZEN — like a common criminal.  (Page 1, or somewhere else in section 1, depending on what is trending.)
  • You are a US CITIZEN and you make false statements on a benefit application to get benefits you are not entitled, under U.S. laws, to receive.  Check with the preceding US citizen.  That one can recommend a good criminal lawyer for you.  (Maybe you’ll make it to section 1.)

We all live in a country with laws; that is true in whatever country on the globe you happen to live.  As a U.S. citizen visiting other countries, you can expect to be treated like a criminal if you are accused of violating local laws.  So, at home or abroad, mess with Zohan*   …uh, laws…   local laws…   your U.S. citizenship is meaningless:  you get treated like a common criminal (actually, that U.S. citizenship abroad probably adds to the severity of your sentencing).

On the flip side, you DON’T live in the United States NOR are you a citizen of said states.  You live in one of several countries south of the United States (or even Europe or Asia).  But, golly, things look pretty good up north (or, over there) in the US of A:  land of plenty, land of opportunities, land of free medical care and even free money.  Sure, they got laws and standards for immigration and the lines are long where people try to comply with U.S. law for entry.  But, you know somebody who knows somebody who can find somebody to show you the way around those checkpoints and such at the border — can you spell c-o-y-o-t-e? 

In the process of realizing your dream of being what and where you are not entitled to be, you are willing to commit crimes against the people of the United States and the government of the United States and any and all of its state governments.

But, not to worry, O Brazen Criminal.  You WILL NOT be treated as a common criminal; that is reserved for the US Citizens whose country, property, houses, and treasuries YOU WILL INVADE AND PLUNDER to improve the quality of YOUR life.

Best of all, O Brazen Criminal, your advocate works pro bono…   if you discount coveting the next Pulitzer award…  pro bono…  it means “free.”  Okay!  Now that is a big smile.

And your advocate-if-it-will-get-me-a-Pulitzer is…

_____________________________

*Don’t get all bent, Adam.  It’s a free plug for your movie…   which I have not seen.

_____________________________

Next up:  Meet the #@&#! press…   again.  (I’ll clean that up a little for prime time)

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Arrogance: A Very Human Trait

Posted on February 10, 2013. Filed under: Journalism, language, Religion | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Your words for the day:

  • arrogance = knowledge of one’s superior status
  • expert = a recognized or self-proclaimed know-it-all in a given field (but you may need to ask, “Which field?”
  • god = a being transcendent beyond humanity (a.k.a., expert)
  • AJ = Average Joe;  Average Jane

Just in case you didn’t notice, I sorta dabbled with those definitions.  Please, do not send hate mail to Wikipedia.

We, humanity in all its past incarnations, created language.  I noted somewhere in these articles  that information sharing (the venerable IT Dept) was the greatest of human* inventions.  Knowing how to make fire and passing that knowledge to others was a far greater achievement than just luckily starting a single friendly fire and using it as a one-time marshmallow toaster.  A spoken language was key to that achievement.

Each human is a mirror of humanity’s achievements.  In today’s societies, certain individuals rise above the general population in specific areas:  mathematicians, musicians, political leaders, legalists, investigators, athletes, teachers, medical practitioners, psychologists, astronomers, cosmologists, physicists…   this list could go on and on and still leave out some area of specialization.

Maybe “starter kit” is more apt than “mirror.”  All of these specialists rise from the general population by simply growing into a specialty according to their personal interests or by imposition of circumstance.  In order for that specialist to be recognized as superior in performance, the general population must also have the capacity to grasp that individual’s achievement, and — if so inclined — emulate that overachiever.  Ergo, there is healer, teacher, mathematician, priest, a beggar, a leader, a competitor ad infinitum in each and every one of us.  Because of that innate human capacity, superior achievements of other individuals are recognized and, often, revered.

There are social hazards associated with the ability — or simply the good fortune — to excel, exemplified by proverbs such as “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” ** and terms such as smug, self-aggrandizing, egotistical, god complex, condescending, arrogant…   another list that could go on and on.  This is a two-edged sword.

On the one hand, there is the risk of alienating the general populace, that group providing back-light for your stage performances, and of provoking jealously from other overachievers who want to crowd you out of the limelight.  And, yet, a third group that feeds like buzzards on celebrity status, picking at perceived hot spots to enhance its own standing as self-appointed judge…   and, blabber-mouth.  (Hmmmmm!  Now that is very annoying.  Pardon me while I slip out and preen my feathers.)

On the other hand, the euphoric appeal of such elevated states is what drives individuals to exceed their previous bests, often enhancing humanity’s understanding of self and nature.  Those human traits that cause achievers to turn a deaf ear to criticism and their backs to their humble roots may chaff uncomfortably on some individuals (the jealous and the left behind) while simultaneously advancing the human condition.  If there is one thing we know about Nature, it is that individual comfort takes a back seat to the survival of the group.  Yet, paradoxically, it is that quest for personal comfort that propels the group forward.

KISS.**  Cutting through the rhetoric, societies consist of two parts:  experts and laymen.  (Okay!  A third group, also:  critics.  But, they walk the fence between the other two and could land in either camp.)  Many ignore that the two groups are but two manifestations of a single fluid in flux.  The tendency is to view the ambient social status quo as a firmament defining immutable human interaction, so that the extant hierarchy is the once and future way of things.  In Galileo’s time, the experts to be revered were the ruling religionists;  in the time of the Industrial Revolution, innovators were the revered;  in our time, it is the scientists who rule the expert roost.  Each time the fluid stirs, society is panged by fear of change, loss of roots, confusion, and loss of direction.  The individual, truth be known, prefers the comfort of known truths to that of new, untried truths (the devil we know versus the one we don’t…   blah, blah…)

Experts.  Holier than thou.  Smarter than you.  Superior to you.  Entitled to more than you.  Totally disdainful of AJ and AJ.

Aye.  There’s the rub.

_______________________

*human.  Actually, this should be hominin.  Humans inherited, then refined all of the achievements made by near-humans.  Had to throw that in for the Science Department.

**The Bible (KJV) Proverbs 16:18

***KISS.  Has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.  Keep It Short and Simple.

_______________________

Next up:  Manipulators, puppet masters, trick knees

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English: Split Infinitives and Egos

Posted on February 7, 2013. Filed under: English, grammar, Journalism, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Your words for the day:

  • infinitive = the word “to” followed by a “verb form” (e.g., to go)
  • split infinitive = an infinitive verb form with an element, usually an adverb, interposed between to and the verb form (e.g., to boldly go)

To improve my smarts before opening my mouth, I went to the web to see what the Great Learned had to say on the subject.  From search results, I clicked on a Yahoo! item which was sponsored by a Yahoo! affiliate Houghton Mifflin.  Since this article defined my subject AND ALSO echoed my rhetoric about the Great Learned‘s LIARS status (LIARS, Feb 24, 2012)…   that’s as far as I researched.  Don’t rock the boat ‘n’ all that.

How luscious.  That article provided two delightful fruits for my cynic’s taste buds:

  • Usage History.  The split infinitive has been around since the 14th century.
  • Ruled out.  The Great Learned gave it a name and condemned its use in the 19th century.

It took 500 years for the Great Learned to get snooty about the argot of the Great Unwashed (i.e., all those ignorant Not Great Learned…   the General Public).  Noting that the claimed impetus for this pre-emptive action was grounded in the Latin usage for the derivative, Mifflin‘s article stated that “English is not Latin” and is premised differently.  The ruling, then, is arbitrary and incorrectly applied.  That appraisal also coincides with my earlier assertions in Why Not Me? Feb 27, 2012.

It is possibly NOT a coincidence that a number of famous writers are cited in the article as being perpetrators of this heinous infarction…   infraction…   heinous infraction of infinitive usage, which really wasn’t an infraction until the Great Learned said that it was…   after considering it for 500 years.

Published writings became widely available and popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, and, authors who, by and large, were NOT university scholars became the Madonnas and Justin Biebers of then pop-icon-ism (stay with me; I make ’em up as I go).  Until then, it was the educated scholars of recognized universities who were the darlings of media offerings, which, if you don’t count the town crier, was pretty much limited to printed stuff. Distressingly for The Learned, about all this new breed needed to become a published somebody was basic understanding of a written language, some knowledge about the selected subject, and a commercial appeal to make it sellable.  Those works were fiction and human interest, and, as such, not subject to being criticized on procedural or technical grounds. 

The famous authors cited in the Mifflin article delighted in the use of the split infinitive and utilized it to turn a neat phrase and make their offerings more picturesque.  The scholarly Great Learned, who had entered at the ground floor of the university and spent their whole lives making their way upward into the musty attic of the academic ivory tower, were no longer the sole beneficiaries of public adoration.  Disgustingly, they had to share that limelight with upstart, under-educated “writers.”

These Great Learned, basically, had an institutionalized mentality and found it difficult to think “outside the box.”  Eventually, one  of them observed that it was the impressive and descriptive use of English that made the new darlings shine.  So, to redirect the spotlight, the Great Learned cornered a popular and long-lived grammatical construction, labeled it a “split infinitive” and summarily declared it “unacceptable.”  The Great Learned’s new mantra:  “Split infinitive bad;  famous writers not so hot.”

…that would be the same motivation as a toddler banging a metal spoon against a metal pot:  “Look at me; look at me!”

The Mifflin article concludes that split infinitives are fine (and colorful) so long as one does not displace the adverbs; too close to the wrong noun, and, the intended meaning of the sentence can be changed.  With that, I gotta split from this article.

___________________________

Next up:  Puppet Masters?  Knee Jerks?  Arrogance?  Decisions, decisions…

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English: Gerunds, Fantasy, And The Splits

Posted on February 6, 2013. Filed under: grammar, Journalism, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |

Your words for the day:

  • gerund = noun formed from a verb (verb + ing) 
  • gerund phrase = the gerund with modifiers
  • if-were = supposition of that which cannot be
  • unwieldy = unmanageable due to size or complexity

Before tackling those split ends, let’s rib a Gulf Coast newspaper that thoughtfully provided several goofs on one page.  That would be The Houston Chronicle, down in Houston, Texas.  Its issue of January 16, 2013, thoughtfully provided several goofs on one page.  Section B, page 1, is the site that caught my sight.

In the lower half of the page, there is an article featuring statements from U.S. Senator John Cornyn (Republican Whip, Texas) about the possibility of defaults in federal spending obligations.  This article is credited to Joe Holley of the Chronicle.  So, right off, I point at the article title.

The title Cornyn assures ‘we’re not going to default.’  Double marks are used for a quote; single marks are used for a quote within a quote.  The single marks used in this title get caught up with that apostrophe and give it a real funky look.  And, yet, within the story, double marks are used for direct quotes.  The title of the article just below this one also uses single marks while using double marks in the story itself.  Maybe you guys are using singles in the title to save space, but that doesn’t make it correct.

How ’bout the gerund phrase?  Here, it is exerpted from the sentence:  “…will not allow an impasse over raising the debt ceiling to result in the federal government defaulting on its spending obligations.”  “Defaulting” is the noun; “federal government” identifies the owner of the act of defaulting — possessive case.  That phrase should read:

  • “…result in the federal government’s defaulting on…”

Commas get a little difficult to manage, too.  This sentence, “I will tell you unequivocally, we’re not going to default,” has either l comma too few or 1 comma too many.  As it is, it is a single sentence — not a compound sentence — and needs no comma.  If the word “unequivocally” is being emphasized, there should also be a comma after “you.”

The article below “Cornyn” also has a couple of missteps (according to me).  It is actually a eulogy for a local celebrity, so my nit-picking should not be construed to reflect on him.  This article is the handiwork of that wordsmith, David Barron, also of the Chronicle.  Lets start with the “unwieldy” thing:

  • Brown came to Houston in 1972 to work for Channel 11 but spent the bulk of his 50-year career in television at Channel 13, where he worked from 1972 through 2008, most of that time as a fixture on the station’s “good Morning, Houston” program and on its morning newscasts.

Take a breath.  That was one sentence, one paragraph, and 51 words.  Yes, there are a couple of commas missing from it.

The if-were tandem failed to make the cut in this article.  Right after the 50-word sentence, the paragraph starts, “If there was some way for Doug to bottle his attitude and sell it, he could get rich.”  The author is quoting another eulogy for Brown, but, he should have caught this.  Hypothetical postulations about what can not or did not happen use the if-were tandem.  That sentence should start, “If there were some way…”

These missteps belong to the allegedly PROFFESSIONAL writers and proofreaders presenting this stuff.   If you’re gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band.*  You EXPERTS want to act superior to the rest of the citizenry, but, you are way too often deficient in the use of the very tool upon which you rely.  You presumptively ridicule, conduct kangaroo courts in your “reporting,” assume holier-than-thou postures, ostracize, humiliate, endanger lives…   I’m going to need a bigger soapbox from which to express my distaste.  If you insist on being society’s judge and teacher, at least FIND THAT DAMN FIDDLE AND FIGURE OUT HOW TO PLAY IT!

 _________________________

*A song by the group Alabama (Al Gore’s information highway wouldn’t give the name of the author, but there is a ton of videos for Alabama.)

Next up:  Maybe it will be about that split-infinitive thing

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English: Case Of The Abandoned Preposition

Posted on February 4, 2013. Filed under: grammar, Journalism, language | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Your words for the day:

  • to = a preposition that sends the action of a verb to an object
  • preposition = a word that is used before a noun (as in pre position)
  • orphaned = bereft of purpose or guidance (crossword creators can make ’em up; so can I)

My C.I. (Clueless Informant):  that same Parade Magazine (Sunday, December 30, 2012) providing grist for my previous post.

Scene of the Crime:  A product advertisement touting…   well…   so far as I could tell, it was touting touts about a book on nutrition  that it was…   well…   touting.  I mean, it was a list of 37 touts about stuff like stopping the aging process, making arteries “smooth and bendy,” and “a stick of gum can save the cost of a day in the hospital.”  No real information.  Just teasers enticing you to get your snake oil…   er…   valuable reference book.  As I perused this recipe for immortality, the poor orphaned “to,” all alone in the midst of many, gained my pity.

  • The sentence of abandonment:  “Breakthrough research reveals you can slow — even reverse — the aging process with certain foods and activities that our bodies respond to with vibrant good health!”

Right off, I will agree that this construction sounds pleasing to the ear and does not seem to possess incongruity.  It is a grammatical format that all of us utilize without hesitation.  BUT…

That poor little “to” wants mightily to point to something.  That is why it exists.  It would point to “foods and activities,” but that other preposition, with, is hogging all of their attention, and, tauntingly, has even corralled “vibrant good health” right under “to’s” nose.  Oh, the pain to must feel.

Fortunately, “to’s” plight can be corrected.  A simple cosmetic procedure on that sentence will salvage little “to” and return it to a full and useful life of pointing.  Voila:

  • “Breakthrough research reveals you can slow — even reverse — the aging process with certain foods and activities to which our bodies respond with vibrant good health!”  (“Which” is a stunt double for foods and activities.)

We speak in the vernacular without giving a lot of thought to grammatical constructions.  Professional wordsmiths, on the other hand, supposedly give every word and gist careful thought.  Experts, at least those well aware of their expert status, irritate me with their better-than-everybody-else airs.  To impress me, PROFESSIONAL WORDSMITHS gotta do better than this.  Hey, you guys might take a peak at Nezza’s work at Hella@Sydney.  Talk about “smooth and bendy.”  Ouch!

Okay!  This is a short posting.  I promised more than I could deliver today.

Next up:  More grammatical finger-pointing.

 

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