You get your experience and learn from everywhere.
Facts To Amuse
The table fork was once seen as blasphemous and uncouth. I vote we return to knives and fingers. Family gatherings will either be calmer or more calamitous. Either way, we’ll have some great TikTok videos of the melees that ensue.
Bagpipes did not originate in Scotland, although they sure as hell sound like they should have.
4 of 10 American adults believe that man and dinosaurs lived during the same time period. So don’t be surprised that they believe other crazy things, too.
One you won’t like: it is actually safer TO WAKE sleepwalkers than let them continue to sleepwalk. This is another one that people argue about but the science is solid. P.S. NEVER wake up a manager. No one needs that kind of negativity awakened.
Birds will not abandon their young if you touch them or rescue them. It’s a myth that is so ingrained that I’m reluctant to include it. You can touch KFC wings all you want, too, even if you grab them from your neighbor.
Lincoln is the only president who was also a licensed bartender. He was also an accomplished wrestler. That obviously didn’t help him in Ford theater.
Several noted cowboys never wore cowboy hats, opting for bowler hats. Historical accuracy in film isn’t that important, especially when you consider that John Wayne’s real first name was Marion.
Your corneas don’t get oxygen from blood. They get it from the air.
Women have more tastebuds than men – and they are twice as likely to be supertasters and capable of discerning a wider variety of flavors.
In a group of 70 people, there is a 99.99% chance that two of them have the same birthday. Some people will read this and immediately start arguing; there is a word to describe the negation of a fact because of the seeming improbability of it. Obviously, I don’t remember what it is or I would have mentioned it. That’s called old age.
It’s crazy to believe that some apples are over a year old by the time you buy them in the supermarket.
Italy didn’t have tomato sauce until the 16th century because tomatoes are native to the Americas.
Twister was considered to be a little bit scandalous when it first came out in the 60s. This seems reasonable because it’s hard to watch good-looking people play Twister without feeling a little bit of hellfire on one’s conscience.
Cheetahs cannot roar, which is why they would otherwise make great wives.
Entomologists who study cockroaches often develop allergies to both ground coffee and chocolate.
Barbie’s full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.
You can thank Shakespeare for the name Jessica, which he came up with writing The Merchant of Venice.
Lint that collects in the bottom of your pockets is called gnurr. For real.
A “butt load” is actually 126 gallons. I tell people this and they don’t believe it. It’s true.
The shape for a Pringle is technically Hyperbolic Paraboloid. Try using that word in a eulogy.
It took the dude who invented the Rubik’s Cube one month to solve it. This amuses me greatly.
Wisdumb: knowing the lesson without living it.
I see so many social media posts from people advocating that young people choose a trade over college. These types of posts seem to be multiplying. It’s rare to see such a post from a young person, however. The memes annoy me a little, though, if it’s okay for me to say so.
Because I watch with a keen eye when my instincts get stirred, I turn my attention to note how much of people’s enthusiasm for a trade translates to their children or grandchildren. Whether it is my jaundiced eye or a convenient conclusion, my observations tell me that college is almost always the preferred ideal over learning a trade. Likewise, most parents don’t enthusiastically endorse the option of the military, either, even though it often provides multiple benefits for the person willing to choose it.
Ideology in the abstract is a strange, contradictory thing.
Why not both? Educated minds are to everyone’s benefit. What’s wrong with a plumber, electrician, or mechanic with a college degree? The odds we’re going to change careers several times increases with each generation.
A shadowy truth embedded in this conversation is that most people want careers that do not tax their bodies – and they wish the same for their children. It’s not a revelation of laziness. For some, it is a belief rooted in class distinction. For most, it’s merely reasonable.
It’s not denigrating to tradespeople to say that you’d like a job using your mental ability rather than your hands and back. Most technical trades take a toll on one’s body. Combined with long hours, a competent tradesperson is much more likely to harm his or her ability to do such a job well for their entire career. No one disputes that many people make an outstanding salary by choosing a trade.
Imagine a society in which 17 years of education is ‘free,’ rather than 13. How many would choose a trade if their educational path were open and guaranteed? How many parents would encourage them to select a trade instead of college? How many would embrace the option of the military?
I get that you agree it is a worthy choice to learn a trade instead of college.
First, though, let’s give everyone a democratic chance for college by making it universal for everyone. Afterward, we’ll see how many parents jump with joy when their children or grandchildren choose a trade instead of college. Or, let’s encourage everyone to do both. Getting an education won’t make you unable to learn a trade. You’ll still have the education – but more options once you’re finished.
I realize that there is an inherent imperfection in my argument. I’m not proposing an airtight, elegant solution – just a request that you think about the issue logically.
Our path toward college and careers itself is flawed.
As well as our thinking regarding the issue.
It’s strange to hear people say, “Most people don’t need college for work.”
Most people don’t need pants, either, but you won’t see millions of people heading to work tomorrow sans pants. Even if it happens, you still wouldn’t want to see such a sight, based on my wild imagination of what that might look like.
Is economic motive our best barometer for achievement? If we pursue economic interests above those of humanity, it’s my opinion that we’ve surrendered much of what grants our collective future any hope. Capitalism as we know it hasn’t been around for most of our human history. Whatever happens shortly, it’s a certainty that the economic system we currently experience will not be the one which dominates in the future.
Most people don’t need high school for a portion of the jobs that exist; trade or occupational training could replace it, but at what cost to our humanity? Implementing such a system demonstrates that we have lesser motives coursing through our veins. Whether you agree with me or not, I see our enthusiasm for education for all as an indicator of the health of our society.
If only the wealthy can easily take advantage of higher education, we’re going to see a decline in our progressive nature. As the number of jobs declines, we’re going to need to shift our perceptions of work.
We already demand that everyone fund the current educational system, even those who choose to have no children. It’s no stretch to ask everyone to pay for local college for anyone who wishes to attend. I can’t convince those with hardened hearts that an educated populace is a better populace, just as I can’t reach those who believe that we shouldn’t pay for universal healthcare.
Yes, we know it’s not free. Everything is redistribution.
If we can maintain a military capable of eradicating most life on earth, I think we can manage a way to ensure everyone who desires it can get a higher level of education (or training). It’s a strange world to me that so many passively fund an irrational arsenal of destruction, yet balk at improving our intelligence and reasoning.
We are not protected from external threats if we become a threat to ourselves. Stupidity is its own reward. Just ask a Congressman.
Whether a person ultimately becomes a plumber, nurse, or teacher, higher education is an invaluable benchmark for our commitment to society. A plumber with an educated mind is a much more valuable resource to our society. A member of society interacts on many more levels than simple business and commerce.
An argument that strives to provide only the required education to perform a job is one premised on ideals that are unbecoming to us as human beings. The amplitude and depth of our minds is one of the most valuable assets we have.
There’s no reason that we cannot establish an affordable network of responsible public colleges and universities – and pay for everyone to attend. We’re smart people. Most of us know that it’s possible to get an excellent education for a much smaller cost than our current per capita average. Eliminating the elitist demand that people attend colleges based on reputation is the first step. Private colleges could, of course, continue to overcharge for the same education that a public college can provide. The objective is supposed to be education and training for all – at a reasonable price. It’s lunacy to fund a system which doesn’t demand that education itself be the goal, rather than the path or the building in which it was obtained.
Likewise, “college” isn’t a fixed concept. We can re-design curriculum, courses, and content in such a way to eliminate fluff or graduation requirements which often only serve the education machine rather than the degree sought. We can fund community colleges which allow students to live in their communities. We can design course schedules which will enable adults to both work and attend school. We can demand that students be allowed to demonstrate knowledge without attending traditional classes and thereby sidestep the necessity of wasting time and resources by forcing them to go through the motions of the bureaucracy. There are better ways. We didn’t plan our current system; it’s a patchwork of implementations that are devoid of a cohesive objective.
We’re sending too many adults into the world with crippling debt. There’s a better way and a more natural way. We all know that college or vocational training can be done at a much lower cost to students and to society.
Whether we absolve the debt of those who preceded our proposed changes to our higher education system, it’s vital that we amend our system to course correct now that we’ve recognized the size of the problem. We can adjust accordingly as we learn more.
Much of our problem is that many are distracted by the demand for a perfect solution that doesn’t exist and isn’t directly attainable. We must be willing to listen and adapt the system as we go – which is precisely the foundation of education.
Using the benchmarks of the past to determine our path to the future is short-sighted and unbecoming.
Most of us also recognize that educated minds are more necessary now than ever. The perils of ignorance have already brought us sorrow.
I know I’m ignorant of many things. I had some experiences in school that perplexed me. One of my most significant issues was that colleges forgot they are running a business and that as a student, I’m a customer. The goal is knowledge or certification of the same for a reasonable price. As you can imagine, administrators, advisers, and professors had their ears burned by the revolutionary idea of mine that my role was not subordinate to theirs.
We can re-imagine college to mold it to meets its objective: knowledge and ability. We can do so by significantly reducing the time it takes, as well as the cost. And we can do it so that adults don’t have debt as a result of something so vital for our well-being.
It’s the least we can: demonstrate the importance of education without it being an empty platitude.
Commentary Comment Criticism
A common refrain is “Don’t read the comments on news sites.” But not for the reasons you’d expect – but because so many obvious non-readers leave comments there.
I’ve had people ask me what makes you think you’re a grammarian?
My simple answer: “…the same thing that makes all other self-proclaimed grammarians.” Who makes dictionaries? What makes a ‘word?’ While I’m no expert on English, I’m a lover of words in multiple languages – and certainly, someone who spends an extraordinary amount of time with words dancing in delight inside my head. They are not my enemy, even when I bend them in uncertain ways.
My only enemy in language is the obtuse and illogical insistence that our language has ever reached a finished state. English is a mutt of a language and we are its barking dogs. We all share in its ownership and therefore bear some ability to shape it.
It all obfuscates the simple truth that our language does not have a governing body. Everything you know about the certainty and spectacle of language is based on the falsehood of having an overriding authority that dictates correctness. No such thing exists. Even if it did we would most likely ignore it. Usage determines correctness no matter how much you cluck about it or violently disagree. It is always been that way and it always will. The language we use today will not be the same as that used in 100 years. Correctness will adjust to the wear-and-tear of our assault on it.
I’ve had many people ask me about my status as an authority on language. My authority is the same as anyone else, except that I had an epiphany. I listened as 4 English experts disagreed on a basic idea regarding a simple expression, one which other languages do entirely differently. At the end of the table, another lover of language leaned in and asked those arguing, “But was the meaning perfectly clear in its expression?” The experts were flummoxed. “It seems to me that you’re confusing objective with process.”
The entire framework is an illusion. That many people read my derision of the self-proclaimed authorities on language and nod their heads in agreement with me doesn’t merely demonstrate that a lot of people hate the stupidity and structure of our language. It’s also because they recognize the truth of my message. And the same way that people realized they don’t need an intercessory to engage with their creator, we also aren’t in need of an external authority for language correctness. It’s our fault that we’ve allowed our written language to be so ridiculously arcane and complex. We can have deep universal and human conversations, even technical ones, without any need for spelling or punctuation – the customary nonsense that is demanded of us when we put pen-to-paper. The snobbery of grammar nerds is appalling precisely because they don’t recognize their own ignorance even as they protest and trumpet that they alone know the correct usage.
Language, spelling, syntax. All these things are evolving and moving targets, much like the wrinkled brow of the self-avowed expert on language.
Language is a living animal. Anything so fundamental to human expression doesn’t need years of study or advanced comprehension of ridiculously complex rules riddled with imaginary exceptions. It needs sanity. Almost all of our language is used informally and verbally.
While it’s amusing to some to feel versed on the English language, the greater truth is that our set of rules for its usage bear no resemblance to the purpose of language: communication and expression. We are all equally and preposterously ignorant for allowing language to be a burden on its users. Many see “Your welcome” and see it as a sign of ignorance. I do as well, except the ignorance is in the eye of the accuser. Those who use “your” instead of the contraction “you’re” are going to win the battle. You just don’t know it.
Likewise, I empower anyone reading this to stop heeding the grammarians as he or she attempts to correct you. It’s perfectly fine to define usage as ‘purist,’ because no one follows all the rules and most of us routinely butcher most of them without consequence.
My agony is in recognition of the hypocrisy on the part of my fellow humans. We’re all wrong – and always have been.
We own the language. All of us, even if it curls your eyebrows to understand.
If someone says, “I should be so lucky!” it implies that they know they’ll never be that lucky. Everyone except those recently hit on the head with a Wile E. Coyote anvil easily recognize the words spoken and the intended meaning. The word for such a phrase is ‘idiom,’ which can be loosely defined as ‘words which have incorporated a meaning not easily evident in the words themselves.’ In other words, an idiom can take on any meaning we ascribe to it, regardless of how divorced it is from logic, lexicon, and lippitude. The more vibrant and involved a culture is, the more likely that the language used has evolved in an infinite trajectory, one more often determined by confused and seemingly incoherent words.
Those most invested in the idea of a stagnant and static language usually tend to be those who incorrectly think they’ve arrived at the imaginary train station marked as “Correct.” They tend to look at a painting and see that the proportion is slightly off rather than observe that a great work of art sees them as well, in part precisely due to its defect. While language’s mechanics might be best understood in the mind of a master, it is on the lips of the young and those dancing around the fringes of normal usage who see to it that it undergoes the transformation which grants our words magic.
Usage, collectively or popularly applied, constantly creates idioms that defy their own origins. Entire books have been written on the subject and a million doctoral candidates have expounded on the folly and futility of language. The well of this subject will never run dry, as most of its underpinnings sit on opinion rather than science. The rules can be any we choose. Regardless of our choices, none of us will ever learn ‘Standard English’ as a means toward poetry or as a dialect born in our infancy.
For me, it is sport to watch educated and well-intentioned people gnash their teeth at one another for esoteric perceptions of correctness. Almost all who do battle on the field of language do so at their own peril. At feud’s end, the language has already expatriated itself to foreign terrain, evolving even in the midst of disagreement. For those who’ve not noticed, I root for the team advocating a dose of anarchy.
Another peculiarity of our language is that we can juxtapose both negative and positive connotations of the same words and phrases, yet mean exactly the same thing. Our language is stuffed with examples, ones which remind us that language is not math and the roadmap toward language in no way follows a logical course. If I shout, “I can’t hardly wait!” you know that I’m full of enthusiasm. On the other hand, if I shout, “I can hardly wait!” I mean exactly the same thing. Both listener and speaker understand the context and content of the contradictory utterances. You can artfully quibble with this specific example but be warned that our language is an arsenal of similarly-defective pairings.
When you snarl your lip and smugly make your assertions, you are not presenting the scholarly front that you anticipate; you’re demonstrating an unwillingness to bend to reality. Language is not math and it certainly isn’t logic. Its consistency lies only in the recognition that it cannot be learned like a finite subject.
We use the word ‘awesome’ without stopping to consider that ‘awful’ also derived from the same root. Usage redefined the intention of the words. I could literally write a list a mile long, one filled with words which have drifted away from their linguistic docks, often to mean the opposite of its cousins.
Having written all the above, I move to one of my most cherished phrases: “I couldn’t care less.” An idiom which reveals the flawed understanding of its detractors more efficiently would be impossible to find. Many an argument has been waged by those using the word in the presence of those who’ve made up their mind about an idiom that means exactly what it is supposed to.
There is no real controversy here, not really. Before this phrase appeared in popular usage, even before its counterpart of “could care less,” people always said, “No one could care less than I.” If said aloud, this phrase sounds as if it had been born in the stilted and feverish imagination of a terrible English writer. It died precisely because of its ridiculousness.
Saying, “I couldn’t care less” in no way conveys confusion, except in the mind of the person who doesn’t understand language, idioms, or the dynamic and evolving presence of our language. If you persist in your insistence that “I couldn’t care less” isn’t correct, you are doing so in contradiction to all evidence to the contrary. You have become contrary yourself.
Language is whatever we decide it is to be.
The sacrosanct of today will soon lie dormant on our lips, replaced by what is to come.
I couldn’t care less.
NSFW. Contains language about language.
*Yes, I know how to spell ‘grammar,’ but that’s the point.
The world is a small place sometimes. It’s hard to gauge where my ideas might reach. In places where people don’t know me, my ideas seem plausible. In others, people point to what I’ve written as a short-hand to get their point across. They write, “This,” with a link, or “This reminds me of you.” To be fair, many people also tell me I’m a moron, but with a lesser frequency that I would have otherwise expected to be the case.
When I write about people having the freedom to take back their own languages and use and abuse them as they see fit, most of the response is overwhelmingly positive. There is indeed a time and place for exacting language – and that time and place is normally one which doesn’t require our presence, much less enthusiasm, for it. The responsibility for language’s needless complexity does not fall upon the average user.
On one of my alter-ego projects, someone wrote me. She was irritated at a few of her well-meaning and passive-aggressive friends and family, some of whom apparently rejoice in being grammar police. She told me that several of her friends and family were afraid to post anything and sometimes say anything, anticipating the overzealous criticism. She had tried ignoring them, politely asking them to stop and finally, in a last-ditch effort, she started lashing out at them. She saw some of my craziness on someone’s blog and decided to offer me a chance to weigh in.
My appeals to tell those who think English is a fixed target should go jump in a frozen lake struck a chord with her. She said she had never thought of Standard English as a formal and shared means to learn a dialect that no one learned at home – or that spoken language drives the language no matter how many cries of anguish we hear from those invested in “correct English.”
“I need a way to get my point across, even with a sledgehammer, if necessary. What do you recommend?” she wrote.
“Well, if you’re all adults, I recommend avoiding behavior which invites more contempt. They’re not going to change, that much is obvious. It’s not a ‘you’ issue, not really. They need to gain esteem by policing other people. You can’t fix them, so you need to focus their attention away from you.” So far, so good, as I wrote back.
“First, it’s important that you politely tell each person who has been a pain in your rear to please stop and that further trolling is unwelcome. Then, each time one of your friends, family, or acquaintances pulls their grammar nonsense, send them this,” I wrote:
<To the grammar police: You put the ‘dick’ in ‘dicktionary.’ Regards, Don’t Care >
I told her to write it every time someone pulled out their bag of tactics on her – after they ignored one more final polite request to please stop. If they responded with anger, write the same thing, over and over. If they tried to police her in person, I told her to say it out loud, even in awkward social situations. I pointed out that her social faux pas was no greater than theirs, that of policing other adults in trivial matters.
“If that doesn’t work, let me know.” I wished her well and told her to follow through every time her hackles went up. I reminded her that it was senseless for her to get upset and to instead transfer that irritation back those being jerks. I warned that it would take time. She told me that a few of her friends and family had been torturing her for years and that a few weeks of concerted effort would be better than living the rest of her life under the thumb of a bunch of control freaks.
Several days later, she wrote me and told me that at first it really bothered her to be discourteous. After a few times, though, she got invested in the reaction. She had one last hold-out, though, a family member who tended to lash out about any topic, whether it be politics, religion, grammar, or how to fold towels in the guest bathroom.
I asked her to send me the name of the family member so that I could get a picture from their social media. After she did so, I told her to check her email and follow the instructions and to only follow them if the person torturing her didn’t heed one last polite request to please stop bothering her.
Over a week later, she wrote back, to tell me that it had worked beyond belief.
Her family member had become irate and sent an email and social media messenger blast to all their mutual friends and family, accusing her of lashing out without reason. Her family member didn’t stop to realize that it provided the victim with a list of everyone affected. She wrote back to all of them, asking them to let her know if they were interested in knowing the real story. Most did and after reading her explanation were completely on board. Almost all agreed that it would be better for everyone to ignore what they perceived as errors – and to certainly not condone those who continued to be jerks after politely being asked to step away or to bother someone else who had no objection.
The picture attached to this post is what she emailed, after begging and politely requesting relief at least a dozen times…
P.S. It’s important that anyone reading this understand that at each stage I insist that the first course of action is to respond with politeness and courtesy, even if the person making your life a living hades is beyond redemption.
P.P.S. I didn’t invent the word ‘dicktionary.’
You don’t need my permission, of course. You certainly don’t need my approval, either. Likewise, you are entitled to roll your eyes in derision, mockery or contempt at anyone who corrects you for your punctuation or grammar in a text message. Unless your relationship is based on inequality, you should also expand this idea to include all private messages.
I’m not advocating total disregard for decorum – it’s not an invitation to use the ceiling fan to shave your back hair. Rather, my point is that anyone who takes the time to admonish you for informal text communication is a bigger nuisance than any perceived wrongdoing from sloppy language.
If the other person is chiding you good-naturedly, it doesn’t count as snobbery, so try to let those instances slide without a street duel. I’m not advocating that you be an ass to light-hearted cajoling or ridicule. What I am asking is that you take charge of your life and stop worrying about grammar and content when you are informally communicating. We didn’t vote on this concern – so ignore it.
It’s amazing how much of your life can be lived in this manner. Even a life perfectly lived will draw criticism, right down to the style of pants you wear or how you like to eat your french fries.
Those who relish correcting grammar can’t be stopped, so it’s best to adopt the position that they all suffer from the incurable disease of Grammar Tourette’s Syndrome, except their affliction stems from the mistaken idea that they are arbiters of grammar, spelling, and usage and this status compels them to lash out in self-appointed glee.
Sidenote: English doesn’t have a committee to decide usage or structure. It’s a fluid, evolving mass of ridiculous logic and rules. It belongs to all of us. Standard English is a myth we strive for without pausing to consider that it’s a moving target. Even if we understand the rules, they certainly don’t hold sway in our intimate private lives.
Life is short. Using tools for rapid, convenient communication should not be an ordeal or an exercise in English 101. Be as vigilant as you find it necessary to be and adjust accordingly. But if your blurbs to others are treated with a hostile eye, assume that the person complaining is a bit of an ass and go about your life as if his or her presence in no way determines how you’ll live. That part is most certainly true.
One of life’s greatest pleasures is knowing the rules and ignoring them. No matter how vigilant you are with language, you’re going to make mistakes. Even when you’ve followed all the rules, there will still be disagreement, even among the most educated and learned individuals. Language is not science, nor will it ever be. Since it’s always evolving, become a deliberate part of that process and reject all the components and obligations which don’t serve you.
Take a moment and really, really piss off a language purist. Write as you will and laugh when the sputtering objections commence. If they’ve taken the time to let you know how irritated they are by your lack of adherence to the ‘rules,’ you owe it to yourself to help them get over their unnatural affliction.
Get out your phone and text someone now. Pretend that you’re drunk and can’t spell any word longer than ‘eel.’ You’ll thank me for it.
C U later.