pedantry

A Note on Why the Internet Goes to Hell When It Dies

[#nevermind]

Did you Know? In 2009, Eminem tweeted proof that he scored 465,800 in Donkey Kong, making him one of the highest scorers in the world. [via Salon.com, 11 November 2017]The Internet—(no, I do not like Capitalizing the Word)—sees fit to inform me that—

In 2009, Eminem tweeted proof that he scored 465,800 in Donkey Kong, making him one of the highest scorers in the world.

(via Salon.com; #nevermind)

—and no, it is true I did not know this before; nor is it clear how I should feel about this information. No, seriously, other than the fact that some editor somewhere saw fit to include a trivial widget to tell me stuff like this, I had precisely no reason to care.

Meanwhile, something, something, and now for something completely different.   

Hey, how about this: If I blame Tom Clancy, how fucking smart are you?

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Pedantry, or, Skitting the Trump Fantastic

#trumpswindle | #WhatTheyVotedFor

Donald Trump awaits his introduction at the 2005 launch of Trump University. (Detail of photo by Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press.)

“Donald Trump is poised to become the first American in history to headline a presidential inauguration and payoff the victims of an allegedly fraudulent scam in the same week.”

Steve Benen

It seems pedantic enough to wonder if “payoff” really should be one word in this particular usage. As a compound word, we are more accustomed to a noun, that something is a payoff, while the verb remains two words, to pay off.

Never mind. Compared to the obvious point, ossification creates a risk of spilling beer on skittles far too great to warrant boning the point like that.

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Image note: Donald Trump awaits his introduction at the 2005 launch of Trump University. (Detail of photo by Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

Benen, Steve. “Details emerge on ‘Trump University’ settlement”. msnbc. 21 December 2016.

The Eternal Question of Laughing or Crying

Detail of 'xkcd' #1726 by Randall Munroe, 28 August 2016.“I’m excited about the proposal to add a ‘brontosaurus’ emoji codepoint because it has the potential to bring together a half-dozen different groups of pedantic people into a single glorious internet argument.”

Randall Munroe

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Image note: Detail of xkcd #1726 by Randall Munroe, 28 August 2016.

Pedantry in High Dudgeon

D City Rock: Detail of frame from "Panty and Stocking With Garterbelt", 'Help! We Are Angels', by TeddyLoin featuring Debra Zeer.

“In a press release Thursday, the committee accused the Pentagon of not being upfront about what it knew:”

Amanda Terkel

This is a pet peeve.

Look: “Upfront” is not a word.

(more…)

Baked Lettuce, and the Decline of Western Civilization

This is a human weakness.Who cares if the internet is really mad at Nigella Watson?  Detail of Huffington Post sidebar, 17 November 2015.

In the first place, I loathe badly-written headlines, and Huffington Post specializes in that.

There is also the pedantic fact that “the Internet” doesn’t get angry at anyone. Naturally, we get what they mean, but still, it’s a really, really dumb headline, and HuffPo ought to be embarrassed; its editors would probably do the site―and the rest of humanity―some good by filing their resignations.

Additionally, we might offer the following consideration:

People really feel strongly about putting lettuce in the oven.

The Internet wept as they watched Nigella Lawson bake some lettuce leaves and subsequently add insult to injury by placing a fried egg on top.

The chef made her version of a Caesar salad on her BBC show “Simply Nigella” and it did not go over easy with fans. Her recipe consisted of lettuce baked in the oven with anchovies and garlic, all topped with the aforementioned egg. This strays from the traditional formula, which involves fresh lettuce, croutons and a white dressing.

Outraged viewers took to Twitter, decrying Nigella for her offensive, senseless actions.

Speaking of being embarrassed, we can only wonder if writing about people wringing their hands and losing their minds because Nigella put lettuce in the oven is what Samantha Guff had in mind when she undertook her editorial fellowship at Huffington Post. Much like being relegated to penning articles about plot holes in Star Wars, we might wonder if Ms. Guff finds herself enduring those excruciating moments in which she wonders if her parents were right, and she should have skipped journalism for something more useful.

To the other, I was dumb enough to click the lettuce link, and it doesn’t help to suggest I did so fully expecting to write a blog post about it. (No, really, one need not be a scholar to recognize wasted journalism from afar; promoted content is a particular sensitivity of mine, and the Hufffington Post sidebar is particularly odious. Something about dead fish in a barrel goes here.)

Look, bad journalism is one thing. And, yes, HuffPo’s need to suggest godawful content is the sort of thing Arianna owes her readers fiercely for. The age of the internet has brought us tremendous informational resources; unfortunately, our market priorities demand we squander them. Seriously, as much as I might pick on Sophie Bartholomew, Anisa Subedar, Marion Edney, and Danny Beckwith for being hilariously useless human beings, I also acknowledge it’s a thin pretense for wasting my own time. So, you know, let’s blame Samantha. And she, in turn, can point to her editors. And they, in turn, can tell Arianna what a wonderful person she is, and how her shit doesn’t stink. Honestly, who looks at a potentially infinite idea and sets up a business model to waste as much of it as humanly possible?

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Guff, Samantha. “Internet Is Mad At Nigella Lawson For Putting Lettuce In The Oven”. The Huffington Post. 17 November 2015.

Morbid Humor to Bug Your Conscience

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 18 March 2015.It’s true, I have a rule that I should complain whenever a setup or punch line is so obviously answered; never presume your audience that stupid, and never oblige them to be pedantic. To the other, if the whole point is to get us laughing at infanticide, well, yeah, I can certainly cut out some wiggle room.

And, hey, since it’s really easy to hyperextend spoonerisms, at least I didn’t go with riggle womb, because that would be way too political.

Oh.

Right.

Damn.

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Huber, Adam. “Loss Word Puzzle”. Bug Martini. 19 March 2015.

An Obvious Question with an Obvious Answer

To: Facebook casual gaming advertisers

re: Why would I want to?

There are, certainly, a few things I might say about this or that. “Won a big win”? This must be what we call the dynamic evolution of language. I’ve been learning a lot about this aspect of human communication over the last few years, from friends on the internet. And it turns out I’m some sort of old, pedantic fuddy-duddy, beacuse I have yet to understand that the language must evolve, and that means it must diminish its communicative utility. Sentence structure, proper spelling, and even basic literacy are just too oppressive for free, intelligent humanity.A Facebook advertisement cajoling users to play casual video games because their friends are.

Never mind. Inside joke. Filler material.

Look, the bottom line is that these constant adverts telling me that my friends are playing and winning your games actually discourage my participation.

And, seriously, if I want to gamble, I’ll go to a casino. If I want to play slots, I’ll consider assisted suicide instead.

But no, you’re not actually contributing to the species. Indeed, your endeavors are to its detriment.

A Fart Joke

There are two schools of thought about fart humor that may be reasonably encapsulated if we start with the phrase, “I forgot to post this last night”. That is to say, there are two general responses:

Detail of 'Bug Martini' by Adam Huber, 26 November 2014.How could you forget!

Why would you want to post a fart joke?

True, there is a third alternative—It’s a freakin’ fart joke. Who cares?—but such pedantry spoils the fun.

And, in any case, the answer to that beeblebrox is simply that it’s a fart joke, and it doesn’t really matter if anyone cares.

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Huber, Adam. “Stall from Grace”. Bug Martini. 26 November 2014.

The Problem with Local News

Chyron for CBS 2 Los Angeles Inland Empire Reporter Crystal Cruz.

Sometimes we adore local news, and you can take the word “adore” in that derogatory context, so loathsome it’s adorable.

CBS Los Angeles, which is a local affiliate and not a crime drama spinoff, reported yesterday on an exclusive story about an auto service receipt that had already achieved viral status:

A man in Riverside who went to see an auto mechanic said he was personally offended by what was written on his receipt – and it wasn’t the price.

Customer Ruben Rodriguez said, “I saw the words ‘stupid’ and I just kind of was like, ‘What?’ And I read it and reread it.”

CBS2/KCAL9′s Crystal Cruz confirmed that scribbled at the bottom of the receipt was “customer to stupid to understand normal thinking.”

Rodriguez said it was written by George Fritts, the owner of George Fritts Auto repair in Riverside. He’s quick to point out a grammatical error: Fritts should have used “too” when he wrote “to stupid.”

“That is one of the issues that I pointed out when I went back into the store. And I don’t think he was too excited about that, but I did my best to help him out,” Rodriguez said.

It should be pointed out that even if the term is unfamiliar, we are witnessing a variant of Skitt’s Law, an internet axiom suggesting that pedantry will be subject to pedantry. You know, like writing “to” instead of “too” when denouncing another person’s stupidity.

Setting that aside, what makes the story adorable is CBS News “Inland Empire” reporter Crystal Cruz:

Yes, this rude receipt, sort of gone viral. The customer posted it on social media, has gotten a lot of mixed responses regarding this receipt. Tonight we’ll let you decide who’s in the right or the wrong.

Really? Who’s in the right or wrong? How is this actually a question? From a business perspective, we need not merely observe that the customer is always right; there is also the fact that this sort of thing chases off other customers. A more general perspective might wonder about advice on keeping oil clean; the first thought to mind is that we use oil filters for this purpose, but then perhaps it might be that the mechanic is just a poor salesman trying to con the customer into using some sort of additive. Given a chance to respond, the mechanic only said that he stands by his assessment, and offered no details toward what his advice about keeping oil clean actually was. In the end, there isn’t really a question about who is right or wrong. More than the receipt itself, CBS 2’s “exclusive” report is a waste of time, money, and human resources.CBS2 (Los Angeles) Inland Empire Reporter Crystal Cruz, 19 November 2014.

And this is why local news is adorable. Certes, cable news has myriad problems of its own, and print media looks more and more like its sorry electronic version, but local television news makes Kenny Brockelstein into a modern prophet and casts the abysmal midday talk shows offering homemaking tips for the housewife audience between soap opera reviews and teases media geniuses. CBS 2’s “exclusive” report is a genial presentation of style lacking any sense of journalism in general or reporting specifically.

Which, in turn, only highlights the importance of Australian anchor Karl Stefanovic’s bit with the blue suit. The problem here isn’t a matter of wardrobe or hairstyle, but, rather, what passes for reporting in the twenty-first century.

And that’s the problem with worrying about her hair or wardrobe; maybe we should start asking reporters to pay attention to their reporting.

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CBS 2. “Exclusive: Auto Mechanic Leaves Shocking Note On Customer’s Receipt”. CBSLA.com. 19 November 2014.

Excessive Pedantry (Either Way)

Detail: Engraving of a sperm whale

There is this joke, see, and it’s not exactly a good one. Rather, it is a barb intended to poke and cut, and comes when one is just being a bit too pedantic: Do you read novels? “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … come on, Charlie, it can’t be both!” Don’t laugh. Er, I mean … right. Go ahead and laugh. But take a moment to consider the chuckle and what it is for; you might be amazed how often this point comes up.

Then again, when it is not politics but, merely, a job to keep the roof raised and the cable television connected … oh, wait. We’ve picked on Todd Van Luling before, but then, the pointα still holds.

Scrutinizing the science of Moby-Dick is definitely beside the point, especially because there’s evidence in Herman Melville’s notes that he purposely skewed facts to bolster his story. Melville even wrote a friend saying he embellished things writing, “To cook the thing up, one must needs throw in a little fancy.”

But the rambling scientific musings of the character you’re supposed to call Ishmael are often so maligned by high school and academic readers alike that noting a few places where the facts are all wrong seems a worthwhile exercise. Today, November 14, is the anniversary of the United States release of Moby-Dick, so it’s as good a time as any to knock it down a peg leg.

Here are five scientific inaccuracies in Melville’s masterpiece ....

Yes, really.

It’s a living.

Perhaps it should suffice to say that Moby Dick is a difficult novel to read for any number of reasons, not the least of which would be its length, general verbosity, or glacial pace; and, further, we might remind that not everything is a drinking game. Spotting inaccurate science in a nineteenth century adventure novel is a bit like looking for inaccurate science in science fiction. Where The Odyssey becomes Star Trek, reality warps.

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α That is to say:

Articles like these always recall a curious episode from over a decade ago, before CNN Headline News became the HLN monstrosity you find playing on the flatscreens in a bourgeois McDonald’s. Late autumn, 2003 or so. There’s a war on. The phrase, “I died a little inside”, had not yet risen to fashionable heights. Or maybe it had. A new young reporter gets his first big shot on the air, and he’s stuck doing a report on which sweaters will look best on your small dog during the Christmas season. Which, in turn, is enough to inspire a recollection of the old Wayne Cotter joke about masturbating a fish.

Van Luling, Todd. “5 Scientific Inaccuracies You Didn’t Know Were In ‘Moby-Dick'”. The Huffington Post. 15 November 2014,