Friday, February 25, 2005

Butchering English

English is a rich and powerful language. Left alone, it has the capability of expressing a vast range of ideas and emotions. But some people just insist on 'butchering' it. One thing that really yanks my chain is misuse of the verb 'see.' The verb see is very simple and regular. I see; you see; he/she/it sees;we see; you see; they see. The past tense is 'saw' with no changes. i,you, he/she/it,we/you, they all saw something. The past participle is 'seen' and must be used with have or had. But listen around you. What you will hear is "I seen it last week," or "As soon as I seen the sign, I knew I was lost."

Here in the mountains of North Carolina I expect to hear such abuse of the language, since the way many of the people speak reflects their unique heritage and the poor educational system. Here you will also hear "I ain't saw him for a week." These people are really mixed up.

But listen to television news. You will see people, being interviewed all over the US, and saying "I seen it." These are not mountain people. Many of them have good educations. But somehow, they all can't seem to understand or remember this simple thing: the past tense of the verb see is saw, not seen. For God's sakes, this is not rocket science.

Whenever I hear this, I want to scream at the TV: "No, you idiot! If you ca't speak simple English then shut up!" But, as a true curmudgeon, I have never been know to be lenient about other people's mistakes.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Stupid caps

The wife and I went to dinner tonight. It was not the fanciest restaurant in town, but even so, I was offended by the 19 males wearing their stupid caps while eating.
I guess a lot depends on how you were raised. Had I ever dared to sit down at our table wearing a cap, my Mother would have hit me up the side of the head with a plate. To sit down in a restaurant without removing my hat/cap would have me banned to the outhouse. In my time, gentlemen or any sort did not wear a hat while eating. Even the cowboys, in town on Saturday night for a decent meal and some fun, removed their stetsons when they came into the cafe (cowboys didn't eat in restaurants.) These were men who put on their stetson as soon as they got out of bed, and only took it off when they went to sleep, but they didn't wear it while eating in public.
I am retired from the US Navy. A naval person never wears a cover indoors except when in a duty status. Had I entered the wardroom of my ship and sat down to eat wearing my lid, the other officers would probably have thrown me overboard. It wasn't done!
So, when I see a man or boy sitting down to eat in public, wearing their stupid cap advertising fertilizer or tractors, I immediately think "stupid, red-neck, hill-billy, poor white trash." If this offends you, tough! I'm offended by your stupid cap.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Really Stupid Ads

There's a lot of advertising floating around the media. There are a lot of people paid big bucks to write this stuff. Many of these ad writers are blithering idiots. But the sheep who read or hear this stuff just don't complain.

My best examples of such idiocy is automobile ads. Listen to what they say. Almost every TV ad has the phrase "the all-new 2005 Belchfire Super" I don't want an all-new car! That sounds like they started from scratch and re-invented the wheel. What I hope the manufacturers do is keep the things that worked from last year's model and fix the things that didn't work. Instead, they make it sound like they threw away even the good parts in their effort to be 'all-new.' I call this 'all-dumb.'

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Writer's Block

I seldom suffer from writer's block. Usually if I sit down and start wrtiting something, it will flow. This past week has be the exception. It's not that I can't write, it is that I just have not been able to sit down and start. Guess there are two many things on my plate at the moment.

I have lots of work I should be doing. There is a novel still in need of more edit and revisions, and the semi-autobiographical history of early data processing that needs to be completed. There is also another small collection of newspaper columns and essays that is 99% ready to go to the printer, if I can just make up my mind to do it. I keep putting it off, not yet ready to take on the job of marketing it.

It must be because it is February, a really blah month. Thank God it only comes once per year.

Monday, February 07, 2005

A computer dinosaur

I have been in the computer business since 1963. I often feel like a computer dinosaur. Some events really reinforce that feeling.

Last night, during the Super Bowl, I was running one of the monthly jobs I do (for free) for various organizations. This job, the monthly meeting notice for the local Medical Assistants Association, involved printing continous form postcards. As the 88 required cards clanked through my trusty Okidata 320, I had to wonder: how many people out there still have a dot matrix printer? One thing for sure. You can't print continous form postcards on either a laser or an ink-jet printer!

After the cards were printed, I turned them over, ran them back through and printed the addresses. For this I used another dinosaur program, called dBase3. I use this old but reliable program because making Microsoft Access print to a dot matrix printer requires more fiddling around and tweaking drivers than I care to tolerate.

I'll need a new computer soon. This one is getting as flakey as Grandma's pies. The new one will come with an abortion of an operating system called XP, which does not support DOS programs. So I will have to find an old 386 or 486 system that I can plug my printer into so I can do the 3-4 jobs each month that require that printer. Yes, I know I can print address labels on my laser printer, but printing them 2-up on continous form is much less expensive. And, that laser printer will not print postcards.

Isn't progress wonderful?

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Dumb letters to the Editor

If you read letters to the editor of any major newspaper, you soon realize there are a lot of people out there who have opinions, but absolutely no facts.

A recent one really amused me. The writer, surely a die-hard Democrat, was re-beating a dead horse about how Kerry actually should have won Ohio in the national election. His argument was that some of the 'provisional' ballots were not counted. As he said, "Many of these were not counted because the voters were not registered." How dumb can a person be? Of course these ballots were not counted, if the person was not registered to vote. That's the law. If you don't register, then you don't get to vote.

Apparently this person had no clue as to the use of a 'provisional' ballot. This is used when there is a question about a voter's eligibilty. A provisional ballot is used, and then it is checked with the election board. If the person is not registered, or is a convicted felon, or for other reason is not eligible, the vote is not counted.

But, this writer was convinced that all those provsional ballots that were determined not elgible to vote would have been votes for the Democratic candidate. I don't know how he thought he knew this, so this is a secret ballot, but I am sure there would no way to convince him that not only was he wrong, but also that he was pretty damn stupid.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Super Bowl Dumbness

There were articles in today's paper about football fans in Philadelphia who took out home equity loans or put their house up as collateral for loan to pay for a trip to the Super Bowl. The cost for a package trip was about $4,000. One guy needed that much. Another needed $8,000 for him and his wife. These people are out of their ever-loving, blue-eyed minds! Where are their priorities? First of all, there's no football game in the world worth that kind of money. Second, anyone who has to borrow money to go to the game has no business going. These people are all employed, but their credit cards are maxed out; they have no savings; they can't afford this, but they want to go to the game. So they are willing to take the chance (very slight) of losing their house to appease their desire to see the game. They are willing to pay the high interest on the loan. They are willing to go even further in debt for the short-term pleasure. The are also dumb!

I guess this is all part of the I want it now, instant gratification, to hell with tomorrow culture we have created.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Redundent adjectives

Here in the South, (and also in the South West) you will often hear redundent adjectives. For example, someone will say "I did enjoy reading this here book" or "He takes a lot of pride in that there dog." This book or that dog is all that is needed. I often wondered from where came this predeliction to emphasis the idea by adding another,unneeded word?
Do you suppose this is just another example of our southern tendency to let our mouth run before our brain is engaged?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

State of the Union #2

True to my prediction, all day the pundits have been telling me (in great detail) what the President said. That, in itself, would not be so bad. The problem is so many of these so-called "experts" spent much of their time bemoaning the fact that "the President didn't say this" or "he should have said that" or "he said this wrong/" Well Duh! It's his speech, he can say whatever the hell he wants to. If he didn't say exactly what some highly paid but stupid journalist want him to say, well tough!

There is one truly amazing consistency about many of these "experts": they can't see their nose in front of their face, yet they all have 20-20 hindsight.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

State of the Union

For many years now, I have elected not to listen to the President's State of the Union address. Why should I? All day a legion of reporters, analysts, and self-proclaimed 'experts' will tell me what the President is going to say. Then tomorrow, these same pundits will tell me what he said. Why should I bother to listen?

After all, I have a large group of very well-paid consultants who are eager to insure that I understand exactly what will be or what was said (at least their slant on the content). Should I presume to interpose my meager knowledge against this collected wisdom?

As a matter of fact, YES! Forewarned with the knowledge that each of these national personalities have their own private agenda, I can filter through their blatherings and usually determine what was important.

Often it is more important to listen to what not is said. What these 'experts' do not comment about is sometimes the really crucial meat of the address.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Be careful with words

James Kilpatrick recently wrote a wonderful column about the dangers in using foreign words and phrases. Writers must be careful to insure they understand the meaning of the word, and that they spell it correctly. Otherwise embarrasing errors can happen.

One example he gave concerned a reporter who used a Spanish phrase to (he thought) wish a Happy New Year to his Hispanic readers. The Spanish word for year is año (with a tilde). Either the reporter didn't know the difference, or his typesetter did not have the proper character. What he wrote was "Feliz ano neuvo." The word ano (without the tilde) means anus. You can imagine his consternation when he was told he had wished his readers a "Happy New Ass."