October 17

Bingeism: The Netflix Disease Sweeping the World

Father forgive me, but I’ve become addicted: Addicted to TV series that you consume in one, two or three days of bingeing, all 10, 12, 13 or 18 episodes (even more!).

I’ve done “Narcos” this way, also “The Night Manager,” recently “Versailles” and “Goliath.” How about five seasons of “Person of Interest”?

I have so many empty celluloid bottles strewn around my house that this affliction resembles alcoholism, except that it’s the newest disease of modern humanity, this one borne by Netflix (and Amazon and video pirates), which I’m labeling “bingeism.”

We need a Binge-ers Anonymous, and I came up with a preliminary 12-Step Program this morning before departing for work and tearing myself away from yet another electronic device that has come to dominate my life, my PC. Here goes:

The 12-Step Binge-ism Recovery Program
1) Admit that video is not God
2) Turn off the boob tube and breathe again
3) Put all cellphones, tablets and computers on lockdown, to be used only for emergencies
4) If you have a family, reacquaint yourself
5) If you have pets, recognize their existence again
6) If you have a job, try going five days without calling in sick to finish a binge
7) If retired, volunteer on skid row
8) If wealthy, move to Uganda and join the Ebola fight
9) If a politician, admit your’re a lying piece of shit and resign (how’d that get in here?)
10) Take two aspirin and go to bed rather than turn on any electronic device
11) Go on a starvation diet so you have no energy left for any addiction
12) Prostrate yourself before the image of Steve Jobs and promise that you’ll use your iPhone only to download Apple music
September 22

Find the Errors

I saw an ad in today’s Wall Street Journal for a CD/DVD (one or the other) course called “English Grammar Boot Camp,” so I ventured to the website of thegreatcourses.com to check it out since it was on sale.

On the web page for that course, here’s what I found — a teaser to find at least five grammatical errors in the course blurb, to wit:

Attention: There are no less than five intentional grammatical “errors“ in this course description. If you can’t identify at least five, we recommend that you get this course!

I can find two. Anybody find the other three? (I hope they’re not suggesting a comma after intentional.)

September 15

Really: ‘40 Gigs of Limitless Data’?

Let’s see now: The last time I checked, limitless meant something like without a limit. So how can a cellular phone plan offer 40 gigabytes of data downloads, and then call those downloads limitless?

Chalk up this misleading/false advertising piece to Verizon, which is now selling four lines with “40 Gigs of Limitless Data” for $160 a month.

The ad always doesn’t specify whether these limitless 40 gigs are shared among the four phones or allotted to each line (you know it’s the former).

August 6

Since When Did ‘Gift’ Become a Verb?

Heard on a food show on radio while the host was discussing wines to buy (basically an advertisement): “,wines to drink, wines to save, wines to gift.”

I’m not even going to look this one up in the dictionary for fear it may be true: Gift was always a noun, signifying something presented to another person or done for another person’s sake free of charge; give was the verb to indicate such an action. Now I hear people using gift as the verb!

I fear that the English gods over at Oxford University may have already bought into this use of gift, and I don’t wanna know.

What next?


August 2

Ever Heard of a ‘Mitigated Disaster’?

I now nominate “unmitigated disaster” to join the ranks of “awesome” as one of the most overused, misused and meaningless expressions in the English language.

To join countless scores of others through the ages (sick, rad, bitchin’, etc., fill in the blank — I can’t keep up).

I bring this up because, as I was tooling around in my car this morning on the way to work, a sports jock on radio predicted the upcoming Rio de Janeiro Olympics would be an “unmitigated disaster.”

So, let’s mitigate it.

You see what I mean? It’s meaningless verbiage. Makes you sound knowledgeable while masking your meaninglessness, or rather, mindlessness.

Like “awesome.” Does that word really mean anything except, “I can’t think of a sincere thing to say, so here’s the most current cop-out”?

July 25

Grammar Test for the ‘Above Average’

Okay, the site where I found this said it was a grammar test for the “above average” in intelligence. It should only take a couple of minutes to take, and from my perspective, there are only two or three questions that are a bit challenging, so good luck.

Also, the landing page is kind of confusing. You need to scroll to the bottom to find the actual quiz (they try to trick you into clicking on other links to sell you things).Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 7.57.47 AM

April 24

April 23: Shakespeare Day, But What About Cervantes?

The Bard expired 400 years ago today on April 23, 1616, but what about Miguel de Cervantes, the first modern novelist? Spain evidently used a different calendar than England, but factoring in differences in the approaches of the two calendars (Gregorian v. Julian), William Shakespeare and Cervantes could well have died on the same day.

There is even some speculation that Shakespeare adopted at least one character from Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote in a lost co-authored play, “The History of Cardenio.”

Let’s make a movie, “The Secret Rendezvous of Shakespeare and Cervantes,” taking mysterious place during Shakespeare’s lost years of 1585 to 1592.

Has to be better than “Shakespeare in Love.” But so are most cartoons.

April 6

PC Death Knell Tolls for ‘Me’ (Usage, That Is)

Ever notice that no one on TV, radio or in public can utter the word me anymore?

It’s now “Just between you and I” or “Between you and myself.”

The accusative form of the first person singular has been banished from the English language in favor of political correctness.

Me is rough-edged, Trumpian, no doubt a vast right wing conspiracy to boot.

I could wail on and on about how prepositions require the accusative form or remind people that myself is a reflexive pronoun that can be used only to complement either I or me, never by itself.

Wouldn’t matter. I might as well hoist a rifle a la Charleton Heston and proclaim the sanctity of the Second Amendment. I’d be castigated as that great a threat to our country.

As for me, I’ll continue to be un-PC, Trumpian, NRA-ish and part of the vast right wing conspiracy that believes correct English is a beautiful thing and shouldn’t be politicized.

April 5

Luddites, Unite! Handwriting Beats Laptop Note-Taking for Comprehension, Retention

Recent studies, according to a story in today’s Wall Street Journal, reveal that students who take handwritten notes in class comprehend more and retain more than those who take notes on laptops or other devices.

This despite the fact that hand note-takers can, on average, write 22 words a minute, compared to 33 words a minute for lap-takers. Even with more notes, then, those who rely on technology generally fare a bit worse in comprehension and retention of information.

“The very feature that makes laptop note-taking so appealing — the ability to take note more quickly — was what undermined learning,” observed educational psychologist Kenneth Kiewra of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

To be honest, though, the laptop note-takers had better install recall when quizzed right after taking their notes, according to a Washington University (St. Louis) study in 2012, but after 24 hours and more, the hand note-takers excelled.

The key seems to be that taking notes by hand also forces the note-taker to think about what he or she is scribbling down. Laptop noting is more like rote work.

At any rate, the article — “The Power of Handwriting” — is well worth a read.

Problem is, though I hyperlinked the article, WSJ often truncates direct links. But here’s a trick: type the title of the article into a Google search and you’ll be granted access to the full article.

(I just checked, and the online WSJ edition uses a different headline, so you’ll need to search for that: “Can Handwriting Make You Smarter.”


February 8

PC Madness on the Subcontinent: ‘Differently Abled’

I understand that the word disabled could have a sort of pejorative connotation, which is why we in the U.S. have come up with alternate expressions, such as physically challenged.

However, while I was recently watching TV news from India (as in the place on the Asian Subcontinent), a scrolling headline referred to an airline passenger who was differently abled and was provided a wheelchair upon arrival. (Not sure what the news angle was here.)

I can see our coming up with different expressions to avoid pigeonholing or denigrating people, but the whole political correctness nonsense in the U.S. is aimed at silencing anybody who disagrees with the liberal media and the liberal power merchants in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

Whatever his other virtues or egregious faults may be, Donald Trump would be a great president in terms of ending our nationwide PC madness (i.e., censorship), even if he does nuke Denmark, as Ted Cruz has warned.