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).

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.

November 11

French Forte v. Italian Forte

A job interview:Leyna Nguyen

“Tell me what your forte [pronounced for-tay] is.”

“You mean my forte [pronounced fort]?”

“No, this is not cowboys and Indians. I need to know your forte [fortay] for this position.”

Interview over, applicant walks out disgusted at the misuse of forte.

I confess, I have to thank TV newscaster Leyna Nguyen (pronounced “win,” as she explained during the same telecast) for the distinction between the French forte, meaning “strength,” and the Italian forte, for “loud” in musical rendition.

One’s strength is pronounced fort, and the musical emphasis is pronounced fortay.

But don’t tell your boss that if he or she asks you for your forte (fortay).

Just break out your violin, and play it loudly.

September 27

‘Phase’ or ‘Faze’: SI Doesn’t Know the Difference

Rather than giving me free flights, American Airlines subscribed me to a slew of magazines, including Sports Illustrated, where today I came upon this sentence referring to Miami Heat player Chris Bosh:

“Bosh will have to take on a new role in Miami, but such matters no longer phase the 10-time All-Star.”

Poor writing, worse copy-editing and nonexistent proofreading.

Here’s the definition of phase from dictionary.com: “to schedule or order so as to be available when or as needed.”

And here’s the definition of faze: “to cause to be disturbed or disconcerted; daunt.”

In my elderly phase of life, I was fazed by such sloppy English.

June 10

‘Zhuangbility’ May Be Banned in China, But It Fits Many Americans

Consider this: Zhuangbility (pronounced roughly “jangbility”) is a great Chinese fusion word meaning “pretending to be great.”

The word is so popular on the Mainland — I assume as a put-down of the high and mighty — that the Cyberspace Administration for China (CAC) is hoping to ban it from usage online.

Let them ban it. I can find voluminous uses for it stateside, without naming any names.

Diaosi, roughly “loser,” is also being frowned upon in Chinese cyberspace. But geili, or “awesome,” and dianzan, “like” as in a Facebook like, have been given the official imprimatur.

The CAC denies this is an attempt at censorship (“I’m shocked, shocked — censorship in China?”), but is designed “to create a comfortable living space for netizens.”

April 16

‘Even If You’re Right, You’re Wrong’

The above sentence was voiced by a female coworker today who was trying to convince a male row-mate how his wife could get mad at him over something that seemed so true and transparent to him.

I immediately chimed in with my agreement, remembering all the times in the past when my wife would get on my case despite my noblest of intentions and wisest of actions, or so I deemed that at the time.

I even ventured a step further and opined, perhaps sexist-ly, that “Men are born wrong.”

Anyway, I just wanted to throw this out there to solicit comments and reactions, and, I guess, to see if anyone really reads this blog.

October 5

Proposed New Words: ‘Doofitic’ and ‘Doofusotic’

I‘ve long used the adjective and noun doofitic to describe a person like me who is a certified doofus.

Now, I’m not sure if there’s a generally accepted definition (or spelling) of doofus, but let me generalize in saying that such a person routinely commits whacky, off-the-wall, unintelligible, even socially unacceptable actions — all harmless — without either control or consciousness of such actions. In my case, I’m conscious of my doofity but unable to control it.

As I was walking my three dogs this morning in 9 a.m.Riverside’s 102-degree temperatures, I pondered why the four of us  belonged so naturally together. It was then that the word doofitic re-emerged. We’re all doofuses, I concluded — in other words, a natural pairing. When we’re together, nothing else matters. We’re are own little world.

It was then that I got thinking of an alternative to doofitic to make it more readily understandable, and I came up with doofusotic. And now that we’re back from the dog park, another word comes to mind — doofusness.

Let’s add all three of these verbal morsels to the social lexicon.

And doofuses of the world, let’s unite. We have nothing to lose but our “who cares?” attitude!

September 19

Alibaba: ‘Just Be Who You Are’

Okay, all right, Alibaba the Chinese Internet portal didn’t proclaim “just be who you are,” but its founder, Jack Ma, did this morning on CNBC, just before his IPO sold 100 million shares at $92.70 in 10 minutes.

Of course, a Chinese company’s IPO is hardly English grammar stuff, but Mr. Ma, born and reared in China (but who did study in the U.S.), does speak excellent English.

I don’t recall the question, but Mr. Ma responded that, whenever he doubts himself, he watches “Forest Gump” the movie.

And from that, he derives the lesson, “Just be who you are.”

Sound advice. It’s impossible to be someone else, anyway. I know from trying and failing.

August 19

‘Violence Flaring, Bullets Loading’ — The Militarization of Our Cities

You’re probably not old enough to remember first-hand Barry McGuire’s song “Eve of Destruction,” in which he laments, “Violence flaring, bullets loading. You’re old enough to kill but not for voting.”

(Actually, I’m pretty sure all those gerunds got their ending g‘s removed during the song, but I left the g‘s on because they made the headline cleaner looking. Sound reasoning, huh?) Anyway, that particular song was about the Vietnamese War and the accompanying dissent and turmoil here at home.

We were able to end that mess by giving Americans the right to vote when they turn 18 — and the South Vietnamese the right to defend themselves all alone as we cut off all funding and support.

The reference point here is Ferguson, Mo., and the ongoing demonstrations. To be honest, the overriding significance of the whole issue kind of slipped by me until I read today’s techdirt with a post by Mike Masnick on how the “law” in Missouri is not allowing the press the freedom to cover the demonstrations — even after signing a court order to do just that!

Nor are they allowing the demonstrators much in the way of freedom of expression.

Masnick also introduced me the photographic work of Getty photographer Scott Olson, who was even arrested by police while trying capture news photos in Ferguson (see noninterference pact above).

If you want to graphically experience how the police in America have become our adversaries and armed themselves to the teeth to do so, then take a look at Scott Olson’s collection of Ferguson pictures here:

IRAQ OR MISSOURI?