Saturday, February 27, 2016

What Wred's Reading: Righting The Mother Tongue

I bought Righting The Mother Tongue:  From Olde English To Email, The Tangled Story Of English Spelling by David Wolman at a dollar a bag library sale.  Obviously, at such a sale, I am not very picky, so anything that looks slightly interesting gets tossed in the bag, but this is a pretty good book, especially given the price of four cents or whatever.  Basically, it's a journalist who read a bunch of David Crystal books and decided to write his own book about the English language.  To make his book stand out, he focused his history of the English language on spelling.  It has that breezy, only slightly intellectual feel that a lot of nonfiction books do these days, but it's a pleasant enough way to get a review of the history of the English language and how crazy people get about language use.   

Friday, February 26, 2016

Only In The World Of Politics . . .

The American political system continues to be fascinating.  I don't know of any other industry aside from politics where one can neglect one's current job because one is applying for another job and seemingly get away with it.  The current presidential election is probably the most prominent example, but this goes on across our political system.  Think about it.  We have a bunch of senators, governors, and whatnot, who aren't doing their jobs because they're running for president.  At least Vermont and Texas have another senator to mind things while Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz are kissing babies in Iowa or whatever, but who's running Ohio while John Kasich is hanging out in diners in New Hampshire?  The lieutenant governor?  If that's the case, then maybe we don't need a governor, and the state can save some tax money on that salary.  At least Hillary Clinton is just skipping giving a few speeches to Goldman Sachs or whatever, and Donald Trump is self-employed basically, so, unless he fires himself while having an acid flashback to his days on The Apprentice, he's likely safe.  The strangest thing is that most of us are conditioned to think that this is completely normal, but just try skipping work for a few days because you're working on your job search and watch what happens. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Loony Language: What To Do With Numbers

I was finishing reading a book when I hit a few sentences in a row which dealt with numbers, and I was struck by the oddity of the conventions involving spelling numbers out and using numerals.  Most of the sentences that I read involved a mix of the two.  I'll use a hypothetical example:  "One of the 2 teams will win the game."  Why not "1 of the 2 teams will win the game." or "One of the two teams will win the game."?  Either makes more sense than mixing words and numerals.  It's little wonder that students using a documentation system such as MLA or APA get confused because the conventions for numbers are a bit strange.  Some make sense such as using numerals when the numbers would be quite wordy to spell out, say 1,289,348, but most of the conventions seem purely arbitrary.  I'm pretty certain everyone understands that "1 of the 2" and "One of the two" mean the same thing however it's expressed.  I even understand "One of the 2", but it does look the goofiest.  Nevertheless, somehow conventions regarding numbers and when to spell them out have arisen when they probably aren't needed.  I suppose it gives English teachers and copy editors another way to make money, so I probably shouldn't complain, but no user of English should really have to worry about such stuff as long as everybody can understand, in this case, that only a single team will win the game.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Ah, 1998 . . . When Metalrock Roamed The Earth

I vaguely remember taping this. Metalrock was a Kill The Hippies side project, and they made a video. I appear as the Dungeons & Dragons player who calls them to his aid. That was a fun little era. The GoGoBots and Kill The Hippies both had band houses within a few blocks of one another, so we often drafted one another for various projects such as this one. The song probably goes on a bit too long, but remember it's a parody of/tribute to heavy metal, so that's probably by design.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Lit Question Of The Month

The folks at New Pop Lit asked a question about the contemporary short story, and I answered it, along with quite a few others.

My favorite answer is Ann Sterzinger's.

Monday, February 15, 2016

What Wred's Reading: Edible Estates

Any book subtitled "Attack on the Front Lawn" will likely get my attention, and, so far, I have been enjoying this book.  It includes a variety of essays, some of which I have read before such as Michael Pollan's "Why Mow?:  The Case Against Lawns", as well as documentation of several front lawns that artist Fritz Haeg turned into gardens.  I have been enjoying blackberries and strawberries from my front yard for several years now, so I am delighted to get some more ideas about how to gather more food locally, really locally, such as right out the door.

People should stop throwing chemical junk in their yards and start throwing compost instead because not only is that healthier, but it's also potentially yummier!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Even People Living In Iowa Are Tired Of Hearing About Iowa At This Point In The Campaign

Well, the 2016 presidential election officially gets underway tonight with the Iowa caucuses.  I like Bernie Sanders the best, but I am rooting even more for not hearing about Iowa again for the next four years.  Every presidential election seems to get longer, and it always seems to get frontloaded, so the poor folks in Iowa get ever longer periods of presidential candidates interrupting their meals at restaurants to shake hands.  If I shook Ted Cruz's hand while trying to eat a hamburger, I would be annoyed because that would mean I would have to wash my hands again after I just washed them to eat.  The only two really good things about Donald Trump are that he has participated in professional wrestling events and that he schives shaking hands.  Maybe that's why he's winning in the Iowa polls.  He might be the one politician who would let you eat in peace.