Wednesday, November 17, 2004

a weltanschauung apparatchik

I am a moderate grammer nazi - if "moderate" and "nazi" can be used in the same sentence. [Edited to add: correction by the spelling nazi, "grammar." Whatever.]

I distinguish this specifically from a spelling nazi, becuase I tend to use words like "tonite" with a certain gleeful abandon. I also consider myself moderate, because I am sensitive to the conventions of style (form following function) and open to convincing on most points. I am also highly permissive of elipses, parenthesis, and many of the overused iterations of modern communication, especially in instant messages, mostly because I consider them effective communicators of emotion, and more accurately represetative of verbal communication. I'll admit to overusing them myself from time to time, and of being afraid to be the man who "throws the first stone," as if I don't have regular grammer slip-ups myself.

The issues that bring out my inner nazi tend to be noun-verb agreement, singular-plural agreement, and certain, more archaic conventions like the correct use of the subjunctive in phrases like "If I were..." (I must give credit to Brilau for driving this point home in college.)

But for sheer fastidiousness, few people beat this man, who has written several volumes on the correct and modern uses of the English language (dare I say, the "American" language?) But in the article referenced above (NOTE: NYTimes articles require free registration) the author uses several foreign words to convey his point, and also, I believe, to indicate his linguistic superiority over his subject and readers.

When are foreign words appropriate in an English language composition?

Is it acceptable for someone to critique another's use of the English language using several prominent foreign language words? I know that the philosophy/theology world tends to use foreign words (biggest culprits here: Latin, Greek, German and French) to express particular theological concepts that have no English equivalent. However, I have noticed a certain "creeping" of these words into the regular parlance of our small band of illuminati. I'm distressed, because I feel that this not only makes us look like intellectual snobs, but huge dorks as well! There's a grey area as well, because the words listed in the title of this post are in the dictionary, though most of us have no idea what they mean.

So what do you think? Am I right to be skeptical of so much creeping "polyglottalism" in my own vocabulary and in others? Or is it simply a fait accompli as folks move up the educational ladder? I await your thoughts...
Grace & Peace

Sunday, November 14, 2004

A few thoughts I am happy to share:

"The Incredibles." SUCH A GOOD MOVIE! Smart, witty, philosophical, with clean animation lines and a great story. Definitely geared toward the adult audience. If Ayn Rand did Disney cartoons, it would look something like this. (I may have to blog more on this later.)
(The link above is the NYTimes excellent review. Note: NYTimes articles require free registration).
Is anyone else as psyched as I am about Up, Lummox!'s return to the blogosphere? After a three week hiatus back in October, my buddy DOB has been blogging with a vengence for the past three weeks, and I'm simply left in awe. During his absence, several friends of mine (that DOB has never met) contacted me to ask when he was getting back to delivering his opiate to the masses. Ahhhh....
If you enjoy a good laugh and are amused by the inane back and forth of what passes for today's "dating scene," you really must check out 50 Bad Dates. The author's witty and sarcastic observations make me grin and snicker (yes, grin and snicker) every time. I look forward to her thoughts all week (which reflect, at turns, both Bridget Jones and Sex & The City, but with a decidely fresh flair).
Speaking of Bridget Jones, Kristin Gore's book (yes, the daughter of the "Internet Inventor who would be President"), Sammy's Hill, is surprisingly amusing. I almost never read fiction, especially popular fiction, particularly by obviously partisan Democrats...and certainly nothing in a genre disturbingly labeled "chic lit." However, I stumbled across it in Barnes & Noble at Newport on the Levee, and perused the first chapter over a Grande Mocha Valencia (my indulgence beverage of choice, with more calories than most Thanksgiving dinners). It was one of the only times in my life that I can ever remember laughing out loud at a book! The other customers were eyeing me warily, and one even came over to see what I was reading. The "Bridget Jones goes to Washington" feel is certainly cliche, but the exaggerated life of the novel's protagonist is so dead-on that I just couldn't stop laughing. If you've ever worked in DC or know someone who has, chances are this will the strike your funny bone. Unfortunately, by the last third of the novel, the witty and eccentric story line degenerates into predictable mushy romanticism and too much big-picture politics, while it was the funny close ups of the lead character, Samantha Joyce, that really made the book so worth while. In the end, I couldn't bring myself to buy it, but I've been reading one chapter each week (or two or three) over my Saturday cup of coffee. Pick it up if you're looking for some light reading, but don't feel like you have to buy it, and for goodness sakes don't tell anyone I've read it!
Finally, I would like to re-clarify (for those that are unaware or have simply forgotten) that my nom de plume is taken from a character I once played in a high school musical, and not from any delusions of grandeur that I may have about my status or authority. I re-iterate; I have no advanced degree, no teaching positon of any kind, and generally know little about much.

Assumptions to the contrary on your part are both foolhardy and likely dangerous to your health and well being. Proceed with caution!
Recently Reading
Sammy's Hill
By Kristin Gore

Friday, November 12, 2004

voter fraud?

At the risk of opening up Pandora's Box, the above link connects to an interesting article in today's NYTimes (not exactly a longtime friend of the Republican Party) about the "voting fraud" rumor mill. (Note: NYTimes articles require free registration).

I will excerpt only three short (and revealing) quotes:
  • "Clay Shirky, an adjunct professor in the interactive telecommunications program at New York University, suggests that the online fact-finding machine has come unmoored, and that some bloggers simply "can't imagine any universe in which a fair count of the votes would result in George Bush being re-elected president."
  • "We know this was an emotional election, and the losing side is very upset," said Daniel Hoffheimer, the lead lawyer for the Kerry campaign in Ohio. But, he said, "I have not seen anything to indicate intentional fraud or tampering."
  • "A preliminary study produced by the Voting Technology Project, a cooperative effort between the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...found "no particular patterns" relating to voting systems and the final results of the election. "
Well, that sounds pretty definitive to me. But hey, what do I know?
Currently Reading
A Grief Observed
By C. S. Lewis

This is not rocket science

Okay folks, this is not rocket science. As any gas station attendant can tell you, a receipt is necessary for a credit card purchase. You sign the receipt, and you get a carbon copy to keep.

Why can't we do the same thing for electronic voting? You make your vote, the machine prints out a receipt. You reveiw the receipt and sign it. You get a carbon copy for yourself. This is decades-old technology that would eliminate all these problems, and would stop giving Kerry supporters false hope (I mean, we're still looking at at 3.5m popular vote difference here). I just don't see why all this is so complicated.
Grace & Peace

Monday, November 08, 2004

The rage of the drowning man

As always, this man is my hero for dispelling some common myths, and getting it right about what's important in the recent election victory. Click here for his brilliant insight in full.

(If you're dog tired of election jabbering, this may be your time to sign off. No offense taken. However, if you've only heard one side of the story, please read on...)

The official story of throngs of homophobic, Red America values-voters surging to the polls to put George Bush over the top is MYTH. Here are a few facts worth absorbing:
  • Evangelicals made up the same share of the electorate this year as they did in 2000. There was no increase in the percentage of voters who are pro-life.
  • Bush did better this year in 45 out of the 50 states. He did better in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts. That's hardly the Bible Belt.
  • The President did particularly well among white Catholics, winning 56 percent of them compared with Mr. Kerry's 43 percent, despite Mr. Kerry's being the first Roman Catholic nominated for president since John F. Kennedy in 1960.
  • Bush did better with people older than 60 than Mr. Kerry did. Mr. Kerry did worse with that age group than Mr. Gore did.
  • He increased his share of the vote among women, Hispanics, and even city dwellers significantly from 2000, and made slight gains among both Catholics and Jews.

Here's a paragraph worth excerpting at length:

"The same insularity that caused many liberals to lose touch with the rest of the country now causes them to simplify, misunderstand and condescend to the people who voted for Bush. If you want to understand why Democrats keep losing elections, just listen to some coastal and university town liberals talk about how conformist and intolerant people in Red America are. It makes you wonder: why is it that people who are completely closed-minded talk endlessly about how open-minded they are?"

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

though I am tired...

Though I am tired, it is a good day.

Not much to say. Let the numbers speak for themselves.

The real winner, of course, is the American people, who turned out in record numbers and awarded the first solid popular vote majority since 1988.
One sad bit of news. This man ran a great campaign and was a great candidate. Though he lost, he is a true gentleman and has earned my respect.

Monday, November 01, 2004

why America

"America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great." -Alexis de Tocqueville

This quote was not written by an arrogant American, but by a Frenchman in an era when people were not afraid to say that a country might not be merely great, but also good. God is not the mascot of the Republican party. God is not a Democrat. God is not even an American, which may surprise some of you. But there is one thing I can say with certainty; God hates the murder of the innocent - whether in Darfur, Iraq, urban Los Angeles or in abortion clinics all across the country.

I read that the Iraqi death toll may approach 100,000. But we have the blood of 40 million unborn human lives running through every street in America. It stains our hands and faces and we cannot escape it no matter where we may go. We may have turned our backs on God, but in His incomprehensible grace, He has not yet turned His back on us. Someday He will answer the cries of the innocents, and woe to anyone alive when a Just and Awesome God brings a nation to account.

"Through your own fault you will lose the inheritance I gave you. I will enslave you to your enemies in a land you do not know, for you have kindled my anger, and it will burn forever." Jeremiah 17:4

We have lost our ability to speak truth because we do not believe that Truth exists. We have lost our ability to fear God. So we fear nothing.

Please, I urge you to realize the power of one of our most important gifts and VOTE.

Vote prayerfully, vote powerfully, and perhaps there is still time left to worry whether America may yet return to be great because she returns to be good.