Friday, August 22, 2008

Grammatical Errors Do Not Make Me Want to Vote For You

On Tuesday, San Diego County will be holding an election to issue a bond to rebuild a nearby hospital. The official argument against the proposition contains blatant grammatical errors, typos, and misspellings a competent editor should have caught. A hint to people writing arguments for voter information pamphlets: typos don't make your arguments look well-reasoned, especially when part of your argument is an appeal to authority. It helps when your arguments are well-reasoned, but I suspect that a good copy-editor is easier to find than a philosopher.

And because this post contains a complaint about someone's grammar and competence as an editor, it's sure to contain at least one trivial mistake a competent editor should have caught. So I'll just go ahead and admit to being a poor editor and apologize for any typos and grammatical errors in advance. Finding them will be left as an exercise for the reader.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Unintentionally Funny

I found a bit of humor in part of PBS's summary of the recent Forum on Civil Leadership and Compassion. I don't think they meant it to be funny, but it got a chuckle out of me:

RICK WARREN, Founder, Saddleback Church:

Forty million abortions. At what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), Illinois:

Well, you know, I think that whether you're looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.

One thing that I'm absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue. And so I think anybody who tries to deny the moral difficulties and gravity of the abortion issue, I think, is not paying attention.

RICK WARREN:

At what point is a baby entitled to human rights?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona:

At the moment of conception.

By the way, I thought the format for the discussion was excellent. Each candidate was asked the same set of questions (which they didn't have access to in advance), and neither candidate could listen to their opponent's answers. It actually resulted in the candidates getting equal time to talk about their positions instead of slam each other the whole time. Were that all debates done in this format. You could even extend it by having each candidate submit 10 questions to be asked to their opponent, which the opponent would have to answer in addition to the standard set. Perhaps even put the candidates in sound-proof booths a la Twenty-One.

One other bit of humor/irony I gleaned from listing to the video: McCain's pretty much won the Evangelical Christian vote by default. But of the two candidates, Obama's the only one who actually sounds like he's given any thought to his faith. Whether that's simply because he's a better speaker, because 10% of Americans thought he was Muslim, or because it's true I don't know and won't speculate on. I just find it funny.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Who Knew People Actually Believed This?

The BBC today had a profile of the Flat Earth Society, a loose association of people who believe the earth is flat. In typical British fashion the article takes an appropriately condescending and incredulous tone. I particularly like the picture of a satellite in orbit with caption If you're a flat-earther, this photo is fake.

Front in center in the article was a Canadian computer scientist espousing his nonsense views on the subject. Apparently no one falls off the edge of the earth because an ice wall in Antarctica completely surrounds the edges, and no one goes to Antarctica. Brilliant.

I'd long known of the Flat Earth Society, though I'd always thought it was a joke. Their arguments are so terrible, surely no one actually believes them. I'm far from an expert in physics, but even I can see the gaping holes in their logic. Putting forth the argument that people would fall off the bottom of a round earth: didn't we figure that out like 400 years ago? I think he also figured out why using grains of sand on a beach ball isn't the best analogy to use when you're talking about the Earth's gravitational pull on things on the surface. Alas, I fear I once again put too much faith in the intelligence of some people. Perhaps someday I'll learn that there's a lot of people in this world that are pretty stupid. And I'll probably learn that by discovering that I too am one of those stupid people.

I'll just close with an excerpt from this gem. Poe's Law, anyone?

The deeper I delved into the sordid underbelly of the Conspiracy, the more resistance and harassment I was met with, which only served to consolidate and solidify my beliefs. One time, I was on my way to collect a package of FE (flat earth) merchandise we had ordered for SWEFES, and a bird just flew out of nowhere and started biting my face! It drew blood, but I managed to get away. It was fairly obvious that it was trained to do this, it was completely unnatural behaviour. There was a guy in a suit and shades standing in a doorway, looking at me and talking into a walkie-talkie thing. As I ran down the street away from the bird, he left his position and quickly walked away into an alley. I don't believe this was actually an assassination attempt, rather just Them trying to scare me away from the whole scene, especially based on precisely what I was on my way to do.

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