Recently in Off Topic Category
As a Gen X'er myself, I'm somewhat accustom to the revised model of describing people with disabilities. I also sympathize with those who prefer the terminology of "a person with schizophrenia" rather than a "schizophrenic" because it signifies that schizophrenia is not the whole description of that person. But I also realize that writing that way really does change how we think about people, behavior and responsibility. People are not criminals but "people with criminal justice histories" and murderers are instead people convicted of murder. Some may say it is humanizes but it also obfuscates.
There's a reason Ernest Hemingway didn't call his novel The Person Who Was Male and Advanced in Years and the Sea. He valued economy of language over verbosity, so "Old Man" worked fine to describe his titular character. One can only imagine what Papa Hemingway would think of person-first language.
Of course, the purpose of person-first language -- such as "person with a disability" instead of "disabled person" -- isn't to produce writing that is more concise, clear or lyrical. It's supposed to promote the idea that personhood is not defined by disability or disease.
"Whatever is negative or taboo, such as disease or illness, we try to avoid talking about it," says Halmari. "It's a fallen world, and we need to talk about unpleasant and sad things."
The structure of person-first language also does a poor job of de-emphasizing disability, notes Halmari. In English, emphasis naturally occurs at the end of sentences. This is why, when asked if there are rules for humour writing, Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten replied: "Only one. I always try to put the funniest word at the end of the sentence underpants."
I'm reminded of the late comedian George Carlin who once said poor people are not folks with a negative cash-flow position. No, they're just plain broke.
As long as we are on calendar predictions, though, I will stick my neck out and boldly predict that days will be getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere for the next six months. See also this post by Justin Grieser at the WaPo.
Yesterday, I received in the mail an offer from my local credit union, generously offering what lawyers call a "force majeure clause," also known as an "Act of God clause." In the event the world ends due to a catastrophic event on December 22, the credit union will waive the balance due on a new car loan. Decent of them.
But anyway, I'm not all that sympathetic to the moans and groans of physicists who say, we must have more billions of dollars, else we shall not come to understand the deep nature of universe. Even as to astronomers, though I am enthusiastic about astronomy, I feel the same way. The problem is in the coercive taxation of people to pay for Big Science. Sure, it's less of a waste than other things government wastes our money on. In Libertarian Paradise, I might even donate some money to the Big Science Fund so they could look for bosons. But honestly, my current budget doesn't allow for a lot of pure research on stuff I don't understand and is unlikely to benefit me. Yeah, I admit that makes me a limited sort of altruist.I agree with the professor's sentiment in many ways. On the one hand, of all things we spend public money on, science seems worthy, particularly health science. After all, spending money on health science has a great public benefit. Yet it is also true that given the fiscal realities of our time, some adventures in science just might need to wait. Perhaps all of those studies on postmodern addictions could wait a bit.
Off topic but irresistable: Right now (8:30 p.m. EST, January 24), MSNBC has up a headlined story titled, "Mortgage deal offers little homeowner relief."
Seven inches below on the computer screen, it has the following story, also in headlines, "Deal could help many troubled homeowers."
See for yourself (but you'll need to be quick because these stories change all the time).
When the mainstream media takes opposite postions at the same time on the same page, you can see why there is room for, ummmm, doubt.
Yesterday, Fran Tarkenton had this op-ed in the same paper.
Excessive entanglement of church and football notwithstanding, it's so refreshing to see a good role model in sports that I will root for Tebow and the Broncs, particularly given that they are the underdogs.
Before every game, no matter what team I was on at the time, the coach would always ask the most devout player to say a prayer.... No one ever asked to win the game, probably for fear that God would punish us for asking. After this moment of devotion, the team would all shout in unison, "Now let's go kill those S.O.B.'s!"
This is totally off-topic, but I just love it. Over at VC, David Post ponders who owns the copyright to this remarkable self-portrait, snapped by an Indonesian macaque monkey after a nature photographer left his camera unguarded. Post contends that his knowledge of copyright law and background in primate research uniquely qualify him to represent the monkey.
The original story in the Daily Mail is here.