Effecting Subliteracy, One Headline at a Time

Headline on local weather report:

Weather Effecting Superbowl


When “effect” is used as a verb, it means “cause something to happen” so that headline-written-by-an-idiot means, “Weather Causing Superbowl”.

Of course, the idiot who wrote that meant “Weather Affecting Superbowl” but, because he* is a subliterate idiot, apparently working for and with other subliterate idiots, that headline made it onto a local weather report.

Insert fork, twirl in brain.

*Yes, I eschew the “he or she” or “s/he” or whatever current abortion of good English is in current vogue in favor of the long usage of “he” to mean a non-specific person. I have little time or energy (and no respect) for that politically correct crap.

What’s the Matter With Kids Today?


Okay, so my topic’s not the same as the Bye Bye Birdie tune’s. Here’s a switcheroo. A recent (well, 2007) book on school reform and what can go dreadfully wrong with reform efforts had one comment that made me hoot til I almost cried. “Oh, what was it?” you ask. Praising the intent of the “New Math” era and how it breathed life into Math curriculum.

Yeh, right. If anything were deliberately designed to wreck budding students’ interest in or understanding of math, it was New Math. Either it was a conspiracy of evil persons to completely screw kids up or it was a conspiracy of dunces who were too stupid for words… completely screwing kids up. That is, if their “intent” was good, the people who designed and implemented “new math” were monumentally stupid people.

4th Grade: “new math” screwed me up so badly, it wasn’t until I had a high school geometry teacher who was teaching just for the joy of it (her family was in Big Bucks City) that my head started to come unscrewed from “new math” so the threads could be reworked and I could have the thing screwed on right (as to math). From there, calculus, stat, whatever, was fun.

What’s the matter with kids today? A lot of it is remote educrats having screwed up public education for decades (with the complicity of lazy, dumbed down by their own school years, parents and stupid, compliant pubschool administrators).

[great story excised to protect the innocent]


Putting My Eyes (and Head) Where My Mouth Is

*heh* (A follow on to About That “Literacy” Thing)

A brief discussion on Son&Heir’s naming of his new birds led me back to re-reading Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan (Yeh, I’m reading it online even though I have a copy within reach of my right hand, even as I type. ;-)) I’m not really reading it in order–just skipping and cherry-picking for now out of some of my fav passages. Here’s one, from the chapter, “OF DARKNESS FROM VAIN PHILOSOPHY AND FABULOUS TRADITIONS” that makes me think of much “thought” from the Mass MEdia Podpeople Hivemind, our wonderful *gag-spew* “political elite” and others who frame much of public discourse, from that on Anthropogenic Climate Panic to “racism”:

Nor are we therefore to give that name [philosophy–in general, reasoning to obtain knowledge of the physical world] to any false conclusions; for he that reasoneth aright in words he understandeth can never conclude an error:

Nor to that which any man knows by supernatural revelation; because it is not acquired by reasoning:

Nor that which is gotten by reasoning from the authority of books; because it is not by reasoning from the cause to the effect, nor from the effect to the cause; and is not knowledge, but faith.

Thomas Hobbes, where are you when we need you?

About That “Literacy” Thing

In our progressively (yes, I meant the pun) dumbed-down society, “literacy” has come to mean simply being able to laboriously puzzle out the written word. That’s sad. For one thing, it means that people who are literate by that commonly-accepted definition can graduate from college without being able to puzzle out the meaning of the directions on a prescription pill bottle, a bus schedule or a dumbed-down (to supposed eighth-grade level) newspaper editorials.

There. Did I make that link hard enough to miss? 🙂 The data that article draws on is scarier than the article. If you search hard enough, you can find it. *heh* (Yeh, not doing folks’ homework for them on this one. I only want the ones who are… literate enough *heh* to be able to handle the info to get it. Snarky enough? Probably.)

But the problem is really worse than that. Maybe because we’ve become a society defined by the audio-visual media that is TV and radio more than anything else, the proliferation of markers demonstrating that even folks who can read, don’t, or (worse?) that when they do, they read dreck, slop, crap, really, really stupid and uninformed writers.

A very few examples will illustrate my point.

How often have you seen and heard people use “anniversary” to indicate something other than an annual event? “Two month anniversary” is a common example. What part of “anni”–from Latin, “anno” or YEAR–have these subliterate idiots missed?

Or, one I read recently from someone who is ill-read, but who listens to subliterate Hivemind podpeople enough to be dis-educated: “…for the light of me…” when the appropriate phrase was “for the LIFE of me”. Compound that with the multiple occurrences of such phrases as “woks of life,” “chester drawers” “intensive purposes” and a veritable Legion (and yes I meant that2 cultural reference *heh*) of other malaprops, stupidities and downright illiteracies, and we have a society progressing toward genuine illiteracy.

And what, pray, hath brought about this effusion of disgust for a growing illiteracy in our society? Why, the annual profusion of one of its most stupid examples: FEB-YOU-ARY.


It’s FebRUary, dumbasses.

Of course, in the mini-rant above, I did not place enough stress on one of the worst aspects of progressive illiteracy: who the illiterates listen to and “read”. As Mark Twain wisely said,

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”

Note the word, “good”. People who find books written by such as Dan Brown to be readable are people who have denied themselves the advantage of reading books that are well-written and so don’t even know that they are poking a metaphorical screwdriver into their forebrain and stirring. People who watch or read “news” (propaganda) promulgated by an increasingly subliterate Mass MEdia Podpeople Hivemind rarely twig to the fact that they are being enstupiated by doing so. (And yes, I know that the word “enstupiated” is used more often by me than by any other source known to Google. So? It’s a perfectly good neologism coined by John Stossel, IIRC. :-))

Of course, it’s a thorny problem. So many people have “gradumacated” from American public schools having been told they are”literate” that most do not even know that they are, at best, fumble-headed subliterates. Those few of us who twig to the fact that the “edumacation” system is seriously broken may figure out that we are technically literate subliterates and begin to take steps to correct the problem, but it’s a long, hard row to hoe (and a tip o’ the tam to Davy Crockett for being the first to record that phrase :-)). I’m still working on my literacy (the Lays of Ancient Rome and other works by Macaulay, among many, are still unscaled works, for example), and expect to continue to do so right up until my body’s ready to be cremated.

Most folks, it seems, surrender their literacy to the care (and poisoning) of others more interested in keeping them fat and stupid than anything else.

More Evidence Suggesting That Even Reading News Can Make One Stupid

From an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article in 2009 that I ran across looking for something else,

“Sometimes called the ‘silent epidemic’ because it can manifest itself in a victim for decades without showing any symptoms, hepatitis C has become better known publicly in recent years.”

Oh, really?

1. readily perceived by the eye or the understanding; evident; obvious; apparent; plain: a manifest error. . .

–verb (used with object)
3. to make clear or evident to the eye or the understanding; show plainly: He manifested his approval with a hearty laugh.
4. to prove; put beyond doubt or question: The evidence manifests the guilt of the defendant. . .

1. clear, distinct, unmistakable, patent, open, palpable, visible, conspicuous. 3. reveal, disclose, evince, evidence, demonstrate, declare, express. See display.

1. obscure. 3. conceal.

A thing cannot be “manifest” while not “showing any symptoms”. It’s just not possible. What the idiot who wrote the sentence above apparently meant was something like, “Sometimes called the ‘silent epidemic’ because it can remain hidden in a victim for decades without showing any symptoms,” but that’s an unnecessarily cumbersome and excessively wordy way of saying simply, “Sometimes called the ‘silent epidemic’ because those infected often show no symptoms for decades. . .”

But, of course, the subliterate idiot who wrote the article (and his editor) apparently don’t know the meanings of the words they use, so they “misunderedumacate” their (also likely subliterate) readers.

And no, it’s not comforting to know that major newsrags are populated with “reporters” who are no more literate than those who write for America’s Third World County’s weekly birdcage liner.

With crooks like this (yeh, taking pay as a wordsmith for subliterate screeds is theft, IMO) populating so-called journalism–and they’re prevalent in all the Mass MEdia Podpeople Hivemind–such crap polluting public discourse seems designed to bring literacy down to the lowest common denominator. And that feeds right in to my blog’s header quote…

Once More Unto the Breach

The bane of having read voraciously since an early age: bad writing stands out like a sore thumb. Now, don’t take that as an assertion that I can readily emulate good writing. No, I’m simply critical of others’ bad writing. *heh*

What spurred me to comment once again? Raymond Khoury. I picked up his first novel at the library yesterday while I was there checking my email and performing other “essential” connectivity tasks (because service had not yet been restored here at twc central). What a waste of time. Cardboard cutouts for characters, straight from central casting–no surprise since Khoury apparently cut his teeth on television production–combined with stock “footage” of scenes from all the really boring cops shows that’ve come down the pike are bad enough, but his presentation is worse.

Example: a car chase (near New York City’s Central Park, no less), complete with driving through a chain link fence and vacant lot (where?!?) and this little gem of stupidity:

“Reilly jinked the Chrysler through a chicane-like cluster of cars and trucks… “

OK, setting aside the Irish Catholic “cop” (OK, in order to make him BIGGER, Khoury’s “promoted” the cop to FBI agent *feh*) as the primary in a novel about a stolen Vatican artifact *sigh*, what’s with “chicane-like cluster of cars and trucks”? Really stupid. Better, if one is going to have the boring car chase at all, would be “through a chicane of cars and trucks”. Much better imagery, much tighter reading. (Assuming the subliterate boobs reading the book were to know what a chicane is. Or how to use a dictionary to find out.)

But everything in the first 70 pages of this book has persuaded me that this is as good as it gets. The best is pedestrian stock “footage” from bad cop shows. This is one of those rare books I have no desire or motivation whatsoever to read to its predictably boring conclusion.

I suppose it’s a truism for a reason, but the good writers just don’t write fast enough. *heh* And writers like Khoury (and Dan Brown, for that matter–a few of the worst-wasted hours of my life were forcing myself to finish a Dan Brown best-seller) flourish–and even make best seller lists–because their readers are subliterate boobs who would’t recognize good writing if someone slapped them between the eyes with it. OK, OK, I’d not recognize good writing if it were presented to me in that fashion either, but you get my intent, eh? 🙂

Essential Requirement for Modern “Tech” Writers

To be a “tech” writer for websites nowadays, it seems a requirement that English orthography be disregarded. One example of many:

“From retail stores to residential homes LEDs hold the promise of better durability and a longer lasting light but more important they use less energy than a standard incandescent bulb.”

Two written syntax errors and one grammar error in one sentence. And the writer got paid for doing that. *sigh* I’ll not link the source, but this sentence is just one example of many in one short blurb that is much, much more literate than most.

The Real Problem? I Discovered the OED at an Early Age

Seriously. As a child I enjoyed little more than reading dictionaries and encyclopedias, and when I discovered the OED (and in my tender young manhood, Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and its exhaustive treatment of Koine Greek *sigh*), well, I was in hog heaven.

So, understand that when I read some illiterate blurb in an email come-on to an online article such as the sentence below, I am a bit disturbed:

“It’s not the cheapest set out there, but it’s chalk full of features.”

It’s not that the author of the blurb is necessarily functionally illiterate (he did, after all, manage to spell his misused word correctly *heh*), but that he apparently has no idea that “chalk full” is nonsense reveals that he’s actually read very little. Any even passably semi-literate person such as myself knows full well that the phrase is “chock-full” or a close variant, and dictionary addicts such as I know why (hint *cough*: the majority opinion leans toward the first word in the term deriving from the Middle English “chokken“–meaning to cram or pack tightly, and NO opinion of any literate person even considers “chalk” to be in the same room as “chock” for the expression :-)).

Then blurb was written, more than likely, by some subliterate college graduate who’s heard the expression but never read it… and never even considered that looking up an expression he’s heard but not read might be a Good Thing before putting it in print.


And, as my Wonder Woman pointed out to me, the writer of that excrescence is apparently an illiterate, uncultured savage whose only exposure to coffee has been limited to the crap sold by Starbucks and other boutique gathering places of the illiterati. Otherwise, he might have heard of, seen or even imbibed some of this:

(OK, OK, my Wonder Woman was too kind to characterize this savage as what he–oh! dread! it could be a “she”! *heh*–obviously is. I added the “illiterate, uncultured savage” and the comment on the crap that’s sold as coffee by Starbucks. Doesn’t make my editorializing incorrect, though.)

Your “Feddle Gummint” at Work: IRS Raids Car Wash for 4¢

There ya go. Yet another reason for The FairTax from the IRS.

The kicker? Interest and penalties on the 4¢ amounted to $202.31.

BTW, if you’ve gotten all your information on the FairTax–what little there is available in mass media–from the Mass MEdia Podpeople Hivemind, politicians *spit* and Academia Nut Fruitcakes, you owe it to yourself, your children, your grandchildren and our society as a whole to follow the link to FairTax.org and there to practice some genuine autodidacticism (no, despite what the NEA may say, autodidacts are NOT perverts) on the subject.

The Joys of Being Married to a Literate Woman

Gotta love my Wonder Woman. Relating a news event (no, real news) that someone in our neighborhood had been shot, she correctly used “contretemps” in her dialog (yes, I was her interlocutor; I had a few questions as the news unfolded).

Well, as it turns out, the news was one of those good news/bad news situations. The guy who was shot had kicked in a door and entered a home uninvited. He was shot by a guy who lived there. So far, good news. The bad news? The guy who nailed the attacker is being charged for his possession of the gun. Yeh, he’d been convicted of a felony in the past, and so under the laws of our state was denied a firearm as a means of self-defense.

Absent any clear information on what sort of “felony” he was once convicted of, and given the growing prevalence of criminalizing behaviors that were once simply the domain of free men, I have to tentatively label his arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm “bad news”.

Oh, and how I missed the huhurah? *pshaw* I hear gunfire all the time. Guys tooling up for deer season and whatever. (We do live w/in a couple hundred feet of “city” limits and there’s no county ordinance against the discharge of firearms on ones own property–as is rightly so.) We also live just a few short blocks from the county ambulance service (it’s based at the one 24-hour emergency clinic–a new thing–in the county), so I’ve also come to pretty much ignore sirens. And the local LEOs rarely use their horns, so I’d probably not have even heard them arrive. Heck, once, when I made a report of a disturbance next door to me (during the gladly brief years of “the bad neighbors”), six county mounties showed up with nary a peep between ’em.

So, good news/bad news that I might not have heard about for a couple more days were it not for my literate and very well “plugged in” Wonder Woman cluing me in.

Oh, and on top of the news, I got to hear a word I rarely hear in conversation, used appropriately–and pronounced correctly to boot. Gotta love her.