Archive for November, 2008

Waiting for My Payment to Reflect

30 November 2008

From an online banking web page:

Allow 24-48 hours for your payment to reflect online.

They are inverting a transitive verb so that the thing that should be a direct object is treated like a subject. Sloppy. What they mean is, 24-48 hours for your payment to be reflected online. Yes, people should try to avoid the passive voice, but not always, and not like this.

Oh, this is also an example of using a range where a single estimated limit would make better sense. Tell us to allow 48 hours, if it might take that long. What is the point of giving us the 24-48 range?

Playing Along Grudgingly

30 November 2008

It seems stupid, but today I let my seven-year-old son boss me into playing Spore, when I really was not in the mood for it, and then I bailed out on him in an ill temper at the first opportunity. I have to give him credit, it did not take him long to decide I should not be playing Spore. I could not socialize or fight the right way, and those are basically the only things to do in the stage of the game I was in.

It would help sometimes if I would take guidance from someone who knows better, but I generally get too irritated by my manifest inferiority. That is why I learn on my own most of the time, painfully slow as that is. My older son is the same way. It is rough on the person who wants to help.

Weblogs and Me

30 November 2008

When I first started hearing about blogs, which ones was I hearing about? I think I first saw reference to The Daily Kos during the 2004 election campaign. What was I looking at before then? Swing State Project had me interested during that election season. I was listening to Air America, and they mentioned a lot of blogs, such as Eschaton and Talking Points Memo.

In 2000, I see I bookmarked a few election news and poll reporting sites, but these were not blogs. Also in the early 2000s, I spent a lot of time reading the Mechanical Investing board and other message boards at The Motley Fool, but those aren’t blogs either. Back in the 1990s, before the age of big-time blogs, I read a couple of Usenet groups, mostly about personal computers and especially the OS/2 operating system.

I probably found out about Andrew Sullivan by following links from one of The Daily Kos, Swing State Project, or MyDD. I am looking through Andrew’s archives now to see when I became a regular. I know I was aware of his switch from Time to The Atlantic (interesting to see that Ross Douthat was a Daily Dish contributor at Time, is that right?), but I don’t think I was a regular visitor until after The Atlantic picked him up. It looks like he only went to Time in January 2006, and then to The Atlantic in February 2007. So, I was pretty slow latching on to The Daily Dish, but now it is where I always start my daily reading.

Update: I think I should have said Douthat was a Daily Dish contributor before The Daily Dish hooked up with Time, not while it was there.

Give Perfect Storm Metaphor a Rest

29 November 2008

This is my wife’s request, on which I concur. We are hearing about too many “perfect storms”. Let us give this one a rest.

I saw the movie, by the way. That might only be worth mentioning because I see so few.

The Word “Blog”

29 November 2008

I do not like the word “blog”. When I first heard it, it annoyed me. First, I did not know what it meant, but I was seeing it bandied about casually. To me, jerks were using a made-up word that I did not know, although it did not seem to signify much more than a web journal. Then I found out it was short for “web log”, and I thought the abbreviation was repulsive and not needed. Now I am pretty much used to it.

Nod to Andrew Sullivan

29 November 2008

Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish has been a regular read for me for more than a year, I guess. He is a prolific blogger, which is a good way to keep people interested. He is a Catholic as I am, and an outspoken critic of George W. Bush’s politics and the war in Iraq. He was an enthusiastic endorser of Barack Obama for President. These are all sympathetic stances to me.

I do not want to look weak by admiring one blogger too much, but I am bound to derive some series of ideas from Sullivan, and I have to acknowledge him for being an influence.

One thing I have considered is how Andrew regularly talks about his personal life yet manages to avoid running down everyday routines or homey details. I should remember this. Readers are not going to love tales of my putting up curtain rods, going grocery shopping, or playing board games with the kids.

Bad Verbing

28 November 2008

“Verbing” is using a word as a verb that is not really a verb. Like “verb”, there. Guardians of good English usage tend to abhor verbing. Bill Watterson’s Calvin once commented, “Verbing weirds language.” From time to time, though, a verbed noun makes it into the common tongue. “Access” has recently got established as a verb as well as a noun. “Input” gets work as a verb, too.

This probably is no peculiar trend of modern times. There are plenty of words that have been around as both nouns and verbs for a long time. Care, stop, run, walk, talk, record, permit. So maybe it’s not something to fight against all the time.

Some cases are worse than others. Like when there’s a perfectly good verb for what you want to say, but you use a noun as verb instead. Here is an example by Spencer Ackerman where he uses a noun as a verb, seemingly unaware that the noun is in fact derived from a verb that means just what he is trying to use the noun to mean:

I suppose you could rejoinder that we don’t want someone who loses the moral forest for the bureaucratic trees.

That’s what Spencer Ackerman suposes. I would rather suppose you could rejoin that we don’t want someone who loses the moral forest for the bureaucratic trees.

I mean really: that verb is already in the dictionary, and it is fewer characters to type. Go with it!

I would guess that the verb “rejoin” is less familiar than the noun “rejoinder”, so I can understand how this happened, but I think a healthy disdain for verbing might have led Ackerman to ask himself whether there was a real verb he could have used instead of “rejoinder”. If he had asked himself that, maybe he would have found “rejoin” breaking upon his consciousness.

Cold Frame

28 November 2008

We have read that plants can thrive in wintertime if housed in something called a cold frame, which if you ask me is sort of a small greenhouse. It needs a glass top and some reasonably wind-proof sides.

We do not have any spare windows around to put over the top, but I would like to improvise something with some old clear plastic we have hanging around. If we work at this and it produces lettuce or some other edible vegetable, that would be fine. If we work at it and get nothing to grow, it will still be a worthy experiment. The question is always how much effort we will make.

Annual post!

27 November 2008

I think I should take this blogging seriously. Posting once every few months is not right.

I should pace myself to keep up with Andrew Sullivan. Every post he puts up, I should post something. Sound easy? “Here’s something Sullivan just wrote.” I could do that twenty times a day, right?

Another necessity is to open the blog to the public. Before I do that I am going to review everything here to ensure I want all those anybodies to see it. Maybe I should just start up on a fresh, public blog instead.