to do things they want, and the more intelligent the people,
the better the reasons they come up with.
-- Harold Nickel, Mensa Bulletin, May 2000 --
That guy who murdered all those Afghan people? If a citizen of Afghanistan had gone berzerk in Omaha and done the same thing, would we be satisfied if his other countrymen scooped him up, hid him away, wouldn't allow our police access to him, and took him back to Afghanistan, assuring us that he'd get "a fair trial"?
Hell no. Nobody with dark hair and eyes and an accent, no matter where he's from, would be safe anywhere in the US.
I really think the only way to handle it is to turn him over. I don't understand why our government doesn't understand that.
Oh, yeah, I keep forgetting. Too many Americans think they're better than anyone else, so that would be political suicide.
I've reread this sentence a dozen times since I found it in a (professionally written) news article about Ron Paul:
Ron Paul has about as many votes in this year’s GOP primaries as he has Facebook fans – is his fierce online following that much less relevant than it appears?Huh? I have no idea what that bunch of words says. The "that much less relevant than it appears" makes no sense at all in the context of "about as many votes".
Another article, about the Iditerod musher Janssen who gave his dog, Marshall, CPR when the dog collapsed on the trail:
Marshall snapped back with a sharp breath. He then rode in the sled with Janssen to the next checkpoint, and despite a sled runner that broke along the way, got him to the event veterinarians.It doesn't parse. Who got who to the vet? According to the reporter, Marshall the dog got Janssen the human to the vet.
And then there was this, on climate change:
There's no such thing as a free lunch, even when it comes to the weather. So while people around the world are celebrating the light winter, which has seen temperatures drop in nearly every state in the U.S., the animal world isn't quite as happy.The "temperatures drop" was a link to this:
This January and February have been among the warmest on record for many states, which means numerous species of insects that are typically decimated by frigid temperatures will survive to the spring with unusually large populations.Obviously many professional writers aren't very professional, and there is no such thing as proofreading any more. The reporter wrote exactly the opposite of what he meant to say, and there are many people who would not bother to go to the link for the mental reset. Note also the use of "decimate" in the above. Because so many speakers and writers misuse that word, I no longer know! whether they mean that typically 10% of the insects die, or most of them die. Once upon a time, that word conveyed information. Now it requires interpretation.
It's getting to the point where one has to interpret everything. Nothing necessarily means what the words say. That means that instead of gaining new understanding from the writing, we bring our own prior understanding to it, and the words of others no longer have power to convey ideas.
Pretty soon the educated won't understand anyone any more, and the youth and uneducated will think they understand others, but they don't.
What the hell. Use any word you want to mean anything you want (wasn't that in "Alice in Wonderland"? Was it the Mad Hatter, maybe?) Don't pay any attention to what the subject of a sentence is - then you can deny you said what people heard you say when it becomes inconvenient to have said it. Then every problem is not a matter of what you wrote or said, but a matter of others interpreting it wrongly.
Disclaimer - this blog does not have a budget for a proofreader.