Everything Language and Grammar

Archive for the ‘off topic’ Category

Sarah Palin and Paul Revere

Posted by languageandgrammar on June 4, 2011

Who would have ever thought that we’d need to put the names Paul Revere and Sarah Palin in the same sentence?

Posted in off topic, politics | Tagged: , | Comments Off on Sarah Palin and Paul Revere

Deliberately Misleading Language

Posted by languageandgrammar on May 26, 2011

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

This is as much a political opinion piece as it is a language piece, but when has that stopped me before? If hearing political views that may not match yours (even though they should) is offensive to you, then please go to my completely non-political post about dates being printed on eggs–Jobs I’d Hate to Have.

Teleconference Town Hall?

I had never heard of a telephone town hall with a U.S. Congressman, but some automatic calling system invited me to participate in one with my (I use the term “my” loosely since he doesn’t represent my point of view very well) representative, Glenn Thompson.

I immediately jumped on the opportunity to listen and ask a question (details on that below), but I was struck by the deliberately misleading language he used during one of the poll questions during the meeting.

Yes Means No, and No Means Yes

The lack of support (and downright anger from many) for Paul Ryan’s budget plan to turn Medicare into a privatized voucher system that would basically destroy the program that has worked for the past 40-plus years has resulted in nearly all politicians backing away from supporting the plan.

People like Medicare the way it is; they don’t want their elderly family members having to shop for insurance on the open market with a government voucher that is only going to cover a portion of the cost that the plan used to. It’s simple: When people know the details of the plan, they don’t like it.

The political response, of course, is to muddy the waters so that people are confused about what’s really going on, which is what Thompson did with his poll question. (The following is not a direct quote; it’s a paraphrase since I wasn’t thinking that I’d be writing about it today.)

  • A recently issued report (I don’t remember the name) states that Medicare will be insolvent by 2020.  Do  you support reforming Medicare so that we can meet our commitments? (If so, press 1). Or, do you believe that the program should not be reformed? (If so, press 2).

First of all, we could argue about what state Medicare is going to be in by 2020; it (and Social Security) is not nearly the deficit-causing problem that Republicans like to make it out to be. The financial burden placed on Americans is NOTHING compared to the burden of the Bush tax cuts. That’s right. The Bush tax cuts have been a tremendous burden on all of us–all of us except the rich. Re-instate the taxes to Clinton-era levels, and the Medicare/Social Security “problem” would be solved.

Regardless, national polls indicate that a high percentage (70-80%) of Americans support no cuts in benefits to Medicare. Therefore, the question was framed in such a way that a vote to reform Medicare (which is a Republican code word for cut) seemed like it was a vote for keeping benefits the same as they currently are (meeting our commitment) while a vote for not reforming Medicare seemed to indicate that we couldn’t meet our commitment.

In other words, Thompson deliberately worded the question so that he could say he has support for cutting reforming Medicare when he doesn’t.

No means yes, and yes means no. We all used to call that a lie, and I still do.

Tax Question

Unfortunately (for me, not Mr. Thompson), time ran out before I could ask my question. I was, however, given the opportunity to leave a voice mail question (monologue/question).

Approximately 80% of the population agrees that we should raise taxes on millionaires and large corporations in order to help reduce the deficit, but all I ever hear is “Washington has a spending problem.” Washington also has a very serious revenue problem. The rich and large corporations pay less tax now than they did in 1980!! Do you support having the rich pay their fair share, or do you only support cuts–cuts to education, cuts to Social Security, cuts Medicare, etc.?

Oh, and please don’t insult me by telling me about trickle down economics. We’ve done that for nearly 30 years, and it doesn’t work.

Congressman Glenn “the rich pay too many taxes” Thompson or one of his staff promised to get back to all questioners. When he does, I’ll post his response on the blog.

Geez, I hope it’s not about trickle down economics. The blog might lose its status as a family blog.

Posted in language, off topic, politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The World Is Still Going to End, According to Camping

Posted by languageandgrammar on May 23, 2011

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

I know this has nothing to do with language, but I thought that you’d like to know that the world is still coming to an end, at least according to self-proclaimed prophet Harold Camping.

Apparently, Camping never learned the philosophy of quitting while behind!

Posted in off topic | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Cancel the Ham, and Call Dominos Because Jesus Loves Pizza

Posted by languageandgrammar on April 4, 2011

According to the photo gallery in an AOL News story (Praise Cheesus! Face of Jesus Appears in Three-Cheese Pizza), Jesus loves pizza (perfect for Easter dinner). Jesus also loves:

  • Christmas candy (who doesn’t?)
  • Slightly overcooked chicken. (Why don’t Foreman grills come with a temperature control? I mean, you put the chicken in, but you can’t control the heat. The next thing you know, you have a picture of Jesus–but, more important, you’re still hungry.)
  • Dry toast (although…the pictures have a decidedly Statue of Liberty look to them, so Jesus does, indeed, love America more than other countries!)
  • Bacon grease (That can be cleaned with baking soda, which must means that bicarbonate of soda is the devil.)
  • Jar of Marmite (whatever that is)

I know. I know. This is completely off topic, but if Jesus sightings in food isn’t non-denominational off-topic entertainment for everyone, then what is?!?

Posted in humor, off topic | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Cancel the Ham, and Call Dominos Because Jesus Loves Pizza

Super Ad Sunday–Greatest Advertising Scam in History

Posted by languageandgrammar on February 4, 2011

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

The commercials during the Super Bowl have seemingly become so important that perhaps we should call the day Super Ad Sunday, but I don’t understand the one-day obsession with the ads.

It’s the biggest scam of the advertising world:

  • Commercials are annoying–365 days per year: Every other day of the year, the commercials (many of which were first shown during last year’s Super Bowl) are avoided because they’re annoying interruptions, but we can’t wait to see them on the day of the big game. Why?
  • Commercial Premieres–are you kidding me? The value of a premiere of anything that’s going to be available time and time again has questionable value, but the concept of caring about a commercial premiere is inconceivable to me. You’re going to be sick of the commercial by the end of the month.
  • Dumb and Dumber and Dumberer–The very concept that commercials are important has led to the goal of making more and more outlandish commercials each year, meaning more juvenile, sexist, or dumb commercials (or all three in the case of beer ads.)
  • Repetition Backfires–Anything clever (or in most cases when dealing with commercials, tries to be clever and fails) quickly loses its charm after incessant repetition–you know, like how commercials are run.
  • Cost–Stats about how much Super Bowl ads cost are cited more often than player stats, with many of us marveling at the cost. In a capitalist society, the cost is passed on to people who buy the products being advertised, which are the people watching the game. In other words, we’re being handed a roughly $300 million bill to be paid in full with future purchases. Our excitement by this something is to marvel at.

Posted in language, off topic, sports | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Super Ad Sunday–Greatest Advertising Scam in History

Off Topic: How to Use Snow to Your Advantage

Posted by languageandgrammar on January 20, 2011

By  Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths, and Oddities

This is completely off-topic, but since so many of us have had to deal with more snow than we may like, I’m here to help.

Use snow as an excuse to get out of something that you don’t want to do in the first place (such as work): Top 10 Snow-Related Excuses.

You’re welcome.

car stuck in snow

car stuck in snow

Of course, if it’s that bad, then you don’t need any excuses!

The above image is from RTE 2fm

Posted in humor, off topic, weather | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

White Christmas for Many This Year

Posted by languageandgrammar on December 20, 2010

By Paul Yeager, author of Weather Whys: Facts, Myths and Oddities

I know that I recently talked about the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but I don’t think that means the holiday should be ignored.

Many people care about Christmas, and many of those care about whether it will be a white Christmas–even those who typically despise snow.

From a weather perspective (remember, I’m a meteorologist, too), many of us will, indeed, have a white Christmas, which is defined as having at least an inch of snow on the ground on Christmas day.

It does not have to be snowing on Christmas day–just snow on the ground.

For details, read my AOL News article, Widespread White Christmas Expected Across US, for details.

Posted in off topic, weather | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Way Off Topic: Wealth, Lifespan, and Taxes

Posted by languageandgrammar on December 10, 2010

By Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

Warning: I’ve done my share of off-topic posts on the blog, but this one is more off-topic than most, so I’ve included this warning:  Don’t blame me if the following offends your political sensibilities!

Politics is People

We often talk about politics in the United States as if it’s some sort of us-versus-them game, and that’s certainly been the case this week with the heated debate about taxes. Games though, don’t affect people’s lives, and politics is how we determine what kind of society we’re going to have.

Whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, anyone making a reasonable analysis of the tax “compromise” will conclude that it’s much more advantageous to the rich than the middle class or the poor.

The argument can be made–and has been made for the past 30 years–that tax advantages for the rich is the best way to result in widespread wealth, but since the disparity between the rich and poor has grown during that time, it’s a shallow philosophical argument.

Wealth and Life Expectancy

The richer a country is, the higher the life expectancy is of its citizens. Also, the richer a segment of the population of a country is, the higher the life expectancy of that segment is versus the rest of the population.

An AOL article, After Inching Up for Years, Life Expectancy Drops Slightly, notes that for the first time in the history of the United States, the life expectancy of children might be less than that of their parents.

Perhaps the only reason is obesity, which was the focus of the article. I doubt that, but even if that were true, we can expect the trend of decreasing life expectancy–at least when compared to nations with less wealth disparity–to continue based on our current political decisions.

Politics is no game.

Posted in off topic, politics | Tagged: , , , , | Comments Off on Way Off Topic: Wealth, Lifespan, and Taxes

Not Everyone Celebrates Christmas!

Posted by languageandgrammar on December 4, 2010

This is something that originally appeared in a weather post on my weather blog (Cloudy and Cool) last year. It was a larger post about the possibility of a White Christmas for many. The weather part of the blog is not applicable now, but since Hanukkah is currently going on, this part is:

Not Everyone Celebrates Christmas!

When talking about Christmas, it seems silly to randomly substitute the word holidays in an attempt to be inclusive of others. A Christmas tree is not more inclusive if it’s called a holiday tree, and Christmas lights are not any less denominational when called holiday lights.

There’s a better way of being inclusive of non-Christians: Treat them with the respect they deserve.

For example, don’t wish someone who you know celebrates Hanukkah a “Happy Holiday” on December 25 when Hanukkah was three weeks earlier. Instead, wish them a Happy Hanukkah during Hanukkah. Similarly, don’t assume that people who you don’t know celebrate Christmas.

Also, don’t be upset if stores cater to people of all religions (or the non-religious) by talking about the entire holiday season rather than focusing on just Christmas.

There is a lot of discussion at this time of year about a war on Christmas by those who believe that Christmas is a national event, not a religious event.

We want to remind everyone that Christmas is a religious holiday that is not celebrated by everyone.

Posted in off topic | Tagged: , , , | Comments Off on Not Everyone Celebrates Christmas!

Turkey of a Myth

Posted by languageandgrammar on November 19, 2010

By  Paul Yeager, author of Literally, the Best Language Book Ever

We have often noted that often repeated language and grammar errors seem to become “correct” usage. Wouldn’t it be weird if math used that philosophy? When enough people said 2+2=5, it would! It would still equal 4, of course, but it would also equal 5.

In the vein, I thought that I’d go off topic today and note a particularly pervasive myth that is constantly stated at this time of year:

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year.

Not only is it typically NOT the busiest travel day of the year, it’s often not even close–at least as far as air travel is concerned. As recently as 2008, there were 220 busier travel days that year.

For more information, see Holiday Travel Myths Exposed.

Granted, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving is still busiest travel day of the year for people who are willing to go a surprisingly long distance to eat turkey, which may very well be overcooked.

It’s surprising that the myth has survived as long as it has. First of all, there are records for such things. Second, while many people travel for the  holiday, they’re not competing with business travelers for the most part–a large portion of normal travelers are staying at home.

By the way, if you are traveling, then you might want to check out my AOL News article on possible weather-related travel delays.

Posted in off topic, weather | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »