Posts Tagged ‘english’

A wise teacher taught me never to begin the concluding paragraph of an essay with the phrase, “in conclusion.” Being ornery, of course, I always began concluding paragraphs in her class with “in conclusion” and then crossed it out.

I think that was an exercise in philosophy. It’s similar to the question of the tree falling in the forest. If I write something and cross it out, she can’t dock points for it, yet it offends her sensibility just the same. If you write something and cross it out, did you write it? Or did you not write it?

For the record, she was one of my favorite teachers. I wouldn’t have been as difficult with a teacher I disliked. I think that’s only natural.

In conclusion, I have no conclusion.



There needs to be a word for the action of stirring or blending your drink with its own straw. I can’t decide if it should be a noun, such as strawrobics: “The frozen drink required considerable strawrobics in order to succumb to suction”—or a verb, such as strawgitate: “All of the sweetener kept falling to the bottom, so I kept having to briskly strawgitate my iced tea.”



Shoppers Drug Mart

Image courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org

Every time someone in my family mentions Shoppers Drug Mart (a Canadian drug store chain), it sounds like a funny name to me. It seems like it has one too many words in it, and you could rearrange the words in any order and basically have the same store. I think that there should be competing stores called “Druggies Mart Shop” and “Martyrs Shop Drug.”



All these soccer games got me thinking about what a great invention the rubber (née animal-skin) “ball” was, especially since every culture seems to play some kind of sport or game involving a ball. I can only assume that it was invented concurrently in many places (not by one person or even a group of people in one specific place) and must have been preceded by a coconut or gourd. Still, I think that when even a coconut or gourd is used for the purpose of playing a game, it is a ball. Clearly the ball has been around for a very long time, and yet it basically only serves one purpose: recreation. Still, I think it’s safe to say it’s the greatest invention since the wheel.

Then again, I’m only assuming that the wheel was invented first. In fact, I doubt that’s true. Perhaps someone out there can correct me because I’m not about to start researching it. But the more I think about it, it seems to me that cavemen may have played with a ball before ever having any use for a wheel.

Meanwhile, saying that it’s “the greatest invention since…” also got me thinking about how people say that something is “the greatest invention since sliced bread.” Now, I have a huge problem with that cliche. Think about this:

Bread was a terrific invention. It’s an easy way to get grains in your diet, it’s useful in many different ways (put it around meat, make it into pudding, pour soup inside it), it doesn’t get your fingers messy when you’re holding it, and it generally tastes good. It took a lot of time and effort for people to invent bread, and it comes in many different shapes, sizes, textures, colors, and can be made from many different ingredients.

Sliced bread, on the other hand, was an incredibly lazy “invention.” Someone just took bread, which already existed, and decided to slice it and package it. Before that, people sliced it themselves. It took all of half a minute with a good knife. The invention of sliced bread maybe saves you half a minute each time you buy a loaf of bread, and it doesn’t really solve a problem (unless you were without a bread knife, but even then you could still tear the bread with your hands).

So if something is only the greatest invention since sliced bread, I would argue it’s not a very imaginative or useful invention. Conversely, if something is the greatest invention since “ball,” well, that’s actually quite impressive!



Is anyone else upset by the removal of the letter e from the names of web sites? It was bad enough when it was just flickr, tumblr, and a few others, but then I heard about a site called toggl today, so I feel it’s worth bringing this up again. I don’t think other vowels are being attacked at this rate, and that’s just not fair. It’s time to mix it up a little with the missing vowels, people. I was going to suggest creating a medical site called doctr, for instance, but apparently that’s already been done. Good job! We’ve got a lot of catching up to do, though. Actors, please make actr, or if that’s already been done, how about ctor? For vitamins, how about vtamns? I could think of others, but that’s your job.

11:37 am Observations , Comments Off on Lack of E’s


In the song “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist” from Avenue Q, Princeton argues that we all make judgments based on race: “Not big judgments like who to hire; just little judgments like thinking that Mexican busboys should learn to speak goddamn English!”

Earlier today, our President expressed his thoughts about a new Spanish-language version of our National Anthem:

“I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.”

Last time I checked, the United States does not have an official national language, much like it doesn’t have an official national religion. It’s too bad those goddamn equal rights are always getting in the way of our President’s ability to govern.





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