Friday, April 12, 2013

Why "horrifying" can be an ironic word

Let me start off this entry by acknowledging how much of a non-story it concerns. My reason for bringing it up is to show how ridiculous Yahoo! news, or any other on-line source of "news" for simpletons, can be.
Most of us who are not afraid to use our brains have had the experience of seeing a sensationalist headline catch our eyes on MSN or Yahoo!, clicking on the story and then feeling very disappointed or remarkably aggravated. This story made me feel both.
Martin Fitzmaurice, a compere who has become regarded as "the Voice of Darts" allegedly "horrified" an audience at a recent tournament between England and Scotland. Two examples of the "sickening" jokes included: "What's black and eats bananas? Half of London," and "What's the difference between a P*** and ET? ET went home."  Because Yahoo! engages in censorship like all good politically correct robots, I can't tell you what P*** is. It's either Pole or Paki.
Now then, I can accept that these jokes are inappropriate. Perhaps it's not the job of a tournament host to engage in behavior that strokes and encourages the lowest common denominator.
But is it really "sickening" and "horrifying"? Classifying the Fort Hood massacre as "workplace violence" is sickening. North Korea's saber-rattling is horrifying.
But for modern Western mankind, with its three seconds of short-term memory, such news is too cumbersome to worry about. It's easier for the news networks to stoke the masses with non-stories and inflated rhetoric as to why we all should subsequently be upset and distressed.  If you're not outraged to the point of wanting Fitzmaurice strung up and struck like a piñata, you are an unfeeling ogre and an example of what is wrong with the world.
Needless to say, since this so-called incident, Fitzmaurice was, shall we say, encouraged to quit.
It would be very nice if our politically correct overlords admitted their affinity for censorship and thought control. All they need to do is say that it's to keep from offending (non-whites), and the sheeple and opportunistic claimants of victimhood will happily buy it.  The heck with true, genuinely harmful racism where it exists.  It's all about the headline and feeding the people heavily processed food for thought.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mike Rice: Another victim of political correctness

This whole "controversy" surrounding Mike Rice, the head coach of the Rutgers basketball team, is inflated nonsense. In fact, Rice is—as so many others before him have been—a victim of political correctness.
There, I said it.
Rice was fired by the university earlier this month after practice video surveillance showed him whipping basketballs at players, grabbing them by the jerseys and kicking at them. He is also heard to have been verbally abusive, at one point telling a player, "You're a fairy, you're a faggot!"
That Mike Rice is passionate, there is no doubt. Did he deserve to be fired? Does he deserve to feel, in his own words, like an embarrassment to his family? He didn't embezzle any money, he didn't commit any crimes of passion, evidence of his friskiness were not found on an intern's dress. He didn't even wipe out an entire village with a drone.
Let's face it, Rice got in trouble because he was pushing minority students around. Once the self-appointed arbiters of justice infecting our social media got a hold of this video, the school was going to suffer a fate almost as bad as that of Penn State. Rice had to be fired to save face, especially since the assumption is people apparently cannot distinguish between raping 10-year-old boys and daring to be confrontational with, say, a 6 foot, 5 inch 19-year-old.
Rice was not abusing a group of people with learning disabilities. He was whipping a group of young, strong men into shape. In fact, for a great many of them, a man like Rice is exactly what they need to keep them humble and wipe the arrogant smirk that comes with being young (as well as the same height as the Washington Monument) and thinking they know everything off their faces. None of these "children" are short on self-confidence and none of them are easily wounded.
One is naturally reminded of Bobby Knight, the cantankerous former head baseketball coach of Indiana University. Knight, famous for knocking over chairs and hollering obscenity-laced tirades at players in the locker room, was made out to be a villain on many occasions. But his players always had his back, showing great devotion to him. One such player was someone by the name of Larry Bird.
Here's the thing: Though Rice was without a doubt a man with a temper, he also knew how to keep a team together. Since his firing, former Rutgers team members have said Mike Rice fostered a "familial" atmosphere. As much as he was brusque with his players, he also showed affection for them by taking them out for meals on the road and talking with them at length about their futures.  As for his behavior on the practice court, one former student has said that while Rice was indeed "in your face," he also gave players the opportunity to respond and speak their minds.
Rice reminds me of my former boss at the supermarket I worked at during my college years. There were plenty of times when I did not like him at all. Yet, in retrospect, I know that he wanted the best for me.
How do I really know that Mike Rice is not the monster he has been made out to be? Because New Jersey governor Chris Christie called him an "animal". 'Nuff said, methinks.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

R.I.P. Margaret Thatcher: 1925-2013

I read with sadness yesterday that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had died. It did not come as a big surprise as her health had been declining for several years.
Baronness Thatcher lead Britain for 11 years, from 1979 to 1990, not always with smoothness but always with great resolve. She believed in the free economy and wished to liberate British manufacturing from the twin yokes of too-powerful trade unions that demanded too much and socialism which, she correctly believed, was the granting of money from those who earn it to those who do or produce nothing yet believe they are entitled to it. This did have the effect of massive unemployment and inflation during her early years, but only because these backs on which British industry had run for decades were finally being broken.
Margaret Thatcher did not cave in. She earned the term "the Iron Lady" from her detractors. She embraced the term, noting that trying to be liked by everyone would achieve nothing. Thatcher stood up for the residents of the Falkland Islands who wished to remain British. It's regrettable that it took a war to do so, but you can blame that on the Argentinian tin-pot regime that invaded the islands, thus precipitating it.
Thatcher did not always get it right, as the implementation of the poll tax—which essentially placed the tax burden on the traditional working class—demonstrated. She was also perhaps a bit overzealous in her desire to privatize almost everything she touched.
But for a few mistakes and the eternal hatred that she will always fetch from those with a red streak running through them, she was as perfect a leader as you could get. By 1979, Britain was in desperate need of a strong-willed Prime Minister who would be serious about turning the British economy and manufacturing base around to reflect capitalist credentials. Like her or loathe her, she was essentially the first Prime Minister of note since Winston Churchill. Who can wax eloquent about Wilson or Callaghan? Macmillan was fairly effective but too quiet and behind-the-scenes.
Thatcher was, admittedly, a bit "school ma'am"-ish.  She reminded you of the head lunch lady, veteran teacher or principal you had when you were in elementary school—an imperious woman that everyone respected but no-one liked.  It didn't matter if she never smiled at you; you were just relieved if she left you alone.
But, in the end, Margaret Thatcher deserves to go down in history as one of the greatest leaders that the Western world has produced.  This is her due, whether you agreed with her strongly or not at all.
There's not much I can say about Lady Thatcher that hasn't already been said over the years by other conservatives. So I will end this entry with what I consider to be some of her most noteworthy quotes:

"I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding because I think, well, if they attack one personally, it means they have not a single political argument left."
*   *   *
"To me, consensus seems to be the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies. So it is something in which no-one believes and to which no-one objects."
*   *   *
"Ought we not to ask the media to agree among themselves a voluntary code of conduct, under which they would not say or show anything which could assist the terrorists' morale or their cause?"
*   *   *
"To cure the British disease with socialism was like trying to cure leukemia with leeches."
*   *   *
"There can be no liberty unless there is economic liberty."
*   *   *
"Pennies do not come from heaven. They have to be earned here on Earth."
*   *   *
"Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides."
*   *   *
"If you want to cut your own throat, don't come to me for a bandage."
*   *   *
"The battle for women's rights has largely been won."

Friday, March 29, 2013

The war on apostrophes?

Anyone who reads this blog regularly (or has read any back posts since over the last two years this blog has been anything but regular) knows that I'm a grammar and spelling Nazi. I don't really approve of the term, mind you. Comparing those who care about the language to members of the Third Reich is clearly the work of those who are happy to read run-on sentences, lack of punctuation, "I" written as "i", the death of the hyphen and a noticeable lack of apostrophes except for making plurals (apple's, computer's, etc.)
How I have ached to ask greengrocers why the apples possess 52p. Did they earn it by being so darn juicy and tasty?
Because education in most of the English-speaking world is centered on making children feel good about themselves, mostly by allowing them to threaten teachers and walk school corridors like they own the place, any attempt to teach correctly written English is a diversity-hating, mean-spirited attack on the little darlings. Telling them to put an apostrophe in the right place will inevitably be met with a cry of "Why do I gotta do that?" (And you can't expect them to know that "have" is the correct verb in this instance.)
People can't even spell a simple word like "yeah" anymore. Instead, it's "ya," which looks moronic, but it certainly fits in with the times, don't it?
Now, I don't mind double negatives, the word "ain't" (which has its place in great literature), or spellings like "oughta," "gotta", "gonna," etc. I don't mind slang, because it has always existed and a lot of it dies off as young people become adults and join the working world. The '60s gave us a lot of good words that are still with us to this day and I'm grateful for them. I don't talk like William F. Buckley. My speech is heavy on the Northeast accent, with all the nasalness that implies. I just want some semblance of order to our shared language.
I bring all this up because Devon, in the southwest of England, recently proposed banning the apostrophe from place names. For instance, King's Cross Road would have become "Kings Cross Road." Which, if you're familiar with English, doesn't take a degree in rocket science to know looks strange and confusing. Yet, here's the kicker: Devon originally considered the anti-apostrophe proposal because they thought that the punctuation mark causes "potential confusion."
The language being in the hands of progressive twits who want to simplify everything in existence such as it is, it is argued that the apostrophe makes English look too messy. Nearly every other language you can name has accent marks. French, for instance, has the cedilla, circumflex, acute accent, grave accent and diaresis. And, golly gee, it even has the apostrophe. Who thinks French looks messy? I think French looks as beautiful as it sounds. I wonder how French kids manage with so many marks in their language? Life must be very tough for them, because the French actually care about their tongue.
Anyone want to bring the French up before the European Union Court of Human Rights? Strangely enough, that hasn't happened. What does it say about English-speakers that they think they can't handle the simplest of punctuation rules?
It is thought that English is one of the toughest languages to learn, mostly due to inconsistent spelling rules—not our fault; you can blame the Normans for that—and turns of phrase that rival Yiddish sayings for not being easily translatable. You just have to know them. Think about the extra burden on EFL students who are taught one thing in school—proper English—and are shown another with the garbage they regularly read on-line and sloppy e-mails from so-called native English speakers.
We appear to have made English even tougher than it already is. No wonder new Hispanic arrivals to the U.S. want to cling to Spanish.
The English have a long history of cutting out the apostrophe in business names. The book-seller (of all people) Waterstone's changed its name to Waterstones. There are countless other examples, but I shop at the supermarket Sainsbury's which still keeps its apostrophe. It's difficult to believe, but even McDonald's comes off as looking intelligent. I have just found something to admire about a fast-food franchise. Mercy!
Luckily, the outcry over the war declared on the apostrophe in Devon caused councillors to re-think the issue and reverse their decision. Former Devon council member Charles Noon was among those upset by the proposal. Noon said that a written sentence such as "if you're late for dinner, you can eat your son's" without the apostrophe would suggest cannibalism.
Methinks, however, that Noon assumes too much quality learning on the part of the averge Simon or Simone to be able to write "you're" instead of the all-purpose "your" (or "ur") or to put a comma between "dinner" and "you."
And how long before we decide commas are "too messy" and unnecessary? Hell, why even put spaces between words? Think of the expediency—and unnecessary burden on all our young keyboard users—in ignoring the space key? It's a serious question considering anything other than letters themselves are seen as superfluous in this day and age.
Why even have letters? Let's just go back to runes. We can have a set of ten runes and that won't tax the minds of our precious young 'uns.
Isn't it enough that we have a war on drugs, a war on terror, a war on poverty?  We have to add apostrophes to that list?  How about a war on bad education? Why can't we ever propose that?
In the meantime, don't come looking for my apostrophes. You'll have to pry them from my cold, dead hands.