Monday, August 5, 2013

Crimes Against Language and Logic

It has been a long time since I have written one of my grammar and spelling nazi posts ("The Irony of Lax Internet Standards", "Ye Olde Grammar Nazi", "In Defense of Standards""Rules of Grammar and Pragmatism", "Spelling Nazi Short Post", "The Grammar Nazi Versus George Lucas", "If It's New, Can It Be a Cliche?", "Officially Annoyed", "Two Small Grammar Nazi Gripes", "One More Grammar Quibble","Fictitious Words", "New Blacklist", "Misleading Terminology"), but a few small items came to my attention that required comment. However, as one of the two is not precisely a spelling or grammar error, but simply a particularly bad bit of illogic, I decided to use a slightly different title.

First, I want to say once again that for annoying neologisms, the computer industry seems to be unsurpassed. There are simply no worse offenders against the English language than the advertisers and managers of this industry. I excuse the programmers themselves as, when allowed to name programs themselves, they seem disinclined to invent stupid new words and simply fall back upon geeky, obscure and inappropriate names, such as naming an operating system "ygsdrasil" or a monitoring program "splunk". Most programmers seem to enjoy a geek's fondness of obscure mythology, science fiction, fantasy and a few silly made up nonsense words. That is why we have "spam", after all, because of Monty Python and their geeky fans. I am amazed there is no phenomenon dubbed "lemon curry".

The managers are another matter. They have invented words such as "architecting" and enjoy using the longest possible term, such as "utilization" rather than "use", and love stringing together long chains of needlessly lengthy words such as "deployment", "scalable", and so on. Part of this is marketing, making up words to impress corporate buyers, and part is the technical love of jargon, especially among middle managers, as they are usually less tech-savvy, and so, while intimidated by the real programmers and administrators, they can feel superior to the laymen by using these technical pseudo-terms.

And finally, there is the one other tendency which seems to characterize our present computer industry, the desire to make up pointless distinctions, or to create single words to describe things that could easily be described by two or three more simple, shorter words. For example, a supervisor which manages other supervisors would normally be called "a supervisor". If we needed to point out that this supervisor was at some higher level, we would say, in any other context,  "a higher level supervisor" or something similar. But that homely description is not flashy enough for computer marketer, and thus we have the new term "hypervisor". Apparently, this abomination is specific to one vendor, and I hope it remains unique to their products, but I fear, since it is a major player in the industry, we will be seeing this idiocy more frequently in the future.

The second discovery which managed to annoy me was a smoking policy established by a large university. In this policy they banned not just smoking tobacco but "inhaling any substance by any means". As the following sentences make clear, this was intended to ban smoking of herbal or other non-tobacco cigarettes, as well as prohibiting those electronic cigarettes*. However, if one takes this literally, it actually makes breathing against the rules. After all, what is breathing, but inhaling a substance?

All of which makes me ask, does anyone think about what they write or say any longer? Though, I suppose my first point shows they do, but they think abut how cool and hip things sound, and not how much sense it makes.

Quite a shame.


* As I have pointed out repeatedly ("Results Do Not Matter", "If They Were Serious", "Addicts?", "Something to Consider", "The Truth", "A Quick Thought", "Twisted Priorities", "Consumer Protection"), the policies adopted to "prevent exposure to second hand smoke" show this is a moral crusade against smokers and not an effort to "prevent exposure". (I do not believe second hand smoke is as dangerous as many claim, and there is evidence that suggests the risk is wildly exaggerated, but for now I will concede their point for sake of argument.) If second hand smoke is the problem, then why ban electronic cigarettes which emit nothing but steam and a small amount of flavoring and nicotine? There is no known carcinogen in them to expose others. Yet they too are banned in a policy supposedly intended to protect against second hand smoke. (For that matter, why outlaw enclosed indoor smoking areas, which contain smoke effectively, and instead force smokers outside where they gather near doorways and blow smoke on those entering buildings? Is it not to inconvenience and thus punish smokers? It certainly increases rather than decreases exposure to second hand smoke.) Once again, the anti-smoking crusade shows it is not about health concerns, and instead is about forcing everyone to subscribe to the same code of behavior. That is, the common modern goal of saving us from ourselves, telling the ignorant rubes what it is right and proper to believe. (Cf  "Liberalism, Its Origins and Consequences", "You've Come a Long Way, Baby!", "Not Quite True", "Harming Society", "In Loco Parentis", "Hard Cases Make Bad Law")


  1. Every War On Drugs Myth Thoroughly Destroyed By A Retired Police Captain

    Retired police Capt. Peter Christ is about to make more sense about the War on Drugs than anyone you've ever heard in the past. His basic premise is that we need to legalize drugs, but if you're skeptical, just give him a few minutes to convince you.

    Highlights include a very honest answer to a commonly asked drug question at 0:54, the easiest question to answer about the War on Drugs at 4:48, the complete destruction of the biggest argument anti-drug advocates use at 7:23, using the Bible to prove the ineffectiveness of prohibition at 13:55, and a rapid-fire debunking of several myths all in one breath at 14:20.

  2. There are two ways to respond to this:

    1. I can't quite see how this has anything to do with the essay above. Are you just so starved for a platform to reproduce essays from other sites that you must post random content on unrelated articles?

    2. You are barking up the wrong tree if you think this will either get a rise from me or score some sort of "win". I am one of the most radical proponents of drug decriminalization you will ever meet. For instance,t he fact that I insist on saying "decriminalization" rather than "legalization", as I think the criminalization of drugs was invalid. Or, that I go farther than most and don't want to "treat drugs as a medical problem", I simply want to do away with the laws and let individuals handle all substances as they will. Or, unlike many supposed drug legalizers, I also include the elimination of all prescription systems as well. If we make cocaine and heroin legal, how can we require someone to get permission to buy penicillin?

    So, you seem to have hit upon one topic where I probably go farther than you do, which makes this one not only extremely far off topic, but also completely pointless to post on this site, as if you check my essays, you will find I am far from a supporter of the war on drugs. (If you look even very briefly at my posts, you might notice I once had an entire blog on Townhall dedicated to this topic, the entire contents of which are reproduced here, check the link "Examining the war on drugs"...)

    Ok, after writing all of that, I realized there is a third way to respond:

    Stupid, stupid, stupid....

    1. Statist ideology is chock-full of "crimes against language and logic"...

      Misuse of words like "we", "us", "the people", etc.

      Logical fallacies such as the concept of the "social contract", asserting the ridiculous notion that govt. is 'voluntary', etc.

      So, you need to resolve YOUR OWN "crimes against language/logic" before railing against others...

    2. Yeah, yeah, go "farther" than me by idolizing Drug Warrior Reagan, supporting Drug Warriors like Bush/McCain/Romney...

      Sure guy!

    3. Excuse me, but when did I idolize Reagan or say anything about McCain or Romney? I criticized McCain in 2008, but other than that, I have barely mentioned him, and said very little about Romney.

      Sometime I have to meet the voice in your head with which you are debating, as it is clear you have neither read my posts nor heard any of my replies and are simply carrying on a conversation with some imaginary neocon in your mind.


    The lock-down of the Boston area is not an isolated incident. It is part of a well-funded, coordinated federal program called Operation Urban Shield. (The Boston training exercise received a $200,000 grant from Homeland Security.) The Urban Shield website states, “The overarching goals of Urban Shield include striving for the capability to present a multi-layered training exercise to enhance the skills and abilities of regional first responders, as well as those responsible for coordinating and managing large scale events.” Law enforcement is being trained to impose martial law. Americans are being trained to obey without question.

    People sometimes marvel over how a civilized populace like the pre-Nazi Germans were blind to the approach of totalitarianism. How could they miss the signs? Most Americans are missing the hint presented by armored personnel vehicles rolling into a peaceful community. They prefer media lies to the sight of agents aiming their guns at typical American families. That preference will also facilitate martial law.

    The best way to avoid martial law in America is not to be here when it occurs.

  4. @ TSG

    Still think there is "no such thing as a neocon"?

    “I am a neoconservative. But at some point, even if you are a neoconservative, you need to take a deep breath to ask if our strategies in the Middle East have succeeded,”

    --Newt Gingrich

    1. Yes, i still say it is a meaningless term. Just because Newt uses the word does not mean it has a meaning.

      At one time it was used to describe former moderate Democrats turned Republicans. Since then, it has been picked up by certain isolationists and paleocons to mean anyone they don't like. You may claim it has a clear meaning, but if I were to go back and look at everyone you described as "neocon" I guarantee the only commonality would be you did not like them, or they did not share your beliefs.

      Neocon, despite being so widely used, and so many thinking they know what it means, seems to be the most protean term imaginable, synonymous with nothing more than "those I don't like".

      Now, i do find it odd that newt actually used it to describe himself, as it is a term rarely used for anything other than criticism. But, since he is saying one must stop, perhaps he is trying to pander to the isolationist fringe or something. I really don't know. But I do know, every time I have heard the term used, it has been used without anything approaching a fixed meaning.

    2. Why do you insist on using the 'isolationist' canard? Who is it you refer to when you use this canard? Where are these 'isolationist' people advocating to completely shut America off from the world? Seems to me that it is neocons who want this (trade sanctions, 'secure' borders, etc.) Talk about a "crime against language and logic"!

      Seems to me that its the neocons who use this word to describe "those they don't like". Pot, kettle, black...

  5. "I am a neoconservative."


    Sorry, TSGs, but you're arguing against reality (again) at this point!

  6. Damn, Andy, you got SPANKED!

  7. Control yourself Moshe. Now you have to mention spanking? I told you, I don't go that way.

    1. C'mon now...we BOTH know you'd grab your ankles for Bibi!

  8. Clueless 'Constitutionalists'