Friday, June 29, 2012

I Swear

If you had asked me as a young man, to complete a questionnaire about what type of father I would one day become, I am sure I would have ticked "NO" on the question: "Do you expect to swear in front of your children".

Turns out I would have been way wrong on that.

I am not a fan of unnecessary profanity, or of using curse words as filler to round out an inadequate vocabulary.  But there are times, for purposes of style or emphasis, that the taboo of a curse-word absolutely strikes the right effect.

Now don't get me wrong;  I am not proud that I swear in front my children.  In fact, this year I made my first ever New Year's resolution as an effort to curb the habit.  However, it was after holding back for several weeks that I first noticed the amazing therapeutic effect of a good, profanity-laced outburst.

I was happy to read a recent article in Scientific American noting that many leading researchers have concluded that swearing has many benefits, and should be encouraged in certain circumstances.  Although they did not explicitly identify "parenting" as one of those circumstances, I am sure that was just an oversight.

Damn authors probably have no kids.

Getting It Write

One of the things that I formerly considered to be among my professional values, is slowly migrating onto my list of things that make me seem like a caveman (or at least like a geezer*).  Namely, I think that reasonably good grammar is an important component of professional correspondence.

We are all aware of, and probably occasionally guilty of, the acronym-filled shorthand of the text, Twitter, and Facebook worlds.  There is certainly a place today for that type of communication.

For example, if you see Chad and Taylor making out behind the bleachers, you should immediately text an OMG! to your BFF's.  Under such alarming circumstances, everyone would agree that taking the time to type a salutation, or any punctuation other than an exclamation point, would be a disservice to those who need to know such things ASAP.

However, in the drudgery of "participating in the world's economic welfare", also known as "responsibly holding down a job", matters are rarely as urgent or important as the Junior High tryst I cited above.  I still believe that professionals usually have the time to construct complete, unambiguous, messages to one another.

Alas, I see that the "new normal" of text shorthand is slowly and successfully gaining acceptance among decision makers in the workplace. This recent article from the Wall Street Journal makes the sad point that my commitment to grammar is increasingly a sign of yesterday's work ethic.  It's really just a numbers game, and when those who do not value grammar begin to out-number (and/or out-rank) those who do, I will officially wear the scarlet "C" of curmudgeonry.

* Alert readers who recall my post on "geezerdom" will know that earning this label is not a personal tragedy for me.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

National Ahem!

I know there is no right way and no wrong way to be artistic.  I get the notion of artistic license.  I'm just not sure it is always appropriate to reinterpret a sacred symbol during a time-honored tradition.  Case in point: the rampant "artistic" butchering of the national anthem before sporting events.

Can't people just sing it the way it was written?  I know it's hard to hit that last note in "...the land of the free" and I give a "get out of jail free" card for a little creativity there.  But for the rest of it, I think most people should try to sing the original version most of the time.

But they never do.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Casual Observation Series – Part 1A(uggie)
Contributed by Auggie

If you ever plan to undertake a study to determine the most played artist in the history of radio, I can save you the trouble. It’s Elton John. This conclusion is based strictly on empirical evidence, namely me riding in my car listening to the radio over the last 30 years, but it’s no less scientific than Michael Bloomberg’s assertion that “people tend to eat as much as they are served” as justification for his proposed ban on large sized soft drinks (good topic for another blog). It recently occurred to me that no matter the driving distance, or what station I am tuned to, I can’t complete a trip without hearing Elton John at least once. (Well, it happened once in 2003 when I rode around the block to test my new brake pads but that doesn’t really count). If you detect a hint of annoyance in my prose then kudos to you because that’s the attitude I was going for. There are other artists who have had their share of air time over the years (e.g. The Rolling Stones) but they tend to be played on stations of a particular musical genre. And there are artists who are overplayed in short time periods (e.g. Katy freakin Perry right now); but no one tops Elton John for longevity and breadth of coverage.

If anyone disagrees with this please post alternate theories to the comments section. As a reasonable curmudgeon I will consider updating the rankings with convincing evidence. FYI, Phil Collins is a distant second.