Wednesday, April 22

Armagideon Times

The ice age is comin'
The sun's zoomin' in
Meltown expected
The wheat is growin' thin
A nuclear error
But I have no fear
'Cause London is drowning and I
Live by river
Well, latest reports put to rest even that one sliver of comfort. Joe Strummer of the Clash did sing that last line tongue in cheek, but were he still alive, he could add that the rivers are drying up, too. Such are the findings of certain "US researchers" who have studied the world's major rivers over the past 50 or so years.

The thing about this sort of report is that it is becoming as habitual as the endless number of health studies that are carried out every year around the world and that, whatever their initial pretext, all lead to the conclusion that consumption of fruits and vegetables, accompanied by regular exercise, is good for one's health. The growing sense is that, whether we are getting sufficient vitamins and exercise or not, as a species, we are on an inevitable path to self-destruction for which none other than the Four Horseman seem bound to serve as our guides.

Kind of makes you want to start a big family, doesn't it?

Sunday, April 5

Chuckling at the mainstream

I've just read a series of articles in so-called mainstream online press that all made me laugh because of their ridiculous use of English. Consider these samples, from the two tabs that remain open on my screen at this moment.

First, in the New York Times article on a Korean missile launch, I encountered this surprising assessment of a certain international mindset:
Nonetheless, the series of tests in recent years — in 2006 and 1998 — is prompting fears of North Korean proliferation among Japanese, Chinese and Western leaders.
Indeed, it would be at the very least odd to have "North Korean proliferation" among the leaders of other nations, especially if this means the language spoken in that country. Unless, of course, the infected leaders were from South Korea, where the Korean language has already proliferated to an astonishing degree. However, since "North Korean" does not refer to a distinct language, perhaps what is feared is that a proliferation that is somehow related to the habits and customs of North Korea will spread throughout the leaders of the world. (If it refers to the habits of North Korean leadership, I tremble at the thought that leaders around the world might also wear dark sunglasses at all hours and consume pornographic movies daily.) Or perhaps the writer just meant to say this:
Nonetheless, the series of tests in recent years — in 2006 and 1998 — is prompting fears among Japanese, Chinese and Western leaders of weapons proliferation in North Korea.
The other one comes from an unnamed BBC journalist who was dispatched to Binghamton, NY, to report on the conditions surrounding the shooting spree that took place there a few days ago.
Sheltering from the rain in a doorway, smoking a cigarette, I found Darlene Trunkowski, who speculated that economic pressures could have been a factor.
It's a mystery to me why the reporter felt it was necessary to report that he or she was smoking a cigarette while out reporting. I also wondered, how do you "discover" someone in a doorway while you are sheltering there from the rain, smoking? Just how big is that doorway? And how long were you there before you made your discovery? And what was Darlene Trunkowski doing in the doorway, if not also sheltering from the rain? (I doubt she was also smoking, for that would have given her away at once; never mind any discovery.)

Let's see if we can repair the sentence while our BBC friend likely remains ensconced somewhere in a doorway, smoking, awaiting new discoveries.
I found Darlene Trunkowski sheltering from the rain in a doorway, smoking a cigarette, and she speculated that economic pressures could have been a factor.
Has copy editing also fallen victim to the economic downturn? Sheesh.