The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

This time they've gone too far!

"We are prepared to accept with restraint and tolerance the outrageous acts of regional powers, struggling to find a place for themselves in the world. Their sometimes impulsive and ill-considered adventurism should be sanctioned, yes, but met with diplomacy rather than outright force. However, there are limits to the world's patience and lines that should not be crossed with impunity. Therefore we have ordered the US First Airborne Division to deploy to selected sites in Europe in order to be prepared for intervention if necessary."

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, speaking to reporters about the British Broadcasting Corporation's rumored use of "mumbling" in a recreation of Daphne DuMaurier's Jamaca Inn.  According to a report in The Guardian, nearly 6 million lives have been effected by "... some of the characters' broad West Country accents ..."

Responding to accusations of inhumane and insensitive acts, Britain's permanent representative to the United Nations, Mark Lyall Grant, pointed out that many US television programs feature characters with "incomprehensible" accents; he cited such popular programs as Duck Dynasty, Jersey Shore, and anything with Donald Trump. It was not clear whether Grant was aware that Jersey Shore is no longer in production or that Mr. Trump does not have an accent, but is merely an idiot.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Memo to Writing Staff

To: Wood-Charles Journalists and Writers
From: J. Francis McLuggage
Subject: The need not to be illiterate idiots

Below you will find two lists, one of words that are banned outright and one of words that are not to be used under specified conditions. Failure to comply with the directives laid out below will lead to disciplinary action, including the possibility of severe mockery and / or sarcasm.

Words and Phrases Unconditionally Prohibited
Members of the following list of terms are RIGHT OUT!
  • looks to: is this coy rusticity week?  Use "intends", "considers", or "wants to". "Chicago looks to tax breathing"; that would be a common but stupid way of saying "Rham Emanuel is coming after your wallet, suckers".
  • X things to know about Y: simplifying complex situations isn't our mission.  We don't write executive summaries or idiots' guides to things. For further information, read our internal document "10 things to know about writing the English language".
  • vie: what's wrong with "compete"? Or if you must, "struggle"? No one but an under-educated headline writer says "vie", and he doesn't say it out loud, either.
  • wrap up: unless you're talking about fish, you don't "wrap up" things. Say "finish" or "complete".
  • closure: we don't spew pseudo-psychology here.  If a dozen Grandmothers are killed in a sweat shop fire, the families don't want "closure". They want "revenge" or "compensation". Remember, "compensation" is what brings you into the office in the morning, and if you want to keep getting it, toe the line.
  • nab: when did it get to be 1850 again?  Here in this century, we "catch" things or "arrest" them. Remember, "nab" spelled backwards is "ban", and if you add "ned", that's what it is.
  • laud: what's wrong with you people? Are you really nostalgic or just morons? Or nostalgic morons? Remember, we say "praise", and "praise" rhymes with "raise", and that's what you won't get unless you stop "lauding" things.
  • keen: Arrrgh! No one except the bleeding British says "keen on" or "keen to", and nobody at all uses it as a direct adjective. Remember, instead of "keen", say "eager", and "eager" makes you think of "beaver", and that makes you think of "dam" which sounds like "damned", and that's what you'll be if you don't straighten up.

Words and Phrases Banned in Given Circumstances
These terms are prohibited given the individually listed conditions.
  • eyes as a verb: "Hey, guys, my eyes are up here" is fine. "Detroit eyes seccession from the Union" is not. 
  • amid instead of among or during: none of the Wood-Charles target audience is easily impressed by simulated erudition. "Amid growing discontent with idiocy, WC Media Giant Eyes Corporal Punishment for Imbecilic Headline Writers" is an example of an imbecilic headline.
  • boom as a verb: "illiteracy booms in headline writers"; bad. Use "increases", "grows", "expands". Remember, the "boom" is what we're lowering, here.
  • halt: unless you're quoting a policeman, shouting at a suspect, forget it. Use "stop". In fact, stop halting, just stop.
  • soar: unless you're writing about a bird or an aircraft, don't use "soar". Stocks don't "soar", crime rates don't "soar", inflation doesn't "soar". Remember, "soar" is a homonym for "sore", and that's what you'll be, etc., etc.
  • blast or slam as a verb in political or diplomatic stories: I don't "blast" moronic language, I "criticize" it or "deplore" it. If idiots in high places insist on speaking like idiots in high places, it's not up to us to lower the level of discourse any further.  Try something like this and see what happens: "Obama execrates Congress' Poor Performance".
  • blast as a noun, meaning an explosion: 20,000 people were not killed by a "bomb blast". They were killed by a "bomb". If you mean "bombast", say so. Otherwise, don't use "blast" as a noun unless you want to take part in an empirical demonstration thereof.
  • on (the) rise: regardless of the desire to increase readership, using a phallic reference instead of"increases" or "grows" is contraindicated. If you don't know what "contraindicated" means, look it up.
  • on the attack, on the defensive: don't use idiotic sports / military constructs unless you're reporting on idiotic sports / military topics. Remember, "defensive" rhymes with "offensive" and also with "intensive" and that should make you think of "intensive care" and that's what your career with Wood-Charles will need, etc., etc.
  • bullet: unless you know what "bullets" are and you're actually writing about them, use "cartridge" or "round". A man who is found to have 500 "bullets" in his car is harmless unless he also has a large slingshot.
  • don used as a verb: again with the coy-Victorian lingo? When did you, personally, ever say "Okay, Honey, don this here ski mask, and we'll go get us a six pack"?  You will find yourself donning the official Wood-Charles dunce cap if you don't cut this out.
  • check out: unless you're referring to the act of leaving a hotel or leaving this life, do not use "check out". As an exhortation, a recommendation, or a come-on, it's low-brow; it sounds like you're a disreputable guy on a street corner, passing out nightclub fliers. And if you keep on this way, you may be.

This list is not to be considered canonical, complete, or definitive, and Wood-Charles reserves the right to modify it in any way, at any time.

Traffic Jam, Soo-style

Update: 2014 04 24: At least one ship has made it to Thunder Bay, and others are following.

There is some small attention in the press right now paid to the continued ice-coverage status of the Great Lakes. Because it's no longer 1930, some of the focus on Great Lakes shipping as a component of the economy has slipped.  However, a large amount of bulk cargo, including ore and grain, still goes back and forth between Thunder Bay and Duluth, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, and, um, other places on Lakes Erie and Ontario, not to mention up and down the St. Lawrence to the Atlantic and onward.  So each year, the shipping industry waits impatiently for the ice to go (or be pushed) away.  This year, they continue to wait:

This is a shot from an app that uses ship position reporting to present nice maps of who's where and (to some extent) what they're doing.  It was screen-grabbed this afternoon. Just look at all those ships (triangles, meaning stopped, and boat icons, meaning underway) lined up, trying to get up the Saint Mary's river and out onto Superior.  The lower lakes are at least passable (or these boats wouldn't have gotten this far), but Superior is still gummed up.

The green icons are cargo ships, the red ones are tankers, and the light blue symbols are tugs and/or Coast Guard craft, trying to move things along.

Yet another thing to waste time when I should be writing.

Screen Grab from Marine Traffic's Android app.