Where Is Me?

Working on some stuff that needs to get done. Regular programming will return shortly. Promise!

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Took some time off this week to play Santa at Leena’s daycare. That’s my chief elf, Cristina -  who also doubles as my daughter and Leena’s mom – helping me hand out gifts. Only one child cried this year on seeing my curly white beard and bright red costume. If you guessed it was our resident Face of the Day little princess, you’d be correct.

Be back soon.

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Ending A Sentence With A Preposition

Saw this on Grammarly and it made me laugh.

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Don’t know about rules in Egyptian hieroglyphs but if English happens to be your language of choice, then know that ending sentences with words like with, by, on, in, at, to, or about is, contrary to popular belief, not grammatically incorrect.

There are numerous myths relating to grammatical dos and don’ts, many of which were drummed into us at school. The one that stubbornly refuses to budge from my mind is the diktat ‘never begin a sentence with a conjunction such as and or but’. And why not, pray?

Some of these groundless rules (termed ‘fetishes’ by Henry Fowler in 1926) have a long history. Back in the 17th and 18th centuries, some notable writers (aka Latin-obsessed 17th century introverts) tried to make English grammar conform to that of Latin – hence the veto on split infinitives and also the ruling against the ending of a sentence with a preposition (also called stranding or deferring a preposition).

These and other language myths are amazingly persistent…

One less concern for someone like me who has been known to mess up his grammar now and then. Prepositional primer here and a little prepositional humor below.

A snobbish English teacher was sitting in an Atlanta airport coffee shop waiting for her flight back to Connecticut, when a friendly Southern belle sat down next to her.

‘Where y’all goin’ to?’ asked the Southern belle.

Turning her nose in the air, the snob replied ‘I don’t answer people who end their sentences with prepositions’.

The Southern belle thought a moment, and tried again. ‘Where y’all goin’ to, bitch?’

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Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments

My good buddy Gary sent over a link to a great little book by Ali Almosawwi that is available for free online: The Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments. Here’s a peek at a few of the entries.

False Dilemma

You might remember this one being used by Bush in the selling of the Iraq war.

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False Dilemma
A false dilemma is an argument that presents a set of two possible categories and assumes that everything in the scope of that which is being discussed must be an element of that set. If one of those categories is rejected, then one has to accept the other. For example, In the war on fanaticism, there are no sidelines; you are either with us or with the fanatics. In reality, there is a third option, one could very well be neutral; and a fourth option, one may be against both; and even a fifth option, one may empathize with elements of both.
In The Strangest Man, it is mentioned that physicist Ernest Rutherford once told his colleague Niels Bohr a parable about a man who bought a parrot from a store only to return it because it didn’t talk. After several such visits, the store manager eventually says: “Oh, that’s right! You wanted a parrot that talks. Please forgive me. I gave you the parrot that thinks.” Now clearly, Rutherford was using the parable to illustrate the genius of the silent Dirac, though one can imagine how someone might use such a line of reasoning to suggest that a person is either silent and a thinker or talkative and an imbecile.

 

Appeal to Fear

There would not be a Fox News or conservative hate radio without use of Appeal to Fear. Almost every argument used by the right to rail against the policies of President Obama makes use of some form of this logical fallacy. (e.g. Obamacare’s death panels!!!)

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The fallacy plays on the fears of an audience by imagining a scary future that would be of their making if some proposition were accepted. Rather than provide evidence to show that a conclusion follows from a set of premisses, which may provide a legitimate cause for fear, such arguments rely on rhetoric, threats or outright lies. For example, I ask all employees to vote for my chosen candidate in the upcoming elections. If the other candidate wins, he will raise taxes and many of you will lose your jobs.
An appeal to fear may proceed to describe a set of terrifying events that would occur as a result of accepting a proposition, which has no clear causal links, making it reminiscent of a slippery slope. It may also provide one and only one alternative to the proposition being attacked, that of the attacker, in which case it would be reminiscent of a false dilemma.

Straw Man

This fallacy (along with just about every other logical fallacy known to man) is a favorite used by creationists to argue against evolution.

Intentionally caricaturing a person's argument with the aim of attacking the caricature rather than the actual argument is what is meant by “putting up a straw man.” Misrepresenting, misquoting, misconstruing and oversimplifying are all means by which one commits this fallacy. A straw man argument is usually one that is more absurd than the actual argument, making it an easier target to attack and possibly luring a person towards defending the more ridiculous argument rather than the original one. For example, My opponent is trying to convince you that we evolved from monkeys who were swinging from trees; a truly ludicrous claim. This is clearly a misrepresentation of what evolutionary biology claims, which is the idea that humans and apes shared a common ancestor several million years ago. Misrepresenting the idea is much easier than refuting the evidence for it.


Intentionally caricaturing a person’s argument with the aim of attacking the caricature rather than the actual argument is what is meant by “putting up a straw man.” Misrepresenting, misquoting, misconstruing and oversimplifying are all means by which one commits this fallacy. A straw man argument is usually one that is more absurd than the actual argument, making it an easier target to attack and possibly luring a person towards defending the more ridiculous argument rather than the original one.
For example, My opponent is trying to convince you that we evolved from monkeys who were swinging from trees; a truly ludicrous claim. This is clearly a misrepresentation of what evolutionary biology claims, which is the idea that humans and apes shared a common ancestor several million years ago. Misrepresenting the idea is much easier than refuting the evidence for it.

There’s a whole bunch more – check them out here and get ready for that Thanksgiving dinner when your Uncle Wingnut starts unloading his Limbaugh/Fox-inspired load of crap.

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A Snake, A Penis and a Mongoose Walk Into A Bar…

funny http://mariopiperni.com/

Here’s an interesting little story posted on Gawker I came across via The Dish.

A 35-year-old Israeli man was rushed to the hospital on Friday after a snake suddenly emerged from the toilet he was sitting on and bit the man’s penis.

The injured man told emergency workers that he noticed a strong burning sensation as he was using the toilet in his parents’ home in the norther Israeli town of Nofit. At that point, the man looked down and saw a snake in the toilet. He then “ran from the room in horror” to call paramedics.

Ouch. As charming as I find this story to be, the real reason I’m posting it has to do with the comments that follow the post. Many are funny and witty but none so much so as the one that follows. I’m still laughing 30 minutes after first reading it.

16-07-2013 3-10-30 PMNow, that’s good.

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Happy Father’s Day

Hope it’s a good one.

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Bob Englehart

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