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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ban this phrase

One of my pet grammar peeves is the use of nouns as verbs, as in the use of the noun "impact" in the sentence "I'm worried that reading this sentence will impact my blood pressure". Politicians and bureaucrats are particularly prone to this sloppy usage. Exhibit A: TTC "chair" (so-called because he "chairs" the TTC) Adam Giambrone who last week announced that Toronto has awarded a contract to build new streetcars to Bombardier:
The race is now on to convince Ottawa and Queen's Park to write a cheque for what TTC chairman Adam Giambrone called Toronto's "No. 1 ask" for infrastructure dollars by June 27, when the order must be submitted.

"The Mayor made it very clear ... that the supply of new streetcars for Toronto is Toronto's top ask for stimulus dollars. It is critical state-of-good-repair money," Mr. Giambrone said. "We're confident that at the end of the day we will have this funding by June 27 to place this contract."

No. 1 ask? Top ask? What's wrong with the good old-fashioned word "request"? Is this nounification of the verb "ask" in common usage? If so, it must be stopped NOW!

The Columbia Guide to Standard American English has this to say about nouns-as-verbs:
These are synonymous names for nouns that have undergone functional shift to serve as verbs, as in to host a meeting, to chair the committee, and to gift your hostess. There is nothing wrong with this much-used process of functional shift, but occasionally a specific example will meet strong opposition. It is nearly impossible to predict which will pass and which will not, but if enough people persist in their objections, such uses can undergo long or even permanent proscription from Standard use.

All right, folks - its time to show this abomination some strong opposition so that "ask" as a noun undergoes "a long or even permanent proscription from Standard use."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Why does being gay in the public eye have to start and end with sexuality?"

Stephen Crowder at Big Hollywood on the Perez Hilton/Miss USA "controversy":
So we all know about the “Perez Hilton/Miss U.S.A” fiasco. Perez carried out a low-down, dirty trick by asking a political question (a practice from which the judges are strictly forbidden) in regards to Proposition 8. He did so in an attempt to demonize a Christian contestant knowing full well that she held the institution of marriage as being exclusive to “a man and a woman.”

Now Perez could have chosen from a multitude of more appropriate questions to ask, yet (as always), it comes back to some sort of question about sexuality.

Why? Why does the “gay lifestyle” always have to be about sexual preferences, at least according to self-deemed “gay ambassadors” such as Hilton?

If the goal is to normalize the gay lifestyle, shouldn’t your attraction to members of the same sex simply be incidental? Couldn’t you be a gay carpenter, a gay surfer or gay log-home enthusiast? Why does being gay in the public eye have to start and end with sexuality?

...

Gay or straight, things like that (along with his recent treatment of Miss California) go against common decency, and we should be able to recognize that regardless of his sexuality.

Perez Hilton sets a terrible example for the gay community and I would think that gay folks should be even more outraged than the rest of us. A guy like him can set progress back 20 years.

Friday, April 10, 2009

47 million Americans without health insurance?

Doug Ross debunks the myth that one-third of Americans have no choice but to go without health insurance:
Data from the Census Bureau debunks the lie continually promoted by the mainstream media of the legendary 47 million uninsured Americans:

• 9.5 million people are illegal aliens
• 8.3 million uninsured people are those who make between $50,000 and $74,999 per year and choose not to purchase insurance
• 8.7 million uninsured people are those who make over $75,000 a year and choose not to purchase insurance

This leaves approximately 20 million uninsured; less than 7% of the population. Why do some people choose not to purchase insurance? 60 percent reported being in "excellent health or very good health" and purposefully decided not to buy insurance.

Further, 45% of the uninsured will have insurance within the next four months according to the Congressional Budget Office. Many are transitioning between jobs and purchase health insurance through their employers.

So what is the true extent of the "health care crisis" continually marketed by the big government leftists? The Kaiser Family Foundation, a liberal non-profit frequently quoted by the media, puts the number of uninsured Americans who do not qualify for current government programs and make less than $50,000 a year between 13.9 million and 8.2 million. That is a much smaller figure than the media report and is also subject to "the 45% rule", wherein that percentage will transition to new jobs within a four-month time-frame.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Suzuki Youth on guard for Earth Hour

In this year's post urging everyone to fight Global Warming Alarmism by turning lights ON during Earth Hour, I wrote:
School children will be spying on their parents, shaming them into turning off the lights and reporting back to their teachers.... Isn't this a little creepy?

Well, from my lips to David Suzuki's ears - here's a press release from Eastern Ontario's Hastings-Prince Edward District School Board detailing how its impressionable youngsters supported the party line: HPEDSB schools celebrated Earth Hour. This is the creepy part:
Prince Charles Public School in Belleville asked all the EarthCARE reps to read a statement about the Earth Hour to each of their classes. When classmates were asked to promise to talk to their parents, more than 93 pledges were received immediately. Teachers were asked to practise for a few minutes in the classes on Friday to live without electricity. Students also read announcements for two days to remind the students about Earth Hour.

All they need are green shirts and a daily pledge of allegiance to Al Gore to complete the picture.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Is there something really ugly at the core of contemporary liberalism ?

Camille Paglia discusses American liberals:

Yes, something very ugly has surfaced in contemporary American liberalism, as evidenced by the irrational and sometimes infantile abuse directed toward anyone who strays from a strict party line. Liberalism, like second-wave feminism, seems to have become a new religion for those who profess contempt for religion. It has been reduced to an elitist set of rhetorical formulas, which posit the working class as passive, mindless victims in desperate need of salvation by the state. Individual rights and free expression, which used to be liberal values, are being gradually subsumed to worship of government power.

The problems on the American left were already manifest by the late 1960s, as college-educated liberals began to lose contact with the working class for whom they claimed to speak. (A superb 1990 documentary, "Berkeley in the Sixties," chronicles the arguments and misjudgments about tactics that alienated the national electorate and led to the election of Richard Nixon.) For the past 25 years, liberalism has gradually sunk into a soft, soggy, white upper-middle-class style that I often find preposterous and repellent. The nut cases on the right are on the uneducated fringe, but on the left they sport Ivy League degrees. I'm not kidding -- there are some real fruitcakes out there, and some of them are writing for major magazines. It's a comfortable, urban, messianic liberalism befogged by psychiatric pharmaceuticals. Conservatives these days are more geared to facts than emotions, and as individuals they seem to have a more ethical, perhaps sports-based sense of fair play.

(ht: Ann Althouse)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

"Libertarianism in a nutshell"

There's a great article by Karen Selick in today's National Post explaining libertarianism as a political philosophy: "We believe in maximizing individual freedom in both the economic and the social spheres. We believe in minimizing state interference in both spheres." Selick also does a great job debunking some of the myths of the libertarian world-view. An excerpt:

The libertarian view is that the state exists to protect individuals from harm inflicted on them by others, but not from harm that they inflict upon themselves. The sole justification for the state is to prevent the use of physical force or fraud by one person or group against another. It does not exist to protect people from their own self-inflicted, voluntarily chosen idiocy.

In fact, I would argue that when the state assumes the role of moral guardian over the social sphere, we get the same unintended consequences as when the state intervenes in the economy. In an economic welfare state, people become lazy and incapable of providing for themselves financially. In a "moral welfare state," they become morally lazy and incapable of determining for themselves what actions are virtuous, or even why they should behave virtuously in the first place.