June 30th, 2006

Believe

Beware the Apostrolypse!

This is brilliant (from here):
Q: What is the 'Apostrolypse'?
A: The 'Apostrolypse'is a term for the cataclysmic and final collapse of our planet broughton by the misuse of apostrophe by illiterate people, viz., death by apostrophe. Think of it as worse than nuclear fallout: suffocation of all living organisim's by the relentles's rain of gratuitou's apostrophe's, swelling up as toxic aerial miasma...Variant theory: "Apostroluge," or global destruction by deluge; allair-breathing terrestrial creatures are inundated by apostrophes anddie, reminiscent of Noah's flood except that there's no boat.
I was actually confirming the plural of schema when I came across this (by the by, apparently "schemas" is generally accepted, versus "schemata"). If you are ever in any doubt about your usage of apostrophes, a visit to the Apostrophe Protection Society should clear things up.

With easy access to dictionary.com—I'm still paying my subscription, 'cause I find it so useful—I find myself checking the meaning of words I put into documents and e-mail, when there's any doubt in my mind about its usage in a particular context. I'll also occasionally check grammar or the more obscure cli·chés if they come up.

While this could be interpreted as ludicrously obsessive, I honestly believe that for communication to be effective, the language employed should conform to the currently-accepted usage. It's a shame that such usage changes over time, but there's only so much one can do. :-)
Believe

A lesson in the obvious

Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean that either of you is wrong.

As best I have been able to determine, for any given situation or issue there is almost never going to be an answer that is necessarily right or wrong. It may seem right to you, from the point of view of your world view and based upon the current context of the discussion... but that same answer might not make sense to someone else coming at the question from a different angle. There does not appear to be any absolute scale against which one can measure "rightness", and so it all becomes relative.

Once I accepted this, almost any question I face now leads to shades of grey. That's actually good, I suppose, but it's not much help. Any given situation must be dealt with solely on its merits, without any appeal to a higher authority of any kind, almost like solving a problem from first principles every time. Mentally stimulating, but it can become tiresome. One can see the appeal of the more simple-minded organised religions, which provide such a white-bread, simplistic moral framework in which the world is cast in stark black and white. At the same time, such naivety appalls me... actually, it always has, which is perhaps why I've had an almost instinctive revulsion for such religious groups.

I'm not complaining (well, not much, anyway :-). It is far better to see the world for what it is (i.e., really, really complicated), than to be ensconced within a comfortable illusion. We need to experience the world as it really is, without the blinkers and rose-coloured glasses... in all its varying shades of grey.