Saturday, June 04, 2011

The News That Fits

Spent a couple of minutes this evening with, creating a paper that I have dubbed Eclectica: News That Fits. So far it’s built only on my Twitter account (@wjreynolds); we’ll see what transpires into the future.

The following, I think, is intended to appear among all the clutter at the left of this column. I’m after thinking that more clutter is not what the left side of this page needs, but I was curious to see how it looked, so here it is:

The News That Fits is, of course, a play on The New York Times’s motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” But for me it goes back to my adolescence and a Mad magazine parody (I think. Maybe it was Cracked; maybe National Lampoon—it’s been a few months), with a newspaper proudly displaying the motto “All the News That Fits, We Print.” Under current circumstances it seemed, well, fitting.

Give Eclectica: News That Fits a once-over, if you’re so inclined. Pointers from veteran users is always appreciated. As are anonymous cash donations, but I hold out scant hope.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Born to Loose

Just got this great tweet on (well, of course) Twitter:

    Hi there, gain muscle quickly and loose fat easily with these secret techniques:

I love messages like this, which is a good thing since I seem to get plenty of them on Twitter these days. Even with no more than 140 characters to deal with, you can still find a lot of fun in them.

For instance, “secret techniques. ” Sad to say, fellow Twitterer, but the mere fact that you are promulgating these techniques across the vast landscape of social media kind of blows the whole “secrecy ” thing. I suggest you go with “these anything-but-secret techniques. ”

And then there’s the fat. While I think it would be a good idea to lose some fat, I can’t get on board with the push to “loose fat easily, ” or any other way, since it seems manifestly unfair for me to “loose” fat on the world. Also, it sounds gross.

Some people, I’ve noticed, play fast and loose with the word lose.

I enjoy Twitter a lot, and it’s fun to get new followers and, sometimes, follow same, but I’ve long since given up on “following back ” everyone who follows me. For one thing, a certain number of them, on close examination, prove to be right-wingnuts, birthers, and racist slanderers of POTUS. I can’t for the life of me figure out why they’d want to read my tweets, and I know for a fact that I have no interest in reading theirs. (Don’t for a second delude yourself into thinking maybe they’re interested in a wide spectrum of political opinions. Their tweets give the lie to that idea.)

There’s another bunch—although their numbers seem to have dropped off, at least in my little corner of the Twitterverse—who have opened an account, are following perhaps 100 or more tweeters, but have yet to tweet or retweet a single item. Obviously everyone has to start from zero, but you would think there’d be some effort to quickly bring that into positive numbers—how else are people to decide whether a given person is worth following?

Lately I’m starting to get followed by a lot of local businesses and services...local, that is, to some other part of the country. I’m not going to follow back a carpet cleaning service in Tuscaloosa or someplace, unless the majority of their tweets are of general interest—and interesting general interest—as opposed to their great Memorial Day specials. I state clearly in my Twitter profile where I live, and it’s nowhere near Tuscaloosa. I get that for some Twitterers the object of the game is to get as many followers as possible, but, really, people, qualify the list a little bit first!

The ones who really fascinate me, though, are the ones who are removed from Twitter before I even have a chance to view their profile upon receiving e-mail telling me they’re following me. I assume they’ve committed some sort of blatant TOS violation, but wow. What on earth did they do to be closed down almost instantly?

Perhaps they loosed fat on an innocent world. Or the Twitter offices.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

How Low Can You Go?

Those who know me know that I am at least a quasi misanthrope at the best of times. But occasions such as that which occurred just this evening serve to solidify my longstanding motto, Populus es haud damno bonus (“People Are No Damn Good”).

My wife and I are just back from our cemetery tour, first watering the planters at my parents’ grave, then heading out of town a ways to the little country-church cemetery where my wife’s grandparents and great aunt repose. At the latter venue we discovered that the planter of flowers that my wife and her mother had put together and placed for Memorial Day is nowhere to be seen.

While we were marveling at this turn of events, a couple who had been driving slowly through the small cemetery stopped and struck up conversation. Seems their family’s grave had been looted as well, with a couple of hanging pots of plants appropriated from shepherd’s hooks.


I can easily excuse a starving man who steals a loaf of bread—or money to purchase a loaf of bread. In the grand scheme of things, that’s an awfully petty offense. But to steal plants and flowers from graves? That is a crime of near-complete depravity. Not depraved as in murder or child molestation or other heinous crimes, obviously, but depraved in the sense that it is a completely pointless crime. Nobody needs a planter of flowers. There’s no black market on which to sell them. It’s just stealing for the sake of stealing.

Much of the drive back to town was spent pondering exactly how low a person must be to steal from a grave. I think such an act ranks below even stealing from the church poor-box. It may not be the lowest act of theft, but I’m hard pressed to think of anything worse offhand.

Mostly what I think are the immortal words of Daffy Duck:

 “You’re despicable.”

Paging Mrs. Malaprop!

As is so often the case, the comments on various articles and news items are at least as entertaining as the articles themselves. Here’s a new (to me) malapropism that I came upon in a comments section just this morning:

“Here is the crust of the problem...”

The author has some other problems, too, besides his crust—the apparent lack of a ? key on his keyboard, an inability to unravel the subtle nuances between your and youre, and so on—but none is as unique or interesting as the crust of his problem.

This looks like a job for Malaprop Man!

One wonders if the crux of the problem in such cases might not be hearing related. I read once that Norm Crosby, “King of the Malaprop,” came to his hilarious wordplay by virtue of an undiagnosed hearing problem that caused him, in childhood, to understand words almost correctly—drinking decapitated coffee, requesting a cold one from the beertender, and so on.

Sometimes, I know, it’s just a matter of misunderstanding a given expression or colloquialism. I knew a fellow in college who was wont to “get down to brass tactics”...and in the years since I’ve known probably half a dozen others who have shared his desire.

Not really a malapropism but still funny is the wildly off-base expression employed by a parish priest of my acquaintance several decades ago. Obviously he had come upon the expression “fly in the ointment,” but misunderstood “fly” to be the verb form. Thus it was that his homilies occasionally would refer to this or that action of Jesus that “flew in the ointment” of the religious leaders of the day. Makes me wonder if he knew what “ointment” is.