September 2008 Archives

Digging to China

Remember when you were a little kid with a shovel, digginmap_indian_ocean.pngg intently in your backyard in hopes of reaching China and scoring some really great spring rolls with duck sauce (or whatever your intentions were).

Turns out they all lied to us.  If you dig from Texas, or really anywhere else in the United States, you're going to eventually pop out on the other side of the planet somewhere in the Indian Ocean.  Disappointing, I know, but if you still want to try be sure to bring along your fire suit and oxygen tanks.  And probably a lot of survival gear that hasn't been invented yet.

If you want to play around with tunneling to the other side of the Earth, check out this free map tool.  It's kinda fun.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, if you wanted to get to China from the opposite side of the world, you're best off to start your digging in Argentina.

The Typo Eradication Advancement League

I can't decide if I support this.  Here is a pair of guys that are on a nationwide quest to repair or see to the repair of incorrect signage wherever they find it, and they are keeping a blog to record their accomplishments.  As expected, when confronted most people with sign failure are apathetic, indignant, or even hostile toward their generous benefactors of correctness.

To be more accurate, they should probably be called the Spelling and Grammar Advancement League, but that does have the same ring to it, nor the catchy acronym (you try pronouncing SGAL).


I'm sympathetic to their cause.  I wince every time I see someone itsits_small.jpgwrite your when he means you're.  I die a tiny bit inside when someone doesn't recognize the difference between the homophones there, their, and they're.  In the face of apathetic bemoaning to dismiss these mistakes, I have to argue the need to preserve the language.  The more words and phrases are misused, the less intelligible, understandable, and useful the language becomes.


A Chicago Tribune article described their goals more poetically:

Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson have not wasted their lives.

They fight a losing battle, an unyielding tide of misplaced apostrophes and poor spelling. But still, they fight. Why, you ask. Because, they say. Because, they must.

For the last three months, they have circled the nation in search of awkward grammar construction. They have ferreted out bad subject-verb agreements, and they have faced stone-faced opposition everywhere. They have shone a light on typos in public places, and they have traveled by a GPS-guided '97 Nissan Sentra, sleeping on the couches of college friends and sticking around just long enough to do right by the English language. Then it's on the road again, off to a new town with new typos.

Picture a pair of Kerouacs armed with Sharpies and erasers and righteous indignation--holding back a flood of mixed metaphors and spelling mistakes and extraneous punctuation so commonplace we rarely notice it anymore. But they are 28 and idealistic.

Their quest has been moving forward, if slowly, for a year now.  They have received national publicity through morning show interviews, and have even been approached for a book deal.

Recently though, these guys have gotten themselves into a heap of trouble with the lawman.  They have been accused of defacing government property at the Grand Canyon to fix a misspelling.  It wouldn't have been such a big deal, except for the sign in question was a hand-painted pwatchtower_sign_small.jpglacard that dated way back into the 50s.  The 1950s.  In this country, anything sixty years-old is history.

I can certainly relate. The last house I lived in was over 60 years old.  By extension, that makes it a historic Dallas landmark.  I remember drilling some holes in the drywall.  I hope there isn't a warrant out for my arrest on vandalism charges.

Shown to the right is the sign that is at the center of the commotion, in all of its special, historic glory.  I see blackboard signs just like this at most pubs, filled with the list of daily drink specials.  I think the park made a big deal out of this for the publicity.

After the legal battle, it looks like these guys have abandoned their cause and they went running with their tails tucked between their legs.  It's disappointing, really.  The book deal must have been shot, and their fifteen minutes were over.

The usual disclaimer:  I misuse words continuously.  I make up words as I see fit.  I use sentence fragments at every opportunity.  I'm a hypocrite of the highest order.

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