Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Got It

Fellow Humans:

We are no more than hapless individuals from a lucky species of ape, vainly trying to describe the complexities of the Universe in a language evolved to tell the other apes where the ripe fruit is.


Whut RU??? Stoopid!?

I have a whole bunch of things to talk about but I'm setting them all aside to talk about one thing only: people are getter dumber each time I cruise the Interwebs and I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE!

Look: it's simple. "Your" is NOT the same word as "you're" and, yes, it does matter. I understand that UR is the texting abbreviation for "you're", so it's clear that this contraction is pretty common. So far, so good. "You're" is a squashed together, 'familiar' form of "you are" as in, "You're going to get your ass kicked by your third-grade teacher unless you stop texting and pay attention in class." See how craftily I've used BOTH sound-alike, but very different, forms, one of which means "the person, place or thing that belongs to YOU" and the other one which . . . which I've already explained a gazillion times. Gad.

Don't mess with My Beloved Language. Just don't.

"CDs" are many compact discs, like the box full your girlfriend threw out when she caught you cheating, just like you're doing now to your NEW girlfriend, you prick. "CD's" means something that is the property of the CD, like, "The CD's surface scratches are a result of your girlfriend rubbing its surface against her leg the day prior to her last waxing to clean off the hairy fingerprints you left on it the last time you used it."

See how simple English can be? See how you can understand how words work. See how you can make words work for you. See how you won't look like a babbling buffoon when you are able to follow the rules and use words correctly. See how people smarter, or at least, cleverer than you will welcome you into the Smart and Clever Club where you will be regaled with banter and chatter of all ilks.

In general, I see quite a bit of mangling in forums. The worst is Yahoo's Answers, which is an awful forum where logged-in users can post some burning question, like, "How do I break up with my boyfriend without telling him?" or some such twaddle and other users can then "answer", with their answers subsequently rated for "accuracy" by other users. So, in short, it's the blind leading the deaf and verified by the cognitively-challenged, resulting in answers rated based on popularity. Here's a question I'd like to post: "How do I repair a rupture to the inferior vena cava in a suppurating patient that's not a candidate for exchange therapy and I need the answer in the next ninety seconds as we're in surgery and the patient will die. (Actually, there was a recent episode on House with this element integral to the motif - ooooo, cultural currency! I like it!) The point is, if I ever get to it and I happen to be getting to it . . . right . . . now, is that if one excuses the foreign users of My Beloved Language who should be clapped heartily on their collective scapulas for their minimal mastery of a language other than the one taught to them by their mamas, the balance of the local mumbling constituency murderizes written speech to an AWESOME degree.

Let's attack that word for a moment. Yes, I know my generation used and uses "cool" in a similar way, but, c'mon, it's not the same. "Awesome" is utterly over the top while cool slides into home. A massive lightning storm is "awesome." The parting of the Red Sea, if God had done did it, would be truly "awesome." Finding a parking spot in time to make the next screening of Saw 23 on a busy summer night at the googleplex is NOT awesome; neither is the latest stuffed-crust monstrosity from Pizza Slut "awesome", unless it's delivered with its own bubbling volcano to keep it piping hot. That would be awesome. Got it? Cool, Daddy-o.

But, back to contractions and possessive forms, before your eyes totally glaze over. "It's" is short for "it is"; "its", without the little squiggly thing that goes between the t and the s, which is called an apostrophe, which is kinda pronounced like "catastrophe" only without the "c" at the beginning and with other letters in between, is a possessive form, meaning "the word that follows describes some property of this thing of ours that we're talking about over here." Would you say, "It puts the lotion on it's skin" - " . . . it is skin?" Does that make sense? Well? Does it?

So, I'm not so concerned about the pimply-faced bag-stuffers cruising the web on their Sidekicks, stoking anoymous forums with their fractured English as I am with on-line print, such as news pieces I've seen with increased frequency of glaring errors, and not errors solely of my opinion, mind you, but black-book, editor's red- and blue-pencil stuff. This worries me velly mucho because the readers will absorb and take with them these errors as a matter of course and can then always cite, "Well, that's how it was written in that Reuters article, so who do you think is right? You or a news service with international cred?" Me, because no amount of brand identity can make a wrong right.

"There" for "their" for "they're" or "chosed" for "chose" or "sale" for "sell" as in "I am saleing my seester because my family hasn't eaten in two weeks and is really hungry." And on and on.

Kids, do your homework and learn your own damn language. Teachers, teach the damn fundamentals - a mastery of the basics is the doorway to the youngins to grow up to be just like me. Writers, publishers and anyone in a position of authority - CHECK YOUR WORK or I will.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Up, Up and Away

It's time. It's time to leave. It's time to leave for the airport. Where is the driver? Where is my limo? Where? Okay, I have five hours, but that's not the point. I'm on my sixth cup of coffee. Gotta go, gotta go right now. Let's check the forecast:
Dang. Volcanic ash? Cool. Okay, let me do the check-in thing . . . what's this? I don't understand. Are we living in Reverso World? Check it, one time:
I'm SO CONFUSED. Affirm a positive response with a negative? Okay. That's enough. I'm going to get more coffee. Dammit. Where the hell is my limo?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Fun For The Bun In The Sun, Son

I'm heading to Puerto Rico shortly to see what the real estate investment climate is like and for a little R&R (that's Rock and Roll, baybeee! YEAHHHH!!! *hurl*) with a smokin' babe, just barely old enough to seem like I'm not robbing the cradle, ya know? God - I hope she doesn't, like, totally have to Tivo The Wizards of Waverly Place while we're gone.

I used to travel quite a lot, first for music and then, for business. I always made a point of collecting a little bit of sand or earth from wherever I stopped and when people bragged to me that they were going to Mongolia or Uruguay, I button-holed them until they solemnly promised to bring me back a sample from their destination. Surprisingly, and to their collective credit, I was always universally rewarded with not only a sample from their trip, but an explanation (" . . . this is sand from an Arroyo. They're formed by . . . .") and usually some additional souvenir. It's interesting how completely diverse people react exactly the same to this simple request. Huh. Head shaker. There was one (supasexy, hot mama of a) lady who brought me a small bucket of fine sand instead of the usual medicine-bottle-sized sample, of which quantity later flopped over in the trunk of my car when my ex stole same for a wild, drunken ride through Our Town. Along with what was more like an extraction by the Mars Rover, was a rectangular plastic key fob with a capsule inside in the shape of the sole of a bare foot, filled with a small quantity of sand, ostensibly from the U.S. Virgin Islands, that said, "I brought you a foot of sand!" Since the key chain was made in China, like most everything else these days, including, shortly, Hummers, I assume the sand, too, was Chinese, making it all the more mysterious and exotique.

All that for a run up to a link. Geesh.

Apparently, I'm not the only one collecting bits of the four corners. This young lady (link goes here to the blog - oh, you get it) has been travelling around, visiting nude bathing spots from down under to up top, combining two of my favorite travelling activities. I would offer to travel with here, but alas, my ass would resemble two (if I'm lucky) rain-soaked paper bags, only without the nice tan colour.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Couldn't Let Good Enough Be Upstanding

Saw this:
Wrote this:

Dear Mr. Xxxx;

Although you're likely not the correct individual to contact regarding what follows, I thought I'd like to contact Mead regarding the following text in the description of PaxPro:

"We know that the over-reaching goal is . . . "

To over-reach means to attempt to grasp what's beyond one's likely grasp and to fail, just. I believe the copy would be more correct with the phrase "over-arching."

I hope this is helpful.

Your friend in grammar,

Dr. X

And yes, readers, I know my own writing is odd and stilted in this letter, but perhaps Mr. Xxxx in Sales will laugh this all the way up the ladder until someone says, "You know, he's right. That's wrong." And then they'll fix it, as a multi-billion dollar company should. Shameful. Shameful, indeed.

Twitter, Fa Real, Y'all

This is, apparently, a Mimus Polyglotus, also known as a Northern Mockingbird, which I found singing its brains out while I went to my car in order to find my lighter so that I could desperately satiate my craving for tobacco so that I might at least have one less anxiety. Here he, she or it is:

It's saying, "Tweet this, mofo!"

Mockingbirds copy the songs of other birds and even rusty gates or hinges. Wasn't Rusty Gates a NASCAR driver or a country singer or something? There is a Rusty Gates who's a famous fly fisherman and the proprietor of the Gate Au Sable Lodge in Michigan. Good news is that their lodge is Wi-Fi HOT!!! These birds are found in Michigan, too, it seems, so, maybe they know him.

Just Because

If I'm not right, that doesn't make you right.
If you're not right, that doesn't mean you're wrong.
Just because you're not wrong, it doesn't make you right.
I can be right while you are right.
You can be wrong at the same time I'm wrong.

It's all grey, anyway, just because.

I can impose logic to yield a finite result, but then, the set of information with which I choose to work is, by definition of such a process, finite. It's a subset of all reality. A matter of choice is a matter of opinion.

So . . .

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Please Confirm Wanker Status - Form Fail

Hopper: Eat Your Heart Out!


I finally encountered the snack truck which became a lunch truck, it seems. I had a pre-fab burger (meow) and a greasy stick of meat.

To clarify: the greasy stick of meat was not attached to anything other than a greasy flour tortilla. Mexican holiday it was not.

Phishing For Dollars

One of the dubious privileges of writing this column is the extraoordinary amount of e-mail I get, both fantastic and spam-tastic. It runs the gamut, from Canadian pharmacies that are located in China, hawking "real" chewabl Viagra, which Phizer doesn't make, to marriage proposals from worn-out, hovering-on-the-edge of starvation Ukranian women, and a few men, lauding my incredible grasp of international news and sports, which my writing clearly covers (sneer,) to my favorites - Nigerian scams, of which I've seen remarkably few lately and phishing attacks.

A phishing attack, for those out of the know, is an e-mail that purports to be legitimate, may appear to have been sent from a legitimate e-mail address and directs the recipient to click on a link contained within the e-mail in order to "re-enter" his "security information" or face "account suspension.

Sigh. People are actually stupid enough to sheepishly react, dutifully click on the link and enter every last bit of personal information requested. Which is why these things keep coming. For me, it's normally something from a bank or institution that's based out West or down South - I'm guessing that the Ukranian mobsters figure this part of our population to be most brain-dead based on their likely sundrenched-ness and overexposure to cranial UV. So, the "alerts" would be coming from scammers posing as Wells Fargo Bank (California), SunTrust (Florida), and even some bank that were shut down by the Fed near the beginning of the year. Odd - I thought they got CNN in Tiblisi.

Today, I received a phishing attack from "Bank or America." Here's what it said:

Dear Account Holder,

It has been reported to our online security team that there has been a false Bank of America message sent to all our customers. And we are now trying to rectify and protect all our online customers account from any unwanted transactions.

We have Programmed our Security and Database systems to alert us When any unauthorised transactions about to take place. We now require of you to register details to our upgraded security system to avoid Your account from being disabled by our security systems.

A confirmation of this will be sent to your residential address after 7 days of registring. We want to asure you that Your account will be safe guarded by our security new systems immidiately you register.
To do this you are required to click on the secure link below to be able to activate your online Security.:

[Bank of America Security Update]

Customer Service,
Bank fo America Online Banking


Failure to update your account within 24hrs of notice might lead to account being suspended and online access will be restricted.

Thank You.

What truly puzzles me is this: why do they go to all the trouble of formatting a very nice HTML e-mail and yet, not bother to recruit, or kidnap, as needs may dictate, an English foreign exchange student who just happened to drop in to Novosibirsk for the goat testicle festival (nice turn of phrase - get your tongue around that one) to check the grammar and spelling. Now, I'll grant you, corporate communications are not always correct - I see spelling and grammar errors often on official sites - but it's not all concentrated in a supposedly critical e-mail going out to millions of users. And such e-mails would be vetted by a dozen people in the marketing, management, IT and legal chain, many of whom I'm sure speaka d'Anglish.

Well, if the fact that you had received a odd e-mail with misspellings nad bad grammar didn't tip you off and you desparately clicked on the link to enter your information to "register details to our upgrade security systems", you'd find the massively long web page shown to the left, hosted under a .RU, or Russian, domain. Well, duh!

On the page, you would be prompted to enter every last detail not only of your banking information, but your social security number, phone number, driver's license number, next of kin, mother's maiden name, father's middle name, blood type, last sexual experience - okay, I exagerated on the last two items, but still. Might this not send up a flag or two? Hmm?? as Yoda would prompt. Fill it out not, you will.

As a good citizen and to satisfy my Inner Told-Ya-So Angst, I reported this to the bank. Too late for 71 year-old Millie Tonto of Meyerbrook, Illinois whose grandaughter just finished setting up Granny with a whole new Mac computer that's immune to viruses, so, It Must Be Safe. Yep, some Russian ho's spending poor Mildred's dough right now. As I type this. Now. Right now. Ca-CHING!

The bank immediately sent me two e-mails, one, and automated response and the other, from an actual human being, with contact information and everything. I bet newly-bearded Ken Lewis is gonna miss his team . . . I also looked at the e-mail header to see where the mail was coming from. Usually, it's an unknowing hosting reseller and I suspect that's the case this time, too, but I couldn't help myself. It was a golden opportunity to bitch at some guy in Mumbai. Ooo - more alliteration.

I clicked on the hoster's chat support (my hosting company has the same set-up, exactly - heck, might even be the same guy) and waited for a response from Vanaranapundu, also known as Nathan, in the Support Hosting biz.

I let Nathan know his company was in deep doo-doo. He was non-plussed. I goaded him - he told me it was a support issue. Mind you, I was chatting with Support. I told him he was comitting a crime by aiding and international fraud. Here's a view of the chat window as he made a hasty exit:

Your party has left this session! Hilarious!

So, I e-mailed support at this hhosting "company" who is, I suspect, a reseller. Poor guy. This is what their automated response said:
Thank you for submitting a support request. A summary of your request is below:

Details [Submitted 1-10-2009-07:24 ]

ID............: 412772
Viewing Key...: wSCTnsIanY

Name..........: Unregistered
Subject.......: Fwd: 4th Quarter General Update


Registered users may login to track the status of their request : https://support.inmotionhosting.com/cgi-bin/pdesk.cgi?do=track_call&id=412772&key=wSCTnsIanY

Thank you.

Clicking on that link gets you this:
What cha think? Should I register? Share more information with folks that don't have control over their servers, apparently? Just a guess and just an opinion, but I woulld say . . . NOT!

To be fair, hosting services can't really control the accounts they host until AFTER something bad happens. Like imposing a quota on outbound mail to slow the bleed of such an attack. But what I'm really talking about here is PR. If you're going to pretend to be corporate, respond in a corporate way, otherwise, you are now and forevermore low-rent.

And to Mrs. Tonto and the rest of your trusting souls out there, Natasha is taking delivery of a new SL 600 next week and she wanted to say, "SPASIBA!"