Wednesday Wordpower: bring

It seems like Americans are slowly losing the ability to distinguish between simple opposites like ‘bring’ and ‘take’. My (mostly American) girlfriend constantly tells to do things like ‘Bring the trash outside,’ only it’s a logical impossibility because she isn’t outside waiting for me to bring the rubbish to her, but rather inside waiting for me to take it outside. It’s not just my girlfriend, of course – it’s a mistake you hear often on American TV programmes. Even the arrogantly prodigious intellect of The Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon Cooper has transgressed (because he’s not real and his words are written by less mentally endowed writers). (an American website) defines ‘bring’ as:

1. to carry, convey, conduct, or cause (someone or something) to come with, to, or toward the speaker: Bring the suitcase to my house. He brought his brother to my office.

Is that really so hard to grasp? Grammar Girl (also American) elaborates:

when your point is that an object or person is moving from one location to another, the rule is that things are brought to the speaker and taken away from the speaker. You ask people to bring things to you, and you take things to other people. You ask people to bring you coffee, and you offer to take the dishes to the kitchen. You tell people to bring you good news, and you take your camera to the beach. Remember Simone’s trick: you bring things here and take things there, and take and there both start with the letter t.

The inability to follow such elementary rules really brings me down.


Monday Mythbusting: ‘Here be dragons’

I learned this while researching dragons for another blog project. It’s a commonly understood part of popular culture that old maps contained the words ‘here be dragons’ to denote unexplored areas. As the cartography discussion website, MapHist, puts it, here is a list of all the historical maps containing the fabled phrase:

    Ie, none whatsover. Medieval maps were written in Latin, stupid. So how many contained the Latin for ‘here be dragons’, or ‘hic sunt dracones’? Also none.

    Well, there is one. But it’s a globe, and the exact spelling used is ‘HC SVNT DRACONES’: the Lenox, or Hunt Lenox Globe. This 500-year-old artefact is, according to Wikipedia:

    the second or third oldest known terrestrial globe, after the Erdapfel of 1492…. The Lenox Globe is a hollow copper globe that measures 112 millimetres (4.4 in) in diameter and 345 millimetres (13.6 in) in circumference. It is two parts, joined at the equator and held together by a wire strung through holes at the poles. It is notable as the only instance on a historical map of the actual phrase HC SVNT DRACONES (in Latin hic sunt dracones means “here be dragons.”) The phrase appears on the eastern coast of Asia.

    It looks like this:

    Having explained all that, it should be pointed out that many old maps were decorated with dragons and sea monsters. Also, Roman and medieval maps were inscribed with the phrase ‘hic sunt leones’ – ‘here be lions’ – to indicate terra incognita.

    But dragons are way cooler than lions, so, maybe from that one instance on the Lenox Globe, a myth was born – and people confused and continue to confuse it with truth because the world is full of idiots.

    Friday Fury: Korean subway area maps

    It’s a pretty elementary rule of map making: north goes at the top (unless you were a medieval cartographer, in which case, east – ie, Jerusalem – went at the top).

    Not in Seoul subway stations.

    I live in South Korea, and, like many foreigners here, I find it a land of great benefits and freedoms as well as great frustrations. The subway system in the Korean capital is excellent in many ways – it carries 8 million people every day, services are frequent, trains are large (you could fit a London Tube carriage inside a Seoul subway car) and clean, all the signs are in Korean, English and Chinese, a journey costs as little as 50p (80¢) – but there are couple of details that really let the side down.

    At several locations in the upper part of a subway station – ie, below ground level, but above the platforms – there are local area maps showing, well, the local area. Each one of which has north in a random direction. What the fuck! Why?

    I can’t think of any reason other than to test the map-reading skills and patience of subway users.

    It’s totally retarded. What where they thinking when they designed the maps? This road goes up here, so let’s make that the top of the map. Ooh, ooh, if you rotate the map 163 degrees from north, you can just squeeze this park into the bottom right corner.

    Has no one in authority in the various subway companies even noticed this aberration from common sense? I’m sure such people don’t even use the subway, preferring to cruise the broad city roads in their big cars with blacked out windows.

    Another brain-dead lack of foresight is the signage directing people between platforms. They often take this form:

    Stations W, G and L – go this way.

    Stations O, A and X – go that way.

    If you want to go to station F, say, and you don’t know where it is in relation to the handful of other stations displayed – even if you know the general direction in which you want to travel – then you’re screwed. You need to pull out your subway map and stand there squinting at the tiny print for ten minutes, or find one of the scarce line or full subway maps.

    What really microwaves my corpuscles about it is that if you know that you’re heading north, say, it would be simplicity itself to add ‘northbound’ and ‘southbound’ to the signs. But no. You are required to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of all stops on the line and their correlation.

    Oh, Korea – so innocent, so industrious, so dumb.

    Wednesday Wordpower: pass

    ‘My grandfather passed.’

    Passed what? A test? The ball? A gallstone?

    I really fucking hate the American English expression ‘to pass’ meaning ‘to die’. Without qualification, without a subject, it’s just seems completely meaningless. The word ‘pass’ has so many meanings that to use it in this way invites confusion. The expression really should be ‘pass away’ – that is at least a more distinctive phrase with a limited array of denotations.

    I don’t like ‘passed away’ either. If someone has died, what’s the problem with just saying so? It’s not like using some namby-pamby euphemism is going to bring them back to life, or even assuage the grief of their nearest and dearest. It’s just cowardly.

    And saying ‘pass’ as an abbreviation of ‘pass away’ is cowardly and lazy. The word ‘away’ is so hard to say.

    And let’s not get started on what the verb ‘pass’ implies – that the dead person has not really died, but moved into another state of being (for which there is no evidence whatsoever). Like when you snuff out a candle flame, the flame doesn’t die, it simply transitions into a different dimension along with all the other fires that are no longer with us.

    The Jerusalem UFO debunked by ufologists

    The world really is full of idiots when it takes UFO believers to debunk a UFO hoax. Read this article on the Discovery website.

    Monday Mythbusting: shaving makes hair grow back thicker

    If she keeps on like that, she's going to have legs like a gorilla.

    To me this seems like a very girly myth. At least, it’s one my girlfriend subscribes to. It’s bullshit, of course – just think about it logically for half a second.

    Hair is dead material; it has no nerves, no blood supply running along it – it’s just inert keratin. As Wikipedia says:

    The only “living” portion of the hair is found in the follicle. The hair that is visible is the hair shaft, which exhibits no biochemical activity and is considered “dead”.

    How, then, does this dead material communicate to the follicle that it’s been severed by a razor. It can’t. For that matter, how the fuck would the hair transmit such information to other follicles? This is what would be required if it were true that shaving causes bushier regrowth. It’s just asinine garbage.

    And if you think it’s the action of the razor on the skin that causes thicker growth, you’re a moron. If that were true, simply scratching your skin would do the same – as, presumably, would wearing clothes, sitting, lying down or anything else that causes friction on the epidermis. Fucking hell, if it were true then the cure for baldness would be to shave one’s scalp.

    The real cure for baldness is ... hair removal.

    The confusion arises because people prefer to believe the fatuous evidence of their shallow perceptions over stopping to exercise their brains for a second.

    When a hair starts growing, it starts off narrow. A long, uncut hair will taper from base to stem. If you then cut it, its new tip doesn’t magically contract – it remains just as thick as it was, giving the superficial appearance of having grown back thicker.

    Newsweek has an article on the subject:

    The stubble feels stiffer because it’s cut straight across, exposing the thicker part of the shaft, and because it’s short. “As it gets longer it feels softer,” says Dr. D’Anne Kleinsmith, a dermatologist in West Bloomfield, Mich. Hair may also look darker after you shave, but that’s not true either. “You just see these little dots against your normal skin color, and it just looks that way,” says Kleinsmith.

    This article on lists a few other cretinous things people believe about hair, such as shampooing makes hair fall out and brushing is good for your hair (it’s not – it just pulls out and breaks your hair).

    Really, if people weren’t so stupid and lazy they wouldn’t give this kind of trite nonsense the time of day. But the world is full of idiots, and one blog post isn’t going to change that.

    Welcome to the stupidity

    This blog is intended to highlight all the wrongheaded, mistaken and plain retarded beliefs, words and actions of the human animal. People like to think that they’re great, that they’re special, that they’re the centre of the universe. That is all self-indulgent garbage. People are stupid, flawed and irrational – they believe any old shit that they’re told, they invent memories, they can’t follow the simplest rules of logic, common sense or grammar. People are an embarrassment on the face of the universe – except the universe couldn’t care less about a bunch of apes on an insignificant planet in a minor galaxy in the middle of nowhere.

    My motivation in writing is to vent my anger, frustration and sheer hatred. My targets will range from the precepts of religion to the use of prepositions. I intend to be offensive. If you’re not insulted by this blog then either you’re an idiot or I’m not doing my self-appointed job properly – which would make me a total cretin.