URLs du Jour


  • Sixty years ago, George Orwell wrote the famous essay "Politics and the English Language," in which he complained (among other things) about folks who mistakenly wrote "tow the line" when they should have written "toe the line." As David Friedman points out, such misuse is still going on today at Time magazine. Tsk!

    Asking the Google about "tow the line" will amuse usage-nitpickers. One of the most provocative hits is a report from the Portland (Oregon) Mercury, headlined:

    Tow Truck Companies Forced to Tow the Line
    This could have been a clever play on words, right up our alley at Pun Salad, had the companies actually been forced to tow something (somehow) resembling a line. A line of cars, maybe? Unfortunately, it was simply a story from 2003 about new infernal regulations, and the headline merely another misusage. Drat!

    (The point Orwell was making, by the way, wasn't simply the usual usage pedantry: he was pointing out that such mistakes happen because metaphors like "toe the line" become so tired from overuse that people simply stick them into their lifeless prose thoughtlessly. That's the real sin.)

  • Since we trashed the NYT yesterday, they go ahead and have a pretty neat article today about possible large-scale geoengineering tactics that might mitigate global warming. There's also a cool (heh) graphic. (We blogged about geoengineering back in March.)

    What's particularly interesting in the article is the (for lack of a better term) religious objections to geoengineering by traditional envrionmentalists. Their vision is essentially misanthropic: humans are the ones (allegedly) responsible for messing up the environment, hence the One True Solution is (somehow) to make the environment approach, as much as possible, its state as it would be if humans weren't here at all. So they only have one item on their possible-solutions list for global warming: draconian regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions. Anything else is heretical. Check the article for yourself and see if you can't detect this vision in many of the naysayers.

    But we're only going to get better at geoengineering, and uncertainties, risks, and costs associated with the techniques will only decrease. If we can overcome the "religious" objections, I'd bet that we'd be able to set the "global thermostat" to whatever temperature we want within the next few decades. (Which, of course, raises its own set of scary problems, as also noted before.)

  • The Bull Dog at Ankle Biting Pundits detects hypocrisy in the Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffet. Warren recently made big news, giving away $37 gazillion to charity; he's also a well-known opponent of getting rid of the Death Tax. Bull Dog points out that Warren's charity maneuver will allow his estate to evade a lot, if not all, taxation upon his demise. So his pro-death-tax activity becomes simply advocacy of Taxes Those Other People Have To Pay.
    I'm happy that Buffett is doing what he wants with his money - a right he's earned because he's worked very hard to make it. Just please don't tell us how much we need the estate tax when you've done your best to avoid it - to the tune of approximately $18 billion. I don't blame him for wanting to avoid the tax (in fact I applaud him for it), so long as he shuts the hell up about the government deserving a slice of other people's money who choose to pass all of it to their children instead of donating it to charity.
    Good point. Sic 'im, Bull Dog.

  • I can't decide whether this article at Inside Higher Ed is more funny than pathetic, or the other way around. The pseudonymous "James Pierpont" applies for a faculty position at his "highly regarded national university." James is gay, but was not "out" to anyone except family and friends. However:
    During one of my campus visits, I knew that an intimate knowledge of and appreciation for diversity would be a trait required of the position. So in 3 different sessions with 12 different individuals, I chose to share that I am gay as a means to illustrate my ability to empathize with students, professors, and staff of diverse backgrounds. It was a strategic decision, which, after researching institutional policy, I believed would unfold in the context of a confidential faculty search.
    Shorn of euphemism: he thought he'd be able to come out just enough to score some free affirmative-action points on the hiring scorecard. Unfortunately, blabbing his sort-of secret—surprise, surprise—somehow leaked out to other than the "12 different individuals." And the whole rest of the self-absorbed, cliché-ridden, soggily-written, not-particularly-coherent article is how James feels about all that. So check it out! It's like a car accident: you can't help but keep looking.

  • Of course, maybe James could apply for Dr. Susan Roberts' position of Associate Professor of Political Science at Davidson University. BOTWT catches Dr. Roberts in what, in a better world, should be a firing offense in the op-ed pages of the Charlotte Observer:
    It seems unlikely that the Supreme Court would now uphold an amendment prohibiting flag burning, even with the change in the court's composition.
    Assistant Professor. Of Political Science. Gee.

  • And there's apparently also an opening at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Last Modified 2012-10-23 3:11 PM EDT