Everyone on a Facebook Must Read This

I just read an e-mail from E-zine Articles training on ten usage mistakes.

I’m not naming names, but I see many of these everyday in my status update feeds, and it absolutely drives me insane.  I see them constantly in comments to my other blogs, especially the fast food management one.

Here are the ten items:

There/Their/They’re

There is a pronoun, as in “over there!”  Their is possessive, as in “That yellow bungalow is their house.”  And they’re is a contraction meaning “they are.”

A lot/Allot/Alot

This gets messed up quite a bit.

A lot means a great quantity.  It’s informal and I try to avoid it, because around third grade our teachers agreed they would no longer accept it as a description of a great and many items.  So I like to replace it with “much” or “myriad” or something overly dramatic like “overflowing with” or “vast quantities of.”

Allot means to distribute or pass out.  As in, “The Holy Spirit allots spiritual gifts to believers as he sees fit.”  Whether believers use those gifts is another story (and belongs on my other blog).

And alot is not a word, so knock it off!!!

I.e./E.g.

I see these used interchangeably, and they are so not interchangeable.

I.e. is providing a description.  Use it when you mean “that is” or “in other words.”

E.g. means an instance of the generality is coming.  I.e., it means “for example.”  “You should try reading some Christian apologists, e.g. William Lane Craig or James White.”

To/Two/Too

Misuse of these probably annoys me the most.

To denotes a range or an infinitive (the pure form of a verb).  “We’ll be up from dusk to dawn.”

Two is the number 2.  “I have two boxen of doughnuts.”

Too indicates excess or means “in addition to.”  “I have brown hair, too!”

Its/It’s

Most people use “its” exclusively.  Nope!  It’s is a contraction for “it is.”  Its is the possessive of “it.”

You’re/Your

More common on Facebook than the color blue.  I’ll let Dr. Ross Gellar explain it succinctly:

Loose/Lose

This is another seriously common mistake.

Loose is the opposite of “tight.”  Lose is what the Lions normally do when they play football.  (Though I’m crossing my fingers because it’s been darn good so far this season!)

Choose/Chose

Seen this more than once.  Both of these indicate the making of a selection or a choice.  But choose is present tense and chose is past tense.

Effect/Affect

Few people get the difference here.  Both indicate influence or change.  Effect is the noun, and affect is the verb.  “Using violins in your music composition produce a romantic effect.”  “Her decision to break it off affected him worse than we thought.”

Know/No/Now

Confusing these isn’t usually a matter of ignorance, as most of the above are.  It’s normally just a typo.

Know is a verb indicating obtaining or having knowledge.  “Search your feelings, you know it to be true.”

No is a negative reply, used nearly exclusively by my son to answer close-ended questions.  Even when “yes” would be the obvious answer.

Now indicates a present event.  As in, “Now you know the proper way to use these words.  So let’s see some improvement in those statuses!!”

Never Disappoint the Grammar Nazi

I just read the latest two additions to my e-newsletter on grammar from E-zineArticles.com.  I was disappointed for two reasons.

The first one discussed subject-verb agreement.  That’s an important and misunderstood topic in English grammar, so I wasn’t disappointed that they devoted a newsletter to it.  I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t give a common mistake — compound subjects!

People like to write: “Amy, Emma, and Jordan is going to the basketball game.”  The thought process there: “is” must agree with “Jordan,” so we use third person singular.

Nope.

Jordan isn’t the only subject of the sentence.  All three girls, together, are a compound subject!  That sometimes gets missed when the subjects of a sentence appear in a list, and it gets complicated if the predicate precedes the subject — i.e. the writer tries to get clever with diction.

So the correct way to write that would be “Amy, Emma, and Jordan are going to the basketball game.”  Third person plural.

You probably figured that out right way.  That would be because I wrote a super-simple sentence for an example.  There may be other places where it won’t be as obvious, especially if the sentence gets more complicated.

The second disappointment was in the newsletter offering tips on comma placement.  As an example of the power of comma placement, they used the following two sentences:

  • “Go, get him doctors!”
  • “Go get him, doctors!”

The first sentence is a command to get him medical help.  The second points the doctors to the one who needs medical attention.

My disappointment?

I was hoping for the humorous example my sister-in-law always uses:

  • “Let’s eat, Grandma!”
  • “Let’s eat Grandma!”

The power of the comma is far more powerful in that example.  And memorable.  Trust me, that’s a sentence you don’t want misunderstood!  And neither does Grandma.

The Pickle Story

Emily with Gabe

In my previous post, I alluded to a hilarious event at a recent family wedding that I cryptically called “the Pickle Incident.” I mused that I would relay the facts of this incident some other time. This just became “some other time.”

During the actual wedding, my son Gabe got extremely fussy and I had to leave and take him upstairs to the “Cry Room.” It was basically a nursery, which I presume was normally staffed by the ladies of the church. In this case, no one was staffing it so I had to stay with my little man. The wedding was piped into nursery, so I got to hear everything.

After the wedding, I attempted to find everyone. I carried Gabe into another room where the remnants of the rehearsal dinner (held maybe an hour or two before the actual wedding) were sitting. Gabe was hungry, so from that table I fed him a slice of pickle (the small kind that would go on a McDonald’s hamburger, for example), which he happily chewed on.

I then saw Emily exiting the bathroom. She had taken my daughter in there following the service. So we walked downstairs to the reception (which was held in the church basement).

Once in the basement, Emily asked to hold Gabe. I obliged. When she had held him for about ten minutes, Gabe decided that he didn’t like the pickle I had given him earlier and spit it back out.

Think of this from Emily’s perspective. She didn’t know that I had just fed him a pickle. She was in the restroom when that happened. Therefore, she didn’t see it and I never told her. She didn’t realize that pickles were even an option. So for all she knew, he found this random pickle somewhere before we had left home and had been chewing on it the entire service!

Pretty gross. She, understandably, freaked out.

So, being the nice brother-in-law that I am, I immediately told her what happened so she could calm down.

Yeah, I couldn’t even type that with a straight face.

No, I let her suffer for a few minutes, speculating with her friend Paige where the heck that pickle could have come from.

Then I told her, when I finally couldn’t contain my laughter. We all had a pretty good laugh over that, and I hope that you did as well, dear reader.

Voice Actors: the Unsung Heroes of Cartoons

When I first realized that I wanted to write for a living, I started paying closer attention to the creative teams behind the final movie product. I started noticing that many of the movies I loved were directed, written, or produced by the same people.

So I’ve been starting to pay more and more attention to how things function behind the scenes. Voice acting has recently interested me, so I’ve started paying attention to who voices characters that I like.

There are two types of people doing voice over work. The first are celebrities lending their voices to a project, usually to give it some recognition that it would otherwise not have. They are distinguished by the fact that they voice one character and use their normal voice. The original Transformers movie from the 80s had several examples: Judd Nelson voiced Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime, Robert Stack (the Unsolved Mysteries guy) voiced Ultra Magnus, Leonard Nimoy voiced Galvatron, and the inimitable Orson Welles voiced Unicron.

The second type are professional voice over artists. They usually voice a half-dozen or more characters, many with a voice that sounds nothing like their own. The original 80s Filmation He-Man and She-Ra cartoons featured a cast of thousands of characters, yet only five voice-over artists were predominate. John Erwin, Alan Oppenheimer, Linda Gary, and executive producer Lou Schiemer (credited as Erik Gunden) literally voiced all of the characters in the show.

However, those who pay careful attention to voice-over artists may notice something interesting. Occasionally, the voice-over artist resembles the character they portray!

For example, Erika Scheimer voiced the mighty Queen Angela in the She-Ra series. Compare Scheimer with Angela. They look quite a bit alike. They both have blonde hair cut to about the same length, they both have the same body type and face shape.

Personally, I think that Erika Scheimer voiced Queen Angela closest to her own voice, though my wife thinks that Queen Marlena is closer to Erika’s original voice.

Then, there’s the unquestionable resemblance between Woody and Tom Hanks. Both are thin, both have brownish hair, both have similar body language. Makes me wonder if the Pixar folks cast Tom Hanks before they had a clear conception of Woody, and then based Woody’s appearance on Tom Hanks.

Or, if they had a clear conception of Woody but modified the conception to more closely resemble Tom Hanks once the latter was cast. Either is a plausible scenario.

Finally, this literally has nothing to do with voice artists, but isn’t anyone else creeped out by the resemblance of the sitting pope to Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars? I noticed it a while ago but never said anything (save for clipping the pope’s picture out of a newspaper and adding the Force lightning from his fingertips as a joke at work). But seriously. It’s eerie.

Did Nate Dogg and Warren G Have to Regulate?

The song “Regulate” by rappers Warren G and Nate Dogg is a pure adolescent male fantasy. Cruising the town without a real agenda, meeting some hot women, intimidating some obvious bad men, then taking the girls to a sleazy motel for a party that would entail what Judge Mathis frequently sarcastically labels “Bible study.”

In 1994, as a senior in high school, I could share that sort of fantasy. Even if I didn’t much care for rap. But that was a rare gem among rap music, earning two Grammy nominations in 1995.

One lyric from the song always amused me. “Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate.” Had to, Nate raps. As in, “there was no other way, we had to ‘regulate.'” Of course, in this song, as the introductory spoken words indicate, “regulate” is code for killing people.

At first blush, it might be self defense. After all, Warren G rapped just moments ago “They got guns to my head / I think I’m going down.” These thugs just relieved him of his “wealth:” “They took my rings / They took my Rolex / I looked at the brotha said, ‘Damn, what’s next?'”

Clearly, they outnumber Warren. Nate says, “They got my homey hemmed up and they all around.” We can see what the intent of these thugs happens to be. They took a lot of jewelry and an expensive watch. They don’t want witnesses, so Warren is about to get lead poisoning.

The problem is that the legal standard for self defense is to only use what force is necessary to stop the attack. After Nate appears with his gun drawn, that is so intimidating that a gang of thugs armed with guns of their own hadto flee (see what I mean about the adolescent fantasy?). Nate says, “Now they dropping and yelling / It’s a tad bit late / Nate Dogg and Warren G had to regulate.” It is reasonable to assume that they are running away at this point.

It is only after this gang of toughs attempt flee the scene that Nate Dogg opens fire and “lay[s] them bustas down.” It stopped being a self defense situation when the thugs ran away with tails between legs. This means that Nate Dogg and Warren G just described a clear-cut homicide. In a Grammy-nominated song that went to number 2 on the U.S. music charts, #22 on the end of the year Billboard chart, and was rated #98 on VH1’s Top 100 Greatest Hip Hop Songs.

So far as I can tell, I’m the first to raise this issue and the song’s been out for sixteen years. This is proof of both the declining moral situation in the United States (which is a subject best left for Josiah Concept Ministries), and of the fact that no one really listens to song lyrics.

Things That Annoy Me

I would have to say that there are three things that annoy me right now. The top annoying things in my life change on a regular basis, but as of right now, I have about a half hour to kill so I thought I’d write about the current three things that annoy me. The first is Facebook update feeds. The second is when people ask you stupid questions as a comment to your status update. And the third is the thing that always annoys me during football season: the Detroit Lions.

Facebook logo
Image via Wikipedia

Once when I was scanning the Cheezburger Network of sites, I came upon a

humorous graph. It depicted what a typical news feed looks like. It went something like this:

  • 1% Status Updates
  • 3% Likes
  • 96% Farmville Updates

 

Image representing FarmVille as depicted in Cr...
Image via CrunchBase

I laughed out loud. It’s funny because it’s true. Facebook isn’t about keeping up with the status updates of friends and family, thoughtfully expressing their opinions and letting you know what’s going on in a short 100 or so character burst of text. Now, the entire news feed that once contained friends’ status updates is completely dominated by Farmville notices: leveling up, finding others’ lost animals, requesting help for a barn raising. It’s really irritating, actually.

 

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Conventional wisdom dictates that the only stupid question is the one not asked. To heck with conventional wisdom. I say that there is such a thing as asking a stupid question. Any definitional question, e.g. “What is X?” posted to a status by an inquizitive friend, automatically qualifies as a stupid question. Allow me to explain.

When logged onto Facebook, you are, by extension, logged on to the Internet. This means that you have access to the entire Internet, not just Facebook. Google, the greatest search engine ever invented, is a part of this Internet phenomenon. Google can find the answer, literally in seconds, to any question relating to definition of terms.

Often, I post statuses that contain terms that some people may not understand. I’ve read widely and frequently research topics of interest to me. So, every now and again, I may unintentionally use a confusing term. Being that the person reading my status is hooked into the Internet, it would be child’s play for them to highlight the unfamiliar term, right-click it, and select “Search Google for…” from the menu. Viola! Instant answer.

That process works on most browsers and takes less than 10 seconds. On the other hand, if you were to post a comment to that status asking the person who used the term to define it for you, you’re going to wait a while for the answer. The person might not get the question right away. Then, once they post the reply, you won’t see it until the next time you log on to Facebook. It could be anywhere from a few hours to a few days before you get your answer. Googling the unfamiliar term is so much easier.

 

Detroit Lions helmet
Image via Wikipedia

Of course, the Detroit Lions lost. Again. They are 0-4. Another stellar start. Week 1 should have been a win, but thanks to the referee somhow deciding that Calvin Johnson didn’t “complete the process” of the catch (what does that even mean?), their victory was taken away. And it hasn’t gotten any better.

This past week, they came out like bumbling high schoolers that would have had a better shot against a Wisconsin junior high powder puff team rather than the Green Bay Packers. But then, in the second half, the Lions made things interesting. They scored several unanswered touchdowns, their defense stepping up (finally) to score two takeaways and bring the score within two points with six minutes left to play.

The Lions got the ball back once in those last six minutes, but failed to convert a third down and were forced to punt. Then the Pack won on simple ball control. They ran the clock down with short runs and screen passes, never giving the ball back to the Lions, never giving the defense a chance to intercept or force a fumble. Sad and tragic.

But that’s what happens when you don’t play football for 60 game minutes, instead merely choosing to play a little here and a little there. Why am I still a Lions fan????????

Explaining God to a Two Year Old

Until I attempted to explain the concept of God to my two-year old daughter, Ashleigh, it never occurred to me how complex some of this really is.

I was strapping her in to her car seat to go to church, and she said that we were going to see Mimi and Papa (that is, her grandparents). I said, “No, we’re going to church to see God!” I realized my blunder (Jn 1:18), and hoped that Ashleigh wouldn’t notice.

Of course, she seized the opportunity right away and as we were driving kept saying, “We go to church. See God.”

I finally said, “We can’t actually see God, sweetie. But we can see Jesus! Of course, he isn’t going to be at church. But we will learn about him.”

After considering that statement for a moment, Ashleigh asked, “The bad man get Jesus?”

“Nope,” I said. “Jesus defeated the bad man. For good!”

After a few more minutes, Ashleigh said, “We no see God. God no at church.” Laugh now, and laugh hard, my atheist readers. She’s only two and doesn’t get concepts like “immaterial,” “spirit,” or “omnipresent.” Don’t read too much into her statement.

I said, “No, honey, God is everywhere. We just can’t see him.” She seemed to consider this, but didn’t ask any more questions or make any additional statements related to church or God. Sometime, I need to have a more detailed conversation with her about God and Jesus, but not while I’m trying to concentrate on the road.