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When I read Adam Smith in college, I remember my seminar focusing on whether workers in a capitalist society could live meaningful intellectual lives.

Well, I’m here to tell you right now that they can’t.  In the past year, I’ve worked so much and thought so little.  It’s been ages since I finished a book, or formulated complex thoughts.   When I come home, I only have enough mental energy to read blog posts.

I feel like the post uninteresting person, ever.

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I’ll always have DQ

 

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This is so ridiculous, I can’t even. Also what is with this trend of people saying processed foods have no nutritional value?  Soda and french fries are “not food”?   Can we blame Michael Pollan* for creating this faux distinction?  Well, I have news:  soda has calories!  This means that when you drink  soda, you digest it and use it to fuel your brain and muscles.

*He of “only eat things your grandmother would recognize as food” fame.   So, like, potatoes, pot roasts, butter cakes, and that weird lime jello dish with pistachios? No?  Ok then.

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Unexpected

From a remarkable collection of color photographs taken in Russia in the early 1900s.

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I really need to stop reading posturing, pseudo-philosophical articles and comments in the New York Times and instead read some real philosophy or something.

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Language Police

Why correct grammar =/= fluency from, “Why I’m not Proud of You for Correcting Other People’s Grammar:

Grammar too often gets confused with what it is designed to produce, which is fluency. Fluency here is defined not just by your ability to speak or write in a particular language but by a certain facility with that language, the ability to make words do exactly what you want them to do, to make them sparkle and titillate and inspire, to not just say the right thing but to sound good doing it. And that may or may not include utilizing proper grammar. . .Fluency is the ability to say exactly what you mean exactly how you want, which is harder than it sounds.

Exactly.  The expanse and variety of atrocious writing in the world should be enough to convince anyone that correct grammar is not a panacea.  Now, I enjoy grammar for the same reason I enjoy reading and writing–I like tinkering with sentences.  However, I’m not a big fan of  l’académie française-style language regulation, mostly because I don’t understand the desire to treat language as a fixed entity.  Granted, we treat language as fixed all the time for pedagogical purposes, and that’s fine.  Knowing the conventions of grammar, style, and punctuation is important for both practical and aesthetic reasons.  I also think it’s good to know the conventions before asking philosophical questions about what language means.  You’ll end up asking better questions that way.

On a grander level, language police irritate me because they imply that language is a set of external rules people must conform to.  Individually, that implication is partly true, since we’re all born into languages not of our own making. But, like the post’s author says, the rules of grammar were not delivered on Mt. Sinai.  Usage ultimately determines convention, not the other way around.  Of course, your usage is more likely to become convention if you are rich and powerful, doubly so if you use your power and riches to colonize other people with guns and laptops.  Still, language is ours to modify, and that’s pretty awesome.

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