Sunday, 27 November 2011

Sprint to the Finish

Sorry we haven't been posting more, dear readers. Who would ever have thought teaching and taking classes (while, in Vaulting's case, holding down a full-time job to boot) to take such time? Nevertheless, as we all enter the home stretch, the sprint to the finish, we'd like to take a moment out of our schedules to wish you all the very best. Unless a miracle takes place, you'll hear from us some time after the 21st of December. Good luck to you all.


V & V.

Friday, 11 November 2011

"Happy Veterans' Day"

Every now and then I'm struck by a major cultural difference between the United States and my home and native land. November the 11th is certainly one of those times. Today I spent half an hour watching the services going on in Ottawa, because there wasn't anywhere here paying attention. Judging by one comment I saw on Facebook today, I feel as though perhaps I wouldn't have wanted to go anyhow.

"Happy Veterans' Day" it said. I think that's missing the point.

Today isn't a day for flag-waving, for patriotism, for nationalism. In Canada we call it "Remembrance Day," and it's a time for just that: remembrance.

We remember those who served: those who died and those who lived, forever changed by the service that we asked of them. We remember that war is not glorious, it is not heroic, it is not fair. We remember that those of us who have not fought are ourselves in some measure responsible for the suffering of those who have. We remember that there is no price we can pay, that there are no words we can say, that can make up for their sacrifice. We cannot repay that debt with simple gratitude. We remember that war is and should be a measure of last resort, and we weigh its consequences with heavy hearts.

But it is right and necessary that we do this. Attention must be paid.

We do not say "happy" anything.

We say "we remember."

We say "Je me souviens."

Thursday, 10 November 2011

"Medieval" my foot: a rant.

You know what really irks me? What really gets under my skin? When people can't be bothered to think about the words they're using. Most specifically (and thoroughly unsurprising), for me, it's the improper use of the word "medieval". It's a word near an dear to my heart.

So that said, what's got me rolling is this paragraph from an article linked to today by

It's a blog post called "Medieval Marketing" by a fellow named Grant McCracken, a research affiliate at MIT, and the author of a book called Chief Culture Officer. The problem with this article isn't that it's wrong. That I really can't say. Mostly, I think the article was about modern advertising techniques. Or perhaps post-modern ones. Past "form follows function" to the enticement of a mystery. Lovely.

But as far as I can tell, it's got nothing to do with the medieval. The only place the word even shows up, apart from the title, is in this paragraph:

The medieval world took for granted that the universe was filled with secret messages, placed there by God and the correspondences on which the world was built. What did not come from God or nature was made by man in the form of emblems, icons, and insignia insinuated into public life. The home of Sir Francis Bacon was covered with arcana. Only people with a keen eye and a university education could make sense of it.

Take note of those links in there, too. I preserved them just for you. Have you looked? Do you know what I'm going to say next? Please, allow me:

Elizabeth I was not medieval. Sir Francis EXPLETIVE Bacon WAS NOT MEDIEVAL. A book called "The Comely Frontispiece: The Emblematic Title-page in England, 1550-1660" is not nor cannot be in ANY WAY ABOUT THE MEDIEVAL because one of the ways we've decided where the modern era begins is WITH INVENTION OF THE EXPLETIVE EXPLETIVE PRINTING PRESS.

deep breath

Look, I don't know if this guy's ideas are valid. The ones about marketing and culture probably are. But come the heck on: if you can't use the word "medieval" right, just leave it to the experts, will you? And please, leave the Dan Brown schlock out of it too. Sub Rosa my ass.

This rant has been brought to you by the Foundation for Stress-Free Graduate Students, the letter 3 and the number Q.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Dispatch From the Department of Redundancy Department

Regarding a minor but persistent annoyance:

"Compare and contrast" -- let's stop saying this, shall we?

The former means to examine similarities and differences, and the latter means to merely examine the differences.

Unless you really want the differences twice, please stop asking your students to do both. I'm tired of having to explain to smart-alecky students that yes, it is completely redundant (if agreeably alliterative) to use both.


Chief Pedant
Department of Redundancy Department