March 26, 2009

The Internet needs a proofreader

Is it wrong for me to be bothered by the fact that this article about writing grant proposals contains more than a dozen grammatical errors? Or that this article had so many, I stopped counting?

March 6, 2009

As if public restrooms weren’t unpleasant enough

A number of local elections are coming up this month, and one in Gainesville quite rightly has conservatives on high alert.

The Gainesville City Commission earlier passed a "Gender Identity Ordinance" that allows individuals to arbitrarily declare their gender based on "an inner sense of being a specific gender . . . with or without regard to the individual's designated sex at birth."

We received word of this today from John Stemberger, president of Florida Family Action. Stemberger, who is a lawyer, writes, "the law's wording is so vague that it allows any man -- even a sexual offender or pedophile -- to legally use facilities designated for women. If a majority of voters in Gainesville vote 'Yes' on Charter Amendment 1, they will be able stop this unbelievable law right in its tracks. Opponents as predicted are engaging in fraud and deception about what the amendment is really about."

The organization Citizens for Good Public Policy in Gainesville is working to rally support for Charter Amendment 1, which would overturn the rather silly Gender Identity Ordinance.

Yes, I said silly. While I have great sympathy for those who genuinely have Gender Identity Disorder, there are times when we must judge gender based on simple, observable things. Like anatomy.

I hate to be so blunt, but a similar gender identity ordinance passed in Colorado has already produced complaints from women about men using ladies' bathrooms and locker rooms. It should be obvious that because the women filing complaints could tell that the people they were complaining about were men, we have a problem.

Yet all these men have to do to defend themselves is claim a "gender identity" issue, and they're off. The Citizens for Good Public Policy Web site shows that while genuine transgender persons are not known to commit restroom crimes, male heterosexuals are:

The [gender identity] ordinance can be easily exploited by the heterosexual males who commit the vast majority of restroom crimes, as it gives them legal cover to scout for opportunity, and a convenient excuse if questioned about their presence. Why make it easier for criminals to plan their crimes?

An educated electorate being vital to the welfare of a democracy, I urge you to educate yourself on this matter. And if you happen to live in Gainesville -- get out and vote on March 24.

As Stemberger points out, "if this nonsense is not defeated in Gainesville now it will be coming to a city council in your Florida neighborhood."

March 4, 2009

Happy Grammar Day

Today is National Grammar Day. Celebrate by reading John McIntyre's Grammarnoir serial.

English is an earthy, messy, sloppy language, but we love it anyway. Here's a snippet that helps explain just why our beloved tongue is such a mess:

"By natural processes of spoken-language change, Latin 'debita' and 'dubitare' had turned into French 'dette' and 'douter,' with complete elimination of 'b.' The French words had passed into English in the forms of 'det' or 'dette' and 'dout' or 'doute.' Now scholars, both in France and England, suddenly became aware of the Latin source of their modern words. Since the parent language, Latin, which they venerated, had 'b' in both words, ought not the 'b' to be restored in their modern descendants, at least in writing? So both French and English began respelling their words as 'debte' and 'doubte' ('doubter' in the case of French). In English, most of these silent, etymological letters stuck. In French, they were partly eliminated at a later period. The result is that today English has 'debt' and 'doubt,' with a 'b' that was never pronounced save in Latin, while French has gone back to the more phonetic spellings 'dette' and 'douter.'" — Mario Pei, "English Spelling," in Language Today: A Survey of Current Linguistic Thought (1967).

Unlike some countries, we have no "academy" to settle spelling disputes or issue edicts about whether "aunt" rhymes with "ant" or "taunt."

And we like it that way.