Tag Archives: grammar

Gone Girl

I was waiting in line to check out and the people behind the counter were talking obliviously.  You know, some people just don’t realize they’re talking in public.  I wasn’t really paying any attention to them until I heard, “Yeah, they found her body out back.”  And I, and probably anyone else that would have heard that, understood that we are talking about someone who died.

On my way out of the store, I started thinking about how curious our language is and how we say things that have a very specific meaning.  Also, that those things we say have a deeper philosophical meaning.  She said, “they found her body”, not “they found her”.  It’s a statement that says your body is a part of you or belongs to you, but it is not you.  It’s like “they found her shoes out back”, but no one would ever say, “I got halfway to work and realized I forgot my body.  Mondays, right?”

When we talk about people, we are usually unintentionally talking about their soul or spirit.  Statements like “Is he still with us?” or “No, he’s gone” are usually not talking about the physical aspect of a person.  And I sort of find that weird that this concept is accepted among the faithful and the not.  Even among the most atheist, there’s still a believe that when you’re dead, you are apart from your body.  I would guess that even if they don’t believe in an afterlife or a spirit, they can’t just erase that person from their memory, so in a sense, that person does live on, at least in their mind.

And although it’s a little contrived, this language lends support to the concept that you are not your body.  Your physical appearance isn’t what defines you.  People that believe in auras and astral bodies would wholeheartedly agree with that.

The Definitive Article On Bands

What a misleading title!  Too bad, you’re here now.  I have been puzzling a bit today over the use of “The” in band names when it is not officially part of the band’s name.  The best example of this is “The Eagles”, whom I happened to listen to on my morning commute.  The band is really “Eagles”, but most everyone says, “The Eagles”.  You know.  This oddity was best summed up on a post on a forum that said something like,

If I say, “I love Eagles!”, someone might think that I liked large birds of prey that symbolize freedom in America.  But if I say, “Man, I fucking hate The Eagles!”, everybody knows exactly what I mean.

I thought I had found the answer in an article dealing with this specific topic, but I was unsatisfied with its conclusion.  I delved into my own music library for examples to see if I could make any sense of this.  Here’s a list of candidates from A through C:

  • Acoustic Alchemy
  • Alpha Rev
  • Art Of Noise
  • Blind Melon
  • Blue Man Group
  • Carpenters
  • Cheap Trick
  • Chicago
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Crowded House
  • Curved Air

This is actually a very good cross-sample, because there are a couple bands in here that are definitely preceded by “the” regularly: Art of Noise and Carpenters.  There’s some you would never consider preceding with “the”, like The Crowded House.  And there’s some that could go either way, like The Blue Man Group.

I thought I was onto something when I made my first hypothesis that you cannot use a definitive article if the first word of the band name is a modifier, like an adjective – Cheap Trick, Crowded House, Curved Air.  So, what kind of guideline is there for say, Art of Noise or Blue Man Group?  I got a hint from the band name Art of Noise – the “of”.  The Blue Man Group is The Group of Blue Man.  The Art of Noise is, well, The Art of Noise.  You couldn’t say The Air of Curved or The House of Crowded, right? 

Let’s find some more examples that may fit this “of” guideline.

  • Dixie Dregs
  • Electric Light Orchestra
  • Hearts of Space
  • Jefferson Airplane (mentioned in the article)
  • Little River Band

And some examples of the initial guideline where an adjective is the first word:

  • Daft Punk
  • Damn Yankees
  • Deep Purple
  • Diesel Boy
  • Dire Straits (also mentioned in the article)
  • Dream Theater
  • Fine Young Cannibals
  • Flying Colors

In this second list, you cannot interject “of”, where in the first list, you can.  Ok, the hypothesis is holding up reasonably well.  That leaves single-word band names like:  Buggles, Carpenters, Chicago, Devo, Dokken.  And also, we have to consider bands that do formally use “the” in their name like: The Cars, The Doors, The Outfield, The Police.

The article I found proposes that if the band name is a plural or collective term, “the” is used or is assumed.  That explains why we force ourselves to say “The Carpenters”, but not “The Chicago”.  However, it doesn’t account for cases like “The Nice” or “The Who” except to potentially argue that excluding the article results in a shitty, confusing name.  “I have tickets to Who tomorrow.  Nice is opening for them.”

So, I think I’ve satisfied myself as to when I can realistically prepend “the” to a band name even when the band does not explicitly do so themselves.  The exceptions to those guidelines, I’ll just have to chalk up to the bullshit of the English language.

Resume Retardation 2

A continuation of an older post, Resume Retardation, this is the resume that inspired my “English, Motherfucker…” post.  Again, this is an application for a software development position.  The applicant is an MBA and a Microsoft Certified Professional.  The latter should mean that he knows how to use correct technical terminology, and the former should mean he knows how to use English.  Like the previous example, the resume and the work history shows the level of quality you can expect.  Get it done; move on; disregard consequences. 

Most all of the offenses are missing words, which would suggest editing work done without proper proofing afterwards.

“Managed project management with regards the business logic and conditions, also managed a team of .net developers.” – This needs to be “with regard to business logic…”, missing a word and using an improper phrase style.

“…designing a new system for importing jobs from concept to deployment, 2-month development effort.” – The trailing fragment phrase could be fixed by leading in with “which was a …” or even “a …”.

“Managed website traffic to generate up to 4x more then when I started.” – Then/than is a pretty simple rule to understand.  This is Facebook-level dumb.  Somewhat better than YouTube-level dumb, but still.  Also, not grammatically, the question lingers, “4 times more what?”

“At the time that I started they had only a couple of schools involved, over the course of three years the project grew from a simply website to a .Net Solution with over 200+ schools we were collecting leads for.“ – What an awkward sentence.  Much more help needed than simply fixing the “simply” to “simple”.

Along with developing different methods of posting formats to the online entities.” – Not a full sentence.  At all.  I mean, this is not a full sentence at all.  It doesn’t even have the literary effect my snarky response does.

There’s more to this resume, but I grow bored.  When you hit this many errors, there’s not much you can try to salvage.  How are people content with this presentation of their professional self?  Is it simply a “get ‘er done” mentality or do people really believe that they don’t have time to invest in quality?

In my geographic location, it seems the software market is always hot.  But I’m starting to get a better impression of the dynamics of this market.  I’m seeing candidates who have had the same past employers.  I think it’s the same losers cycling through all the employers in the area and those employers are constantly dismissing and replacing them, giving the impression of a hot job market, when really it’s just the churning of lameness.

The Way Things Used To Be

Today at work, I was CC’d on an email for an upcoming project involving some work with some company or other.  Someone on their side had a bunch of “technical” questions that didn’t make a lot of sense to me.  I don’t doubt that they were relevant questions, but they seemed to be in another language.  It reminded me of a time long ago at an old job when I sometimes had to work with pharmaceutical companies who were in regulated environments.  They used words and phrases in a way that meant something very specific.  If you weren’t in the industry, you wouldn’t understand, and they would use that against you.  You wouldn’t get to work with them unless you spoke their language.

So that I could try and understand this company, I visited their website.  They are a multi-national finance company, and as such, you can imagine they are the least Internet-savvy company ever.  They may actually be the least marketing-savvy company ever.  But, I remember these days.  I remember when sites like this were normal.

Back in those days, the metric for a good site was how much information you could get online.  Well, that is still the metric, sort of, but today, that information is the customer-useful type, like inventory, pricing, technical manuals, warranty status, you know, exposing your internal data to the world.  But, when you don’t have that type of data, like if you’re a bank and not a retailer or manufacturer, you still want your site to look huge.  What do you do?  You fill it with bullshit – lots and lots of bullshit.  And this site delivered.

I was amazed at the volume of verbiage on the site and how vapid it all was.  It was more than I could enumerate myself, with links going all over the place and a navigation menu so large, it had its own close button.  I downloaded a website copier and set it to work on their site.  It found 95 pages!  And that was just on their home domain.  They had a couple of other subdomains, too.  One was 65 pages and the other was a WordPress site, so the site downloader downloaded author pages, archive pages, individual pages, etc, so the pagecount was unusable.  Still, being a webmaster for 150 pages of content has to be a nightmare.

And all of these pages said nothing.  And some pages said even less than that because they were grammatically incorrect.  Maybe I can give a pass on that because the site is multi-lingual.  Anyway, my original reason for going to the website was to find out what they do.  On one of the four (FOUR!) pages of the About Us section, one of the paragraphs reads:

The goal we have proposed is that in each of the many contacts we have with our stakeholders a differential experience to provide sustainable value is conveyed. So we have established our vision as a company and some guiding principles defining our commitment towards those stakeholders.

That is what the entire site is like.  What kind of zombie composes page after page of meaningless, worthless garbage?  Well, a long time ago in another job, that might have been me.  Not likely, though.  That old company got some decent contracts, but not big enough to write hundreds of pages of dreck.

I also remember when I could think and write in that nebulous language.  My early websites for my own consulting work may have been like that, trying to make my one-man shop sound like a large company (it didn’t work).  But everyone’s grown up now.  Being a lone consultant doesn’t have a stigma and businesses can be proud to be whatever size they are.  But some companies still seem to be stuck in the past.

Things To Do Alone: Stop Being Alone


In the “articles that didn’t need to be written” category, as well as the “articles that make no sense” category, I came across this one.  There have been lots of articles written about introverts lately, trying to educate others as to how introverts behave and why they behave that way.  So I assumed that this article was written with the same consideration.  Nope.

Here’s a summary of the suggestions for things to do alone:

  1. Go to a bar
  2. Go to a wedding
  3. Go to a concert
  4. Do a DIY project at home
  5. Go to a restaurant or café
  6. Go to local stores
  7. Go on a vacation
  8. Go to school
  9. Go to the movies

First off, the fact that masturbation didn’t make the list is a major oversight and destroys the author’s credibility.  That would be the #1 thing to do while alone.

Jokes aside, the author doesn’t seem to know what the word “alone” means.  All but one suggestion involves going out to where people are, many times with the intention of meeting new people.  That’s not being alone.  The article title should be “10 things to do alone when you don’t want to be alone”.

This article was an easy target, but there are becoming more and more easy targets every day.  Another alarming trend I am seeing is grammatical errors in news stories.  Things like missing words or misspelled words (probably via autocorrect).  In print media, there used to be a position called “editor”, whose role it was to read and correct all stories before publishing.  The editor would do normal proofreading, but would also manage the style and tone of the story.  When you understand how involved this could be, you gain a greater respect for the editor role.

But in the modern world of self-publishing, immediate deadline, 24-hour news, the editor role seems to be obsolete.  Editors would be more suited for weekly magazines like Time or Newsweek where the articles would be a more in-depth retrospective of events.  It’s kind of sad to me.

So what’s my excuse when I have a spelling mistake or a grammatical error?  Well, I don’t have an editor.  I do a re-read of my posts usually, sometimes a couple of times.  But we know how easy the brain can skip over double words or can mysteriously fill in missing words when you know what’s coming next.

Get To The Point

It’s somewhat shocking to me to see the way I’ve changed as I’ve aged.  One thing that recently struck me is the way I write.  I wandered onto another person’s blog and this person fancied himself a writer.  Every sentence had a level of pomposity that even the word pomposity doesn’t even express.  By that, I mean his writing was excessively flowery.  I thought, geez, I used to write like that.

I have no idea why I used to do it or why I stopped.  I must assume, like with many things as I got older, the question became, “Who am I trying to impress, here?”  The answer most every time was, it doesn’t matter.

But, I could still write like that if I wanted to.  But when I read stuff like that after writing, it sounds overdone.  If you can’t get the point across in normal language, advanced vocabulary isn’t going to help you.  Maybe it’s because I now write much more factual content and less fiction.  Fiction is a place where descriptive, verbose, and picturesque language should be used – to transport the reader.  When you are writing instructions, you don’t want to transport the reader anywhere. You want to get shit done.

Ah, romance.  That fleeting, etheric sensation that compels a man to remove himself from his left-brained, analytical prison and dash madly to the fountain of life.  To drink deeply of the youth and vigor that had previously been tucked away in the recesses of his being, like a book scorned and discarded as too childish and fantastical for the adult he wished to be.  Unhand that child, villain!

That’s how it reads to me.  A bunch of independent words that each strike an emotional note and end up as a cacophonic disaster.  Sure, some people do it better than others, and some even do it worse than that contrived mish-mash I spit up.

And the reason I wrote this is because I found an old archive disk with documents – old documents – on it and I’m deathly afraid to open them.  On the other hand, maybe writing a story parodying that style would be good for me.  The whole, “so bad, it’s good” could be something I excel at.  I mean, what the hell, Fifty Shades of Grey exists, right?

Resume Retardation

I’ve bitched before about the quality of resume we’re getting for our software developer positions.  We have another spot open and we got another resume riddled with errors.  I counted 18 major errors and I skipped a lot of minor errors.  This is just plain stupid, people.  I’m going to show you what you are doing wrong, so that you can review your own resume and possibly correct some of these before someone like me sees them.

First of all, this resume has the unique presentation where commas have been replaced by ellipses.  For example, when listing skills, it says something like, “This language… that language… some other language… some server software…”  I don’t know why people try clever things like this.  It reminds me of a goofball new-age manager who always used semicolons instead of periods.  So, sure, I noticed it and it makes me read your skills list with ridiculous, dismissive pauses as if after every skill you’re saying, “You know, I could go on…”  But if you’re going to do it and be pretentious about it, at least be consistent.  Don’t have the last three items separated by commas.

Now the offenses:

“Develop SSRS Reports in a ASP.Net Application using SQL, Silverlight, ASP.Net 3.5” – “A” should be “an”.  I am lenient when people talk about “a SQL database” or “an SQL database”, because of the two different pronunciations of “SQL”.  I know of no other way to pronounce “ASP”.  A/an errors appear three other places in this resume.

“Developed a WCF to be used by collages to receive leads for their schools” – “A WCF” means nothing.  “A WCF application” is probably what was meant.  “Collages” is completely wrong.  “Colleges” is the proper word.  There’s no excuse for this.  You are writing software for academics!  A similar problem where sentences end with “a SQL 2008” excluding any descriptor like “database”, “procedure”, or ”application” appears in two other places in this resume.  Another completely wrong word (“from” as “form”) is in the resume.

“Developed and Deployed an Company Intranet site (Oracle, HTML, JavaScript, and Java)” – “An Company” is improper.  You can read it and say, oh, it used to just be “an Intranet…”, but he added “Company” and didn’t change the “an”.  Yes, that’s probably correct, but it’s not an excuse; it’s just an explanation.  By the way, the random and inconsistent capitalization is a lot of the minor errors I didn’t count.  Also, note the proper use of an ellipse.

“SharePoint Sever 2007” – Really?

“Windows Phone 7 Developments” – How many developments are we talking, here?

“Wrote to chapters for the WROX SQL 2012 Bible on Row Level Security and Data Encryption.” – I hope those “to” chapters were proofread by someone capable of writing proper English.  This is not someone who should be writing or contributing to books.

So what we have here is a resume by someone who has been working professionally longer than I have. This resume has not been proofread by anyone, not even the recruiter that submitted it.  This person, who has been working as a contractor, has had to update his resume seven times in the last three years.  It appears he has not reviewed his work in full.  This is someone who clearly does not have an eye for quality and when the work is done, he moves right on to the next thing.  This is why contractors suck.


The interview was a total failure, so I didn’t need to voice my opinion on the quality of the resume.  However, as a personal embarrassment, I found the worst resume mistake during the interview.  The heading: “ACCOMPLIMENTS”.  I never would have thought a heading to be misspelled.