I am not a great writer. I like to think I'm okay though. You can judge for yourself with a new eBook I wrote:
Yes, that was a moment of shameless self-promotion. Don't worry. It'll be the last one for this post. For the rest of this post I'll be discussing an issue of grammar because of a humorous example I came across earlier today. If you don't care about grammar, I suggest skipping this post.
I don't normally post twice in one day, but after uploading my last post I happened to follow a link I was sent on Twitter. This was an example of why Twitter is a good thing. The link went to an article a person correctly thought I'd be interested in. It deals with the same subject matter as the post I wrote yesterday, pretty much just mindlessly repeating the narrative I criticized in that post.
It repeats another aspect of that narrative as well. You might remember I wrote this yesterday:
Before I go on, I want to point out I counted at least four errors in this article that should have been caught by basic proofreading. That seems crazy to me. The Wall Street Journal is a major newspaper. Even a single typo in an article should be uncommon. That there are four astounds me. I won't fault Pielke for this as people make mistakes. The only people I fault are the editors at the WSJ who I'm not convinced even read this piece.
I won't say anything more about that though. People often tell me I care too much about such matters. Rather than bore everybody with them, I'll just jump into things...
In a strange twist of fate, this person on Twitter managed to send me a link to an article (he hadn't even read yet) which evokes the exact same feelings from me. So yeah, I get most of you guys probably don't care about things like grammatical mistakes and typos, but they matter! I swear they do!
I created this blog (though I shudder to call it that) with the idea of it being an online journal in which I could document aspects of the world I believe indicate the world is insane. I never thought of it as a "blog" or site in which I'd try to have influence people. I just wanted a place where I could put my thoughts down, and if people wanted to read them, maybe there could be some interesting discussions.
I drift from that focus at times. It is the primary motivation for me writing here, but it is one that doesn't come through like I wish it would. In light of that, I'd like to take a little time today to go back to my roots and just say: "What."
The lack of a question mark there is intentional. Sometimes I see something so crazy I can't form a rational response and have to just ask, "What?" On some occasions, what I see is even crazier. In those cases, my mind starts malfunctioning so much I can't even do that thing where you make your voice go up in pitch at the end to indicate you're asking a question.
Today I'd like to share an example of the sort of thing which breaks my mind like that.
Readers may have noticed I haven't written any posts in the last week, and I haven't been updating my In Process Review of Mark Steyn's latest book, A Disgrace to the Profession. I haven't given up on things, but the more I read Steyn's book, the more I realized the current approach wasn't effective.
I like the idea of doing "live" reviews like this, but Steyn's book is so repetitive there's just not point. Even worse, there are so many problems with his book one could never hope to cover them in a single read through. So instead, I've decided I'll approach his book in a more systematic, research manner. It's not as fun, but it will let me work out just what's wrong with the book in a far more structured manner.
Now, I know a lot of people won't care. For whatever reasons, a lot of people will love Steyn's book no matter what. They will continue to love the idea of him providing 120 quotations from "experts" they can use as talking points, no matter what. It won't matter that some of the quotes weren't in reference to Michael Mann, his work or anything related to it. It won't matter that many of the quotes have their meanings distorted due to being heavily quoted mined. It won't even matter that by my current count, 71 of those 120 quotations qualify as misquotations.
Now, I'll be the first to admit a number of these misquotations are relatively minor. However, that's not the topic of today's post. Today I'm not going to discuss the severity or importance of misquotations. Today I'm just going to look at a bizarre grammatical issue that came up in Steyn's book and ask if it qualifies as a misquotation. Because honestly, it's so weird, I don't know.
This is just a quick post. There was a story going around a few days ago about how a climate scientists named Peter Wadhams believed three of his colleagues had been murdered as part of some sort of conspiracy.
That's not what this post is about. It turns out Wadhams has taken filed a complaint with at least one of the newspapers that ran the story. According to him, he had a near death experience around the same time as his three colleagues died, and for a little while he worried it might not be a coincidence. After he took some time and thought about it, and actually looked at the circumstances of the other deaths, he decided it was just a really weird coincidence.
That sounds understandable. If that's all it was, it was kind of irrational, but being somewhat irrational after nearly dying is quite normal. The only issue is, did he keep believing it? According to the news stories, he did and still does to this day. According to Wadhams today, he doesn't, and he told the newspapers that. In fact, he claims he asked for his comments to be kept off the record because he knew they could be misunderstood/misrepresented to make him sound like a loon. Instead, he claims the papers misrepresented off the record comments to make him sound like a loon.
But I have no idea if he's telling the truth. Maybe he's completely right, and maybe he's owed a huge apology. Maybe his reputation was trashed for no reason other than some journalists being completely dishonest and unethical. Or maybe he's just trying to cover up a PR nightmare. Or maybe there's some other explanation. I don't know. I don't really care at this point. The way I see it, I don't have any evidence to base conclusions on, so how could I draw any conclusions? All I can do is report both sides of the story. I guess I could speculate a little, but I just don't care to when I have nothing to go on.
So you might be wondering why I'm even talking about this. That's a good question. I normally wouldn't. It's just, there's one thing I really care about in this story. You see, earlier I was trying to write a sentence about the complaint Wadhams filed, and... I couldn't figure out how to do it.