FROM CITY TO FARM or I'VE GOT THE COCK, NOW WHAT .... Ramblings political, humourous, opinionated and/or creative writing from a man in flux


2009 01 25 - ban Webster's!

I love words. I respect words. Unlike most americans, I think words actually mean something and that they should be used as accurately as possible. One of the lovely things about English is that there are soooo many words, and shades of meaning (nuance) are available in English that don't really translate to a lot of other languages. I don't much care for the sound of a lot of English, the Romance languages are so much more musical than the Germanic, and Odin knows that spellings in English are a bloody nightmare for foreigners and americans alike. I love having the ability to shade a sentence to the exact degree I want. Synonyms are our friends! Having lightened up a lot to move here, I don't have my Oxford dictionary, I don't have a thesaurus or two, and I find I miss them. So, I've been trying to find on-line sources. I came across one the other day that really pissed me off. appears to be a partnership between something called askmenow and Merriam-Webster, now a disgraceful part of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Noah Webster started a 'dictionary' in the late 1800s that tried to restrict American English to biblical sourcing. Over the years, it developed into an American institution, eventually becoming the reference source for well-respected newspapers like The New York Times. Unfortunately, it has been edited by idiots to the extent that it now has definitions that completely warp the language I love. Today's word of the day on was 'unconscionable', which they Websterised (read: bastardised) into meaning "lacking conscience". I was, not to put too fine a point to it, astounded by the stupidity of this definition, and with the lack of decent editing employed by both of the companies involved. 'Unconscientious' would be closer to the definition offered, as conscientious means taking care to do something with accuracy and .. well .. care. Unconscionable means something that shouldn't be thought of, as in, "an unconscionable size, amount, or length of time is too great and is unacceptable" (Cambridge Learner's, on-line). I wanted an alternative to 'oral' in the sense of in the mouth, and the returned list of synonyms was equally unconscientious as it took the time to note that 'oral' means "spoken" and that 'verbal' means "either spoken or written". So, not only did they ignore synonyms meaning 'in the mouth', they Websterised the usage of 'verbal' into nonsense. If the editors have ever heard the phrase 'a verbal contract is not worth the paper it is written on', they probably think it refers to substandard paper supplies.

Growing up in Canada, where the official spelling is British but the informal usage accepts American spellings, I've forced myself to accept shite like jewelry instead of jewellery, but this goes way beyond differences in spelling. For any of you still confused, oral is a synonym for verbal and vice versa, and neither refers to something that is written down. The point is that words represent things, sometimes concrete things, and pretending that verbal can mean two contradictory things at the same time is not merely confusing to students of English, it is down-right wrong. The current direction of American usage seems unrelentingly towards useless: impacted does not mean 'that which happens when two things hit one another'. Webster's is at the forefront of the dumbing-down of English usage. I didn't know of the connection between and Webster's or I wouldn't have bothered to use it. I don't expect useful help from the dictionary that gave us 'dord' and took something like fifty years to realise that they'd made a printing error.

P.S. - this site must be using Webster's as its dictionary: I had originally typed Meriiam instead of Merriam and it didn't catch the typo.



A friend of mine from the village stopped in some time ago, accompanied by a fanatic.  My friend credits his evangelical 'family' with saving his life. He was a drunk and an addict, and had ruined his relationship with his children and family with his behaviour.  Finding religion turned is life around.  In my opinion, he has replaced one set of drugs with another, but it makes him happy to believe as he does, and that is fine with me.  We've established ground rules that preclude discussions of his beliefs:  his myth structure is of no interest to me whatsoever.  The other day, though, he had a visiting 'brother':  one of those men who look as though they are starving to death and have those intense eyes sunk in deep, dark recesses.  You've seen them, sometimes even without the white jackets with the really long arms.  I greeted my friend, and his companion informed me he was spreading the gospel of John.  I told him quite graphically where and how he could spread it, and turned back to my work.  But it made me wonder again:  who the hell do you think you are?  Why should I, a total stranger, care one whit about your religious myth and what you believe it has done to improve your life?  It makes no sense to me, this belief in some creature who is all-powerful and governs one's life from some invisible place, but if it makes you happy and a better person, then go for it.  I just don't need to know about it, because it is none of my business.  So why do you have this compulsion to tell me about it?  All flavours of religion are the same:  'we're saved, you're not, ha ha ha, we win'.  Well, some of us have grown past the fear of the unknown that started these myths in the first place, and think the joke's on you:  this is what we get, and if you choose to spend your life spreading hate and exclusivity, you deserve pity, not praise.   The only difference between organised religion and Hitler (and his chosen race shite) is that the murders are more subtle. If your belief brings you joy, which in most cases I don't think it does, then more power to you.  It's not a rational basis for a life, and it sure as hell is incompatible with government (and education), so keep it to yourself.  We'll all be much better off.


2008 01 05

Well, that's pretty much done, thank Odin.  I mean, of course, Christmas in a Catholic country, something of a trial for those of us with a different (and, by the way, highly unappreciated here) take on the whole damn thing.  For the first twelve or fifteen days of December, a diurnal saint had to be celebrated with (1) fireworks and (2) loud soi-disant dance music.  Unfortunately, I haven't found the Mexican equivalent of earplugs yet, so have had to listen to a lot of stuff I'd rather ignore.  This is a small village surrounded by other slightly-distant small villages, and the position of the house up its hill between two of them means that I get to hear all this much more clearly than I'd actually like.  Especially the five carols over and over from the bell-tower.  Anyway, I've been thinking about the relief of not hearing all this shite every night, and here it is again, another techno drum driven three chord assault.  Oh well, it has to end sometime.  This all vaguely leads to thinking about New Year resolutions and the pointlessness thereof, and my take on the whole "new start" thing.  I like to think about the preceding year and decide what was fabulous about it, to concentrate on the good.  And that has been quite a chore this year, with one thing and another.  To the good, I'm living in a much more congenial climate, surrounded by pretty little mountains.  I'm learning a veritable cornucopia of skills I never needed living my urban life-'til-now, such as ovine herding and chicken-coop cleaning.  I've made great new friends who are kindly correcting my Spanish and helping me acclimate to the expat life.  My health is not deteriorating in leaps and bounds.  On the other hand, I haven't seen my husband/boyfriend/partner (choose desired flavour of nomenclature) in basically a year, we both have no money, and I'm learning a veritable cornucopia of skills I never needed living my urban life-'til-now.  Computer access is the lifeblood of my global existence, and all my friends around the world have been less present than I'd like because of the lack of decent, reliable internet access here.  The world's economy is being dragged into the toilet by American 'globalisation', and I don't even want to think about what damage G.W. Bush can still manage to accomplish in the last throes of his tenure in the White House.  Pres Elect Obama got there with the help of my Tribe, and has chosen a virulent homophobe to deliver the invocation at his inauguration to say thank you for our help.  

All that and six bucks will buy you coffee, but it is important to remember that life is like that, shit happens, and try to go on being a positive force for good in the world.  A small way to help is, a lexicon game that donates twenty grains of rice to starving people for every right answer.  It's fun, simple, and makes a small difference.

Have a good New Year, everyone.


About Me

recently retired to southern Mexico from Canada