The Kitchen Sink

You know that phrase ‘everything but the kitchen sink’?  Yes, well today I moved the kitchen sink too.  Not just figuratively… So I’m a tired little monkey, and still mourning the death of our last cat on Friday. She’d been with us 20 years, and was sort of our pseudo-child now the children are grown and other animals crossed the rainbow bridge.  Barbs and I have had dogs and/or cats continuously since 1984, and caring for them… is part of our lives.  I miss the loyalty and the affection, but oddly I miss looking after them too. I just DON’T miss the parting.  So, I have been pushing myself too hard, physically as a compensatory mechanism.

That too has effects on my writing: I’m not overfull of words. No: even capital Black and small case white (the latest style manual political correctness/virtue signaling idiocy, if you haven’t read about it). I’m sure that will do great things for racial harmony. It’s nearly as good as buying the world a coke. Or should that be a Coke…?

Anyway, wirdz (spelling and grammar have now also been declared racist. All these years I just thought I was bad writer and poor and inventive speller, and there I was fighting racism all the time. Go me.) Aside from these bits of silliness, really, words are our trade, and using them to tell stories means that other people have to be able to understand those stories. If you want those stories to widely read, you could… demand government force people to read them! Or infiltrate and corrupt the School system and make them mandatory examinable reading! That will make people love reading and consume every word no matter if it is gobbledegook.  Well, perhaps in some people’s world – but not in this one.

Seriously, the only way any work will actually get read (not displayed on coffee-tables, but read) is this bizarre idea of providing something people want to (and can) read. A story being the something most people choose, although some like sermons. I think it makes them feel superior and better than people who like plain old entertainment. Occasional smart people manage to slide the sermon (whether it be about the evils of the demon drink or homophobia) into a story so the readers don’t realize they are being preached to.  Doing this well enough to fool most of the people most of the time, is rather difficult. Most authors fail. Hence my first admonishment: thou shalt always entertain FIRST. If there is no entertainment and people stop reading, there is no second part, no matter what it is, or how good and important it is.

Secondly: the purpose of grammar and spelling is not virtue signaling. It’s to make communication in writing easier. That makes people understand and follow your stry without effort.  The rules you were taught usually started that way. They may well have degenerated into something else (bureaucracy rules everything, even grammar). But seriously, I and 99% readers don’t care if you start with a preposition.  They just want to understand what you’re saying, quickly and without effort. That is why you need to be logical and consistent about your style. It does not help that English is not too logical anyway, but virtue signaling style manual writers do nobody any favors.


33 thoughts on “The Kitchen Sink

  1. ‘everything but the kitchen sink’

    I’m in a “strange” mood so I remember seeing one cartoon where a character had stuff being thrown at him and said “they’re throwing everything but the kitchen sink”.

    Then the character got hit with a kitchen sink. [Crazy Grin]

  2. One of my favorite “posters for English classrooms” showed a young harp seal on a disco floor (complete with mirror-ball overhead) and says, “Let’s go clubbing, baby seals!” For those of us of a Certain Age who recall the Greenpeace ads about baby harp seals . . .

    I tend to use “Let’s eat, grandma!” as the “why punctuation is important” example.

    1. I love stuff like that, it makes it so I can actually keep things straight.

      Things like this get inflicted on my kids all the time:

      1. What’s the difference between a cat and a comma?
      A cat has claws at the ends of its paws and a comma is a pause at the end of a clause.

      Although I’d say something like “cats have claws in their paws, commas put a pause after the clause.”

    2. I seem to recall the original T-Shirt Hell (not the toned down versions after [something] happened to them in the mid-90s) inverting the “Stop clubbing, baby seals!” joke with the baby seal bleeding & battered under a Disco Ball (& if it wasn’t T-Shirt Hell, I think I can be forgiven for thinking it was, ‘cos that was the sort of thing their customers bought).

  3. The hole in your heart from your beloved fuzzy ones will heal. Eventually. In the meantime they’re waiting for you and watching you (because it wouldn’t be heaven if they weren’t there to greet you when you arrived).

  4. Been a bad year, if just for the loss of the fuzzy ones. Condolences and commiseration.
    Watching another to come soon (the older sister to Isabeau, lost back in February), and realizing the youngest is now 7 or 8. But the rest of the worldwide stupidity is certainly not helping in the least, is it? How effing racist to think only pale folks can speak and use grammar (close to correctly)? Especially when it comes from the same group who will dismiss your whole argument because Auto-corrupt changed a word for you on a Tweet (My twitter presence is still banned, last I checked, anyhow) or blog post and make fun of people “who talk like they’ve never been to school”.

    1. They’re the same “tolerant” folks whose go-to insult for a woman is that she is a slut or lesbian.

      Which is quite shocking when the discussion was utterly unrelated to sex in any manner….

  5. 1) Entertainment before the sermon: most definitely. I may agree with Ayn Rand’s ideas, but I just can’t get into her stories very well because I don’t feel entertained. On the other hand, Kim Stanley Robinson usually entertains me even though he gets quite preachy.

    2) Grammar and spelling: OMG, I’m getting so annoyed with the new ideas being taught in school. Spelling isn’t emphasized at the school my wife teaches at, nor at the school my daughter attends. In fact, it’s actively discouraged. My wife got an official email from the district that she couldn’t give spelling tests anymore even though the vast majority of parents want them. When reading with my daughter I find her merely guessing at unfamiliar words. “Prattling” will be “parents?” or “percent?” even though those make no sense in the context of the sentence.

    3) this year has really sucked for losing people and pets. My condolences, Dave. Take care.

    1. *sympathy*

      Working on reading with the Empress, she’ll get bored in the middle of a word and just guess.

      Although “Nag” being read as “Nanite” is going to stay one of my favorites. 😀

      1. You have the flip over flashcards for phonics, right? (Bat, cat, fat, hat, or the opposite way for endings, middles, etc.?) You can use the blocks, letter shapes, etc.

        Multi-syllable words, you give them a pencil to mark the syllable break, or you use the blocks again and make physical breaks.

        But poetry or songs are best, because there is rhythm and rhyme to help.

    2. Ayn Rand is an excellent example.
      I’ve read The Fountainhead. There are actually some interesting insights in it. But I could not recommend it.
      OTOH, sometimes a good pulpit pounding sermon is a brilliant and necessary thing.
      Within limits.
      It must be general, and it must not be overly long. A kid who had been socialized into communitarian views encountering Anthem gets hit in the face by a bracing shock of cold water. Individuality is good. Thinking for yourself is good. Making your own decisions is good. All driven home with the subtly of falling anvils. In the novella, it works. Try and stretch it into a goatgagger, though…
      I hit the roof last year, when I found out spelling tests were being administered as multiple choice.
      It turns out that incentive pay can be corrupted into kids receiving less education.
      Elementary math tests evidently have much higher scores when there’s a multiplication table on the wall. That this actively screws over the student, later teachers and later schools doesn’t seem to matter. Their excellence is certified by the state, after all. So it can’t possibly be their fault.

      1. Day Job gained students when one of the public districts eliminated spelling as one of the requirements for English grades. Parents were Not Amused.

    3. There are times when I wonder if current education reforms aren’t actually about “educators” and administrators decreasing the competition their kids will face for white-collar jobs.

  6. This has been a semi awful year, hasn’t it? The Commie Crud, riots in the streets, losses in our personal lives, the whole thing. My daughter posted a meme on her FB, to the effect that she’ll stay up until midnight on New Years’ Eve – not to see 2021 arrive, but to make certain that 2020 leaves.

    1. I’ve been putting it as “2020: the beatings will continue until morale improves!”

  7. Condolences on both cat and sink, Dave. Don’t work too hard, it’ll only slow things down if you sprain your whatsit.

    Somebody posted a mention of the Rutgers “grammar is racist” thing under the title “Peak Idiocy.” I commented “Bold of you to assume this is the peak. The idiots are working hard, they can top this.”

    Probably they’ll top it by Wednesday.

      1. We’ll know they’ve hit the peak when we can say the dumbest shit we ever heard of happened ten years ago instead of ten days ago.

        Or ten hours ago, this summer. They’re really cranking the Stupid Machine right now.

    1. I saw a Twitter about the “peaceful demonstration intensified” that called it the more Orwellian think he’d seen yet — and was complimented for remembering the proviso.

      1. Yes, because the “intensification” of peace is a pitched battle.

        I see the Portland “demonstrators” have upgraded from fireworks to actual explosives today. Kaboom.

        I’ve just been wondering, in what universe is shooting fireworks at police peaceful?

        1. The corollary is that some leftists are finally urging that it’s foolish, and others are back to blaming white supremacists.

          (I also literally read a defense today that the reason slavery ended was slave revolts.)

  8. So sorry to hear about the loss of your pretty tortie girl. They leave permanent holes, but in time the hole will be filled with good memories.

    I sub teach to augment my income, and as the fall approaches I don’t know what concerns me more: no in-person school and therefore, no gigs, or live school and being required to adhere to a lot of PC requirements. The latter may not happen in my county, but you never know.

  9. English spelling is insane. I’m OK with not attempting to trick students on spelling tests by, for example, having a theme “this week is ‘ph’ words”, “this week is ‘f’ words”, “this week is ‘gh’ words”, the review is the ‘f’ sound. No need to make it harder than it already is. I hated my spelling tests; they were always just a random bucket of words.

    And none of the rules work. “‘i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c'” keeps getting extended “unless it is ‘a’ as in neighbor and weigh” + “or it is weird” and it’s still wrong.

    Having some idea how to spell things is helpful. Spell check only does so much – and sometimes it is wrong. The Outlook dictionary thinks “indecies” is wrong (and so does whatever this is), but “indexes” is fine. I wonder about cacti, octopi, datum, theses, parenthesis, parentheses. It only flags “octopi”. I bet campi fails, yep.

    I am also entirely in favor of a “normalize English” movement. All plurals end in “s”. All imperfect past verbs end in “ed”. Remove the letter “c” (not sure what to do about the “ch” diphthong). Make “j” hard and “g” soft. “There are good jiraffes in the sirkus.” All redundant diphthongs removed (“gh” and “ph” above). “ae” and “oe” died; there is hope. Where do I sign up? Meanwhile, ghoti rulez!

    I was trying to figure out bengiet (which is wrong and the suggestion is “betting” – found it by “fried dough be” and search auto-complete: beignet, which this still think is wrong) the other day. I never get “government worker” aka “bueracrat” right (close enough that “bureaucrat” was suggested). Knowing one’s attempt is wrong is half the battle.

  10. My condolences on your cat. She looks like my late Crystal. This has been a sucky year all around so far. The bright spot for me is that I’m now out of academia. So, no arguing over spelling next fall.

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