I still wonder why it's called snobbery to believe that language should have standards. But more so I wonder how I became a grammar snob, given that my own education in the subject was so bad. One year we learned about nouns and verbs, the next about Class 1 and Class 2 words, then something else, as educational fashions changed—and then I think the teachers just gave up. So nearly all I know about grammar came from French class, from reading good books, and from listening to my parents, who spoke well themselves. I still can't explain why something is right, but for the most part I know it when I hear it.
Come to think of it, maybe that's actually why I care about good grammar: if what we read and what we hear can no longer be counted on to help us intuit the rules of a language, what is to become of those whose schools fail them?
And on the point of the comic, school failed us almost at once. I can't imagine that "on accident" was actively taught, but I do know that Heather had not been in a school environment very long before the phrase became cemented in her vocabulary, so I doubt much effort was put into correcting it. Then again, maybe the teachers tried—but peer influence is so terribly strong. Certainly I tried. But as I said, I may (usually) know what's right when it comes to the English language, but I still lack the tools to be persuasive about it.
Anyway, this comic made me smile, because it gibes both ways.
Joyce K. is a very good friend of our family, and though she has plenty of grandchildren of her own, she happily played a grandmotherly role to our children. Formerly of Philadelphia's Savoy Company, she is a great lover of Gilbert and Sullivan and introduced our kids to that joy at an early age, through a children's book version of "The Pirates of Penzance." I believe she also provided the taped-from-TV videotape now mouldering away lovingly preserved in our cupboard (the Rodney Greenberg version, starring Peter Allen as the Pirate King).
We nearly wore the tape out. When Janet went to kindergarten, and was interviewed for one of those "all about me" posters, she confounded her teacher by responding to the inane question, "What's your favorite TV show?" by answering, "The Pirates of Penzance." One of my joys of those years was hearing quotes from the show pop up in the girls' conversations.
Fueled by those memories, I let work grind to a halt today while I created an excerpt from that tape as an homage to this special, quadrennial day.
This is possibly the best use ever of cute pet photos:
When Belgian police asked witnesses not to tweet officers' movements during raids targeting terrorism suspects across the country's capital, the Internet reacted in perhaps the only way it knows how: with cats.
Belgians ... seized the #BrusselsLockdown hashtag to post jovial photos of feline friends on Sunday.
While ostensibly frivolous, the viral meme's effect was threefold. It enforced the Twitter radio silence, buried any tweets that might harm the operations, and eased some of the tension in what has become an anxious city.
The video in the article is short and worth watching.
Did you ever imagine that a story about a carjacking could make you smile? Especially one where the car was stolen with a child inside? Read this story from Free-Range Kids.
When the thieves realized they had stolen an eight-year-old boy along with the car, they asked him where he wanted to get out, and he answered with the name of his elementary school—which is where his mother had been taking him when she stopped to do a quick errand. The thieves obliged.
My favorite line of the story is Lenore Skenazy's:
So the real moral of the story is this: Kids need better training. When carjacked and asked, “Where would you like to go?” they should be ready to reply, “GameStop,” or perhaps, “McDonald’s.” This unprepared kid was involved in a real life Grand Theft Auto and didn’t even get to even miss first period.
That's the Swiss: chill, neutral, and convinced that Americans dress funny every day of the year. Mallard Fillmore from the day before the Swiss celebrate All Saints' Day.
Rather cool, even if we do all have our mouths open. (Click to enlarge, or follow this link.)
Today's Dilbert is for all the bright students frustrated by teachers who insist that they show their work.
Don't overthink it; I just think the last panel is funny.
I know it's sometimes important to show the intermediate steps, and what I used to tell my students was that they didn't need to show their work, but that if they didn't, they wouldn't get any partial credit if their answer didn't agree with mine. Too many teachers, however, don't understand that some students can no more explain the process by which they arrive at the correct answer to a math problem than a fluent reader can detail the steps by which he understands a paragraph. "Showing your work" becomes a matter of reverse engineering, which is another skill altogether.
I try to avoid clickbait—you know, the Internet equivalent of the TV news teaser, "World ends tonight, details at 11"—but this one on Facebook mentioned both "Basel, Switzerland" and "drum corps" in the subtitle, so I succumbed. I was glad I did. (Thanks, BJ.)
The Top Secret Drum Corps founded the now-famous Basel Tattoo in 2006. I enjoyed watching the parade in 2010, though we didn't attend the Tattoo itself, being fully entertained by newborn Joseph.
I don't change my Facebook profile picture very often. Nor my cover photo, as evidenced by the fact that the current one is missing two grandchildren. In fact, I think I've only had three profile pictures since I joined Facebook in 2007. For a long time I used a version of our Sursum Corda Academy shield, which you see on the left-hand side of the banner at the top of this page. In 2014 I switched to this picture of Vivienne and Grandma swimming.
While I hate to replace that adorable moment, I think it's time I changed things up a little more often. Plus, I not could resist this photo of, um, myself with my cup of tea and my handsome prince, sitting on a bench at one of our favorite places: Leu Gardens, where we enjoy the flowers and others do all the work. (You can click on the images to see larger versions.)
The sculpture is by J.A. Cobb, and was part of a very enjoyable Ribbet the Exhibit display back in February.
And I'm not the only one in the family with a frog doppelgänger.
As I was preparing the last photo for posting, it occurred to me that it resembles something other than our granddaughter. Sure enough, I found this picture of Edgar Degas' Petite Danseuse de 14 Ans, from our trip to the St. Louis Art Museum. That had looked familiar in its turn; there's also a version at the Musée d'Orsay, in almost the exact pose as my frog picture. Now I don't know if it looked familiar in St. Louis because of the Orsay or Ribbit the Exhibit!
It's not much of a post, I'll admit. But I'm one short of my goal of writing at least ten posts per month, and this month ends in three minutes. See previous post for why I'm writing at this hour. No, I'm not a slave to that goal, but if I can do it, why not? It's the perfect excuse to offer one of my favorite poems, by John Masefield
Laugh and Be Merry
Laugh and be merry, remember, better the world with a song,
Better the world with a blow in the teeth of a wrong.
Laugh, for the time is brief, a thread the length of a span.
Laugh and be proud to belong to the old proud pageant of man.
Laugh and be merry: remember, in olden time,
God made Heaven and Earth for joy He took in a rime,
Made them, and filled them full with the strong red wine of His mirth,
The splendid joy of the stars: the joy of the earth.
So we must laugh and drink from the deep blue cup of the sky,
Join the jubilant song of the great stars sweeping by,
Laugh, and battle, and work, and drink of the wine outpoured
In the dear green earth, the sign of the joy of the Lord.
Laugh and be merry together, like brothers akin,
Guesting awhile in the rooms of a beautiful inn,
Glad till the dancing stops, and the lilt of the music ends.
Laugh till the game is played; and be you merry, my friends.
A short (three-minute) video, just for fun. Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale. Enjoy.
If this video has you scratching your head, just ignore it. It's a little tidbit for a few of my readers while I work on my next book review. But the few ("the happy few") will smile, I think.