Friday, June 27, 2014

Serious stuff, and funny stuff...

I've got a couple of funnies for the weekend, but first some serious stuff. Good writing is seen in the crafting of clear and precise language but many people -- including careful writers -- are guilty of fuzzy writing. I plead guilty too. What do I mean by "funnies" and what exactly is "stuff"?

Examples in the newspapers are easily spotted. Take this page one story in today's ST (June 27):

It is fairly easy to grasp what are "economic ties" -- trade, investments, finance and banking, for instance -- but what are "strategic ties"? Military cooperation? Just military cooperation? Security cooperation? Ah so. But what is security cooperation that is more than military cooperation? The root problem is that the fuzzy word "strategic" is being used as a catch-all just as "we" (I'll come back to this word) use "etc" as a wrap-up when "we" have run out of "stuff" to add to a list.

Okay, on to "we". This interesting opinion piece appeared in today's ST:

So who are the "we"? Yes, "we" (all seven billion folks on planet Earth?) do not want to see another world war erupt but who are the "we" (surely not all seven billion?) who need to bury "our" selfish preoccupations and "act together, really act"?

Last example here of fuzzy writing spotted today (also from ST):

As I understand the above piece of conflated writing, there are two necessary conditions for someone to qualify for Pioneer Generation status. He or she must (1) be born on or before Dec 31, 1949 and (2) have become a Singapore citizen on or before Dec 31, 1986.

This rules out all locally-born Singaporeans! Only foreigners who were born before Dec 31, 1949 and who became Singapore citizens before Dec 31, 1986, qualify for PG status!

The correct wording begins with undoing the conflation, that is...

If you are (1) a Singapore citizen born on or before Dec 31, 1949; or (2) a foreigner born on or before Dec 31, 1949 and who became a Singapore citizen on or before Dec 31, 1986, you are automatically...


The US soccer team has made it to the elimination rounds in the 2014 FIFA World Cup competition but only because of the rule of goal differences (vis-a-vis Portugal):

But the Washington Times had a strange way -- in its headline -- of describing the US team's advance to the next stage:


Ok, the funnies...

A drunk -- and with a ragged dirty look still smelling of last night's rounds -- strolled by the building and saw the sign. He immediately went into the building to apply for the position.

Aghast at his appearance, the director wondered how to send him away but, to be fair, he gave him a glass of wine to taste.

The retired drunk held the glass up to his left eye, tilted his head  toward incoming sunlight and studied the contents looking through the  glass. He then took a sip and said, "It's a Southern California Muscat, three years old, grown on a north slope, matured in steel containers. Somewhat low-grade but acceptable.”

"That's correct Buddy," said the boss.  Glancing at his assistant he said… "Another more difficult test sample for Bud, please.”

The drunk took the goblet, full of a deep red liquid, stuck his nose into the glass, sniffed deeply and took a long slow sip....rolling his eyeballs. He then looked at the director and said..."It's a Cabernet Sauvignon, eight years old, south-western slope, oak barrels,  matured at eight degrees.  Requires four more years for the finest results.”

"Absolutely correct, Buddy. A test – second tasting glass for you," said the director.

Receiving another glass, again, the drunk eyed the crystal, took in a little bit of the aroma and sipped very softly... ''It's a pinot blanc champagne, very high grade and exclusive,'' said the drunk calmly.

The director was astonished and winked at his comely assistant to suggest something for the third and final taste test.

She left the room and came back in with a wine glass half-full of urine. The drunk eyed it suspiciously... a colour he could not quite recall. He took a sip, swishing it over his tongue and across his teeth, musing upwards all the while...
"It's a blonde, 26 years old, three months pregnant, and if I don't get the job, I'll name the father." 


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