English Is Murdered at 943 Years Old

Why? WHY?

English is dead, murdered, at the blood-stained hands of Corporate America.

As a video game enthusiast, I ran across this article regarding recent Microsoft Layoffs.

“The realignments of headcount are directly intended to strengthen the Xbox 360 platform and align resources with key strategic initiatives, including Xbox LIVE.”

If I were to try to remember how we used to speak, I think the Microsoft spokesperson was trying to say:

“We fired a ton of people, but we tried to not fire the people responsible for the profitable stuff like Xbox Live.”

But I don’t know, it’s been so long since I’ve read English that this Orwellian Newspeak is almost starting to make sense to me.

English will be missed, and is survived by its children, TXT, LOLSpeak, and Jargon.

This Is Why We Proofread, Apple.

I was perusing the new features of iMovie ’09, and discovered this remarkably stupid grammatical error.

Bush league, Apple. Bush league!

I’m compiling pet peeves an upcoming post rounding up writing mistakes that make companies and people look stupid, but I never would have thought a marketing-obsessed megacorp would perpetrate one of them.

Are You Emulating The Worst Blog On The Internet?

The best blog on the internet is Boing Boing, which probably goes without saying.

The worst blog on the internet should also go without saying, but you probably haven’t heard of it. Luckily, I’ve got a lot to say about it.

It’s That’s Fit. And if your blog suffers from any of the 4 things I’m listing below, you’re next on my list.

Those that know me well know this blog fills my daily rage meter to boiling. I’ll quickly run down the reasons, and again, if you’re guilty of this kind of stuff, cut it out! And if you write for That’s Fit, that goes doubly.

I first saw That’s Fit as the AOL network was pimping it heavily on other blogs like TUAW and Engadget a few years ago. As someone who periodically blogs about fitness, I added the RSS subscription to my NewsGator feeds.

Since then, I have wanted to post the following comment after every entry: “Shut up! What’s wrong with you?”

I could go through a post-by-post rebuttal of their writings; they’re that stupidly-written and wrongheaded. Instead, I’ll list 4 things that indicate your blog is doomed to obscurity’s hell:

1. You preach to, rather than relate with, your readers.

This may seem hypocritical in a post telling you your blog is going to hell, and so what if it is? I’m more referring to the fact that the phrase “my children” appears 707 times in the blog.

What does that mean? Let me offer a couple of examples:

“Gold medal phenomenon Michael Phelps never stumbled at the 2008 Olympic Games, but what was he thinking when he signed the Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes sponsorship agreement? A cereal high in sugar, low in fiber, made with mostly refined grains. One of the last meals I’d feed my kids for breakfast.”

“Parents just have to get on board, too, and save soda for the rare treat or avoid it altogether.”

“[My son’s teacher] banned candy from her classroom. I thought it was wonderful. The kids will still be allowed to have candy on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day. But on a day to day basis, my son’s teacher is promoting good nutrition that will give them the energy they need.”

“…parents need to answer the nationwide Help Wanted ad for Gaming Gatekeepers — now. This is especially relevant for our family at the moment, based on watching my seven-year-old’s new, disturbing behavior after receiving his very first, high-tech video game a month ago.”

“Your loving online Fitzness Expert (me) who has extremely high standards on what I put in both my children’s mouth and my own can spend a day at the Magic Kingdom or EPCOT and eat as well as I would in my own home.”

This begs 2 questions: First, how did every blogger on That’s Fit achieve the position of “World’s Best and Most Responsible Parent”, especially considering the fact they take the time to post to the Web while uttering phrases like “high-tech video game”? The second question is:

2. Oh, you’re an expert at what? What the hell is a Fitzness Expert?

This irks me to no end. I work with highly respected experts and authors, highly regarded in nutrition and exercise, and they blush at being called “experts”; such is the humility of the true expert.

The credential-less jabberers at That’s Fit actually altered the word Fitness to accomodate their names! This Fitz K character is seen wearing every piece of sporting equipment she can get someone to take a photo of her in (not to mention the fact that her posts are intolerable name-dropping garbage). If she’s clamoring for fame, she should probably be doing it on a blog whose readership is larger than it was last year, not smaller.

It’s fine to be an expert, guru, or Zen master, but earn the title, rather than self-assign it.

Speaking of “FitZness”:

3. Un”BEAR”able headlines

Pun-based headlines? Sure! Painful and trite? Absolutely. And nonsense? You bet.

“Drinking water for weight loss: Is it a ‘waist’ of time?” — Hilarious, and topical!

“Get cut like your fruit” — Oh, I get it. No, actually, I don’t.

“Think Healthy.” — It may not be original, but it’s also not grammatically correct.

“BODYFLOW yourself” — WHAT. Did you just tell me to…

“Row, row, row your back” — What pudding-brain thought this was good to post?

“How Many Calories … in an IHOP omelet?” — From the “Burning Questions” category, I guess.

And that’s not counting the “5 ways to blah blah blah” and the “8 foods that blah blah blah” posts. If you aren’t clever, don’t try to be.

Come straight at me with your intentions, and I’ll be less likely to want to cut myself just to make sure I still feel after reading your post.

And most importantly, if you have this, you are going to have all of the above:

4. An impossible-to-care-about purpose

Choose a blog topic that people have an interest in! How hard is that? Not so easy, actually. Most blogs are self-indulgent to an insane degree. It requires a lot of discipline to focus on things other people find interesting.

It doesn’t have to be for everybody. My sister maintains a blog about her dog, her adorable husband, and her adorable life. It’s perfect for her readership of loved ones.

But as soon as you start blogging for the general public, no one cares about your children’s wise eating choices. Educate me. Entertain me. Make me laugh. Point me to something interesting somewhere else. Just don’t write to fill space.

A fitness blog is a misguided choice. New information relating to fitness comes up once or twice a week, at the most. So you start filling space with opinions, meaningless stories, largely-unrelated news items, calorie counts from take-out menus, and other regurgitated and painful-to-read stuff.

So there you have it. A recipe for failure, from the blog that is the Julia Child of EPIC FAIL.

More fail:

Listening for your Cassandra

I had a coworker remind me recently, when confronted with some negative talk, to not be too dismissive of our “Cassandras”. I am not intimately familiar with Greek mythology, so I had to look up the reference.

Cassandra is the story, in Greek myth, of the woman who received the ability to see the future, only to be cursed that no one would believe her. This would be an exquisite form of torture that all of us, at some point, have the unfortunate ability to relate to (particularly those of us that have attempted to advise teenagers of the rocky shoals ahead).

In today’s society, as in those before us, we tend to be dismissive of those that approach us with such negativity. We’re conditioned never to bring up problems without pointing out a silver lining, for fear of being perceived as naysayers.

As I was perusing The Consumerist today, I was reminded that some of us just didn’t get that message:

Jim Cramer 1 year ago

And a year later, unlike Cassandra, he can recall his prescience to those that called him crazy 1 year ago.

Now the Consumerist calls this “gloating”, but if you watch the follow-up, you’ll see more of a general feeling of frustration that people ignored and still aren’t fixing the underlying problems that caused our current economic meltdown.

It was a sobering reminder that all too often, when we hear the voices yelling for us to stop the line because we’re walking into disaster, we dismiss them as “tactless”, “negative”, or “crazy”, and push forward with our admirable exuberance.

I understand that if we spent all day pondering the doomsday prophecies coming from society’s fringes, we’d never sleep or get anything done. But we’d do well to at least consider these viewpoints from time to time.

How do you listen to find your Cassandra? The nice thing is that you don’t have to look too hard, as they’re usually vocal enough to attract attention to themselves. If you’re working on a project and someone predicts impending disaster, it tends to stick out a bit.

Rather than dismiss, correct, fire, or ignore them, it might be in your best interests to indulge them for a moment and let them explain their reasoning. You can teach them tact later.