Thursday, June 08, 2006

Really Geeky Grammar Point (and Zarqawi Dead!!!)

Ok, I don't know why I'm writing this. Probly I'm just pissed that this douchebag writes for the NYT and I don't. But shouldn't we expect better from America's preeminent newspaper? Amidst his review of the Motorola Q cell phone, David Pogue makes the following incisive comparision:
Unfortunately, this software's designers must believe that you bill by the hour; getting anything done on this phone requires more steps than the Empire State Building.

Hmm. How might we address the problem here? Oh, I know. "Unfortunately, this sentence's writer must believe that you don't speak English very well; understanding the comparison he makes in his sentece requires more information than a phone book." Huh? My comparison doesn't make sense? Well, of course it doesn't, because I didn't clarify what I was talking about. And that is a good description of (one of) Pogue's problems as well.

Does he mean - (1) that getting anything done on the phone requires a greater number of steps (meaning "elements of a proces") than the number of steps (meaning "incrementally elevated units of a staircase") the builders of the Empire State Building needed when they were building it? [or perhaps even with regard to the Building, he is referring to the number of steps (i.e. process steps) that it took to build it?] (2) that getting anything done on the phone requires a consumer to endure more steps (meaning "elements of a proces") than the number of steps (meaning "incremental elevated units of a staircase") endured by one who climbs up the stairwell of the Empire State Building?

And if (2) is the intended meaning, as I believe it is, what verb is supposed to be modifying the latter part of the sentence - "requires"? But that doesn't make sense. It's not the building that requires the steps; it's the one who goes up the steps who is required to traverse the steps. Basically, the whole comparison is a huge freaking mess. Maaaan, how do these idiots keep their jobs? For those interested in more material on incomplete or unclear comparisons, I recommend this
little quiz.

(I dedicate this post to Ethan Keller and the noble editors of Kedma, whose understanding of "copy-editing" is reminiscent of the rental place's understanding of "reservations" in "The Alternate Side" episode of Seinfeld [Episode 28: Season 3, Episode 11]).

Zarqawi dead?!! God bless our men and women in uniform!!!!


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