The futile attempts to change English spelling

The idiosyncratic spelling of English words is the bane of anyone trying to learn the language. Many people have come forward with ideas about how to make it more sensible, or at least remove some of the more absurd examples, but they have failed because languages tend to change from the bottom up, because some new usage emerges more or less spontaneously and then becomes the norm. Efforts to change things by fiat almost never seem to work.
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The sudden departure of blogger Avicenna from FtB

Ed Brayton of Dispatches from the Culture Wars, who is the person who maintains and is responsible for the FtB network, gives the sad news that a fellow FtB blogger over at A Million Gods has been removed from the network because of serial plagiarism. The charge is that he lifted entire chunks from the writings of others without attribution.
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What a mangled metaphor reveals about its creator

George Orwell warned that when a metaphor gets mangled, that is a sure indication that the writer is not actually thinking about they are saying but is in a kind of auto-mode, not visualizing the idea but just stringing together words that sound good but don’t really mean anything. It is a sign that the writer lacks conviction or does not care. I have observed that this is true for me, that the times when I have been in the auto-mode are when I make errors or say something that makes little sense when examined closely.
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On insults-4: The responsibilities of a blog author

In my private discussions with other bloggers about the issue of whether one should ban offensive commenters, the point was made that even if I could live with such comments, other readers may find them so offensive that they leave and never return because they think that by allowing them, the host is condoning such views. The suggestion was also made that men seem to be more comfortable with creating and being in a heated atmosphere and that if the blog host is not careful, the blog may become an exclusively male preserve. This is a serious argument that merits serious consideration. What is the blog host’s responsibility to provide a congenial environment to all who choose to visit? [Read more…]

On insults-2: Heated language on the internet

Once in a while, a furious debate flares up about the proper tone that people should use in exchanges with one another on the internet. This occurs within the skeptic community as well, the most prominent division being between the groups now referred to as accommodationists and the new atheists. The most common charge laid against the latter is that they sometimes use intemperate language in criticizing both religion and the accommodationist position. [Read more…]