Should English Become The Official Language of the US? NO. Here’s Why.

It would be impossible for English to become the official language of the US, because English is not defined and has no rules.

You read that right — there are no rules for the English language, and that is why it cannot become the official language of the US. All of the rules you learned in your English class were the rules for passing that individual class and do not apply to English the language itself.

Think of it this way: are there rules for making a painting? Painting is an art, and there are no rules in art. In order to pass an art class, however, students must obey the rules that the teacher must create to conform to grading systems — but those rules do not apply to art itself.

A Bachelor of Arts in English, is an Arts degree. Art does not have rules. Art is a form of expression, and since the US constitution limits how the government’s suppression of expression, the government cannot establish an official art and remain constitutional. An official art that everyone must use would be like creating an official form of expression and eliminating or invalidating other forms of expression.

English doesn’t have rules? What about the dictionary?
English does not have rules. A dictionary is a kind of newspaper about a language, not a rule book. Think of a sports page of a newspaper that lists yesterday’s game scores. Is the newspaper suggesting that all games from those teams in the future must have those scores? No, it is merely descriptive of observations of the game. In the same way, dictionaries are descriptive of how language has been observed to have been used in the past, by the largest number of people.

Dictionaries are not prescriptive of how words are only allowed to be used, nor do they limit ways words must be used. Dictionaries serve as a troubleshooting tool to help you figure out what someone might have meant, or as a strategy to help you select a word that the largest number of people might understand with minimal questions of what you meant.

Think of a hashtag search on Twitter. If you perform a search of a particular hashtag on Twitter, you’re given a list of tweets in which that hashtag has been used in the past — not standards that limit how a hashtag must be used. A dictionary is merely a kind of hashtag search, which shows the most popular ways to use them — but not the rules for using them.

Dictionaries can be used prescriptively in certain styles of writing, but English does not have a governing style. Imagine if you were playing basketball and someone yellow-carded you for touching the ball with your hand, as if you were playing soccer. Styles of English are like different sports. Many styles are similar, such as Chicago Press Style and Associated Press Style for journalists.. similar to the way soccer and basketball both involve getting a ball into a goal. But the rules of one sport do not govern “sports” in the way that the rules you learned in English class do not govern English.

Lexicographers are people who study words and how they’re used. Lexicographers research by direct observation the ways people use words in everyday life.. in TV, newspapers, on Facebook and more, and keep a tally of the way people have used a word. Did they use it adverbially? Did they verb the word? This tally of ways people have been observed to use words go into a large database called a corpus, that dictionaries can draw statistics from about specific words. In what way was a particular word used the most often? Dictionaries then list those ways in the text of the dictionary, starting with the most frequent way, followed by other ways in descending rank.

When you look at the definitions of a word in a dictionary, you’re not looking at the only ways you’re allowed to use a word (nor spell, nor pronounce them, either). What you’re seeing is just a list of ways people have used words the most, from the past. If a newspaper were to report about a murder where the weapon used was rope, the newspaper is saying that it was observed that a murder took place using rope — not that rope must be used for all future murders. A dictionary only describes how words were previously used, by the most number of people.

In order to understand what someone from the past meant, it is important to look to a dictionary from that person’s time to see what other people from that person’s time meant when used a particular word. If a people are observed to use a word differently than the most frequent way of yesteryear, then the dictionaries will eventually change the ranking of the most frequent definitions of a word in order to be up to date. The addition or removal of a word from a dictionary doesn’t make it official or unofficial — the word simply becomes popular enough or becomes insufficiently popular to make the arbitrary minimum rank that the dictionary publisher chooses to set.

There was a recent controversy about the dictionary definition of marriage changing to match the way marriage is used. Since a dictionary does not limit the ways words are only about to be used, people who believed they did were upset that dictionaries were changing the rules on marriage.

The US cannot even plausibly enforce a law making English the official language of the US, because English itself has no rules.

References of Interest:

“Many believe that when (and only when) a word appears in a reputable dictionary it receives formal validation and can take its place in the English lexicon. … As one of a number of researchers who collect evidence of new usage for the OED, it intrigued me to think that I might be a member, even a junior member, of a shadowy cabal that sets the standards for all well-educated English speakers. No — the process really is as anarchic as it seems. This is actually a relief, since I’d hate to be held personally responsible for the current state of the language. … We are, in the language of the business, descriptive dictionary makers: we record, we collate, we analyse, and we describe what people actually say and write. If enough English speakers decide that some word or phrase has value, to the extent that those who encounter it are likely to need to consult the dictionary in search of its meaning, then it is put into new editions. .. This standpoint is sometimes misunderstood, and as often disliked. People who consult dictionaries most commonly want the tablets of the law, not a mirror to language.” — How Words Enter the Language.

“To decide which words to include in the dictionary and to determine what they mean, Merriam-Webster editors study the language as it’s used. They carefully monitor which words people use most often and how they use them. Each day most Merriam-Webster editors devote an hour or two to reading a cross section of published material, including books, newspapers, magazines, and electronic publications; in our office this activity is called “reading and marking.” The editors scour the texts in search of new words, new usages of existing words, variant spellings, and inflected forms–in short, anything that might help in deciding if a word belongs in the dictionary, understanding what it means, and determining typical usage. Any word of interest is marked, along with surrounding context that offers insight into its form and use. … Change and variation are as natural in language as they are in other areas of human life and Merriam-Webster reference works must reflect that fact. By relying on citational evidence, we hope to keep our publications grounded in the details of current usage so they can calmly and dispassionately offer information about modern English. That way, our references can speak with authority without being authoritarian.” — How does a word get into a Merriam-Webster dictionary?.

“People often send us words they have made up and ask if we will add their invented terms to one of our dictionaries. Unfortunately, the answer is probably no, because we generally only add words that have been used widely over a number of years: we assess this by looking at all the evidence we have in our files and databases. Of course, some invented words do catch on and become an established part of English, either because they fill a gap or because they are describing something new. … New terms have to be recorded in a print or online source before they can be considered: it’s not enough just to hear them in conversation or on television, although we do analyse material from Internet message boards and TV scripts. … For every new dictionary or online update we assess all the most recent terms that have emerged and select those which we judge to be the most significant or important and those which we think are likely to stand the test of time.” — How do you decide whether a new word should be included in an Oxford dictionary?.

Lawbreakers Arrested By Lawbreaking Police: Legitimate?

I understand that it is occasionally necessary for police to break the law in order to apprehend fugitives — but I grossly disagree with the operations used by police to set up potential law-breakers by providing deceptive temptations. What I mean, for example is the article on this guy.

The headline, Police: Man Uses Fake Money To Buy Fake Drugs really caught my eye because I was curious as to how exactly someone could be arrested for buying fake drugs — because what exactly is the crime? By that rationale, could you not also be arrested for killing a fake person? His other charges made quasi-sense, in that he did use counterfeit money (despite how poorly manufactured it was, a few bills even only being printed on one side).

However, it seems grossly dishonest (to the point of obscenity) on the character of the officers and officials that permit such behavior by deliberately lying and setting up a completely untrue circumstance in order to catch someone commiting a crime. I mean, by that rationale, a friendly officer could loan you a ten dollar bill when you were down on cash, but then arrest you for trying to pass off that secretly-fake ten dollar bill that he just gave you. That’s the same thing, to me.

I can understand if an officer needs to speed in order to catch a speeder (not always true), but in that case, the crime has already been committed and the officer is simply acting in pursuit. For officers to stage an overt lie, and get follow through with it enough to arrest someone for doing things they wouldn’t have done without that temptation present, is a very terrible disservice to the reputation of police in general, if not on the United States for having absurdly corrupt law enforcement.

Official Ablestmage.com Boxxy Stance: DO NOT WANT

I’m not gonna just leave this right here, I’ve gotta say something. inb4troll

If you have randomly abstained from 4chan lately, specifically /b/, then you may not have been aware of a recent civil anonywar that has caused mods to initiate a blanket posting ban on the word Boxxy (came up for me as an error to the effect of, “Post about something else,” even when mentioning one’s distaste). I’m siding with the anti-boxxy revolt here, although technically I’m breaking the anony-oath by identifying myself as an anon. It’s better than had I dared to reveal the secret phrase to identify one anon to another, “do u liek mudkipz.” Oops.

A good historical account of the seemingly anti-meme can be found above, and after having seen one of the videos (one was enough), I can officially state that has squarely wedged herself into the terrifying position of my do-not-want list, which also includes Shakespeare and the over-replayed Christian tune (which is even worse when sung by well-meaning people who can’t sing), I Can Only Imagine.

I’ve tried to bring a rise of the Anti-Boxxy, the wonderous and magnificent Alona, without success. May the name of the Boxxy be forthwith accursed in this land. That, and Break.com’s stank flash video player which is like getting handed prepared soup in a wicker basket.

Video Tutorial: How To Remove Vocals From Mp3

I was listening to a Nickelback CD in my dad’s truck the other day while we were out shopping for Xmas gifts and thought to myself, “ya know, this band would be waaaaay better without that irritating voice messing up all the awesome instruments,” and I thought I’d remembered seeing something you could download to remove vocals to make karaoke versions of your own music.. so I figured I’d look it up.

Turns out it’s pretty easy, but mostly if (a) you just happen to have music where the vocals were recorded on perfectly centered stereo tracks, (b) don’t care a lot about super spiffy quality, and (c) look the other way when it comes to music copying legalese. You may inadvertently also remove instruments that happen to be playing in the same frequency range as the voices, and you may not clip out the background vocals.

That said, here’s my tutorial. You’ll need the audio software known as Audacity, which you can get for free from audacity.sourceforge.net at no charge. Once that’s installed, just follow the directions on Audacity’s site that I blatantly stole and reworded to make into my own visual tutorial (but gave credit for in typical English major style). Ah, the Internets!

Hydraulic Earth Mover Photoset.. Amazing!

At first, I saw this image of a hydraulic earth mover with its main scoop shovel up against a tower as if it was going to push it over. The caption (from a message board forum) said it was going to demonstrate its arm strength. I’m like, pssh, pushing over a tower is strength? But then I saw the rest.

WOW!

Anyhow, here are a few more picture sets of amazing crane or earth mover photos of stuff tipping over, accidentals, and HOLY—- moments:

Dark Roasted Blend – Heavy Machinery Acrobatics
Dark Roasted Blend – Heavy Machinery Acrobatics 2

Solution for Poor-Parking Holiday Shopper Annoyances

There’s a low-tac bumpersticker you can plaster on the back end of someone whose parking overtly lacks the spatial awareness of most preteens. They’re pretty cheap, to the point and easily removable so you don’t ruin paint jobs in the process. Around $0.50 each or less (cheaper in larger quantities), keep a bundle in your glove compartment for just the right moment.

Researching “American Agencies” @ 1-877-728-8912

Note: This article is taken as true on “presumed honesty” and is more just a culmination of the Internet version of group-think — people posting semi-random remarks on the same subject, and drawing a conclusion from the total. The article’s authority is based on unknown degrees of honesty from anonymous sources.

After doing a little research online and looking up 1-877-728-8912, random-ish and mostly-anonymous reports seem to pop up from number-alert sites that a company called “ACA Receivables” (that may or may not appear on Caller ID) may be the one making these calls (according to a few commenters here and here): under the guise of a collections agency. Another commenter reports being told they owed money for AT&T and that after checking with AT&T him/herself, that AT&T hadn’t used them for collections for at least four years.

There’s a website for AmericanAgencies.comAnother similarly-named company, AmericanAgency.com deals with insurance, and I suspect they may simply have a similar name — plus none of their contact numbers appear to match up.

CallerComplaints.com’s Entry lists around 35 reports for this number, a few citing actually calling the number and getting runaround about past debt and asking you to verify your information by telling the “first five digits” of your SSN. Yikes!

American-Agencies-Complaints.US appears to be a written by someone uninterested in web design, but contains a bit of info about a lawsuit that occured in 2003 involving ACA Receiveables.

I also looked up a few governmental fraud reporting sites for possible scams, and FTC Complain Assistant seems like the best place to official submit alerts if you’re in the US, as they need reports to track areas that are being hit. From the CallerComplaint site above, it seems various parts of the country may be getting singled out and some complaints date back to around October of 2007.

Hope this helps out! This very well may simply be a legitimate credit agency who has a wrong number for someone who does actually owe money. However, it hasn’t gotten to the point of irritation that I’ve yet been bothered to call the number to find out. If you do or did, please tell me your results in the comments below! If you recorded your conversation — send it to ablestmage@gmail.com so the rest of us will know what to expect. Don’t give out any pertinent info like SSN digits of any sort, but perhaps just with exploratory questions to see whether they might actually be kosher.

Innocent Bug-Bombing of BBQ Grill Reveals Bee-Tropolis

Bee-tacular! Bee-Trocity! Believe me, I had a few words to emote when I saw this series of photographs.

So some dude in Australia is doing his routine summer maintenance, hears some buzzing under a tarp covering his BBQ grill and sprays a bug bomb under it to kill anything nesting up under there. Easy done, right? Yowza!

Turns out the forum poster isn’t the one who did it, but it’s actually an email forward going around and the guy simply posted the photos and text from the e-mail. There has been a big outcry in Oz about the incident, and they did eventually find the gentleman and he was interviewed.

In case the photos have been taken down or the server gets its sweetrolls beaten out of it, I’ve taken the liberty to backing up the high-quality photographs here, and included the text along with it.

Incidentally, I also made a YouTube version, although not as good as seeing the giant pictures:

Documentary: The Blunder at Buncefield

About three years ago, there was a giant explosion in Great Britain and was known famously as the largest peacetime explosion in the UKs history. The blast was the fault of Hertfordshire Oil and Storage Ltd (HOSL) which is own by Total and Chevron (oil companies) and ended up obliterating the large nearby estate of an unrelated gentleman living nearby.



HOSL actually has a website, and the website itself appears to be almost entirely devoted (if not completely) to this particular issue in Hemel Hempstead, UK.

There’s a video trailer talking about the issue, specifically with the owner of the large estate whose property was very badly damaged and has been largely ignored by the courts. A word of caution: the trailer is initially has a soft-spoken woman speaking a voice-over (that you may need to turn the volume up to hear, but the jarring explosion and ambulance sounds that soon follow are very very loud.

While I can appreciate the putting-it-into-terms method the trailer does by knocking us out of our chair and into an identifiable feelings that the estate owner felt in a much more terrible scale, the documentary’s trailer could have been done a little more tactfully and less (and frankly) hypocritically. There doesn’t appear to be any indication of how exactly the documentary will be released — just that it will be. I guess we’ll have to check out this page around that time to learn more.

In HOSL’s defense, there has been more than just one estate that was affected as a result of this explosion (approximately 3700 claims so far) and they have address around 2400 of them already, according to their site.

In addition, a simple YouTube search reveals well over a dozen amateur clips of the giant fire and the explosion made by UKers stumbling out of their house wondering what the heck that noise was, and capturing a bit of the smoke and flame for everyone to see. This particular MetaCafe video has a pretty good slideshow of the better pictures of the devestation.

Sarah Palin Uses Yahoo E-mail, Gets Hacked

VP hopeful Sarah Palin had been using a Yahoo email account to conduct private and public communications, and someone from 4chan decided to hack and post the details. I heard about it from a Waxy Links post, and here’s a pretty big write-up on the whole shebang. There are reportedly zips of all the email and screenshotty innards floating about.. hmm..

Magazine-Scanning Site Enwad Publishers’ Undies

There’s a magazine-sharing site, Mygazines.com, that enables users to freely (no charge) scan, upload, and share magazine issues with other users, akin to Flickr or YouTube. Waxy reports that it’s causing a bit of a irritating bunching-uppedness in the undies of publishers’ undergarments, but are “having trouble with jurisdiction”..

Mygazines.com Website
Yahoo.com Article about said bewedgement

List of Re-Used Props in Star Trek and Hello!Project

How could I possibly incorporate Hello!Project and Star Trek in one post?

A friend of mine posted an image of her sitting in a magnetoencephalogram (MEG) scanner, for brain waves, whilst on a tour of various facilities for her special education degree, and the large array reminded me of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where Lt.Barclay became atypically intelligent and interfaced with the ship’s computer in the Holodeck.

While looking up a picture of the interface as a cross-reference, I came across a site (where I found the image) of a list of props that have been re-used between Star Trek episodes:

Ex Astris Scientia: Re-Used Props – Miscellaneous Equipment

It shows how various props are used as different items (such as using a prop previously used for a bomb re-employed as a cargo container in a later episode).. takes a pretty good eye to catch all those!

Similarly, I had recalled seeing a nifty gallery of a background prop that has been used in multiple Hello!Project videos and photoshoots and never realized it:

Hello-Online.com thread

pHforAmerica.org Smear Tactic Debunked

I promise not to dig too much into politics, and I want to preface that I’m not decided on any candidate yet, but I simply want to defend accurate journalism and help people not be misled by smear campaigns that build up a case for remarks made out of context. I’m not an Obama supporter (or McCain for that matter, yet, on both counts) but I want to ensure that facts are reported accurately. And so then:

There’s a propagandist website making its way through email forwards lately, that is an attempt to smear Obama’s reputation as a Christian by supposedly showing his true feelings. However, the video actually only uses a few clips out of a larger speech, and furthermore adds a few, “Did you not know..?” remarks toward the end. This is the same strategy of touters of bible contradiction that simply make a list of random verses with a common subject heading of something obscenely out of context, like “God Murders Thousands.” The addition of the “Did you not know..?” remarks implies that Obama did not actually know, but fails to even provide actual evidence that he didn’t. Apparently just asking a question that Obama is not defending in the smearer’s own video counts for legitimate journalism. Yeah right.

Here’s the original smear campaign’s video:

The video states, “On June 28, 2006, Senator Barack Obama gave a speech … where he explains why he finds it so difficult for America to use the bible to help guide our public policy,” then gives only 30 heavily edited seconds of a larger and greater context, and then makes blind accusations in rhetorical questions as if they were something profound.

However, if you were to listen to more of the original speech, Obama makes a pretty good case about how the perceptions of Christians need to be of a keener mindset of communicating the same ideas into a type of understanding that non-believers could grasp and identify with.

A lot more of the original video (still cut, but not quite so heavily or unjournalistically):

Pay attention to the smear version and the less-edited version’s difference of the audience reaction after he remarks about the Defense Department’s implementation. In the smear version, there’s only light murmuring, but in the less-cut version, the audience laughs uproariously — which would make better sense if the statements he’d made were actually of a more light-heared, poking-fun nature, rather than a deep criticism as the smear version makes it out to be.

He uses an Abraham and Isaac example, where, if we were to see the well-known event taking place, we’d call the police and have CPS take Isaac away. To me, it seems like he’s trying to get across to Christians that they/we need to be more open to discussion and deal with public policy in a much more wise technique:

You may recall how Solomon, when confronted by two women arguing over whose child a baby was — ordered a child be cut in two so each could have an equal share. The false mother agreed it should be cut, but the real mother said to give it to the false one so it would not be cut. Solomon did not actually intend to cut the baby, but gave the baby to the true mother.

Obama seems to be, in a sense, making a Judgement of Solomon. He’s taking a stance with one foot in both doors, trying to address the needs of both Christian and secular alike, in an attempt to demonstrate the disparity between actual implementation based on scripture versus secular reasoning. He doesn’t appear to actually be advocating seeing the bible as absurdity, but instead using that idea as a larger illustration about how secular citizens may perceive a scripture-based policy when instead the same goal could be reached by using a different technique of reasoning.

Editor’s Note, January 28, 2013:
The lengthier clip of Obama’s speech (called the “Call To Renewal” speech of June 28, 2006) has been somehow suspended from view, since I first wrote it four years ago. There is a better version, linked below in 5 parts, which shows the entire speech so you can have far better context of his joking nature, rather than being a stern lecture as PHFA tries to cast the remark into. The beginning of the fourth part is relevant to this post —

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tdoQr3BQ1g
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYzDIhbgDtg
Part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTFUsckSDe8
Part 4: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVt59yd2W0U
Part 5: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x29oqiXwg34

That fourth part casts even more light on the matter, in that he was operating at the time under a hypothetical situation, and asking under whose version of Christianity we were to operate under within that hypothetical situation. It is perfectly reasonable to make weird claims, particularly when the context is entirely hypothetical.

If I were to ask, “Hypothetically, if our knees were bent the other direction, would that affect how chairs are designed?” and then suggest that “chairs would need to be made in a different design,” and taken out of context, it could be used in a propaganda video that I insisted chairs be made into a different design, rather having been related to knee-bending hypothetical question before it.

The people who are suggesting Obama isn’t Christian based on this segment are doing precisely that — taking comments out of context. He even describes, in the same speech in Part 2 (around the 5-minute mark), his acceptance of Christ at the front of the church one day.

It might be worth noting that I did not end up voting at all that year (whereas my introduction noted I was neither an Obama, nor McCain, supporter. I am still not an Obama supporter (nor any Republican nominee since then, either) but I am still a supporter of accurate journalism.

MP3 of “Mosquito” 17kHz tone, inaudible to adults

In the news some time ago, ran a story regarding so-called anti-teenager devices that broadcasted an unceasing tone at a frequency audible only to people generally around 25-30 or younger. If such a tone were to be sounded in a classroom, for instance, the teacher would not realize it but the students would become agitated by the disturbance. For more info, see articles from Jpost.com and TheAge.com.

Instructables’ recent article about how to craft such a tone-emitting device re-stirred my interest in it, so I began a search for perhaps some software that could generate it or an MP3 of the pitch so I could try it out.

Turns out the Internet Archive has a page hosting it found in FLAC and WAV.

I played the tone myself, starting with the volume completely silent and slowly turning it up. For some reason, I can hear a particular faint tone at one specific spanse of volume, but not the others, neither being the softest or the loudest. It’s not really at all irritating; but then again, I can tolerate incessant intermittent low-battery beeps on a smoke detector for days without being irritated by it.

Can any of you hear it? You, that is, being someone out of the 3800 regular visitors I’ve gotten in the past week. Yikes!

BoingBoing Admits Violet Blue Removal

In a previous post of mine, which spurred a Foosers of Men strip, one particular linked blogger was going on and on about how BoingBoing secretly removed all references to someone called Violet Blue, citing sexism and breaking some unspoken blogger-journalism code. Well, BoingBoing has now issued a statement about the removal, basically stating that everyone should insert various sharpened vegetables in their own orificies of a given subset. And I agree. If I wanted to delete a bunch of posts about some bozo who really got to me, the liberty of having posted them in the first place is the identical liberty I would employ in their removal. But apparently being one of the top five most-read blogs makes a bit of a difference =P