Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Proud Verbs angrily reject "Intelligent Design"

Well, kind of. For a lot of ice hockey players, a key principle is that you'd always rather have the assist than the goal — it's cooler to make the big move that sets up a shot than to take it, and it's often the move that matters. The Ridger gets more assists than anybody in the language blogging game, I think. She's passed along a great piece from Thoughts from Kansas (here). It's about how a Discovery Institute person has "declared war on the English language". You know that DI is the heavily funded crew of pseudo-scientists peddling the latest version of anti-evolution bunk, "Intelligent Design". (Can we call it "ID"? We can read it as "Intelligence Dysfunction", which is closer to its actual meaning.)

Here's the key quote (if you haven't read Ridger's comment and followed up on it):
First of all, ID is not creationism—and no one is more vociferously insistent about this than the major creationist organizations like Answers In Genesis. We’ve heard this charge before. But stealth?

Stealth...like black helicopter stealth?

'I don't know what you mean by "stealth",' Josh said.

'When I use a word,' Logan Gage said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Josh, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Logan Gage, 'which is to be master -- that's all.'

Josh was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Logan Gage began again. 'They've a temper, some of them -- particularly verbs: they're the proudest -- adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs -- however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That's what I say!'
And I didn't even catch, until Jan called my attention to it in a comment below, that this is just an intro about ID that segues into Lewis Carroll instantly, from a dialog between Alice and Humpty-Dumpty. I gotta get more sleep.


Jan said...

Mr. Verb -- It's dialogue from "Alice In Wonderland" (with Humpty Dumpty in the role of language boss, as I recall). Haven't checked the original post for depth of tongue in cheek yet, though.

Mr. Verb said...

D'oh! BWT! (Blogging while tired.)

The Ridger, FCD said...

It is indeed Humpty Dumpty talking to Alice. But it's "Through the Looking Glass" - Chapter 6 to be precise. The lead-in is the discussion of "un-birthday presents":

"... and that shows that there are three hundred and sixty-four days when you might get un-birthday presents --'

`Certainly,' said Alice.

`And only one for birthday presents, you know. There's glory for you!'

`I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.

Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'

`But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.

`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

This is the conversation with the grimmest joke in either book (note Carroll's idiosyncratic (possibly idiotic) use of apostrophes - call Lynn Truss!):

`I mean,' she said, `that one ca'n't help growing older.'

`One can't, perhaps,' said Humpty Dumpty; `but two can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.'