Sunday, October 11, 2009

Horrific headlines

From one of our stringers comes this compendium of horrific headlines. As ever, we cannot vouch for their authenticity, but we find them humorous enough to share in hopes that the educated reader will find amusement in their grammatical ambiguity.

Please to enjoy:

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over

Miners Refuse to Work after Death

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

War Dims Hope for Peace

If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Enfield ( London ) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges

Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge

New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft

Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Thursday, October 8, 2009

All right already...

The Chicagoland Chevy Dealers have done it again!

But this time it isn't the lowest prices of the year, or zero percent financing, or anything that's going to predispose us to buy a Chevy.

For that matter, there's sore little that would predispose us to buy a Chevy. Their most recent grammatical faux pas, though, will certainly keep us from considering buying a Chevy for some time to come.

"Alright, Chicagoland" read the titles on a recent television ad.

Never mind our distaste for "Chicagoland," a made-up word whose very existence has bothered us since we were in elementary school.

Our distaste for the abuse "alright" instead of "all right" will keep us considering German, Swedish, Japanese, and even Korean cars for some time to come.

Maybe even Italian, as our sons have a sudden and disturbing fascination with Lamborghinis.

But not American. Not as long as the quality of their grammar reflects on our perception of the quality of their cars.

We toss the idiot flag at them today.

All right?

Educational Double talk and Double Standard

We had cocktails with some old friends earlier this week and, as we are inclined to do from time to time, called them out on a bit of double talk and double standard on the issue of education and whether it qualifies one for elective office.

Never mind that it's our longstanding opinion -- underscored by the plethora of putative candidates soliciting our signatures on their petitions at the train platform every morning -- that anyone who seeks elective office should be expressly forbidden from attaining it. "There are problems that nobody has been able to solve for years...maybe generations!" they appear to be thinking. "That's because they haven't let ME take a crack at them yet!"


The friends in question -- liberal Democrats both -- were carrying on about Sarah Palin, what an "idiot" she is and how she couldn't possibly be qualified to hold high office.

[We posted a bit to Facebook about this. We're no apologist for Sarah Palin, whom we think to be more than a little bit too right wing for our tastes, but we note that simply because one's deeply held convictions are at odds with someone else's deeply held convictions doesn't make either an just means that the parties in question disagree.]

We couldn't help noting that Palin had spent six years as chief executive of an admittedly small city, and that she had also spent two years as chief executive of a very large (at least from a geographic standpoint) state. One could argue that she is better qualified to be President than the President himself, who, while admirable for a variety of qualities, had been Senator for only two years, and had been chief execututive of exactly nothing prior to his election.

[Further disclosure...despite our affiliation with the GOP, we voted for Obama in the last election.]

"Oh, but wait...Obama DID go to Columbia and Harvard Law...that has to count for something!" my companions protested.

We couldn't help pointing out that President George W. Bush -- whom they decried as an "idiot" because his deeply held convictions conflicted with theirs -- graduated from Yale undergrad and Harvard Business School. Those stack up nicely to Obama's attendance at Occidental, and subsequent degrees at Columbia and Harvard Law.

Unless you disagree with him, of course. Ivy league education justifies Obama. But not W.

Double speak. Double standard. Intellectual dishonesty at work.

PS -- Let's call the Harvard degrees a push. We'll take Yale over Columbia any day. Even in football.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Great signs (even if they aren't real)

One of our correspondents and occasional commenters to Idiotflags sends these signs, ostensibly spotted in real life. We can't vouch for their authenticity; we can vouch for their wit:

Sign over a Gynecologist's Office:

"Dr. Jones, at your cervix."


In a Podiatrist's office:

"Time wounds all heels." (read it again )


On a Septic Tank Truck:

Yesterday's Meals on Wheels


At a Proctologist's door:

"To expedite your visit, please back in. "


On a Plumber's truck:

"We repair what your husband fixed."


On another Plumber's truck:

"Don't sleep with a drip. Call your plumber."


On a Church's Bill board:

"7 days without God makes one weak."


At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee :

"Invite us to your next blowout."


At a Towing company:

"We don't charge an arm and a leg. We want tows."


On an Electrician's truck:

"Let us remove your shorts."

******** ******************

In a Non-smoking Area:

"If we see smoke, we will assume you are on fire and take appropriate action."


On a Maternity Room door:

"Push. Push. Push."


At an Optometrist's Office:

"If you don't see what you're looking for, you've come to the right place."


On a Taxidermist's window:

"We really know our stuff."


On a Fence:

"Salesmen welcome! Dog food is expensive!"


At a Car Dealership:

"The best way to get back on your feet - miss a car payment."


Outside a Muffler Shop:

"No appointment necessary. We hear you coming."


In a Veterinarian's waiting room:

"Be back in 5 minutes. Sit! Stay!"


At the Electric Company

"We would be delighted if you send in your payment.

However, if you don't, you will be."


In a Restaurant window:

"Don't stand there and be hungry; come on in and get fed up."


In the front yard of a Funeral Home:

"Drive carefully. We'll wait."


At a Propane Filling Station:

"Thank heaven for little grills."


And don't forget the sign at a


"Best place in town to take a leak."


Sign on the back of another Septic Tank Truck:

"Caution - This Truck is full of Political Promises"

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dropping the F-bomb at Shaker High

Our high school alma mater, Shaker Heights High School, is in the news this week.

Historically, reporters have extolled the quality of the public education that the school offers, the diversity of its student body, and the number of National Merit Scholars that it produces.

Not this time.

Turns out a student found a way to hide a lowbrow, obscene message in this year’s yearbook cover. Dropped in the f-bomb. Details are here.

I suppose we ought to be surprised and horrified, but we are neither, as we are big fans of the time-honored traditions of senior pranks and creative rebellion.

Nor is this the first time that a tasteless – if humorous message – was hidden in a yearbook. One of our college roommates attended Dwight Englewood School in Bergen County, NJ, and managed to work the code “EM/des” (“eat me Dwight Englewood School”) into the footer of the typewritten letter of congratulations from the headmaster in their 1980 yearbook.

Creative people have, for years, been hiding little surprises for those who are willing to look closely. Our father notes with delight and reverence the advertising art director who managed to, in the frilly border of a Butterball Turkey print ad, hide an illustration of Mickey and Minnie Mouse enjoying pleasures of the flesh. You couldn’t see it without a magnifying glass, but boy oh boy was it funny if you knew it was there.

At least to everyone except the client, who to our knowledge never discovered it.

Our hat is off to the student who had the creativity to install the message, the ingenuity to hide it pretty carefully, and even had the good taste to feign horror and apologize.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bail out or bail out?

Today's Financial Times email blast writes:

"Warburg Pincus bales out of Huiyuan Juice" (complete story here).

"Aha!" we think. We have caught the British orange lady in an egregious typo that has gone careening electronically around the world.

"Not so fast!" we advise those of you who share our sense of schadenfreude at the notion that someone with one of those smart sounding accents might make a big, public mistake.

A "bale" is a large bundle of something, as in a "bale" of hay. "Bail" is what we do when the bottom of the boat is filling with water and we use a bucket to empty it out.

What of the emergency escape from an airplane, which is what Warburg is doing (metaphorically) in the Huiyuan deal? Some would argue "bail" (metaphorically getting something out of the boat), some "bale" (as what's being ejected from the metaphorical boat is a big load of something).

None other than the Oxford English Dictionary provides a definitive ruling. Our American-ness wants us to rely upon something less British, however our snobbishness finds the OED sufficiently appealing that we have to give it the final word...which is that either "bail" or "bale" is appropriate.

Regardless, what the Obama administration is doing in the guise of taking credit for the natural cyclicality of markets and nudging us towards European socialism is unequivocally a "bail out."

Let's hope it works, then "bail/bale" out of this approach to one that's more market-based.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Buzzword Bingo and a Memo That Came -- Seriously

Remember the "buzzword bingo" game that you used to play in meetings? The one where you got points if someone said "stake in the ground" or "win-win" or any one of myriad other abused business phrases?

Get a load of this email we received. We offer it for your entertainment. It was sent without humorous intention, and would be uproariously funny if it weren't so sad. We offer it unedited -- but italicized and appended in [brackets]-- for your enjoyment:
For context, our work and vision is focused on radically improving the end-to-end enterprise software and product development throughput / quality challenge [Here at the end of this sentence we are no closer to an understanding of what these people do than we were at the beginning; they appear to be speaking a foreign tongue]. I’ll leave the sales pitch out [thank goodness, one wonders how unintelligible THAT would be], but know that our latest data shows a typical 40-50% overall throughput improvement (after the application of Lean-Agile practices) and more importantly, a dramatic improvement to economic and operational returns based on substantially better business outcomes driven by a different approach to software development alignment [We are awash in a sea of prepositional gibberish]. When we meet we will walk you through our Lean-Agile execution / operating models and how they lead to these kinds of sustainable outcomes.

I suspect this subject [We're two paragraphs in and have no sense of what the subject even IS] is likely of some interest, so let me know if your schedule permits a brief visit.
[We're inclined to print out our card and accept the meeting...but only for the sheer delight of shouting "bingo" midway through it.]
Puh-lease. Not all of us are ponderous IT consultants. Speak English. The simple kind that even we laypeople understand. For everyone's sake...and especially that of your bottom line.