Monday, January 22, 2018

Language and perception

Language can affect perception
The #MeToo movement has a problem:  People are only discussing part of the reason for the delayed revelations of sexual harassment.
It's not just that many women were afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.
It's also that it's hard to report a problem that doesn't have a name.
Some 40 years ago, when I was being sexually harassed on a regular basis by a co-worker, not only was sexual harassment not a crime, but, in addition, the term "sexual harassment" didn't exist yet.  How could I accuse someone of a nameless non-crime?
You can't fight a ghost--you need to be able to name a problem before you can protest against it.
Perception can affect language
I'd like reconsider my recent post, Don't call me a girl.
Why is it considered an insult to call a grown Black man a boy, while it's considered a compliment to call a grown woman, no matter how old, a girl?
In the bad old days, Black adults were rarely treated as adults.Consequently, calling a grown Black man a boy is considered racist.
But our current culture seems to think that every woman is supposed to stay young until her dying day.  Consequently, calling an older woman--which, in this culture, could conceivably be any woman over 30--a girl serves to reassure her that she's living up to the myth. 
I have no interest in the eternal-youth myth.  I'm perfectly happy to be 68--it sure beats the alternative.

Related:  Discrimination is discrimination


Saturday, January 20, 2018

Will the real # please stand up and explain itself?

Until about 20 years ago, the only meaning of which I was aware for the symbol "#" was "number."  I took tests using a #2 pencil, and yelled "We're #1!" at sporting events.

More recently, as electronic and other technical devices became commonplace, I learned that "#" was also called the "pound" sign.  What the heck is that supposed to mean?  Does # refer to the British pound sterling?  Is # something that one does to a nail with a hammer?

In its most popular current (re)incarnation, the # sign has become a "hashtag."  I've made a hash of things by making a mistake or getting something mixed up.  Where does the "tag" part come in?  Alternatively, can you make a hashtag on the stove, as you can with hash browns and corned beef hash?

I don't use Twitter and have mostly managed to avoid getting hooked on Facebook, but I guess a little education can't hurt.  Here's The Beginner's Guide to the Hashtag.

And here's one explanation for the origin of the hashtag that answers some of my questions:

"Typewriters made in the UK had the monetary symbol for pound (£) sharing the same key as the number 3. If you look at your modern day keyboard, you will see that our friend the hashtag also shares a key as the number 3. Coincidence?"

. . .

"As I mentioned before, a pound in the UK means something different than a pound in the United States. So if the symbol for pound in the UK is £, then what did they call #? They called it a hash."

Can I get scrambled eggs with that?

I have a B.A. in French and I edit 200-page documents for a living.  So, of course, talking about language(s) is one of my pet interests.  Let me see whether I can link some of my language discussions under a new label:


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Don't call me a girl

That still happens to me occasionally, even though I'm 68 years old.  And my response is always the same:  "Any female who's old enough to vote is not a girl."

I'm as vain as any other human being.  But I cannot, for the life of me, understand why some women express their vanity by allowing themselves, or even preferring, to be labeled as children, rather than admitting that they're no longer Sweet 16.  Imagine what would happen if an employer called a 68-year-old black man a boy--they'd be sued for discrimination faster than you can say "Jim Crow."  How can one infantilizing term be considered an insult, and the other a compliment?


Saturday, January 13, 2018

The real name of the so-called "Deep State"

. . . is the Federal Civil Service.

I recommend that you click on The Rachel Maddow Show --sorry, but I can't figure out how to link to an individual episode--and check out this video:


White House mired in crisis as Russian hackers target U.S. Senate

A White House that can’t even organize a conference call [bold and italics mine] is struggling to keep up with the more-than-daily crises created by Donald Trump, plus, past crises like [sic] alleged affairs with porn stars, while Russian hackers remain undeterred.  Rachel Maddow reports.  Duration: 16:42

When many of the people in the Trump government are Cabinet Secretaries, department heads, and other upper-management-level personnel, often new to government, while fewer are experienced administrative staff members, who's going to sweat the small stuff?  There's an old joke that some people can't see the forest for the trees.  But being unable to see the trees because of the forest is just as much of a problem.  It's been my experience that many higher-level staff are quite skilled at determining what should be done, but may not know all of the technical details involved--that's why they have assistants.*  But the Trump administration, like Trump himself, can't be bothered with details.

Related:  A schoolyard fistfight morphs into a full-fledged war?

*As I said here:
(Sometimes, the difference between administrator and support staff is that the administrator sees the forest while the support staff sees the trees--the administrator knows what, but doesn't always know how. Some administrators have only a vague idea of what the support staff has to do to complete a project and/or how much effort goes into our work.)


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