Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Why is it that I can't go to a single restaurant without finding some kind of spelling error on the menu?

Tonight, at a fine establishment in Vancouver, WA, I was pleased to find a "Pomagranite Martini" for only $7. Yup, it's made with real bits of igneous rocks, so you know it's good.

There's a well-known and well-liked music venue in Portland named The Guffalo Bap (names have been changed to protect the ignorant) that has a sign on its wall that reads "LIVE MUISIC."

All I'm saying is that if you're a music venue, master the spelling of the word 'music.' No one asked you to spell "didgeridoo."

The inability to spell is widespread. But say 'nay' to the naysayers who would have you believe that it's a phenomenon being propagated by texting and pop culture.

It's long been a scourge blighting our country, right up there with poverty, war, and Texas.

Even the venerable U.S. Constitution contains a few misspelled words. Pennsylvania, for instance, is spelled Pensylvania. You can't just take n's out of words arbitrarily and expect to be viewed as a credible source. I don't want to live in Orego. Sounds like an herb. Would you listen to my music if my name were Jo? What if the second track on my CD were called "It Won't Be Log"? What does that even mean? A prediction of loose stool?

Of course, not everyone is a great speller. That's why God created spell-checking software. If you can't spell, no problem. Find a faceless machine who can. Even Bill Gates himself is famously quoted as saying: "I'm a terrible speller. Fortunately, my musk and good looks have gotten me everywhere."

(Bill Gates never actually said this.)

It's interesting to live in a society where the average schmuck can't spell 'intelligence', but can spell 'Kardashian'.

By the way, do you know what 'schmuck' means in Yiddish? Google it.

Just for the record, I don't judge people for misspelled words in text messages, considering the message was probably sent while driving, going to the bathroom, and reading my blog simultaneously. But when I read a book or magazine that's riddled with mistakes, it tends to lose credibility in my mind. Kind of like when former Vice Presidents insist that torturing people is a good idea. (Yeah, I had to slip at least one political line in this otherwise inane blog post somewhere.)

I think the real problem lies in the name 'spelling bee.' Kids quickly associate these with a cute, fuzzy, yellow-and-black insect. Think Honey Nut Cheerios. Childish. Thus, they lose interest. Why not the 'spelling wasp'? Faster. More dangerous.

It's 4 AM. I climbed Mt. Hood this morning, and I've been up for almost 40 hours straight. I wish I had a really witty closing line. I don't. Deal with it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Ignorance: Not Always Bliss.

Swine flu.

It's everywhere.

At least it won't be in Egypt anytime soon. As you've probably heard, the Egyptian government ordered the slaughter of all 300,000 pigs in the country.

Unfortunately, they failed to Google 'swine flu.' Had they, they would've realized that swine flu is currently being transmitted from human to human. You're not gonna get it from swine at this point. Not by eating a pig, dancing with a pig, or even cuddling with a pig a little bit, provided you call them back later in the week.

Ignorance, it seems, is not always bliss, especially for these 300,000 swine, and for the farmers whose livelihood depended on them.

The World Organization for Animal Health says that "
there is no evidence of infection in pigs, nor of humans acquiring infection directly from pigs.'' This hasn't stopped China, Russia, Ukraine, and other nations from banning pork exports from Mexico. Why would you import pork (impork?) from Mexico, anyway? Unless, of course, there are illegal drugs hidden somewhere inside.

Then there's the case of mistaken mushrooms. Several years ago, a Colorado newspaper published photos of Paddy-Straw mushrooms in their Food section, encouraging people to use them in certain recipes. Several of their readers went out and found some Paddy-Straws, ate them, and died. Apparently, the newspaper had mistakenly published photos of the similar-looking, yet highly toxic, Death Cap mushroom. I'm sure the newspaper staff was encouraged, at least, to know that people still read the paper.

I thought about this as I was eating a mushroom rice bowl at Portland's newest high-rise dining establishment, Departure, the other day. These mushrooms were delicious, but the Death Caps probably were, too. At least I hope so: it would suck to have a crappy last meal right before the nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea set in

Ever think about the etymology of certain words? Like 'mushroom'. What does it mean? That there's room for mush inside of them? Or is it named after a mythical room to which mothers send their boisterous children to eat their mush when they've misbehaved? Then there's the word 'cockpit.' I don't think I even want to know.

I digress.

The moral of all this is simple: ignorance is not always bliss. Our global society is so quick to take action that we often fail to fully comprehend what's going on. The invasion of Iraq would be a prime example of this, as would the deadly yet FDA-approved drug Ketek from 2005. Sometimes, in a rush to make things right, we end up doing the wrong things.

Let's just hope that the next deadly influenza strain isn't dubbed 'baby flu.'