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October 28, 2013

Overnight Open Thread -- 10/28/2013

Howdy, 'Rons n' 'Ettes. This is your ol' buddy Damn Dirty RINO. I'd like to tell you about an ol' bunch of foxhounds I got: Ol' Ring, and ol' Tige and ol' Rover. And we start out across them Georgia hills a-huntin' them fox, it sounds somethin' like this.

Seriously, though, I'm just stepping in for Maet while he's out finalizing the adoption papers on some Chinese kid named Hai Wei. Apparently, the process is rather travel-intensive, as it requires him to spend a lot of time on the road. And, from what I gather, he has plans to adopt all the child's siblings as well, since he mentioned something about picking up the litter. It's an odd way to refer to a family, for sure. But, you know, that's Maet. I wish him well.

Speaking of child-rearing, one of the great challenges facing parents in the age of tweets and text messages is ensuring that their children are able to communicate with the written word. "You are" has been replaced with the shorthand "UR". "I don't know" has become "idk", and so on. It's convenient and time-saving in an age of instant and constant interaction, but the over-reliance on abbreviations has a way of robbing both the reader and the writer of the ability to clearly elucidate their thoughts according to universal standards among people who speak the same language.

Fortunately, 'Rons n' 'Ettes are a uniquely perspicacious lot who stress reading at an early age to their children. And, thankfully, there are still publishing houses who cater to the needs of such families.


And, while some children my resist it as boring, or "lame" in the current vernacular, the ability to read and write clearly is an invaluable skill that will continue to pay dividends throughout a person's life.

The ability to communicate through the written word is crucial to maintaining a functioning society. After all, in a world of illiterates, no one would know if a vending machine were out of order, which exit to take for gas, food or lodging, or what rules to observe in order to avoid inconveniencing other people who share the same space.

Of course, reading and writing require practice in order to master them, and even the most apt student will experience the occasional malapropism. I consider myself reasonably proficient as a reader and a writer, but that doesn't mean I don't make mistakes. Still, I strive for clarity in written communication, if only to avoid unnecessary confusion.

And, when you think about it, the ability to read and write is the only thing that allows us to learn by means other than experience. It's a way of passing along knowledge and information from one person to the next by actually sharing experience with people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to gain it themselves. This can be particularly important in cases where specific knowledge is needed and lives are at stake.

Now, none of this should be construed as a pronouncement on the mental capacity of those who have trouble reading. Literacy, after all, is but one facet of human intelligence. It is possible to be an utterly brilliant human being, and yet be unable to read or write at all. A person can have great difficulty in communicating or comprehending the written word for a host of reasons, such as an undiagnosed vision problem or dyslexia, and still excel in other disciplines like math, science, music or art.

Conversely, a person may be a gifted writer and voracious reader, and yet be incapable of performing the most mundane tasks most of us take for granted every day.

Nevertheless, those who do struggle with written communication would in all but the rarest of cases concede that their lives would be much easier if they were more proficient at it. After all, while they can be very effective means of expression, speech and body language have their limits. There's hardly a person alive who hasn't experienced some degree of embarrassment or humiliation as a consequence of a misspoken word or misinterpreted gesture.

The development of written language is among the greatest achievements in human history. The exchange of information and knowledge in tangible form is the very cornerstone of civilization itself, and it all started with figures scrawled on cave walls and shapes drawn in dirt. And, despite the evolution of language down through human history that enables us to easily express incredibly subtle concepts, we still employ such crude pictures and shapes as a means of communication to this day.

The written word is an incredibly powerful tool that has enabled mankind to accomplish things that would be utterly inconceivable to societies prior to its advent. It has contributed to the creation breathtakingly beautiful works of art, astounding scientific achievements, and the introduction of earthshaking concepts.

And yet, there are some things that defy words. For instance, this ginger:

Tonight's ONT brought to you by the English language:

digg this
posted by Damn Dirty RINO at 10:30 PM

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