In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff

We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.

Try Advanced Search

  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...

Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette

Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Joanne Jacobs
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes

Redwood Dragon
The Invisible Hand
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz


Our Last 50 Referrers

« Office Habits | Main | Education Linkage »

May 05, 2008


Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Among my many failings is an imperfect command of the English language. But I won't let that small detail stop me from calling attention to failings and odd usage by others. Here goes ...

* The local Presbyterian Church celebrated its 100th anniversary this past weekend. As part of the Morning Worship bulletin, the pastor included snippets from the 6 May 1908 minutes of the session that established the church.

According to the minutes, the founding group of commissioners from the Puget Sound Presbytery met "for the purpose of affecting such organization..."

Uh oh. That's effecting, not affecting. These were probably educated men, but those two words, often confused today, were clearly being confused a century ago.

* No doubt you've heard and read the term "underdog." What is the term for its opposite? I contend that it is "top dog." But occasionally I see the word "overdog." I suppose that's logical, but I'm pretty sure that it's mostly used by people who can't call up "top dog" while they're scribbling or keyboarding away.

No matter the source, "overdog" always annoys me when I come across it.



posted by Donald at May 5, 2008


If dogs communicate with each other telepathically, do they refer to some humans as "underpersons"?

Posted by: Rick Darby on May 5, 2008 5:44 PM

I can beat you, Donald. At my law school, I saw written on a sign, "Your getting closer." That's right, AT A LAW SCHOOL.

Posted by: Bryan on May 5, 2008 8:19 PM

"Adopt" and "adapt" get mixed up all the time. Drives me nuts.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on May 5, 2008 9:27 PM

"Top dog" doesn't really work as the opposite term to "underdog."

Posted by: Peter on May 5, 2008 11:37 PM

My current pet peeve is "begs the question" for "raises the question." Pretty soon we will have no
English phrase for petitio principii and will have to go back to using the Latin one.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on May 6, 2008 10:32 AM

Ah, Lester. A man after my own heart. "Begging the question" is right up there with "comprise": 99% usage-failure rate among people who ought to know better. The problem with reintroducing Latin phrases (aside from losing the fine flavor of the English versions) is that I'll have to exchange sneering at other people for their misusage, for other people sneering at me for my mispronunciations.

And what's up with the recent, maddening inability to distinguish between "lose" and "loose"? This has long been an irritant in casual internet writing, but I'm starting to see it more and more in (allegedly) professionally edited articles and journals.

The opposite of "underdog" is, of course, "overcat".

Posted by: Moira Breen on May 6, 2008 11:46 AM

"Between you and I" is spreading like kudzu. Variations, too. I read from Ronald Moore, the creator of Battlestar Galactica, the following: "This is between he and I. Between he and I."

I lost all respect for the man after that. And yet...educated people are using it too. Between you and I, me's in a state of despair.

Posted by: PatrickH on May 6, 2008 1:32 PM

I care a great deal when people say "I could care less."

Posted by: James M. on May 6, 2008 3:30 PM

Can't help quoting:

Canis Major
by Robert Frost

The great Overdog
That heavenly beast
With a star in one eye
Gives a leap in the east.
He dances upright
All the way to the west
And never once drops
On his forefeet to rest.
I'm a poor underdog,
But to-night I will bark
With the great Overdog
That romps through the dark.

Posted by: Joe on May 6, 2008 7:12 PM

Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?