Saturday, November 12, 2011

Upside; Surprisingly Good News!

When asked if the divorce rate, and the crime rate was going up or down, what would your answer be? Yeah me too. Up, right? Not according to Dr. Bradley R E Wright, professor of Sociology at University of Connecticut in his entertaining little book, Upside. Citing many recent polls and research, he asks and answers questions about social topics from world income levels, to environmental concerns. Literary rates and life expectancy, even suicide rates are two other surprises. They've all improved statistically. In most of the areas he explores, Dr. Wright concludes, with a sprinkling of self-deprecating humor, that the world is a better place now than it has ever been.

I enjoyed reading this book, in part because I was intrigued by the title. In the middle of 'doom and gloom' news-casting and preaching, I needed cheering up. The good doctor has done it!

I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in return for my honest opinion.

The Gift of Language

Have you ever wondered what language Adam and Eve spoke?

I recently heard Ken Ham speak on the Origins of the Earth, and it got me to thinking about some assumptions that are commonly made about language.

First of all, we tend to believe that language began from a primitive state, and developed more sophistication as time went on. My experience with the English language is just the opposite. Although we are adding technical words daily, and creating cultural jargon, the language itself is becoming more utilitarian in nature, and in some cases more primitive. Take, for example the language of texting: Cn u c wut I mean? Most linguists agree that there is no evidence of primitive language in the historical record. When language appeared, it seemed to be highly complex.

Another assumption is that written language is an upgrade. Well, this may be true.  A physical symbol has greater historical presence than an oral (non-recorded, that is) recitation. But, the value of recitation, as it was used in 'old-school' education, is that it belongs exclusively to the learner's memory, and is therefore retrievable immediately, in any circumstance or location. Even the Kindle can't promise this!

We often think of language as a 'human invention'. The book of Genesis records God's words, "It was good," as being the first uttered.  As many questions as this raises, it also changes our way of looking at language. Communication, in the form of words, is a gift from God.

Imagine for a moment, a day without words. Enough said.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Junk Drawer of My Mind

It's time I sorted out the odd collection of things that are stuck in a corner of my brain. Feel free to check out if you have your own 'drawer' to clean. But I'm betting you have some of the same things in yours!

Unusual pronunciations:

Newscasters do this to annoy people like me - they change the syl-'la-bic accent from 'normal' usage. Ex. 'de-tails become de-'tails, har-'rass-ment becomes 'har-rass-ment. Why must they make up these new accents?

The word 'nuclear' gets mispronounced as 'nucular'. If they could read their own subtitles, this wouldn't happen! (Presidents sometimes do this too.)

Worn out phrases and words:

I read the last "that being said" I ever want to hear -  a couple years ago. Likewise the phrase, "Let me unpack this for you", makes me want to take a long vacation. I'll unpack myself, thank you.

Publishers dozing off?:

Twice, TWICE this year I've been in the middle of a good book, only to discover that a couple dozen pages are out of place, or missing. Who lets these books out of the gate?

Well-known authors get away with glaring editing problems. Tolstoy's lengthy War and Peace contains lots of, well, dryer lint caliber verbiage smack in the middle. That was a long time ago, you say? Well, Rowlings gets away with this too in The Goblet of Fire.

Useless odds and ends:

Does it bother anyone else that the library is always out of CS Lewis books? Oh, well. Just me then.

Vulgar bumper stickers, and appendages hanging from cars? Aren't there laws against this?

Labels on food often ONLY list certain culturally important ingredients, such as fat, sugar and calories.

It is not cute, in the interest of marketing, to re-spell right as 'rite' or are as 'r'. 

Well, that leaves only a few dust bunnies of verbal junk in the corners.Room for more to collect.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Beginnings

Every day, we get a chance to start life all over. To chart a new course, to change direction, to take new wind into our sails. Often, it is a word, or a circumstance that causes us to feel a need for change.

Truth, when it is before us in the form of a story, a friend's look, a song or even just a 'knowing' can lead us almost intuitively into change, discovery and a discarding of something no longer necessary for health and well-being. So it is that I find myself at the headwind of a new perspective on my life, once again. This is not earth-shattering news, just a new day, coming a little later than yesterday, giving me another hour to think things through.

And I am thankful for it.

When we embrace truth, there is joy; when we are in the arms of a lie, there's the devil to pay.