Sunday, November 29, 2015

An American in Oxford...

Top of the afternoon all....

After my last blog post about the abuse of the English language, I thought it appropriate to to pause and chat about the comma.

Many of you have heard of the Oxford comma.  It is sometimes referred to as the Queen's comma.  It is the last comma in a set.  For example: I ate spaghetti, salad, and an orange.  The last comma in that sentence, separating salad from the orange, is the Oxford comma.  It is acceptable not to use it in certain circumstances.  There are, however, circumstances where it is absolutely necessary.

I would like to thank my friends, the Queen and the Prime Minister.
I would like to thank my friends, the Queen, and the Prime Minister.

As far as I can tell, these are two separate sentences.  In the first sentence, the phrase after the comma is an appositive.  An appositive is a noun or a noun phrase that explains or identifies the word right before it.  It is usually marked with a comma separating it from the noun being described (with thanks to the Purdue University grammar owl).  As such, the first sentence means that the Queen and the PM are my friends.

In the second sentence, I am thanking three distinct entities.  The Queen and the PM may or may not be my friends.  This second sentence has the Oxford comma.

Here is the interesting thing.  I learned about the Oxford comma in grade school, although we did not call it that.  That it is known either as the Oxford comma or the Queen's comma suggests that it should be important in British grammar.  I learned about it in the United States.  What makes this even more interesting is that I do not see it used that often living here in Canada, where one would presume that something that is common in British grammar might have more of an effect.

I always use it.  It is confusing when it is not present.

Have a great day.

By the way, I have updated my most recent entry on the abuses of the English language.  I am about to make one more change.  Hopefully, I can leave it alone.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Apologies to My Unpaid Editors....

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen...

I am a huge fan of Lynne Truss.  She wrote the book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves."  It is a masterpiece of satire on the demise of the formal structures of the English language.  Every day, some other assault on the language takes place.

The following blog entry will be a linguistic and grammatical disaster.  It is deliberate.  My goal is to take as many of the current linguistic fads and combine them into one coherent (?) blog entry.  There will be poor spelling, misuse of commas and apostrophes, bad usage, and words that do not exist.

To GS and EKB, my unpaid editors who often catch my typos, I humbly apologize.

I am giving this my usual signoff here, as I do not want my name to be associated with what is about to be written.  I have also put a few extra spaces between my name and this entry, and have changed the font.


I was walking in the wood's one day.  I heard a loud noise.  I looked to my rite to see a large bare.  It was ginormous.  I yelled at the bare.  Nothing I did would effect it though.  I turned to run away.  I was moving.  I was literally running as fast as I could.  Over they're, I saw a yard with some shrubbery and too people.  It was the bushes, Barbara and George.  Its great that they were their.  "May I hide in you're yard?"  "Of course," they said.  I was like "thank you.  Nice complements to the groundskeeper."  I wondered what I should hide under.  As I hid, a truck full of bare food went driving by at the precise moment that a breeze blue towards the bare.  It was a perfect storm, and it allowed me to escape.

I am still stressed after this.  Between you and I, I must speak with the chaplin. 

The Bard Meets Madame Curie...

What a piece of work is a noble is xenon!


Good night to all.


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Apparently, We Still Have Paris...

Bon soir mes amis...

Back in January, Paris, the City of Lights, was attacked.  Citizens of Paris were massacred for cleaving to an ideal that the beasts in ISIS cannot seem to accept - freedom of religion and freedom of the press.

The City of Lights went dark Friday evening.  The beasts in ISIS attacked again, murdering over 130 people who were simply out and about for the evening.  President Hollande finally said that this was an act of war.  I am uncertain as to why the attacks of January were not an act of war, but at least he has finally realized it.

Today, French airplanes attacked an ISIS command centre in Syria.  The intelligence needed to carry out such an operation did not come into the hands of the French only over the weekend.  One then wonders that if this was a known command centre, why did the bombing of this command centre take place the day after the goings on in France as opposed to the day before?

To President Obama, you commented that these terrorists should be brought to justice.  With respect, perhaps, but only as captured POW's.  We are involved in a war with them.  To treat this only as a criminal matter will not lead to a satisfactory conclusion.  Furthermore, wars are not won in the air, and they are not won with special forces.  These pieces are vital, but wars are won eyeball to eyeball on the field.

To Prime Minister Trudeau, I understand the promise that you made to bring Canada's six fighters back from that region.  I urge you to reconsider.  Standing with France must mean not leaving all of the dirty work to them.  It must mean that we here in Canada understand that an attack in Paris can just as easily be an attack in Ottawa.  It must mean that the security apparatus of Canada recognizes that we can fight the war in Syria and Iraq, or we can fight it here, but we are going to have to fight it.  I think of the quote from Leon Trotsky: "you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you."  As well, my Jewish soul demands that you fulfill your promise on bringing refugees into Canada.  I remind you though that when attacks in the past have happened, you have asked what the motivation of the attackers was.  The motivation of these refugees is that their homelands are being torn to shreds by the very people who perpetrated the attacks in Paris.  The refugees are better off not having to be refugees.  Help them not to be refugees.  Help them to live in a homeland that is safe.  Last, when I applied for my permanent resident status in Canada, I had to get police certificates from all of the places I have lived.  If the folks at Immigration Canada were so concerned about me, a commissioned officer from an allied nation, there must a vetting process to match that concern with the refugees.

To the entire European Union, if you continue to delude yourselves that the disintegration of the Middle East has to do with whether I purchase products from Judea and Samaria, you will continue to throw your efforts at a non-solution to a non-problem.  Whether there is a another attack will no longer be the question.  It will only be a question of Berlin, Rome, or Copenhagen.

To the people of France, we send our deepest sympathies to you.

When I wrote the blog entry on the first attack in Paris back in January, I wrote that "we make a gravely wrong assumption when we assume that the line between Jewish and anything else is as significant to the murderers as it is to us."  Friday's attacks prove how utterly wrong that assumption is.  These attacks did not take place in a synagogue.  They did not take place in le Quartier Juif.  The people were murdered for being French, for being Parisian.  Religion had nothing to do with the choice of victim.

Sleep easy my friends.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My Cup Runneth Over...

Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen....

Most of you have likely heard about the controversy surrounding Starbuck's coffee and their line of cups for the holiday season.  Apparently, their cups now are red and green, colours traditionally associated with Christmas.  For some reason, Starbuck's only put the colours on the cup.  Nowhere on the cup does it say "Merry Christmas," or even "Happy Holidays."  Starbuck's said that they wanted to embrace the simplicity of the season and offer customers a blank canvas to tell their own holiday story.

First, to Starbuck's, colours are colours.  Removing words from the cup does not change the deep connection of red and green to the holiday of Christmas.  Starbuck's should be aware that more than words state the holiday.  Aesthetics do so also.  That being said, better than avoiding the controversy, seize it.  Print cups for every major holiday around this time of year.  Remind all of us that some of our neighbours celebrate Christmas.  Others celebrate Hannukah.  Others celebrate Kwanza.  We have the distinct pleasure of living in a multi-cultural mosaic in North America.  That makes me happy, even if my coffee comes in the Christmas cup.  Starbuck's can even go beyond December.  Print cups for other holidays throughout the year.  Did you all know that Starbuck's coffees are certified kosher for Pesach?

To the people who are upset at Starbuck's for removing the colours, get a grip.  Christians are being murdered in Iraq and Syria.  North Korea has concentration camps.  The homeless problem in our cities is appalling.  To waste time on a couple of words on a coffee cup is an insult to every person suffering anywhere in the world.  If you do not like it, bring your own mug.  I have a lovely Hannukah mug from Starbuck's.  Alternatively, there are many coffee shops in every city and town.  Get your morning fix somewhere else.  Or you can go to any Starbuck's and purchase this year's Christmas blend .  I think they have a holiday blend also.

In years past, Starbuck's has given out free coffee to veterans in honour of Remembrance Day.  That is a far more important statement from this company, a statement worth respecting.

The Gorman family has been in Toronto now for over a decade.  Jennifer and I will tell you though that we really miss being in Manhattan during December.  All of the stores have stacks of Christmas trees out on the sidewalks.  It lends a lovely smell and a richness of colour.  People smile a little more.  Stores are decorated.  It is a time-honoured tradition to go to Rockefeller Center to see the tree, and perhaps to take part in the public singing of Handel's "Messiah."  I like to purchase a bag of hot chestnuts from the street vendors to nosh while looking at all of the store displays along 5th Avenue.  That Christmas is not a Jewish holiday does not mean that we cannot share in the joy of our neighbours.  That governments guarantee freedom of religion was never intended to mean that there was to be no public recognition of holidays.

Have a lovely day.


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Today's Safety Training...

Top of the evening to all...

Some years ago, my medium monster asked me asked me if our senses grow duller as we age.  I said to him that our senses do in fact get duller as we age, with the exception of my sense of irony, which seems to be getting sharper every day.

With that sense of irony, I must tell you what happened today.  I am writing presently from Buffalo.  I am in Buffalo for my monthly reserve duty requirement.  When I am in Buffalo, there is often a fair amount of admin that must happen.  This month, I had to sign off on a safety training.  The subject of  training for this month was Christmas tree safety.  Yes, it was quite funny.  They just signed me off on it.  I read the training.  Put the tree in water to keep the wood from drying out.  Clean up fallen needles.  Do not use an extension cord to connect it.

Now, we should talk about hanukiyah safety.  Jennifer comes from a family with the custom that everyone should have a hannukiyah.  Well and good, but with five of us in the house for Hannukah, the second half of the holiday scares me.  This runs the risk of either a class A or class B fire, depending on whether one uses candles or oil to light the flame.

Hannukiyah safety?  Keep a fire extinguisher handy.  As the holiday develops and you have had way too much fried food, keep your distance from the flames.

Have a good evening everyone.