If You’re Looking for Sense, Don’t Look Here

house of nonsenseThis week I’ve decided that rather than try to be coherent and make sense, I’m just going to ramble on inanely. That is sooooo much easier. So anyway, yesterday at work, we had a little meeting (the three editors and the managing editor for the medical journal I work on), and the topic of our meeting was mostly to make us aware that we need to pay close attention to the names of the authors at the beginning of the article.

One item of discussion was an example of a middle initial that wound up missing the period which is supposed to follow it. In your world that might just be a dot that wasn’t there, but for us it’s a mistake to make frowny faces over. We also talked about how to write names of people who are descended from European aristocracy, with those little bits in the middle of the name like “de” or “van” or there was even a “ter” and what the hell is that?

We get articles from all over all the world, literally, or at least places where people do rheumatology research (which seems to leave out Lichtenstein), so I see a lot of different kinds of names. The longest last names in the world, that I’ve seen anyway, are from Thailand (like Intharueangsarn), although the Spanish generally will hyphenate two names, so they gain some length that way. The easiest names are from Korea or China, so you get some Kim and some Chen and you’re done.

During our morning meeting, our boss got on the phone, so the rest of us launched off into the first nonwork-related topic to come to mind, and I mentioned that the election (Georgia’s 6th district: Jon Ossoff vs. Karen Handel) is next Tuesday. This reminded one of my colleagues how much she hates the political ads running like an open sewer from her TV. I have no TV and haven’t seen them, but I sympathized with my colleague’s interest in the rhetoric they use.

One of the approaches isn’t exactly rhetorical, but more theatrical. For the negative ads, they tend to use black and white instead of color, possibly with odd camera angles, and the announcer will use what my colleague called a Darth Vader voice, kind of low and ominous sounding: “Jon Ossoff wants to kill your puppy.”

Rhetorically, one of the most common approaches in the negative ads against Ossoff is referring to him over and over in connection with Representative Nancy Pelosi, as if that actually makes sense. In case you’re not trained in rhetoric or logic, that’s called an “ad hominem” argument, which ignores logic and facts and just tries to attack the person in any way possible.

I believe nearly all politicking, certainly 90% of it, is nothing but ad hominem, attacking one another personally. How much discussion of actual policies do you remember from the election last year (I’m sorry to drag you back to that time of horror)? Why do politicians use ad hominem, the miserable assholes? Because it works. And why does it work? We can all go look in the mirror to answer that.

Since I’m free in this blog entry from the ugly chains of consistency or sticking to a topic, I want to mention that I went to a new bookstore this week. I’m using the word “new” the way I might refer to a shirt I bought at Goodwill, it was new to me. This was actually a used book store called Atlanta Vintage Books that I had never been to before. I had thought I was running out of books, forgetting I just bought a new one, so I went in to browse a bit and pick up a book or two.

I was thinking about Mark Twain or Dickens, but then I bought books by three writers I never heard of. You know, for a writer it’s kind of overwhelming to go into a bookstore, even an old used bookstore, because good God, where did all those books come from? Someone wrote those books one by one, in some cases with great effort and spending years to do it, and they may have spent even more years trying to get the book published, and then at last it happened. Perhaps they celebrated and drank champagne and did a happy dance and stayed up late. And here the book is piled up with other old books in a dusty bookstore not far from the municipal airport.

So that’s how it goes. It doesn’t seem to make sense to write novels, I guess, but I’m going to keep writing them.

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