Four more minutes of the riff, please

My office is next door to the campus radio station. My desk is oriented in such a way that there is only the one wall between their primary studio and my computer. They play smooth jazz and broadcast Samford’s sports and news programming. Occasionally, when my office is quiet and they are inspired, I can hear their broadcast, or even the people inside laughing.

This evening, I heard:

In class today we discussed more language and grammar. You haven’t embraced your day without a hearty conversation about the precise and proper placement of commas.

That’s the circle of life, though I’m sure the students would disagree.

It is, in part, a class on copy editing, and so I think often of John E. McIntyre’s speech:

This is not a gut course. Writing is difficult enough to do. It does not come to us as naturally as speech, and we have to spend years learning it. Editing is even harder. We can write intuitively, by ear, but we have to edit analytically.

Before we even get to the analytical aspect, we will have to do some work on grammar and usage, because if you are like most of the five hundred students who have preceded you here, you will be shaky on some of the fundamentals. You will have to learn some things that you ought to have been taught, and you will have to unlearn some things that you ought not to have been taught.

I should also caution you from the outset that this course is appallingly dull. A student from last term complained in the course evaluation that “he just did the same thing over and over day after day.” So will you. Editing must be done word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, and we will go over texts in class, word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph. No one will hear you if you scream.

I’m going to turn my back for a minute so that anyone who wants to bolt can.

Now, if you are willing to stay—and work—I can show you how it is done.

Want a heat-seeking ground-to-air missile? Libya is the place for you, apparently. Thousands have gone missing from unguarded ammo dumps and now the chase is on to try to recover, or buy them back.

If this sounds familiar, it is. The Americans had to buy back missiles from the mujahideen after the Soviet Union’s adventures in Afghanistan. After having spent between $3 to $20 billion in outfitting the Afghanis, they had to go back and try to buy back the armaments, reportedly for as much to $100,000 a piece. But that’s just the monetary perspective. The security concerns are astounding.

Sen. Barbara Boxer calls it a nightmare. Have a nice day with these little factoids, just one more note that causes one to wonder why we got involved in Libya and, more to the point, if we had to, why didn’t we do it right?

Democracy? Not that necessary:

“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover … I really hope that someone can agree with me on that. You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”

Says the governor of North Carolina.

One of Gov. Bev Perdue’s staffers would later say she was speaking in hyperbole, which is code for “I wish my boss would shut up.”

Oh, look, newsobserver.com have posted an mp3 of the governor’s speech, so you can figure out her tone.

If you play it backward she’s clearly singing along with the Temptations.

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