Linkblogging for 02/09/14

Just a few links today — what little writing I’ve done has been for a project I’ll be announcing in a few days.

Dave ex Machina on the way plane passengers are pitted against each other by reclining seats (for the record, I do recline my seats, because I can barely fit into them otherwise, and usually the person in front has reclined as well, but I move the seat upright if the person behind me asks)

The problems with Weird Al’s “Word Crimes”

Jack Graham, who does the Shabogan Graffiti blog about Doctor Who, now has a blog about Alien.

Millennium has a review of Doctor Who: Deep Breath

And James Ward has written a book about stationery

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9 Responses to Linkblogging for 02/09/14

  1. Mike Taylor says:

    The maths for the seat-reclining thing is pretty simple. If airlines moved the seats 20% further apart, providing a pleasant amount of leg-room, then they would have room for 20% fewer seats. That would mean they could sell 20% fewer tickets, which means that to maintain revenue they’d need to charge 20% more. I don’t see anyone clamouring for a 20% increase in air-fares.

    So, yes, having someone recline their seat into me is a pain (especially if I am trying to type on my laptop). But I’d still rather put up with that than find another £100.

  2. plok says:

    Lots of people choose not to take Ryanair, though, so it may not exactly be a clamour but people are voting with their wallets about such things, in pretty decent numbers, and in both directions. For myself, I can’t afford business class, but I’d sure pay an extra hundred to make it easier to reach the head back in coach…no problem at all, if they’d just let me! Oh, how the lady on the aisle seat in the centre section was tortured by me and my other seatmate, a couple of years ago. The person in front of her had his seat fully reclined, too. I don’t blame her for making that voodoo doll, she was just trying to get from A to B without losing her mind, just like the rest of us…

    As for Weird Al, that whole “get out of the gene pool” thing is pretty scientifically-illiterate, huh? Like “Idiocracy”, that isn’t how it works…well, racism is never how it works…

    I do bristle a bit at the idea that it’s bigheaded to say someone’s punctuated improperly, though. Not really the same as people not saying “whom” anymore? Maybe?

    • plok says:

      Obviously I am just talking about apostrophes there…

    • Mike Taylor says:

      Really? If someone said to you “I would like to recline my seat, which is in front of you: if you allow me I’ll give you £100”, you turn them down?

      On Weird Al’s song … First, it’s amazing how many self-proclaimed “grammar pedants” don’t know the difference between grammar, spelling and usage. Second, since Stephen Fry it’s become very trendy to talk about how language changes and everything’s cool. That’s true to some extent, but the bottom line is that language is a tool for communicating. When it changes too fast, or diverges differently in different areas (geographical or cultural) we lose the ability to communicate efficiently, and open the door to serious misunderstandings. I don’t think “anything goes” gets us anywhere. So I stand somewhere in the middle on this.

      • Andrew Hickey says:

        In my case I do pay an extra £100 per flight for “economy comfort” seats with a tiny bit more legroom, since KLM/Delta started offering those, as I simply can’t cope with standard economy-class seats. I can barely cope with the “economy comfort” ones, and would certainly not accept being more restricted for £100. There are also a *lot* of people who travel for business and who thus have to fly (unlike tourists who are there voluntarily) but who *don’t* particularly care about the price as it’s not them paying.

        As for the grammar stuff, my own rule is the one I think Eric Raymond described for software — be liberal with inputs and conservative with outputs. So long as what I’m reading is comprehensible to me, the person who wrote it has done what they intended, but I try to be as formally correct as possible when writing, in order to make it as easy as possible for readers to understand me.

        I do think that anyone who uses language so badly through laziness that they make it difficult for readers to understand them is doing something wrong — it’s dumping the cognitive load on the readers instead of the writers, and that’s not right — but most of the things complained about in that Yankovic song don’t stop people understanding anything.

        • plok says:

          Also “ain’t” is a dam’ fine word.

          I do draw the line at “cladly dressed”, though. Don’t want to understand what the person means there, actively resent being able to make it out, makes my head hurt.

  3. plok says:

    Naw, I want to be able to book a flight on an airline that charges 20% more money for 20% more legroom!

    But given that situation, I would probably turn them down, yes. The old Punishment Principle! “I’m not for sale, rich guy…”

    I don’t think language does “change”, rather I think we choose it…though I may be poorly paraphrasing Holly, there. Language doesn’t have a life of its own, but it’s our life, and we dent it and twist it and break it in like a baseball glove all the time. And half the weird shit we say we don’t even want to have make it into the dictionary! So we have math for efficiency…but language is about…



    Pardon me, Mike, it’s late here…I’m sure that didn’t make much sense…

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