or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Those inexhaustible folks at Gawker Media have done it again with their new blog, The Consumerist, which may not be as cleverly titled as their other blogs (Fleshbot and Gizmodo, to name but two) but which is shaping up to be a daily read.


Also, EFF’s Fred von Lohmann blogs about Real Networks’ new web-based Rhapsody music streaming service, which makes recording of streamed songs trivial. We won’t go so far as Fred to call it the “Beginning of the end for music DRM,” but being able to record versions of music you’ve payed for sounds fair usey to us.

"Fair usey" is cute and slangy, although I would definitely have hyphenated it (since it's a compound adjective, like, say, "ugly-ducklingish", which I just made up but which I, having just Googled it, see a few other people have also thought of). That's not the problem. The problem is "payed", which is an actual English word with an extremely limited usage: it's the past participle of "to pay" in the sense of "to pay out"--that is, "to gradually let out a length of rope". Every other sense has to use "paid". Since it's a word, the spell-checker won't catch it; the writers and editors have to be doing their jobs.


Speaking of writers and editors and blah blah blah, here's an unexpected mistake from Salon.com's Sidney Blumenthal that a copy editor would have caught:

For the European leaders, facing publics hostile to U.S. policy in Iraq and torture, Rice's visit was disquieting. In Italy, prosecutors have issued indictments of 22 current and former CIA operatives for their "extraordinary rendition" of an Egyptian suspect; among those indicted is the former Rome CIA station chief, whom an Italian judge has ruled has no immunity from prosecution.

In that last clause, it's "who", not "whom", and we know this because if we recast and simplify the sentence--admittedly a rather complex one--we end up with "...the chief (an Italian judge has ruled he has no immunity...)", and since it's "he", it must be "who". If the original sentence correctly took "him", as in, say, "...an Italian judge has declared him to have no standing...", then "whom" would be correct. We don't even need to get into the sticky details of nominative pronouns and indirect objects: just recast the sentence using "he" or "him" as the personal pronoun, and if it's "he", use "who", and if it's "him", use "whom". Piece of cake.

(In the same article, Blumenthal also used "surface" as an intransitive verb in a way I find very strange and probably wrong: Rice's visit was supposed to smooth over the conflicts of the past, but instead it surfaced new ones that indicated that the divisions between Germany -- and Europe -- and the U.S. are rooted in the Bush administration's fundamental policies. As far as I know, "surface" used intransitively means "to apply a surface to", but Blumenthal appears to be using it to mean "to bring to the surface: to cause to appear", which doesn't feel right at all.)


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