Random Rants

A while back I had the idiotic idea of writing a rant about whatever I felt like writing a rant about. That was probably the stupidest idea I've ever had. So I did it again. Enjoy!


Yes, language is still bothering me. The problem seems to be that I know too much about how it works! My first and major problem is that people don't use language correctly, at least not English (at least not in America). The problem that stems from my major problem is that English, especially American English, is too difficult to master. It is far too irregular.

My proposition is thus: we, the future of America, should not be taught American English. Or perhaps my proposition is that we should be taught American English. What the hell does he mean?!?!, you are thinking right now. Well, I'll tell you (aren't I nice?). The "English teachers" are attempting to teach us a form of English that was written down by some linguist back in the 1950s who really just wanted to make our life difficult. The problem with following those rules is that language constantly changes and evolves. So why are the "English teachers" teaching us an old, nearly dead language?

Or maybe they should teach us an old language, but all of it. Teach us every exception, every rule, every quirk. Make us learn it and make us use it correctly. I don't know how long I can stand hearing things like Don't discriminate against me and Ted because we act different!.

I hope to have my own language finished soon.

Something else about the American language the irks me is its use of pronouns; specifically, the third person singular neuter pronoun, 'it'. You see, as the name implies, 'it' refers to one genderless object (the antecedent in linguistic terms). For example, if I were talking about how a person of a group of people doesn't care about rules, I would use the third person (someone else) singular (one person) neuter (gender unknown) pronoun (name unknown): 'it'. An anarchist want-to-be doesn't care at all; it will follow its own rules. That is correct! Don't tell me it isn't, I just explained it in very simple terms, and it is logically and grammatically correct. Think about it for a while if you disagree, it works out correctly. (The fact that human beings are animals might help some people through this.)


What a young prescriptionist. Anyway, I'm a descriptionist now. I also firmly believe that native English speakers cannot speak English incorrectly, by definition (and same for other native speakers of other languages).

Life has improved since the singular they became word of the year in 2015.

Web Standards

I am happy. I have downloaded Mozilla (milestone eleven), and it works correctly. I am very happy. I have created my own XML; I have viewed my Web page as it should look; I have the source code to a Web browser! Go now and download it. There are many bugs — let the eyeballs be many and the bugs be few.

Still, nobody else (and by that I refer to other Web browser developers) is doing their part in standards compliance. And my point still stands; if they can add their own tags and quirks, why can't they make the standard ones work correctly first?


Some of my fondest memories include building a Mozilla nightly for a day and then running it, not knowing what would happen. The UI would change, Web pages would render differently — anything could happen.

This all happened in the early days of Web standards, when the idea of Web standards was not even fully accepted yet. Those days are over; hooray.

Smart or Intelligent?

Just what is smartness? Isn't intelligence the same thing? How do report cards reflect on this. Whoa, one question at a time there!

Smartness is the ability to function in the "real world"; common sense plays a big part in this. Being smart and being "street smart" is about the same thing. But smartness also means being able to do many things better than others can. It is considered bad form to call oneself smart.

Intelligence is one's ability to know almost everything there is to know about a subject, and to possess the ability to know everything about a subject. Many intelligent people lack common sense and are thus called smart only by those that don't know what they are talking about. The intelligent fool is above following society and thus couldn't care less if calling oneself smart is considered bad form; it is free to define good and bad itself.

Report cards, those awful pieces of paper that are handed out in school to make our parent(s) angry with us, reflect neither smartness nor intelligence. Report cards show how smart we look. It is as if we are a dog that is taught a trick; the more we can pull off the trick, the more treats we are given. We don't have to know why we are learning the trick, or what use the trick will serve in the future, or the culture or history around the trick, we just need to train our muscle memory to perform a trick. Report cards are our treats; the more we cheat, the higher the grade. That is how it works.

I've received email on this subject which I'd like to include:

[From: "Joel A. Brennan" <jab30@cisunix.unh.edu>]
[Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 23:47:24 -0500]

the ever popular debate of letting the degree (diploma) get in the way
of the education.......you'll even battle it at collge (most likely.)

an article from the boston globe on Oct 11, 1998  reads:

"Study after study after study shows that heads of companies favor
graduates from liberal arts institutions because they can generally
communicate well, think quickly, are good at solving problems, and enjoy
learning new things. But often the Human Resources departments that
screen resumes would prefer to see transcripts that boast in courses in
accounting, rather than the Russian novel."

Don't sweat your next 2 years at WHS - you aren't there to learn. You
are there to get a high GPA in order to get into an over-rated big name
school that will land you a high paying job even if you are a dumb ass
drunk that falls down chimney-shutes. (no reference to any particular

[Date: Sun, 12 Dec 1999 12:47:16 -0500]

I'm glad to hear you are as disgusted with the Maerican education system as
I am....its a waste of time, and has completely fallen apart.

College sucks. It is sleep over high school. The food blows, and the
students just get drunk and puke. The bathrooms are nasty, and you have to
share a room with someone you don't know/like. Well, it is really pretty up
here, and I am not paying too much for it. That is a good thing, since I
have come to the conclusion that I REALLY doesn't matter where you go to
school....Harvard, Julliard, MIT, UNH, Bunker Hill Community College,
Oxford - It just really doesn't matter. They all have libraries with
inter-library loan, and they all have resources for you to educate yourself.
You can probably get a better education at a cheaper school (cause then you
don't have to waste your time at a job to meet the tuition bills.) Students
go to college becasue they are "supposed to." Well, they don't really want
to be here, so they screw around. That has become the American way, so now
the professors don't expect much from students, so they don't try their
best, and the next thing you know it, there is a reverse Darwin effect and
we are swinging from trees looking for small animals to eat.

What can you do?


That smart/intelligent distinction sure is pretentious.

Joel was right; get through school (any, it doesn't matter) and then hit the real world and do your thing.

But maybe the school does matter if you are fighting against a lack of privilege. I ended up dropping out of university and do not regret it, but maybe someone with less privilege would prefer a doctorate from Harvard.


I'll end this monologue with my favourite word: Why? Don't follow what I say just because I am the coolest, most original, most intelligent person in the entire universe (don't question me on that, however…). You should be asking Why? on a daily, hourly, minutely, even secondly basis! Don't assume someone is right — follow though, ask how it arrived at the answer, and see if there is another, more logical answer. Unless you want to be a sheep for the rest of your life…


Stop asking why when you get to a root cause or anything about someone making money.

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Mike Burns <mike@mike-burns.com>