December 02, 2005


In the greater scheme of things this is really meaningless, but it still chaps me anyway, mainly because the people who do these things are the ones who tend to miss no opportunity to tell others about their own superiority.

First up, this headline--City's murder rate near 100 with overnight death

No. The amount of murders is near 100. "Rate" is term indicating a ratio, a comparison to a fixed number--for crimes, the usual reporting standard is the number of crimes per 100,000 of population. I realize a lot of people make the mistake, but professional journalists are the ones who keep telling everyone about the superiority of their medium, based upon the idea that they have a staff of trained editors toiling away to insure accuracy both in the overall tone of the article, as well as language usage. But irritating stuff like this gets printed every single day--innumeracy and illiteracy amongst the people we pay to bring us the news seem to abound. And frankly, if they can't get the small stuff right, why should I bother to believe they'd be willing to take any greater care on the big stuff?

Second--the term "1st Annual." I just got through reading our school system's quarterly newsletter, and they had a blurb about the upcoming "1st Annual System-Wide Holiday Celebration" at the central office. Again--I realize many people don't see anything odd about that, but a bunch of highly-qualified teachers should know that "1st Annual" isn't the best way to say that--it's either the first, or the inaugural, or the introductory, or the initial. I know what they mean--they intend to have one next year, so this one is the first of what is planned to be an annual event. But, still, since Christmas only comes around once annually, at least acknowledge that even if the usage is acceptable, it's still redundant in this case. It's like saying annual anniversary.

Again, in the greater scheme of things, it's not a big deal, except for the fact that I keep hearing just how essential all these folks are to my child's well-being. And I don't disagree--but if you're going to set yourself out there on that pedestal, I would prefer not to see so many simple, common, irksome things that cause my teeth to go on edge. Because, just like the newpapers, these sorts of things keep coming to my attention--we get a flood of papers from all the kids every day, and some of what passes for pedagogical excellence simply defies belief. If they can't get the small stuff right, why should I bother to believe they'd be willing to take any greater care on the big stuff?


Posted by Terry Oglesby at December 2, 2005 10:02 AM

I suppose you could give the headline writer the benefit of the doubt, in that implicitly the total for the year is approaching the annual rate. Here in Baltimore, our total is a little different.

Posted by: steevil (Dr Weevil's bro Steve) at December 2, 2005 10:13 AM

They don't get paid that much, but I doubt that increasing their pay will increase the quality of the output.

Posted by: sugarmama at December 2, 2005 02:47 PM

Sure hasn't done anything for mine.

Posted by: Terry Oglesby at December 2, 2005 02:52 PM