Monday, May 23, 2016

Sorry, I can't shake the feeling you're insincere--also, you sound like a peevish tween

Longtime readers of The Velvet Blog (ha! ha! also: ha!) may remember a series of posts on the "nonapology apology"--that is, when public shamings prod violators of the social code to to say "I'm sorry" even though they don't mean it in the least. This never goes well. The insincerity of a nonapology apology is always apparent, and you're probably best shutting up rather than apologizing without meaning it.

But there's a flip side to the nonapology apology, one that has become annoyingly popular lately, and that is: starting a headline with "Sorry" when the intent is not to express sympathy or apology but, rather, to say something closer to "you're a poopyhead." I haven't seen a description of this elsewhere yet, so I'm going to go ahead and call this the poopyhead apology.

This has been on my radar for a while now, but it seems to have recently reached critical mass.

What inspired this particular post is a story on the Forbes site. Recently, some websites (I believe the first writer was Alex Kotch over at The National Memo) have noticed that the Koch brothers--right-wing industrialists who are big into funding conservative issues--are pushing a high school curriculum that includes sentiments like this one:
Corporations routinely sacrifice the lives of some of their customers to increase profits, and we are all better off because they do. That’s right, we are lucky to live in an economy that allows corporations to increase profits by intentionally selling products less safe than could be produced. The desirability of sacrificing lives for profits may not be as comforting as milk, cookies and a bedtime story, but it follows directly from a reality we cannot wish away.
Pretty callous, right? But just right for Randian Studies 101, I guess.

The quote (and others like it) became the subject for much jeering from liberal-leaning writers, such as Esquire's Charles Pierce, as well as clickbait-leaning websites, including Salon.

Forbes clickbaited back, with a story that features this headline: "Sorry, Salon: The Koch Brothers Are Actually Right." As you can imagine, the Forbes writer, one Tim Worstall ("I have opinions about economics, finance and public policy" appears to be his slogan, and yeah, Tim, I'm sure you do), thinks Salon is wildly off base and he does not appear to be the least bit sorry if a few kids get, I dunno, exploded by Pop Rocks or something.

So I decided to go off to the wilds of Google News to see just how popular this particular locution has become in headlines, and the answer is: way too goddamned popular. These are the incomplete results, and I'll say in advance that Salon is a repeat offender, but, by far, the worst is The Washington Post (and note that these results come only from May):

Sorry, There's Nothing Magical About Breakfast
Sorry, but We're About to Ruin Diet Soda for You
Sorry, but it looks like the West's once-great future is all behind us
Sorry, Paul Ryan. Donald Trump is now 'Mr. Republican.' 
Sorry, Bernie: I love you, but this is over — and getting embarrassing
Sorry Eric Decker, Tom Brady's suspension doesn't mean the AFC East is 'up for grabs'*
Sorry Google, we just don't want to be friends with you*
Sorry, Donald Trump. Trade policy won’t help you win Sanders voters.**
Sorry, liberals. Elizabeth Warren isn’t going to be Hillary Clinton’s running mate.**
Sorry, Bernie fans. His health care plan is short $17,000,000,000,000.**
Sorry, but that fake pundit isn’t more accurate than Nate Silver**
Sorry, Republicans. There’s no escaping Donald Trump.**

Are there more in the May time frame? Oh, GOD, yes, but if I copy and post any more I fear I may lose my mind.

I know the temptation, headline writers. I've written many a headline in my day, and sometimes it's easy to fall back on some comfortable phrase. But it's really time to retire this one.

*These two also lack the comma of direct address. That's pretty basic grammar stuff, and seeing it missing in headlines gives me a headache.

**All of these are from The Washington Post!

P.S.: I'm tempted to blame this. (I did not remember that Charlie was such a stereotype of a tough guy. He seems awfully unconcerned that his sister is now a widow, though, which is not cool.)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

I draw the line at three dimensions, and I refuse to wear those stupid glasses

Part of a very occasional series in which we improve odd descriptions of vanity press books advertised in The New York Times Book Review by adding the phrase "Wacky high jinks ensue" at the end of them. Why? Because we just want to help. Ad copy verbatim (except for the high jinks) from the May 15, 2016, issue.

But first, my usual boilerplate warning: There is nothing wrong with going the for-pay publishing route if you know exactly what you're getting into. If, say, you do public speaking and want to sell books at your engagements. But many of the companies with this model take advantage of the delusional. It doesn't matter how many ads you take out in the Times, no one is going to buy your book about the previously unknown 13th zodiac sign.

Consider all text (sic):

Final Days of Judgment
Final Days of Judgment describes the author's journey to discover how information relating to the laws of universal creation, channeled from the Elohim, ascended masters responsible for the Earth's ascension, applies to life in the modern world. Wacky high jinks ensue.
Bonus! The blurb is lengthened online: "Final Days of Judgement explains how the dross of negative programmes, held individually and in universal consciousness, can be cleared away to facilitate transition to fifth-dimension reality."

Sorry, I'm out. I can't handle that many dimensions.

The Great Creator, the creation and His Creatures From the author of Haiti's Earthquake Jan. 2010 - God's Manifestations comes an insightful book that reveals the way back to eternity through fraternity, combining prose and poetry to convey this call, and highlighting how people can improve their lives. Wacky high jinks ensue.
Through fraternity? Now I regret not pledging. (Oh, I hope it's not Delta Upsilon. Those guys were the worst.)

The Ride, the Rose, and the Resurrection
This memoir by [redacted] narrates the gripping account of one couple's journey through personal tragedy after they suffered life-threatening injuries in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident. It shares stories of compassion and suspicion, companionship and abandonment, religion and faith. Wacky high jinks ensue.
Not to mention sense and sensibility, pastrami and corned beef, and arts and crafts.

A Window to the Soul In this collection of original poems, [redacted] celebrates one of the most profound human experiences: love. Immerse yourself in a a world of love and human emotions as you take a peek into A Window to the Soul... Wacky high jinks ensue.
Peek thought my soul window and I'm calling the authorities.

Memoirs of a "Mad" Dentist
In Memoirs of a "Mad" Dentist, [redacted] looks back to his not-so-ordinary life and career. This book also offers a glimpse into a crusade the author led against a large corporation, demonstrating the power of the human will. Wacky high jinx ensue.
If only the film could star Laurence Olivier--he has experience at that "mad" dentist thing.

Well, that's all for now. And, considering this blog is dead, perhaps ... forever?!? (Nah, probably not.)