From Huff Post Blogger Marty Kaplan:
f u cn rd ths, u cn bcm a sec & gt a gd jb w hi pa.
You can tell that's not a text message. When secretaries were getting good jobs for high pay, no one was texting.
Those School of Speedwriting ads were everywhere in New York in the 1950s and '60s, and in New Jersey where I grew up. I didn't want to become a secretary, but at age 12, I did wonder if learning lightning dictation could give me an extra edge in college, which everyone I knew had cautioned me would be really, really hard.
I never took the home study course, but the texts and tweets and emails I send today are full of plz and thx and u and w and &, and that's true as well for most of the messages I get. I write coupla and wanna and lmk. i'm also -- the horror -- a lower case kind of guy. Many people rail against this as a degradation of language and a vandalizing of culture. I'm not one of them. I think it's efficient, occasionally ingenious, unpretentious and fun.
But I have my limits. Articles, resumes, professional work -- standard English only, please. In domains like that, I'm a hawk on spelling, grammar and punctuation. If you don't know the difference between your and you're, its and it's, affect and effect, I'm rigidly intolerant. I let myself get away with murdering the English language in an email, but for a job applicant I treat it like a capital crime.
The prescriptive case for standard English has always made sense to me. Good grammar, proper punctuation and correct spelling improve communication. Not only do they clarify the sending and receiving of messages, they clarify the thinking that goes into those messages. Plus there's a cultural argument: Language is constitutive of identity, and if the rules of language erode, the identity erodes.
Yet recently I've found myself wondering whether my orthodoxy will one day seem foolish in retrospect. "Spelling! What were they thinking?"
I'm not making a political argument here. It's not about whether Ebonics is legitimate or not. In fact, I'm sympathetic to the idea that subcultures create their identities through the use of nonstandard -- not substandard -- English. I readily acknowledge that the rules of standard English are values-laden and can be deployed as instruments of social sorting. I agree with Oxford English professor Simon Horobin, author of the book Does Spelling Matter?, who told an interviewer that "judging character or worth by how meticulous a speller a person [is] 'is a way to say I'm better than you.... It's a form of licensed prejudice.'" No, my beef with spelling isn't that it protects the ruling class. It's that it's so irrelevant.
I mean, really: Occurred has two c's and two r's. Is getting that wrong really a slippery slope to barbarism? The truth is that I always know what someone means by your welcome, and a misspelling never flummoxes me. I may squirm inwardly when I hear "between you and I," but I never misunderstand it. It's ridiculous that people now say "literally" when they mean "figuratively," but it's never so ridiculous that I fail to comprehend them. Dan Quayle was spit-roasted for spelling potatoe with that e at the end; it was seen as evidence that he was just a dumb blonde. But not a single person laughing at him would ever mistake a potato for a turnip, which arguably should be what's at stake here.
It's one thing for Professor Horobin, or me, to cut misspellers some slack. In my case, the grammar that Mrs. Bustard drilled into my head served me well on standardized tests, in college and in my career, so it's easy for me to go wobbly on rules now. But what about today's texting toddlers who grow up thinking that lol is a word? Are we raising a generation of illiterates whose fuzzy spelling is the precursor of fuzzy thinking?
It's not as though we can stop them, no more than King Canute could stop the tide. The coming universal penetration of smart phones, the Wild West vibe of the Internet, the bias of social media for brevity, instantaneity and comedy: these vectors are inexorably torqueing how we communicate. But are they also dumbing us down?
A study sponsored by the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences has a heartening answer. "Textism," as the report calls the kind of discourse that 8-to-12 year-olds and I use, is actually driving the development of reading skill in children. "If we are seeing a decline in literacy standards among children," says its author, Dr. Clare Wood of Coventry University, "it is in spite of text messaging, not because of it."
I can easily imagine a future where voice-to-text, or thought-to-text, is the main method of writing. I can imagine apps able to transform any text to fit any place on the language spectrum, from Henry James and Henry Higgins at one end, to 2 kewl 4 skewl and rotflmfao at the other. I can even imagine that the brain regions we cultivate in order to read and write literature will not be made vestigial by outsourcing to software our mastery of the Queen's English.
The one thing I can't imagine is a future where u cn bcm a sec & gt a gd jb w hi pa.
This is my column from The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. My JJ columns won the 2013 Best Columnist award from the LA Press Club. You can read more of them here, and email me there if you'd like.
From Gawker: Many restaurants in the DC area are offering "shutdown specials" to furloughed employees so long as government remains closed, but members of Congress looking to take advantage of the budget deals will find that their business is often less than welcome.
At least four eateries have announced that lawmakers are either ineligible for shutdown prices, or, in some cases, are required to pay more than the everyday prices for their food.
Top Chef star Bryan Voltaggio who owns Range on Wisconsin Ave is giving away free "Government Cheese" pizza pies to government employees with a valid ID, but members of Congress are "not eligible until you get your shit together."
At Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe on Connecticut Ave it's Happy Hour all day for everyone but Congressmen and women who will need to pay double for their drinks.
Same goes for The Daily Dish in nearby Silver Spring, where Congress pays double for coffee until the shutdown expires. (photo above)
At Pork Barrel BBQ in Alexandria, a free pulled pork sandwich for every furloughed employee. Not so fast, politicos.
As Eater DC notes, these policies would be tricky to legally enforce, "but they're still funny."
This is really disgusting, but I can totally see it happening with her, turning interns into free slaves and having them clean and fetch coffee. Come on Donna, you needto step up and fork out a few dollars. Does she not understand what the term "intern" means? Perhaps this will change the way interns are used. She can't be the only one pulling Miranda Priestlys!
Huff Po: A former intern is seeking a class-action lawsuit against Donna Karan International over his unpaid internship in 2009, the New York Daily News reports.
Vallentino Smith, a 25 year-old man from Queens in New York City, claims that he clocked in 16 hours a week without pay when he was an undergraduate student working for Donna Karan at its Manhattan headquarters. Smith alleges that he was told the internship would be a great learning experience, but instead all he did was get coffee and organize fashion closets.
"They took advantage of him. You don't see this in waste management or funeral homes," Smith's lawyer, Lloyd Ambinder, told the Daily News.
According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, an internship must meet certain criteria to go unpaid without violating the law. For example, the internship must be "for the benefit of the intern" and be "similar to training which would be given in an educational environment."
Donna Karen's New York headquarters did not respond immediately to a request for comment by The Huffington Post.
Smith is seeking retroactive pay for the hours he worked and would like his case to be classified as class-action so he can represent at least 100 other unpaid Donna Karan interns, according to the New York Post.
Smith's accusations are the latest in a group of lawsuits questioning companies that take on unpaid interns. In June, a former unpaid intern filed a class-action lawsuit against Warner Music Group and Atlantic Records. The intern claims that his work experience included no academic or vocational training and that the company would have had to hire another employee to do his work.
Similarly, former unpaid interns sued Gawker Media that month, claiming the company was in violation of federal law when classifying them as interns to avoid paying wages.
Legal experts have predicted that the unpaid internship lawsuit "trend" is likely to spread even further and that employers across industries should "take note." More than a million U.S. students take internships every year and roughly 20 percent of those internships are unpaid and do not include course credit, Robert Shindell, vice president at consulting firm Intern Bridge, told Forbes.
Huff Po: BUFFALO, N.Y. -- From the moment parking meter mechanic James Bagarozzo began his scheme to steal from the machines, his life became overrun with quarters. He stashed them in his pockets, in a sack in his truck, in closets at his house.
Over more than eight years, he brought home $210,000 worth of quarters – 10,500 pounds of them – which he dutifully rolled and packed in $500 boxes to be exchanged for cash at banks on his lunch hour.
On Friday, a judge imposed a 2 1/2-year sentence on Bagarozzo, who blamed a gambling addiction and an illness he believed would kill him before he built a nest egg for his family.
"With all its problems, the last thing the city of Buffalo needs is employees who don't do what they're paid to do," U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara said as he rejected a defense plea for home confinement or community service.
From 2003 through 2011, the meter mechanic spent the first half of every workday stealing from 70 to 75 meters, prosecutors said. Rather than fix machines, he broke them so that quarters would collect on top where he could grab them with his hands instead of dropping into the collection canister.
Bagarozzo, speaking purposely but with little emotion, apologized during a brief statement to the court and said he accepted responsibility.
"I have hit rock bottom and I have had to come up with my family and friends," the 58-year-old said.
A former co-worker, Lawrence Charles, followed Bagarozzo's lead, stealing $15,000 in quarters over about five years, prosecutors said. He was expected to get 6 months to a year in prison. His sentencing also was supposed to be Friday, but it was postponed until Aug. 29.
The employees came under scrutiny in 2011 after Parking Commissioner Kevin Helfer noticed the city's new computerized pay stations were bringing in far more money than the old quarter-fed parking meters.
"What may have begun as a theft of nickels and dimes, in the end was the equivalent of a major bank heist," U.S. Attorney William Hochul said.
Since the arrests, the city's annual parking meter revenue has increased by more than $500,000, Helfer said.
Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said the investigation is not over.
"We are looking at other people," he said.
At the time of his arrest, investigators found $40,000 in cash in the ceiling of Bagarozzo's bedroom, $4,100 in a dresser and $3,000 worth of quarters in closets in bags and boxes around the house.
Prosecutors said the money allowed Bagarozzo to send his daughters to college and pay off his mortgage, but defense attorney James Harrington said virtually everything was lost at casinos.
"It was rooted really in this spiraling addiction that he had," said Harrington, who gave Arcara 138 letters of support from Bagarozzo's friends and family.
In court papers, Harrington wrote that Bagarozzo's stealing began in 2003 following a serious episode of Crohn's disease that left him believing he did not have long to live.
"He said he was worried about his wife and two teenage daughters and that they would have little if he died," the lawyer wrote.
Bagarozzo, who will be allowed to surrender voluntarily, declined to speak with reporters as he left the court surrounded by family.