The Humpty Dumpty RuleFans of Lewis Carroll's classic tale Through the Looking Glass will remember Alice's encounter with Humpty Dumpty, which includes this famous passage:
'I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.When I engage people in conversations about political, social, economic, or artistic issues, I always assume that they are people of good will who mean well, and I am rarely disappointed in this (of course, I tend to pick my rhetorical opponents rather carefully). The surest test of someone's good will in such matters is whether they can accept that words have specific meanings, at least in the context of whatever topic is being discussed. As soon as my opponent starts to sound like Humpty Dumpty ("X means whatever I say it means") I know that I am dealing with an intellectual child, and do my best to extricate myself from the conversation.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. 'Of course you don't — till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
'But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'
It's a pretty good Life Pro Tip, my friends: If the person you're engaging rhetorically reserves for themselves the right to arbitrarily redefine words to make their argument stronger, bail. At that point, you might as well be trying to have a debate with a three-year-old...
Anyway, I consider myself as, among other things, a paladin of both the art of rhetoric and the proper use of the English language, and I try to conduct myself as such online, and everywhere else. It ain't easy...
|"Trust me, it will help if you have a really cool outfit..."|
Workin' on it...
The Hero We Need (Today)
"We" meaning Royals fans, of course. My beloved Kansas City Royals have now lost three straight games for the first time this season, and will try to avoid being swept in Yankee stadium this afternoon. We send this man to the mound today as our champion:
|Chris Young 4-0, 0.78 ERA|
Things That Make Me Happy: Railroad Edition
The other day I posted an image of the newest addition to my HO scale locomotive collection, an Athearn Genesis DDA40X "Centennial." I also posted a picture of myself posing next to the real-life "Big Jack" on display at Kenefick Park in Omaha. Well, while I was browsing one of my favorite websites (RailPictures.net) this morning, I came across this marvelous photo, taken just a few days ago (May 22nd):