Sunday, August 5, 2012

News Bits

Every Sunday I buy three newspapers, the Tacoma News Tribune, Seattle Times and the New York Times. They don't sell other Sunday papers on Sunday anywhere anymore, but I'd love to read the old Seattle PI and the Washington Post. Yes, it's the age of on-line and download newspapers, and yes I subscribe to the New York Times download edition (great for daily paper).

But I really like print. I love to take over the table, get the endless pot of coffee, some snacks and feast on reading every page. Ok, scanning every page, reading the headlines and the opening paragraphs for the gist of the article, and then more if it's interesting. it all makes for a good Sunday morning.

Anyway, there were two articles of note in the New York Times, one which I'll address directly and one indirectly. First, the article by James Gleick, "Auto Correct Ths!", about how we rely on autocorrection of grammar but mostly spelling to not just help us but save us from our own stupidity.

There is a very simple solution which I do all the time. First, I turn off all automatic checks in all my applications for anything, spelling, grammar, html code, etc. I see what I type and then reread and edit or run checks to correct the errors. It's why there are typos in my posts. Sometimes I catch them while typing, some while editing and some later when reading them after they're posted.

This requires me to think more than just type and hope. I also keep my Oxford American-English dictionary application open on my desktop as well as a print edition of the same dictionary by the desk to access when I write. The app is part of Mac's software for Mac's. I also have the Oxford American-English dictionary app on my iPhone and iPad.

Dictionaries are useful, especially if you actually use them.

Second is the article by Matthew Hutson, "Still Puritan After All These Years." Well, if there is anything I've learned about psychological or sociological studies reported or used in articles, it's not to accept those done by university professors on college students. Why?

We're not college students anymore.

As adults we are far different than we were in college, if we went to college. Doing psychological research studies on college students is a captive and biased audience and population base for studies. They're not normal people from anyone older than 25 years old.

And so any results don't apply beyond being interesting, and any article citing those studies isn't worth much more than interesting and totally useless for the general population. I read the article for their conclusion then ignore those conclusions for the same reasons, just a biased study to prove a point.

And what's more is that all too often the study is a small, very focused study where they or the writers extrapolate big conclusions about all of us. Really? In implying conclusions from the results they forget the rule about assuming too much. And in this article, they simply stated the obvious which they didn't need to cite the study.

Anyway, that's my reading for this Sunday.

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