My niece recently graduated from a prestigious university. Talked to
her the other day, she was complaining that her new Honda was getting
only 14 mpg. Turns out she was dividing the miles driven by the total
gas tank capacity, not the actual amount of gas it took to fill the
tank. Took several minutes of explanation before she realized her
error. Apparently she was following the instructions of a friend from
school. All that theoretical calculus sure came in handy. Where's
the Gas Mileage 101 course when you need it...
That's allright. My step-granddaughter thinks that:
Paris-London is one city.
Brooklyn is a state.
Harvard University is in Harlem.
A quarter to the hour is 25 minutes to the hour (after all, a quarter is 25
And this is an honor student.
Some good ones I've heard over the years:
One friend insisted there's butter in peanut butter...
A girl my wife works with thought Bellingham was a state (it's a town in
north-west Washington state). She also couldn't figure out why all
those cars from Washington (DC) were driving around when she visited the
State of Bellingham...
Chuckle- look at NM's license plates. Pretty sure they are the only state
that feels the need to put 'USA' on the plate. Probably urban myths, but
I've heard tales of rental companies refusing one-way rentals to NM, because
they don't do international rentals, and old-time long distance operators
trying to charge international rates to Taos, etc.
Not an urban myth. First hand experience: I was trying to order some parts
for a piece of electronic equipment from EG&G in Salem, MA. When I told
them I was in New Mexico, the phone guy wanted to transfer me to their
international section. It took some explaining to convince him that we are
in the USA. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.
America: Land of the free because of the brave.
Pretty damn sad. I sometimes catch the Jay Leno segment where he asks
people on the street about geography, etc... The questions are so easy
that even my 2nd grade niece knows the answers without fail - even the
political name associations. It's supposed to be a funny bit, but I
find it just shocking. I'm no prude, and not above poking a little fun
now and then, but I just sit there stunned and saddened. There's
another idiotic game show called Street Smarts with person on the
street questioning of extremely basic questions. Most of the
respondents are just clueless. I just can't believe it.
Another thing I find really annoying is newscasters and other verbal
media who can't even use the words may, might, and can correctly. They
use the terms interchangeably when they mean vastly different things.
In weeks of pre and post Katrina news, I caught so many mistakes about
these words, that if you took what was being said literally, you'd
think you were listening to gibberish. Yet, other people watching the
same newscasts didn't bat an eye.
I know a guy who throws cigarette butts out the car window on purpose
because without purposeful littering, street cleaners would lose their
jobs...and this guy is dead serious!
OMFG, just end the world now.
The ever-growing abuse of the apostrophe-S (and plurals in general) is
the one that really grates on me. It's spreading from the little
community newsletters now to the big dailies and major advertisements.
One of the latest to catch my eye was a recent flyer for A&B Sound, a
major Canadian electronics retailer: a spot for a Clifford car alarm
touts "Starter Kill To Prevent Thief's From Driving Away..."
*sigh* My son's tenth-grade English teacher informed his class last week
that "Americans spell 'cat' with a 'k', and spell 'night', 'n-i-t-e'."
Being American herself, my wife is quite perturbed... she wants the kid
to ask his teacher how many states there are, and if he gives any answer
other than 50, she swears to lay beaters on him.
On one driving vacation I woke up in Gallup, looked out the window and
wondered where all the Chinese cowboys came from...
Then again, in California one wonders why all those junky-looking cars are
marked FRONT? Can't they tell from the hood ornament?
I don't things have changed that much. When I was in college 40 years ago
there were a lot of kids who just didn't get math especially how to apply it
to real life situations. As a matter of fact these days primary and secondary
schools are teaching a lot more practical things than I learned 50 years.
Back then we were give all kinds of made up problems that had little to do
with real life. Today, they teach the young kids about money and making
change. The problems my kids get in grade school are a lot more relevant
than I ever had.
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