A Word of Caution – May 20, 2022


graphix: spwilcen

Forced to admit it, I will.  I follow several scientific newsfeeds.  These bring articles, studies, general information packages, and postulations to my attention on subjects too varied to suggest in a brief list.  For me, think-food.  [For those following a restricted caloric intake: brain-stimuli.] A curious sort, I learn things, discover misconceptions to be set aside, and am prompted to think more not only about article subjects but also about tangential matters, in part as I am feeble of mind and in part as I will chase any squirrel crossing my front lawn.1

This, naturally, detracts from time devoted to my WP reader and those bloggers it rounds-up to remind me need a look-see. I apologize, but weak by nature, it’s unlikely that will change. 

This morning I encountered a brief recap of select medical findings on magnesium.2  Fine.  Not a lexiphobe, I read the whole article and chased a few links pro/con.  Good reads.  Nothing new, but you should routinely check these medical reports because the fickle medical research community is notoriously yo-yo3 on findings.

Pay attention to formulation of list predicates.4

Inclined to be a bit of a skeptic anyway, it’s my habit to read lead-ins carefully to be prepared in case the author is preparing to take a shot at snookering5 me. Lately, an increasing number of technical writers6 are being creative about predicate inversion.7 Flaunting their creative genius.

This morning I was forced to go back for a re-read because the list which I knew but ignored was telling me of life-choices making me magnesium-deficient flew in the face of what I expected to read telling me how magnesium-savvy I was.   Me, a life-long grain-of-salter, read-it-twicer, get-out-of-my-facer, and that’s-bullshit type.8

It’s worth repeating: carefully read lead-ins to item lists.

This is of no concern to most casual WP readers because:

  • Stumbling into a “list,” they stop reading. That’s the old “there may be a quiz after” fear. Not having read a list exempts them from quizzes.
  • Lists rarely include kitty pictures.  Opinions are never formulated from unread material.
  • Any treatise even looking to be over 50 words gets an immediate pass.  It’s time to mash the “like” icon and get on with the spinning-emoji search.
  • Lists cause eye-glaze reading: eyeballs wing left-to-right and top to bottom but recognize nothing until the next inter-paragraph whitespace. No harm no foul.9

Just be careful out there, kiddies.

1 That analogy is literal and figurative. I dislike {expletive} fuzzy-tailed tree rats and will chase them with any primitive weapon immediately available since firearms are prohibited in the village. I also waste brain-power1.5 on not only familiar subjects but willingly add new subjects to the inventory of things I know just enough about to be intellectually dangerous.

 1.5 A limited resource, so you see, for me this is somewhat a problem.

2 Of interest as an old geezer, any protracted physical exertion, mowing the lawn, outrunning 357 magnum wad-cutters, arm-wresting speeding locomotives, and leaping tall buildings leads to leg-cramp wake-ups the next few nights.  Serious leg cramps.  Magnesium is indicated as preventative/curative by any number of medical and pseudo-medical “advisors.”

3 They vacillate.  What’s good today is bad next week.  Eggs, coffee, red wine, Aunt Suze’s fried chicken, breathing gasoline vapors, reading Democratic policy papers, and too-tight tighty-whities.

4 The statement preceding a list.  You know. “You’re too good-looking if:” puts an entirely different spin on a list as opposed to “You needn’t worry about being too handsome if:”.

5 To [try to] snooker someone is to pull the wool over their eyes, to sell them a pig in a poke, to run the old switcheroo past them.  Dig?

6 Suspect since the market is flooded with “creative” writers [wannabe and otherwise] many writers of science fiction, romance, mystery, and poetry have taken employment writing for trade and research organizations.

7 Given the premise of an article, authors flip the spin of a list.  For example, in an article extoling the benefits of red meat, the list recaps reasons one should not partake.  [Devious twits.]

8 Varying degrees of disbelieving from the get-go, from least-to-most doubtful.

9 James Naismith. [If not officially, probably] “The summich swung a baseball bat at me [Doubleday?] but missed, so no need to file charges, officer.”

Published by spwilcen

Retired career IT software engineer, or as we were called in the old days, programmer, it's time to empty my file cabinet of all the "creative" writing accumulated over the years - toss most of it, salvage and publish what is worthwhile.

5 thoughts on “A Word of Caution – May 20, 2022

  1. “Lists cause eye-glaze reading: eyeballs wing left-to-right and top to bottom but recognize nothing until the next inter-paragraph” luv it. Reminds me of studying at uni…huh where is the dictionary!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah college! When I went to grammar school there were only two R’s. Did service before college so I was an “adult” [snicker!] student. The library then, of course had only three books so there was always a waiting list. Gee, a list! here we go again… Thanks for popping in and for dropping words. Made my morning.

      Liked by 1 person

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