My dad yesterday recounted a story involving a friend (of my dad's generation) who professed both unfamiliarity with the word 'cannabis' and an inability to find that word in a dictionary -- two odd bits of cognitive incapacitation that rather ironically suggest a robust familiarity with the substance in issue, if not its designation.
Anyway, this got me thinking about basic dictionary-using competence. Seems like if you weren't good at using a dictionary, you'd have a need for a reference work, say, "Dictionaries for Dummies." But then given the very incapacity in issue, you'd need another reference work for that, ostensibly "'Dictionaries for Dummies' for Dummies." And so on. This obviously leads to a pedagogically vicious regress. Turns out, then, dictionary illiteracy is irremediable.
As a corollary, it is impossible that you are comprehending this post at all.
In a November 5 National Review
Online column -- "Waterboarding
Has Its Benefits" -- contributing editor Deroy Murdock wrote that
"[w]aterboarding is something of which every American should be proud...."
Yes -- he said "proud." Proud, because
[t]hough [it's] clearly uncomfortable, waterboarding loosens lips without causing
permanent physical injuries (and unlikely even temporary ones)."
At last: Wife-beaters who prefer phone books over brass knuckles can now go about their business with pride.
Brian Leiter posts Gerard Dworkin's "Is the Rack Torture?" It's a fine bit of satire, and a useful corrective to the pathological agnosticism about waterboarding that continues to be espoused by even "grown up" conservatives. (Strangely, the more they know, the less they know it.)