Styling Evolution, or, the Elements of Futility


Does it count as Skitt’s Law if, despite being unplanned, it still manages to make the point, anyway?

I would, however, note that once upon a time I actually lost an internet argument about how language evolves. There is a word we use, from the Italian; most Americans get it from “mob” movies. In a world in which I am supposed to know, off the top of my head, that the word is now officially spelled “koppish”, because, y’know, language evolves, I have also learned to remember that some evolution leads the way of the dodo.

When you hear someone justify poor presentation with something about how language evolves, it does in fact behoove us to consider whether the “evolution” in question improves or denigrates communication.

There is an argument that says EoS only makes good people feel bad about their own writing, but there is also a way in which that argument relies on some contradictory notion about communication. There are a lot of good people who communicate poorly; somewhere between, say, failing to speak in a way that fails to frighten a stupid, frightened person with a gun and, oh, I don’t know, being able to write a sentence without netspeak shorthand, exists a viable question by which communicative skills really are a proper consideration for self-conscious good people.

It’s just hard to figure though, to what degree the Elements bring jittery self-awareness to people who don’t know what the book is, or have never tried to use it.

Did you see what I did, there?

The gaffe in the sentence about the stupid person with a gun really is a mistake of revising something or another in the moment as that jalope hit the page.

Screen.

Whatever.

#nevermind.

____________________

See also:

“Why ‘The Elements of Style” is out of style”. Public Radio International. 8 February 2018.

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Oxygen-free is the way to be?


Loriciferan organism, via BBC NewsLife is a fundamental component of the Universe.

Allow me, please, to explain. That statement, sounding mystical as it does, arises in a certain context.

Whether we find ourselves arguing with Creationists or discussing the possibilities of extraterrestrial life, a question arises concerning the odds of life developing in the Universe. There is even the Drake Equation, intended to predict the probability of intelligent life elsewhere in the cosmos.

And for some, the numbers prescribe a low possibility. For the Creationists, life is nothing short of miraculous, requiring God’s hand to come about.

XKCD - The Drake EquationBut the Universe is vast, perhaps even infinite in its potential. Which suggests that however we calculate the odds, life becomes nearly an inevitability.

And in recent years, people have started to recognize this. Some look hopefully to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, wondering what surprises might await in or beneath the ice of, for instance, Europa.

Here at home, on Earth, our outlook on life is rapidly changing, and the latest announcement from the Mediterranean will only fuel that transformation. Patrick Jackson explains, for the BBC:

Scientists have found the first animals that can survive and reproduce entirely without oxygen, deep on the floor of the Mediterranean Sea.

The team, led by Roberto Danovaro from Marche Polytechnic University in Ancona, Italy, found three new species from the Loricifera group.

He told BBC World Service they were about a millimetre in size and looked like jellyfish in a protective shell ….

…. One of the three new Loriciferans (so-called because of their protective layer, or lorica) has already been officially named Spinoloricus Cinzia, after the professor’s wife.

The other two, currently designated Rugiloricus and Pliciloricus, have still to be formally described.

They were discovered in the course of three oceanographic expeditions conducted over a decade in order to search for living fauna in the sediment of the Mediterranean’s L’Atalante basin.

The basin, 200km (124m) off the western coast of Crete, is about 3.5km (2.2m) deep and is almost entirely depleted of oxygen, or anoxic.

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