No plan survives contact with the enemy.Helmuth von Moltke the Elder (paraphrased)

No pressed shirt survives contact with the seatbelt.—Brad Collins


Around “To Where”

When did “around” replace “regarding” or “with respect to”? And when did “to where” replace “so that” or “in order to”?


“Remind me what you were saying around the quarterly report.”

“There’s no forest so big to where they won’t find you.”

Really? We can’t do any better than this?


Reason #10,754 To Execrate Internet Explorer 6

Ever seen this pop up in Internet Explorer 6 (or 7)?

This page contains both secure and nonsecure items. Do you want to display the nonsecure items?

You spend hours combing through server-side source, hours more combing through client-side source, and yet more hours sniffing and poring over headers, and nothing. Nothing HTTP when it should be HTTPS.

Well this could be your problem, yet another non sequitur brought to you by Microsoft:

This problem occurs if the Web page script calls the removeChild() method to delete a DIV element that references a background image. —

This only appears to happen when the style is inline. In other words, say you have something like this:

<div id="err" style="background-image:url(err.gif)">

If you attempt to vaporize that div with removeChild(), you’re suddenly no longer secure.

Okaaay. Make sense to you? Makes sense to me!

Firefox, take me away!


Don’t Let A Spec Pick Your Button Type

Ever need to create a <button> of type button when you’re doing a little DOM scripting? Easy enough, right? It should go something like this:

var okButton = document.createElement('button');
okButton.type = 'button';

Nevertheless when you run this code in IE6, you get the super-informative “Communication error” message. It turns out that IE6 (for once) is following the standard. I don’t know what the W3C were thinking, but so sayeth the ECMAScript Language Binding (9 January 2003) spec about the type property of the HTMLButtonElement:

This read-only property is a String.

So, the common way to set the property of an HTML element is, according to the standard, right out? I mean, it’s not inconceivable that I would want to create a <button> on the fly with a type that is not the default.

Alas there is a workaround. Ironically, it employs the standard method of setting DOM Node‘s attribute value:

var okButton = document.createElement('button');
okButton.setAttribute('type', 'button');

Works like a charm! Even in IE6.

(I should note that Firefox 3 allows for writing to the button’s type property using the button.type notation. I didn’t test with other browsers to see whether they balk at the button.type notation, but Firefox 2/3, Opera 9.6, and Safari 3, along with IE6/7, are more than amenable to the setAttribute method.)


So: The New Now?

So, as I listen to podcasts, participate in conference calls, and even talk to people face to face, I find that it is becoming more and more common for people to begin sentences with “so.” For no apparent reason.

So, the form is not something like, “This happened, and then this. So, I did this.” At least in this case, there is a causal relationship to what he/she just said.  

No, people are beginning podcasts with, “So, I’m talking to Herb Plumdiggy from Whack-A-Mole, Inc.” Managers are beginning meetings with, “So, we want to talk about the problems with our automated cotton candy spinner.” When an interviewer asks, “How can earthquakes be prevented with sheep’s bladder?” the interviewee answers, “So, this is a very interesting application. …” People are beginning stories with, “So, you guys have to hear what Gigi’s dog can do with a tricycle and a Slinky.”

So, why are people sticking this word to the fronts of their sentences? It serves absolutely no purpose.  Is “so” the next “y’know” or “like”?

So, all this got me thinking about whether we use any other words like this “so.” It occurs to me that we use “now” in a similar way:

  • Now Jason decided that red licorice just would not do for an industrial application.
  • Kids, you’re gonna regret playing with the cat with those toothpicks, now.

So, the first example is a little different from this totally useless employment of “so.” In the first example, “now” is something of a transitional word from the previous sentence. People tend not to begin a story with “now,” only continue it. You could argue that it serves no grammatical purpose; it is merely aesthetic. In the second example, on the other hand, “now” really is utterly pointless. “Meaningless!” as Orson Welles might say.

So, maybe “so” is the new “now,” but for the beginning of the sentence.

Whatever the reason, it is really annoying.


Apostrophic Failure

OK, class, let’s review: apostrophes indicate possession, not plurality.  Therefore when you write, “Wilson’s,” you are not referring to a group of Wilson family members; you are referring to something that belongs to someone named “Wilson.”

Let us consider an example in which the writer intends to say that members of the Wilson family are accompanying his own family:

The Wilson’s are coming with us.  (incorrect)

The Wilsons are coming with us.  (correct)

If you are writing in the form of first sentence, stop it.  Right now!

And while I’m at it, regardless of how strange it may sound, add es to pluralize surnames ending in s (for that matter, x or z, too):

The Collins’ invited us to dinner.  (incorrect)

The Collinses invited us to dinner.  (correct)

As you can imagine, having a last name ending in s myself, I have suffered this transgression many a time.

Back to apostrophes.  Yes, to pluralize a single letter, add ’s (e.g., p’s & q’s), but I haven’t seen any surnames consisting of just one letter. (Well, except for Mr. T, but there’s just one of him.)

Your reading assignments for this evening:

Class dismissed.


Loosing the Language

Am I the only English speaker who still knows how to spell the word “lose?”  Some samples from the Internet:

McCain Loosing His Mind! — McCain VS Fact

Israeli Army Chief Not Loosing Sleep Over Iraq Fears —

Housing, which had set sales records for both new and existing homes for five consecutive years, has been rapidly loosing altitude this year, as consumers were battered by rising mortgage rates, soaring energy prices and a slowing economy. — Associated Press /