A Lack of Reading Comprehension


Sorry this is late.  I was actually hoping younger son would make it back to help me haul books so I could post a list of paper books for sale.  (He says something about so busy, and finals and stuff.  So…. Tomorrow morning, for a couple of hours. Maybe. If it doesn’t snow.)

Anyway, while trying to figure that out, I came across a friend complaining about people who come to blogs and leave comments saying “I can’t believe you forgot this point” when the point is exactly the one you made IN THE BLOG.

And this made me realize something I keep running into in increasing numbers: people who seem to have absolutely zero reading comprehension.

Perhaps it’s people who learned to read as whole-word readers and they miss a few important words?  Or perhaps it’s just people who are in a great hurry.  But it seems to me that more and more, I’m running across people who don’t read what’s posted and instead read what they expect to read.

It’s become almost a joke that our political opponents will come over and completely misinterpret whatever I said.  I mean, remember when our then resident (now mostly on FB) voluntarianist got called Statist and thereby became Statist Josh?  Or the time someone called an homophobe who’d obviously never left the United States?

It was hard, particularly on those posts (Wasn’t the last one about public libraries?) to even figure out how they came up with that TOPIC let alone that conclusion.  But it almost always happens.

Look, there have always been people who read something and take not only a wrong, but usually a bizarre conclusion from it.  I had a school friend who did this.  Smart woman but something happened to anything she read.  You know she could read a text on windmills and come out convinced it was about the plight of wolves re-introduced to the wild.  Or something.  It just would have zero to do with what was on the page.  And none of us, talking about it (not with her, duh) ever figured out what she was actually reading.

I’ve run across a few other people like that.

But recently they’re the exception, not the norm.  And not all of it is ideological.  Send out an email asking someone “Do you breed moon ferrets? I’ve been looking into the endeavor, and find that you need a specialized kind of cage, but no one will tell me how specialized.  I’d appreciate if you took the time to tell me, or show me a photograph.)”

The answer will be “Why, yes, I do sell moon ferret wool.  It makes the softest sweaters.  We spin it ourselves, and have some for sale.  I don’t know if you want to come by or just go to moon ferret wool store on Moon street.”

And that is tangentially related and the response is for something that could make the writer money.

But the more common is something like this, “Dear Bob, I’ve been doing pretty poorly and hope you are well.  I have arthritis and rheumatism and need heart surgery later this year.”

Response from Bob, “Well, I’m glad you’re doing well.  I certainly am not. [List of issues.])

The only explanation is that people skim the first line and fill in what they need to make sense of the three words they actually read.

This makes business communications hellish, but most of all it reminds me of two of the regulars at the village tavern.  One was a farmer, the other a stone breaker.  Fast friends.  both deaf as posts.

Their conversations went something like this

“We’re now breaking into granite, it’s hard as hell.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s about the time to prune the vines.”

“I know, and no matter what we try, it takes us twice the time of any other stone.”

As a little kid, I thought this was the funniest thing I’d ever heard.

But how the heck can we work and live if we’ve all become that deaf couple?


270 thoughts on “A Lack of Reading Comprehension

  1. How Dare You Insult Dragons! [Crazy Grin While Flying Away Very Fast]

  2. I’ve noticed this myself. And it does not seem to be ideological, conservatives will do it just as eagerly as liberals. I would say that it had to do with distractions, but this sort of problem has been around for a very long time…just play “telephone” and watch the results.

    Part of the issue may be that people don’t listen. I definitely think the skills of conversation and debate have waned in the last few decades. It’s all about the sound bite and the propaganda point. Aided and abetted by a Propaganda Press (including the entertainment sideshows) with the attention span of a squirrel.

      1. Actually I’ve seen some extremely focused squirrels.
        They absolutely must get to the bird feeder,

        1. I’ve had some determined squirrels. Finally beat them with 4″ ducting over the support pole, once the pole was high enough to thwart a leap from the deck railing.

          The squirrels are welcome to fight over what falls on the ground. Some of the bigger birds are nasty. (Steller’s jays, especially, though the pigeons/doves get aggressive at times.)

    1. just play “telephone” and watch the results
      Do kids play that anymore? If they did, they might learn something.

      1. In general, don’t think so. In school, well they weren’t starting 25 years ago, locally (when kid started school). However, any merit badge councilor doing their job does at minimum with the Communication & First Aid Merit badges, which were required for Eagle; First Aid has various non-required specialities where emphasized accurate communication. As a troop it was a standard teaching tool. Comes under critical accurate communication is required given troop spent a lot of time where emergency care was not a phone call away, & if activated, not minutes, but hours away.

    2. “Part of the issue may be that people don’t listen.”
      I’ve noticed this whenever I give instructions to anyone, youth or adult, that involves more than one step.
      I can guarantee that anything past step one will be forgotten or mis-remembered; and step one is not a certainty.
      There is a good reason that military protocol often involves repeating commands exactly as given before proceeding to implement them.

  3. This blows my mind but happens all to often. One of my favorites is when you ask someone there opinion on something or ask them to choose between two things and you get back a “Yes”.

    1. Then there are the jokesters who would say “Yes” to an either or question. 😀

        1. Ditto.

          But, in my defense, when I say “yes” I mean “both options are fine with me” or “both options are equally possible to the best of my knowledge.”

          1. Usually, when I say “yes” to an either/or question, I launch into an explanation of the pros and cons of each option, and explain that I’m not yet sure which I prefer…

          2. *grin* on a lighter note, that ‘yes’ to an ‘either/or’ question is known as the Vincent Answer in our house, because when presented with the options for two different desserts, 6 year old Vincent’s reply was a very happy ‘Yes!’

            The look on Aff’s face was priceless.

        2. Mom would give Dad or me a Dark Brown Look when we answered “Yes to an either or question”. 👿

    2. Sometimes the correct answer is “Yes”. Or even “No”.

      Do you want steak or fish?


      Cookies or cake?


      Sauerkraut or kimchee?


          1. Sorry, mis-recollected the joke:

            She leaned forward and whispered, “I’m here to give you super sex.” “Thanks,” he said thoughtfully, “I’ll take the soup.”

  4. I wonder if it’s the skimming thing not being caught and corrected in schooling under the current enlightened pedagogy, combined with the absence of any “No, wait, that can’t be right” filter.

    I certainly had to develop one of those for engineering – you have to understand things so far to get the next point, and if the next point makes no sense you didn’t understand things so far as well as you thought you did, so if the thread goes off a cliff you need to back up and backfill.

    But participation-prize whole-word-reading guess-for-the-test instruction would not catch any of that.

      1. A friend once described his dyslexia as “whole page reading”. He managed to overcome it, largely through working his butt off.

    1. I think it also has some relationship to how few people are in the habit of reading. They do it for class, or for work, and seldom for the pure pleasure of it. And the claptrap they are required to read in school doesn’t help. What ‘classics’ they may be exposed to tend to be dismal. Or aimed at the wrong age group. Back in high school I was required (by the State, not my school) to read TOM SAWYER in ninth grade; too old to just love the adventure and too young to appreciate it for the writing.

      And the avalanche of ‘relevant’ books for ‘young adults’! Yuck!

      I firmly believe that the educators would do better with good solid pulp.


  5. tl;dr

    But I have a fair amount of sympathy (being guilty of it a whole lot) because we are in a hurry. Or maybe “read most of it; but may have missed a paragraph or two while skimming.”

    Maybe a bit different from sloppiness but still a current plague… not only not reading for comprehension but not asking for clarification and above all not reading with *charity*.

    Back when I took philosophy (prof gave me the smart-ass award one day… I was proud… it was a fun class) the first part, the very first point, when talking about argument and premises and logical fallacies was the principle of “charity”. Put the best possible spin on what your opponent says. Not the *worst*, but the best. And no excusing putting the worst spin on it on the basis that you *could* and they therefore deserve it… that it was their fault for not being as bright or fluent or being as good as you at making an argument. It’s not about winning, it’s about communication. And deliberately misunderstanding the other point of view is the opposite of communication.

    1. One caveat about reading with charity–if someone has demonstrated that the best way to interpret their remarks is not with the best possible spin, then don’t.

    2. I remember years ago a lawyer telling me about an anti-Latter-day-Saint book he read. He was a lawyer, so didn’t have any problems reading it, because he immediately realized the technique used in the book.

      Every historical fact in the book was 100% historically accurate. Everything *said* about those 100% historically accurate facts cast those facts in the absolute worst possible light the author could cast them in….

      And it’s not at all hard to do with *anything*. Indeed, in a courtroom, it’s often a competition between the two lawyers, one to cast as dark as possible, and the other to cast everything as benignly as possible.

      And it’s why I don’t trust *any* anti-sect religious literature, regardless of what faith is being examined. (And it helps that I read “No More Wacos”, which makes the case that going full-on anti-sect can lead to a dehumanization that leads to, well, another Waco incident.)

      1. “Every historical fact in the book was 100% historically accurate. Everything *said* about those 100% historically accurate facts cast those facts in the absolute worst possible light the author could cast them in….” – Alpheus
        I have noticed that in two places other than anti-LDS concern-trolling.
        (1) concern trolls about almost any subject;
        (2) main stream news, especially as practiced by the NYT and WaPo. I often finish an article realizing that every thing that it said was true, and the article as a whole was totally false.

      1. Heh. Beloved Spouse & I were watching Michael Beschloss flogging his new book, Presidents of War, recorded from CSPAN2 earlier this year at the Austin Texas Book Fair.

        He can be a decent historian, although he usually doesn’t play one on TV, and some of his pandering to the audience was teeth-grittingly annoying (e.g., “I think Rachel Maddow walks on water!”) But it was all worth while when some ex-hippie got up during the Q&A to ask why Beschloss had nowhere in his book addressed the nation’s longest war, the centuries-long genocide of the Native Americans … and he observed that, while his focus was on wars as traditionally defined and declared, he had recognized the war with America’s indigenous peoples, on page one of the book.

  6. I think it was in High School that a teacher gave a test.

    At the top, it said “read the complete test before answering”.

    The Last Statement was “Just sign your name”. IE if you read the complete test first, you didn’t need to do anything besides signing your name.

    I’m embarrassed that I was one of the people who starting answering the questions before reading the complete test. [Very Embarrassed Grin]

    1. I had a teacher play that one on us in the sixth grade – Mr. Terranova, of blessed memory.
      A whole long list of requirements, the very first of which was to read the whole thing before taking any of the actions listed. One of which was to stand up and clap your hands three times … but three items down, we were instructed to disregard that item …
      And yes – one of the kids fell for it. Mr. T was sneaky, that way.

      1. Ah yes my 7th (and 8th) grade Math Teacher gave us a test like that. Mrs Starr verbally gave us the direction to read the WHOLE test before starting it. Now in those days students were tracked (i.e. ordered by perceived ability usually measured by assorted Standardized tests). We were the top tracked group in the school. Precisely 2 of ~25 people actually followed directions and did what they were supposed to. I am proud to say I was one except it was because as a rather rule following Lawful Good type I always read the directions so more to my somewhat anal retentive behavior than any virtue of my own 🙂
        It’s clear that people even those of better than average capacity just do what they darn well please.

        Similarly Mrs. Starr taught us to always look at the whole test first and not necessarily do the questions on the test in order presented. She’d often write tests with easy questions at the end or interspersed with hard questions (some so hard to the point of being almost unsolvable) to drive that point home. To this day I credit her for getting me through some freshman year tests with that advice.

        1. 7th Grade AND a communication class in college. Granted college class was suspicious based on 7th grade incident so read the instruction at the top, went to the last question, as suspected, THEN double checked the rest of the test to be sure there weren’t any “ha ha you’ve cheated because you seen this before.” There weren’t.

          Wasn’t the first one out in 7th grade, but I read slower than the 3 that proceeded me.

    2. And I’m one of the smart alecs who argue that the test is flawed: even if you’ve READ all of the instructions before starting, you’re still supposed to follow them in order.

      1. If it says to. If the questions build on each other, fine. If not, why DO I have to remember who the Emperor of Japan was in 1940 before I calculate the vale of pi to six digits?

    3. I got that one and got it “wrong” as it said to “Read each question before answering” or maybe it was ‘every’ but was NOT specific enough to say ‘entire set of questions’ as was intended to be meant. It was a real ‘gotchya’ setup, I thought – it was designed to fail.

    4. Had a psych prof tell us about being assigned to teach a jock class. Where everyone had to pass…. Just before Christmas break he gave a 50 question T-F exam.Told the class to be sure and look at the board while taking the test. Said start- then turned and wrote on the board- “All the answers are false. Walked around the room and noticed everyone was trying to balance out the Ts and Fs. So he stood in the back of the room and said- “Everyone pay attention”. When everyone was staring at him he said “Look at the blackboard before you continue the test.”

      Everyone failed.

      1. A teacher once read off a bunch of sentences to us and had us judge whether they were grammatical. I got the best grade — I hadn’t recognized the past perfect once — but everyone else did MUCH worse.

        It was only after we were done that I noticed I had marked them all as good except the one wrong.

  7. i have read in several places that most people don’t listen to what you say, they are to busy thinking up a reply to what they are not listening to.
    how they can read something and not … understand / comprehend / listen to … I don’t know?

    in the public schools I went to they had reading comprehension tests, do they not do this any more?

    1. in the public schools I went to they had reading comprehension tests, do they not do this any more?

      The ones I remember were multiple choice– you could whip through them by picking out one or two words and skimming over the paragraph.

      1. Speaking with older teachers, the general consensus is that this decline started setting in with the advent of computerized grading: the ability to quickly grade lots of multiple-choice tests and quizzes meant a shift away from essay form, to picking A/B/C/D because it was much faster and easier to grade.

        This corresponded with a decrease in ability to comprehend reading, concise, clear writing, and ability to formulate complex arguments. It also led to an explosion in total amount of homework, because the teacher could now grade larger numbers of assignments.

    2. One thing I learned along the way was to deliberately press my tongue hard to the bottom of my mouth / back of my lower teeth when listening to someone speak. Which sounds odd, but it interrupts the “form a response and wait for a pause to interject it” habit – by not having your muscles ready to spit out the words, you also remind your brain to keep paying attention to the flow of incoming information.

      When I went through school, math loved to give us reading comprehension problems, and I hated them with a passion. Unfortunately, I don’t recall getting any outside of math that wanted me to actually understand and articulate on what I’d just read, outside of foreign languages… and those weren’t trying to convey philosophy or complicated concepts.

      1. “math loved to give us reading comprehension problems”

        Oh, sure, go ahead and blame reading comprehension problems on math! I’d have you know that it isn’t just *math* that’s causing all those problems. It’s Common Core in general! And much of that “education” stuff that came before it, too!


      2. That’s an interesting technique! Think I’ll pass that one along. (I regularly try to teach people about listening *instead* of starting to answer.)

        Having said that, I do have a tendency to start answering a blog post before finishing reading it. I *try* to not actually hit “POST” until I’ve finished reading.

        1. Not only read the entire blog before posting, but read all the already posted comments. Usually, someone has already posted my thought, which then either changes my post (at minimum it could be “^^ This ^^”) or I drop it.

  8. I do have a bit of hearing loss, so I try to keep an eye out for this. I think it only happens with blocks of text when I’m very tired, though.

    Been blessed with a really strange imagination that fills in crazy stuff when I don’t quite catch what was said– say, there’s a sign for “Overland Power Co-op, 5 miles” and I’ll read “Power of the Horde, totally OP.”

  9. Case in point: this highly amusing* thread over at Instapundit, where a college professor actually claimed that the Virgin Mary didn’t consent to becoming pregnant with Jesus. My comment on that thread was (emphasis in original, but converted to bold here because block-quoting here causes italics):

    The real story here is that a professor — let’s name names here: Eric Sprankle, an associate professor at Minnesota State University — is unable to read and understand primary sources. That alone should be grounds for firing him.

    * Amusing if you don’t have kids in college and don’t plan to send your kids to college**; otherwise terrifying.

    ** Guess my position vis-à-vis the Munnion?

    1. I mean, if you want to get technical about it, Gabriel says “Hey, this is going to happen to you” and then Mary says “okay.”
      Of course, the idea that the good Lord would have made sure that the person He picked was down with the idea of being pregnant by the Holy Spirit did not occur to this twit, probably because said twit would not stop to consider that himself.

      1. I saw this thing on the web and didn’t even blink. Of course some Lefty is screaming about Mary and consent. He’s riding the #metoo coat tails.

        Question I have for the academic drone: If God came to you, in person, and said “I need you need to do this thing for me,” and it was really God, and you knew it, what would you say?

        You would say YES! You would say YES PLEASE!!! Because that’s who God is to us. And if you think for one second you’d say anything else, hen you do not understand God. At all. And you should work on that.

        1. I read the article and saw the description of the professor. Evangelical Satanists manage to outdo the evangelical atheists in sheer perversity.

          I suppose he’ll enjoy his stint in whichever circle of hell he gets. Actually, I hope he doesn’t enjoy it…

        2. During the discussion with the angel Luke she says (Luke 1:38 NET)
          So Mary said, “Yes, I am a servant of the Lord; let this happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
          There is NOT an explicit yes in the Greek text as far as I can see but the meaning if the first part is darned clear.

          And indeed shortly after when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth (also pregnant with John the Baptist) Luke reports her making this pronouncement referred to as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55, NET translation)

          And Mary said,

          “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has begun to rejoice in God my Savior,
          because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant.

          For from now on all generations will call me blessed, because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name; from generation to generation he is merciful to those who fear him.

          He has demonstrated power with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts.

          He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position; he has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty.

          He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

          Tradition (and fairly trustworthy ones) say that Mary was included in the folks Luke talked to before writing his report for Theophilus. So he got it srtraight from the horses mouth so to speak

          That’s not some Stockholm syndrome, that is wholehearted humble acceptance and appreciation of the task which she has been asked to perform. It is a uniquely dangerous position as her punishment should the
          community and her future husband decide she is an adulteress would be death by stoning.

          If we Christians were 5% as aggressive as some other faiths that idiot would be burning at a stake. But rather we leave that to the Lord. If that academic had ANY brains at all he’d be soiling himself in a closet somewhere knowing what his eternal fate will be. But a modern (non STEM) academic with brains is a contradiction in terms. Please note I am NOT saying STEM academics can’t be idiots. It’s just that it’s harder to lie with Mathematics so they tend to know when they’re outside their expertise and just shut up in that case 🙂

          1. Tradition (and fairly trustworthy ones) say that Mary was included in the folks Luke talked to before writing his report for Theophilus. So he got it srtraight from the horses mouth so to speak

            Not only that, there’s enough evidence in the text itself that Luke had interviewed Mary (the repeated mentions of “Mary stored these things up in her heart” suggest that the person he interviewed knew things only Mary knew and didn’t mention to other people). Enough evidence, in fact, that I came to the same conclusion (Luke interviewed Mary) before I ever knew that tradition supported that conclusion; I did so purely on reading the text.

              1. Luke is VERY detailed with things like dates and places. There are also times in the book of Acts where he is part of the action and the language (we did x) shows it. His gospel is a good starting spot for anyone that likes measurable facts. And yes Mr. Munn the language of the gospel certainly implies that Luke talked to Mary among others. But the idiot in question
                1) Likely believes the text is NOT from the period but a later invention/tradition
                2) Certainly has no respect for the concept of the inspiration of scripture
                3) Likely has never actually read the Gospel of Luke
                4) And if he has treats it like stories about Zeus and Leda (if with that much credence).
                None of this is helped by his having the reading comprehension skills of an addled cocker spaniel (my apologies to cocker spaniels everywhere)

                1. I now think that Mr. Sprankle was being a lot more intelligent than I was giving him credit for. Which is both better and worse, because if I understand his argument correctly now, he’s lying, in a very subtle way. See my 9:07 PM comment below for all the details.

                2. His gospel is a good starting spot for anyone that likes measurable facts.
                  All the gospels have different audiences. It’s part of what authenticates them, imho. When you understand who they were written for you get even more out of them.

          2. The argument that the people harping this view would make is that it was an unequal situation. God is so much more powerful than Mary that she wouldn’t feel like she could decline it.

            Oh, and by the way, what happened between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski involved consenting adults, and is none of your business.

            1. Ah, now I understand why the guy was talking about God being omnipotent — it’s relevant to the argument he was actually making. In that case, he’s being more subtle than I gave him credit for: he’s not failing to read and understand the primary sources, he’s deliberately distorting their meaning. Because the only reason why there’s concern about sexual relationships involving power disparities (president and intern, professor and student…) is because of the implicit threat of “if you don’t do this I can get you fired / give you a bad grade”. In other words, because humans are fallible and are capable of doing evil.

              Now, the argument this professor was making relies on God being omnipotent, as described in the Bible. But if he’s relying on the description of God in the Bible, then he has to take all of that description or else he’s distorting the meaning of his primary sources. And the rest of the description includes the fact that God is all good and will not do evil. In particular, he would never make the kind of implicit threats that are the only reason why sexual relationships involving power disparities are problematic.

              So Eric Sprankle isn’t a fool, he’s a liar, and a clever one at that. He’s both better and worse than I originally gave him credit for.

              1. You nailed it.

                He’s also playing off a misunderstanding/distortion of God’s relationship to His creation. Loads of folks don’t get (because freedom has religious overtones for many in the West) that – by the theology of the Bible – you BELONG to him.
                There’s no basis for any sort of “equality” whatsoever.

                1. Of course the freedom has religious overtones– He has the right to make us do things…and instead wants us to freely choose, so it has value.

                  Of course He wants a specific outcome, but lets us choose, with true freedom. (Which is where invincible ignorance comes in.)

                  Plain ol’ humans deciding to mess with that? Kinda a big deal.

                2. More like the way C.S.Lewis put it in The Screwtape Letters: “The Great Enemy desires servants who may become sons.”

                3. I was once in a dispute with someone who, faced with the observation that all humans’ lives are, in every moment, a gratuitous gift, tried to argue that would apply just as much as Hitler — yes, could not get his head around the idea that your life is not just a free-standing thing — and finally ended with his sulky declaration that God has no right to do anything that he can’t do.

          3. Face it, these are the same “careful readers” who declare Joseph & Mary “homeless immigrants.”

            They are of their father the devil, and their will is to do their father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

        3. If God came to you, in person, and said “I need you need to do this thing for me,” and it was really God, and you knew it, what would you say?

          You would say YES! You would say YES PLEASE!!!

          That’s not what Jonah said.

  10. I’m running across people who don’t read what’s posted and instead read what they expect to read.

    Of course they do! Elsewise they run the risk of encountering troubling new thoughts and of having their stereotypes confounded.

    That way lies madness.

  11. I have recently had this problem with one pretty far left friend – or possibly former friend, I don’t know if she intends to continue keeping in touch or not, but as I don’t like breaking up friendships over politics I am leaving the decision to her, so right now I call occasionally and as she has also maybe she still does want to keep in touch.

    Anyway, she now seems to think I’m far right and pretty much the strawman conservative after a discussion in which I tried to explain to her some of the actual American conservative stances WHICH I DON’T HOLD MYSELF (I am mostly classical liberal/libertarian when it comes to politics – which of course here in Europe does count as pretty far right, even more so than it currently does in your country), but I think I understand why the more strict conservatives do. And that was what I was talking about, trying to get through to her the why, or at least why I think those opinions exist. And yes, that I personally consider them understandable.

    It seems it never occurred to her to ask if those were also my personal opinions.

    As it happens, with that particular subject, no.

    Have to say I am rather disappointed with her. I had assumed she could think a bit more clearly, and would have gotten the gist – that I wasn’t talking about my own opinions – without me having to spell it out to her. But no. Kind of as if I had been talking how I understand why some certain murderer did it – hey, he had a horrible childhood and was so badly abused no miracle he ended up hating all red-headed men because his stepdad was one, so when that red-headed co-worker bullied him… (okay, completely fictional example here) and somebody would have heard that as me explaining why I personally hated all red-headed men.

      1. Abortion, for one. Our abortion laws are actually mostly rather more strict than what you have in most states, however whenever the subject of pro-life movements in USA is in the news here they never seem to clarify that, and most people here would find something like having one up to something like 20th week just because you decide then that you want one as rather appalling. Personal opinion: it has been legal long enough that getting them banned again is probably impossible, and in any case I’d prefer other methods of trying to discourage them than forcing women who’d want them to carry to term. Just keep them possible only in the very early stages while giving the woman every possible encouragement not to have one. Which pretty much is the way things are here. So, yes, I’m okay with the Finnish system even though I do dislike the practice.

        1. Thing is, most Americans don’t really understand how liberal our abortion laws are compared to other countries. It’s kind of ridiculous.

          1. It’s a constant. “The rich should pay more” – ask if the percentage with 50% income should be paying 75% of taxes or similar facts about the actual tax system and they think it is good, or even too onerous. “We shouldn’t sell guns to domestic abusers and need background checks” – 90 odd percent are checked, remainder probably almost impossible to stop and abusers are prohibited.

    1. Recently saw a leftist demand the right-wingers give up his list of faults — that is, everything he imputed to us.

      1. Their listening comprehension seems to rather lacking at times. Ours too, but right now it seems to me that the “right-wingers” have somewhat more individuals who at least try a little bit more often.

    2. > tried to explain to her some of the actual American conservative stances WHICH I DON’T HOLD MYSELF

      Back in the Cold War era I had people accuse me of being a Communist because I had read the Manifesto and some other works.

      In their minds, if you knew anything about a subject, you were supportive of it, i guess.

      Meanwhile, in their ignorance, they were parroting lines straight out of the Manifesto… yes, some of it does sound reasonable, taken out of context. But they not only didn’t have the context, they seemed determined not to know.

      1. Which of course makes it more likely some similar evil might – or probably will, sooner or later, anyway, but with some awareness that later could be something like hundreds or thousands of years, not now or in a few years – rise again, even here, because people just can’t see it coming, not really being familiar with what they should be wary about (and it is not something like the same symbols the last group used….).

      2. According to Sun Tzu, ignorance of an enemy is a major key to defeat.
        Ignorance of yourself guarantees it.

      3. … some of it does sound reasonable, taken out of context.

        The Devil quotes Scripture, but that does not make his advice good.

    3. in which I tried to explain to her some of the actual American conservative stances WHICH I DON’T HOLD MYSELF

      Some people are incapable of telling apart a character from the author or actor.
      Also, when someone is exposed to ideas outside it in such a way they can neither consider nor ignore the matter, the borders are usually going to be lined with strawmen. And the subjects who have the Overton Window enforced by a crimestop driver (since everything outside it is obviously a thoughtcrime) will always do so, since they simply have no other options other than “pad it with innocuous information“.

      1. I brought you a crowbar to extract your tongue . You won’t be able to taste anything except cheek otherwise…. 😎

  12. What you on about now?
    I deal with this at work, and it isn’t just Reading, but listening as well.
    “First, you turn this, then tap here and then set the weight you need, Hit OK, and then make sure this is set for this size, It is fine, don’t reset it. Go back to this and hit OK. You are just emptying this tank so no need to reset anything anyhow then turn on the pump, push this button here. Do Not move this without pushing that button. It is a brake and keeps it from moving. Then once aligned, let go of that button and push the Start button here. It will drop in, fill, stop and raise on its own. Got it?” {nods}
    “Any Questions?” {nope}
    “It’s set for this batch, all you need is to put the drums on the scale , align the probe with the opening, and hit start.”
    First thing they do is try to move something not part of the instructions verbally given nor on the written list, (with numbers and tape labels to help show the order) nor pointed out as the verbals were given.
    “Why are you dong that?”
    blank look
    “Did I tell you to move that?” {no}

    They then try to move the arm without pushing the button- “It’s too hard to move”
    Silently point to [Warning. Do Not Move Without Pressing Release button->] sign and AGAIN showing how to press and move, then let go and lock.
    The next day told they complained it was too hard to move. they also moved other things for no reason.

    1. I think we are being too specific.

      Some people lack any comprehension. Just slightly past instinct or echoing what they hear most often.

      1. in this case, it is an action performed every day on a different machine that was made in-house. the control panel for setting weight is different. and to move doesn’t have the brakes. The use of mine was a one-off, and if a second batch was going to go through it, they needed to know how to change the weight per package, but that didn’t happen, so all he had to do was continue with just dropping like on the other machine. align, push start. align, push start.

        Whyfor you turn crank handle 20 turns to make probe leave container and make a mess? That’s working extra hard to be stupid.
        (aside- I also in early October fully cleaned out my works so they could use it again, and they have not touched it, instead this is the first Saturday since October early they have had off, and every possible Sunday was worked as well. Our work calender is marked with days people put for weekends they will not be able to work Overtime. The only people denser than many of our workers is Management)

        1. There is no mountain too high, or valley too deep that the ignorant & incompetent won’t cross in order to do the wrong thing.

  13. Oh Ye Gods and Little Fishes! I’ve been dealing with this at work.

    I was helping pull together a Proposal based on an RFP from a client, and I reached out to a Subject Matter Expert for some technical information. I sent the exact question to the SME, which was asking about Topics X, Y, and Z. SME gets back to me with a very detailed answer… about Topics Q and M, neither of which have anything to do with Topics X, Y, or Z. I contact him and let him know, very politely, about the problem. He says he doesn’t understand why I’m confused, that he’d sent me exactly what I’d asked for. Cue banging head against cubicle wall.

    Similar thing happened this week: Was asked to revise a document and the contents of one section had nothing to do with what it was supposed to be about. Fortunately, the author realized this when I pointed it out and made the appropriate changes.

    So I don’t think it’s ideology so much as the fact that our schools don’t teach,well, anything anymore. Seriously, the “critical thinking skills” I was taught in grade school were an absolute joke and an utter insult to the concept of actually thinking critically.

    1. our schools don’t teach,well, anything anymore.

      C’mon now, you know that ain’t so! They teach victimolgy, they teach responsibility evasion, they teach identity politics, they teach bad economics. They teach so much of what Americans really need to know that it is no wonder unimportant things such as reading comprehension fall through the socialist crack.

  14. This reminds me of a passage from a Travis McGee book, in which his friend Meyer jusifies his answer of horrible when asked how he’s doing. Because people rarely listened at the responses.

  15. I mishear things, but nearly always realize immediately that what I thought I heard could not possibly be what was said. Reading does not confuse my ears or eyes.

    Dorothy Grant wrote; “One thing I learned along the way was to deliberately press my tongue hard to the bottom of my mouth / back of my lower teeth when listening to someone speak.” I wouldn’t do that; it could result in moving your teeth forward. Not overly likely at your age, or mine, but I had braces into my teens to pull both uppers and lowers inward.

  16. I’m reminding of two thing. Back in the depths of the sixties, the ultra-liberal college paper offered to run a column from the local YAF (Young Americans for Freedom — wonder if they’restill around?) alongside a column by the SDS lefties. I was tapped to write the column, but was saddled withacouple of poli-sci majors who had to vet my writing (a foretaste of things to come, though I didn’t realize it at the time), and they were bothered by my use of the word “immaterial.” turnedb out the poli-sighs were only familiar with the words as meaning “unimportant.” I changed it to “intangib le” and they were able to figure that one out.

  17. “Pinky, are you pondering what I’m pondering?”

    “I think so, Brain, but where are we going to find rubber pantyhose in our size at this time of night?”

      1. I’m surprised I didn’t get smacked with a heavy, blunt object for that one, but I’ll take it. 😛

          1. Well, getting smacked is the usual punishment for Pinky’s non-sequiturs.

            Also, I’m pretty sure that putting that image in your heads counts as an eighth amendment violation in some jurisdictions.

  18. It isn’t necessarily restricted to written items either. I have noticed on the telephone that after I greet someone “Hello, how can I help you”, they will respond with, “Fine, thanks”, or “I’m doing great, how are you?”, and I think to myself- **I didn’t ask that . . . **.

    1. Now THAT is something that I would do, because what I HEARD is “(mumblemumblehumbbulmb)”, and it will take about 30 seconds for my brain to decode that into SPEECH.

      Plus, I am usually fending off the horde of kids that just realized mom is on the phone and have a long list of things tha tMUST be done right now, so I go on auto-pilot.

      1. I remember being a small child and how annoying it was when Mom paid attention to the phone instead of me. 🙂

      2. Thus the automatic policy that if you interrupt me when I am on the phone, and no one is at risk of dying, whatever you wanted you do not get. If you want the phone to call the ambulance, you may have it. Otherwise, you do not get the whatever it was. No matter if you’d have gotten it if you’d waited until I was off the phone, as it was an otherwise entirely reasonable request.

        Requires some decoding, because older kids think they are sneaky and phrase requests in the negative, but I’m down to two regular interrupters now, just the seven-year-old and the four-year-old.

    2. You do realize that those are computer-generated telemarketer calls, pushing the limits of the Turing Test, don’t you?

      My favorite are the ones who start out “I declare, you’re harder to get ahold of than my husband!” although I think I’m beginning to develop a relationship with Ruth of cardholder services.

      1. I’ve run into some comprehension issues with telemarketers from India. I recall a couple involving cultural differences about politeness in conversation.

        1. Accents. When I was in Chattanooga I had a serious fall with a car rental service center, which, from the accent, I assume was probably in India. Rather heavy accent. And she couldn’t make out what I was talking because I do have a pretty heavy Finnish accent nowadays (which I actually almost managed to lose in the 80’s, after working one summer in Ontario and having spend lots of time talking with an American woman who was my co-worker for the next two summers in Finland, but have gotten back since). So, after several attempts to understand each other failed I finally drove the damn car across Chattanooga to the airport which had an actual service desk for the firm, and where I finally managed to extend the rental time by several days so I could drive it to Chicago where I finally returned it. I think that for a while there she assumed I was going to Florida and would return the car there after an extra month or so.

      2. And that’s why I now do not answer with “Hello” as that seems to be one the keys to trigger on. If I pick up, I can wait in silence for them to start, or I can start with (as Bell suggested?) “Ahoy.” And if it has that peculiar ‘telescammer feel’ (must be the background noise that nothing else has just that way), well, they do not comprehend “Moo” whether spoken English style or in the, shall we say, native form.

        1. In the late 80’s, I knew a guy who answered: “You have reached 504-555-5555, state your reasons for calling.” or similar. and always matched it to his machine message except the machine had the added “after the tone” so those who knew him could guess he was actually on the other end or not.
          These days, a number I don’t know and I am not expecting a contact for some reason just gets ignored. Leave a message and I’ll call back if important. 90+% of the time it is either no message, or a message for someone else (“Mellisa, this is So_and_So’s office, calling to confirm your appointment next Thursday. Please call back and verify you will be able to come in for 9:30 am, Thank you.”
          I used to get these even when I had my full name in my answering message. Mellisa must go by John or JP and have a damned deep voice. I think now all I have is my number . . . I guess I could check . . . but there are two women who’s calls I’ve been getting for years now. Twice I told the doctor’s office they need to update her number because this isn’t it. Still getting her calls 5 or more years later.

          1. If I have ready access to the smartphone, that happens. Sometimes I’m expecting something and a wired (well, the VoIP house-wired local) phone sans display is closest and… things happen thus.

            1. I got a wire running to the house. it is in the way of my roofing job.
              If it was run from the pole like my cable-co line, I’d remove it , but it runs from the span to the back 1/3rd of the house. Haven’t had a land line since 2006. Though I now have the cable internet. I will need to move its anchor when I do the gutters. I’ll likely just hang the telco cable from the pole come spring.

        2. Supposedly there is (likely now, ‘once was’) a chip called the “Hello chip” that monitored audio signals looking for “Hello.” Back before I quit answering numbers I didn’t recognize, I noticed a lot of spam calls didn’t go into their spiel until they got something like “Hello.”

          1. I answer unknown calls with a crisp, “Watercress Press” (the name of the Teeny Publishing Bidness that I own) and it’s purely amazing how many of the spam calls go into lock at that point. Also the people with wrong numbers.

        3. We got Caller ID for the landline a few years ago, and it makes screening calls a lot easier. OTOH, some scammers can spoof the ID. If we’re not expecting a call and we don’t recognize the number, we’ll let it go to the answering machine. Most of the scammers don’t leave a message.

          OTOH, we got a bunch of robocalls before the election. One or two left long messages on the machine. Pity, one was a cause we agreed with, but they probably pissed off a lot of voters with bad tactics. On the gripping hand, Portlandia ruled the state. Again.

          1. Back in ’08 there was a minor local furor over a candidate who was supposedly hammering people’s phones with dozens of calls a day, annoying the hell out of people.

            When confronted, he denied doing it, while his opponent merely smirked…

          2. Just put them over the top, but Ashland, Eugene, Corvallis, Salem, helped. Darn it.

            I was zip for issues & offices, including darn govener’s office.

            1. I had .1.5; the GOPe guy got reelected, and I reluctantly went along with the hotel tax to fund local museums. Beyond that, ditto.

      3. Back in the 1990s I realized at least half of the non-spam email I got wouldn’t pass the Turing test…

        Between that, and “the words what are coming out of their mouths”, the mental processes of a great many people must be an intermittent and semi-random thing.

        I’ve mentioned the White House Tapes before, at archive.org. And that they sound like a group of people all talking, but apparently not to each other. When nuclear weapons are involved, it’s kind of disturbing.

        1. A spendy piece of equipment came with an ethernet cable tester included. The manual only made sense by staring at the tester. Looks like it was translated from Chinese to Navaho, then translated to English. 🙂
          (Could have been worse, I suppose; what language did the Elder Gods use?)

          Jerry Pournelle had some pithy comments about 1980s user manuals along that line. This was worse.

  19. Oops, keep forgetting that hitting “enter” doesn’t start a new paragraph. Anyway, the other event was more recent, mayb e fifteen years ago. The lady in question, I should mention, is very intelligent, and Baen Books is poorer for her having departed for a better-paying job. She was reading (silently) a list of blonde jokes (she is a stunning brunette, maybe I should mention), and didn’t get the punchline of one, so she read it aloud to the office staff.. Had to do with a stereotypical blonde who’s eating lunch in a place where door prizes are awarded. She opens her little envelope and starts shouting, “I won a car! I won a car!” The manager says, “Miss, none of the prizes are that big–they’re jus for restaurant dishes. What does the slip say?” Quoth the blonde, “It says, ‘win a bagel’.” However, as soon as the lady read the punchlilne out loud, she got it, and said “Must be because of how I was taught to look at the whole word when reading, instead of hearing it in my head.” Being 20+ years older than her, and trained in hearing the word in my head, I suspect she was right.

  20. Or as I have learned, tiny little sentences, all in a row. Anything out of line from the initial row will cause a crash and clear the buffer so that the listener/reader will fill the void with whatever they have handy. Curvy rows are for “lit-tra-chure”. Puns or snappy one liners cause brain lock. Whatever specific or general symbols you may select for a diagram will mean something else. [and certainly be “problematic”.] You don’t have a prayer on Monday morning or Friday afternoon.

    1. A big reason witty comedy is no longer allowed is the masses are no longer witty by design, so you get Will Farrell Stupid as the standard, or Beavis and Butthead.

      1. And it’s not just comedy. It’s interesting how many ‘hifalutin’ words can be found in older lyrics. There seemed to be the assumption of if not common knowledge or even intelligence, at least the ability to cope.

  21. I am seeing numerous people across multiple channels complain about this issue. I am seeing this in many places at work, and I hope I only did this during the time I wasn’t sleeping well.

    Some folks are blaming this on Twitter, but I don’t think that’s quite fair. This has been a problem for ten years and is getting worse because so much conversation online is now reduced to the sound bite or determining what an article says only by reading the headline, as you said, Sarah. The admonition above to be charitable in your interpretation of the other person’s positions is a very good practice both in theory and in reality—but that doesn’t seem to be the goal anymore. The goal is to spout a zinger that will put down your opponent in less than 140 characters. People want the likes and the ego stroking. Admitting you misread the other person requires a willingness to be open.

    It seems to me that I was taught back in the 70’s to focus only on the headlines intentionally to read through the newspaper faster. With today’s newsreaders containing more information from more sources, the same problem has mushroomed—at least with regard to reading articles or posts.

    But WRT written communications between individuals—this is going to sound harsh, but I am left with the conclusion that people do not think it is worthwhile to read another person’s correspondence completely. This might be directly related to the narcissistic tendencies of our society or with the volume of communications, but it at least connects to the devaluing of others, especially the other political viewpoints.

    1. There is some neurological research that observed how people read Internet articles as compared to print. The eye movements differed, and the researchers wondered if that affected reading comprehension. I’m willing to argue that it does, because I’ve had to warn high school students that they will have trouble reading. I also tell them that it is not their fault, because they are so immersed in screen-stuff for other classes, but they have to be careful.

      Sometimes it helps.

      1. With that being said, I suspect skimming and jumping have become far more common. So many data are presented on the screen that we learn to tune most of it out. And then that carries over, and gets augmented by personal bias, and there goes comprehension.

      2. I have to be extra careful when an article is formatted with really long lines. The worst offender seems to be forum software, that combines full-screen-hostile formatting with flyspeck-3 type fonts. With that setup, it’s a challenge to get to the right line while reading. If necessary, I’ll shrink the screen and override the font selection, but it’s a pain.

        I haven’t had 20 year old eyes in [mumble] decades; give this poor boomer a break.

        The comments field in ATH is a shining example of what’s right.

        1. It’d be a better example if it wasn’t a spidery gray font on a blazing white background, hard-formatted to a phone-convenient four inches wide…

          Some of the spelling and punctuation errors in my comments are because I’m essentially typing blind; the font in the reply box is even spidery-er and lighter gray than the normal font.

          Back in ancient times, I could tell QModem what colors I wanted a BBS screen to display in. But Baud forbid end users should have any control over how a web page displays…

          1. Have you checked your gamma settings?

            Because it’s Times New Roman or similar, in black, on a basic white background for me.

              1. I don’t recall you saying that… FWIW, the site looks the same on any of the monitors on this machine, or on my laptop, or on the tablet. And a different browser on each.

            1. My browser (Pale Moon) gives me the option of accepting the web site’s choice of font, or doing an override. The override gives funny results in my NOAA hazard page; the wind direction can be told by how a letter is rotated. Back to letting the ‘site do it, unless it’s really off.

              For PM, the setting is in Tools|Preferences|Content|[Advanced, if necessary]

  22. From the left:
    Sarah Hoyt continues in her typical white privilege, ableist ways, demeaning those who lacked the American middle and upper class educational opportunities she enjoyed. Her tirades become more offensive every day.

    “Hoyt is the living embodiment of the idea that hate speech isn’t free speech.”

    –I don’t know, Scalzi maybe?

      1. 95% of what they say about you isn’t true. Just trying to be realistic in my satire…

  23. There’s a reason I almost never comment on current events or politics online anymore. And I remember one time when I posted a comment in support of someone whose work had been plagiarized and that someone took my comment as a personal attack (problem with generic “you”, but still), did a highly public *flounce* and destroyed that group. That was… interesting.

  24. So you’re saying that moon ferret farming is the way of the future, then? I can’t believe you didn’t mention the how reintroducing wolves into the wild will effect this budding industry!

        1. 990 is revisionist heresy. It should be obvious to anyone who properly interprets the primary sources that the second date was 989, not 990! And as for those nutters proposing 991…

      1. I want one of those moon ferret sweaters. But how do the ferrets manage the knitting needles in their little paws?

        1. Oh that’s hardly any problem once a population has figured out how to make inexpensive corn syrup. Labor intensive, that, what with having to place all those tiny sap taps on those stalks.

    1. It won’t. Wolves on the moon do not remain wolves. This is why we have have to the moon painted on doors that might open to it. They get annoyed to discover they were werewolves and wifwolves all along

        1. He/It will EAT Keith. And the rest of the band.
          (This may be my semi-hemi-demi obscure post for the day. IF you’re lucky…)

          1. IDK- Pete’s pretty good at the art of destruction. I figure getting hammered by a Gibson SG into a stack of 200w HiWatts would be rather hard to regenerate from.

            1. Perhaps it’s available elsewhere — I got it in the store — but I recommend NOT Amazon.

              (Really? FIFTY BUCKS for a calendar?)

  25. I wonder of part of it is due to some readers being so eager to comment that they latch onto a particular sentence of phrase and think, “Oooh, I’ve got something to say about this!” Having not read the rest of the post, they wind up submitting a non-sequitur or something irrelevant.

    1. submitting a non-sequitur or something irrelevant.

      I have never submitted a nun, sequitured or otherwise, and haven’t posted any comments about elephants in eons.

      1. No way you’re going to be able to fit an elephant in an Eon – those small vehicles don’t have enough interior space. You’ll need at least an Epoch, and probably something even larger, for that kind of capacity.

  26. I’m just going to copy/paste a Disqus exchange from the other day. I didn’t bother with another comment.
    gospace • 5 days ago
    And Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat POTUS with any military experience at all.
    •Reply•Share ›

    Ken gospace • 4 days ago
    You are sadly mistaken. GW served for several years in the National Guard which is a branch of the military.
    •Reply•Share ›

    gospace Ken • 4 days ago
    I know. GW was a Republican POTUS.

    Ken gospace • 3 days ago
    And the National Guard IS military service, making your statement false.

  27. Irony from Roxanne.

    My family practices sarcasm amongst family members. We find it’s not widely understood in the general public anymore. Frustrates my kids to no end. We often use that line substituting sarcasm for irony.

    This group is decidedly NOT the general public. Irony and sarcasm both flourish here.

        1. Right. I recently saw (probably here) that ‘a traffic jam when you’re already late’ isn’t ironic, just annoying. Now a traffic jam when you’re already late – to a ceremony where you’re to be given an award for traffic improvement planning; *that*’s ironic.

        2. Yes, I must turn radio down when that song comes on, lest I go Vocabulary Hulk and SMASH!!! something.o

      1. I just discovered why I don’t listen to Alanis Morrissette. I was completely unable to comprehend any actual words. Much less full complete sentences. I’m willing to attribute that to my substandard hearing abilities, though it may be her enunciation, lack thereof. Nice voice, though.

        1. I wouldn’t know an “Alanis Morrissette” if it stepped on my toes, but the PA systems in many public areas play what I call “mumbly b&tch music”, which has lyrics like “Muh buh boofuh ooduh…”

          My wife and various friends can’t extract any recognizeable words from it either, so I doubt the problem is with me.

  28. “And this made me realize something I keep running into in increasing numbers: people who seem to have absolutely zero reading comprehension.”

    You’re noticing this because A) you and most of the people commenting on this blog are more than one sigma above normal intelligence on the bell curve, and B) half of all people are below normal on that same curve. By definition.

    This is an unfortunate state of affairs. It means most of the people you meet seem stupid.

    1. Ah, but the bell curve is well known to be racisssss, and thus can be ignored by all right thinking people.

          1. Yes, the bell housing is the first part to look out for when they throw you under the bus. Followed quickly by the differential.

            Gives a new meaning to “pumpkin head”.

  29. Not necessarily ideological. I’ve encountered it where someone (or someplace, but…) asks for something but leaves out so much that eight or ten questions need answering before any work can start unless one is willing to everything at least twice as they “get what they said instead of what they meant.”

    And then there’s the problem. If the questions are asked one at a time, they get upset as so many questions and go “Shut up and just make it!” (and then it’s “get what they said instead of what they meant” time again.)

    Or you can try to get the questions answered in a batch. And what happens? Why, the ‘magically’ the pick the ONE question that matters least of the lot or whose answer depends upon all the rest and answer only that one (and then it’s “get what they said instead of what they meant” time again.)

    I once went so far as to write up a specifications list in reply and ask for approval. It was approved, unread. I knew it was unread because I left a ringer in it: “If, while in $MENU-X, $BUTTON is pushed, the device will transform into a pumpkin upon the next midnight.” No, I did not attempt to implement the pumpkin option.

    1. Back when printed manuals were still a thing … Our tech support called me (the programmer) with a problem because they couldn’t find the answer in the manual. I could, but I had the electronic version. So, walked over to their station to check the printed version, because you know, printed VS electronic, it could be different, right? The shrink wrap was still on the manual. I picked it up & (gently) placed it on the offender’s key board, while every one in that department watched (cubicles) & yes, entire department had not even opened their copies. My actions were not appreciated. OTOH they had to go through their supervisor for awhile. My boss was perfectly happy with my restraint.

      In their defense, the manual was horribly arranged (not my monkey at that time, no control over it). But, I was willing to help them. But to have them flat out lie … did not help their cause.

      Also, what is the difference between these two sentences?

      “A program for non-C-programmers to build programs for ….”
      “A program for non-programmers to build programs for ….”

      1. > when printed manuals were still a thing…

        Before they said “the hell with it” and just mashed up some random text into help files, poorly indexed, then carefully examined to make sure no useful information could ever be found.”

        Later, tacit direction to “order our officially sponsored ‘How to Run your Pirate Copy of…’ book from your favorite book store!”

        Thence to, “subscribe to Compuserve or Delphi and pay outrageous hourly rates in the hope that someone might answer your question.” And finally to, “there’s probably a forum about our product somewhere, why don’t you google it?”

        1. //“there’s probably a forum about our product somewhere, why don’t you google it?”

          Well yea.

          Tech support should hate me when I call. By the time I call (99.5%*) I know darn well what is wrong & whatever it is, is broken. Comes under professional hazard. (* I’ll allow that 0.05% I screwed up, or am blind … I am human). I don’t call tech support often.

      2. I was working in an integrated circuit fab as we were transitioning from minicontrollers and Teletypes* through better minicomputers and thence to Unix systems. (Over 15-20 years. No “mnemonic memory circuit using stone knives and bearskins”. At least, not quite.) We had 1-3 people at various times handling the software to make this happen.

        Their response to the egregiously asked queries was often “RTFM”. [“Read the F-ing Manual” in case the acronym has fallen out of use.] Special emphasis on this when it involved a common Unix command or similar. I wrote some of the custom tools, and the hard copy documentation was proudly labeled “TFM”.

        (*) I have some of the “paper tape” that handled the original test programs. It’s actually silver and rose colored mylar, and sometimes I’ll use it for a Christmas garland.

        To answer the last question: The difference between night and day. 🙂

        1. Still in general use, though in the Unix-based world it has a secondary “Read The F-img Man-pages” meaning.

        2. Of course the Bowdlerized version of RTFM is “Read The Fine Manual”. I do miss the days of actual Tech writers. They bridged that engineer/user gap quite elegantly in some case. Now you go look on google or for some doofus doing it on youtube.

        1. // 16 bits of snobbery. ;]

          *Blink* Well yes.

          Regarding the article. My last two jobs I got over CS PhD recipients. Surprised the heck out of me. Always presumed that the biggest reason was salary request (because PhD over lowly bachelors, even if both CS) … but maybe not. Guessing practical experience with end users & ability to build working systems was more important. (First full time job, that was easy to know why: Forestry + CS + experience in both, although latter part time, + salary range, trumped PhD in either Forestry OR CS.)

          1. It is always nice for an employer when the thing New Hire is doing actually works. PhDs are more used to explaining why it can’t work, because the definitions were wrong or some such.

            1. Best compliment ever, as repeated at my first annual review, accompanied by a HUGE raise (hey money was nice, but …)

              “Not only provided program in a timely manner, within projected estimated timeline*, it is easy for my staff to use, understand, saves us weeks of work, and it works!” ** <– From someone who had a division reputation of being "difficult".

              * It helped that I was 100% in charge of projected delivery date ranges & what reasons a delay would occur. How many get that option?

              ** Not like I had the time to repeatably go back & fix/tweak/train being a one person unit. So, yes, that was the goal.

              The other big complement which was from more than one company client from my last job … "Noooo, you can't retire …"

              1. FYI. Working for 5 employers, I never had the privilege of being able to say “That can not be done.”

                1. I wish I could say that. I’ve had several jobs wanting the impossible.
                  Last one was the end of Fiscal Year . . . they wanted 1008 one gallon jugs made and shipped to the warehouse, before Sept, 26 asked for on the 20th (to make their end of year numbers look even better).
                  “There are not enough hours between now and then for me to make that many by myself” (I was already doing 10 hour days to cover the end-o-year rush) “You sure?”
                  [blank stare] “Yes”
                  They had to get 4 others to help (2 only labeled boxes and jugs, 2 night shift guys for two nights, I think 10 hour shifts, and the day material handler when not moving stuff labeled and brought the boxes and jugs as needed (normally I go get them myself, and part of the saturday was labeling in 3 hours I did a third what the 2 night guys were doing together in 10 hours***eyroll***) then moving all the so-far-labeled stuff to my area), The 4th helped just the final day bagging, boxing, palletizing, loading on truck, etc.), and I worked from 5am to 3:30pm Thrs, Fri, and Mon, a 4 hour Saturday and 5am to 7pm on the 25th filling the last of them off with the one helper for boxing up and shipping them out. All told it was over 100 man hours and I did not include the printing of all those labels (2 per jug, 2 per box 4 jugs per box) as I had them done before they pulled the rabbit out.
                  That and the other things I worked OT for (3@50+hr weeks and 1 @48) were about $1mill in sales, which was the total over the forecast for the Quarter
                  i got a “Dave said ‘Thanks'” out of it
                  They forget I know both what it costs, and what it sells for.
                  My worst product has a 28% margin. None of that Mill was that product.

                  1. Well, now, really.

                    If you are going to include Time to get something done, or work that both seller & buyer have the potential to Both be Unhappy. (Or one unhappy & the other happy, but you’d think they’d be happy just because you are doing your job … Hey if you really worked at it, you could make the truck driver unhappy too.)

                    That’s different.

                    Actual amount of time to implement something when marketing is involved, yea, that is the definition of programming. Only had to deal with that 1 of the 5 positions. “That was the marketing deadline, not the engineering deadline” was a common phrase. Technically I guess this counts. But marketing wasn’t my boss … Engineering was …

                    The latter, where, no one was happy with you. Well that is the definition of a 3rd party not-for-profit Log Scaler.

      3. Ah, tech manuals. Great things- if you read them. Walked by a fellow sailor one time trying to get a cylinder out of a small compressor. Had the tech manual sitting beside it. Takes about 30 seconds to get it out. IF/b> you follow the steps in the manual. Fart around with it you might get lucky. 10 minutes later walked by and he was still working on it. So I casually said “Having a problem?” He stepped back and said “Well, if you’re so f—-g smart, you do it!” Opened the manual to the right page, stuck my hands in the compressor, and looking at the book, not the equipment twisted, turned, pulled, pushed… and 30 seconds later handed it to him. And said “I have no idea how to take it out. But that book does. That’s why we have it.” And I walked away.

        I don’t think he ever forgave me for that….

        1. // I don’t think he ever forgave me for that….

          Do they ever?

          Not in my experience. And it’s your fault. Well maybe not in the armed services, especially if you have rank over the other, but private sector …

  30. From National Review gangblog The Corner:
    The Diversity Mania Forges Ahead
    By George Leef
    In today’s Martin Center article, John Rosenberg looks at the latest advances of the seemingly unstoppable diversity juggernaut. …


    As for the required “diversity statements,” Rosenberg says they are “rapidly becoming a new kind of religious creed for faculty.” Just as believing in the wrong religion used to sink your chances at many schools, now failure to believe in the tenets of diversity will sink them. That is sure to keep professors and would-be professors from saying or doing anything that might cause those in charge of hiring from suspecting that they aren’t sufficiently zealous in their diversity beliefs.

    I like Rosenberg’s conclusion: “A good measure of how far we’ve come is that our new loyalty oaths, i.e., diversity statements, are regarded as not only acceptable but required by those who would react in horror at similar efforts to promote, say, patriotism or capitalism. Orthodoxy never seems orthodox to those intent on imposing it.”

    1. It wouldn’t be appreciated if you held out your right arm and responded, “Jawohl, Mein Fuhrer!” when promising to live and breathe “Diversity”.

  31. I notice that nobody comments on the most common failure of reading to comprehend. Which comes when you’ve just typed out a screed – any kind, short email or long dissertation, on screen or on paper – and read quickly through it for spelling mistakes. Then you send it off, without noticing that the omission of an important ‘not’ has competely changed its meaning. Or did I miss seeing those comments?

    1. That happens to me when I do a lot of editing while composing a comment. I delete a word or phrase, and then forget that that portion isn’t there any more. It can get embarrassing.

      1. Response from universe: its a feature. We don’t plan on removing.

        Translation:shut up, go away and work with ourpos

  32. Perhaps it’s people who learned to read as whole-word readers and they miss a few important words? Or perhaps it’s just people who are in a great hurry. But it seems to me that more and more, I’m running across people who don’t read what’s posted and instead read what they expect to read.

    It’s always all 3, and they overlap a lot.
    Though not as much «in a great hurry», as speed-reading habit reinforced by many watered-down texts.

  33. Then there are people who use a phrase/term that doesn’t refer to the actions that they are complaining about.

    An idiot recently complained that some Republicans were opposed to “peaceful transfer of power”.

    Now he wasn’t talking about a group of Republicans trying to prevent Democrats from taking office.

    He was talking about “Lame Duck” actions by the Republicans. Actions that any intelligent person could see Democrats attempting. 😈

    1. I’m also guessing they complain the Republicans are using “The Nuclear Option” on Judges, too. Just like the gnashing of leftoid teeth going on over ballot harvesting, but only where a Republican got elected because of it, California going Cammie with it though . . .

        1. Cammie too – any stroll through Macys out here will have multiple slightly-altered versions of the old Woodland camo pattern on display as high fashion. And it’s absolutely not hunting gear at high end CA urban shopping outlets.

          1. The hot pink camo fashioned into daisy dukes and a halter top.

            I swear I can still see them.

            (that was a Cabella’s, even– and cost more than the guy’s full suit. Pink tax!)

            1. Just turned to husband-
              “do you remember the time we went to Cabellas and there was the halter top-”
              “-and hot pants made out of hot pink camo? Yes, I do.”

          2. Some years ago I noticed “yuppie camouflage” which had patches of white and blue in it. It’s sort of the ultimate “roach on a white countertop” anti-camouflage for any environment I can imagine.

    2. Oh but it does relate. They know they are entitled to the power, not those evil other people. They shouldn’t even be allowed in the election so even running is violence”


      Our speech is violence their violence is speech

  34. I hate it when somebody around me drives like that.

    Yes, I know this statement may seem entirely unrelated to the post, but it really is. (Think about it.)

      1. Wom bats, Wom swings! It’s a hit! Wom’s past First, Wom is going for extra bases, folks! Rounding second, Wom slides into Third for a triple!

        And the crowd goes wild!

    1. I just saw a truck with the warning on the back “This Vehicle Changes Lanes When Lights Are Flashing”
      and my first thought was, “Wow, they use their Turn Signals?!”
      Then noticed “{Somebodies} Pilot Truck Service” signage on the sides.

  35. Distractions, almost entirely. How many people surf the web and focus EXCLUSIVELY on what they’re reading? Now, compare that to the number of people who surf while watching TV, while working, etc?

    (Note: I’m watching TV while I respond.)

    P.S. Are those Mottled Moon Ferrets? I had some once, and learned that you need to make sure that you feed them grilled brussel sprouts once a week, or their mottling falls off. If the mottling gets out of the cage, it will ruin the rugs.

  36. And the day of this post, I received an email that we’d be practicing for service at 8:15am Sunday- and my brain read “9:15am” for some fool reason.
    No one is immune.

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