I stumbled across this article in The New York Times’ Style section from November of last year which discusses the importance and implications of how a person signs off on their email: “Best”, “Regards”, “Sincerely”, etc. I have thought about this subject way more then I ever thought was reasonable, but now that the NYT has written about it I feel I have license to let loose with the following tangent.
I have always found regards to be a little cold as a sign-off. To me it reads “I really don’t care if you live or die, but since decorum dictates that I conclude our correspondence with some kind of farewell statement, this is what I will use.” To regard, basically means to consider, so to write “warmest regards”, it reads “I have warm consideration for you.” This works, but just plain-old regards is like saying “I consider you”, or “I acknowledge your existence, but that is as far as I’ll go.” It’s weird.
“Best”, is better, but still too stuffy for my taste. In general usage, Best can be used either as an adjective “He is the best cook.”, or a noun “You’re the best!” As a sign-off, the assumption is that it is being used as an adjective, but since there is no noun given for it to modify, it just sounds lazy. At the very least, there should be an ellipses to indicate something is missing. As a sign-off, to me it reads: “It is my intention to conclude this email correspondence positively. I have best ‘something’ for you, however I am not going to take the time and you are not quite important enough for me to actually figure out what that something is.”
The noun regards works fine when preceded with an adjective like warmest. The adjective best works well when followed with a noun like wishes. Ironically, these two curt farewells work nicely when combined as best regards.
My sign-off of choice for professional correspondence has always been “Take care.” It sounds professional, but it implies a certain amount of concern for the other person’s well being. To me, it reads “I know both you and I have to pretend like we are very interested in these work-related topics that we are discussing here, but all things being equal, I’d much rather be sharing a pitcher of beer with you somewhere talking about anything else but this.”
There is an article in the Oped section of today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune by Eric Lundegaard titled “Baby, you should drive your car.” It tells of how the author received a notice on his windshield from the city of Minneapolis informing him that his car would be towed unless it was moved within 72 hours. The car was parked legally on the street where he lived, but the author, who usually walks or bikes to work, hadn’t moved it in several days and the neighbors called the city to complain. The implication being that people who have cars are expected to drive those cars at least once every couple days, and if they don’t, it is reasonable to suspect that the car has been abandoned.
Obviously, a rusted out heap with dandelions growing out of it that has not been touched in several months is a candidate for removal, but a well maintained car that sits idle for a few days until it’s owner needs it for grocery-getting or a camping trip is something the city should encourage. A car that sits idle on the street is a car that is not contributing too traffic congestion or greenhouse gases.
Wikipedia has a nice comprehensive list of French words and phrases that are commonly used in English. Link
There is a good article on the demise of the baseball card collector’s market over at Slate:
I had a two-year obsession with baseball in the late 1980s when The Twins won the World Series for the first time. During this time I amassed a fairly healthy baseball card collection. In high school, when my attentions shifted from sports and video games to music and girls, I packed my cards away into a photo album thinking that someday I would probably be able to get at least a few hundred dollars for my best cards. In 1998 when Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs and broke Maris’s record, I figured his rookie card would be worth a fortune. But when I shopped it around and checked ebay, no one was willing to pay more then $20 dollars or so.
I guess it’s just a supply & demand thing. In the 80s, the market was flooded with cards from dozens of companies putting out several different versions. While I might have been able to afford a few packs a week on my allowance, older collectors would buy them by the carton. So now it doesn’t mean much to have a McGuire Rookie Card, when serious collectors have fifty of them and ten different versions. Oh well, I will put them in my time capsule and see what happens in another 15 years.
This is why guns freak me out (scroll down after the jump). This fellow was a couple inches away from getting killed because his gun-nut neighbor shot a hole through their common wall while doing god-knows-what.
The gun control debate is tough for me. I hate guns, and it is hard not to let my personal bias cloud my thinking on the larger issue. I know there are people's liberties at stake. I know there are people who genuinely enjoy guns for hunting & target practice, and to their mind a gun is no more dangerous then a toaster. I know that guns make some people feel safer by providing a since of empowerment over their own protection. I know guns don't kill people; people use guns to kill people. I know our gun laws are largely ineffectual, and much like drugs, criminals who want guns will find a way to get guns regardless of how many laws are on the books to prevent it.
Having said all that, it still freaks me out that any law abiding moron in this country has such easy access to a tool that can so easily harm or kill another person, and I don't really understand why people who enjoy guns aren't freaked out about it too. I mean, just because you know how to use a gun safely and responsibly, doesn't me everyone will. I am sure there are some amateur scientists out there who would love to get their hands on some radioactive materials or Anthrax spores for purely scientific purposes , but of course that is not possible because in those cases the threat to public safety outweighs the rights of the scientists to obtain and safely use those materials. I think that most people across the political spectrum including our theoretical amateur scientists would agree that this is a good thing. These are the kinds of compromises that a free society makes when measuring their liberties against their safety. Although it might be cool to have a nuke in your basement to impress your friends, you don't want some nut or some idiot to get their hands on one, so you accept the fact that they aren't available to anyone; The enjoyment of owning one, does not outweigh the potential threat. I don't understand why this logic doesn't trickle down into the gun debate. I know guns aren't on the same scale as WMDs, but isn't there a little room for compromise?
Borders Group Inc., the owners of Borders and Waldenbooks stores, have recently announced that they will not be carrying the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains 4 of the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad that have set off riotous protests and violence throughout much of the Muslim world, and they want to avoid any potential backlash against their customers and employees.
While I can empathize with their rational, I think this sets a bad precedent. They are basically rewarding those who protest violently by giving them exactly what they want. What if the radical-religious-right nut jobs start burning down gay bars and clubs and threatening the editors of alternative life style magazines? Would Borders stop carrying gay related literature for fear of reprisals? I read all kinds of things everyday that piss me off. Does that mean if I organize some kind of madcap rage across America every time Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell says something asinine I will be able to get their literature pulled off the shelf? The truth is that every book or magazine is probably offensive to somebody somewhere. If Borders pulled every item off their shelves that somebody found objectionable , they would go out of business.
Here's a scary thought. From an evolutionary standpoint, religious conservatives have a distinct advantage over secular liberals; They tend to have more children. Around the world, especially in Europe, progressive societies are experiencing negative population growth (less then 2.1 kids per couple.) In the United States this trend is countered by the Bible-Belt and Bread-Basket States where opposition to birth control and patriarchal views on family still prevail. For those of you who wonder how it is possible that so many people in this country could have possibly voted for Bush in the 2004 election, or how so many people could hold such regressive views on issues such as gay marriage, this issue may be a predominant factor. If this is the case, it doesn't bode well for the future.