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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Double Talkin' Baby*

Welcome to my readers in India and Singapore! We're now in 39 countries.  Remember to write and comment on what you read!

Those of us from previous generations no doubt remember a California-based talk radio host by the name of Dr. Laura Schlessinger, who dispensed advice and commented on the news, among other things. While she had legions of fans who hung on her every word, she also had detractors who found her often caustic, dismissive manner off-putting.

She took phone calls from people supposedly seeking advice, and while she was blunt and direct, she saved her real venom for people who would add multiple caveats after she gave her initial answer. As an example, she would get a call from someone whose child was living with their significant other outside of marriage.

When Dr. Laura would tell her (no nasty letters, her callers were overwhelmingly female) it's a bad idea, she'd add, something along the lines of "well, it's in our house"/"they don't pay rent"/"the significant other doesn't work/eats our food/ ties up the phone for hours at a time"etc., thinking that she would change her mind--which would only steel Dr. Laura's resolve. Nothing drove her nuts faster than these "gotchas".

Me too. To wit:

I belong to two particular threads on Facebook that are related to my vocation and avocation. One person came on asking for assistance in obtaining a PDF copy of a published, in-print, work of music--a clear violation of US copyright laws. When I called him on it, he became indignant and tried to explain himself away, but no soap. The moderator of the thread sided with me, removed the post, and came up with new terms of use for the thread.

The other asked what we thought was a fair price to pay high school students to be ringers in a church choir in suburban Chicago, I responded that there were, in addition to an abundance of professional church musicians, as well as college students willing and able to tackle the position. Only then did she say, well, we have to use high school students because it's in the terms of the grant we received, etc., significantly changing her question.

PEOPLE, a little sanity check please.

Are you saying exactly what you intend, what you mean? Jesus' admonition in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:37) would come in handy. "Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no". Clear enough?

Plain language doesn't have to mean simple-minded. Leave no doubt as to your intent.

*Danny Wolfe, c. 1956. Rockabilly standard with many covers

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