The unintended pun in everyday life.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Johnny Manziel--Bust of Epic Proportions?

The Cleveland Browns drafted Johnny Manziel with their second pick of the first round of this year's NFL draft, if nothing else possibly getting their quarterback of the near future, and definitely assuring more coverage than in years past on internet sports pages. As a Browns fan, I really don't care much about the silly "news items" that detail Johnny's latest trip or indiscretion, but I did read an article in which Doug Flutie compared Johnny Football and Andrew Luck, the Colts' quarterback. Besides Flutie having had a great NFL and CFL quarterback career, he played a lot like Manziel, so I thought his views would be interesting and insightful, as indeed they were. You can read the article here.

For the purposes of this blog, one of the comments was quite pertinent, and very funny in the bargain. Andrew Luck is probably about three or four inches taller than Johnny Manziel, in case you aren't familiar with the two players in question.
July 9, 2014 Ted, the commenter, gave his opinion of the differences between Andrew Luck and Johnny Manziel: "About 2 feet in height, and that's just for starters! Johnny Football will be a BUST of epic proportions!"

Given that a bust can mean a sculpture, the comment could mean that Johnny will have a bust in Canton (where the Pro Football Hall of Fame resides) commemorating his Hall of Fame career, though I suspect not. Anyway, I think the comment is a nice juxtaposition of pointing out Manziel's relatively small stature (he's actually about six feet tall, so we're not talking about a small person here), with claiming he will be will be a huge football bust (that is, a big disappointment, of gargantuan size).

Tell us what you think, either about the pun or about Johnny Football. Heck, every other internet page has debated his merits or lack thereof!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Cars and Puns

In the Annual Auto Issue, Consumer Reports has an article titled "The road to self-driving cars." That title, of course, is a pun, as are most of the sub-titles within the article ("Taking control," "Looking down the road"). So it's possible the Unintended Pun that I am recording here is actually intended, and the article writer is cleverer than I am willing to admit. But Consumer Reports is not known, at least by me, for its snappy writing style, so I'm going to stick with my guess that it's Unintended.

The paragraphs in question occur in the sidebar "Behind the wheel of a self-driving car." The person in the driver seat, after turning control of the car over to the vehicle's "traffic-jam assist feature" said that he could do other things, but "sleeping was not one of them...he pretended to sleep, and after about 10 seconds the vehicle noticed. An audible alert sounded, and when he still didn't open his eyes the vehicle shut down in the middle of the highway and activated the hazard lights." There would be a better system on production vehicles, but for now, that's how the car reacted.
March 9, 2014 A couple of sentences after the article said he hadn't opened his eyes, the same person: "pointed out an eye-opening reminder of how quickly the technology is advancing."

I think that's perfect, and pretty funny, too. Tell me what you think.

I also think it's sad that in the same issue, Consumer Reports wants its readers to believe that safety features are free:
P. 81: "After all, if a small car such as the Honda Civic can come with [a backup camera] at no extra cost, why shouldn't every car?"

Would you take financial advice (Consumer Reports gives plenty of it) from a company that somehow believes car features come to the consumer for free? I realize they are just showing the same lack of understanding of how economics works as all mainstream economists and typical lobbyists do--we are supposed to be glad because they say they lobbied the government to make sure backup cameras are "required" by the government. Of course, when backup cameras are required, the price of a new car will be higher, so people will drive their older cars longer, making cars less safe--see required air bags and electronic stability control, and you won't wonder why the average age of cars on the road has increased.

Please post your puns or your harangues any time.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Two New Puns for the New Year

Last time I said I'd blog about "missionary positions" and "grasping handshakes." But I've got two newer ones--you see, the Unintended Pun really does enter into everyday life if you just pay attention. So those will have to wait for another time.

Today's first Pun comes from an on-line discussion my son was having about a Sopranos episode. The other person had just described the plot, which included the characters discussing how best to carry out a hit.
January 10, 2014 My son, who had seen the episode, replied with regard to the other person's description of the plot: "That's dead on."

The best part? The target of the hit didn't die, making the pun sort of a double pun, or a reverse pun, or something.

Today's second Unintended Pun comes from the radio waves. Declaring it "Unintended" is always a bit dicey, since I can't know for sure that the speaker didn't intend it; please know that I try to err on the side of caution--there are enough Unintended Puns in my own life that I don't have to add more just to have something to blog about. In this case, it occurred during improvised patter, so I think I'm pretty safe.

If you are a Christian, and haven't listened to Brant Hansen on Air1, you really should give him and it a try. He's often funny, usually insightful, and has great discussions with listeners and his producer, Sherry. And Air1, a national network of radio stations, plays a nice selection of Christian rock and pop music. He's the DJ in the afternoons Brant's Page on Air1's Web Site

The Pun occurred when he was describing how you know when you've gone too far as a sports fan. It's a question I've asked myself many times over the decades. His answer was pretty simple, as many of his answers are: you've gone too far as a sports fan when your team loses, you let your grumpiness affect the way you treat your family and friends. I think that's very helpful, and I suspect a lot of sports fans would feel the same way.
January 120, 2014 Here's how Brant described how you should approach being a sports fan: "When your team loses, you slough it off. When your team wins, you celebrate woo-hoo! It's a no-lose situation."

The humor/pun of course, is that if your team lost, it is, in fact, a lose situation... for your team. But if you deal with it properly, it is a no-lose situation for you and your family--you had fun watching the game, or at least were able to pour some passion into something you enjoy, and afterwards, just go on with life. That's the right attitude.

Please post your Unintended Puns here, or comments on these Puns. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The False Presumption

I have a couple of good Unintended Puns to blog about--one involves "missionary positions" on a job posting web page and the other "handshakes" being "grasped" by someone from a culture where hugs are the common form of greeting--so they're both good candidates to discuss. But along with puns, another of my hobbies is to figure out human nature. This is perhaps a somewhat arrogant endeavor, I know, but one has to do something while one navigates the NASCAR race tracks around here, seeing human nature in its rawest, most anonymous form. That is, watching drivers, anonymous behind their tinted windows, race from one traffic light to the next, jockey to save fractions of a second while risking their own and others' lives on the freeways, driving recklessly while texting or otherwise distracted.

And because I recently came to a deeper understanding of human nature, I wanted to blog about it right away; happily for this blog's sake, it involved a play on words as I thought about how to describe it. First, a few definitions to get us started:

MacMillan Online Dictionary definitions:
  1. presume upon: to expect more than you should get or have a right to, especially in your relationships with other people.
  2. presumption: an act or instance of taking something to be true or adopting a particular attitude toward something, esp. at the start of a chain of argument or action; also: Acceptance or belief based on reasonable evidence; assumption or supposition
  3. assume: to believe that something is true, even though no one has told you or even though you have no proof
  4. assumption: something that you consider likely to be true even though no one has told you directly or even though you have no proof

Drivers, and therefore perhaps people in general if drivers represent people hiding behind tinted windows, go around presuming upon other people. They "assume" that everybody else will behave as non-variables in their equation of life (thanks to my son for helping me with that wording). As they zip in out of lanes, they assume everybody else will continue exactly as they are going. This, of course, is ridiculous and actually impossible. It amounts to saying A is not A. Thus, it is a False Presumption. How can each person on the planet, or in a driver to driver exchange, be a non-variable to every other person? We can't, because we are all agents, agents of action, so therefore we bother each other, sometimes to the point of traffic accidents, sometimes to the point of arguments, etc.

False Presumption is the somewhat Unintended Pun/play on words that I named my insight. The term False Assumption is well known, and I think my brain hit upon that when I was looking for a name; but since I had already been thinking about "presumption", the term came out False Presumption, which is much better anyway.

To conclude: People presume upon others, what they wouldn't let others presume upon them. That is, they expect the others to let them drive like fools and not care. Thus, to generalize, I believe we can dub this The Era of Presumption. When we are not driving, we pretend we are not presumptuous by putting on a veneer of civility, which is a good thing--but that doesn't change human nature. At the bottom, we all want to be the ruler of all we can see (we all presume upon others), me included, and presuming upon others is just the beginning.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Seriously Punny and Don't Harass Me about It

My company requires me to take (I won't say "suffer through," because that would create a negative impression) several on-line training courses every year. They are designed to make sure that I am aware of company policy and legislative laws (not to be confused with God's common sense Laws as written in my heart and conscience), and therefore that I don't get in trouble with the company, and much more importantly, that the company get in trouble with the government.

If you guessed based on my flippant attitude that I took one of these today, you would be right. Today's was about Workplace Harassment, usually my favorite. It's my favorite, because right at the beginning I am told that I will learn not only what harassment is, but also what it isn't. In my ironic/warped way of viewing the universe, that means to me that I will be learning exactly what it is I can do that will bother/offend other people, but that will not be considered legal harassment. I find that deeply humorous, for two reasons:
  1. The designers of the course certainly do not intend to teach me how to legally harass.
  2. The designers of the course have no sense of humor.
Thus, when I came across the scenario that was meant to teach that one can harass someone of the same race, and found an Unintended Pun, I was elated. What better prize in such a course as this could there be than fodder for my blog?

October 21, 2013 In a fake work scenario, an employee said: "Hi, it's me, Valentina. Can I ask your advice about something? Julia, Sylvia, and I are all Latina. Julia always teases Sylvia and me about how dark our skin is. She says that we need to stop hitting the tanning booth so we don't get any darker. When I mentioned it to Sylvia, she laughed and told me to lighten up and stop taking everything so seriously. Maybe I am being too sensitive, but it still bothers me."

I guess it's minimally possible the course designers threw this in there to see if anybody was paying attention. But assuming not, this is a truly great pun--because of course, if Sylvia and Valentina would indeed lighten up (if their skin tone would lighten), then Julia would have nothing to tease them about. The phrasing chosen by these course designers is beautiful, though Unintended.

It's a perfect metaphor for government rules and regulations. If the bureaucrats would just lighten up and give up their desire for political correctness in the ideal world (the course was full of references to an imaginary "reasonable person" who "might" be offended by something--that is, the Ideal Person), we could just get along with our lives. If we don't like what Julia says, we can tell her to buzz off. If we don't like a joke somebody tells us, we can stop hanging around him. If we don't like somebody touching us, we can slug him or walk away. We don't have to wonder if we should tell HR, or if we should confront the person and worry about "retaliation" or other official terms. This kind of official speak just makes us all question and doubt each other, and turns us all into a bunch of snitches.

We don't need the Nanny State teaching us what true harassment is--we know it when we see it, and it's disgusting. It isn't somebody telling a bad joke that supposedly makes fun of some group--people aren't that easily offended unless they go around looking for something to offend them. True harassment involves tangible intimidation that makes an individual's life intolerable. When that happens, people of goodwill step in. We can take care of ourselves, and don't need layers of bureaucracy to "help." And most of all, we don't need another legal layer of unenforceable laws making us all spy on each other while we sit at our desks and try to get work done.