The unintended pun in everyday life.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is This an Unintended Pun?

New York City is currently experiencing the effects of very bad weather. (By the way, I refuse to open my thesaurus to find all the words that most of the media outlets always use to describe hurricanes in the most graphic human terms.) I hope folks are okay, and took the preparations they needed to stay safe. One article I read quoted Mayor Blumberg saying something, which I can't tell whether to count as an Unintended Pun, or what it is exactly. I'll need you to weigh in.

Click here for the article. "Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned New Yorkers Irene was a life-threatening storm and urged them to stay indoors to avoid flying debris, flooding or the risk of being electrocuted by downed power lines. "It is dangerous out there."

August 17, 2011
Later in the article: "New York is the greatest city in the world and we will weather this storm."

I don't think anybody would purposely make a pun in this situation. I've discussed that scenario in several previous posts. Of course, politicians talk so much that he may have just said so many word that he said something silly like this, and the author chose to quote these particular words. People usually use "weather this storm" in a metaphorical sense, such as weathering the storm of a divorce, or some other bad season in your life. But I can't remember hearing somebody use it in the sense of weathering the storm of a storm.

What do you think? I'd appreciate your comments.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Obvious But They Really Oughta Know Better

Okay, this post shows a little more about what I do at work. Last time, I described a conversation about satellites, hinting that I work on communication systems, which happens to be the case. This time, I'll again reveal a little more, describing part of an article I read at work. This shows that as part of my job I need to understand some fairly esoteric issues with regard to technology.

In an article on the SSWUG website, Ben Taylor wrote about virtual machines. Click here for the article. In this technology context, "virtual" means "acts like something else." For example, in the movie The Matrix , the characters had to make the choice to stay or leave the "virtual" world that had been created by the bad guys. But Mr. Taylor used the same word in its more common meaning in the same sentence as its technology meaning, when another word could have been used, which would have been much clearer.

August 17, 2011
Here is the sentence: “With the ability to use a virtually free host operating system such as Linux, the licensing costs for virtual machines has fallen.”

Mr. Taylor could have used "essentially" or "almost" or one of several other words to get his meaning across. Linux can be downloaded for exactly free for those who know what they are doing. There are other costs, such as maintenance, etc., which I think is what he means be "virtually." But of all people, in all contexts, you would think he would have chosen just about any word besides "virtually." I mean, the title of the article is "Are You Virtual?" But perhaps this is either an intended pun, in which case I've just wasted my time on this post, or this is futher proof that the human brain cannot be stopped when it comes to the activation web.

What do you think?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

How Do You React to Unintended Puns?

A work colleague and I were discussing a company he used to work for in the nineties. Part of the company was sold.
August 12, 2011
He described it this way: “[Company name omitted to prevent slander charges] bought the satellite business and drove it into the ground.”

As usual, I didn't laugh even though I thought it was pretty funny, because my colleague didn't notice that he had made a pun. I wanted to say something like "Did they drive the business into the ground because they kept driving satellites into the ground?" but I was afraid he wouldn't get my comment, or he would get my comment, and think I was making fun of him. You know, the usual reactions when you try to expand on the enjoyment of an Unintended Pun.

Have you come up with any non-offensive ways to further the enjoyment when you make or hear an Unintended Pun? Let us know here at Baring My Sole.