And now for something light, because it’s been heavy blogging lately, and there’s more around the corner.
Once Upon A TIme I used to be a newspaper proofreader. And once a proofreader, always a pain in the ass, because I pay attention to the wording of the things I read (and hear). Here are some things that drive me abso-bloomin-lutely-nutz, from the realms of horticulture, entomology, and the exciting intersection, er, catastrophic collision of science and marketing. Disclaimer: these are all my own unbiased opinions.
Some years ago, a student came in and said that she wanted a “carefree garden”, one that bloomed all the time and required virtually no care. I blinked a few times in disbelief and could only reply, “Plastic?”
There’s always good, clean dirt. Although a person can have fumigated soil or “sterile” seedling media (that’s nursery-sterile, not surgically sterile, meaning free of pests and pathogens), but dirt by definition is what gets tracked across the kitchen floor, lodged under your fingernails, or ground into the knees of your pants. “Detoxifying mud bath” should join that for all-around absurdity.
Then there’s trying to explain to my students that there are no such things as “natural gardens”. No matter what style the garden is, if it is a garden, it is inherently un-natural. Gardeners work tirelessly against the entropy of succession by ruderals (profligate weeds) and woody plants. Gardeners interfere with the sex lives of their plants, deadheading them to promote more fresh flowers, and prevent re-seeding. Even gardeners who prefer to limit their horticultural impulses to locally native plants still don’t have “natural gardens”. They set out plants in artificial arrangements, they do things like installing 90% forbs and 10% grasses and call the results “prairies” (which are really grasslands with flowers), and of course, they still prevent succession by ruderals and woody plants.
Ditto “safe pesticides”. Pesticides are poisons — they are designed to kill things. Granted, a few are not toxic to humans, and a few are behavioural (they make the insects want to quit eating, or leave the plant, in which case they are really repellants, rather than insecticides), but even so … “Safe pesticides” is just wishful thinking. Let’s add “non-toxic insecticide” to that.
“Chemical free” is another favourite. “I want my children to be safe! I only feed them chemical-free, natural food.” (note *) A chemical is a substance with its composition defined in a chemical manner, meaning the proportions of the elements. Water is a chemical, because each molecule of water is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom bonded together. The only “chemical-free” thing is a perfect vacuum. How about a snack with “all natural artificial flavoring”. WTF?
No, you cannot have the “bigger half”. Parenting tip: have one child cut the highly desired goody in half, and the other child gets to choose first. You’ve never seen such precision slicing! Plus, you no longer have to slice and hand out the halves and then deal with the sibling fallout. What, you have more than two children? How often do three or more people all want the same thing anyway? (Must be really easy to order pizza at your house, if they do!) Maybe they would like some “mini pound cakes”. Pound cake is made with a pound of butter, a pound of flour, a pound of sugar, and a pound of eggs, hence the name. A pound cake is not meant to be cupcake (fairy cake) size, not even a white chocolate flavored one.
Butterflies are insects. You can’t say you “hate insects but like butterflies”. Get over this entomophobia. While we’re at it, there are too, male ladybugs (also known as ladybird beetles). Coccinellids have sex like other insects. No, those chartreuse spotted beetles on your cucumbers are not “good bugs”, they are pest spotted cucumber beetles.
I used to think that “ringing silence” was an oxymoron until I got tinnitus. Now all of my environmental silences are accompanied by subjective ringing noise.
“Miraculous scientific discovery” Man, I hate marketing nonsense like this. No. No “miracles”. Things may be amazing, timely, unexpected or even fortunate, but I don’t believe in “luck” or “miracles”. Please don’t go calling inventions (new things that people have created) “discoveries”; discoveries are when people find out about something that already exists.
Creation science. Needs no explanation. Ditto homeopathic medicine.
And just for fun, here’s my favourite redundancy: fried chow mein noodles Chow mein means fried noodle, so saying fried chow mein noodles is like saying, “fried fried noodle noodle”.
(What, now you have “fried-fried-noodle-noodle” stuck in your head? You’re welcome; always glad to share. What’s a little echolalia between friends?)
* I cannot remember who, but another blogger also recently mentioned this same bit of nonsense. Those crazy parents are everywhere.