‘scuse me while I rant a lot

September 5th, 2008

Dear New Zealand media,

Will you please just stop using the words “philosophical” and “critical”? Please? Pretty pretty please with a cherry on top?

And what sparked this? Well, take a look at the blurb from this article:

Dialysis patient Gordon Power was philosophical about his 20-hour wait in Wellington Hospital’s emergency department.

Yes, that’s right, he spent his 20-hour wait in emergency reading Immanuel Kant. Wellington Hospital is good like that, they have a nice big stack of philosophy books waiting for patients who have to be [excuse me, I just can’t resist this] be patient. It’s even worse, though, when it’s a sports report. I mean, things like “All Blacks philosophical after loss to Pitcairn Island B”. That’s right, the first thing the NZRFU does when the All Blacks lose is hand out copies of Sartre’s La Nausée. Nothing like a good dose of Existentialism to get them back on a winning track.

And how often do we have to read shite like “Man critical after head-on collision with drunk goat” or “Goat critical after being impaled on goose’s beak”? Doctors may well use the word critical as in “He is in a critical condition”, meaning “there’s a damn good chance he’s going to die, his injuries are so bad we just can’t tell”, but that does not mean the word ‘critical’ on its own has anything close to that meaning. That is a very specific use of the adjective ‘critical’, and it only has that meaning in that particular context. The man who collided with a drunk goat did not suddenly start discussing with the attendant journalists the rights and wrongs of Farmer Joe feeding Speight’s Old Dark to his flock of goats, nor did the goat pontificate on the goose’s decision to try and run up the guts, thereby impaling the poor goat on his beak, when he clearly should’ve passed the ball out to the mongoose on the wing who was unmarked and had a nice big gap to sprint through for the match saving try.

So please just stop.

And yes, I do realise I am by no means the first to comment on the media’s rather idiotic use of words such as “philosophical” and “critical”.

Have to give stuff full marks for this headline, though:

Injustice killing Kiwis on grand  scale

3 Responses to “‘scuse me while I rant a lot”

  1. michael Says:

    We just spent 25.5 hours 10am Weds to 11.30am Thurs waiting in emergency in Sydney to get the 9-year old’s broken wrist fixed up. The only philosophy forthcoming was – it must get better than this. Luckily I did take a few good books and the staff were great. And I got a blog out of it.
    http://www.6minutes.com.au/michael_blog/

  2. Daniel Howard Says:

    Well, in your example, though, the guy was philosophical after 20 hours spent reading Kant. Or am I just pointing out the obvious? Righto.

    Cheers,
    -danny

  3. wangbo Says:

    Michael, great story. I will remember to take a library and a large supply of food with me should I ever need to visit an Australian emergency room.

    Daniel, I suspect somebody is much more likely to be philosophical after spending 20 hours reading Kant than after spending 20 hours waiting in emergency.