Diversions

It’s really not April Fool’s Day

I’m going to try my best to persuade you that today is not April Fool’s Day. You might recall that I’ve tried this before, and from my perspective things went well, so if past is prelude, this is going to go great. My new arguments? First, April Fool’s Day should occur in April but many people consider the current month to be huhtikuu. You may have been told that it’s April Fool’s Day but if that were so, you should expect that people are fooling you. In fact, people seem to shout “April Fool” immediately after doing something discrediting. Although The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC are reporting that today is April 1, 2017, these have all been declared to be fake news organizations by the President of the United States. Today is April Fool’s Day if this sentence is right — I’m sure we can agree on that! – but this sentence is not right because I assert that pigs are turquoise. April Fool’s Day probably happened on November 8, 2016 and it hasn’t been a year since then. Proponents disagree as to whether the day should belong to one or many fools (April Fool’s Day or April Fools’ Day), and while there’s ongoing controversy, celebrations should be deferred. April Fool’s Day is not a public holiday in any country so it can’t “be” April Fool’s Day in any official sense. Besides, the only kind of institution that would establish a holiday for hoaxes is not to be taken seriously. And given the overwhelming preponderance of non-hoaxes that have already occurred today, we should call it April Seriousness Day. Lastly, it can’t be April Fool’s Day because it’s actually International Edible Book Day. Today is the day when people eat books. And if you still think there’s truth in April Fool’s Day being today, perhaps you didn’t hear the news of truth’s passing?

Diversions, Language

PLOWS USE CAUTION

Driving on I-90 from Boston towards the Berkshires yesterday, I spied a curious road sign gleaming in the summer haze:

PLOWS USE CAUTION

My mind skipped over three possible interpretations of this grammatically ambiguous statement and landed on a fourth. I didn’t read it as an assertion of the tenet that plows are cautious; I didn’t read it as an admonition to plows to be cautious; and I didn’t take it as a directive to non-plows to avoid plows. Channeling my inner copy editor (always the pessimist), I assumed it must be a simple misspelling of:

PLEASE USE CAUTION

It’s not easy making signs (as evidenced by the preponderance of wretched signage in our world), and so I can easily imagine an incautious sign-maker trying to write PLEASE and having it come out as PLOWS.

Unfortunately, the very thought of this has put me in a state where I can no longer see the word please without mentally substituting it with plows (and the result turns out to be grammatical with surprising frequency). And so I invite you, dear reader, to join me in this affliction by listing some of your favorite please/plows substitutions. I will start off with one of my favorites:

Always say plows.