Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Etymology Wars Redux

Following the example of historian Gregory Melleuish, Janet Albrechtsen goes the nitpick in an otherwise sensible article in today's Oz:

Twice, Sane Australia wrote to inform me that I used the word "schizophrenic" inappropriately to mean dual nature. This perpetuates the myth of split personality, they said, which has nothing whatsoever to do with schizophrenia. The only problem is the Concise Oxford Dictionary says that "schizophrenic" derives from the Greek skhizt, to split, and phren, the word for mind.

She then goes on to defend her own use of the word schizophrenic (in describing the union movement):

Sane Australia's letter pointed me to Reporting Suicide and Mental Illness: A Resource for Media Professionals, to guide me in my errant way with words. The problem is I was not writing about suicide or mental illness. I wrote about the union movement and used the word "schizophrenic" in its well-understood colloquial sense.

The logic here seems to me a little unhinged; if Janet was using the word in its "well-understood colloquial sense", the etymology, interesting as it might be, is hardly relevant. That "well understood colloquial sense" incidentally is a good example of a "popularised technical term"; HN Fowler covered the subject in Modern English Usage years before anyone invented "political correctness".

US Scrapbook

Walker draws an invidious comparison between our bill and Hubert Humphrey's affirmative action legislation, which he swore would not lead to racial preferences but did. This analogy is inapt. There is absolutely nothing in the Academic Bill of Rights about affirmative action for conservatives or any other group or set of ideas.

One group of students at UNC-Chapel Hill has already made great progress by tackling their administration head-on in their quest to achieve academic diversity and the inclusion of conservative ideas on their campus. The students, led by senior Michael McKnight, and organized under the sponsorship of the Committee for a Better California attracted national attention this summer when they launched a protest in response to UNC’s assignment of Barbara Ehrenreich’s left-wing screed, Nickel and Dimed, as mandatory reading for the incoming freshman class. But their demands did not stop at less biased reading assignments.

In a meeting with school Chancellor James Moeser, the students demanded that the chancellor address the lack of conservative viewpoints presented on their campus. Specifically, they asked that the university devote more money to bringing in speakers representing a wider range of political viewpoints and that they make an effort to recruit more conservative faculty members, who are an underrepresented minority at the school.
[my emphasis]

Industrial Disease

The big industrial relations news in Victoria this morning seems to be the closure of the Geelong Wool Combing (GWC) plant, with the loss of 93 jobs. There's been a lot of finger pointing on ABC radio this morning, with GWC's chief executive Leigh Schmitt blaming the intransigence of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA), while TCFUA secretary Michele O'Neil has pointed the finger right back.

Mr Schmidt's position was endorsed by our trusty, tolerant Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello. He also took the opportunity to reject allegations that the closure might be a result of the Government's industrial relations reform:

... Responding to claims that Government laws on industrial lockouts were to blame for the factory's closure, Mr Costello said it was a 'long shot'.

"I would have thought if a union calls an industrial dispute, the union leaders can take responsibilities for their industrial disputes," Mr Costello told reporters in Melbourne.

So there you go; it's yet another local company brought down by irresponsible and bloody-minded industrial action. Except in this case, the industrial action wasn't taken by the union. A quick Google for "Geelong Wool Combing" reveals the industrial action at GWC is an employer initiated lock-out not a strike. At, you'll find this little nugget:

An initial lockout at Geelong Wool Combing on April 28 was stopped by the Federal Court, which ruled it breached the Workplace Relations Act because employees were not given the legally required three days' notice before industrial action was taken.

The current lockout started in early May.

In other words, the industrial action which has kept the GWC plant closed for the past 5 months was started by GWC on April 28. After the Federal Court ruled it illegal, no doubt the proper 3 days' notice was given before the lockout resumed in early May to ensure that it could continue on a legal footing.

It would be wrong to call Mr Costello's remarks misleading; they are perfectly in keeping with the new convention which allows a government minister to make any statement, on any issue, regardless of matters of fact, as long as he (or she) has been diligent in avoiding knowledge of the facts. Mr Costello has always been a diligent Treasurer.

Update (2 October): I just found this at the Australian Industrial Relations Commission site. It's the decision of Commissioner Whelan on GWC's application to "terminate a series of certified agreements between that company and the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia ". It's an interesting (but tedious) read.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Greens Are Good for Sexual Degenerates Too

According to WebMD Medical News:

A compound found in broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts may hold the key to thwarting the herpes virus, according to preliminary research presented Sunday at the 43rd annual Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (ICACC) in Chicago. The new findings may be one more reason to make broccoli one of your five to nine servings of fruit and vegetables each day.

Think I might just nip down to the greengrocer before the panic buying starts in earnest.