Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
September 14th, 2005


Ten things that irk me

Phil’s not the only one with an ax to grind. Here are ten things you probably say or write a lot that’ll really get to me (I just numbered them to make it seem like the list has any rhyme or reason):

  1. Criticizing someone or something for being “unamerican.” What in the world’s that supposed to mean? This country’s so diverse (or so we’ve been taught), that there’s gotta be something in here for everyone, all Made in America. And if not, there’s always California…

  2. Calling anything “one of the best,” “one of the worst,” “one of the most,” “one of the least,” ad nauseum. You’re not saying a thing when you call an evening news show, for instance, “one of the best evening news shows I’ve ever watched.” How many evening news shows could you have possibly seen? I know it sounds incredibly obvious and all, but… be brave and actually say something about it.

  3. Going out of your way to misspell its as “it’s.” That requires you to type out an extraneous, incorrect apostrophe. Why go out of your way to show how little command of the English languge you have? I mean, it’s not like “teh,” which you misspelled with the frivolous hope that you’d look cool. Using “it’s” as a pronoun or adjective just looks awful.

  4. Calling a jaguar a “jagwire.” When my eighth-grade English teacher warned us all against pronouncing it that way, I figured that I wouldn’t ever so much as hear someone say it that way in my life. Then my brother started saying “jagwire”; he probably would’ve started spelling it that way too, had I not pre-emptively chastised him for it.

  5. Writing without punctuation. I’ve used IM and browsed the Internet long enough that I’ve gotten used to putting everything in lowercase, but I still can’t take unpunctuated text. If you went through and read every single Xanga entry posted within the last 24 hours, you’d think that the government just issued a recall on the period and comma keys of every keyboard manufactured since 1985.

  6. Similarly, never using the Enter key to break up paragraphs. Remember way back in second grade, when we would be assigned to write a three-sentence-long paragraph, and since we couldn’t think of enough to say, we’d go up to our teacher and ask how long the sentences had to be?

    Ah, the days before stream of consciousness. Nowadays, we have so much to say that “paragraph” just doesn’t do it justice. It’s just a hunk of text (the teacher’s hypothetical term for it, not mine). Seriously: if you’re going to do stream of consciousness writing, at least press Enter at a set interval, to make it look like you were actually doing real writing.

    Really, imitation is all I ask for. But if that’s still too much, go all out and avoid pressing Enter to submit your post, while you’re at it.

  7. Writing IN ALL CAPS for anything longer than a sentence. Unless you’re an aspiring IP lawyer – in which case you shouldn’t be on the Internet or risk repercussions down the line – you really have no business gluing your Shift key down. We’re no longer in the age of chiseling Latin into stone (unless you’re angrily cramming for the next Latin exam), so there’s no reason not to use lowercase letters once in a while. Just as long as you punctuate.

  8. Using add as a noun, as in “Thanks for the add.” You’re welcome; now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to hit the Remove button. Next time, thank me for adding you. If there is a next time.

  9. Rhyming in poetry. Unless you really know what you’re doing (you don’t), it’s going to sound corny. Terrible. Worthless. Creative Writing teachers might like it when you rhyme or use other primitive tricks like alliteration or iambic pentameter, just so you get the practice, but it quickly gets out of hand because, like the dubious Five Paragraph Essay, it’s just an easy way out. Free verse, my friend, free verse. We’re not in the Renaissance anymore. I’ll even let you stop punctuating. With that said…

  10. The Five Paragraph Essay, or any form of complex-deductive writing for that matter. This tired form of piecing together a paper is only useful for copy-pasting facts from the Internet late in the night, meaning that, although your teacher is pleased that you followed directions, you’ve now raised suspicions of plagiarism.

    Most irritating: “in conclusion.” Use “In conclusion…” to start off your last paragraph, and you automatically sound like a classroom documentary on glaciers in prehistoric Ohio. Use something more interesting, like “Unless the previous paragraphs have put you into a deep sleep, you should’ve figured out by now that…”

…this rant is over. And now, for a little disclaimer: this is not formal writing; I rarely do any of that these days, because it serves no purpose. There is, in the strictest sense, some “nonstandard” usage of the English language. So if your response to this entry is that I started each item with a fragment, or that I began many sentences with a conjugation, my reply is: “¡Deja de molestarme!” Excuse my French.


  1. You might be wondering why it’s taken me so incredibly long to finally blog about Planet Xavier’s long-awaited and long-needed redesign. As usual, the answer is procrastination.

  2. A new free, online, collaboratively-written encyclopedia – sound familiar? – claims that Democrats have “a true agenda of cowering to terrorism [and] treasonous anti-Americanism”.