Thursday, June 12, 2008

New species of Letter to the Editor writer discovered!

We humans are pattern-seeking animals. One could argue that we're driven by our very genes to create taxonomies.

This doesn't just apply to science, of course. We do it with everything, sometimes without even realizing it.

For instance, I've developed an informal taxonomy of people who write letters to the editor. Most of them fit into certain groups pretty easily.

There are the confusingly whiny ones, the ones that are hilariously ignorant concerning the very topic about which they're writing, the religious proselytizers, the ones who predict some sort of apocalypse, people who talk foolishly about the "founding fathers," people who have personal grudges against some elected official (or the very concept of government itself, sometimes), and so forth.

There are other species too, but I mention these specifically because they generally fit into the genus of "people who can't write worth a damn."

Well, today is an exciting day!

I've discovered a letter/editorial thing with the lackluster title of Library budget cuts will have long-term implications in the S&E. This title was no doubt assigned by the paper, because surely the author did not pick such an uninspiring title! Regardless of the poor title, it introduces a species that's rarely seen in the wild, and may in fact be a new one altogether!

The species in question is the poetic-and-literate-apocalypse-
predictor-who-also-mentioned-the-founding-fathers-at-some-point
. Witness the awesomeness!
Every once in a while, if we are fortunate to have the favor of divine providence, we find a fellow citizen amongst us who has a truly brilliant and beautiful mind.

I am writing about those citizens in our Republic who help make us be much better than we truly deserve to be.

[...]

The only thing I know for certain about these people is that their brilliant minds were all shaped by reading. Such is the supremacy of books.

There is no greater method of empowering people than to give them the gift of literacy.

Literacy inoculates our Republic from the tyrannies of ignorance and conformity. Our founding fathers knew the importance of literacy and the need for our democracy to have public lending libraries.

Nobody can honestly tell me that a line like "Literacy inoculates our Republic from the tyrannies of ignorance and conformity." is not utterly awesome. You can tell me it's not true (and I'd agree), but it's still a damn good sentence!

Also, I like books too! Perhaps not as much as this guy, but it's nice to see that kind of passion!

He continues, with a bit less aplomb:
Presently, in this day and at this time, I can report to you my fellow citizens; ignorance and conformity are alive and well in Fitchburg Massachusetts.

The mayor and the local City Council are planning on gutting the library and taking away the gift of literacy.
First, check out that semicolon. I have never been properly instructed in the use of a semicolon (it's a huge gap in my education), so color me impressed!

As for the substance; I can agree with the first sentence, but there's something fishy about the second one.

Yeah, cuts to the library would (will?) suck. I'd like to see the library funded as well as it can be. But "taking away the gift of literacy"? That's just silly. There are other ways to get reading material than just the library. They're just not as convenient or cheap. Then again, perhaps our author is just using hyperbole as a literary tool! So let's give him a pass for now.

Crap, it's a recurring theme:
In the United States of America, a nation that for the past 200 years has brought enlightenment and hope to this world, we are taking the power of the written word away from toddlers, preschoolers, grade-school students, middle-school students high-school students and college students.

Toddlers can read now? Dammit, kids are growing up so fast these days! And ummm... don't schools have libraries? Plus, bookstores and the internet still exist I think. Also, don't adults count for anything? We like literacy too!

Now to the apocalypse* with which he closes...
What I do know with any certainly [sic] is that the next brilliant mind of our generation is not going to come from Fitchburg Mass.

The young minds in our community, waiting to be inspired to greatness, will never get the opportunity because the body of all human knowledge; which can normally be found at your local public library, will not be available to them.

Oh Mr. Pretty-good-letter-writing-guy, what happened to you? I hope that typo is the fault of the paper and not you!

The hyperbole boat has capsized at this point (Note: that is a metaphor, another literary tool, which I am currently using in a confusing manner). Is there only one brilliant mind per generation?

Because if so, I'd say that it's a pretty safe bet that out of the 6.6 billion people in the world, Fitchburg won't be the home to that one brilliant person. No matter how good our library is. Still, I don't think you can take a reduction in library hours to mean the next brilliant mind is doomed if they happen to be growing up in Fitchburg.

Also, is it true that "the body of all human knowledge" is found at the Fitchburg Public Library? Frankly, it doesn't seem that big.

Still, these are minor quibbles!

The important part is we've discovered a guy who can write awesomely while also taking on some of the traits of the crazy people who can't write! He's a transitional form, like our Archaeopteryx friend up top!

Today may be a momentous day in the evolution of letter to the editor writing! Expect an increase in well-written letters from literate individuals, as environmental pressures cause the poorly-written letter writers to fade away. It's the dawning of a new age, people! Celebrate!


* Note: By "apocalypse" I obviously don't mean a Mad Max-style nuclear holocaust or anything like that. Rather, the apocalyptic letter-writer specializes in predicting some sort of negative effect that's totally disproportionate to the event purported to cause it. For instance, those who claim that a trash fee will lead to mountains of garbage all over town due to illegal dumping fit into my category of "apocalypse predictors."

3 comments:

brian michael said...

wait, don't the schools have libraries in Fitchburg?

The Unicow said...

Well sure, but there's no way they're big enough to hold the body of all human knowledge like the Public Library is!

May said...

And not all of the schools have very developed libraries. At charter, we have a very good library for a six-year-old school of only 340 kids, but for the level of research projects we expect, that's nowhere near good enough. We have made it up in the past by doing inter-library loans with Fitchburg Public, and it is a traditional field trip when we are assigned huge projects to walk from charter to FPL and then hit espressos with your advisory.

Fitchburg State has a great libary, only you have to be sixteen to go there without a parent. The FPL was absolutely integral in my education thus far, and it's very sad that this is happening. Everyone keeps blaming Mayor Wong, but I think it has more to do with the state of Fitchburg's economy when the mayor took over. We have to build the city up again.