Monday, February 13, 2012

Trolls and flames discuss #NotSoFunny satire at the Scholarly Kitchen

Bit of a tiff going on over at the Scholarly Kitchen over a "satire" someone named Ken Anderson wrote related to the Research Works Act. The piece was about the "Restaurant Works Act" -- Someone pointed me to the post and I found the satire to be, well, unfunny so I chose to ignore it. My brother alas could not ignore it, nor could some others and there is some discussion going on there now.

I will skip commenting on the discussion itself - go read it. But a few things there annoyed me. One of these is that Anderson has resorted to criticizing the punctuation of some of his critics there. That is pretty lame.  See start of thread below

Alex Merz wrote 
The inappropriateness of the analogy was clear by the end of paragraph 2. For the rest: TL;DR
To which Anderson responded
For those of us not as hip as Alex, TL DR means “too long, didn’t read.” I won’t comment on the inappropriateness of the semicolon in his Urban Dictionaryesque construction. The post is about 850 words, by the way
To which Alex re-responded
It is sad when an overly serious someone attempts a grammar or usage flame, and fails. 
“Too long; didn’t read” is both proper usage and a more effective construction than “too long, didn’t read.” 
Bryan Garner: “Fourth, the semicolon sometimes appears simply to give a weightier pause than a comma would. This use is discretionary. A comma would do, but the writer wants a stronger stop—e.g.: “There is never anything sexy about Lautrec’s art; but there also is never anything deliberately, sarcastically anti-feminist in it.” Aldous Huxley, “Doodles in the Dictionary” (1956), in Aldous Huxley: Selected Essays 198, 206 (1961).” 
Don’t be sad, though. Like you, a lot of smart people don’t know their way around a semicolon. 
If you’re too timid to wade into Fowler, Strunk & White, or Garner, there is help:
To which Anderson responded
Nice try, but you don’t have any reason to use a semicolon there. In any event, I think you’re just covering up a typo with sophistry, so let’s move on.
To which Merz responded
You attempt a punctuation flame. When your own-goal is pointed out (with reference to authoritative sources) you mumble that your flame was correct (though it wasn’t), and you indicate that we should drop the discussion of punctuation that *you initiated.* 
Do you have *any* idea that makes you look? 
I’m guessing that you don’t:–Kruger_effect
and so on ...

And before the folks at Scholarly Kitchen accuse me of having no sense of humor about such things - I suggest they look at my history of making fun of EVERYONE in publishing all the time.  The key to me is to be funny first and if you have some political comments you want to make, make them in that context.  I found the cooking / food RWA story to just not be funny so I did not pay any attention to its other messages.  Though clearly those messages bothered some folks, like my brother.


  1. I suspect Kent Anderson's piece at The Scholarly Kitchen is almost certainly in response to Mike Taylor's "Parable of the Farmers and the Teleporting Duplicator." So, at least some of the satire in Anderson's writing is lost by its constraint within the bounds of Mike's story.

    1. Never made that connection. Makes a little bit more sense now. But I stand by my statement that I just don't think it is funny. It is completely forced and awkward. As I have said before, I am all for making fun of OA publishing and its self righteousness, which I am guilty of at times. And I am all for strong opinions. But the Scholarly Kitchen site generally seems excessively condescending, awkward, and forced most of the time.

    2. I completely agree with you on all counts! Much of the condescension at the Kitchen probably stems from the fact that some of the more vocal authors there have a vested interest in the old status quo of publishing.


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