Monday, November 19, 2007


11/18: McIntoshes, oil on linen panel, 5x6 in.

About McIntosh apples here's what Wikipedia has: "Every McIntosh apple has a direct lineage to a single tree discovered in 1811 by John McIntosh on his farm in Dundela, a hamlet located in Dundas County in the Canadian province of Ontario, near Morrisburg." And: "Jef Raskin, a computer scientist, is credited with naming the Apple Macintosh, a computer system, after the fruit, adopting a very common misspelling often seen in grocery stores. It is possible that this spelling was used to avoid confusion with the high end audio manufacturer McIntosh. Due to the persisting popularity of the Macintosh computer line, the misspelling of the cultivar has only been perpetuated."

"Anno Domini" goes before the date, people! Not really a non sequitur, because it was while reading more about apple history (and getting sidetracked) that I found yet more places where people are putting A.D. after the date as in the case of B.C. For example,

79 A.D. - Pliny the Elder in his Natural History ...
A.D. was invented in 525 A.D. by Dionysius Exiguus.
... Latin for “in the year of the Lord,” it means that the number that goes with it is the number of years since the birth of Jesus Christ. For example, it is now 2006 A.D.
Those last two are particularly good as the blog post they come from tries to put on an air of intelligence (though I'm sure I do that), even pointing out the literal translation only to show that the writer doesn't really understand it. Now, I don't mind people getting it wrong in conversation, but I really hate seeing it in print, especially in anything dealing with history - like at the beginning of a "historical" movie (in Monty Python and the Holy Grail I forgive them because they're silly) - this is similar to my thing against Irish pipes in Scottish movies, but anyway....

I ain't no grammarian, but I suppose when people wrote in Latin this happened a lot, and I would say it was because Latin word order was loose and one could go around saying things backward and still be correct: "on the first of the Lord of October in the year 2007 my homework ate my dog." It's maybe better to use B.C.E. ("before the common era") and C.E. ("of the common era") if you don't care about the order and want things simple, but I'm not pushing that - I just wish people remember what abbreviations stand for when they write them.


Richard said...

You think the use of A.D. is bad, but the AM PM usage is worse. People fail to notice that 12 AM is the same time as 12 PM and even that 12 M is noon and not midnight. Therefore I suggest that noon and midnight be used more, to avoid confusion.

In a similar vein, I recommend that dates use alphabetic abbreviations for the month to avoid problems like 12/5/08 which is ambiguous as to the day, the month, and the year.

The only unambiguous temperature, incidentally is minus 40. Why?

Dan P. Carr said...

Thanks for that - I never thought about A.M./P.M. (see how my intellectual fa├žade is flimsy). Maybe we should use military time, avoiding post and ante, meridies not midnight - my head will explode! As far as dates are concerned, I selfishly exempt myself. But it is a problem when you see something like 07/06/05, perhaps on a European web page, and you can't tell anything more from the context.

Well, -40°F and C are the same.... I always wonder why TV weatherpeople dramatize the temperature going "below zero" (around -18°C) as it has no real significance. (Would a Canadian put emphasis on the temperature hitting -18°?) Same when we hear "temperatures will break the 100° mark today!"