the more things stay the same, the more i want them to change

Oh! More English Nazi-isms for your enjoyment

My earlier blog post jogged my memory of another article with fact citation problems. But this time around, it was about over-citation.

U.S. professor disappears during Japan volcano hike updated 10:02 p.m. EDT, Thu April 30, 2009 By Jason Hanna

(CNN) -- Teams in southern Japan are searching for an award-winning U.S. poet and college professor who failed to return from a hike to a volcano, his university said Thursday.

Craig Arnold was doing research for a poetry and essay book on volcanoes, a colleague said.

Craig Arnold was doing research for a poetry and essay book on volcanoes, a colleague said.

Craig Arnold, a 41-year-old assistant professor at the University of Wyoming, did not return from his Monday hike to a volcano on Kuchinoerabujima, a small island just west of Yakushima, the school said.

"The only clues that [searchers] have found were indications that he had begun the ascent -- footprints on the trail," said Peter Parolin, head of the university's English department, citing Arnold's family.

Arnold, a creative writing professor, was doing research for a poetry and essay book he is writing about volcanoes, Parolin said. See where island is located »

A team of 60 people, with helicopters and search dogs, is looking for Arnold, according to the school. Japanese authorities have agreed to continue the search through Sunday, the university said.

Arnold, according to the school, wrote two award-winning volumes of poetry: "Shells," chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1999; and 2008's "Made Flesh."

His work has been anthologized in several volumes of the Best American Poetry Series, and his awards and honors include a Fulbright Fellowship and the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, according to the university.

Arnold took the semester off from teaching and traveled to Japan alone through a U.S.-Japan creative artists' fellowship, Parolin said.

He had planned to spend a day alone at the volcano, and an innkeeper contacted authorities when he didn't return that evening, according to Parolin.

Arnold has scaled many volcanoes, Parolin said.

"If it's technical or dangerous, he does it with a guide. But from all reports, on this trip he went by himself," Parolin said.

Arnold "is the kind of person and poet who is attracted to extreme places and extreme geographies -- places that not all of us visit," the University of Wyoming English department head said.

"He feels the need to go to places that people don't go and come back and tell us about them," Parolin said.

A press officer at the U.S. Embassy in Japan said he couldn't confirm whether Arnold was missing, citing privacy law. However, he said the U.S. Air Force sent four Okinawa-based helicopters to the area Thursday at the embassy's request to assist with what he believed was a search operation on Kuchinoerabujima.

The Air Force helicopters, from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, were on an unrelated mission in the area when they were diverted, he said.


Holy crap! Now there is citing your sources, and then there is listing a bunch of quotes together and calling it an article! Every paragraph, yes every paragraph, includes some kind of citation, mostly "he said." I can't stop saying Holy Crap! Did Jason Hanna not take any English classes at university. Oh, wait - all the things wrong here I learned in jr. high and high school!

1. One sentence does not a paragraph make (I give you a pass on this one Jason, since every print and online news source organizes their articles this way)

2. Don't repeat yourself over, and over, and over, and over!

3. When writing a research report, include quotes and their citations (usually in footnotes). But don't over-do it! Too much quoting is basically plagarizing. Yep, you listed your sources, used quotes, and gave citations next to those quotes. Now how about finding an original sentence and actually writing something yourself!

Maybe it was a cut-and-paste, last-minute piece. Maybe Jason's 12 year old intern really wrote the article. Maybe Jason's editors were asleep upon submittal, or worse, have it in for him and giggled gleefully at being handed fodder for his downfall. Who knows?

For me, the worst part of this article is the tone that's created. A man is missing, probably dead. As you describe him, you should be respectful. But say a few of these sentences out loud to yourself, like the one that had me begin re-reading the article just to be sure it was as weird as I thought.

His work has been anthologized in several volumes of the Best American Poetry Series, and his awards and honors include a Fulbright Fellowship and the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, according to the university.


If my use of bold type doesn't do it for you, try reading the sentence parts in reverse order:

"According to the university, his work has been anthologized..."

or this one

"He said the Air Force helicopters... were on an unrelated mission..."

Excellent job Jason, you've just written an article that presents every word as fact, and then questions everything you've said. All because of phrasing. Here's a cookie.

*cough* Confidential to Jason Hanna: I am so sorry (she said) for being such a cold bitch, but there was just so much to work with, I couldn't help myself.

Honestly, its bizarre how many English grammar and writing rules have stuck with me, as opposed to the ones I've long since forgotten. Anyone else heard the one that goes "never end a sentence in a preposition"? Ask me if I remember what a preposition is. I never understood this one, as I seem to remember it makes you talk like Yoda.

Or hey, did you see that misplacement of my question mark? I know quite well that, according to the textbooks, when you have a quote at the end of your sentence, the punctuation is placed before the closing quotation mark. But you know what, that makes my quote look like it is a question, and it's not. So I purposely misplace question marks in those situations, even though my memory flashes big red flags in my head every time I do it.

And I love to start sentences (gasp!) with the word "but." Or "and." Or "or." Or "because." (Hey, those aren't prepositions, are they? Crap. Time to consult dictionary.com.) Why? Why do I do this? Why am I so reckless? Because my 7th Grade English teacher told me that the phrase "But that's not to say" was not proper English. Do you have any idea how much time I labored over finding a new transition was? You make yourself 11 again and try to reword it: "Therefore, Duran Duran is an awesome, very talented, and sexy group of guys. (New paragraph) But that's not to say that Wham! isn't awesome in their own right."

Apparently, "but" is NEVER, ever, ever used to start a sentence. So tell me this, oh wise woman, how did I pick up that particular phrase? On a stick of bubble gum? In a conversation with my Barbies? Nope. I picked it up from books. Did you know that Anne Rice, among others, has no qualms about beginning a sentence (even at the beginning of a paragraph, or to start a new chapter!) with "and", as well as "because"?

If Anne Rice can do it, so can I. So nya-nya-nya.

OK, so my assignment on compare and contrast almost tanked because of this stupid woman. How about the one where we were supposed to rewrite a film clip in the first person? Now imagine a young man trying to cross a snowy, icy crevasse on his hands and knees via a rickety old ladder. What would be going through your mind? I thought it went something like this:

"Oh god, oh god, oh god. Please don't let me fall. Oh god! That was a close one! Oh god, oh god, oh god!"

According to my teacher, there was way too much repetition in this paragraph. Apparently, when people are terrified and certain death is up ahead, they are supposed to think like this:

"Oh god, oh god, oh - Uh oh! I can't be repetitive! Um... Oh Buddha! Or Mohammed! Oh Flying Spaghetti Monster! Please don't let me fall! Oh... Holy Monkey-headed dude! Man, I really hate my 7th grade English teacher right now. Aaaaaiiiiiiieeeee!" *splat*

But annoying grammar rules just kept on coming! In the 10th grade, I wrote a one-page paper summarizing a book on the life of Mozart. Here was my glaring mistake (erm, rephrased...)

"Mozart was an awesome musician. But he also had amazing fashion sense."

Apparently, there are grammar rules that can cross sentences! I was informed that I can only use the phrase "but also" if the phrase "not only" was in the previous sentence!

"Not only was Mozart an awesome musician, but he also had amazing fashion sense."

*sigh* What if I wanted two sentences instead of one, huh? Still, this is one I actually took to heart. Probably because the teacher stood up for me when the department head told him she thought I was cheating. Apparently no one in his class could possible be smart enough to know how to quote foreign languages within English sentences"

"Mozart was widely believed to be a w√ľnderkind, having written his first opera at age four."

Really, is it any wonder that I have English-nazi issues?

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