Most events that feature a well-known public speaker also include a question and answer session after the speaker is done making their speech.  What is the mental malfunction that causes otherwise normal people to confuse Q&A with C (Comment)?  Last night, Ira Glass, the host of This American Life, gave a speech at the University.  Glass' speech was informative, occasionally insightful, and completely entertaining.  After he was done, there was a brief Q&A period.  However, as always happens at an event like that, several people, who were apparently overcome by challenge of forming a question, decided to stand up and give their comments.  This behavior always leads me to ask several questions: 1. When someone stands up and says, "I agree with everything you just said," is the Comment Maker so full of himself or herself that they believe the rest of us are withholding judgment on the speaker and their speech until we have gotten Comment Maker's opinion on the matter?  Like I'm sitting there thinking, "Well, I was on the fence about what he said until that Comment Maker got up and lent credence to their speech, but now I'm fully in the speaker's camp."

  1. Why do so few speakers call Comment Makers on the fact that they are not asking questions, but rather offering opinions?  Some do, most do not.
  2. Why does this behavior not annoy more people than it seems to? Has anyone else noticed that the phrase "mother of all …" has completely permeated American speech?  In the last four days, I've heard that phrase with various endings used completely unconsciously no less than once a day in casual conversation.  Last night, Sarah used some form of it on the way to the Ira Glass speech.  Someone used a "mother of all desserts" form over Easter dinner.  On Friday last week, someone with whom I work used the "mother of all questions" format.  Isn't it ironic that America went to wipe out Saddam Hussein in "Gulf War II:  Shrub's Revenge" but a quote of Hussein's from before the first Gulf War has become a commonly used part of everyday American English?  Don't let anyone ever tell you that language means nothing and that people cannot live on through their words long after the speaker is dead and gone. kowalski-~rm blog;vi blogl kowalski-~$ cat blog | perl A sentence from a bicycle repair book that is a fine example of the English language at work: > "Take your hammer, your big screwdriver, and your knowledge of these tools destructive tendencies, and approach the brake spring from above." That sentence is simultaneously tongue-in-cheek, descriptive, and informative, something that very few sentences ever achieve. Ira has a new hobby:  trashing his house.  We got some really nice weather earlier this week with temperatures in the low eighties, so we took him outside for some playtime.  He enjoyed exploring the front lawn and nibbling on the tender grass shoots.  However, Tuesday, Wednesday, and today have been cold and wet.  Less than ideal tortoise weather.  However, Ira's grasp of time and weather, and the interaction of the two, is limited at best.  So, for the past couple of days, as soon as he finishes his breakfast, he starts stomping around his house, trying to climb the walls in an attempt to get our attention and be freed outdoors.  We tried explaining that this was not possible, knowing our explanations were falling on deaf reptile ears.  So, every morning now, I wake up, get out of bed, shave, shower, dress, and then proceed to rebuild the tortoise habitat so that he can thrash it again.  While all of this is going on, he's stomping around his house, scratching on the walls because his food wasn't ready on his plate when he woke up.  Ira is the caged dictator of our house in his little mind. The book I'm carrying around in my bag at the moment: Room 3603 by H. Montgomery Hyde.  It's a non-fiction book detailing the British counter-intelligence, espionage, and propaganda operation headquartered in New York City during World War II.  These operations included all sorts of underhanded activities including late-night break-ins, wiretaps, seduction by agents of the opposite sex, payoffs, leaks to the press, and all manner of un-gentlemanly activities.  It is an interesting read, especially because Hoover's FBI was completely in bed with this British operation at the time in history.