This blog is taken from a newsletter I wrote a couple years ago. Somewhere along the lines I failed to post it, so it has remained in the solitary confinement of my email database. So just pretend you’re the recipient so I don’t have to butcher the text to make it audience generic!
It’s hard to believe it’s already that time of year! Thanks to classes, work, and Christmas events — pageant, formals, and “parties for hosting” — I’d quite forgotten how quickly Christmas snuck up. However this is a welcome turn, as it is far better than the countdown squeeze I normally regret.
I wish to lavish you all with my deepest affections, but I shall adequately grace you all after I take my little “pulpit” and try to add a little meaning to this newsletter — or rather, address something in relation to this timeless season.
Last year, I wrote a newsletter to friends and family concerning Halloween. For myself personally, this has always been an important oversight by the Christian populace, and consequently I felt strongly compelled to share my “unpopular” take on Halloween. This is a message every Christian and non-Christian alike needs to read before getting out the Halloween decorations.
The neighbor’s houses, Cracker Barrels, Walmarts, etc. have all donned the marks of Halloween (in the case of Cracker Barrel, since the beginning of September!) — the cobwebs, deviously smiling pumpkins, haunting black figures hanging from the tree limbs…Halloween is the second highest grossing “holiday” ever, second only to Christmas. I do not wish to spoil the remainder of this blog, but I find it greatly ironic that Christmas — the celebration of the Incarnation, Sacrifice, and Santification of our Dear Savior — is followed in revenue by Halloween — the celebration of all that is dead and decaying. But as I said, I would like to follow with a more informative discussion of this “holiday” we know as Halloween.
As if 2010 was not far enough back for you, I now present a research essay from 2009 that I coauthored with my brother Joshua (so if you notice a difference in writing styles, it has nothing to do with my schizophrenia) concerning the unusual history of some common words: idea, rhetoric, tawdry, and guy.
Flippantly Invoked Vocabulary
In today’s culture, words tend to morph to the context in which they are most used. Over mere centuries, vocabularies with deep roots and connotations are reduced to flippantly invoked words. Words that once frolicked in lush definitions are steadily watered-down to common usage and association. As Salman Rushdie laments, “[n]ames, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth’s marvels, beneath the dust of habit” (Rushdie). Among such words are comprised idea, rhetoric, guy, and tawdry.
I know I know, it’s been close to a month since I last blogged — that’s because I’ve been working and feeling hobby-lazy on the weekends, and I’m still in the middle of writing an approximately 6–8 page (single spaced!) essay, so I’m a little preoccupied…
Okay, what’s the deal with Ancestry?
First off, it’s a slick and polished gem — strike one. Second, it addresses a very common need — strike two. Finally, it is Rails 3 savvy and efficient — home run!
In all seriousness, Ancestry is perhaps one of the handiest gems I’ve used of late. Typically, setting up trees with ActiveRecord is relatively easy — but as the model logic grows, the ease of use/implementation fails. Query calls increase recursively with every layer of the tree, and scopes have to be manually called at each layer.