Periscope Depth

check the technique, see if you can follow it

Forbes.com has published an op-ed that is the least literate thing I’ve read since the last time I read a Forbes.com op-ed. And I’m not talking about content. I’m talking purely about the ability to string a sentence together and make its meaning clear.

Some highlights:

Call me prejudice [sic], but if the credibility of an organization is inversely proportional to tattoos and body piercings per square inch, this is a movement of dim prospects.

[...]

Since attending the Houston rally, the movement has metastasized globally to include hundreds of thousands or even a several millions. [The movement attended the Houston rally? It could now number ‘a several millions’?]

Notwithstanding, the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, even egged on by our president, so far, in my opinion, has little more than nuisance value. [Not enough clauses separated by commas. Could you add seven or twelve more?]

[...]

Apparently, it was monumental injustice that the big bad bank was enforcing its contractual rights in light of over a year of non- payment. Comfort in being surrounded by the same species of fish. Engulfed in a haze of nescience was all I could feel. [Could someone tell me what that second sentence is describing or modifying? And is there an easier way to phrase that third sentence?]

And that’s just a casual scan. This is embarrassingly poor writing. If someone found this on my blog, the same blog where I write about video games, I would be mortified. Forbes is a respected business periodical.

Finger seeds his rant with words like “metastasizing” and “nescience” to give the illusion of being well-read. But people who actually read a lot know how to string a sentence together. I can’t say with certainty that Finger used a thesaurus to find the densest possible synonym for “ignorance” (“ooh, nescience looks promising”). But Finger can’t say with certainty what a protester’s “indeterminate hair color” looks like. C’mon, Dick: greenish? pinkish? Take a stab at it.

While it would be irresponsible of me to judge Richard B. Finger of Ariadne Capital as an investor based on one column of garbage, that doesn’t stop Finger from judging the rigor of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement based on a few colorful characters, so here I go: Richard B. Finger of Ariadne Capital is a fraud. He puts tremendous effort into appearing smarter than he is. He is incapable of clear and insightful language, suggesting he’s incapable of clear and insightful thought. I can’t say that his inability to form a coherent sentence guarantees that his investments will fail, but I can say it doesn’t make them more likely to succeed.

To bring it from style back to subject: Forbes.com is so desperate for anti-protest content that they’ll throw a sub-literate peasant, the sort of ranting hack who would make a LaRouchie roll his eyes, on their op-ed page. They’ll throw him up without any sort of editing, or vetting, because they need the pageviews. Righteous conservatives will link to it to make fun of hippies; irate progressives will link to it in order to get mad. This is the face, or rather death mask, of traditional media.

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