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Jack Applin


Things That I’ve Given Up On

Alas, there are so many hours in the day, and I’ve had to scale back some of my previous plans. Notably, I’ve officially given up on the following things:

Crocodile vs. Alligator (1999)

My goodness, they’re similar. I don’t live in an area that contains either one. If, by chance, I’m visiting Florida, and find myself being chased by one, I will shout “Look out!”, and point.

Indian Elephant vs. African Elephant (1999)

Same thing.

Cow vs. Bull (1999)

The term “cows” refers to all such bovine creatures, independent of sex.

I don’t care what farmers & ranchers call them. They have their own technical jargon, as do many professions. Similarly, dog breeders use the term “dog” to refer only to the male animal. That’s fine, but I don’t have to conform to their jargon.

Century/Millennium (January 2000)

The 21st century, and the 3rd millennium, started on January 1st, 2001. By now, all of our minds are made up, and nobody’s opinion will change.

Emails (April 2017)

The word “mail”, as in paper in envelopes, is plural. Nobody would say “I got a mail today”. They’d say “I got some mail”.

Similarly, the word “email” is plural. Avoid “I got an email today”. To be consistent, you should say “I got some email”, “I got email”, “I got a message”, or even “I got some mail”, since it’s usually obvious by context that you mean electronic mail.

Keep in mind, I’ve given up on these issues. If you have a clever way to distinguish types of elephants, a cunning argument about the start of the 21st century, or a desire to quote usage statistics, keep it to yourself!

Things That I Haven’t Given Up On

There are some things that I still work on:

  • the names for various sorts of horses
  • affect vs. effect
  • the difference between “Are you going?” and “Aren’t you going?”
  • its vs. it’s
  • envy vs. jealousy
  • Porcupine vs. Hedgehog
  • Tuba vs. Sousaphone
  • DEFCON levels: the most severe is 1, not 5