How I Stopped Worrying and Learned I Could Care Less about Couldn’t Caring Less

I’m a big David Mitchell fan, he’s a great actor, speaker, has an amazing a sense of humor and his writing is bloomin’ brilliant. I also loved his video podcast series David Mitchell’s Soapbox, which started all the way back in the forgotten mists of 2009. Now David has dozens of brilliant episodes of Soapbox, but arguably his most famous episode is one you’ve probably seen trotted out across the internet in one form or another- Dear America…, in which he discusses in classic Mitchell style, among other things, the nonsensical phrase “I could care less”.

Fine, right? Great! Funny. A nice side-line two-minute video to make you laugh. Not as good as some of his other episodes, but a classic nonetheless. Maybe, however, could we stop talking about this possibly incorrect use of a phrase as if it’s some kind of deadly virus that needs to be knocked out before we all succumb to the horrors of using idioms that are factually inaccurate? “What do you mean ‘why am I feeling blue’?! That’s a colour not a feeling, get him! Burn the witch!”

"Ugh okay okay, I get it fewer then not less than!"

“Ugh I get it- fewer than, not less than!”

This is nothing against David Mitchell, who merely pointed out this interesting development of a phrase for comic effect. No, the problem I have is with the hordes of internet and grammar aficionados/know-it-alls that use this video as some irrefutable logic bomb, and insist that this injustice in speech needs to be pointed out at every available opportunity as an example of either the English language going to the dogs (see: Eats, shoots and Leaves), or America being a bunch of dummies who say stuff they don’t understand (see: edgy teenagers). I think this also falls into the larger category of people co-opting someone’s opinion as fact, and that will point to something like Louis CK’s or Chris Rock’s stand-up-routines as a reason or justification that we should all be allowed to use gay slurs or the n-word because “It’s just language! I don’t mean it to be offensive! It’s your fault if you’re offended!”.

So where does “I could care less” actually come from anyway? Well, we don’t know for sure. It’s impossible, really, to pin down the first usage of the phrase and there are various theories. Dictionary.com rightfully points out that the phrase is an idiom, and guess what? Idioms don’t have to make logical sense:

“In English, along with other languages, idioms are not required to follow logic, and to point out the lack of logic in one idiom and not all idioms is…illogical.”

Similarly, the first recorded usage of “I couldn’t care less” only precedes “I could care less” by around 10 years. Although the Dictionary.com article refutes it, the best theory I’ve heard of the phrases etymology is that it originated from Yiddish adoption of the term. Yiddish speakers dropped the negative couldn’t as part of pattern of self-deprecating/sarcastic phrasing that is common in Yiddish heritage and New York Jewish speech. Just as how Yiddish communities popularized the phrase “I should be so lucky!” (which actually tends to mean “I have no hope of being so lucky!”), “I could care less!” sort of follows that sort of delivery and speech pattern when presented that way.
Another phrase that is more generally American is “Tell me about it!” which really means “Don’t tell me about it, because I know all about it already” but follows this sarcastic style.

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Again, There’s no actual documented evidence of this, but I always liked that explanation as it felt like the most believable and understandable to me, (mainly because when you say it in the voice of a plucky sarcastic rabbi from New York, it doesn’t sound nearly as out-of-place).

So maybe let’s just accept I could care less for what it is: an idiom that doesn’t really have to make sense in any way, and just another example of how cool and evolutionary the use of English is without having to point it out as wrong at every available opportunity. Maybe, in fact, we should look at what is probably the best episode of Soapbox, in which David’s friend and co-writer Robert Webb comes on to quite rightfully point out the hypocrisy and generally nit-picky nature in many of Mitchell’s arguments. At the end of the day, David’s arguments are funny. They’re well presented, well-research and most of the time technically correct, but that doesn’t make it undeniably right, and it certainly doesn’t make it a crutch for you to then go and beat every person with who wants to use a phrase of speech differently than you online or in real life. In the end, can’t we all just get along?

 

 

 

The Sunday Night Sketchbook 04/01/15

Happy New Year! Oh shiii, we’ve passed a year since our very first Sunday Night Sketchbook! That sure is a thing. Anyway, I recently got my new Microsoft Surface Pro (which I’ll hopefully do a sort of review of later but spoiler: it is incredible) and I’ve been doodling, drawing and sketching like crazy in it for practice! So buckle up bubs for some Sunday Night Surface Sketchbook action! Enjoy!

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The shape I took from a picture of Ghost Rider, but the colouring is all me, and that makes me proud! Part of my “Why is OMGChad’s hair so red?” tumblr set!

My little cousin asked for a town on the back of a turtle. Next Terry Pratchett over here.

My little cousin asked for a town on the back of a turtle. Next Terry Pratchett over here.

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The Sunday Night Sketchbook 14/12/2140

We’re back! With another Sunday Night Sketchbook! It’s been a while since our last one, but I’ve done a few individual posts here and there about the bigger pieces I’ve done, and between that and university work, there’s not been many other drawings to show off! However this week I took part in WMC Season 12.5, which was a livestreamed minecraft tournament, and so I’ve been doing some sketches and posters for that. I’m going home tomorrow for Christmas and my new toy, a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 should be waiting for me so hopefully I’ll be doing a lot more artwork once I have a more portable computer! Either way, enjoy this week’s edition!

WMC cast Wallpaper

First up- WMC! This is the wallpaper I did to advertise the WMC livestream I took part in, and I’m super pleased with it! I re-used a couple of assets from older drawings (poses etc), but I didn’t have time to add in some cool text that I was planning, so the pretty poor typography had to do. Still though, super happy with it!

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Juggling: It Takes Balls

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What is the earliest film to depict Juggling? Well if the Juggling Information Service’s frankly exhausting list of ‘films that depict juggling’ is anything to go by, the credit goes to two French documentaries from 1895 and 1896; Assiettes tournantes, which is “Reported to contain juggling” according to the JIS, and Jongleur javanais, which “Shows a juggler from Java”. Despite the rather retro geo-cities appearance of the JIS’s website, the 391 strong list has been updated almost every year and it goes to show the dedication and passion people still have to that skill of what the ancient Chinese called “throwing multiple objects up and down without dropping” (a pretty timeless description if you ask me). The history and depiction of juggling may stretch as far back to Egypt around 1994 BCE, according to what appears to be a wall painting of toss-juggling. From then on, it’s description and depictions pop up all over the world, from Ancient China around 800BC, to Greece 600 years later, and then the Roman Empire and even Ireland in the early ADs. Most interestingly however, is that juggling wasn’t the mere parlour trick we might see it as today- it seems in the past, juggling proficiency often spoke volumes of agility and prowess on the battlefield.

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Personalities In Space

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I’m calling it- probably the most exciting news this year was that of the Rosetta mission, which after 10 years of traveling managed to get the European Space Agencies Philae lander onto the surface of a comet hurtling through space at 84000 mile an hour. It’s really hard for me to actually conceptualize that happening, that somewhere millions of miles away, after billions of miles of traveling, a tiny wee metal box a bunch of shirt-wearing humans made is lying slightly precariously on cliff on a rock that is about the same size as a LEGO Deathstar if it was made to scale with the minifigs (now THERE’S a statistic I can get behind!).

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A Map of Mindcrack

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So, not “The Sunday Night Sketchbook“, but it’s some art, and it’s mine! I finished The Map of Mindcrack last night, which is a picture that started off as a wee joke before developing into a piece I was actually really pleased with. I only wish I had realised earlier how much I was going to develop it so I could have drawn it at a much higher resolution and with more detail! Live and you learn, I guess.

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