I have a sneaky liking for obsessives, even the ones who make me go, ‘Bloody hell! Why bother?’ Tegestologists fall into this category, as do phillumenists. People who collect useless objects are almost always men, as indeed are aircraft spotters and railway enthusiasts, aka train spotters. Women tend to go for things with some practical use, hence the shoe collections of Imelda Marcos and my ex-wife.
News emerged this morning of a man who obsessively corrects the grammar on Wikipedia entries. One Bryan Henderson, a 51 year old grammar freak, has so far corrected about 47,000 entries. One that was specifically mentioned in my newspaper of choice, the i, was his objection to the phrase ‘comprised of.’ I myself am not so certain that this is incorrect, but we’ll let it slide for the time being.
Mr Henderson’s obsession is truly lunatic, really out where the air is thin. He may need to get out a bit more. Just how much time has he devoted to this hobby of his? He could probably have built a sailing dinghy from scratch and learned how to sail it by now. There is another reason it’s lunatic, aside from pedantry of the highest order. Correcting grammar on Wikipedia is a fool’s errand. It’s like fiddling while Rome burns, which, incidentally, Nero did not do since the violin had yet to be invented. I bet Bryan loves that phrase.
The reason is this. The grammar does not matter because Wikipedia is notorious for factual errors. It’s riddled with misinformation. It’s just plain wrong a lot of the time. Prettying things up won’t make a scrap of difference to the inaccuracies, will it? It’s hugely flawed so making the flaws read properly is pointless.
I wish Mr Henderson luck with some of the most obscure entries. They appear to have been written in Esperanto, or translated from Magyar by somebody whose first language is Mandarin. Completely impenetrable.
One last obsession. Some nutcase on Facebook posted yesterday on how the colour of your snot tells you your state of health. If this was a serious entry, it raises the question of what colour is the snot of a deranged person? Funnily enough, if the post was not serious, it raises the same question.
Please note. The snot thing does NOT beg the question. It raises the question. Begging the question is what politicians are proficient at, and means to evade a direct answer. Bryan would be proud of me for that one, I’m sure.