Category Archives: Humor

Optionally/additionally as a grammatical alternative to and/or when the prior item(s) are essential

The grammatical construct “and/or” is frequently criticized for being unnecessary and/or ambiguous.

As a logical operator, when used in a list of two things (e.g., rice and/or beans), it implies that it is acceptable to have:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Items 1 and 2

However, having no items is unacceptable.

When used in a list of three things (e.g., rice, beans, and/or salsa), it implies that it is acceptable to have:

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
  • Item 3
  • Items 1 and 2
  • Items 1 and 3
  • Items 2 and 3
  • Items 1, 2, and 3

However, having no items is unacceptable.

This, obviously, is quite vague. Some have suggested just using “or” instead of and/or. However, “or” is also ambiguous in common language. This may be why APA style tolerates and/or, neither endorsing nor forbidding it.

Due to its vagueness and a lack of viable alternatives, and/or is used in many situations where it does not apply. One common instance is using and/or when you really mean to say “this item can be added, but the prior items are essential.” To address this, I propose a new grammatical construct: optionally/additionally.

Optionally/additionally has all the slashy goodness of and/or, but an air of sophistication. Sure, you could just say “and optionally,” but this isn’t strong enough at conveying that the subsequent item or items are optional add-ons, while simultaneously conveying that the prior item or items was/were essential.

For instance, when suggesting how to invest in equities, I would advise investing in a mutual fund of the whole U.S. stock market and optionally/additionally the whole international stock market (encompassing the whole world except the United States—the US is about 50% of the global market by market capitalization and all other countries sum to about 50%).

I would not want to say “the whole U.S. stock market and/or the whole international stock market” because the first item is essential, while the second item is not (depending on how bullish you are on the United States).

Of course, there are index funds that combine both the U.S. and international markets. For the equities portion of a portfolio, it would be fine to suggest investing in the whole U.S. stock market or the whole world stock market, but if we replace “whole world” with “international” (all other countries except the US), neither “or” nor “and/or” are acceptable, because both imply the first item is optional rather than mandatory. This is an example of when the optionally/additionally construct is useful.

I did not do extensive research into whether someone else has addressed this conundrum of grammar and logic. Please reply if you know of such sources. A Google search shows that optionally/additionally has been used three times before, but without elaboration on the grammatical or logical implications:

  1. On 2010-03-14, “GrapefruiTgirl” made this statement on the forum: Optionally/additionally, as your regular user, enter your ~/.fonts folder (or create it of there is none) and repeat the above three commands as regular user.
  2. On 2010-04-25, Michael S. from Vienna, Austria made this statement on TripAdvisor: Take the first train to Innsbruck which is a nice little city surrounded by majestic mountains. The city has a small but fine city center and you can easily and quickly go up to 2.300m above sea level by ropeway. Ex Innsbruck you could optionally/additionally visit the Karwendel Area with places like Seefeld and Mittenwald. The Karwendel Railway is known for spectacular views. Prepare for a long day but it is feasible!
  3. On 2016-11-15, “horst” made this statement on the application programming interface (API) discussion board in the ProcessWire content management system (CMS) forum: Optionally / additionally interesting in this regard maybe the weighten option of Pia here.

From these examples it appears optionally/additionally is most relevant to fastidious Austrians and computer programmers, but its slashy goodness remains undiscovered by the rest of Googleable humanity. A search of additionally/optionally reveals more than 20 uses, but I prefer emphasizing the optionality before communicating the supplementary nature of the subsequent items (and, consequently and implicity, the necessity of the preceding items), so additionally/optionally is of less interest to me.

Introducing the “Blame Yourself” Movement


Are you tired of people not taking personal responsibility for their lives? Do excuses make you say “puh-leeze”? If so, the time has come for you to introduce your colleagues to the “Blame Yourself” movement.

“Blame Yourself” is a movement that solves many of the so-called “problems” and “injustices” of the world. Individuals can use self-blame as a tool to take 100% responsibility for everything that happens in their lives. While the “law” of attraction says that what happens in your life is dependent on the “vibes” you give off to the “universe,” “Blame Yourself” is much simpler. Whatever happens to or around you is your fault. No need to worry about what you are “attracting.”

“Blame Yourself” does not mean you are responsible for other people’s problems. In fact, you are welcome to encourage them to blame themselves. This means that if you allegedly offend someone else, they should blame themselves for feeling offended. While this new system may be rocky at first, once we can get everyone 100% on-board with self-blame, human life will be much simpler and more productive.

“Blame Yourself” can even be applied to problems which have been historically thought of as collective social injustices that affected individuals have no control over. This is great, because it means we can remove the burden of responsibility from social, cultural, economic, and governmental structures and strictures. Now, we just blame alleged “victims” for their problems. This completely removes the need to pursue social justice. In fact, it’s an example of social Darwinism in action, because people will either survive or perish from the pressure of self-blame.

“Blame Yourself” completely eliminates the need for insurance. In fact, it would be paradoxical for insurance companies to exist once self-blame is fully implemented. If something bad happens to your house, car, or body, then you can just blame yourself for not being better prepared or for not avoiding that situation.

One of the potential problems with “Blame Yourself” is that people may commit criminal acts with abandon. Fortunately, the “victims” of these acts can choose to blame themselves for allowing themselves to be targets. Therefore, they may be better prepared next time, such as by obtaining a concealed weapons permit. If a subsequent attacker gets the drop on them, they can just blame themselves for not being more alert.

“Blame Yourself” has already been implemented by the U.S. military. When civilians are injured or killed, they are encouraged to blame themselves. They knew what they were getting into when they went to church or school in a warzone. Collateral damage is always the responsibility of the victims. The simply failed to make wiser choices. This is a smart model, because it absolves warfighters from debilitating emotions such as anger and remorse. This allows them to maintain optimal productivity.

“Blame Yourself” could instantly eliminate the U.S. national deficit. In fact, it eliminates the need for all services entirely. Schools and power plants do not need to function, because if any child or adult lacks for education or electrical power, they can just Blame Themselves™. While this would produce anarchy in our present society, assuming we get everyone on board with self-blame, such a society would be close to paradise.

The one big problem with the “Blame Yourself” movement is that it requires 100% cooperation from the entire population. This would be very difficult to implement, because people tend to not want to Blame Themselves™ unless everyone else is doing it. However, a deeper analyses reveals that this is actually a strength, because it is 100% impossible to disprove that “Blame Yourself” would not work, because such a system could never be implemented. Therefore, “Blame Yourself” is in good company. According to Wikipedia, an authoritative source, 85% of the human population believes in a religion. These religions, like “Blame Yourself,” are based on faith, because they are 100% incapable of being disproved. Therefore, if it’s possible to get 85% of the human population to believe in something that shares this essential characteristic of “Blame Yourself,” then we could surely implement “Blame Yourself” by subtly changing their religions over time.

Thus, it stands to reason that the 15% of people who refuse to subscribe to “Blame Yourself” would be Supermen™ and Superwomen™ in a class unto themselves. Their responsibility would be implementing and ensuring compliance among the proletarians. These 15% would not really need “Blame Yourself,” yet they may find themselves strangely envious of the self-blaming masses…

Teaching at Its Worst

As a student in Preparing Tomorrow’s Faculty, a free not-for-credit program for graduate students at University of Central Florida, I am reading Teaching at Its Best: A Research-Based Resource for College Instructors by Linda B. Nilson. I thought it would be amusing to come up with some ideas for chapters or sections of Teaching at Its Worst, a textbook that exists only in my mind.

How to overcome the efficacious learner
Competitive grading strategies
Increasing participation with pop quizzes
Imposing your agenda on students
Honor trials in the classroom

Lowering grades with subtractive credit
Detecting plagiarism with Google Maps
How to prevent students from emailing you
Syllabi with teeth
Applying the DMCA to

Setting boundaries when dating your students
Exceptions to “there are no stupid questions”
13 rules for drinking with your students
Making students better listeners
Cell phone jammers and you

Never do yard work again
10 ideas for a surprise field trip
Grading papers using friends and family
Incorporating GRE vocabulary into your lecture
Crushing your students’ hopes and dreams