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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Intensely Tense about Tense, to the Tenth degree.
To PBS: NOVA, Your narrative is hopelessly illiterate because of your unpredictable shifts from the present tense (which is WRONG for reporting past, historic events) to the past tense, to the past participle and other incomprehensible usage of the verbs and the facts. This is supposed to be educational, coherent, scholarly material. You are not doing CBS's "You Are There," the gimmicky Mike Wallace history reenactment program of the 1950s, you know. You are doing SCIENCE!!!
The present tense in such usage is a cheap, amateurish, rhetorical trick to generate stress, urgency, concern, and emotions in the viewer, NOT wisdom, analysis, reason, thoughtfulness, or learning. You are doing a disservice to the public, the viewer, and your subject. Hyperbole to excess; Injecting drama where no exaggeration is necessary; and Using completely inappropriate language (like "cataclysmic," and "accident of geography" [as if there ever could be such a thing]) and so on, just makes you sound as stupid as the ignoramuses that you interviewed who had refused to go to high ground before the storm! You left out the violins.
Suggest that you re-enable your word processor's grammar checker there, PhDs.