Sunday, September 18, 2005

People sometimes puzzle me

Out of professional interest, I've joined a listserv which deals with issues I deal with on a daily basis. Mostly, it's full of information I can't use or is of no interest, but occasionally there are gems. However, it is a high-traffic listserv and I don't get a chance to read every piece of email every day, so I'm still getting caught up.

Back in July, a discussion about aid for the Third World (in response to the Live 8 concert) was started. The person who started the discussion mentioned wealthier African nations, like South Africa and Rhodesia, were also receiving aid, while countries like Zimbabwe, which is a war-torn place, didn't receive as much attention.

Wait, back up a sec.

I had to double-check this, but I already knew I was right. Rhodesia is Zimbabwe. It has been since 1980.

Maybe the person was speaking in a historical context. They weren't - the person used the present tense in all cases. Maybe they were confused. Nope - the person made a very clear distinction between two places which are actually the same place. It bugged me to end when I read this, to such an extent that I had to share with my office partner*. He looked puzzled, and said pretty much the same thing - they were the same place.

What irritated me the most? There were several responses to the initial message, asking for statistics** and debating the finer points of foreign aid. But not one person called the original poster on the mistake.


* Oh yeah - I haven't mentioned this have I? I share my office with one of the new hires now. It's working out quite well - we get along famously.

** Including one request for current stats on Zimbabwe and Rhodesia.