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The burden of my English degree

I was finishing up lunch in my office’s cafeteria area and was about to throw my paper sack away when I noticed the following, uh, notice above the trash can:

GARBAGE ONLY IN THIS RECEPTACLE!

It gave me pause! Doesn’t any conceivable item become garbage upon introduction to the receptacle? Are they alleging that only a priori rubbish can be placed there? Or are they expressing the same tautology I thought about — that placing any item into the bin transforms it to garbage? (Obviously they’re trying to distinguish “garbage” from “recycling,” but this is how I think.)

It reminded me of trying to buy some plastic utensils and noticing that most brands were proudly advertised as “shatter-resistant.” Well, obviously, since the forks aren’t lying in microscopic shards on the bottom of the box they possess some degree of shatter resistance; but then, I challenge you to name one substance (short of Einsteinium) which doesn’t.

Posted in Musings.


5 Responses

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  1. Dean-O says

    College does horrible things to you, eh?

  2. soulphysics says

    What! Nothing is shatter resistant if you wait long enough. That’s just the 2nd law.

  3. Zach Musgrave says

    I also noticed the other day that it’s spelled RECEPTICLE.

  4. Pete says

    I find amusing ways to misinterpret signs all the time. You might imagine that sign actually meaning that that “RECEPTACLE’ is designated the ONLY place in the WORLD where garbage may be deposited.

    Also amusing, is the sign at the Sweet Tomatoes buffet I frequent: “Customers must eat all food on premises.” I know it’s all salads and stuff, but I would be impressed to see someone eat ALL the food on the premises.

  5. Bryan says

    Another one of my all-time favorites are those “watch children” signs. There’s one right next to my house, and I can’t help but feel dirty every time I read it.
    http://www.mathpropress.com/stan/crossings/ChildrenText/WatchChildren.jpg



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