ezra on literalness
It occurs to me I don't think I've ever seen someone fail to understand figurative language because of a basic inability. Rather, geeks use it as a dodge: if you can't quickly respond to what someone's really saying, it remains easy to put the words together literally and answer that. You might get a laugh, and you can't be accused of being wrong!
The post is great -- it's short, so go read the whole thing. I'm guilty of this occasionally, but it's a habit I'm trying to cure myself of. It's the verbal equivalent of fisking (which I hate), and is damaging to real conversation and communication.