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Words and all that


A South Bend Tribune writer, in describing a new play, unintentionally revealing the decline of civilization:

SOUTH BEND -- The ex-patriot bar owner. The falsely accused innocent man on the run.

The down-and-out broad.

Geddon tired of this

Does anybody else think this particular play on word is getting tiresome?

"Carmageddon" is the name Los Angeles residents are giving the inevitable and likely epic traffic tie-up that will result when a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway is closed for construction from Friday night to Monday morning between two of the nation's busiest interchanges.

I'm busy

Well, well

Not quite three hours back, and I already feel a fit of nitpicky pique coming on. The Terre Haue Tribune Star had a story about water quality --

Town residents hope to get to the bottom of well-water concerns affecting that northside neighborhood at a public forum Thursday evening.

Gail Phillips, president of the Terre Town Community Association, said the meeting will be hosted inside the Terre Town Elementary School at 6:30 p.m., and the public is encouraged to attend.

Dums da dums dums

Allow me to be a pedantic nitpicker here. According to a news release from Indiana University, "Despite school referenda failures on Tuesday, Indiana now a referenda state." Boy, that grates on my ears. From the personal blog of Lord Norton, professor at Hull University and member of the House of Lords:

Away, cursed pain!

Less than perfect

"Perfect" isn't quite one of those absolutes like "unique." There are markers along the way to perfection, which is why the Constitution can refer to a "more perfect union." But what do various degrees of perfection mean? Based on my reading of this story, I realize I may not have a clear understanding of "almost" perfect.

Catch my drift?

Here's a good thumb-sucker on how to know when to stop using a word's original definition when its meaning is changing through common usage:

Suppose a friend said to you, "I know you're disinterested, so I want to ask you a question presently." Then he didn't say anything. Would you be momentarily nonplussed?

This is choice

If President Obama's rhetoric is starting to turn off even Ruth Marcus, it might be time to hire some new speechwriters, or get a new logic book:

It's time to retire the false choice.

As a rhetorical device, particularly as a political rhetorical device, the false choice has outlived its usefulness, if it ever had any. The phrase has become a trite substitute for serious thinking. It serves too often to obscure rather than to explain.

Terms of engagement


We are at war, incoming NEA executive director John Stocks told the unions board of directors last month, outlining a plan to keep NEA from joining the private sector industrial unions in a slow, steady decline into irrelevancy to anyone outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee.