Archive for the Language Category

Excellence In Journalism? Time For A True Trophy (September 24, 2012)

Posted in Awards / Incentives, English Language, Facebook, Google, Journalism, Language, Newspapers, Press/Media, Writing on September 27, 2012 by e-commentary.org

. . .

J1          “Awards shape behavior.”

J2          “The palette of Pulitzers runs the spectrum from purple prose to yellow journalism.”

J1          “And the Pulitzers for black and white journalism run the route from The New York Times group of writers to The Washington Post Writers Group, with a few side shows.  The trophy could be transported on the Eastern Airlines shuttle between the New York and Washington airports named for political types, with a few side trips.”

J2          “I concede that the Pulitzers generally reward solid work, yet they only consider conventional and narrowly defined writing drawn from an exclusive clique of writers.”

J1          “They are an exclusive group because they exclude not because of excellence.  Then the Online News Association Awards emerged to emphasize ‘high-tech bells and whistles’ rather than quality and integrity.  The corporate sponsors call the shots.  The Googles and the Facebooks buy the beer and balloons and make the party possible.  Gobs of gaudy high-tech gadgets on a screen define journalism.”

J2          “But in the end that is what the readership wants.  Journalists cannot lose sight of the legitimate needs and concerns of the reader.  We need to sell the product without selling out.” 

J1          “Journalism needs a new way of thinking and a new award.  Awards shape behavior.”

. . .

[J1 = Journalist 1; J2 = . . . ]

Bumper stickers of the week:

Here today, gone today

Where’s the tofu?

Too much sizzle, not enough tofu

Writing The Long Song (September 26, 2011)

Posted in Journalism, Language, Society, Writing on September 26, 2011 by e-commentary.org

. . .

2          “So you’re suggesting that Bill Shakespeare is sleeping off a bender on someone’s davenport.  We just need to give him a few more hours to resurface.”

1          “Bill is dead.  And alive.  In a way.  Mortal and immortal.  Not breathing but still singing.”

. . .

2          “So you say that a jour-nalist doesn’t quite achieve immortality, yet a jour-nalist adds, like, seven years to the actuarials.”

1          “As long as they don’t drink and smoke.  Jour-nalists contribute too.”

2          “Could they just drink or just smoke?  They are jour-nalists, they do need a smoke or an adult beverage or two.  Or at least a bad habit or two.”

. . .

2          “What if you write for a weekly or a monthly?  What if you are more than a jour-nalist yet less that a novelist?”

. . .

1          “The grim reaper has been on the back swing since we skidded across the maternity room floor.  Yet, the good song can reverberate long after we sign off and move on.”

. . .

Bumper stickers of the week:

“After publication of [Magnum Opus], [Celebrated Writer] achieved immortality for all time and died seventeen years later.”

“Unknown during his life, [Writer’s] three unpublished manuscripts found among his papers three years after his death establish his immortality among his peers.”

Mortality does stink; immortality would stink.

(M)End The Fed (July 11, 2011)

Posted in Antitrust, Banks and Banking System, Bernanke, Crime/Punishment, Federal Reserve, Language, Law, Monopoly, O'Bama, Politics on July 11, 2011 by e-commentary.org

. . .

K          “The vocal critics of the Fed are missing the point.  Stated simply, every nation needs a central bank, but the Big Banks own and operate the Federal Reserve.  Stated another way, the country tolerates a misunderstood institution – the Federal Reserve – that is an unrestrained cancer and at the same time lacks an institution it desperately needs – a central bank independent of excessive political and any private interference.”

L          “A transparent central bank?”

K          “Call it whatever you want.”

L          “A responsive central bank?”

K          “Responsive to something other than Big Banks.  Bernanke* should have the intellect to understand the problem and the integrity to compel change, yet even he may take his marching orders from others.”

L          “He, Geithner and the others either assisted in creating the problem or allowed it to fester and permutate.  Now O’Bama is serving the interests of the financial industry at a time when his Department of Justice should be serving members of the financial industry with sub poenas and criminal indictments.  What incentive it there for him to reform the financial industry or the Fed.  Simply look at who he is soliciting for campaign contributions.”

K          “He was caught.  He simply could not get elected and cannot get reelected without the money.  No one is able to identify one industry in America that is not completely monopolized today.  Banks are among the biggest offenders.  Without a market, there is not a market and are not market forces.  Change likely will not come until there is a complete economic collapse.  That situation may generate enough sustained interest and desperation among those who can change affairs to reform the system.”

L          “Or the catastrophe may not leave any choice.” 

. . .

Bumper stickers of the week:

Antitrust Chief Flees; Monopolies Reign Freely

Because you don’t have to do the time, do the crime

Big sticker; small font sans serifs; big bumper:

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

BEFORE THE

BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM

WASHINGTON, D.C.

___________________________________

Written Agreement by and between

BIG BANK,

New York, New York

And

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK,

New York, New York

___________________________________

.          WHEREAS, in recognition of their common goal to maintain the financial soundness of Big Bank (the “Big Bank”), a nationally chartered bank that is a member of the Federal Reserve System, the Big Bank and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (the “Reserve Bank”) have mutually agreed to enter into this Written Agreement (the “Agreement”).

.          NOW, THEREFORE, the Bank and the Reserve Bank agree as follows:

  1. Within ninety (90) days of this Agreement, the board of directors of the Big Bank shall submit to the Reserve Bank a written plan to divest itself of any and all deposits and assets in excess of one hundred billion dollars ($100,000,000,000.00) . . . .

Less Government Regulation Series: English Language (March 16, 2009)

Posted in Language, Less Government Regulation Series on March 16, 2009 by e-commentary.org

The English language is vexing, illogical, inconsistent, and beautiful, mellifluous and inspiring.  Make it sing.  Don’t pass legislation making it mandatory or exclusive.  Let the market decide.

Life would be easier if English were always the default selection on a telephone menu of options.  State in the foreign language to push “2” for the foreign language.  Those who know the language won’t care; those who don’t know won’t care.  Never fear, the children of immigrants always have learned and will learn English.

Post Script:  When all is said, English will remain number 1.

Bumper sticker of the week:

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.

2) The farm was used to produce produce.

3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.

4) We must polish the Polish furniture.

5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.

6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

10) I did not object to the object.

11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row .

13) They were too close to the door to close it.

14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.

15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.

16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.

17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.

18) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.

19) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.

20) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language.  There is no egg in eggplant, nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.  English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France.  Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.  We take English for granted.  But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham?  If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn’t the plural of booth, beeth?  One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?  Doesn’t it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?  If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it?

If teachers taught, why didn’t preachers praught?  If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?  Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?  Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?  Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?  You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.  That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

P.S. – Why doesn’t ‘Buick’ rhyme with ‘quick’

You lovers of the English language might enjoy this:

There is a two-letter word that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that is ‘UP.’

It’s easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP?  At a meeting, why does a topic come UP?  Why do we speak UP and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report?

We call UP our friends.  And we use it to brighten UP a room, polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car.  At other times the little word has real special meaning.  People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses.  To be dressed is one thing, but to be dressed UP is special.

And this UP is confusing:  A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP.  We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night.

We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP!  To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary.  In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4th of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions.  If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used.  It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more.  When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP.  When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP.

When it rains, it wets the earth and often messes things UP.

When it doesn’t rain for awhile, things dry UP.

One could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it UP, for now my time is UP, so………… it is time to shut UP!

Oh . . . one more thing:

What is the first thing you do in the morning and the last thing you do at night?

Walk The Walk, Talk The Talk (April 9, 2007)

Posted in Gay Politics, Language on April 9, 2007 by e-commentary.org

The Iraqi Study Group notes:  “All of our efforts in Iaw, military and civilian, are handicapped by Americans’ lack of knowledge and cultural understanding.  Our embassy of 1,000 has 33 Arabic speakers, just six of whom are at the level of fluency.  In a conflict that demands effective and efficient communication with Iraqis, we are often at a disadvantage.”  Lay off (or retrain) 600 staff members at the embassy and hire 60 Arabic speakers.  The Arabic speakers don’t exist.  They don’t exist because Bush does not want them to exist.

The military discharges individuals who could save fellow soldiers and the Republic.  The policy is billed as “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”  The Don’t Think policy.  That seems to be the policy of the entire Bush administration.  The military should encourage and promote those individuals who can tell the American story in Arabic and understand the language and culture and history of Arabic countries.

The government should build its own army of interpreters.  The Marshall Plan meets Sputnik meets Berlitz. Those who express an interest in Arabic or Farsi or Mandarin or _________ (any language) should be given substantial stipends.  (Hybrid) cars, (healthy?) pizza and, yes, beer money.  There should be $100,000 signing bonuses.  If you talk the (Arabic) talk, you get to walk the walk.

Bumper sticker of the week:

Honk if parts are falling off

Put me in coach (April 2, 2007)

Posted in Language, Society on April 2, 2007 by e-commentary.org

“Put me in coach.”  Not the game.  The game of life.  A coach can win and satisfy his (or her) shareholders (the athletic department/division and ‘lums) and still educate the kids.  Direct, encourage, cajole and harass the kids at every opportunity to get into the classroom and take advantage of the opportunity given to them to learn.  Conduct practices once a week in Spanish and French (Arabic, Farsi, Mandarin?). Conduct soccer practices in both English and Spanish.  (“Centro, centro”, “otra vez”, “pelota”)  Someone who can motivate them to play on the court/field/pitch can motivate them to attend class.  Playing in the PTA is more important in the long run than playing in the NBA.  Infect them with ideas.

“The young man walks by himself, fast but not fast enough, far but not far enough (faces slide out of sight, talk trails into tattered scraps, footsteps tap faster in alleys); he must catch the last subway, the streetcar, the bus, run up the gangplanks of all the steamboats, register at all the hotels, work in the cities, answer the want ads, learn the trades, take up the jobs, live in all the boardinghouses, sleep in all the beds.  One bed is not enough, one job is not enough, one life is not enough …”  John Dos Passos.

There is some inconsequential game on tv tonight.  The real game is going on outside the coliseum.

Bumper sticker of the week:

Life happens while you’re making plans

Black, Yellow, White, Brown, Red and Green: An E-ssayer on Immigration (March 28, 2005)

Posted in Immigration, Language, Military, Race on March 28, 2005 by e-commentary.org

“We’ll give some land to the niggers and the chinks, but we don’t want the Irish,” the mayor observed in the movie Blazing Saddles (1974).  If America can survive the invasion of the Irish, it can survive anything, even the invasion of the Hispanics.  Even a half-breed who is 1/4 Irish can hold down at least a part-time job in this land of easy living.

The southern invasion of Mexicans across the American border is causing anxiety.  Republicans decried illegal immigration at their convention in San Diego while ordering high balls from the “illegals” working the room.  Repubs hire “illegals” and do not pay minimum wages or unemployment taxes, if they pay the “illegals” at all.  By maintaining the pool of “illegal” workers, Repubs are able to cut labor costs substantially.  The “illegals” do the work that 1) regular ‘Mericans will not do that also 2) cannot be outsourced.  Even with today’s technology, an Indian (from India that is) cannot mow our lawns, make our beds, or raise our kids.

Is the invasion calculated and organized with a secret agenda?  Land acquisition principles over time are revealing.  A young American country expanded geographically in the 19th century by buying land (Louisiana Purchase; Alaska) from countries that did not own the land (France; Russia).  The land was stolen, fair and square.  Time and practices change.  One of the central lessons of the 20th century is that the world will allow a country to take another country by investment but not by invasion (Germany; Japan; China in the current century).  The American landscape and mapa may change.  “California” and “Baja California” may become “Alto Peninsular” and “Peninsular.”  What will happen when (blue) California and the (red) swath running from the Gadsden Purchase region, through Texas and the Southern Southern states become the de facto 30th province of Mexico?  What will happen depends on what we want.  It’s that simple.

Someone once said that stereotypes are unfair, but they are earned.  What stereotype have these people earned?  Are they hard working or lazy?  Are they patriotic or provincial?  Are they selfless or selfish?  The “-ezs” (Alvarez, Fernandez, Gonzalez, Hernandez, Lopez, Martinez, Ordonez, Perez, Ramirez, Rodriquez, Sanchez, Torrez, Valazquez, etc.) have contributed a disproportionate share of blood to the recent blood drives conducted by the U.S. military.  Seems that such a contribution suggests hard work and patriotism and selflessness.  The answer is simple.  They are in large part what they are allowed to be.  By us.

The War on Immigrants is like most of the wars that America initiates.  There is no strategic thought and no thoughtful strategy.  By forcing the illegals to act illegally, they are being taught to behave illegally and are learning to behave illegally.  Once here (which they will be), they will maintain a distant, distrustful and confrontational relationship with all the institutions that they otherwise might support if they were allowed to support them and be supported by them.  They will never trust authority or an individual in a uniform, even a fireman or a park ranger or a brownie scout.  They will fear every uniform except the one they wear proudly, the one that allows them to sport the combat infantryman badge.

The immigrants who are allowed to participate above ground in the economy will be subject to taxes easily collected even if unwillingly remitted by their employers.  All the whining about the aging baby boomers may be moot if there is a new pool of imported labor into the country.  The fundamental and growing problem they will also confront, however, is that America cannot competitively produce goods and provide services that are sought by other countries.  Perhaps they will have a solution or be part of the solution.

What about language?  The language of the USA is and should be American English.  The critical documents and the laws and the literature are crafted in American English.  Whether it should have been German or French or Gaelic or Swahili is now moot.  The country should not adopt bilingual status such as our more enlightened neighbor to the north.  Different traditions; different history; different concerns.  English is a bugger of a language to learn except at one’s mother’s breast.  There should be many specially tailored programs to make the transition and the translation as easy and seamless as possible.  Lessons in both languages in school are appropriate and desirable, particularly in the younger grades.  Bilingual signs and directions aid Americans who should be learning Spanish.  The signs act as public flash cards; the bilingual instructions are free homework assignments with the answers provided in American.  The welcoming sign should say “Rio Grande / Big River”; translations into Mandarin and Cantonese would be prescient.  At the end of the day, however, everyone should be expected to speak and write in American English.  Did the German immigrants learn English?  Did the French immigrants learn English?  Did even the Irish immigrants learn the peasant language of the invaders?  Will the new immigrants learn the language?  Sure.  Make the transition smooth and pleasant.

Because no one can win la Casa Blanca without the Hispanic vote, both political parties will be patronizing and condescending.  This reality offers great promise.  Imagine Paul Rodriquez as Ambassador to the United Nations.  Imagine welcoming new citizens who become welcomed citizens.

Samuel Huntington does not need to fret.  Everything’s cool.  We will get precisely what we want and cultivate from this new wave.  Do we really know what we want?