Tag Archives: media

Grammar Grossiosities

These are a few handy reminders of how to avoid appearing as though you are from Loma Linda or spend all day watching re-runs of the Khardasians.  These are the words and phrases that should be shunned at all costs and is an easy way to elevate your communication skills and certainly make you seem more erudite.

Totally–What are you a Valley Girl?  Even if you are drop it, totally.  You can always try completely, entirely or how about dropping any adjective altogether.  Next thing you’ll be describing someone as totally dead.

Just–You are almost always better off not using that word.   Simply eliminate it.  It should   only be used when you definitely need to make a point of emphasis.

Really–Really, you are best advised to drop this one also under nearly ever circumstance.  Again, this should be used when making an exclamatory remark and that should be a relatively rare event.  I mean most events and circumstances don’t call for that  “shouting” type lingo.  You can always try truly or even verily if you are of the more formal bent.

So–So what?  Gee whiz where in the world did this usage spring from?  It is completely, totally unnecessary word.   Silence before you begin your sentence if so much more elegant.  So are we totally clear on that?

Hey–the TV reporters seem particularly determined to use this every time they are introduced but it has spread like an unwanted linguistic virus.  It you feel compelled to make a greeting how about hello, how are you or if you wish to raise you level you could even use ahoy.   After all that was the preferred greeting of Bell for the phone but surprise, surprise it never totally caught on with the public.  The best advice is to start speaking without any lead in.

Like–Like, totally this is so juvenile and a waste of verbiage.  Drop it.  It will raise your IQ in the opinion of your listener 10 points automatically.

Lean in–What the devil is this supposed to mean?   Try harder, fight harder?  Don’t give up.  Assert yourself?  Exactly what is it you are leaning over or into?  You can do better than that.

Good or Great question–I am worn out hearing that remark.  Go straight to the response.  If it is actually a great question if will be self-evident without note.  If the questioner is bright enough to ask a good question they will be bright enough to not need needless and pointless praise.  Hopefully they don’t need the “good job” all those helicopter moms give their 7 year olds for merely walking onto the soccer field.

Awesome–How many events or occurrences in life are awesome?   My wedding, my children’s births and a hand full of athletic or business accomplishments fill out the resume for me and probably you.  The word should only be used like a fine family heirloom and worn for special occasions only.   Today suggesting a Big Mac is met with the “awesome” response, how demeaning to fine old word.

Here’s the thing–Oh, is it right there beside you?  I was looking everywhere.  Don’t use this expression.  You’ll like totally appear smarter.  It has the same linguistic value as clearing one’s throat before speaking.

Now for a few goodies for the knuckle -draggers out there that equate the sports pages with Samuel Johnson’s essays.

Physicality–What?  Those sportscasters that use this are falling into the verbal pits.  Are they talking about agility? Speed, Stamina, strength, sense of balance.  We all know they sure are not referencing the IQ of those NFL players they are describing.  I never met a physicality I liked.  But I admire physical attributes.  Oh,,,,,maybe that is what they are talking about.

Mentality–Well, first I need to observe that it is reassuring to know that there is anything mental whatsoever about those defensive ends pounding bodies into dust and start and end every sentence with “you know”.  One can only assume, generously, that it is a reference to mental attitude, one’s mental mien or an attitude of determination and emotional resilience if face of some adversity.  Can we take as a given that they are not referring to those folks as mental cases?  Both of these last two are tragic examples of language being sucked into an abyss of the lowest common denominator of cultural linguistic abuse.

Body of work–How in the world did these sports guys every latch onto this tidbit.  It has historically been used to discuss the career and works of artists.  A cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons now has a body of work.  Really, like I totally thought he was a grown man playing a game that would have no lasting impact on mankind.  But I guess now I should think anew and realize that his play is the equivalent of da Vinci.

So, you can like close your books we have leaned in on proper grammar enough for now and I know, you know, that this was a totally awesome experience for you.

“Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please”  Mark Twain.  http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com





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Really Annoying Words And Phrases

The pundits and talking heads in the media apparently do some Wikipedia research to utilize what they consider trendy and “new” words and phrases.  They also slip into the comfortable use of the trite.  Both systems are used to populate their delivery in what they no doubt consider crisp and modern language to elevate the knowledge level of the great unwashed out here in the hinterland. Regrettably, they often merely annoy or offend the educated ear.   Yes, it might surprise some of them to know that there are folks beyond the Hudson or Potomac who are actually literate or erudite.   The following is a small sample of their ill-use of the Queen’s English.

1.  At the end of the day–Gee whiz folks come on.  No one ever heard or used that expression until the Gulf War when the British commanders were interviewed and they used that term.   CNN and the others apparently thought it sounded very learned because it became the standard for wrapping up and conversational point.  How about not using it at all?   Simply state whatever is on your mind.  In the final analysis.  The denouement will be—.   The result will be….  There are alternatives believe it or not.  They should show some creativity and stray from the herd at least occasionally.

2. Body of work–This is of particular use by those in the sports world when talking about a specific athlete.   The phrase historically was used to talk about the work of artists.  The true thing,  painters, sculptors, etc.  How about “look at his history in the game”.  His record shows—-.   A great track record.  Based on past experience—.   Or again, how about simply dropping the phrases altogether.

3.  Exact same—A real irritant in the world of redundancy.   How about similar.  Or same thing.  It is like what happened before.  Exactly.  Same means just that–the same and the qualifier of exact is a waste of syllables and the alphabet and our time.  We get the idea.

4.  Just/Really.  Oh, boy where to start.  How many times do you hear or read someone who throws in a just or really fifteen times in one short paragraph ?  A tip to the allegedly educated pundits and everyone really (pun intended) don’t use either word ever unless you really really need it as an emphasis point.   You will be understood by the man on the street if those words never cross your lips or appear in you typing.

5.  So–  Since when that become the required lead in for every sentenced uttered?   That use to start ever sentence makes you sound so Valley Girl.   Drop it already.  Try to emulate Hemingway a bit.  If the word doesn’t add to your intended narrative or move your intended content forward don’t use it.  It is a wasted word and certainly doesn’t make you sound more intelligent to your audience be it large or small.

6.  Here’s the thing–the cousin of “so”.  Read the advice given above.   To spice things up a bit if that is your goal how about “in point of fact”.    Anything.  For heaven’s sake try something different that what everyone else is using.  Y0u’ll come across as the most original guy in the room by dropping that unnecessary lead in.

7.  Great question–.   Or often phrased as “good” question.  You are not required to constantly compliment your interrogator.  To repeat, drop the phrase altogether and answer the damn question without further ado.    Of course we wouldn’t begin to  believe that one of those pundits is using that phrase as a method to let you know how smart they are because they can answer such a great question.

8.  Under the bus–.  Is there a political talk show where they don’t use that expression every time there is a public disagreement among p0ls on the same side?   How about ol what’s his name is being sacrificed for —.  He is going on the altar of public sacrifice for—.   He is being abandoned because—.  The English language is rich and a similar concept can be conveyed in many ways.  Get off the bus already.

9.  Wheelhouse–another favorite of the political pundits when discussing the expertise and or lack thereof of particular public figures.  Of course not a darn one of them have ever been on a sailing ship or other blue water vessel and have no idea how the wheelhouse works.  One can only suppose they believe it gives them a jaunty lilt to their comments.  It merely makes them appear silly and pretentious.  How about “they are not competent” in that area.  Better yet make a straightforward statement without the qualifier.

10.  You know—You know that is my personal favorite annoyance.  It is like sitting next to someone is smacking that damn gum in public.  Every sentence, every paragraph does NOT need to have that phrase sprinkled throughout like salt on the french fries.  Concentrate, get a grip and don’t use that expression.  You come across as the most ignorant of hillbillies even with that degree from Harvard.

At a later date we will add to this list.  No doubt you have many other words or phrases in your mind that could be added to this list.  Following the suggestions here would sure shorten the segments on those talks shows and might even leave some of those pundits tongue-tied.

“Man is not made for defeat”  Old Man And The Sea”—Hemingway.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com


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Filed under Culture, government

Media and political spin on current events

Imagine a world at war.   There are conflicts proceeding between forces of evil and some decent folks around the globe.  Our President believes it is in the national security interests of the US to take sides but he has a problem because to do so  would violate specific US laws prohibiting sales of armaments to the belligerents except for cash.  In fact there are two laws prohibiting any sale of military goods to those fighting.   Also public opinion is against any involvement in the conflict and most folks believe we should only pursue action when our borders and citizens are attacked directly.   The President’s intelligence  people and his own jugement tell him that the US has to actively oppose one side.

The President and his advisors come up with a convoluted scheme to “lend” war materials to one side and defer payments for an indefinite time; part of the scheme also involves taking leases on far away property from the side we favor.   Substantial armaments begin to flow immediately.   Fortunately, for the President his party controls both houses of Congress so the outcry is limited because his own party can’t make an outcry that the President is violating US law and thus subject to impeachment and they would be cutting their own political throat.  The scheme is transparent to all but it is hammered through.   There is some protest but by and large the media supports the deal and naturally the President’s party stands with him completely.  The whole transaction was a ruse and a fraud to evade US law by an American President.  You got it yet?  It was the Lend-Lease program of FDR during 1940 a whole year before we got into WWII.   The point of this story is to seek reflection everytime you review the comments of the media and politicians regarding events.  Can you just imagine the outcry if Bush tried to do something similar to that with say Israel in its ongoing conflict with Iran or Syria.   The press would go nuts and so would the Democrats.   These thoughts are not to defend any current action of any party.  This exercise is to make you think for yourself, get the facts for yourself and please, please put things in context.  History does matter.   Why outrage only sometimes?  Politics.  The outrage usually is for an ulterior motive.    There are reams of articles and histories about these events and I encourage you to read some of them.  The lessons from them are as apt today as today’s headlines.

Let me get this straight.  The mayor of Detroit is found guilty by his plea of lying under oath regarding a sexual escapade and gets criminal sanctions.   He was indicted for a felony which lying under oath is in all  50 states and under Federal law.  He is a criminal and was treated like one.   Now, refresh my memory here, didn’t Clinton lie under oath regarding a sexual escapade?   Let’s see and what was his punishment?  He resigned his license to practice law in the State of Arkansas.   I am still appalled that he was allowed to skate through on that one.    I don’t really give a tinker’s toot about his private life or sexual foibles but lying under oath strikes at the very foundation of our system of  justice going back for centuries.  The example he set was base and I think still undermines our court system to this day.   If we are a nation of laws then we should apply those laws without favor.   It is the premier example of power corrupting because it grew from hubris.  I think that sin is worse even than garden variety bribes of politicians.  Those venal acts don’t really set any kind of enduring example but what he did set other minds to thinking about whether the truth was all that important if it got in the way.

Don’t lie under oath.   By the way I don’t like  the laws that make it a crime to lie to a federal agent when you are NOT even under oath.   When the Feds come to investigate whatever it is they are investigating they merely ask questions and take their notes.  If later they determine in their opinion  you lied, then you can be indicted and convicted.  More often than not it is merely their word against yours but they carry the prestige of being a Federal agent and unfortunately  many people will automatically assume they are pure of motive.  I have always thought that was subject to great abuse and I believe  it has been abused.  Most people don’t even know about it and you don’t get a Miranda warning necessarily.  It applies to any Federal “agent”  and that covers a lot of territory, it means an IRS agent, DEA agent, the SEC, an OSHA inspector, Customs inspector, etc.  It can even apply to a Congressional staff person investigating some perceived wrongdoing their boss is keen on exposing for political gain.  You do remember HUAC don’t you and what it was all about.   I underestand that in the vast majority of cases the Feds are doing a job and trying to help us, but the opportunities for abuse are too great in my opinion.   The only time you should be charged with lying is if it is perjury and that means under oath.   To do otherwise invites potential abuse by a  “truth squad” out on a political vendetta.

I remember from times past when my grandmother would start her canning process for the fruits.  Usually, it was peaches because she had a couple dozen peach trees on her 5 acres.   She would buy the Mason jars and lids.  In those days you could buy those jars and lids at the grocery store.  They all carried them.  Wonder where you get them today?  Container Store I guess.  She would cook the fruit, add sugar and whatever else to the mix and then after it cooled would scoop the mix into the jars and I would sometimes get to help with pouring the hot wax  on the top to seal the jam.  I liked that part, working with the wax.  You had to do it quickly though or it would not seal completely and then you would have to start all over.

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Filed under government, history, Politics

History repeats…..again all over

I found the recent news reports about the Bush Administration manipulating the media and cherry picking its facts to support the run up to the War in Iraq rather frustrating in their tone.  The tone I am talking about is the impression given that this is a first and is somehow a propaganda effort completely off the charts.  That an Administration would fudge its facts to convince the American people to pursue a specific course of action is old hat.  Bush didn’t invent that technique.  I am not defending his decision or the subsequent conduct of the war but I do appreciate honest debate about events and actions.

We’ll not use other nations history as the benchmark for this discussion, we have ample examples of such behavior right in our own backyard…by both parties.   Let’s start with the Boston Massacre.  It was really not that big of a deal.  Facts are that some ruffians were harassing British troops, only a handful of them.   Yes, a couple of people were shot by the troops when they finally retaliated against the rock throwing and taunts and worse.  But go back and read some of the accounts of the day about the event.  You would have been lead to believe bunches of people were killed for no reason.   That was the “message” Sam Adams and others wished to be broadcast to incite their fellow Americans to rebel.  There are other examples of such extreme reporting of that era.  The alleged massacres by the Hessian troops for example were just that, mostly allegations and not supported by the facts.

The War Between the States was replete at the beginning by both sides with outrageous allegations against the other side to invoke and inspire hostilities.  I have already written about Fort Sumter and the ploy used by Lincoln to make sure the South fired the first shot when he decided to reinforce it.    All the other Federal facilities had been turned over without any violence throughout the entire South.  He definitely manipulated the facts.  Doesn’t diminish his stature or standing but those are the facts.  It was reported as some completely unprovoked and heinous surprise attack which was completely false.

Before we entered WWI Woodrow Wilson had an active and secret campaign to bring the American public along to join the hostilities once he had decided that our entry into the war was in our best interest even though most Americans wanted to stay out of the fray.   Read some history about it.  He promised that no American boys would die on the fields of France when he already was formulating a program to get them there.  The sinking of the Lusitania for example was quite legitimate and he knew that.  It was indeed carrying munitions for England and was therefore a valid target for German subs.  Our government lied about that for years.

Remember the America Firsters?  Charles Lindbergh and many others believed we should stay out of the War in 1939 and that bloc was very strong and had tremendous public support.   FDR was very crafty about how he manipulated the American people.  Read some of the correspondence between him and Churchill in the late 30’s and early days of the War.   Roosevelt pushed the limits by having our Navy escort English ships on convoy, a clear act of war but he certainly did not tout that fact to the people.  This was before we were even in the War.  He too had made a “promise” in the 1940 campaign that he would not send American boys to Europe when he was already making plans to the contrary.  Once again, he had a legitimate purpose but the facts are he lied, repeatedly to the people.   We won’t even discuss Korea or the Viet Nam war, but rest assured the same things occurred then too.   The Administration in power has always skewed the facts to suit it goals.  Some would even call it leadership.

So when you read about some alleged outrageous fact be sure and hold it up to the light of historical analysis.   It will give you a much more insightful perspective and a more realistic filter.

If you have a child be sure and buy them one of those old crystal set radios.  They are purely mechanical and can only receive AM stations, but you and your child will enjoy putting it together as a project– then the wonder of touching a small rocker arm to that chunk of metal and viola!  You will only get a few stations at most but it will amaze your child.  I remember lying in bed at night working my crystal radio and thinking how clever I was and having my own “radio”. I know today with Ipods and  such that they may seem quaint but trust me I know kids, they will enjoy it.

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