Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Sports Win Heals All Wounds

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Amazing, the healing power of sports in America.

I learned on the radio this morning that the Red Sox victory in the World Series has cancelled the wounds of the Boston Marathon bombing. The bombing will be remembered no more. The dead will rise, limbs will be restored.

In the same way, when New Orleans won the Super Bowl, everyone forgot about Hurricane Katrina. People who lost their homes and loved ones suddenly declared, “Hey, everything’s okay! We won the Super Bowl!”

What Newtown and Sandy Hook need are winning sports franchises. And maybe the NFL could start teams in Mogadishu and Damascus. You know, to bring healing.

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The Board of Education

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Yesterday I listened to “The Five” on FoxNews while driving home from work. They introduced a segment about school discipline by implying that removing spanking from schools was just part of a misguided liberal agenda. But when they discussed the idea, I think none of those hardline conservatives actually believed in school spanking–at last not for their own kids. A couple mentioned being personally spanked when they were schoolkids, but didn’t come out in favor of it now.

So I’m asking my conservative Facebook friends–do you believe spanking should still be allowed in schools?

This means letting other adults…

  • Decide if your child is guilty of something.
  • Decide that the transgression merits a spanking.
  • Decide the severity of the spanking.
  • Carry out the spanking.

Are you okay with that? Have you, if required, signed waivers to let your child be physically punished at school?

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The Sounds of Civility

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Unless you pay attention, you miss how often Americans say “Thank you,” “Have a nice day,” “I’m sorry,” and the like. These are the sounds of civility. Even the tiresome “Did you find what you were looking for?” You hear people bemoan the lack of civility in America, but it’s far from gone.

We all have our anecdotes of rudeness (which I’m not interested in hearing), and the internet is pretty much devoid of civility. Yet, civility abounds in everyday life. Retail and fast food probably lead the way (not so much in other countries). Call it fakish, not genuine–a mere commercial persona. Nevertheless, I always appreciate hearing the sounds of civility.

So pay attention. Notice how often you hear, and hopefully say, words of civility.

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Writing Class: the Hyphen

Today, class, let’s talk about hyphens. You find much variation in hyphen usage. There are few rights and wrongs.

Here’s what happens. Two words get linked by a hyphen, but after a few decades (or less), we stop using the hyphen. Many words you use regularly were once hyphenated: throughout, breakdown, guidelines, mindset, worldwide, outcome, outhouse, outpatient, eyewitness.

Those words have made the transition. A number of words are currently in transition, and you’ll see them spelled with and without hyphens (sometimes in the same document). Examples: co-worker, down-size, start-up, jump-start, co-pay, on-going.

When in doubt, people tend to include a hyphen. But in all of the words above, I typically do without. The goal, as always, is clear communication. If the meaning is clear without the hyphen, then why use it?

As an editor not enslaved to a particular stylebook, I adopt a progressive approach, removing hyphens long before stylebooks get around to it. I know where usage will land, so I jump ahead. I’m not alone in doing that, but I’m definitely in the minority.

Most magazines write “web-site.” I write “website.”

Most publications write “e-mail.” I write “email.” However, I write “e-letter,” which I admit appears inconsistent. So sue me.

Class dis-missed.

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The French Say No to Ritalin

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Less than 1% of French children are medicated for ADHD, compared to 9% of American children. Why the difference?

An interesting piece in Psychology Today explains that in the US, ADHD is viewed as a biological disorder with biological causes, so it is treated biologically–Ritalin, Adderall.

The French view ADHD as a medical condition with underlying social and situational causes. They look at the child’s social context and more commonly treat with counseling and dietary changes. The article says the American system tends to “pathologize much of what is normal childhood behavior.”

I grew up before the Ritalin craze, and don’t recall any classmates taking such medications. Speaking from the sidelines, amidst ignorance and lack of experience as a parent, it seems to me that we’ve gone a bit overboard.

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There is No Privacy

I’ve heard people discourage signing up for insurance on the exchange, because you must give personal information to the government. As opposed to giving that same information (and more) to a private company that will sell it to other private companies…and, apparently, give it to the government anyway.

Newsflash: the government already knows all about you.

On the Healthcare.gov website, after providing my Social Security number, I was given four multiple choice questions to confirm my identity. One asked the name of the company through which we refinanced our home mortgage in 2002. The correct answer was one of the four choices.

The next question asked the name of the company through which we took out a car loan in 2012. Again, they had the info.

The correct answer to the other two questions was “None of the Above.”

We took out these loans with private companies, and they passed it along to Uncle Sam. Now this info, going back at least 11 years, is all nicely linked with my SS#.

So go ahead and pretend that you just want to keep your private info out of the government’s hands. The truth is–they’ve already got it.

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No Place for Conversation

Okay, there was a guy standing at the urinal talking on his cellphone via a bluetooth earpiece. Sounded like he was talking to his wife.

When it’s just me and another guy in the restroom, and I hear the other guy say “honey,” I get very nervous.

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The Birthday Racket

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As part of the parasitic 47%, I signed up for the Birthday Club at various restaurant websites. My birthday is next week. I currently have received, by email, certificates for:

  • Free medium concrete mixer at Culver’s.
  • Free bowl at Flattop Grill. (Must buy a 2nd.)
  • Free dessert at Biaggi’s.
  • Free dessert at Smokey Bones.
  • Free “Creation” at Cold Stone Creamery. (Must buy a 2nd.)
  • Free meal at Wings Etc.
  • Free burger at Red Robin.

Most expire on October 30, which doesn’t give me much time. If I truly wanted to take advantage of the system, I would give each restaurant a different birthday, to scatter them throughout the year. But that’s just one more thing for which I would have to answer in heaven, and my list is long enough.

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The Art of the Smackdown

Louise Gohmert at a Tea Party rally.

Louise Gohmert at a Tea Party rally.

Last night on NBC News, I heard one of the best political put-downs ever. It came from John McCain. It was so understated and so brilliantly delivered that I almost missed it. But when I replayed it in my head, I laughed out loud.

During a speech at the Values Voters Summit last week, Congressman Louise Gohmert, a Republican from Texas, insinuated that McCain was an Al Qaeda supporter. Brian Williams asked McCain about that.

McCain responded in a very even, casual tone: “On that particular issue, sometimes comments like that are made out of malice. But if someone has no intelligence, I don’t view it as being a malicious statement. You can’t respond to that kind of thing.”

It was brilliant. Zing!

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The Senseless Trucker Shutdown

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Can anyone explain the purpose of the “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” thing in Washington DC? Truckers want to circle the beltway for three days, slowing down traffic and angering tens of thousands of local people. The publicly state their goal as “shutting down Washington.” They want to tie up traffic for the citizenry.

Isn’t that called anarchy?

Okay, “anarchy” is a stretch, I admit. Though anarchy does involve purposely creating disorder and confusion.

How does this rally support for the Constitution? How does this further their goal of ending Obamacare? If truckers came to Fort Wayne to do this, I can guarantee that plenty of Tea Party supporters trying to get to work would be upset.

I just don’t see the point of this protest. As reported in the Washington Post: “At one point, according to the Virginia State Police, four commercial vehicles slowed traffic to 15 mph after the drivers rode side-by-side across all four northbound lanes of I-495 in Virginia.”

That’s not taking a stand for the Constitution. It’s just irritating people of all political stripes who have places to go. Senseless tactics.

Do they really think Obama will say, “Oh, truckers are blocking all lanes of the Beltway. Can’t have that. I guess I’ll just have to repeal my healthcare program.”

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