The Curmudgeon Returns — Part Two (See Part One First)


1.  Like I said, children are among the few who are addressing what’s wrong directly. They will likely be out-spent, out-flanked and out-voted, but they can look back on the era of school shootings and say they tried to do something about it.  And this just in:

2. Roseanne Barr just cost nine fellow cast members a lucrative gig.  Another way to look at the economic costs of bigotry. I assume that back in the day when she first came on the scene some people were calling her nothing more than a fat bitch. Did that hurt, Roseanne?

3. Two things from the same day. Actual Donnie :  “Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18 years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!” Written by a speechwriter for Donnie:  “The heroes who rest in these hallowed fields, in cemeteries, battlefields, and burial grounds near and far are drawn from the full tapestry of American life.” I used to be a professional speechwriter. One thing you need to learn in that business is how to write like your client actually talks. I had one client who spoke five languages, and English was clearly number 5 in proficiency. I once put the word “simultaneously” in a speech for him. Took him forever to pronounce that word. So you write “at the same time” for him instead of “simultaneously” even though you are “using four words when one would do.” The problem for Donnie’s speechwriters is the stark contrast between his scripted words (which sound like those of an aware, well-read person) and his usual words (which sound like those of an ignorant blowhard). This is how I would write the Gettysburg  Address for Donnie: “Eighty or maybe ninety I’m not sure years ago but does it really matter, back then, the really great people who started this country and by the way never got the credit for it they deserved when all the eggheads and media elites started lying to the country about how it got started –everything starts somewhere — and this was a new thing, a really big thing. Believe me.”

4.  A retired general pointed out to Donnie that there is nothing “happy” about Memorial Day. Now that I think of it, I can’t remember anyone ever saying “Happy Memorial Day” to me or anyone else. “Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today” if they weren’t dead. That is, if they were here to see how well the country is doing, especially those blacks and Hispanics and women that the armed forces white men in WW I and II cared so much about. They cared so much about women right after WW I that they actually let them vote. And the blacks made great cooks in WWII, right?

5. When you grow up with an English professor who reads Yeats at the dinner table, you get sensitized to language, especially as it is talked about in E.B. White’s The Elements of Style and George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language. I am not sure what I would give up if I never heard someone in recovery from addiction use the phrase “on a daily basis” again, but it’s a lot. That is one of those fluffed up phrases both White and Orwell talk about and makes me grind my teeth. Just say “daily” or “every day.” Don’t be a phony, people. Rigorous honesty, please. And while the recovering people stop saying “on a daily basis” every day, the rest of you can quit using the preposition “around” when you mean “about” or “with.” The problem with using this word this way started in my world with the human resources consultants hired by the large corporation I worked for.  The woman who was most apt to talk about “the issues around the performance evaluation piece” could talk for half an hour, and you would have no idea what she said. You could not pin anything on her. I give her credit for being a genius consultant, but unfortunately her language and that of her ilk spread to the rest of the corporate world, and pretty soon everyone was saying “problem around” instead of “problem about” or “problem with” because it made them sound more like the managers they aspired to replace some day. Other masters of saying a lot and saying nothing are public education administrators. They use all this obfuscatory language to make something that is basically rather simple — you don’t know this, I do, I am going to pass this on to you — seem complex. Making the simple seem complex has also gotten to be true of the people who run high-end treatment centers in my unfortunate recent experience.

© Joseph Galligan 2018


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