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Addendum to the “Inflategate” Story

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Hot off the press. Brady suspended for 4 games, Patriots hit with one million dollar fine and loss of one first round draft pick in 2016 and one 4th round pick in 2017, and the 2 football attendants fired.


Only in America

Monday, July 30th, 2012

1) Only in America could politicians talk about the greed of the rich at a $35,000 a plate campaign fund raising event for the current President in New York City attended by almost 40% black Americans.
2) Only in America could people claim that the government still discriminates against black Americans when we have a black President, a black Attorney General, and roughly 18% of the federal workforce is black (only 12% of the population is black).
3) Only in America could we have had the two people most responsible for our tax code, Timothy Geithner, the head of the Treasury Department and Charles Rangel who once ran the Ways and Means Committee, BOTH turn out to be tax cheats who are in favor of higher taxes.
4) Only in America can we have terrorists kill people in the name of Allah and have the media primarily react by fretting that Muslims might be harmed by the backlash.
5) Only in America would we make people who want to legally become American citizens wait for years in their home countries and pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege while we discuss letting anyone who sneaks into the country illegally just become American citizens.
6) Only in America could the people who believe in balancing the budget and sticking by the country’s Constitution be thought of as “extremists.”
7) Only in America could you need to present a driver’s license to cash a check or buy alcohol, but not to vote.
8) Only in America could people demand the government investigate whether oil companies are gouging the public because the price of gas went up when the return on equity invested in a major U.S. oil company (Marathon Oil) is less than half of a company making tennis shoes (Nike).
9) Only in America could the government collect more tax dollars from the people than any nation in recorded history, still spend a trillion dollars more than it has per year for total spending of $7 million PER MINUTE, and complain that it doesn’t have nearly enough money.
10) Only in America could the rich people who pay 86% of all income taxes be accused of not paying their “fair share” by people who don’t pay any income taxes at all.

Vague Thinking=Vague Writing

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

The following essay appeared in the Collections•Culture Section of the Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer on February 26, 2012. The author, David Woods, is a Philadelphia writer

Vague Thinking = Vague Writing
The importance of language slipping in today’s culture.

When the body of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is brought before the Romans, does the bard have them say, “Who dunnit?” No, he has Mark Antony deliver the eloquent “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” speech.

And the Roman poet Horace showed his lyrical skill with: “Pick today’s fruits, not relying on the future in the slightest.” Carpe Diem. He did not, you will note, say, “Have a nice day.”
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In both cases, the writers knew a simple truth: that language matters. It’s something that seems lost in today’s culture.

Allan Bloom, author of The Closing of the American Mind, thinks part of the problem is that students have lost the practice of reading; they want to be thought “authentic,” and that means having few cultural pretensions. Thus, they refuse to make what they see as “hypocritical ritual bows to high culture.”

Bloom blames their attitude in part on schools that have failed to persuade students to read – let alone to like it. And this leads not only to loss of precision and color in language, but also to a defensive posture that language doesn’t matter.

Imprecise language occurs when people don’t think first about exactly what it is they want to say. Either that, or they are attempting to paper over their lack of vocabulary by such excrescences as the prevalent and ubiquitous “like” – as in, “I’m not – like – into reading.”

The vocabulary-challenged are not the only ones who can be imprecise. Scientists often sprinkle their language with jargon in trying to show that they’re doing something important. And politicians – who should be masters of oratory – contribute to the decline of eloquence as well.

But problems abound. Think about “going forward,” for example, a greatly overused phrase that should surely be stopped in its tracks. Or “at the end of the day,” which might usefully be dispatched well before dusk. I heard another linguistic villain – “if you will” – from a speaker at least 10 times at a recent conference, leaving me decidedly intestate.

George Orwell, whose prose was eloquently clear and direct, believed that the great enemy of clear language is insincerity. He suggested that much political language consists of euphemism and hedging. He gives a wonderful example of the decline of eloquence, starting by quoting the well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

“I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise nor riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill, but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

He translates this into modern English:

“Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”
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Why this decline in eloquence? In part, it’s the failure of schools to teach reading and language skills; it’s also the lowest-common-denominator language of television and, increasingly, of newspapers. It might also have to do with notions of egalitarianism: to speak with clarity and verve is somehow seen as elitist or effete.

Part of the solution might be a renewed respect for graceful speech and writing. This will be attained by proper and early teaching, and wide and eclectic reading. It might also help to ridicule or satirize the sloppy language that is the product of sloppy thinking and that makes for mighty dull listening.

“Talking and eloquence are not the same,” said Ben Jonson. “To speak and speak well are two things.”

Eloquently said.

Comments on David Woods essay can also be made at:  hmi3000@comcast.net

Herman Cain’s Health

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Although I think Herman Cain is a great candidate and would be a fine president (although he is not as conservative as I would like), I am extremely wary of having him as the Republican candidate. Why? Herman Cain had stage IV colon cancer with metastases to the liver. Although he states (and I’m certain he has been told and believe this) that he has been “cured,” the possibilities of recurrence (nests of microscopic colon cancer cells now undetected) or development of a different cancer (having had one cancer enhances the possibility of another) are possibilities that the United States cannot risk at this time ––– we’ve got enough problems without having a new president die in office.

Texas Physician Practices on Shaky Grounds

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

The March 14th issue of The American Medical News reported that  a higher percentage of physicians in 2010 used money from their personal savings or obtained bank loans to keep their practices afloat according to preliminary results of a survey published on Feb. 28th by the Texas Medical Assn. The data from a survey of 3,580 member and nonmember physicians in Texas also showed that 61% said their income decreased in 2009 and 2010; and 69% had cash flow problems because  government and private insurer payments arrived late, below what was billed, or never arrived.

William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved