The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Not another list!

Yeah, so if all your friends wrote list posts at the end of the year, would you do it too? You bet I would, but I wouldn't be constrained by quantity, like "top 10," or "bottom 4" or something like that. I'm just gonna write a list and see what happens.

  • Most annoying lexicographical slide: "comprised of" is creeping into acceptance. Never mind that it's dead wrong, rhetorical democracy is making it right -- as recently as 1996, according to one on-line dictionary, only 35% of respondents to some survey found it objectionable. For the record, comprise means include, not compose. So saying something is "comprised of" something else is a) wrong and b) a clue that you don't really speak the Queen's English. ("Don't you know the Queen's English?" "So's the King!" Haw haw.) You can say something comprises something, or something is composed of something. Take your pick.
  • Runners up: additional s suffixes where they're not needed and modify meaning, specifically when added to the terms "bottom up" and "head up." "Bottom up" means doing something like budgeting, starting with the details or with the input of the lower-ranking members of a team, and aggregating the results. "Bottoms up" is a colloquial encouragement to drink, as in turn the bottom of your glass up. Likewise, "head up" is an attribute of a display, as for example in an aircraft, that the user can read with his head up -- not having to look down or otherwise away from the view out the windscreen. "Heads up" is a term for a warning or alert, as in Let me give you a heads up that claiming our product has a "heads up display" will be looked upon with disapprobrium. It's astonishing to me that otherwise intelligent leaders will publicly describe a planning process as being "bottoms up." Granted, a lot of planning this past few years probably was, but even so ...
  • Best reasons to rethink one's opposition to cruel and unusual punishment: a tie among Robert Mugabe, Rod Blagojevich, that Madoff guy, and any member of the Kennedy and/or Johnson administrations who wants us to buy a hardcover book detailing how really, really sorry he is for the war in Vietnam.
  • Guy who should never work in politics again: the person who first took John McCain aside and whispered, "One word: Sarah Palin." The Governor of Alaska: the first woman ever to become James Stockdale.
  • Biggest crew of slackers and goof-offs: America's (and the world's, for that matter) political cartoonists. With all the targets of opportunity out there, all they can do, most of 'em, is draw pictures of Santa Claus in rags, laying off reindeer, or delivering coal to some disgraced public figure. The best of a sad, disheartened, demoralized lot: Pat Oliphant. The absolute rock-bottom, knuckle-dragging, Neanderthal worst: Chuck Asay.

So that's enough bile for now. What's on your list?

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