Author: wordprof

‘Today I Consider Myself the Luckiest Man
on the Face of the Earth’

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Major League Baseball (MLB) today honors famed Yankee Great Lou Gehrig, who died on this day in 1941 of ALS, now known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease and still completely uncurable.

The Iron Horse, as he is known for his consecutive game streak, played 17 years for the Yankees and is widely considered one of the greatest players to ever have taken the field. He had to retire at age 36 due to his diease, and in the year immediately preceding his retirement, hit .295 with 29 home runs while barely able to walk.

In our modern media-obsessed era, unless someone slam dunks a basketball to win a game or scores a last-second touchdown to seal a victory, he is not celebrated nor his name even mentioned on the evening sportscast. Consider that compared to Lou Gehrig, who, only scarce months from his demise due to one of the most debilitating diseases humankind confronts, was able to pronounce himself before a stadium crowd as “the luckest man on the face of the earth” to have been able to earn a nice living playing a boy’s sport in the middle of the Great Depression.

Lou Gehrig, the self-proclaimed luckiest man alive, was taken from his blessed life at age 37. You can call his attitude a slam dunk for its humility and appreciation for a life well lived.

Categories: News

Story Behind ‘The Real McCoy’:
Was It Whiskey or Ingenuity?

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Dr. Ben Carson on a TV show brought up the name and memory of inventor Elijah McCoy as the derivation for the phrase “The Real McCoy,” which is used to signify that something is genuine, the real deal (another phrase worth investigating), and generally a word construction signifiying authenticity.

Elijah McCoy

Eljiah McCoy was an engineer of African-American descent who invented, among other things, a lubrication method that facilitated train travel. He also developed designs for an ironing board, a lawn sprinkler, and other devices. His oil-drip cup, the device that facilitated lubrication on trains, was quickly ripped off and employed by competitors using their own variations. His original design, according to legend, however, remained “The Real McCoy.”

That is just one explanation for how the phrase “The Real McCoy” came into existence. Another namesake for the phrase — which I find interesting as a one-time bon vivant of alcoholic beverages (I am Irish, after all) — is a smuggler named Willy McCoy, who brought Irish Whiskey into the U.S. during prohibition. His whiskey reportedly became famous as “The Real McCoy.”

I’ll drink to that, but iced tea only in my teatotaler days.

Categories: Grammar Notes

Ronald Reagan’s ‘Nine Scariest Words’
Have Been One-Upped

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President Roanld Reagan was famous for his observation of the “nine scariest words in the English language,” which he said were: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”

Henry David Thoreau

True as his observation was — and remains so to this day — he was actually outdone and preceded by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862): “If you see a man approaching you with the obvious intent of doing you good, run for your life.”

When that man works for the government, run even harder.

Categories: News

‘Old Kentucky Home’: Once a Lament, Now a Near Anthem for the Kentucky Derby

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If yolu watch the 150th running of the Kentucky Derbe today, you will now doubt hear a rendition of “Old Kentucky Home,” which is now a sweet tribute toi the Bluegrass State.

However, the son originated in the days of soavery among the Blacks being enslaed and trade as cattle might be traded. Then song then how “Merry. Happy and Bright” everyone was after a day inthe fields. Next comes a lament:

“By’n by Hard Times comes a knocking at the door,
Then my old Kentucky Home, good night!.”

To see the rest of the opening before the chorus takes over, go to this website.

The chorus is no less downtrodden:

“The day goes by like a shadow o’er the heart,
With sorrow where all was delight:”

Categories: News

There’s No ‘N’ in ‘Restaurateur’

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As much as I enjoy watching Food Network, every show I watch uses the word “restaurateur” (on screen) to describe someone who owns a restaurant, but they pronounce it “restauranteur.”

However, there is no “n” in “restaurateur,” which is a French word pronounced without an “n,” as in “reh·str·uh·tur.” If they’re going to butcher the French pronunciation, the least they could do is add an “n” on screen and make it an American aberration. 

PS Back online after a long hiatus waiting for Godot.

Categories: Grammar Sucks

‘Out of an Abundance of’…Idiocy

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I’d never vote for the guy, but I must say that “Bernie Sanders is right!” (to copy a much-used and -abused construction from “Blazing Saddles”).

Every nation should copy Sweden, not because it’s what The Bern thinks is the perfect socialist society (which it’s not, being instead a highly capitalistic but highly taxed nation). It’s because Sweden was the only nation that got the pandemic response correct: Do as little as possible except take those in most danger out of harm’s way. Sweden now has herd immunity, which is far superior to any vaccine, which at best will be 50 percent effective and which 40 percent of Americans say they’ll never take.

Recent studies (see today’s Wall Street Journal) affirm that, in the U.S., those states and communities that locked down the hardest ended up killing off the most people by percentage of population, while those that did the least lost the least. Hmmmmm….

Which brings up my headline about “an abundance of,” which throughout the pandemic was used by politicians with “caution,” to signify, “We’re going to save your life by locking you up at home.”

(Now critics will point out that Sweden had more deaths than its neighboring countries, such as Norway, which locked down, but remember, Sweden has perfected Bernie’s “Medicare for All” approach by rationining health care: If you’re too old and too expensive to keep alive: “Here’s some morphine. See ya later.”)

The next time someone says they’re doing something for you out of “an abundance of” whatever, run as quickly as you can and do just the opposite of what they’re proposing.

Categories: Grammar Notes