Category: News

‘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

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

‘If I Were They’


It’s rare that I come across someone in life who knows how to correctly form a conditional “if” clause. You often hear, “If I was rich (or fill in the blank),” uttered without a clue to the grammatical mistake they just made.

mo-ne-davisConditional “if” clauses always take the plural form. (I know, some jackass out there will find some web reference disputing this, but he, she, it and they will be wrong.)

Thay’s why, tonight while I was watching the “KIDSCAST” of the Little League World Series Hawaii-vs.-Virginia game, I was surprised to hear Mo’ne Davis — the designated ESPN “analyst” — say, “If I were they,”  using the conditional perfectly.

I say “surprised” only because I hear people in all walks of life — high, low, medium — butcher the conditional so regularly. Most people would probably have quipped, “If I was them,” or inching closer to correct usage, “If I were them.” The problem is them. Was/were is not an action verb and doesn’t take the objective (them) but retains the subjective usage (they).

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Categories: Grammar Notes News

Put Bill Buckner in the Hall of Fame

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This has nothing to do with English or grammar, but with justice and dignity.

bill-buckner-should-be-in-the-hall-of-fameThere’s no reason Bill Buckner, baseball great who died today from the ravages of dementia, isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame other than that first-base error in the 1986 World Series.

May he rest in peace, and may the gods of baseball justice put him in the Hall of Fame, to rest forever for the talent, strength and dignity he displayed in a 22-year career and afterwards.

Come on, .262-average Ozzie Smith is in the HOF for backflips, and Bill Buckner is denied for one error. Time for justice.

Categories: News

What Is a Shibboleth?

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By most accounts, shibboleth is an interesting word, whose concept seems to cross most, if not all, cultures.

dictionary-for-shibbolethAccording to Wikipedia, a shibboleth is “any custom or tradition, usually a choice of phrasing or even a single word, that distinguishes one group of people from another. Shibboleths have been used throughout history in many societies as passwords, simple ways of self-identification, signaling loyalty and affinity, maintaining traditional segregation, or protecting from real or perceived threats.”

However, the best take on this biblical word comes courtesy of Jonah Goldberg in his National Review column, “Shibboleth Is a Fun Word.”

Categories: Grammar Notes News

A Donkey by Any Other Name…

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As I sat upon my sledge and watched “Pardon the Interruption” this afternoon, somehow the subject of donkeys came up — can’t remember the context.

But I can remember the pronunciation. Mike Wilbon started off by pronouncing the singular animal’s name “dunk-key.”

Seconds later, Tony Kornheiser added depth of some sort to the discussion but still pronounced the animal as a “dunk-key.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’ve always said “dawn-key.”

Maybe this is an east-of-the-Mississippi or just plain East Coast thing, but you dunk donuts, not animals.

Can anyone enlighten me?

Categories: Grammar Notes News

There’s No ‘Jerry’ in ‘Gerrymander’ (Try ‘Gary’ Instead)

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The term gerrymander, commonly used as in “gerrymandering a Congressional or other electoral unit to the benefit of one political party or the other,” should not be pronounced with a soft “g “resembling a “j.”

Elbridge Jerry, pronounced with a hard ‘g’

So say the good folks of Marblehead, Mass., once home to Elbridge Gerry (hard “g”), a governor of the fine state and also a U.S. vice president, after whom the term gerrymander was coined.

The Selectmen of Marblehead (kind of like supervisors and city councilpersons, one would assume) even fired off a letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to inquire of how he pronounced the word.

Jeffrey P. Minear, counselor to the chief justice, wrote back:

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Categories: Grammar Notes News

‘The Shadow Knows’

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Precisely, The Shadow knows “What evil lurks in the hearts of men.”

I can’t believe this was a radio show. I would’ve sworn “The Shadow” was a television vehicle when I was growing up back in The American Pleistocene (what a book title!).

Alas, it was a radio show, dating me beyond what I even remember.

As for The Shadow, he was played by Orson Welles and others, but here goes — and I beg you to prove that evil doesn’t lurk within all of us, maybe nascent but there nonetheless:

Categories: News