I’ve had to neglect blogging for much of this month, because I’ve been working very hard. It’s hopefully going to work out in the end, but this is one of those times where I have to keep intoning that mantra “It’s Only Temporary.” So, while today was one of those picture-perfect days we in Vancouver get in the spring and summer, I must confess that I only saw it via the occasional peek at a the KatKam webcam from my windowless office. I might as well have been underground, instead out in the place that has once again been named by Mercer Consulting, Number 4 of the ‘Top 5 quality of living ranking for cities worldwide’. While I am proud of the fact that my home is once again up there with Vienna, Zurich, Geneva and Auckland as one of the best places to live, I have to admit that for us personally, for a variety of reasons, it’s been a very tough past couple months. However, I’m looking forward to beautiful sunny days with cool breezes, local strawberries and asparagus, walks along the False Creek seawall and the return of the Farmer’s Markets on the weekends. The fountain in the park across the street is flowing again, and the tulips are out in full force. I just have to be sure to get out and enjoy all of those things. After all, they are all only temporary as well.
Heard Often. Way Too Often
To keep an eye on our former country, Pam and I have tried to catch one of the network news channels from the US each evening over dinner, so we keep switching between TiVO recordings of Brian (Williams), Katie (Couric) and Charlie (pronounced the way Sarah Palin did in the puff-piece interviews he did her, as the sharp, twangy CHAR-ly, Gibson). I’ve been noticing an annoying tendency by both the reporters as well as the public (and politicians) for using the same phrases over and over again. Here are a few that I’ve just about had enough of:
What does that phrase mean? Aside from the sexual double-entendre, as far as I can tell, it means to have a public meeting where problems like gang violence, racial strife and poverty are all magically overcome by an aura of good fellowship. Sorry, I’m not buying it. It’s an empty phrase uttered over and over again in front of TV cameras by people who have no idea what they are saying.
Until recently ‘bipartisan’ used to mean something. I think it meant that both of the big, iconic US political parties support something, as opposed to its more common opposite, ‘partisan’ (which now that I think of it, could have been Monopartisan). Now,’ bipartisan’ is uttered by politicians meaning (depending on which side they are on) ‘Something I wanted but never got’ or ‘Something we should all look like we are trying for even though we really don’t want it anyway’. Like Lite and Fat-Free or Sustainable, it’s an now a meaningless word held aloft like a flag of victory or rag of defeat.
Wall Street always followed by Main Street
It used to be that you could say ‘Wall Street’ and everybody knew that it referred to the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the other business and organizations in that general geographic area of Manhattan. Now, like Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum or Flotsam and Jetsam, it has become a stupid shorthand for the hostility between the rich and connected in the Financial Services Sector vs. Middle America. Like two squabbling children, we are supposed to make sure both are taken care of, but not to let the other get jealous or sulky. I hope they break up the idiom before it becomes another ‘prim and proper’ or ‘tooth and nail’.
‘Bailout’ originally meant ‘an act of loaning or giving capital to a failing company in order to save it from bankruptcy, insolvency, or total liquidation and ruin’. (Wikipedia). Now it’s almost become a joke phrase, meaning Free Money. Enough, already. It’s never funny.
…and the word or phrase that I’ve found the both the most ubiquitous and annoyingly imprecise on the news these past months:
I’ve heard this word used so many times, I’ve started doing the old Pee-Wee’s Playhouse shtick (well, not screaming real loud, but saying ‘ding!’) every time it is uttered. I think it was to suggest that like a glass house, the operations and decisions of an organization (such as the Federal Government) were to be easily apprehended by the public, typically by using a Web Site or some other publicly accessible medium. Wasn’t that what C‑SPAN was supposed to do? (except of course, nobody but the wonks and fanatics bothered to watch it). Again, like ‘Come Together’, Transparent is another word or phrase overused to the point of meaninglessness.
There are others, but these are the ones that come to mind today. I’m sure that in a few weeks I’ll be sick of ‘Torture Memo’ and ‘Pandemic’, because they’ll have been made just as meaningless through repetition by that time.