Monday, June 30, 2014

Semantic Slide

I am by nature a "purist" as far as the English language is concerned. Nevertheless, I recognize that the meanings of words change with time. When the British adopted the German word Blitzkrieg, they were not referring to lightning warfare, but the extended almost-nightly bombing of London and its environs in 1940 and subsequent years. A much-abused word is "troop". We still see some usage of it in its original form meaning essentially a body of soldiers: "Troop 7" refers to a unit of Boy Scouts. It is one of those words which is convenient for headline writers, in phrases such as "six troops killed in Tikrit". In other words it has become a synonym for individual soldiers. It is acceptable in the plural: "Syrian troops enter Aleppo". Although I don't like this development in meaning, there is no way that I can "stop the tide from coming in". The only satisfaction that I can obtain is to express my dismay, while I learn to live with it.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Men are from Mars...

There is a very convenient built-in shelf in our shower cabinet, It holds a container of shampoo belonging to one of the owners--and seven containers of assorted unguents belonging to the other. I bet you can guess which is His and which is Hers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Here in the U.S., when someone suffers from a cold, we discourage others from getting too close while the sufferer is still "contagious". In the U.K., one would use the term "infectious", while " contagious" refers to actual physical contact.. In the nineteenth century, the U.K Parliament passed the first version of the:Contagious Diseases Act. This authorized the police at Naval ports and Amy bases to detain prostitutes for examination. If they had a venereal disease, they were taken to a "Lock Hospital", and kept there, in an age when few means of cure were known. Although "contagion" was by no means limited to VD, to this day when words related to "contagious" are used they bring VD to mind. So, if a Brit is told that someone is still "contagious", it might be helpful to clarify that the speaker may simply suggest that you avoid coming too close to avoid catching that cold.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Expensive Penalty

A young man (probably deranged) climbed up on the roof of his vehicle, and took aim on a Longmont police officer. Fortunately, when he fired, he completely missed . Found guilty on two separate charges related to this incident, he has been sentenced to a total of 72 years in prison. Taxpayers will be paying out thousands of dollars, and he may spend most of the rest of his life in captivity. I'm in no position to judge whether he should be in a mental hospital, but this sentence seems to meet the test of "cruel and unusual punishment".' How can this punishment be said to fit the crime?

Monday, June 2, 2014

The VA Problems

People tell me that if only we had a "single-payer" health system, there would be no problem to solve: veterans would be folded into the system. But that's not going to happen in my lifetime. I know of no other country that has set up a separate bureaucracy for its veterans. We have to deal with political reality. It might be sensible to transfer aging veterans to Medicare, but that's not going to happen. The realistic way of dealing with the unconscionable delays for those veterans waiting more than a brief period for initial examination and treatment, is to authorize them to be seen (without charge to them) by a "civilian" health provider until they can be accepted by the VA system. The taxpayers will need to pay for this.