Sunday, August 31, 2008

Are You Anti-Semantic?

There seems to be a lot of prejudice in the world these days, more so than ever. And while it is couched in different ways and terminology most of it appears to be directed at one group. And it is striking at the very core of our existence. This prejudice is against our, in a word language!

I have always loved the way words can and are used to convey feelings and bring about desired reactions but unfortunately this has changed. While the change has been gradual it has not stopped and the result is frightening. I hear words being used in the wrong context and without thought. Some would say it brings tears to their ears. Of course they would be wrong on so many levels.

Semantics or the study of words and their development is a fascinating field. William Safire’s second career was spent writing about our language in a humorous and thought-provoking manner. The retired NY Times Magazine columnist will turn 80 next year and I am sure he could write several books on the subject. Unfortunately the people who need to read them would most likely not.

Some use words to deflect criticism of their actions and are constantly and consciously conspiring to confuse. These people are generally called Politicians. But businessmen also practice pragmatic paraphrasing.

For example there are many service station owners on Long Island these days who desire to deceive when it comes to the price of their product. In large numbers they promise one price but when you fill up your tank you find that the noted price was for cash only. Using a credit card will cost quite a bit extra per gallon. These retailers explain away complaints of credit card surcharges with a tongue in cheek offering of an opposing view, “discounts for cash!”

But my problem is not with these self-serving sons of bitches but rather the teaming masses of logophobics with verbophobia. Okay they may not actually have a fear of words but they most certainly don’t know how to use them properly. They will say something to you that causes a momentary shake of the head to take it in. You know there’s something odd about it but you cannot put your finger on it right away.

I am certain you can cite many of these on your own and I look forward to yours but here are a few of those situations I have come across recently. If you do not see or sense anything odd about them then perhaps you are a practicing anti-semantic.

Recently a friend told me that I must try a new restaurant he found because it was “great and the food was to die from.” I think I’ll pass.

Another man, and this unfortunately is common these days, told me that he has a problem with his prostrate. I suggested he lay down.

Someone, I’ll bet you know who said a while back that he wanted all of us to be able to put food on our family. I guess it was a kinky new way of eating dinner. The problem with that guy is that most of what he said was moronic so choosing one bon mot is ludicrous. He is most certainly anti-semantic.

I have run into many folks who don’t seem to understand that nukular is not a word. They insist on confusion (sorry.) I just don’t feel like expending any more energy to change their ways.

And speaking of energy if you wish to help our current crisis you might want to look into getting a hybrid vehicle such as the one I drive. Unfortunately many people I know will never be able to purchase them since the dealer will not understand their request. You see there is no such thing as a high-bred car nor is there a high-bird vehicle. The first would mean it was born to royalty and the second would, I guess be an eagle.

A celebrity on television recently claimed that he had to answer to the powers to be. Well to be or not to be may be a question but ‘the powers that be’ is the answer to his problem.

I enjoy playing around with words as I find semantics to be fun and I do so intentionally. But every time an anti-semantic speaks I cringe and have to bite the inside of my cheek. I am tired of the taste that action leaves. I feel I must turn the tide and start to defend our way of speaking. I am against the anti-semantics of our country and hereby state that when it comes to our language I have Pride and Prejudice. I axe you, should I not?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Do You Read the Labels?

Okay, so I have a question. We all seem to allow something absurd to be said without question as long as the ‘say-er’ seems like an authority. For example I have worn glasses for years but not all the time. So occasionally I will put them on and someone will say, “Oh, you wear glasses?” And my response is usually a very matter of factly spoken, “Yeah, but only for vision.” And no one ever calls me on the answer!

Well I am currently fighting several rounds with an annoying and painful stomach virus. After a week of doing nothing to treat it I finally gave in and visited the doctor. He ran a few tests in order to keep his billing figures up but diagnosed either diverticulitis or a lower abdominal bug without waiting for the results.

Trust me he actually said it was one or the other. And since doctors are Gods, or so their mothers think I had to go along with him. I listened attentively to the word of God and noted the required changes to my diet for the next week or so. I committed to memory all I had to do to get better and felt relieved to have gotten the word.

But aside from the warm and fuzzy feeling I got from his definitive prognosis of a cure even though he knew not what I had I also received TWO prescriptions for TWO different drugs to cure either or both of my ailments.

And that leads me to my current thought. Have you ever read the labels and warnings listed on the bottles of prescription drugs? They are so long nowadays that most plastic pill containers aren't large enough and come with a booklet of facts and caveats. These are akin to those wonderful and speedy words you can almost hear on commercials and act as disclaimer for the drug companies as well as absolution just in case.

You really have to read these “advice” sheets that come with prescriptions because they are funnier than a Woody Allen film. Okay I mean back when his films were funny.
One of mine has a tiny print paragraph telling you that the elderly could be more susceptible to the side effects than the young. BUT EVEN I NEEDED A MAGNIFYING GLASS TO READ THAT PART so you know the elderly aren’t going to see it!
Or you may be taking a pill for some silly recently made-up disease such as restless leg syndrome, or RLS (not to be confused with Steve Martin’s Happy Feet) and notice that the possible side effects could include high blood pressure; incontinence; and death. I am not saying that they do but give me the restless feet please.

Now in my case I went to the resident genius of the digestive track because I was experiencing lower stomach or abdominal pain and cramping as well as, I am sorry to say a somewhat loose stomach if you get my drift. I was also having more frequent headaches but I wasn’t sure if those were connected so I made light of that fact.

Each of the drugs I am committed to taking for ten days lists the following as possible side effects:
Dizziness, HEADACHE, DIARRHEA, NAUSEA, STOMACH PAIN, loss of appetite (yeah, well who wants to eat when you have the runs?) and get this – constipation and dry mouth. I am still working on the diarrhea / constipation dilemma. (I'll take Contradictions for 2000 please Alex.)
So after taking the drugs religiously for six days I was asked if I am feeling better.
HOW THE HELL DO I KNOW? I may be cured but the cure consists of the same damn symptoms I shelled out my deductible to get rid of! And here I am one doctor visit; one lab visit; and two drug payments later still cramping.

Anyway, that's all for now. I would like to write a little more but the cure is acting up.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Doctors, Dentists, Insurance Companies, and Hospitals Suck

This is the story both sad and true
Of a lady who likes not a fuss
So giving the Devil his undeserved due
She will hereby remain anonymous

It is almost midnight and the young lady will probably not return home until 3 or 4 am.
This has not been her week.
Five days ago her purse was stolen out of her pocket book in her locked office at her supposedly secure workplace at a Long Island Hospital. Aside from the terrible inconvenience that goes along with such an invasion of personal property and space she now has the unenviable task of stopping and replacing credit cards as well as personal documents. The thirty dollars the bastard stole is truly the least of her worries and one can only hope he uses it to buy an overdose of drugs and die.
Naturally hospital security is tremendously helpful. Sort of like the proverbial teats on a bull.
"File a report and I guess you could make a claim with your insurance company. Have a nice day."
But life goes on and so did she.
Her next encounter with the medical profession was a visit to the dentist. This normally annoying task that many fear like the plague would have been like rolling off a log for our heroin if not for a small sidetrip into the Twilight Zone. Years ago you could sit fairly straight up when you visited the DDS but nowadays it's all about the comfort of the guy in control. So you are basically lying down while he does his dirty work. It was while she was in this position that the dentist decided to drop his little mirror down her throat causing her to gag. In pulling the thing out he bruised her epiglottis, that flap of tissue that sits at the base of the tongue and keeps food from going into the trachea, or windpipe, during swallowing. "No, don't pay me now, we'll submit our bill to your insurance carrier. Have a nice day."
So now, two days later, two days of a sore throat she checks out the good old epiglottis on the web and finds out that if it is scratched it could become inflamed and if that happens it could get infected and if that occurs it could swell and block the airway and you could die. The odds are against this Rube Goldberg scenario but when it is you the odds tend to go up, don't they?
So she is now in the emergency room trying to get past the barrier set up to stop anyone this side of crazy from wanting in, the front desk clerk. And since some scumbag addict has her purse she does not have her insurance card. Those clerks live for this type of situation.
"We can't look at you until we see your insurance is paid up."
Hopefully everything will turn out alright (it did) so she can plan her next step in this week from hell, a trip to a lawyer. Hey, doctors have insurance also.
Have a nice day!

The Smartest President Ever

More and more books and reports are turning up with the same message about our illustrious current administration. It seems clear that our leaders knew the real situation prior to our Iraq attack. They are being accused of falsifying data and doctoring reports about weapons of mass destruction. This fiction convinced congress that we must invade the sovereign country of Iraq and get rid of that bad man, Saddam Hussein. The real culprits of the attacks on America most likely sat back in amazement at our stupidity. Or was it stupid?
On the face of it aside from destabilizing the entire area and becoming a poster boy for terror recruitment Mr. Bush appeared to be without a clue. He endured ridicule and questions about his intelligence, in more ways than one, and still does.
And every time a new book is published about the lies perpetrated by his administration we hear the party line, “That’s absurd.” They continue to deflect and deny any wrong doing.
But I say that enough is enough and Team Bush should change their tactic. Anyone who has ever lied understands that it is very hard to remember all the lies and eventually you will be found out due to inconsistencies in your story.
That time has long since passed for the team so a new direction is called for. I propose that the President and his most evil friend, Cheney step up to the plate and come clean. Since Nancy Pelosi has taken impeachment off the table and a legacy is the last thing these two men care about why not?
Here is my wish for the last address to the nation by the worst President this country has ever had.
“My fellow Americans I come here before you to clear up a few things before I leave.
I know that many of you feel I am stupid and that my BFF Cheney is evil but you could not be more wrong. Okay Cheney is evil but neither of us is stupid. Guess who the stupid ones are America?
Here’s a hint.
Who elected us?
Okay there is still doubt about the first election when we kind of stole the thing but you must admit we were pretty damn smart and sly in the way we pulled that one off. Don’t like it? Chad this!
And then who reelected us? And oh please don’t give me that BS about Ohio. My other BFF Karl says we may have won even if we hadn’t cheated there.
And how many of you have actually read “My Pet Goat?” I couldn’t put it down. And I showed those children that you must finish something you start, that’s why I didn’t move after we were attacked. That and weak knees.
But jump ahead to the invasion of Iraq.
Everyone says that was a mistake. Are you for real? Do any of you realize how much money Dick and I have made for ourselves and our friends? Like, Oh – My – God.
My family will never have to worry about anything for as long as they live. And I am talking generations to come assuming that Global Climate thing is not real but Laura and I will be long gone by then.
And Dick’s family is even in a better position for the future, including that Lesbian daughter of his who really doesn’t like him.
Congress cannot touch us and we are going to retire with riches not seen since those guys in Dubai left their bank books open to view. And who do you think helped them amass their fortunes?
Now you know why I still have a 28% approval rating. And every last percentage point of them is invited to my farewell beer and barbecue blast January 21st at the ranch. Wait until you see that spread.
And just like Oprah I’m giving away cars to all who come. Hummers for everyone. With armor!
So I’m stupid America.
I think not.
Well, it’s time to make like a tree and get out of here.
Good night America and good luck with the next guy.”