Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.


Friday, November 07, 2003  

Words That Used To Mean Something Department: Bryan Preston and I have been discussing what the appropriate term is for the "enemy combatants" who are currently trying to make life difficult for US forces in Iraq. (The post that started it is here, the disussion is in the comments.) One of the points I wanted to make was that we have to be sure we're applying words like "terrorist" to the right people for the right reasons, or we're contributing to the neutering of a perfectly good word. I pointed out how "fascist" used to have a specific meaning, but now it's just a convenient word some people use to smear those who disagree with them.

Elsewhere on the web, Matt Kaufman notes that politcal correctness has run amok, resulting in the words "discriminatory" and "hate speech" being applied to things they don't apply to.

That got me to thinking about words that used to mean something, but don't anymore. The following words came to mind (including those already mentioned:

fascist
racist
bigot
homophobe
diversity
tolerance
mean-spirited
hate speech
discrimination
I'm sure there are others; use the comments to nominate your [un]favorite.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 4:47 PM
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Ain't It The Truth Department: My Dave Barry page-a-day calendar has been the source of much amusement and enlightenment this year. Take today's entry...

Stores LOVE service agreements, for the same reason you'd love to have money fall on you from the sky. As a result, when you buy a product today, you get this bizarre multiple-personality sales pitch, because at the same time that the salesperson is telling you how swell the product is, he's suggesting it will need a LOT of service:

SALESPERSON: "...so this is an excellent product. Totally reliable."

YOU: "I'll take it!"

SALESPERSON: "It's going to break"

YOU: "What?"

SALESPERSON: "Thereis this thing inside? The confabulator? You're lucky if that baby lasts you a week."

YOU: "So you're saying it's NOT a good product?"

SALESPERSON: "No! It's top of the line! Totally dependable!"
Uh-huh.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 11:01 AM
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Thursday, November 06, 2003  

That Sound You Hear: I wonder if the guys who made this could make a violin? That way we can play "My Heart Bleeds For You" for poor 'iddle Babsie, now that those mean old Conservatives have persuaded CBS to dump that Reagan smear-fest.

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 1:54 PM
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Monday, November 03, 2003  

Evidence That Demands A Verdict Department: I was already convinced that Fidel Castro is an evil dictator. But the Washington Post has a story of Castro doing something that shows the depths of his depravity.

Cuban President Fidel Castro praised California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger's muscles but wondered how much brain power the former Mr. Universe has.

"To judge from the photographs, he has a lot of muscle, but they have not tested him to see how much muscle he has in the brain," the bearded revolutionary quipped during a five-hour speech Friday evening closing a Latin American social sciences conference. [Emphasis added.]
A five-hour speech?!?! Oh, the humanity!

posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 4:22 PM
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