Thursday, December 31, 2009

Google Alerts

Here's what I don't get: I have "epicaricacy" on my Google Alerts, just in case something interesting pops up. Often, though, when I am sent links I can't find the word. This is an example. It is particularly intriguing because on the Google Alert it says, "Greek Etymologies - Friends of Epicaricacy: Is it really" so it could mention this Blog. But I can't even find the word "epicaricacy" anywhere.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What is it?

Oh my God. My Wordcraft friends will chuckle at this one. My daughter and I were watching "Crazy Christmas lights" tonight and were amused by the work people go to in order to produce total dreck. One man (who admitted he is obsessive compulsive) puts up more than 700,000 lights. Talk about gaudy, tacky, and ostentatious! Then the announcer called it "art." My daughter said, "What is art anyway?" Oy vey. I had to laugh...hard!

[For non-Wordcrafters, this has been a contentious discussion on our board and we really can't bring it up any more. 'Tis a pity.]

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Is it really a word?

I had a discussion with a disbeliever (in "epicaricacy") recently and ever since I have been wondering whether it really is an English word. Remember, it has a Greek etymology, and the first (and one of the only) citation in a dictionary is using some of the Greek letters. How then is it any different from "Schadenfreude," which is, to me, a German word. Further, how often is "epicaricacy" used as a word in English...really? It is used, but only to define it, call it a word or used in arrogance (e.g. "Ha! ha! you don't know the word!")

Now, in support of the word, it is becoming more widely known. I have been getting many more Google alerts these this one and this one. In each of them, you have to scroll down to the comments.

While the writers do use the word, as you can see, it's merely in lexacographical manner. So...I am myself beginning to think the OED might be right to not include it.

Here is one of the comments:

I have a fondness for the word "schadenfreude", and the supposedly english version of the word..."epicaricacy".

I have had them posted on my wall for 3 or more years, and have only heard the word "epicaricacy" used once. "Schadenfreude" was the explanation when I looked up "epicaricacy".

And here is the other:

Dude, I just did a whole post on "Schaudenfreude" a couple of weeks ago. Of course, I spelled Schaudenfreude wrong and completely botched the context, but I hardly am ever hard on myself for misspelling things in German. The english equivalent is "epicaricacy." I learned that from one of my smart readers. I was as surprised as anyone when I found out I had one.

Friday, December 11, 2009


That Google Alert feature is invaluable to Blogs like mine. Today I found alphadictionary via Google Alert, and the illustrious Tsuwm, from the Worthless Word of the Day, posted this:

"this word, as defined in Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of
Unusual... Words, has caused a lot of discussion
in the past on a couple of forums that discuss these
sorts of things. where in the world did she find
this English word for a concept that isn't supposed
to have a word in English (schadenfreude being German
in origin)? this question has yet to be answered in
full, but I can quote you this from Nathan Bailey's
An Universal Etymological English Dictionary, which
is a very olde dictionary indeed (1721):

Epicharikaky - from the Greek words or roots for 'upon', 'joy', and 'evil': 'A Joy at the Misfortunes of o

I am sure one of the forums he was referring to was my beloved Wordcraft.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Lotsa epicaricacies

Well, today may be my lucky day...or my unlucky day...depending on how you look at it. I received from Google Alerts a bunch of epicaricacy Web alerts. The first one, however, is from my least favorite site in the whole world. I'll be the bigger person and post a link to it: "Schadenfreude, as everyone knows, describes the pleasure some derive from another's personal misfortune. Is there a word to describe the possibly more common feeling of resentment at another's success?" Funny thing is, I asked a similar question on this Blog recently. Down further in the thread someone mentions epicaricacy: "then there's the other complement of epicaricacy..macarism (rare) taking pleasure from another's happiness."

Then there's this little mention of it in: Epicaricacy does not own glee.

The next is from a Blog; comment #1: "I must admit I've picked up on epicaricacy and keep trying to use it. This is probably more showing off than anything else."

The next was here, but I have no idea what to do with it.

Here's another Blog comment [Were I so lucky!]: "THAT’S what makes the Schadenfreuders rub their hands with glee and delight. And the English equivalent of this word is epicaricacy."

And, lastly, here's one: "If you feel particularly pretentious, or if you're talking to Frasier, use the term 'epicaricacy' instead of lulz."

Yeah, yeah. The top one is the best. Ugh.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Mary Schmich wrote about a Zen parable:

A wealthy merchant heard about a school that needed larger quarters, so he went to see the schoolteacher. He offered the teacher a sack of gold. The teacher said he'd take it.

The wealthy man was dissatisfied with the teacher's response. His sack contained a lot of gold, he said. A person could live for a whole year on a fraction of this sum. Even for a rich person, such a large gift was a big deal.

The teacher heard the hint. "Do you want me to thank you for it?" he asked.

"You ought to," said his benefactor.

"Why should I?" asked the teacher. "The giver should be thankful."

It made me think. Recently I had sent someone a gift because his wife had been in an accident. I was surprised that they didn't even acknowledge receipt of the gift...with a 30 second email or something. After reading Schmich's column, I suppose I should be thankful because I was the giver and giving makes me happy.

In real life, though, a simple thank you is not out of line (from the receiver, of course!). I am not talking about thank you note, but a quick email, phone call or even text message should be expected. After all, when you send something, you are not even sure the person received it. When I was in South Africa in June, I sent someone something as a gift and still don't know if she received it. I'd feel rude asking, so I've let it go.

I'm wondering if these people who don't send their thanks are remembering the parable...or if they're just lazy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sarcasm backfired

One of the things I hate about Jonah Goldberg is that I fear that he might be Jewish, and that would be so embarrassing for the rest of us.

Jonah is an extreme conservative. If anything is proposed by even a moderate Republican, he's against it. One can only imagine his hatred for Obama. In his recent column he said, "Sarah Palin is neither savior (that job has been taken by the current president, or didn't you know?) nor is she satanic."

But one thing that he does, and I am sure it happens on both sides of the aisle, is ridicule sarcasm...with his own sarcasm. It strikes me as not only being anti-intellectual, but also disingenuous. For example, he says, "Other readers pounced like wolf-size Dobermans on an intruder. One guffawed, 'That sentence by Sarah Palin could be entered into the annual Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest. It could have a chance at winning a (sic) honorable mention, at any rate.'" "Wolf-size Dobermans?" "Annual Bulwer-lytton bad writing contest?" And yet, what about his "sic?" Gotcha!

And then, of course the "horrible" sentence was written by Obama. Wasn't that convenient for his point?

Then there's: "My all-time favorite response to John McCain's selection of Palin as his running mate was from Wendy Doniger, a feminist professor of religion at the University of Chicago. Doniger wrote of the exceedingly feminine 'hockey mom' with five children: 'Her greatest hypocrisy is in her pretense that she is a woman.' The best part about that sentence: Doniger uses the pronoun 'her' -- twice." Now, that's telling her! (And I only used it once!)

He then complains about the "one-birther conspiracy theory," about Palin's youngest child. Yes, it's vicious, I agree. But then what about the birthing conspiracy out there about Obama? You see, what goes around comes around.

Why can't we just argue with facts? Why all the inuendoes and sarcasm. Just speak the truth, Goldberg.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

An opposite word?

There has been a murder case in the Chicago area where a prosecutor got up in court, during his closing argument, and arrogantly claimed, " "We got it right! We got it right, Brian! You raped and killed Jeanine Nicarico!" What a jerk. The fact is that more than 20 years ago he prosecuted 2 other men, put them on death row, hiding evidence to do so. It took many good people, including the journalism school at Northwestern University, to put the puzzle together and finally free the wrongly accused men. The prosecutor, Joe Birkett, wouldn't even believe DNA evidence! Now, that the real murderer and rapist has come forward, admitted his guilt, and this is corroborated by DNA evidence and other facts (including 2 witnesses), Mr. Birkett unbelievably stands up in court and takes the credit.

As I thought about all of this, I realized that I am taking misery in his joy. Is there a word that means the opposite of epicaricacy or Schadenfreude?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Back to epicaricacy

Well, I should get back to the subject of this blog. I do like blogs, though, because I can say what I want without worrying about irritating others, as sometimes happens on Wordcraft. I suppose if I had more readers, I'd have more to worry about!

Tonight I checked the word epicaricacy. First, I am happy to say that my blog is on the first page when you Google the word. Secondly, I had posted on April 8, 2008, that there were 6,230 hits for epicaricacy. Today there are 42,000 results. I wonder if my blog had anything to do with that increase. Hope so!

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Ah...more on health care. I have been at a meeting in Orlando and always enjoy reading the local papers. Here is what one reader of the Orlando Sentinel had to say, and I couldn't agree with him more:

"Jesus said such left-wing liberal things as 'turn the other cheek,' 'love your enemies,' 'blessed are the poor and downtrodden,' 'the meek shall inherit the Earth,' 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you,' etc.

I, therefore, find it rather ironic and somewhat hypocritical that so many people who consider themselves ardent Christians have no problem at all with the trillions of dollars that have been spent and the many tens of thousands of lives that have been lost due to our unjustified invasion of Iraq. They have nothing but contempt for President Obama's trying to reach out to other nations, and they have a fit at the thought of their tax dollars being spent to help the poor and downtrodden obtain needed medical help."

Amen. Plus, isn't it believable with this huge health care bill, worth a trillion dollars, that one part became such a point of discussion: people might get abortions with federal funds. Those religious fanatics who meet with legislators and become politically active moving forward their religious agendas absolutely have a right to do so. However, I think a good argument needs to be made that when they do that, there no longer is a separation of church and state, a principle upon which our government is based. Therefore, they absolutely need to be paying property taxes. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Health Care

This is a blog about words, and particularly one of my favorite one. However, it's time to step back for awhile (and I have been doing that much too much recently on my blog...because of my travels), take a deep breath, and say "whew!" The House passed a health care bill. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. But I am glad that we've got something. Had it been my way, we would have convened a group of legislators, doctors, nurses, allied health care workers, consumers, insurers, business people, innovators, etc., and created something transformative, and that didn't happen. You know that simply because the AMA supported it. However, it's done, and let's go from here. It's a beginning, and surely it's better than the way things are. Way to go!

Now for the senate...

Friday, October 23, 2009


I am driving a l-o-n-g w-a-y (Chicago to Phoenix) with my daughter and father, so we have the sky to talk about. As my dad and daughter were talking about some episodes of Cops, I was thinking those shows about people being arrested or getting traffic tickets are forms of epicaricacy, or for the Germans, Schadenfreude. Why would people watch those shows if they didn't enjoy them? They are getting enjoyment out of others' misfortunes. How sad.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Schadenfreude isn't understood?

Rick Morrissey writes on the Sports pages of the Tribune and today wrote about 2 football players who were traded to other teams and now are doing well. He said, "Going into the season, the situation was ripe for schadenfreude - the enjoyment of other people's misfortune - but Orton and Favre have gone and spoiled it by succeeding." First of all, you have to explain its definition??? I can see it for epicaricacy, but not for Schadenfreude. Secondly, is there a word for when you expect to enjoy others' misfortune, but it's foiled? There should be! We've all felt it (or most of us). Some arrogant jerk is about to lose at something...and you're ready to be so happy...then BAM! He wins! Ugh! [I've also been using "ugh" a lot lately!]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Limericks and Poetry

Oh why do those lim'ricks affect me?
They bullyrag, plague and dissect me.
When writing for fun,
I can't be outdone!
Oh please don't you say they reflect me!

Oh, well.

Here's a nice link from WC on a poem, "The Death of a Toad." The author's description of why he wrote it, and what was on his mind, is really elucidating. I like the poem much better now. Here it is:

The Death of a Toad
Richard Wilbur

A toad the power mower caught,
Chewed and clipped of a leg, with a hobbling hop has got
To the garden verge, and sanctuaried him
Under the cineraria leaves, in the shade
Of the ashen and heartshaped leaves, in a dim,
Low, and a final glade.

The rare original heartsbleed goes,
Spends in the earthen hide, in the folds and wizenings, flows
In the gutters of the banked and staring eyes. He lies
As still as if he would return to stone,
And soundlessly attending, dies
Toward some deep monotone,

Toward misted and ebullient seas
And cooling shores, toward lost Amphibia's emperies.
Day dwindles, drowning and at length is gone
In the wide and antique eyes, which still appear
To watch, across the castrate lawn,
The haggard daylight steer.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Internet Anonymity

There has been a case in Illinois about a local (very local!) politician who was involved in a particularly vicious campaign. In the heat of the moment, someone posted a "deeply disturbing" comment about this politician's 15-year-old son. The culprit (the court described the poster as "he") has remained anonymous and is sending his attorney to the courts. So far the judge knows the identity of the poster, and on November 9th will decide whether to give it to the complainant.

Clearly I don't support that kind of thing, nor do I support or even care about the poster. However, should people be able to be anonymous on the Internet? I think so. Yes, there are kooks. We all know that. So, who cares? One can choose to, or not to, read those kinds of discussion boards. Besides, there are idiots every walk of life. You show me a discipline or occupation where jerks don't exist. I have always said there are fairly equal percentages of miscreants in every walk of life. Lawyers are not more crooked than nurses, for example. Nor are teachers any more or less trustworthy than car salespeople. And so on. We're all created equal when it comes to professions and jobs.

The problem with people identifying themselves online is that the kooks can take advantage of them. They can find out contact information and harrass...or stalk...or worse. That would limit the good (but scared) people from participating on good discussion boards or Web sites. For example, it would compromise our Wordcraft, OEDILF, and other good online sites.

Yet, I think, eventually, there will be no anonymity on the Internet, and then things will change. A lot, I fear. Why is it that the few ruin it for the rest of us?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Presidential Derangement Syndrome

Eric Zorn is becoming one of my favorite columnists. He used to be a light-weight in the Tribune, posting about things like where to buy the best sno-cones. However, he has been promoted to the Op Ed page of the Tribune, and always writes an interesting, factual, and thoughtful column. In today's column he was wrote about "Presidential Derangement Syndrome."

In 2003 one of my least favorite columnists, Charles Krauthammer, wrote about "Bush Derangement Syndrome." The problem with Krauthhammer is that he has conservative blinders on. Whatever Bush did was wonderful, and whatever Obama does is awful. Never mind if they each do the same thing; Bush is right, and Obama is wrong. Talk about knee jerk...

Zorn says he first found the phrase "Presidential Derangement Syndrome" in 2005. I suspect it was coined well before that time, but with 165,000 Google hits, I am not about to go through each one. The Obama Derangement Syndrome was first mentioned by Managing Editor, Jason Arvak, in June of 2008.

So what is it? Krauthhammer defined Bush Derangement Syndrome as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush." One can extrapolate from there the general definition and the Obama definition.

Surely one can see the Republicans now doing just what they had accused the Democrats of. When Bush was president, the Republicans complained that the Democrats weren't "patriotic." Ahhh, it's different now, though. Suddenly all over the place they're criticizing Obama, saying he shouldn't have won the Nobel Peace Prize and that he doesn't have a legitimate birth certificate, etc.

I am not letting the Dems off the hook. They also ranted against war, ranted against nominees, just because the Republicans were supportive. Come on, people. We have to change our political nature in the U.S. or all will be lost. When one side gets it right, support it. When they don't, collaborate with them to make things better. The way we're going, we'll only have bickering and nothing will improve.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Epicaricacy and the Chicago Olympics

Well, as I suspected, Chicago is settling down and accepting the IOC decision. Of course there have been a lot of articles about it in our newspapers, from being really angry to saying it's for the best. I like Mary Schmich, but sometimes she can be a little too schmaltzy, as I thought she was about the Olympics. Generally, Chicago is miffed, but moving on.

Still, there are those who didn't want the Olympics. They are pretending to feel bad for us who did want them. However, I suspect what they really are feeling is epicaricacy. I told my daughter that today (and she was an anti-Olympics person), and she said, "I hate it when you use words like that!" Funny!

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's a sad day in Chicago

Chicagoans are so disappointed about not only being eliminated from the 2016 Olympics, but being eliminated first. I'd not feel as bad if I thought the decision had been based on Chicago not being able to deliver. However, all evidence seems to indicate it was a political decision, partly because Europe has so many more people on the Olympics Committee than other areas in the world; indeed close to half are from Europe! Further, there have been reports that a "deal" was made between Rio and Madrid voters. Perhaps. Makes sense. Moreover, there are indications that Chicago wasn't supported because the American delegation isn't "liked" (sounds a bit sophomoric, doesn't it?). Another problem seemed to be the extended security that Obama needed, and the "brevity" of his appearance. [Puleeze! There are more important things in this world. Just ask the family of a dying child.]

This is an interesting take on the Olympics. I am not that jaded, but then again I don't know that I'll ever watch the Olympics again.

But we Chicagoans are resilient. We know bad weather, political corruption, lousy sports teams, horrible traffic, etc., and yet we smile and go on with our days, always trying to make things better. That is surely more important than some bid for the Olympics.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Epicaricacy in the news

Well, finally my Google Alerts paid off. Not only did I receive an alert for "epicaricacy," but it was in the sporting news! Let's face it, that has to convince John Simpson that it is becoming a mainstream word:

"Onward to October and the Terrible Ten, let the warm glow of epicaricacy fill your football mind.

Lets do the schadenfreude swing!"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

g'mar chatimah tovah

Yom Kippur is the holiest of holidays for Jews. Please read this post I wrote about it on Wordcraft.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


We had a speaker this morning who spoke on "reflection." She went into the etymology, from its Latin roots "reflexio," and said that it comes from a word meaning "bending back" or "a wave motion or energy." She then cited some authors who have written about reflection, including Dewey, Shon, Johns and Socrates. At the end the speaker tearfully reflected upon her own mother's teachings at age 2:

  • Arrive with a flare
  • "Can't" doesn't exist
  • Take a fried along (not misspelled)
  • Ask for a push
  • Swing higher
  • Reach for the clouds
  • Feel the music
  • Use your imagination
  • Laugh/play/learn

Nice advice. But..."tearfully?" Therein lies my problem in nursing. Too many women. Would a major player (man) in medicine or law or business give an address to over 1,000 attendees tearfully? I think not. In reflecting, I think that nursing is where it is because it is run by women. Every so often I say it outloud to my colleagues, and I get grief. But would legislators ask men to lower the standards of their faculty? They do it all the time to nurses. In Florida, for example, the legislators took the Board of Nursing out of regulating nursing education, and the legislators (mostly men and certainly non-nurses) are regulating nursing programs. Do you know what their required faculty qualifications are? 50% need a master's in nursing. That's it. What about the other 50%, you ask? There are no qualifications for them! So, in a Florida nursing program, you could have a faculty member who also flipped hamburgers. What is nursing doing about it? Absolutely nothing. Why? I think it's because we are women. Let me ask you: What if this were medicine? Or if it were a profession that has a larger percentage of men?

I am sorry to be disparaging to my own gender, but we must learn to step up to the plate, like men have. It is embarrassing sometimes.

By the way, do not get sick in Florida!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Computer Savvy

One of my first posts on Wordcraft was about not being "computer savvy", and while I have improved since 2002, I still can have my challenges with computer settings or other technical computer questions. And, yet, I am fairly active on Web sites, from Wordcraft to my LinkedIn to Facebook, and I have a Twitter account where, while I rarely use it, I do tweat every so often. I am at a conference with educators, and I can see that I am way ahead of many of them...even some of the so-called experts. So maybe I am computer savvy. Or does that mean something more technical, while my knowledge is in informatics? I was in two sessions today that discussed informatics, and clearly there is a misunderstanding of that word. Some, indeed, think it is using sites like Ning or Delicious or Connotea or Second Life. Others see informatics, at least in health care, as using electronic medical records (EMRs) or other medical databases.

The dictionary defines informatics as: "the study of information processing; computer science." And yet the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which is calling for the integration of informatics in the curricula of all health care students, defines it as: "Communicate, manage knowledge, and support decision making using information technology." That's a lot different from pure "computer science." Clearly with those disparate definitions, one can see why educators are confused about integrating informatics into their curricula.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Scintillating Discussions

It's interesting how people's feelings sometimes get in the way of having an excellent discussion. This article , by a very conservative columnist, addressed the ongoing Wordcraft question of "what is art." We don't seem to be able to delve into it because feelings get in the way. However, here there are no discussants, so I can reflect for a moment. George Will, in the article cited, says:
Under the last Democratic administration, the NEA said art is ... almost everything. The NEA democratically decreed that "art includes the expressive behaviors of ordinary people," including "dinner-table arrangements." The head of the National Endowment for the Humanities believed, "Today the lives of ordinary American people have assumed a place beside volumes of European classics in the humanities."

According to some, art is in the eyes of the beholder. I surely can see how a floral arrangement could be considered art. It is art to me. Art is present in "ordinary" life. Yet, there is a difference from the gorgeous deep purple gladiola arrangement in my family room, and a Monet. I think the question isn't what is art, but instead the relative significance (?) of art (fair, good, etc.). Yet, that's all subjective, too. Some don't even like Monet, for example.

Here is my favorite. I so love the National Gallery of Art, and I haven't been there for a few years now.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Finally...epicaricacy in the news

Well, I've dithered a lot about many different subjects, mostly because there is nothing new on epicaricacy. Indeed, I was about to post tonight that I have begun to question the veracity of the word. Yes, it is cited on Google, but too often only in dictionaries or in comments like, "Did you know that epicaricacy is the English word for Schadenfreude?"

However, I was given a reprieve tonight. Vandit's Web-zine has this post. The incident was a good example (though the writing was a bit stilted), and the author reminded me of the biblical quote about epicaricacy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

An insight into racism

All the hullabaloo these days about Obama has made me speculate if it's racist. One doesn't want to jump to conclusions, but I've been wondering. However, the recent joewilsoning during Obama's speech clinched it for me. Today, Clarence Page wrote about racism with Obama. This struck a chord with me:

"For example, my column-writing colleague Maureen Dowd of The New York Times arched many eyebrows with this bit of mind-reading after Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, rudely blurted out "You lie!" during Obama's health-care address to Congress: "Wilson clearly did not like being lectured and even rebuked by the brainy black president presiding over the majestic chamber. ... Wilson's shocking disrespect for the office of the president -- no Democrat ever shouted "liar" at W. when he was hawking a fake case for war in Iraq -- convinced me: Some people just can't believe a black man is president and will never accept it."

My response: Welcome to my world. Judging by the polls, about 15 percent or so of the country was in shock and even ran to gun shops to stock up, according to news reports, when they heard Obama won the presidential race. Some of them naturally show up at protests like the 9/12 march and buy "I'm with Joe Wilson" T-shirts. I just hope Wilson's new fans are still happy when they have to go dig up their birth certificates and prove their citizenship just to get some health care."

"Welcome to my world," he says. White people are shocked, but Black people get it. I know what he means. I was Christian before I married my husband when I converted to Judaism. Before that, I never much thought about anti-Semitism, and when people complained of it, I thought they were being paranoid. But...welcome to my world now. I see it all the time. Our highest holidays are coming up, Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur, particularly, is like Christmas to the Christians. Now, I get it that you might have to take a precious "vacation day" for the holiday because otherwise you are opening up all religious holidays to everyone. But I do sometimes wonder why people don't need "vacation days" at Christmas time. Many workplaces give both Christmas and Christmas eve off. However, what really aggravates me is that often major meetings or other workplace events are planned for Yom Kippur. I remember once a major conference starting on Passover. Can you imagine it starting on Easter? I suspect the Christians just don't get it. But is that an excuse? Similarly, it's no excuse for what's happening now to our presidency.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Once again we have political epicaricacy

Oh, those Republicans are loving it now. Obama can't even get the Democrats on board with healthcare change, much less the Republicans. "If the USPS can't deliver the mail, how can we expect the government to be in charge of healthcare?" Or "They're going to convene death panels to kill the sick, elderly and vulnerable." And so on. This is the epitome of epicaricacy.

Don Wycliff (who used to be on the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune) wrote an op ed today that says it all. My feelings completely. Those who don't trust the federal government to take part in healthcare are disingenuous, and most of them know it (though some of the dullards really don't understand, I think). Here is Don's article; he details all the areas in healthcare where the U.S. government is already involved. you want to cut them all? Go ahead. Do it. You can't have it both ways, people; that's called having your cake and eating it too.

For the dullards who really don't get it, here are some of the federal programs that he specifies:
  • Eliminate Medicare
  • Eliminate Medicaid
  • Eliminate tax deductions for employer payments of health insurance
  • Eliminate all veteran healthcare
  • Eliminate all military hospitals; only treat those on the battlefield to stabilize them
  • Eliminate the Indian Health Service
  • Eliminate the office of the Surgeon General
  • Eliminate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Eliminate the National Institutes of Health
Go for it, U.S. citizens. See where that gets you.

Monday, August 31, 2009

True friendship is abiding, not fleeting

There was a wonderful story in the Chicago Tribune today about how poetry is pulling a former English teacher out of the depths of depression.

A clergyman's English teacher of many years ago had a stroke, and the reverend has been spending time reading poetry to him. In his sermon the pastor told his congregants: "True friendship is abiding, not fleeting; it is deep, not shallow. It includes giving of one's self to another and receiving what another has to give." The latter concept is particularly important. Sometimes we do quite well at giving, but not at receiving. Friendship is a two-way street.

The ex-student, who had been turned onto poetry by his teacher, is spending time reading Matthew Arnold, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Milton, Gerald Manley Hopkins, Robert Browning and Dylan to his former teacher. Indeed, "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night" seemed particularly appropriate:

Do not go gentle into that
good night,
Old age should burn and
rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dy-
ing of the light.

Now the teacher is beginning to eat and even to communicate. What an amazing turnaround the reading of poetry has caused. I look below (in my Blog) at that post where a reader said nobody reads poetry anyway, and I really hope he read this amazing article.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And yet...

I know people who always think they are right. Even if you prove them wrong on one thing, they will take the conversation in a different direction so that they won't have to admit they're wrong. I don't think I am like that, though sometimes we come across differently than we think.

Anyway, pertaining to yesterday's post, I think I came on too strong. Firstly, I don't know all the facts, and that can be dangerous. I particularly know very little about what happened in Switzerland. Secondly, did I look at both sides of the situation? I think not. When cooler heads prevail, we have more reasoned thinking. I still think that Scotland made a mistake. And yet, when I considered the other side written here, I saw his point. Leave it to Garrison Keillor to balance me. He says this about Scotland:

"Standing in stark contrast was the simple humane decision of the Scottish government to release the Libyan Abdel Baset al-Megrahi from prison on compassionate grounds, a man near death from prostate cancer, who was convicted in 2001 on the basis of thin circumstantial evidence and the testimony of a paid witness for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. A shaky conviction of a man for a crime that had to have involved many others who, it would seem, Britain and the U.S. have little interest in finding, what with Libyan oil in the balance. Al-Megrahi had 'patsy' written all over him. The Scots did the right thing. And caused a public uproar, and so what? Right is right."

He also says this about our sweet Brits:

"Justice is what makes a great city like London bustle and thrive, a polyglot metropolis full of minorities and escapees from authoritarian lands -- it isn't the excellent underground or the plays of Shakespeare so much as it is the expectation of justice. If you come here, this society will go to some length to do the right thing by you. You will not be snatched up and thrown in a hole and forgotten. If you're sick, you'll be cared for. Right is right."

Do I agree with him about what happened in Scotland? No. Yet, am I willing to listen? Absolutely.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What were they thinking?

The following two columns make me ask, loudly, what were they thinking? Have we lost our way in this world? Where are our values? One begins to wonder what might have happened during WWII had these cowardly attitudes existed. I suspect we'd all be speaking German.

I can't say that I am proud of my Scottish ancestry.

When Hannibal met Heidi --


Oil-for-terrorist? --

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Healthy Debate

I've noticed that in nursing we don't like debates. One always must come to "consensus." But what happens when there clearly are two sides? How do you come to consensus on that? I've wondered if it's because they are nurses...after all, in the scheme of health care nurses are not that high on the totem pole. Or is it women? About 92% of nurses in the U.S. are women. Or is it a combination?

Whatever it is, I think a well-argued, cogent debate with passion on both sides can be invigorating...exciting even! Yet, so often nurses (and others) think you are attacking them personally if you don't agree with them. What a shame.

To me, it is those with the highest intellect who will thrive on debates without feeling threatened. I truly admire those who present brilliant arguments. Further, those who passionately present their case, and listen to the other side...and then change their minds based on the data/facts are even more admirable. It doesn't happen much, but I've seen it. I suppose it all comes down to listening, when you think about it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Massacre or battle?

As you know, I love quotes. Unfortunately I lost the quote mentioned in an earlier post that I "couldn't wait" to use. It referred to transition to practice (an initiative I am working on), but I don't remember much else about it. I had written it in a notebook (therefore I didn't commit it to memory) that I have since lost. Darn!

The following is a great quote by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle (link to article below). It refers to the landscape around him, which was a marshy area between Lake Michigan and the Des Plaines River: "This will be the gate of empire, this the seat of commerce. Everything invites to action." And he was is now Chicago!

Massacre or battle? --

Posted using ShareThis

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Google Scholar

When I have to do some research but am not able to get to a medical library, I try Google Scholar. I am sure some academic snobs think it's too much of a short-cut, but I rather like it. It's also nice to see how many others have cited the piece of work you are reading. So, I looked up "epicaricacy" in Google Scholar tonight, and found it here and here. The latter is a research paper at Cleveland State University, and here is the quote (in a footnote):

"159 “Schadenfreude” is a German word, usually capitalized, signifying a malicious or perverse pleasure in the misfortune of others. 16 Oxford English Dictionary 611 (2d ed. 1989). It has been imported to English directly in its German form, as it is often said to have no true English equivalent. But see Peter Novobatzky & Ammon Shea, Insulting English 51 (2001) (defining “epicaricacy,” an English word of apparently similar mean-ing, but appearing in few modern dictionaries). In some of its earliest scholarly usage, Schadenfreude focused upon considerations of interpersonal relations. See generally Fritz Heider, The Psychology of Interpersonal Relations (1958); Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morals 127 (Walter Kaufmann ed., Walter Kaufmann & R. J. Holl-ingdale trans., Vintage Books 1989) (1887). In more recent scholarly usage, it has moved beyond the interpersonal to the broader context of intergroup relations, particularly where there are feelings of scorn or superiority held by one group towards another, and for this reason, it has a particular piquancy in the context of some mainstream white atti-tudes held about poor, black Katrina victims. See Russell Spears & Colin Wayne Leach, In-tergroup Schadenfreude: Conditions and Consequences, in The Social Life of Emotions 336, 336–38 (Larissa Z. Tiedens & Colin Wayne Leach eds., 2004). Spears and Leach argue that Schadenfreude is an important aspect of group social identity because of the way that it implies both “psychological distance” from and “emotional divergence” between one..."

The former cite has this quote:
"When a theoretician conflates the axes of intentionality and rationality is ignored, it is expected for him or her to conflate malevolence (spite) with selfishness. To wit, the sociobiological [e.g., Wilson, 1975] and the economics literature [e.g., Hirshleifer, 1987; Levine, 1998] uses the terms “spite” and “selfishness” more-or-less interchangeably. In light of the TAE hypothesis, we should be able to distinguish them. Spite or malevolence is probably a more complex form of “schadenfreude” (from German) or “epicaricacy” (from Greek). Schadenfreude is probably the basic element of “class envy” or, what is called in Australasia slang, the “tall poppy syndrome” 43 [Feather & Nairn, 2005].12 Evil is probably the most extreme form of schadenfreude [Khalil, 2007d]. An evil act is defined as the “joy” experienced by the principal at the sight of the misery of others, when the principal need not have benefited from the act. In contrast, selfishness is an act that the spectator can understand because the intention is to enhance the wellbeing of current self, but when the optimal choice is to take care more of the interest of future self or of the interest of important other. As such, the spectator, or judge within, expresses unsympathy towards selfish actions—while still empathetic with them. This differs from the spectator’s expression of rejection towards schadenfreude—where the spectator cannot even understand (i.e., cannot empathize with) the principal’s action. Schadenfreude or, its more extreme forms, envy, spite, and malevolence are emotions/acts that the spectator find revolting."

I need to read more about the "tall poppy syndrome."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Time to get serious

One of my readers keeps me on the up and up sometimes, and I'll probably hear from that person.

I am thinking of not writing limericks anymore if I don't win at least a mention in the WPSI. After all, I've been entering those lousy contests since 2004 for heaven's sake. I've seen some pretty mediocre ones getting mentioned. The Empress doesn't have perfect taste in limericks. So how about letting one teeny tinsy limerick of mine slip right by?

If I don't get a mention, I am thinking of pulling out of limerick writing altogether. There are still haiku and DDs, after all. Heck, Shu has been challenging me with "dipsomaniacal" which is a great DD word.

I hate to say "never" so I won't. But I really want a mention!!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What good is peanut butter?

Someone commented on my Blog about the title of the entry "What good is poetry?" That title came from a rather funny family story. I was in church with my family one Sunday, a long time ago. Suddenly my younger brother looked up at my dad and, big as you please, asked in a rather loud voice that could be heard all over the church, "Daddy, what good is peanut butter?" It was out of the blue, and of course everyone started laughing. "What good is peanut butter?" has become a family phrase we use when we're don't know something and are trying to be funny. Try it sometime!

Monday, August 10, 2009

William Carlos Williams

So I looked up Williams and I like his work. I particularly like this one:

First Praise

Lady of dusk-wood fastnesses,
Thou art my Lady.
I have known the crisp, splintering leaf-tread with thee on before,
White, slender through green saplings;
I have lain by thee on the brown forest floor
Beside thee, my Lady.

Lady of rivers strewn with stones,
Only thou art my Lady.
Where thousand the freshets are crowded like peasants to a fair;
Clear-skinned, wild from seclusion
They jostle white-armed down the tent-bordered thoroughfare
Praising my Lady.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

What good is poetry?

This question, from a reader, appeared in Parade Magazine today:

"Why are my tax dollars going to pay a poet laureate when nobody reads poetry?" (emphasis mine)

What??? Nobody reads poetry? Why is it that people generalize their preferences to others? I bet, being from Nebraska, he thinks everyone loves a good beef steak. I sure don't.

Here was Parade's answer, which I thought was far too kind to him:

"'It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there'

wrote the great American poet William Carlos Williams. (We hope you'll look him up!) While it's true that not many people read poetry, they'd probably get a lot out of it if they gave it a try. The current U.S. Poet Laureate, Californian Kay Ryan, earns all of $35,000. But fret not. Her stipend is funded from a private endowment, not tax revenues."

I might have been harsher in my reply.

I need to look up William Carlos Williams...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Google images

Whenever I present I look on the Web for new quotes that fit perfectly (I have a new one that I am just dying to use) and I look for great images for my PPTs that portray what I am trying to say. For example, I use this one for my transition to practice initiative. Audiences love it because it so perfectly explains how the new nurse feels. They are supported in their nursing program, with tight clinical groups. Then they get their first job! They're alone, often isolated and without much support.

Tonight, I decided to look for images for "epicaricacy," completely thinking that I'd find none. Instead, look what I found. Interestingly, there's a link to my own Blog there!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


In looking up "compete" in the OED, the etymology is surprisingly long, compared to other words:

"[repr. L. compet-{ebreve}re, in its post-classical active sense ‘to strive after (something) in company or together’, f. com- together + pet{ebreve}re to aim at, go toward, try to reach, seek, etc.: see prec. No such sense is recognized by Littré for mod.F. compéter, but Cotgrave has ‘competer, to be sufficient for, sutable with, agreeable vnto; also, to belong or appertaine to’ (= prec. vb.); also, ‘to demaund, or sue for the same thing that another doth’ (which corresponds to this). Florio 1598 has It. competere ‘to contend or striue for any suite, office, place, or dignitie,’ [1611] ‘to contend or striue with another for maistrie’; Minsheu has Sp. compéter ‘to be meet for, to agree with’ (= prec.); ‘to sue with another for anything, to content or striue for any suit, office, or dignity’. The early related words in Eng. are competitor, competor; cf. also

COMPETENCE, COMPETENCY, sense I. Though in occasional use in 17th c., this verb is not in Johnson, nor in Todd 1818, Seager 1819, Jodrell 1820; it is given by Richardson (without quotations) as ‘now not uncommon in speech’; by critics, in 1824, it was styled ‘a Scotticism’, and ‘an American discovery’.] "

I think it very interesting that it wasn't defined in Johnson, Todd (1818) or Jodrell (1820) and then in Richardson it is called "not uncommon in speech" and in 1824 called "an American discovery." Maybe! It does sound very American. Not being a linguist, it's not as easy for me to analyze this etymology, but its derivation seems more complex than other words, though "competition" is simply described as deriving from "agreement, a judicial demand, rivalry, n. of action f. compet{ebreve}re."

Wherever it comes from, I've always been a competitor. I loved sports as a kid and excelled at softball. However, I wasn't all that good in my favorite sport, basketball, because I am too short, so I chose to cheerlead, rather than to play something I stink at (as my son says). To this day I really can't watch a basketball game because I have a fit when the other team gets a basket. My husband says, "What do you want, the other team to be skunked??!!"

But of course it isn't only in sports. Indeed, I am not an avid sports fan (except for the Bulls). I hate football for example and while I like the Cubs, they lose too much. However, competition is around in my personal and professional life, too. I am sure I inherited it from my mom's side. She and her father were worse than me...slamming the table when they'd lose at cards. My family all loved hearts, bridge and euchre. I remember I was playing bridge with my parents and my boyfriend (newish), and my mom had to have my boyfriend for her partner. I knew why. She wanted to cheat! So, she got dealt a typical short club opening bid, but not everyone plays a short club...and you can't ask after the hand has been dealt or it gives everything away to your partner. Never fear. My mom knew I'd not challenge her with my boyfriend as her partner. So, big as you please, with her first bid after the cards were dealt, she brazenly said, "Do you play a short club, honey?" Grrrr! That gave the whole hand away, and of course they won it. Now, one would think I might forget that since I was 18 at the time. No way!

When I get off the train and go down the steps, I cannot stand it when people in back of me beat me. I make it into a race, and I've beat 6 foot tall, young men down the stairwell. Not bad for a short, not so young lady!

And of course on Wordcraft there are the limerick and bluffing games. When we kept score in the bluffing game, I was a wreck. Now that we don't keep score, I am much better, though I get peeved when people don't choose my daffynition. With limericks? Well, I'm not the world's best limerick writer, and I know that intellectually. The meter and rhymes I get right. However, the content could be more clever, and others are much better at that (particularly my husband, who has every once in awhile helped me write something that wins). But in my heart? Oh, I hate not winning!

Professionally? I am not sure I'd call it competitiveness, but I surely strive to be the best. Of course, I am not the best, but I work very hard at it. So, in the end, there are some positivenesses to being competitive. I think it helps you in your work. However, it can make you downright crazy!

[Don't I have the best blog going????]

Monday, July 20, 2009

Twitter knows about epicaricacy

Thank heavens for those Google alerts. Yes, just today I found that Robin Bloor has tweeted about "epicaricacy." That word is really getting around!

I suppose I should begin to tweet a bit, but I haven't found a reason yet. I know that people first heard about Michael Jackson from Twitter, but what does a nano-second mean anyway? I really am perplexed about what people see in Twitter. A friend found that I have a Twitter account [I have one follower :)], but neither of us knew what to do with it. Perhaps one of my many readers can explain. [I am full of sarcasm today! One might think I were British, except I don't write color with a u.]

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Good bye to a friend

Sometimes we all make mistakes. Most often, in my profession, the errors are due to our systems. Yet, when push comes to shove and some error is made public...boom! People are fired. Never mind looking at the entire system, at the resources that have been taken away, and at the good work of the workers. The "leaders" must show that they are in charge so they get retribution. They think they will look better to the public. However, little do they know that the public isn't as stupid as they think.

It always seems to be the nurses, too, who are at fault. One situation in Colorado occurred years ago where a baby died of an injection. There were 50+ plus mistakes that led up to this, including pharmacy errors, medical errors, as well as nursing errors. This is usually the situation. What happened? The nurses, alone, not only lost their licenses, but were charged criminally! This was made very public by the media, so the prosecutor had to make his point. Why didn't he also charge the physicians and the pharmacists? Nurses always seems to be easy targets. I think it's gender bias since in the U.S. approximately 92% of nurses are female. In this case, one of the nurses courageously decided to go before her peers (the others made a "deal"), rather than to bow to the prosecutors. The facts of the system errors were made public, and the jury of our peers acquitted her. Society, dear politicians, isn't as stupid as you might think. She lost her license, of course, but, quite correctly, the jury didn't see this as criminal behavior.

I'd like to salute my dear friend in California who is suffering because of a similar situation. Once again, many, many others were linked to what happened, but it was nursing who was attacked by the media and then by the "leaders." I am so sorry. We nurses need to stand up, courageously, and support our peers. This just isn't right!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

The best 4 poets in the world

It has been awhile, hasn't it? I must get back to blogging...

I am reading an excellent novel that takes place in India. It is a cynical, and humorous, take on the call center workers in India. Indeed, as one reviewer said, "Adiga sets out to show us a part of [India] that we hear about infrequently: its underbelly..." Balram in the book, "The White Tiger," describes the four best poets in the world (this isn't stated as an opinion, but a fact), and they are Rumi, Mirza Ghalib and Iqbal and one he couldn't remember. One of Iqbal's poems is quoted as saying this about slaves: "They remain slaves because they can't see what is beautiful in this world." Balram also wonders why the four best poets all happen to be Muslim, especially, he says, when "all the Muslims you meet are illiterate or covered head to toe in black burkas or looking for buildings to blow up." Hmmm...a bit biased, wouldn't you say?

At any rate, it made me wonder who my four favorite poets are. I'll have to think about it. I know that Wordsworth is one, and maybe Frost. Perhaps Bob Hale is my third :) It's a great question, that's for sure.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back from Durban

I had quite a trip and have been neglecting my Blog, as well as Wordcraft. It was mostly a work trip, but it's always nice to see differences with people and language. My colleague and I were noting all the differences in pronunciation, like "schedule" and "process," but our Canadian (or maybe Australian, I don't recall...or even maybe Scottish) colleague pronounced "mandatory" as man-DA (as in "dad")-tory. Wow! It was a good thing the word was on a powerpoint or we never would have figured it out!

Then there was this woman (I really can't remember where she was from) who just wouldn't quit! First they gave us a yellow light, which meant we have 5 more minutes. Then a red light...meaning STOP! When our speaker got the red light, she just kept going. Finally the moderator said, "You really must stop now," but she kept going! The man running the powerpoints finally put up a blank screen, and the speaker seemed rather annoyed but finally stopped. However, she then had the audacity to say, "Any questions?" The moderator was extremely annoyed by this point and said, "You have taken up all your time! Sit down!" The speaker went back to her seat, mumbling all the way. Funny! I made sure to keep on time!

Monday, June 22, 2009


Someone on Wordcraft has gotten me interested in haikus, so I am going to write one from time to time here. I had never gotten into them like I have with limericks and DDs, but I am trying to learn to appreciate them. Here is a site that explains them.

Squirrels with acorns,
There's a chill in the evening,
Golds and reds and orange.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Identity politics

Identity politics has been in the news lately, though I really don't want to start a political discussion on Wordcraft. Therefore, I will talk about it here.

Interestingly, the Republicans are complaining about Obama's supreme court nominee, after analyzing to death one sentence from her many talks and writings. I know that Democrats do this too, but it's incredibly stupid to make a judgment based on taking something out of context. However, all the conservatives are doing it, including of course my least favorite (rather dimwitted John Kass) in today's column where he says, " Identity politics is so tiring and vulgar." Does he by any chance remember Sarah Palin??? I would write him, but I have several times, and he apparently only answers those who agree with him.

For those who think identity politics is "vulgar," I wonder if they want to do away with our representatives. Aren't they, by definition, identity politicians? Or maybe it's only the Democratic representatives who are? Um hmm! And don't get me started on what happened in Kansas recently!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I had a chance...and blew it!

I could have used the word epicaricacy today. The time was right. As I began to say it, Schadenfreude creeped out of my mouth.

Background: We are starting a publication. When we approached a reputable publisher, they refused us. "We already have a journal on that subject," they said. We didn't agree because we thought we had a different audience. But what can you do? We went ahead with our plan and are going to publish it ourselves.

So today I received a copy of the reputable publisher's rival journal. It had precisely 5 articles: One by me; one by another author; and three by the editor-in-chief. That's it. Might one think they aren't doing that well? I told my colleague..."I am feeling Schadenfreude!" Not epicaricacy. I suppose I didn't want to sound arrogant with a word that surely he'd not understand. However, I had the chance and blew it.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Internet reactions

It has been awhile, I know. That's because I have been thinking about different reactions on blogs, and I don't much like mine. Perhaps it's because I am newish to blogging. I find myself reacting (ranting?) without really giving both sides a chance. When I give the issue more thought, then I do consider all perspectives. However, there is that period of time where my temper flares a bit. Perhaps it's because of my ethnicity? The Irish part in me? I don't think so, though, because I am also English, Scotch, Dutch, Norwegian, and German...somewhat of a mutt. Whatever the reason, I am going to try to change. Hopefully, there will be no more rants!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Are you amazed?

A poster on Wordcraft says, "Pardon my cynicism, but I think it goes deeper: I am not amazed at what humans can do to one another or think they can get away with." That is in response to this: "It is amazing what politicians think they can get away with, isn't it? Just imagine that our ex-governor wanted money in exchange for Barack Obama's senate seat! We Illinoisians may have you beat!"

I wasn't sure what the "deeper" means. It seems to me that he is just saying that humans have the capabilities of doing awful things to each other. When you think about Nazi Germany or what's going on in Africa or other places, I see his point. But in general, I am not that cynical. In everything, including with human beings, there are outliers. However, the normal person I will trust with my life.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Epicarcacy is scarce

It has been a dry season for "epicaricacy." I checked Google news to see if my alerts haven't been working, but there is nothing. When I put it in Google, there still are 6,200 sites that come up, but it is positive that my Blog is on the first page! Otherwise, there isn't much to get excited about with this word.

"Schadenfreude," on the other hand, has 360 sites on Google news and 1,330,ooo on Google. Woe is I (in case there are any prescriptivists who read this)!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last words

On Wordcraft our dear Jerry has died. This is a great YouTube to remember him by (yikes! I've ended a sentence with a preposition!). What struck many of us is that this was his very last post, on April 3, 2009, with us:

"When my second wife was dying I overheard her saying to a helpful Hospice person, 'I'm dying.'

The reply, worthy of thought, 'All of us are.'"

Did he know, even though he hadn't been diagnosed yet?

Then there was Craig Arnold, a professor and poet from Wyoming, who also loved volcanoes. Indeed, he was hiking a volcano in a tiny island in Japan when he accidentally fell and was killed. His last Blog entry was on April 26th and included this comment:

"There is a rustle in the canes, and out comes a long lean tawny body, rippling squirrel-like over the sidewalk: a mongoose or a weasel. Clearly it is thinking about crossing the road, and a car is coming. You click your tongue at it, tsk-tsk, and it stops and gives you a look before ducking back into the brush. If nothing else you have saved a life today.

A life other than your own, that is. Danger has a way of cutting through melancholy, the real fear blinding you to the fear dimly imagined. If you could only always just have escaped death, you would never be sad again."

As a nurse I've seen so many patients live just until their daughter got married or make it just to their next birthday or to Christmas. I've always wondered about that. Clearly there is a mystery to death that we don't know about.

Good bye, Jerry. We know you are smiling upon us.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My day at the office would irritate descriptivists...

So...I was talking to our editor today. He had gotten a document to review from one of my colleagues. Apparently my colleague did something unforgivable: She...[drum roll!]...ended a sentence with a preposition. This editor was just livid. He was storming around my office like a caged lion, saying, "She should know better! She has a PhD! I only have a master's degree, and I knew that!"

Oy vey. That's a normal day for me. It's no wonder I react like I do on Wordcraft.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

June 10th, 2009, 10:22 a.m. Stratford-on Avon time

According to JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst at the Global Language Monitor, their algorithms show that on June 22, 2009, at precisely 10:22 a.m., Stratford-on Avon time, the millionth English word will be reached. Some, whom I respect, actually believe it! The Smithsonian magazine printed a flattering article about it, and part of it was quoted on Boing Boing, which I also respect. What are they thinking? [Boing Boing does note that in their "about" page on the Global Language Monitor, they had misspelled "dictionary." I assume it's corrected now.]

Of course, the more elite know the real story. On Wordcraft we've discussed this ridiculous concept for awhile now. Language Log and DC Blog have disputed it in a very scholarly way.

In the end there will be no way to actually find them wrong. Let them continue with their drivel, but let's hope people will at least read both sides of the debate. So often these days people pick up one study or read one article, and they make up their minds. A good example of this is happening in Texas right now. The "brilliant" legislators are calling for one study to "prove" that we need clinical experiences in nursing education. Forget that nursing is a practice discipline. Forget that there is expert consensus that nurses need supervised clinical experiences. Forget that all other health care professionals have supervised clinical experiences. One study, these "knowledgeable" legislators believe, will be enough to change the whole course of nursing. What a bunch of dufuses (or is it dufi?!). What they don't consider is that someday they will get sick, or their children, or their parents, and they will be cared by a "nurse" who has never picked up a syringe, touched a patient, read an EKG, or picked up on a subtle change in a patient's condition. What then? Off to the courts!

The point is, and I have wandered a bit, do not just believe this JJ Payack until you have read and considered both sides of the story. When you do, I predict you will agree with the Brits in DC Blog...this is a load of rubbish!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

4 Limericks

For some reason, I was just inundated this year with requests for writing book chapters. I find them hard to write because you have to please the book editors and then the company editors, whereas for an article you just need to please yourself and the editors. I also find them tough because they usually involve a background of the subject, along with a comprehensive review, while with an article you can take a particular slant on your passion.

Therefore, I took the liberty of writing limericks for each chapter, trying to make my mark on them and to make them a bit fun. Surprisingly, all 3 editors (1 editor had requested 2 chapters) were thrilled with the limericks. In one the editor had wanted to change the limerick a bit, and I said I'd just delete it (her changes were awful), and she said, "Oh no! Keep it. Never mind; I won't touch it!" Here are the 4 limericks:

1) chapter on the approval of nursing programs:

An approval at state boards of nursing
Takes a careful review and conversing
On the health of the school
And meeting each rule.
And that's what this chapter's rehearsing!

2) chapter on interprofessional collaboration:

Since nursing's a teamwork vocation
With science and art its foundation,
Is it too much to ask
In this admirable task
That we focus on collaboration?

3) chapter on regulatory perspective on nursing education:

While planning for course innovation,
Our mantra for nurse education
Is, "Please be aware
That face-to-face care
Is vital for nurses' formation."

4) chapter on transition to practice:

In nursing let's bring to fruition
A standardized course to transition
New nurses to practice,
Like docs, cuz the fact is,
It's a safety, no-brainer position!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our Wordcraft Friend

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."

- Mahatma Ghandi

That's how our Jerry lived. Please hold him in your thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

An ode to a rainbow

Well, maybe not an ode; simply a prayer. Now that spring is here, it's rainbow time. I thought you might enjoy this.

When my husband and I went to our accountant to do our taxes, we saw a gorgeous rainbow as we were meeting. Our accountant, an orthodox Jew, pulled out his prayer book and said a blessing (תְפִלָה). How delightful. I came home and looked up the prayer. Here is a little description:

Everybody loves rainbows, a symbol of renewal in nature. While all wonders of nature deserve blessings, rainbows have the power to make us stop and look. And to say a special blessing for the rainbow. It is a sign of the covenant with Noah, but it is also one of the most beautiful of God's creations.

Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam,
zokher haberit vene’eman bivrito v’kaiyam bema’amaro.

And here is the translation:

Praised are you Adonai, our God, Sovereign of the world, Who remembers the covenant, who keeps the promise, and fulfills God’s word.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Happy Unbirthday, Strunk and White

It is the 50th anniversary of Strunk and White. I used to recommend the book to all my college students. It wasn't until Wordcraft and dialogue with linguists, English teachers, and the like, where I found how ridiculously judgmental their advice is. The funny part is how they themselves don't take their own advice, both in the grammar text itself and in E.B. White's Charlotte's Web. Language Log and Geoffrey Pullum do an excellent job of refuting much of their bossiness.

So, happy un-birthday, Strunk and White. 'Tis too bad, too, because E.B. White was some writer.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back to words...

Ah, yes. It's not good to be negative. It's only human nature that strife would occur on Internet networks since it occurs in families, in communities, in countries, and globally.

I started a discussion about "agathism" on Wordcraft, so I'll not repeat it here. However, Tim Alborn, one of my favorite limerick writers on OEDILF, wrote this nice limerick about it:

"All is well!"—so the optimists cry,
Which the pessimists say is a lie,
While the agathists state
There's a happier fate
That we'll happen upon, by and by.

Agathism recognizes the existence of evil but holds that all things tend toward the good.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Digression

Something has come up in the Internet world where I live, and I find it important to digress from my discussions for one post to contemplate Internet communities. I don't intend to focus on it, but a mention is in order.

Why is it that communities, the ones with good people and no agendas except for intellectual discussion, can deteriorate? What is it that brings flamewars about and makes them continue? Wordcraft, which successfully spawned OEDILF, was started because of a major flamewar elsewhere. You wouldn't have believed how that place, with lots of truly good people, quickly went downhill. I won't go into details, but here is one post I just copied from that other forum (I believe a well-run forum would delete these sorts of posts from trolls):

"So you really are a psychotic, demented, paranoid frustrated old man with no life and no personality or charisma. How sad you are. I really feel sorry for you - or maybe I don't because you are a bitter and twisted, cruel man and a bad man at that. And what happens to bad men? They get punished, and you will be punished. You think you can get away with things here that you would be severely punished for in the 'real' world but you won't. Bad men always get their come-uppance and the time is ripe for you to get yours."

This was written about a decent, intelligent person. The "poster"was a true bully. He or she was too cowardly to reveal him or herself, though the members of the community think he or she was probably a regular there. This particular "poster" has 43 posts that are still open to the public over there, and they all are similar to the above post. Frankly this person's behavior even shocked the regulars there, who themselves were ranting like crazy against this one person.

I don't know what goes wrong when things like this happen. However, in the end they usually work themselves out. In this case, a group left that forum and started our beloved Wordcraft. We developed into an active British/American forum quickly, and within 2 years another community spawned from us, though in a much more friendly manner. That community that allowed the vicious flamewar still exists, and it seems to be alive and well, though when trolls arise their administrators don't take control, so that can get irritating. I do think both Wordcraft and OEDILF do a good job in asking members to "take a break" when things get hot. Had the other place done that in the first place, I am sure the flamewar wouldn't have deteriorated so horribly. However, they would have had to have done it fairly.

So, in the end, I guess the answer is to have some loyal administrators who are fair, but will make hard decisions for the good of the community. These administrators cannot just be the board owners, though, as there must be objectivity. The community members should know the rules of the board, and they should have some say in developing them. Communities are a wonderful way to communicate. Shame on those administrators and owners who don't take control.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I actually don't agree with Language Log's discussion about how people learn to memorize poems. He made it sound like everyone can do it, and that's just not the case. Some people have the talent and some don't. I do realize the meter makes it easier for some people, but for others the meter just doesn't help.

Here are the fun poems that started all of this.

By Dwight Chapman

The negatives of English words
Conspire to baffle one:
Too few turn out predictably
Too many turn out un-.

Of prefixes they take their choice
Unfettered and at will,
And some results are logical
But most are strangely il-.

The canny etymologists
Are seldom led astray,
To them each case looks typical
To me each case looks a-.

What sliver of orthography
Is left for us to grab
When nowhere is normality
And everywhere is ab-?



I know a little man both ept and ert.
An intro-? extro-? No, he's just a vert.
Sheveled and couth and kempt, pecunious, ane,
His image trudes upon the ceptive brain.

When life turns sipid and the mind is traught,
The spirit soars as I would sist it ought.
Chalantly then, like any gainly goof,
My digent self is sertive, choate, loof.

by David McCord
The Oxford Book of American Light Verse

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Memorizing Poetry

My husband is excellent at memorizing poetry, and I've never understood why some people are and others (me!) aren't. Language Log recently posted about that. My husband says it's easy, and just a matter of meter. I cannot believe how he can pull up poem after poem, lengthy ones, for whatever the reason. He especially is good, though, at limericks or at Ogden Nash poems. He also is great at finding poems for almost any subject. Just today Tsuwm posted about "sheveled." Sure enough, when I looked for the word on Wordcraft, my husband had posted this poem:

I know a little man both ept and ert.
An intro-? extro-? No, he's just a vert.
Sheveled and couth and kempt, pecunious, ane,
His image trudes upon the ceptive brain.

When life turns sipid and the mind is traught,
The spirit soars as I would sist it ought.
Chalantly then, like any gainly goof,
My digent self is sertive, choate, loof.

Gloss, by David McCord
The Oxford Book of American Light Verse

When I reminded him that he had posted that poem in 2004, he then recited another that he knows using the word "sheveled." He truly amazes me. I know no one else who is as good at remembering and reciting poetry as he is.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Urban Dictionary

I got a "Google Alert" for epicaricacy, but I wasn't sure why. It said that epicaricacy has been added to the Urban Dictionary, which would have been exciting...except that link says it has been there since April 14, 2007. Another strange thing is that Onelook, which does include their dictionary, doesn't list the Urban Dictionary's citation of it. Here's the Urban Dictionary's example use of epicaricacy:

When my rich, moralizing brother, who always lectures me about responsibility and family values, was caught by his wife in bed with her best friend, and she divorced him and took everything leaving him broke and despondent, the epicaricacy was almost more than I could stand.

It's not a very nice word, is it?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

That's it!

That's it. I am done. I am going to give up Blogging and the word epicaricacy. Screw it!

[April Fool!]

P.S. Love Google's CADIE! I wish I had that kind of creativity (and time!)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I have an idea!

I finally figured out how to popularize my Blog! I'll link it to my Facebook and my enormous number of friends there (a paltry 16!) can all read it. And their friends. And their friends. And so on. Right.

Seriously, though, how can one of my daughters have 333 friends, the other 300 (my son and husband don't use facebook), and I have 16? It's a disgrace. My daughters keep me honest on facebook, though. I had the wrong birthdate (on purpose!), and they let me know in no uncertain terms. So I deleted it entirely. Then there was the relationship criteria. I had misread it and thought I was fine (I think I had "in a relationship"), and they again let me know that was not appropriate for a married woman. That one I had just messed up on, and I quickly changed it. However, for 2 daughters who act like they care not what I do, they sure watch my facebook page! And if I make a new friend there, they wonder about it. That's funny because I don't wonder an iota about their 300+ friends. I know they both have refused friendships with people, too! Oh to be that popular...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not a much of a use, but...

My trusty Google Alerts (which I've found is only to Blogs; I wonder how to get a Google Alert to the Web or the news) found this citation. It's not worth much, I know, except that the word is used from time to time, even with the lower elements of our society.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Love of Language

There was a discussion on Wordcraft that got me thinking. Apparently some people think that those who are anal about the use of words, grammar, etc., don't care much for language. The thought is that the anals (I am purposely not using that divisive "prescriptivist" word) see language as a tool for communication with specific rules, but not as a beautiful, though dynamic and evolving, way of communicating.

I don't agree. Even the wrongheaded Strunk and White are language lovers, in my opinion. I firmly believe their take on the black and white rules is just ridiculous. However, they have studied the language and use of words, just as their more flexible counterparts have. While they have different views, they still love the beauty of language.

Similarly, just because someone is a linguist doesn't mean that he or she "loves" language any more than those of us who are in other fields. Surely the linguists know more about language than we do, but they don't necessarily like language more.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A page from Tsuwm...

Tsuwm's wonderful Worthless Word for the Day site had a interesting word the other day: mountweazel. Have you heard it? It is a bogus entry into a reference, for the purpose of being a copyright trap. Isn't that a great word? I can't say that I've ever found one, though. It is similar to what I've heard some college students do with papers: they insert red font with a profane word, or whatever, to see if the professor actually read the paper. I'd have been worried that the professor would read it...and then give me an F! [I never have been much of a risk-taker.]

BTW, thanks to those of you who commented on my Blog when I was feeling down about getting no comments. It's always good to read a comment or two!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What is success?

I've been watching an interesting program on the History channel about Albert Einstein, and it made me ask the question...what is success? Surely Einstein or Beethoven or Monet or Florence Nightingale or Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill or Franz Kafka were successes. But did they all know it? Did people realize it during their time? Who will be successful 50 years from now? Or 100 years from now?

I looked up the definition: "the favorable or prosperous termination of events or endeavors; the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like."

While other positive events or honors are linked to it, clearly wealth is seen as a big part of success. But is it? Many famous artists or authors or composers weren't identified in their time. The importance of a scientific theory or art often isn't realized at first. There surely are levels of success, but I believe the successes that change the world often aren't known when the person responsible is alive. Yes, Bill Gates is successful in his work with computers, but not as successful as those who envisioned how computers would be used.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I heard that some Blogs are getting lots of spam. That's one advantage to not having a lot of spam, but, alas, no comments either. I enjoy Blogging, I guess, but it would be a lot more fun with more readers. I envy those who seem to have the knack.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kass is an unfortunate last name...

John Kass is probably my least favorite reporter. But that's okay because I am most likely his least favorite reader!

At any rate, he wrote this column today that spurred me to write the following DD:

Higgledy Piggledy
Eddie Vrdolyak
Harshly is judged by re-
Porter John Kass

Kass says the alderman's
(Bet the word's meaning's not
Known by this ass!)

With that last name, how could I resist?!

I've had fun with DDs and limericks in the last few days. I started a talk about continuing education contact hours, which I award. The participants had fun with it, I think:

For CEs I'm your content inspector,
For flaws the official detector:
Objectives should measure
The content you treasure
Or surely you'll hear from N. Spector!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

We're Number Six!

For what it's worth (nothing!), we are now number six on Google for "epicaricacy." Not bad for a little girl, as my mother used to say. Now I have to figure a way to elbow out, Wordie, Wiktionary, Urban Dictionary, and the Great and Powerful Wizard of Wikis. I think I need to convince Obama to use it in a speech. Perfect! Especially since I was the first Blogger to talk about political epicaricacy with Obama (Too bad, Arieh Smith on Counterblasted. You conservatives alway were a dollar short and a day late!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Two Blogs Using Epicaricacy!

Imagine my surprise when I found two (see October 20th post) Blogs had used the word epicaricacy! The first site, Epicurean, had some interesting points. First, he said that, "Humor is just Schadenfreude with a clear conscience." Now isn't that true, at least sometimes. He also had these Japanese words, which I am not sure about. I don't know if they are real words or not: "幸災樂禍 enjoying (other's) calamity (and) laughing at (others') misfortune 他人の不幸は蜜の味 (tanin no fukō wa mitsu no aji?), translates literally as 'others' misfortunes are the taste of honey.'" If, indeed, the translation is that others' misfortunes are the taste of honey...isn't that eloquent?

The other site, though, is all political and not the politics of my choice. His comment not only was second-rate, but I had the idea way before he did! (See my post on February 11th.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Book chapters

Once again I am surrounded by articles and books, and I am in the middle of writing a chapter for a book. This will be the 4th this year. The problem with book chapters is that they take so much time, and you never really get much credit. The credit goes to the editors. Professional books are normally old news by the time they get published anyway. I hope I finish this blasted chapter! I have just asked for an extension. I am tired and crabby since I have been working on the thing all weekend.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

I looked hard and long for some fun poems that were printed in the Chicago Tribune, but I just can't find them. So this Valentine's Day post will have to be poem-less because I am no good at writing poetry (with the exception of limericks or DDs).

A special friend of ours is in the hospital now after falling on the ice. Life does have a way of throwing us a curve from time to time, doesn't it? I think the successful (and that is not defined by salary or size of house!) roll with the punches, laugh when things get tough, and just hang in there. So, no matter what's going on in your life, I hope you were able to have a great Valentine's Day! It really isn't a "silly" day; it's filled with love and good feelings. What could be better?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy Birthday Abe and Charles!

Imagine, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin being born on exactly the same day 200 years ago. Amazing. Lincoln changed the face of the U.S. and Darwin changed the face of science. They were 2 amazing men.

Lincoln, of course, is closer to my heart, being from Illinois and all. The Chicago Tribune today published some of their columns from Lincoln's day. They are so interesting, and it's fun to see how newspaper articles were written quite differently in those days. See this. I especially liked the "Lincoln as He is" one. This quote is hilarious:

"He never drinks intoxicating liquors of any sort, not even a glass of wine. He is not addicted to tobacco, in any of its shapes. He never was accused of a licentious act in all his life. He never uses profane language. A friend says that once, when in a towering rage in consequence of the efforts of certain parties to perpetrate a fraud on the State, he was heard to say 'They shan't do it, d-n'em!' but beyond an expression of that kind, his bitterest feelings never carry him."