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...