Archive for August, 2012

Tuesday night we had an opportunity to listen to not only a well-crafted speech, but one that was a good example of the use of rhetoric. What is rhetoric? The dictionary defines it as the “art of persuasive speech or writing; exaggerated oratory”.  Mrs. Romney, at the Republican convention, pulled out all the stops in her use of words and phrases to be persuasive, to hit at the heart of her target audience.

Her speech was riveting and painted quite a convincing picture of the man her husband is. I have no doubt that it’s a true picture and that he is a loving and kind human being. What irked me about her speech was that all her phrases, repeated over and over again, addressed women who are or were mothers. Yes, family is a valuable component of our society. Yes, motherhood is a great calling in life. Yes, mothers and grandmothers keep the wheels of society turning…but what about the women who are or never were mothers, either through choice or circumstance? All politic stances aside, didn’t she feel that those millions of women made any difference in the life of this nation? Doesn’t she realize that they too vote and excluding them from her speech was alienating? Not one sentence included the childless in her rhetoric of praise for the “fair” sex! Rhetoric of attack is obvious but rhetoric of omission is dangerous. The listener must get beyond the flowery words and do a bit of analysis as to what was left out. So what was she so afraid of about all of us who are not mothers? Maybe she would have had to admit that there is an alternate path to a good and productive life that doesn’t include children. And, gasp, that would also include lesbians, anathema to her and her husband’s religious beliefs!

So when you are inundated with rhetoric, be careful of what it is saying or NOT saying and don’t get sucked in to its emotionalism.

Quote of the Week

Posted: August 27, 2012 in Quotes
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“Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.” –Anonymous

Fun With Language

Posted: August 23, 2012 in Fun with words
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Energizer bunny arrested. Charged with battery.

All the toilet seats in New York’s police stations have been stolen. Police have nothing to go on.   

England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.

I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.

A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. But he says he can stop any time..

His girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I’d never met herbivore.          

What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.

Velcro – what a rip off.    

What does a clock do when it’s hungry? It goes back four seconds.

I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

I tried to catch some fog. I mist.

Quote of the Week

Posted: August 21, 2012 in Quotes
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“For me, writing is exploration; and most of the time, I’m surprised where the journey takes me.” – Jack Dann

This is the first in a series of posts about how ordinary words morph into something else.

Remote…What’s the first definition that springs to mind? Something physically far way. Or something in the past. Right?  Or it can mean controlling something from a distance, as in NASA controlling from earth the rover, Curiosity, on Mars. But to most us, there is an even more common usage of this word: the remote, as in never having to get up and manually change a tv channel, or the music player, or the wall heater, or the ceiling fan or your table lamp! 

I suppose it’s sort of like the Pharoah’s snapping of his fingers and a slave running up to fetch food. But snapping fingers couldn’t lift a stone to build a pyramid, or automatically light a torch. Today we have that small genie at our fingertips. One push of the button and voila, something happens as soon as it’s pushed. That is until the battries die!

The first remotes were large and bulky and tethered by a cord to the tv set. Back then they made use of radio waves to transmit a signal. Of course that caused problems when your tv was on the wall next to your neighbor’s set of the same make! Technologists, ever trying to make our lives easier, reinvented the remote to utilize infrared light and all those problems vanished. The next step up was the creation of the universal remote that could be programmed to send and receive the codes from any of a multitude of devices. No more grabbing the wrong remote and wondering why it wasn’t working. Oh, there even is a device where you can stick a small tag on your remotes that sends out a special RFID (radio frequency id) signal to that the special remote that came with them and it will then make the tag beep. A remote for a remote!

Thus the remote has gone beyond the pushbuttons for changing channels or playing a DVD. Cars now can be started by special remotes, their doors can be locked or unlocked by remotes, and yes, you can even put a tag on your kid, that when you press a remote will locate him!  Now if only they would invent a remote that could instanly dump a bag of money on our livingroom floor!

Quote of the Week

Posted: August 13, 2012 in Quotes
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“We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on themourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.” – Edith Lovejoy Pierce