Archive for September, 2012

You’ve seen them everywhere, “qcodes”, those little graphic squares that look like your Grandma’s cross stitch sampler. They are being used by companies to download information to your smartphone – just point and photograph and you are connected. I just had to share this one with you. This cartoon appeared in the October issue of Reader’s Digest “Life in These United States”.

Quote of the Week

Posted: September 24, 2012 in Quotes
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“Reading usually precedes writing and the impulse to write is almost always fired by reading. Reading, the love of reading, is what makes you dream of becoming a writer.” – Susan Sontag

Falconspeak 

In the March/April issue of Saudi Aramco World there was a fascinating article about falconry “A Heritage Takes Wing”. It is the traditional (not just in the Middle East) practice of keeping falcons and other birds of prey to hunt in cooperation with humans and is a centuries old sport. Like any other sport or cultural endeavor, it has its own terminology. But I was fascinated to discover that some of our common English words and phrases have their roots in falconry. 

Here are a few:

Musket – the word for a male sparrowhawk, which flies quickly from the hand. This bird was likely the inspiration for the name of the muzzle-loaded infantry gun when it was invented, since the sparrowhawk was a familiar fast-flying object at that time. 

Cadger – the man who carried the wooden rack, called a cadge, for falcons to perch on during hunts. Often an older falconer, he’d usually stand off to the side of the action, trying to cadge tips by spinning good stories. A likely description of an old babbler that we call a codger. 

Bousing – When a hawk takes a deep drink. When a person drinks too deeply, it’s called boozing!

Hoodwinked – deceiving someone is like the slipping of a hood over a falcon’s head plunging the bird into a darkness. 

“Under your thumb” or “wrapped around your finger” describes securing jesses, the ties that keep a bird upon the falconer’s arm and fully in his control and thus when used today means controlling someone.

 

Quote of the Week

Posted: September 17, 2012 in Quotes
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“Forget all the rules. Forget about being published. Write for yourself and celebrate writing.” – Melinda Haynes

Fun With Language

Posted: September 13, 2012 in Fun with words

How leaving out one word makes a big difference in meaning!:

Actual classified ad that appeared in a weekly newspaper in Ohio

FREE to a good home: Domestic tan male. Neutered and declawed. Has shots.

9/11 is more than just burning buildings and terrorism. Here are 2 quotes 
that I feel are the essence of what that day should have left us with:

"9/11 was a reminder that the bonds of family can be severed in an 
instant. They are essential, crucial, valuable, fragile." 
-Peter Jennings, late news anchor of ABC's World News Tonight

"What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, 
is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” 
-  David Levithan, Love Is the Higher Law

And this quote, taken from the world correspondents website, says it all:

Once again that time of year for remembering has come around. We pause from our sadness over hurricane Isaac’s devastation to the Gulf, concerns about presidential politics with its promises, rhetoric and posturing, and the bloody civil war in Syria, to remember 9/11. Can it really be 11 years? And what does this year mean to us, individually and as a Nation? We had our 10th anniversary last year, since then we eliminated Osama Bin Laden, the 9/11 memorial opened, and the first major building on Ground Zero is nearing completion. Those of us who are wordsmiths, image-makers, or grievers of lost ones continue on our paths of trying to insure that this doesn’t just become another day.

But it’s “Patriot Day” after all. 9, 11 are just the digits of the day on the calendar. And what the heck does a patriot day mean? It can mean we support our troops or we are willing to die for our country, or we are just good citizens who salute the flag when it’s displayed. The name has totally wiped out the gory, bloody meaning of that horrible day. And that is the purpose of a “euphemism”, to replace words with ones that have a diminished impact; to, in essence, sanitize or change the meaning. So we can read the names in the morning, feel a bit of sorrow, then go on with the rest of the day: shop, work, go to a movie, or watch that new television show (that doesn’t deal with 9/11).   

Another example of how 9/11 has been “sanitized” is the renaming of the Freedom Tower. That name along with it 1776’ height was to be a subtle way of displaying our patriotism, a sort of “giving the finger” to those who would be thinking about raping this nation again. But, thanks to the world of commerce and the “bottom line” (isn’t there a bottom line to everything today?) it was renamed “One World Trade Center”, which was thought to be a better draw for corporate tenants. (heaven forbid that they would have to realize they were looking out onto sacred ground every time they looked out their windows!)

I even feel that the memorial itself is a visual euphemism for what happened on that site that day. Where are any of the items that would bring us back to the tragedy: The lattice façade, the crossbeam cross, the stairwell that remained standing amidst the rubble? In the original call for design entries, inclusion of such objects was a mandatory part of the design specifications. But now we have waterfalls, trees, and sterile concrete walkways!

Do you know of any other euphemisms surrounding 9/11 or Ground Zero? I would love to hear about them.

For more comments, insights and reactions, read my online WTC Journal , it is my ongoing 11 year collection of essays and poetry and photographs about 9/11 and the rebuilding of Ground Zero.