Would you be able to give an acceptance speech using only 5 words? Every year, the ceremony for the Webby Awards – the online equivalent to Oscars and Grammys-has this quirky rule regarding acceptance speeches. Award winners can use only five words upon accepting their awards!

This limitation leads to some highly creative verbal concoctions about their companies. Here are a few well-crafted ones from the past:

Lonely Planet Guidebooks:  “Love your country.  Leave it.”

Home and Garden Television Online: “Where paint drying is inspirational.”

E*Trade Financial: “Pleasure in paying bills… almost.”

Newzealand.com: “New Zealand: More Than Hobbits!”

All four of these take a conventional idea related to their subject and twist it around for impact.

They resemble tag lines, the subheads that follow a business name on mastheads, business cards, billboards and other ads, where space is at a premium. The tag line must grab the reader’s attention quickly and explain what’s distinctive about the business in a compressed, catchy way.

Give it a try the next time you need to brainstorm a message. If you can do it in 5 words and get a positive reaction from the reader, you’ve hit the mark! Now if only Grammy, Emmy, and Oscar award winners would follow suit.

 

This week’s blog entry comes from the NYTimes “Your Friday Briefing” newlsetter

Today, the word impeachment is associated with the most powerful public officials, but the Latin word it evolved from, “impedicare” (meaning “to fetter, to fix shackles on the feet; to hinder”), evokes a prisoner.

Old French turned it into empechier, from which sprang the Middle English empechen, meaning to physically hinder something (“an impeached ship”) as well as to bring a formal accusation.

Senator William Blount in 1797 became the first American politician to face impeachment, for plotting with the British.

The first recorded use of impeachment in the English Parliament occurred in 1376 with the removal of Baron William Latimer. Having created other levers of accountability, Parliament held its last impeachment in 1806 and now considers the procedure obsolete.

But the term had already been written into the U.S. Constitution. Benjamin Franklin pushed for its inclusion because he feared that the alternative to the legal removal of a corrupt official would be assassination.

Congress first held an impeachment in 1797 with the trial of William Blount, which was, until now, its only impeachment inquiry concerning foreign policy.

Lately we’ve been hearing a lot about a “whistle-blower” in the news. Ever wonder where the term comes from?

This week’s blog entry comes from the NYTimes “Your Friday Briefing” (9/27/19) a newsletter that I subscribe to:

The term “whistle-blower” owes its origin to a 19th-century English toolmaker named Joseph Hudson, the inventor of referee and police whistles.

The first whistle used in a soccer match was probably an early model made by Mr. Hudson in 1878, and he invented an even more piercing whistle for Scotland Yard in the early 1880s. Soon after, in both sports and on the streets, blowing a whistle became a signal that a situation needed urgent attention.

“Whistle-blowing” as a metaphor sporadically appeared in literature in the 20th century, including in works by P.G. Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler.

While whistle-blowers have existed in the U.S. from its founding, the term itself is relatively new to the political lexicon, appearing to enter the mainstream around 1970.

Soon, the consumer rights advocate Ralph Nader put a more positive spin on the term with the phrase “responsible whistle-blowing,” which eventually led to the passage of the U.S. Whistleblower Protection Act — a piece of legislation that’s playing a role in the impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

The Flame Inside Our Hearts

09/10/19

Flame consumes

Flame destroys

Flame burns the flesh.

 

You ran

Into the epicenter

Into the vortex of fire

Of hell on earth.

 

Fighting fire with the fire of your love

You ran towards the flame

Even though it might consume you.

You saved the innocent

As even you were not saved.

 

Flame explodes

Flame spreads

Flame smolders.

 

You worked the Pile

Inhaled the smoke

That rose like spirits into the sky

Seeking any that fire had not consumed.

 

Like fingers across time

The flame that once smoldered

Reaches out and engulfs you

Snuffing out your life.

 

Flame warms

Flame lights the way

A metaphor for love.

We remember you fallen by fire.

We remember you consumed by smoke.

We fight for you the living

Because of the flame of love burning in our hearts.

Long before Alexi, Siri, and Cortana, us geeks had a habit of naming our non-sentient devices. Individual mainframe computers connected together had to identify themselves to us humans, so system managers gave them names. In the early years it was cutesy, pop culture ones like Spock, Kirk, Dr. Who. When PCs hit the scene, we, of course, christened them too. I had Attila, a PC who ever day would assault me with error messages in an attempt to take over the digital galaxy. Then there was Excalibur, who helped me cut thought the tedium of grammar and spell checking. Some of my PCs names were a derivative of their brand names: La Nova was a Lenovo, Delilah is a Dell Latitude!

Once the habit of naming devices became part of my life, I felt compelled to name all non-computer ones as well. Jedra is my Jetta VW wagon, before her was Jeffrey, a Ford Focus named after the salesman who sold her to me. Of course my cell phone had to have name too: Turtle, because it wasn’t a fast Smart phone!

No I don’t name refrigerators or stoves, or TVs. Though I did name my digital camera “Casi” which is the brand name emblazoned on its cover. But I draw the line on watches and clocks. However, items I touch, that have some sort of “operating system” that gives it a form of intelligence and can carry out my commands, those get named.

Oh goodness, I just read about a refrigerator you can talk to and which will remind you when you run low on milk or lettuce. Now what should I name it? Maybe I’d call it “Iceberg”.

We are quickly approaching the 18th anniversary of 9/11. This poem was written in memory of all the first responders and individuals who rushed to Ground Zero on that day and died. And for those who died years later from 9/11 related illnesses. 

Their spirits rise like the smoke in the pit.

Like the wind swept Twin Tower’s ashes on 9/11

Their remains are scattered in graves across the nation.

Their memories impaled forever in loved ones hearts

Like the particles that rained down from above that day.

 

They were there and saved lives

In heroic acts of physical strength and bravery.

They ran to the epicenter like moths to a flame

To save the innocent from the devil’s inferno

Caring not that death could be their reward.

 

Some died in an instant.

Some died saving lives.

Some came out alive

Only to face a slow and painful death later.

 

They never asked to be heroes.

They were only doing their jobs.

They were examples of humanity’s

Greatness in time of tragedy.

 

As the years march on

They are remembered

By loved ones and

A few memorials here and there.

 

The sacred ground that was their battlefield

Was rebuilt with a memorial remembering the Twin Tower’s dead.

The names of these first responders appear nowhere.

But heroes never die…

 

As long as one person remembers them they shall live on,

A flame burning brightly in human hearts.

And those still lingering on the doorstep of death

Will remind us, the living, more strongly than a monument

Chiseled with names, the sacrifices they once made.

 

Suicide…if you’ve ever known anyone who committed suicide or had to console someone who lost a love one to it, you know how this word will stab you in the heart forever in time.

However, not all suicides are alike in the pain they create. I’m not talking about comparing the note leaving kind to the “done it to get attention” one. What I am referring to is asking the question “Can any good ever come from this terrible act?” I got to thinking about how some suicides, though emotionally painful to those who knew the individual, bring a good in the aftermath. Others just leave anger, hatred toward the person and negative unfinished business.

An example of the latter is Jeffery Epstein’s suicide this past weekend. No one knows why he did it but speculation has he could not tolerate the thought of being locked up in a box for 45 years. Poor guy…now all his victims will never have closure and never be able to see him brought to justice. He refused to suffer the consequences for his heinous acts so now his bad karma will contaminate the survivors of it for their lifetimes.

On the other hand, we have Anthony Bourdain’s suicide. We also don’t know why this kind, intelligent human being who produced such a great TV show as Parts Unknown, decided to take his life. But his good karma follows him even after his death. His life and his adventures have been showcased in the year since his death even to the point where his friends and CNN created an “Anthony Bourdain Day” this past June to honor him. I am also amazed as to where his name pops up. In my recent issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine, as part of the Editor’s Notes, Dana Joseph referenced him as a person who was a one of a kind artist (cook, chef, explorer, the Aug/Sept issue always focuses on artists) and mentions Anthony Bourdain Day. (There is also a “Bourdain Food Trail” in New Jersey based on the episode in Parts Unknown)

We discover that a word like suicide, standing alone can hurt, heal or have two emotional sides. Now I’m waiting, to see if after decades of “mass shootings”, any good can come from those two words. I believe that anything is possible through prayer and action. So Congress, I’m praying that you move your butts on gun control! That could transform those two horrendous words into something positive.