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Examiner
  • Jeff Fox: The only thing we have to fear

  • The good people at Lake Superior State University have come out with their annual list of annoying words and phrases we could all live without, and there’s hardly one I would quibble over.

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  • Well, I can’t exactly claim to be clairvoyant, can I?
    The good people at Lake Superior State University have come out with their annual list of annoying words and phrases we could all live without, and there’s hardly one I would quibble over.
    As suggested in this space a few weeks ago, the good old “fiscal cliff” – just now averted, more or less – led the university’s list of phrases that in 2013 should be “banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness.”
    I’m averse to making too many predictions, but I doubled down on my foolishness by suggesting “double down” could go as well, and lo and behold it made the list, too.
    Congress got around the cliff by deciding to “kick the can down the road,” which also made the list, but, honestly, that phrase might as well replace “E Pluribus Unum” as the national motto.
    Other losers for 2013: “spoiler alert,” “bucket list,” “YOLO” (Twitter/text shorthand for “you only live once”), and the massively misleading “job creators.” As one contributor to the list pointed out, ultimately it’s only consumers who create jobs.
    And enough with the gurus. Frankly, I’d given up on this one, but Lake Superior bravely called out this lazy label for anyone who is halfway good at any one thing. In certain religious contexts, “guru” has meaning, but, please, no football gurus, unless the team is somehow using transcendental meditation as it maps out the 65 toss power sweep. Which is doubtful.
    Still, they can banish as fervently as they wish, but I fear we might not be clear of all the cliffs. A couple of supposedly lesser crises face Congress in a couple of months, and I’ve already seen a suggestion of March Madne$$.
    That could really get the country in trouble.
    The NCAA defends its brands with same zeal as the rabid-wolverine lawyers over at the NFL defend “Super Bowl,” so be careful about whose clichés you rip off.
    Come to think it, the NCAA and NFL both make obscene piles of money – more than we can say for the government – in large part because they put on better TV shows than what C-SPAN was offering up on New Year’s Day as Congress, uh, deliberated. Perhaps therein lies a lesson.
    I already have a dark-horse favorite for the 2014 banished words list, which comes out in a mere 362 days.
    We just came through the Mayan Death Calendar with fewer ill effects than were visited upon us by our own Congress, so the doom industry needs a new product. Don’t look now, but the calendar says it’s 20 ... 13.
    You know, unlucky 13, a once-a-century calamity. How did we ever get through entire the 14th century, which did after all include the bubonic plague?
    Page 2 of 2 - So the word – you might want to write this down – is “triskaidekaphobia,” the fear of anything related to 13. I see it trending, which by the way is another banished word.
    If I can find the word for fear of one’s shadow and resolute intent to borrow trouble and get worked up over absolutely nothing, I’ll send that one along to Lake Superior State, too.
    Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter @Jeff_Fox. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net.
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