One Card Short of a Full Deck

July 1st, 2010 No comments

I invited my friends over to play poker. Before we started, we had been talking about my most recent language gaffe, in which I inadvertently made a stupid comment on a call in radio program.

While we were talking thus, I pulled the playing cards out of the box and counted them just to be sure they all were there. When I saw that we were missing one, I exclaimed: “I’m one card short of a full deck.”

Snorting with delight, one of my friends replied, “You’ve got that right!”

I wasn’t sure why he thought that was funny.

My bad!

On May 9, 2010, USA Today reported on the publicity stunt of a conservative Christian law firm that has created a deck of playing cards, 51 of which have the faces of liberal politicians on them and one of which has a question mark to represent an “unkown liberal”. The purpose of the cards is to give conservative Christians ideas of who they can pray for. A spokesman for the law firm said they purposefully made the picture cards “one card short of a full deck.”

Senator Robert Byrd

June 28th, 2010 No comments

In its Byrd Droppings website, Citizen’s Against Government Waste (CAGW) identifies the numerous government projects Byrd secured for his home state of West Virginia.

In a news release published on Business Wire CAGW reports that it named Sen. Byrd “Porker of the Month” four times, and that an online poll crowned him “Porker of the Year” in 2002.

Indeed, the Charleston Gazette reports that Byrd wore the sobriquet “the Prince of Pork”, as a badge of honor.

Funny, I didn’t think Senator Byrd looked obese.

My bad!

This memorial is posted on the occasion of Senator Robert Byrd’s death.

How Catholic Do You Have To Be?

June 27th, 2010 No comments

During a visit to our nation’s capital, I attended a service at the Washington National Cathedral. I was under the impression that the congregation there was Episcopal.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I heard everyone there, as if in one voice, proclaim that they believe in “one holy Catholic and apostolic Church!”

Too bad I didn’t read the prayer when they were saying it, in which “catholic” is spelled with a small “c”.

My Bad!

Click HERE to read two versions of the Nicene Creed, in which the words quoted above are used.

For a definition of the words “catholic” and “Catholic”, click HERE.

In 2003, Michael McGough of SLATE pondered the question, “Does the Vatican have exclusive rights to the word “Catholic”?”

For information about tours to explore the gargoyles of the Washington National Cathedral, click HERE.

One Too Many Documents?

June 26th, 2010 No comments

Two business owners had a disagreement as to how one of them was handling the company’s finances. In a meeting to review the transactions, the lawyer for the accused owner gave me a a stack of papers.

As I was looking through the documents, I noticed that there were two copies of the same invoice, so I handed one back to the other lawyer stating: “I am giving you this one back because it is duplicitous.”

“Thank you,” replied the other, “but surely you mean that this document is duplicative.”

“No,” I said, “I think that document is meant to deceive.”

My bad!

This writer has been in more than one meeting in which a lawyer, in speaking about his client, inadvertently used the word “duplicitous” when he meant to say “duplicative”. Oops!

In a post on the Care2 website, Ann Pietrangelo discusses what she calls McDonalds’ “duplicitous approach to marketing directed to children” by giving away toys based upon popular movie characters.

On June 12, Ryan Alexander wrote on the U.S. News and World Report website that a new legislative proposal to give the President the power to force “Congress [to] reconsider spending requests that the White House considers wasteful or duplicative,” offers up a line-item veto that does not suffer the same problems as the 1996 line item veto law which the Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional.

It’s Just a Typo!

June 25th, 2010 No comments

My lawyer, Cheryl Darrow, was helping me to negotiate an important contract.  When I saw the draft she had given to my opponent, I noticed that she inadvertently had given away all of my rights by mistakenly writing in someone else’s name instead of mine.

I pointed this out to Cheryl and she said she would fix it.  However, the next draft contract still had someone else’s name.  Frustrated with this, I sent Cheryl a red lined version of the contract with the name correction, but the third draft she sent to my opponent still had the name of an unknown third party.

So I sent Cheryl an email addressing this, to which she sent an explosive reply:  “Why are you so upset about a little typo!”

I use Cheryl Darrow’s services because she is cheap.

My Bad!

The names have been changed in this true story to protect the imprudent.

Such substantive error as the one discussed above is generally not considered a typo. Wikipedia has a good discussion of the meaning of the terms “Typo” and “Typographical Error”.

For a tool to intentionally generate typographical errors to be used in an Adwords campaign, click HERE.

For a discussion of the so-called “Wicked Bible” which, due to a word omission by the typesetter, included “Thou shalt commit adultery” as one of the Ten Commandments, click HERE.

“Cheryl Darrow” is a fictitious name for a fictitious person.

I’m a Curmudgeon, Let Me Be

June 24th, 2010 No comments

At least one critic has taken issue with today’s post, I Want to Be a Rebel, given that this blog ostensibly is about the use and misuse of language, and that post is about something else. How can I justify my choice?

Can I tell you that what one chooses to wear, or how one chooses to appear to others, is as much a type of communication as is the language that one uses?  I suppose I could, but the truth of the matter is this:

I am a curmudgeon and this is my sandbox, from which I will comment on what I please.

My Bad!

For a good discussion of the types of nonverbal communication, click HERE.

If a curmudgeon were more modern, he would say “My Bad!”, for, in the words of Jon Winokur, curmudgeons “have the temerity to comment on the human condition without apology.”

For a discussion as to why saying “my bad” is not really an apology, see my June 20 Post

I Long to be a Rebel

June 24th, 2010 No comments

He flew by me on the interstate, riding low on his black motorcycle, with his woman clutching him around the waist. I began to daydream about the life of a rebel outlaw, alone on the open road, carried away on his snarling Harley Davidson.

Later, I saw that same Biker refueling his bike at the BP. There he was in all his glory, bedecked in a leather jacket with the words “Harley Davidson” across his back. His bandanna was red and sweat-stained . . . with the words “Harley Davidson” woven into the pattern. And his gleaming belt buckle, so large and shiny . . . said “Harley Davidson.”

Ah, life on the open road, I thought, that guy must feel so free.

Then, as I was walking into the station, I saw a little girl walking towards me. She had on a cute pink T-shirt . . . with a picture of the Little Mermaid on it. Dangling from her ears were . . . Little Mermaid earrings. Slap, slap, slap went her flip-flops on the pavement, and when I looked, I saw that they had pictures on them – you guessed it, the Little Mermaid. I turned to watch her go and, as she walked past the biker, I noticed that she had on a backpack . . . emblazoned with a picture of the Little Mermaid.

I wondered, is she a rebel too?

My Bad!

To find genuine Harley Davidson MotorClothes merchandise, click HERE
For genuine Disney Little Mermaid merchandise, click HERE

At the End of the Day

June 23rd, 2010 No comments

In reporting on the high profile insubordination by General Stanley McChrystal, Marc Ambinder of CBS News states that, “for Mr. Obama, the most important thing, at the end of the day, is winning the war.”

One commentator on George Wood’s blog at the Washington Post opines that “[a]t the end of the day, schools should be measured on how well their students are prepared to function in college or the world beyond. Period.”

And, two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Randy Lajoie, commenting on his indefinite suspension from racing for drug use, stated that, “At the end of the day, you can’t fix stupid.”

It seems that everything of great moment happens at the end of the day.

And to think, I just accepted the offer of a lifetime — at the beginning of the day!

My bad!

The Visual Thesaurus reports that only two percent of the people taking a poll regarding the most annoying phrases chose “at the end of the day” as most annoying.

The Sensitive Side of Thug Culture

June 22nd, 2010 No comments

My friend, who considers himself a player, and who others consider a thug, told me recently he went to visit his “moms”.

Funny, I always thought he had heterosexual parents.

My bad!

For a list of online dictionaries of the hip-hop vernacular, click HERE. is the website for people with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer parents.

How Many Soldiers are in a Troop?

June 21st, 2010 No comments

On June 19, 2010, the Tacoma, Washington, News Tribune reported that 250 troops were returning home from Afghanistan. My goodness, I thought upon reading the article, I didn’t think Obama would start such a massive draw-down of military personnel so soon. How many soldiers are in a troop, I wondered – are there 10, 100, or 1,000 soldiers in a troop? What this means, I reasoned, is that a major portion of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was returning home this summer!

Only later did I learn that the reporter meant that it was 250 people who are returning.

My bad!

Click HERE to read the definition of “troop”.

Pointing out that, while the press uses the term “troops” to refer to a group of individuals, never is the term “troop” used to refer to a single individual, the blogger Jaltcoh, quoting John McWhorter, goes on to say that “[u]sing a name for soldiers that has no singular form grants us a certain cozy distance from the grievous reality of war.”

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