Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday Odds and Ends

Lots to do today, and I haven't yet recovered from spending almost all day yesterday with my hyperactive grandchildren, so let's just do a few cool odds and ends ...

From my friend and coworker Brenda comes this story about how the Russian Army is taking a major technological step into the 21st century ... by replacing foot wrappings (called portyanki) with socks. The article includes two helpful videos that show how to use portyanki, should you ever find yourself without socks.

The Wayne State University Word Warriors have published their annual list of ten words you should use more frequently in the coming year. The 2013 list (with my editorial comments, of course) is:

Buncombe - Rubbish; nonsense; empty or misleading talk. Well, the 113th Congress is in session...

Cerulean - The blue of the sky. When I think about Congress, it makes me ... uh ... cerulean.

Chelonian - Like a turtle. Congress is moving at a chelonian pace to address the nation's problems.

Dragoon - To compel by coercion; to force someone to do something they’d rather not. Perhaps the President can dragoon Congress into doing something useful. Yeah, right.

Fantods - Extreme anxiety, distress, nervousness or irritability. I get the fantods when I think that Congress could actually make things worse ... and probably will.

Mawkish - Excessively sentimental; sappy; hopelessly trite. I get mawkish thinking about the days of yore when Congress was populated by actual statesmen who could accomplish something other than generate sound bites and genuflect before the festooned altar of the NRA.

Natter - To talk aimlessly, often at great length; rarely, it means simply to converse. If you're my age or older, you may remember former Vice President Spiro Agnew attacking the people he called "nattering nabobs of negativity."

Persiflage - Banter; frivolous talk. My very favorite teacher of all time, the late Mrs Penny Smith (who taught humanities at my high school) once returned one of my term papers with a modest grade and the handwritten note "Such persiflage!"

Troglodyte - Literally, a cave-dweller. More frequently a backward, mentally sluggish person. A word which can be usefully applied today to the hyperpartisans of the extreme right and left.

And finally, 

Winkle - To pry out or extract something; from the process of removing the snail from an edible periwinkle. Perhaps men and women of goodwill will be able to winkle something useful out of the 113th Congress. Ha, ha! - fooled you! There aren't any men and women of goodwill left in Congress!

Keeping with the theme of lists, Forbes Magazine has run a list of the Top 10 Jobs that Attract Psychopaths. Now, when most of us think of psychopaths, we think of the creepy sadists that make us want to take showers after an episode or two of Law and Order: SVU or Criminal Minds, but in medical terms, a psychopath is simply someone who lacks emotions and empathy, or the ability to identify with others ... not all psychopaths are grisly serial killers. Here is the Forbes list ... with my comments, of course:

1. CEO - I guess you have to have that edge if you make decisions that can throw thousands of people out of work to improve the bottom line.

2. Lawyer - no other comment necessary ...

3. Media (Television/Radio) - probably has something to do with the level of self-absorption of many celebrities. And although I did, in fact, have my own radio show for about nine years, I don't consider myself to be psychopathic.

4. Salesperson - you just knew what kind of person would sell used cars and junk bonds, right?

5. Surgeon - it probably helps to disassociate yourself from the people you're going to carve on.

6. Journalist - this may explain the sort of personality that would publish a story regardless of the potential negative consequences.

7. Police Officer - oddly enough, I don't think this is very comforting, although I can understand how a police officer might benefit by being able to separate feelings from the performance of a necessary but dispiriting job in which he or she sees people at their worst.

8. Clergy Person - does this explain the flood of reported abuse of children by priests? All of the priests I knew when growing up were fine and decent people, but ...

9. Chef - I'm not sure I want to get close to a person who works with sharp knives and may have a psychopathic personality.

And at number ten ...

10. Civil Servant - in a more generous and civil time, this is what is sneeringly known today as a government bureaucrat. And given that members of Congress are civil servants, I can understand the attraction of the job to a psychopathic personality. Of course, they are civil servants ... they serve the gun lobby, they serve the Big Oil lobby, they serve the ... you get the idea.

There's also a list of the top ten jobs in which you are least likely to find psychopaths, but it's not as interesting. You can read it in the Forbes article for yourself if you like.

And that's it for today. Lots to do before I take Agnes to the movies this afternoon and then out to dinner after. And if anyone has any ideas on how to non-destructively get the three gigantic parts of that pre-lit artificial Christmas tree back into the coffin-sized box in which it came, I'm open to suggestions. Please.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



eViL pOp TaRt said...

The official DSM-IV term is "antisocial personality disorder," to refer to a person who is amoral, impulsive, and lacks sensitivity to other people. Sounds like a civil servant to me.

Those occupations do tend to draw disproportionately large numbers of psychopaths.

rashbre said...

A couple of the words you list are in pretty common use in the U.K.

Having a natter, is a well used phrase..

Similarly, your 'Buncombe' is, I think, spelled as bunkum usually over here (as in pure bunkum) - as well as the related ' to debunk'.

I think winkle might have another meaning here, though ;-)

Mike said...

I saw the list yesterday. You beat me to it. Claudia has been two of them on the naughty list. I was two two of them on the nice list.

Duckbutt said...

I'm totally not surprised with CEOs, media perons, and the clergy making the list.

I think of Elmer Gantry as a fictional example of the latter.

John A Hill said...

Yeah, I saw that list. I made two of the top 10 list. Is that a bad thing?

The Bastard King of England said...

I'm amazed that journalists make the list. I thought they had integrity!