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2/21/2017
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The word's out

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Instead of a "word of the day" today, how about a whole bunch of them, "13 wonderful old English words we should still be using today," from Christina Sterbenz over at Business Insider.

I already knew the first word on the list, and it just might be my favorite word of all time, "ultracrepidarian," which is "somebody who gives opinions on subjects they know nothing about." Actually, the for I knew was "ultracrepidate," the verb, meaning "to criticize beyond the sphere of one's knowledge." Think of the pope spouting off about economics, or a sportsw columnist who suddenly feels compelled to write about politics, or an editorial writer who goes on about . . . .well, just about anything. Since we're not experts on anything but having opinions and expressing them, ultracrepidarianism sort of comes with the territory. Just about anything we put into words involves a "subject we know nothing about."

What makes the word really interesting is its origin. In a Roman story, a cobbler criticized the sandals in a painting by the artist Apelles, and then complained about further parts of the work, "to which Apelles is said to have replied, 'Ne sutor ultra crepidam,' or, roughly, 'The cobbler must not go beyond the sandal.' "

I also knew the second word on the list, snollygoster, "a shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician." I don't think I've ever actually seen it used, so I probably know it from another list of unusual words, which is the kind of thing I check out all the time.

All the other words are new to me, and some are beauts, like zwodder, "a drowsy and stupid state of body or mind," which I've experienced a lot of, and clinomania, "an obsessive desire to lie down," ditto, and ergophobia, "the morbid fear of returning to work." Just got back from vacation, so, yeah, that, too.

Speaking of my favorite words, my second-favorite is samizdat, because like ultracrepidate it also related to opinion writing. From the Russian samizdat was a system in the Soviet Union by which government-suppressed literature was clandestinely printed and distributed. It has come to refer to any such writing that in secretly distributed after being banned in one way or another.

My best samizdat story involves an editorial I wrote years ago on the occasion of Mother Teresa and Princess Diana dying so close together, in which I lamented the great attention focused on Diana's death and the relative paucity of stories about Mother Teresa.. The publisher at the time pulled the editorial because, she said, a lot of our readers absolutely loved the princess and would be offended by it. All day long I kept waving a copy of that editorial in front of people, fuming, saying something to the effect of., "Want to read this editorial, because this is the ONLY place you can read it?!?!"

ELSEWHERE IN THE NEWS

A researcher discovers a group of birds that use syntax just the way humans do to impart complex combinations of ideas.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan made each other better than they would have been alone, and their devotion to each other is a love story for the ages. Very good column by George Will.

Because science is now political rather than scientific, it is natural that global warming belief breaks down along party lines.

Somebody should tell Donald Trump that the kinds of tariffs he has been calling for rarely work out as planned. Our choses will be fewer, the prices we pay higher. He kinda skips over that part.

Oh, my God, there will be an apocalypse on March 8 when a freak supermoon, eclipse and asteroid on the same day signal the end of the world! Oh, wait, March 8 was yesterday. Never mind.

Gallup finds that libertarian voters (those who think the government is doing too much and should NOT favor any particular set of values) account for 27 percent of respondents, followed by conservatives (26 percent), liberals (23 percent), and populists (15 percent). I know I keep saying this, but if there are so damn many libertarians out there, why aren't more libertarian candidates getting elected?

An Israeli man stabbed in the neck by a terrorist pulled the knife out and used it to kill the terrorist. Damn his barbaric stopping to the terrorist's level instead of negotiating with the man.

An amazing number of adults have forgotten some very basic stuff, including the one in five who have forgotten how to work out either fractions or percentages. My God, that's almost half!

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