For the love of language

I think about language a lot. I really love how much can be expressed through minor tweaks and changes and unexpected uses of words. Take for instance what on the face of the matter seems like something so silly: Anyone who’s anyone in my generation remembers the show Boy Meets World. It was a decent show that proved to be entertaining, even if it had no shame in showing a cheesy moral at the end of every episode. This one always stood out to me:

I had forgotten how bad the music was, though.

I really liked that because it was a minor change of language that made a huge difference in the meaning of what Mr. Feeney had to say. Besides that, it played off a common grammatical error we hear all the time. (The earlier parts of the episode may have also made some reference to grammar; I don’t recall.) I’m not saying it was masterful writing, but as either a pre-teen or a young teenager, it really stood out to me.

I mention this because I just came across this list of a list of The 100 Most Beautiful Words in English. It has nothing to do with sitcoms from the 90’s, nor does it involve tweaks in composition, but it is a pretty nice list. Here’s a snippet.

Halcyon: Happy, sunny, care-free.
Harbinger: Messenger with news of the future.
Imbrication: Overlapping and forming a regular pattern.
Imbroglio: An altercation or complicated situation.
Imbue: To infuse, instill.

To my readers: What word would you add? My choice (it seems to be a favorite of author Bill Bryson):

Convivial: Agreeable.

I’ve even heard this one before

via Jesus and Mo.

My favorite thing about New START…

…is that of the few people in Russia’s government who are against the treaty, their big complaint is this:

The lower house’s Communists and Liberal Democrats opposed ratification, saying the treaty’s provisions will weaken national security.

“We think this treaty means a strategic defeat for Russia as it in no measure limits the development of the U.S. antiballistic defense,” said Leonid Kalashnikov, a Communist legislator and first deputy head of the International Affairs Committee. “The treaty also doesn’t take into account the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. NATO partners, which leaves us with a 30% inferiority in the number of warheads.”

Both of these issues were picked up by some of our crappier members of Congress (Kyl, McConnell). The difference lies in the fact that they lied about the treaty and said it weakens the U.S. anti-missile defense. Weird, huh? But they do converge with the dissent in Russia when they lament that their country might not have enough nuclear weapons. Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure a handful would more than do the trick.

Anyway. I’m glad the Republicans were unable to hold together as their usual stubborn group that prevents anything good from happening.

When they say Biden had a gaffe…

…what everyone really means is he said something true that a lot of people don’t want to hear.

Vice President Joe Biden predicted Friday the evolution in thinking that will permit gays to soon serve openly in the military eventually will bring about a national consensus for same-sex marriage.

Changes in attitudes by military leaders, those in the service and the public allowed the repeal by Congress of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, Biden noted in a nationally broadcast interview on Christmas eve.

“I think the country’s evolving,” he said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.:” And I think you’re going to see, you know, the next effort is probably going to be to deal with so-called DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). He said he agreed with Obama that his position in gay marriage is “evolving.”

Here are the basic facts that support Biden:

  • The U.S. Constitution does not give the states or feds the ability to discriminate against gays as a group.
  • The U.S. Constitution, in fact, bans such discrimination.
  • The point of marriage as sanctioned by the government is to provide a framework of rights to two individuals.
  • As more and more people come out as gay, more and more people realize that they never had anything to fear.
  • Christianity is losing its grip. I mean, let’s not get crazy and feed into the persecution complex so common among Christians: the religion is still extremely strong and to be a Christian in America is to have an overall advantage in so many ways (sort of like how being white is an overall advantage).
  • But it hasn’t the grip it once did.

  • Old people tend to be bigots at a higher rate than young people. They also tend to die at a much higher rate. And if we add 1 and 1…

Now sit back and wait for the bigot organizations to use Biden’s statements as a source of fear; they’ll use his words to try and thwart lesser efforts than gay marriage, all the while claiming that their concern is to prevent a slippery slope to equality in marriage. Of course, that will be one of their concerns, but their bigger concern will be to prevent gays from enjoying any civil rights whatsoever.

Another two quick things

First, I was recently discussing with a friend Sean Penn’s movie “Milk”, an excellent film about civil rights activist Harvey Milk. One of the points Penn’s character made again and again was that in order to advance equality for gays was (and is) to get people to realize that they know and care for someone who is gay. Once people know that anti-gay stances actually hurt real human beings, they will be less likely to cause harm to others (such as through voting against civil rights measures for gays).

And it’s true.

Watch the movie. Like I say about “Brokeback Mountain”, even people who don’t like gays can appreciate this film for its qualities as a piece of art.

Second, I’m interested to give a listen to the new stuff Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic have in the works.

According to a report by Spin Magazine, the surviving members of Nirvana regrouped for the first time in more than a decade at a “secret” Foo Fighters show in Los Angeles on Tuesday night. Of course, being that Nirvana was officially just a trio, all that means is that Foo Fighters’ frontman Dave Grohl (pictured) was joined by original Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic. However, the duo were also joined by Nirvana’s touring guitarist Pat Smear. Grohl, who sings and plays guitar for the Foos, played drums for Nirvana. The hugely influential group disbanded in 1994 following leader Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

To those paying close attention, Tuesday night’s reunion, while unexpected, should come as little surprise — it’s been widely reported that Grohl recently employed his old bassist’s services for a track which will appear on the new, forthcoming Foo Fighters album. That album, incidentally, is also being produced by Butch Vig, who masterminded Nirvana’s 1991 seminal breakthrough, ‘Nevermind.’

While the Foo Fighters used the intimate show to showcase some of their new material, the short Nirvana segment saw Novoselic and Smear join Grohl on stage to perform ‘Marigold’ — originally a b-side for the hit single ‘Heart Shaped Box,’ it’s the only original composition that Grohl contributed to Nirvana. While many celebrities were allegedly spotted in the audience, we’re guessing that Courtney Love was not one of them.

I am not, however, excited that Pat Smear is involved. He really hurt a lot of the vocals on many of Nirvana’s live songs.

Anyway. Here’s “Marigold”.