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Picture of wordcrafter
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Sometimes I am stunned to see the vigor of our language. Today is such a day, and our theme this week will be not content but a sense of how broadly that content is available to us. We present the richly mixed bag of words that appear in just a two-page spread of a newspaper today.

(And yes, this does simplify my task of finding illustrative quotations.)

tendentious - highly partisan; marked by a strong tendency in favor of a particular point of view
quote:
There was no way I could quickly quell the press criticism of me, even though it was based on factual errors and tendentious reporting.
- Richard Perle, For the Record,, Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2003
 
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apocalyptic - 1. portending widespread devastation or ultimate doom 2. wildly unrestrained; esp. in exaggerated predictions of a disastrous outcome
quote:
At Harvard, I was recently required to read a selection of feminist literature centered upon inflammatory and hyperbolic misinformation. [One piece,] by way of example, proffered the "factual" assertion that most sexual encounters are, for most women, nonconsensual. Sadly, neither this nor any related apocalyptic "fact" has been challenged in the course of my experience at Harvard.
- Letter to editor, Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2003
 
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The dictionaries vary notably on this one. Putting it together:

kneecap (verb) - to attack someone by shooting in the knee.
The figurative use is of more interest (see quotation below), but I don't find that use in the on-line dictionaries.

Some cite "kneecapping" as a particular practice of terrorist groups. I'd think that that the word comes instead from the enforcement practices in organized crime, particularly loan-sharking.
quote:
Senate Demorcrats did score a tactical victory last week in amending the budget resolution to allow only about half of the president's proposed tax cut. No doubt Demorcrats hope to blame the incumbent presient if the economy fails to bounce back after the war, but kneecapping his solution opens a path for counterattack.
- Robert L. Bartley, The Loyal Opposition Digs a Hole, Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2003
 
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recuse - to disqualify (as a judge) from participation in a decision on grounds such as prejudice or personal involvement

I would add that to be recused is not a finding of impropriety, and carries no stigma; it is the avoidance of even appearance of possible impropriety. If a judge in court has a personal interest in a matter brought before him, will recuse himself.
quote:
The second rule is straightforward: If the discussion should involve matters that have a direct and predictable effect on an abvisor's finincial interests, he is recused from taking part.
Global Crossing was never a topic in my board. Had it been, I would have recused myself.
- Richard Perle, For the Record, Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2003
 
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Today's word is may be familiar to USn's but perhaps new to our Brits.

nickel-and-dime - involving only a small amount: a nickel-and-dime job
But more particularly: to destroy by underfunding [as in today's quote]

quote:
We've documented how State [Department] and CIA¹ have bad-mouthed and nickel-and-dimed the INC² in recent years, dispersing only a small fraction of the aid Congress appropriated.
- Editorial, Unleashing Iraq's Opposition, Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2003


¹CIA = Central Intelligence Agency
²INC = Iraqi National Congress, a coalition of Iraqi opposition groups
 
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Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an excellent book titled, "Nickel and Dimed" about a reporter who decided to see how easy it is to live on the minumum wage in the U.S. I highly recommend it--and you will find that it is an almost impossible task to live on that small of a wage.
 
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vituperation – sustained, harshly abusive language; invective
quote:
The hardline feminists who dominate "gender issue" discourse at this university … use the classroom as a platform for explicit vituperation against the stupidity, greed and dishonesty of men – as they see it..
- Letter to editor, Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2003
 
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Is this the same construction as is "...that big of a..." - which we seemed to agree was becoming acceptable in US English but not in the UK?

Certainly I would omit the "of" to no detriment of clarity or style.

Richard English
 
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Oh--it's probably wrong, Richard. It was late when I wrote it. I thought about changing it, but I was just too tired. Sorry.
 
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Our quote ending this week includes a Dutch word (previously defined in wordcraft), a Latin phrase and an Arabic word.

filibuster – [a previous word of the day. from Dutch]

de facto – existing in fact (implicitly meaning, not by planned result or by lawful authority): De facto segregation; a de facto state of war
(Contrast de jure as in de jure segregation: segregation imposed by law or by right.)

jihad – (by extension) a crusade or struggle of religious fervor. (original and root meaning: a muslim holy war or spiritual struggle against infidels)

quote:
Senate Democrats have chosen to ... filibuster against Miguel Estrada, President Bush's nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Their refusal to give Mr. Estrada an up-or-down vote amounts to a de facto constitutional change, requiring 60 votes [to close debate] instead of a majority for judicial confirmations. ...
This jihad would be easier to understand if it had a political rationale, but in fact it hurts the party among Hispanic voters.
- Robert L. Bartley, The Loyal Opposition Digs a Hole, Wall Street Journal, March 31, 2003
 
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Kalleh,

I didn't mean to imply that you were wrong. Indeed, if the phrase came out in writing then that might well be the way you speak. I was only seeking clarification as to whether this phrase, too, was becoming acceptable in US English.

Richard English
 
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by

e e cummings

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer's lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seam
(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
--when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays
screaming hills with sleet and snow:
strangles valleys by ropes of thing
and stifles forests in white ago?
Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind
(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
--whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,
it's they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
bites this universe in two,
peels forever out of his grave
and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
Blow soon to never and never to twice
(blow life to isn't: blow death to was)
--all nothing's only our hugest home;
the most who die, the more we live.
 
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quote:
I didn't mean to imply that you were wrong
I was wrong, I am sure.

wordcrafter, I love your words so don't get me wrong with this comment. It is directed at Robert L. Bartley, not you. However, I do have to say something. There were many, many Clinton appointees rejected by the Republicans--merely for political reasons. Case in point, the refusal to appoint Zoe Baird. This happens on both sides, Mr. Bartley.
 
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But there was a hearing and prompt vote on Baird's nomination, was there not -- or at least no attempt to delay it?

In contrast, the Estrada nomination would receive majority approval (assuming voting along party lines) -- were it to come to a vote -- and the Democrats are filibustering to prevent the majority from voting.
 
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