December 31, 2008 in Opinion

Smart bombs

Been there, done that
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Out with the old and in with the new. Guess that phrase doesn’t take itself seriously, because it’s still around. For stakeholders in the language, clichés and jargon trigger major meltdowns. The onslaught is 24/7 and at the end of the day, well, there is no end.

New terms for old things can be fun for awhile. Then it’s like putting lipstick on a pig. “Moderation in all things” was originally fresh. Then everyone said it, and it became ironic.

I want a bailout from “bailout,” and I don’t care if it comes from Wall Street or Main Street. I’d even settle for a bridge loan, as long as it isn’t a bridge to nowhere.

Just sayin’.

“That being said” was intriguing for a day or two. Then it was truncated to “that said,” which is funny because it replaced the even shorter “but” and “however.”

Whatever.

It’s all good. No it isn’t. In fact, it is what it is, which is so not good.

We can predict next year’s clichés by looking at this year’s movies. Like a tongue stuck to a freezing flagpole, “the big chill” has clung to the brains of headline writers for more than two decades. It’s a close encounter of a repetitive kind. Had enough of a “perfect storm”? If only it were gone with the wind. So, going forward, I don’t expect a quantum of solace in 2009.

’Nuff said.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if clichés originated in Sin City, because what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? That would be awesome!!! But, no, they prefer staycations.

Each year, Lake Superior State University in Michigan collects words and phrases and places them on a year-end Banished List. But are they ever really banned? As if. We’re still stuck with “drug deal gone bad”, “gone missing” and a “surge” of “chipotle.”

Literally.

So what’s a language curmudgeon to do in the face of cliché porn? Time to hunker down. Maybe cocoon. Because this too shall pass, right?

Not so much.

Cold comfort. Speaking of clichés, that global warming joke misses the point. You know the one. It’s uttered after a really cold day: “Don’t know how much more of this global warming I can take.”

Climate scientists don’t claim it’s the end of cold weather. “Global” isn’t what happens in Spokane. “Weather” (short term) and “climate” (long term) are not interchangeable. Nobody said that each year would get progressively hotter. This year was the coolest since 2000, but NASA says the global mean temperature was the ninth highest since measurements began in 1880. Plus, all nine of the warmest years have occurred since 1997.

So enjoy the laugh, but the bark beetles are still ravaging Northwest forests. Arctic Sea ice really is undergoing a sustained melt. It’s not just an illusionist’s joke to punk the polar bears.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at garyc@spokesman.com or at (509) 459-5026.


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