Speed Bump #768

If The Federalist  didn’t exist, where else would I get my daily dose of grammatical irritation?

Here’s today’s offering:

Democrats’ abolishment of the filibuster is one reason the GOP-controlled Senate under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been able to confirm so many federal judges.

The word is “abolition”, and spoils what was otherwise an excellent take on the current political situation.  Even the barely-literate Microsoft spell-checking routine flagged that one, which makes me wonder what software the Federalist  writers actually use publish their articles (absent, it seems, any kind of editorial review).

Probably NotePad, come to think of it.  Then they don’t have to bother with all those messy issues of typesetting, spelling and grammar.

Speedbump #328

Here we go again.  In this article, the following sentence emerges to stick itself like a needle into one’s eye:

A huge fire has erupted in the rubble of Beirut’s port just 37 days after an explosion decimated the city.


The original meaning of the word “decimate” was to reduce by 10% — for example, the punishment for a Roman legion which fled the battle field was to line them all up, pull every tenth legionary out of the ranks and execute them — hence decimation, from the Latin word for “ten”.

I know that in modern parlance the word “decimate” has been clumsily used to indicate catastrophe, and it’s become so widespread that I now only register mild irritation — say, 20 rounds’ worth — when I hear it thus used.

But good grief, can we st least stipulate that decimation can only be applied to a numerical value?  The Chinkvirus, say, might decimate a group of people in a retirement home;  but you can’t “decimate” a city, or a field of wheat, or a river — it just makes fuck-all sense, not that modern journalists ever apply that yardstick to their silly scribblings.

Is it too early for a mid-morning martini?  I think not.

Laying Eggs

Anyone see something wrong with this news headline?

It’s in the sub-headline.

You do not “lay” on a mattress;  you lie on a mattress.  You do not lay down;  you lie down.  “Lay down” is used as a verb requiring an object, e.g. “laying down a barrage” or even “laying down a carpet” — although to the ultra-picky, one just “lays a carpet” (the “down” is understood).

Chickens lay eggs, builders lay bricks (bricklayers), decorators lay carpets (carpetlayers, which has fallen out of use, and “carpet layers” has come into vogue, although “carpet layers” strictly speaking means a number of carpets lying (not laying) on top of one another).

In sexual slang, men lay women — historically, when a man “laid a woman down” or “lay (past tense of the verb) down with a woman”, it was a euphemism for having sex, hence “getting laid”.

If you get confused about all this, just remember:  Hens lay eggs.   It’s a transitive verb, requiring an object.

The key word is “lie”.  Any time you use the word as an expression of becoming recumbent, it’s “lie”:  lie down, lie on a bed and so on.  The only time one would say “lay on a bed” is when it happened in the past, e.g. “She lay asleep on the bed last night, clutching her teddy bear.”

“She was laying on the bed” always begs the question:  “Laying what?  Eggs?  Bricks?”  The correct expression is:  “She was lying on the bed.”

As to the correctness of having homeless Eastern Europeans lying [sic]  on mattresses outside Park Lane shops:  that is a topic for another time.

Throwing Shoes

I have spoken before of what I call “linguistic speed bumps”:  egregious grammatical and/or spelling errors which interrupt the flow of reading (and which, in my case, cause a WTF? Moment).

Here’s one that never fails to set my teeth on edge, and I saw it only yesterday:

“None of this is to say that Trump is a shoe-in come November.”

“Shoe-in”?  What the fuck does that mean?  That somebody’s going to kick him into office?

The expression comes from the verb “to shoo” (usher gently) — one shoos away a goose, or puppy, when one wants it to move away.  To “shoo” somebody into office (as in the above situation) means that his victory is assured, and requires only a gentle nudge to take effect — in other words, it’s an expected outcome.

“Shoe-in”  doesn’t mean anything at all;  the writer might as well have said “show in” or “schwing in” for all the sense it makes.  And just as the last time I blew up about it, this bullshit was printed by The Federalist, which one would think might edit their writers’ input, but clearly does not.

I know:  “spell-check” is at fault.  [20,000-word rant deleted]

Where did I put that flamethrower?


This appeared at Insty’s place yesterday:

I understand the sentiment, and anything that helps drain the fucking swamp that is China is a Good Thing.

However, I would have felt SO much better had the headline read:

Six Apple production lines moving from China to Mississippi*.

Instead of helping the Asian Third World, how about first helping our own local Third World (using Mississippi as an example)?  I mean, in Mississippi they vote and everything, plus BONUS!!! the principal beneficiaries of such production relocation would mostly be Black because manufacturing jobs.

Getting out of China:  good
Getting into Mississippi:  doubleplusgood

Those woke assholes at Apple probably prefer to help the Pore & Starvin in other countries because it makes them feel virtuous;  helping the rubes in flyover country?  eeeeeew.

*Yes, in English we say “from… to…” e.g. “from left to right” and “from A to Z”, and not “to right from left” or “to Z from A”.  We even read from left to right, in English.

Speedbump #279

From Townhall we get Kurt Schlicter, who is a reasonably good polemicist, as polemicists go.  All goes well with his latest piece, until this point:

Things are a mess, and the Democrats are doing everything they can to make them messier. They are holding onto their precious pangolin pandemic panic like Brian Stelter grips a pie, ferociously fighting to keep hope dying by denying our kids school and millions of us a livelihood, all to eek out a win in November.

What, are we five years old, and using phonetic spelling?


Do they even have editors at Townhall ?