Good Question

From Insty:

…also: “Whom do you vaccinate first?” [takes off Grammar Nazi armband]

That irritant aside, the question is a good one and is especially troubling in a case such as now, when the quantities are likely to be quite limited at first — especially when viewed against the global population of some six billion.

I’m going to be completely on the side of civilization here and say that whichever country developed the vaccine should have first call on the stuff (the dreaded “nationalist” worldview, fuck off, snowflakes).  The fact that Brits, Americans or Europeans (i.e. Western civilizations) would end up being likely ahead of the hapless denizens of sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia… c’est la vie.  So that’s easy:  Western civilization (as the creators) benefits its members first, the rest later.

Let’s look at the situation within two countries who might develop the vaccine (needless to say, at huge cost in terms of research).

Ordinarily, vaccinations start either with children or with the most in need of vaccination — i.e. the populations at greatest risk from whatever pox is being vaccinated against.

Doesn’t work today, though.  In the first place, kids are the ones least at risk from Teh Chinkvirus, so there’s no need to start with them.

Of course, the population group most vulnerable to death from the Chinese Pox is that of the elderly;  but in today’s culture, where we Olde Pharttes are but a step or two away from being shoved onto ice floes by politicians and State institutions (cue:  granny-killer NYGov Cuomo and Britain’s NHS), there would be fainting fits all over the place at the thought of “wasting” the vaccine on people who don’t have long to live anyway.  So those two groups are, arguendo, excluded.  Which leaves the rest.

Then the “meritocracy” argument begins.  In Britishland, it’s easier at least for the first half-dozen or so available doses:  the Queen, and those members of the Royal Family closest to the line of succession.  [cue the Socialists’ and republicans’ grumbling]

Over Here… well, that’s a little problematic, isn’t it?  The thought that a President (any President) should get the first shot is justifiably abhorrent to us egalitarians, ditto any members of government — and of Congress, we will not speak.  (“Fuckem” would be the most common sentiment, I suspect, and rightly so.)

Then we come to the closest group we have to British nobility:  Teh Rich.  Uh huh.  In twenty words or less, explain to me why Bill Gates, some Saudi “prince” or that asshole who runs Google are any more deserving than the guy behind the counter at your local 7-11.  [hands out popcorn]

And the same is true for anyone else whom society may deem “special” and worthy of being at the head of the line.  The thought of Kim Kardashian being more worthy of the vaccine than, say, my Son&Heir… [hands out more popcorn]

The simple truth is that nobody “deserves” to get the vaccination ahead of anyone else:  not in the U.S.A., anyway.  So what’s the solution?

Actually, the answer is really simple:  hand the job over to Social Security.

Social Security numbers are arguably the closest thing we have to a national ID (I know, I know), and it would be the work of a few hours to create a lottery system which would rank the universe of SocSec numbers into some random order which would leave the delivery of vaccinations to pure chance.  Unfortunately, this would exclude all those in this country who are here illegally and thus don’t have a Social Security number, but I see that as a feature, not a bug.

When it comes to survival, life in Earth is pretty much a crapshoot anyway, so why should this situation be any different?

Speed Bump #922

When did the noun “gift” become a verb?  “I gifted her a birthday present” sounds retarded, not to say redundant or even worse, pretentious.

It’s even made even worse by adding the superfluous preposition “with”.  “I gifted her with a birthday present” sounds so stupidly convoluted and verbose, it could be Jesse Jackson speaking.

There’s a perfectly good word to describe the act of giving:  it’s called “giving”.  By definition, when one gives something to someone, it’s a fucking gift.

I know that I am somewhat guilty of turning a noun into a verb is that I call this same foul trend “verbing” — but of course I’m being ironic by turning the concept against itself.

Don’t get me started.  Every time someone spouts that nonsense, I want to gift them with a kick in the groin.

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 at 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?