usingtherightwords

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Outdated Facts Means Outdated Words


Although Hanukkah began on Tuesday, my family got together on Sunday for our annual family Hanukkah gathering. In addition to the usual money I get, I received “The Bathroom Trivia Book: Nuggets of Knowledge for America’s Favorite Reading Room.” This interested me, and then I saw that this book was published in 1986.

That got me REALLY interested. I figured that there were some facts presented therein that are no longer true (so, therefore, the wrong words were being used).

Sure enough, I found some. First comes the book “facts,” then today’s, culled from numerous online sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state websites and some general knowledge I know.

  1. Women get married, on average, at age 21; men at age 23. Today, it’s 27 and 29.
  2. The only person whose birthday is a legal holiday everywhere in the U.S. is George Washington. Today, Martin Luther King joins him.
  3. Marilyn Monroe was the inspiration behind Tinker Bell in Disney’s “Peter Pan.” Nope, it was actress Margaret Kerry.
  4. The most common surname in the word is Chang (Zhang). Now, it’s Li (or Lee).
  5. Herbert Hoover lived the longest after leaving the presidency: 31 years.  Today, Jimmy Carter is at almost 37 years and counting.
  6. Park Street is the most popular street name. Today, it’s fifth (Second is first), but it’s still the most popular that isn’t a number.
  7. The three closest countries to the U.S. are Canada, Mexico and the Soviet Union. Of course, the USSR doesn’t exist anymore. Russia is now the third.
  8. And I end on a sad note. The World Trade Center has 43,600 windows. Today, it doesn’t exist.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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December 14, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Can a Birthday Always Fall on a Monday?


The third Monday in January always is Martin Luther King Day. This year, as always, many organizations and cities celebrated this great man’s life. But I heard something on a CBS News radio report that made me pause.

The newsreader mentioned the various ways groups,  cities and people celebrated what would have been King’s 85th birthday. OK, no problem, I thought, people often celebrate birthdays near the actual day. But I waited for the newsreader to mention that King’s actual birthday was Jan. 15, five days, earlier.

He never did, which made me wonder if people might have thought the 20th was King’s birthday. And if that’s the case, it’s pretty amazing that a person’s birthday always falls on the third Monday of January. Reminds me of a friend who got married on Labor Day and thought his anniversary always would be Labor Day instead of every Sept. 7.

I told my wife about what I heard CBS News say, and she told me that it’s the same with Cesar Chavez in that she always has March 31st off for Cesar Chavez Day, even if March 31 falls on a Wednesday.

I looked it up: Cesar Chavez’s birthday was March 31.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 21, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Get to the “Roots” of the Problem


I love Netflix (despite the incredibly high price increase from last year) because I can go back and watch movies, television shows or miniseries that I missed the first time around. I’m currently watching the last disc of  “Roots,” which I didn’t watch when it premiered in 1977 because I was too young.

Anyone who has watched “Roots” knows the various names (today we’d call them epithets) white people called the slaves and what the slaves called each other. By today’s standards, the words are incendiary, insulting, rude and racist. Unfortunately, that’s the way it was.

It’s not that way today. Now, we have the terms African-American and black. Which do you use? Whatever the person prefers. But be careful. Technically speaking, only people who can trace their ancestry directly to Africa can be called African-American. President Obama is a prime example. He was born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and an American mother.

I once knew a white woman who could make the same designation. She was born in South Africa and became an American citizen later. I remember her telling me the looks she got when she (correctly) listed herself as African-American on job applications and then met hiring officers for interviews.

If ancestry can’t be determined, and if you can’t reach the person to find  his or her preference, use black because that is the skin color.

Happy Black History Month! Happy Lincoln’s Birthday (a day late)! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

February 13, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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