usingtherightwords

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Not Wrong, but Not as Clear as Possible


There is a good reason the New York Times is considered one of the world’s top newspapers. With 122 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other paper, and with the largest  combined print and online circulation (and with Donald Trump often calling it “failing New York Times”), it’s the paper to which all journalists should aspire. It’s historic (witness its landmark Supreme Court libel ruling New York Times v. Sullivan and its Pentagon Papers ruling New York Times Co. v. United States) and it’s credible.

I didn’t originally understand the following paragraph, written by Maureen Dowd and appearing in the Feb. 3, 2018 edition. It’s in a story about Uma Thurman talking about Harvey Weinstein.

“Pulp Fiction” made Weinstein rich and respected, and Thurman says he introduced her to President Barack Obama at a fund-raiser as the reason he had his house.

Huh? He had his house because he introduced her to a president? Wow. I didn’t know Obama was in the habit of giving out houses because of introductions.

OK. I know what the intent here is: “Pulp Fiction,” was so successful that it made Weinstein enough money to buy his house. But when I first read the paragraph, I took it to mean that the reason he got his house was because he introduced Thurman to Obama. Then I thought that Weinstein was crediting Thurman with Weinstein’s house, which is only indirectly true (the real credit should go to everybody who helped make the movie the success it was, starting with Quentin Tarantino).

The reality is one has to be really careful to make sure what’s written is exactly what is meant, and it’s not easy to do when you’re the writer.

Thanks to Richard C. for the idea.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

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February 6, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It Makes Sense Only in Context


It has been awhile since I’ve gone to a networking meeting, but last week, I returned. This time, I bring examples of words people said that made sense — if you were there.

I’m not in the closet because I’ve been in the business 50 years — Of course, plenty of people in the entertainment industry, including some who have been in the business 50 years are gay. Others are gay but don’t feel they can come out.

And then there is the person who said this: She really sells closets.

He helped defeat Prop 8 so we have gay marriage in California — This speaker told of a relative that was an outspoken opponent of Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that banned any marriage in California that wasn’t between a man and woman. Unfortunately, the voters approved Prop 8; it wasn’t defeated.

Later, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it unconstitutional because it violated the Equal Protection Clause (Fourteenth Amendment), so had the relative been an attorney who argued the case, the speaker would have been correct. But he wasn’t.

As we celebrate your nephew’s life and his passing — The networking group’s president expressed his sympathy for a member whose nephew died at a young age. But I don’t think anyone was celebrating his passing.

You want to live for free, you go to Oklahoma. That’s what Oklahoma’s for — Can you really live for free in Oklahoma? I doubt it. The speaker actually made a point that land in Oklahoma is far less expensive than in California.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

January 23, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Medical Terms I’ve Come to Know Personally


To my followers: I’m sorry I’ve been gone for more than a month. It wasn’t because of my not having anything to write about. It’s because I’ve been ill, and as a result, there are medical terms I’ve now come to know personally. These are below in bold type.

On July 6, I awoke, turned over in bed and immediately felt like the room was spinning. It felt like being on a playground merry-go-round that never stopped. And because it never stopped, the nausea I felt — and the vomiting that went with it — was as terrible as any nausea and vomiting I’ve ever experienced. I couldn’t keep anything down, not that I was hungry. But anything I drank came up, and so did the bile.

The only time I didn’t feel sick was when I laid flat on my back, and that made any kind of moving nausea-inducing. I couldn’t get down the stairs to get to the car to go to the doctor without several times looking down into a bucket. I had to lay the passenger seat flat so I could lay flat while my wife drove me to the hospital.

At first, the general practitioner diagnosed my condition as benign paroxysmal positional vertigoa condition in which crystals (real name: calcified otoliths)  in the inner ear move, causing dizziness. These episodes typically last an hour, and since I was suffering for longer, the doctor put in for a CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan and a magnetic resonance imaging test.

The CAT scan revealed nothing, but the MRI revealed a two-centimeter lesion in my cerebellum, the part of the brain that deals with balance. I was admitted to the hospital and stayed there for four days. In that time, I slowly learned how to live with my head spinning, which I experienced because my left eye was jumping in my head. I learned how to eat, drink and go to the bathroom while spinning. I took meclizine, which helped with the nausea. I could hardly read or watch TV, and when I read, I needed my reading glasses at all times instead of just early in the morning or late at night. When I watched TV, I needed my head to be pinned against a pillow. I likened it to an infant who can’t keep his head up.

Doctors gave me prednisone, a steroid that could speed up the healing (blood tests showed an elevated white-blood-cell count, so I was trying to heal myself). It has a side effect of elevating one’s blood sugar, so several times I was given insulin. I now know what a diabetic experiences.

Also in that time, the neurologist recommended I meet with a more specialized neurologist, one whose expertise was in multiple sclerosis. This was set for July 20th.

I wanted to stay in the hospital until the spinning stopped, but on the 10th, I came home still spinning. When I was able to read, I looked up MS and found it was a  demyelinating disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain (the myelin sheaths) and spinal cord are damaged, probably because of the failure of the myelin-producing cells.

I was weeks away from my 49th birthday. All I cared about was how to get the spinning to stop. I’d deal with the diagnosis later.

On the 17th, I met with my general practitioner who recommended I try scopolamine, the drug people take by putting a patch behind their ear before going on a cruise ship, to combat the spinning. All that did was make me spin faster, so the doctor suggested lorazepam (better known as Ativan). This did nothing.

On the 20th, I met with the neurologist and learned I had clinically isolated syndrome and not MS because I had only one lesion, so it isn’t multiple. I joked that I had S and not MS. The neurologist explained that only 15 percent of people with CIS ever get MS. I’ll take those odds. He also said there would always be scarred brain tissue. My wife said she didn’t care because she couldn’t see it.

Over time, the spinning got slower and slower until on Aug. 4, the day before I was to leave for a vacation in Lake Tahoe, it finally stopped. I posted on Facebook, “Today, for the first time in about a month, I got off the merry-go-round.” I’m not sure everybody who responded or liked the post knew what I meant.

But it doesn’t matter. I’m home, the spinning has stopped, and I’m ready to resume life. I have a follow-up MRI on Sept. 21 to make sure no other lesions have appeared. So far, it doesn’t seem so.

My wife and I started watching “The West Wing” on Netflix. How coincidental that President Josiah Bartlet has MS.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

August 15, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Unbelievable Email


I received the following email. There just is no way this is real.

I am Mr.Donald Trump the president of the united states of america and I am written to inform you about your Bank Check Draft brought by United Embassy from the government of Benin Republic to the white house Washington DC and has been mandated
to be deliver to your home address on Friday, being June 02, 2017 as soon as you get back to me with your below information.

Receiver's Name_______________
Address: ________________
City _______________
Country: ____________
Next Of Kin_____________
Phone Number: _____________
Age_____________
Nationality_____________
Text Question And Answer___________
Attach Copy Of Your ID _____________
  
You check is containing the sum of $60 million USD.
Here is my number.(253)336_8597) and (202) 852-3953) E-mails is
(mrdonaldtrumpthepresident@gmail.com) OR (mrdonaldtrumpthepresident@yahoo.com) you can call me or send me an sms, but i prefer sms because I'm always busy in the white house and i can't be able to pick calls all the time.
 
I will be waiting to hear from you immediately, thanks and God bless you.
 
Sincerely
Mr.Donald Trump
The president

How unreal can this be? There are too many ways to count. It boggles my mind.

The email address is phony; Trump wouldn’t use a gmail or yahoo email address. The capitalization errors are numerous. There has been no news that the president has had anything to do with the African nation Benin in his 100-plus days in office.

I actually want to call the phone numbers but am afraid to.

Please, please, please, nobody believe this.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

June 1, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Hope You Stay Stuck in That Airport


This is not about President Donald Trump’s travel ban that caused people to be unable to leave various airports. If you read the latest scam email I received, you will see why I hope this con artist stays stuck in some unnamed airport.

As this is a shorter letter, I counted only 12 mistakes. Don’t make it 13 by calling the phone number. It’s a Columbus, Ohio area code.

Dear Card Owner,
This is to notify you today that I Mr. Rex Anthonio have already arrived to your
country yesterday with your ATM CARD which is valued at $1.5 million united state
dollars Sent from European Union branch Turkey. Kindly send your information for
reconfirmation, to avoid wrong delivery. below is my telephone numbers; (614)559
-8308
(1)Your Full Name:
(2)Mobile Phone Number:
(3)Current Home Address:
(4)Fax Number:
(5)Country:
(6)City:
(7)Nearest Airport :
Note that am in an airport right now waiting for your e-mail, so kindly send your
complete delivery information as I have directed you,to avoid misplacement.
I am,
Rex Anthonio
AIMES DELIVERY COMPANY

I typed “Aimes Delivery Company” into Google. No such name came up.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

February 21, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Simple Folk Speaking Simply … Wrong


Ah, networking people. They’re so simple. They don’t know how to use the language correctly. More examples follow.

“We’re under new management the past three years” — Actually, that’s a sign of bad management. Either that or someone doesn’t know the meaning of the word new.

The correct statement: “We’re under the same management for the past three years.”

“I was walking down the street and I could see the wind” — No, you couldn’t. You could only see the signs of the wind: the trees waving, your hair flowing, the leaves blowing, etc.

“I’m down the street” — No, you’re standing in this restaurant where the networking meeting is taking place.

“Whoever becomes president next month…” — Putting aside the incorrect whoever for the moment, I went through this last week: No one becomes president next month. Barack Obama will still be president for all of November. The new president, whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, takes over Jan. 20. Between Nov. 8 and Jan. 20, someone will be president-elect.

The correct statement: “Whomever is elected president next month …”

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

leebarnathan.com

October 18, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Overheard (It Never Gets Old)


I love networking meetings. You hear some great stuff.

1. A skin-care professional planning an event said, “See me for your cell phone number.”

Don’t you already have your number?

2. Someone else said, “The holidays are coming. It makes a great gift certificate.”

The holidays make a great gift certificate?

3. The guest speaker, talking about himself, said, “I came here when I was young. I don’t remember when. I was a baby.”

None of us remember such things. We rely on our parents or relatives to tell us.

4. Somebody talking about the upcoming election said, “Whoever is president on Nov. 9, we have to get ready.”

I can easily predict who will be president on Nov. 9: Obama. Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be president-elect and won’t become president until taking the oath of office on Jan. 20.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

leebarnathan.com

October 6, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

As Opposed to “As Late as Possible?”


Once again, a networking meeting provides me with fodder.

This time, it’s a report of a fellow networker suffering from cancer. The group president announced that a member has cancer and he’s fighting it, and “We’re sure he will be back as soon as possible.”

To which I thought, No, he’s going to be back as late as possible. I don’t mean “late” as in “dead,” either. It’s just that it seems obvious to me that someone will be back as soon as possible if he wants to be there in the first place, which he does.

So, duh.

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is available on Amazon for only $14.95.  Order here.

leebarnathan.com

September 27, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Give Thanks That This Holiday Comes Annually


We all know what Thursday is: It’s the holiday that has been a holiday since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November to be a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

If this was a blog about history, I could go on about how the original Thanksgiving was not that late in the year, but more likely in September or October, and we’re not observing the holiday correctly.

But instead, I’ll write about how I recently overheard someone say they weren’t sure they were “going to have Thanksgiving this year.”

There’s just one problem: Thanksgiving comes every year without fail. It always comes on the fourth Thursday of November, just as it has since 1942 after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed a joint resolution of Congress fixing the date.

Maybe that person wasn’t going to celebrate Thanksgiving, or she wasn’t going to host a Thanksgiving celebration. But she didn’t say that.

Just like every annual holiday, you can’t not have it.

Until next time! Use the right words!

It’s here! My début book, “If You Experience Death, Please Call: And Other Fatal Mistakes We Make With Language” is out and available on Amazon. Order now for just $14.95. Contact me on my website to reserve your copy or Order here.

leebarnathan.com

November 24, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Whose” Line Is It Anyway? “Who’s” Asking?


Too often, we fail to see the exception for the rule (as opposed to the forest for the trees). Today’s example: who’s/whose.

As we know, very often in English a word with an apostrophe-s  after it denotes possessive: Obama’s cabinet, a worker’s pay, a cynic’s lack of belief, etc. A notable exception is it’s, which is a contraction of it is. The possessive form is its — no apostrophe.

It’s the same with who’s: it means who is. The possessive is whose.

Fortunately, a British improvisation show that Drew Carey later brought to American audiences helped everyone understand the difference and made a star out of Wayne Brady.

Having seen the show taped twice (including this one) and having seen Ryan Stiles perform improv live while the show was just in Britain, I’m partial to him.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com

 

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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