Euphemisms in the Media

May 10, 2006 at 3:53 pm (Culture)

Every weekday at 6:00pm, 88.1 KNTU runs a simulcast of the local WFAA news television broadcast. Yesterday as I neared the gym I caught a story that made me flush with anger, not to mention giggle insanely whilst ranting to myself at the situation.

It was this story – a quick nod to a local school board political hopeful who had in his adult past shoplifted over $500 of lingerie from a Neiman Marcus. The phrases that caught my attention were "poor judgment" and "made a mistake". In the Dallas Morning News article they quote the man as having said something like he was going through a time of tough challenges and that money was tight. He's running for the Dallas School Board and plans to continue his bid even with the situation from his past coming to light.

First, let me say all the more to the man for continuing with his bid for election to the school board. While I would never vote for such a person – it's not like he was a teenager when he committed the crime – I think it is an important step at criminals (minor or major) overcoming their past and making something of themselves, no matter what the fight.

The issue I have is the use of euphemisms to 'soften' the blow of the crime. Poor judgment? Mistake? If he weren't a politician I don't imagine those are the words we'd read in the paper. I don't understand what the poor judgment was – he was 35 years old; again, it's not like he was a teenager hanging with the wrong crowd. Mistake? I'm sorry, but it's not like he stole from a Wal-Mart; there was diliberation on that decision. I just don't buy it. And, even though I think it's his right – and I do applaud his efforts – to try to gain local political office, I hope I'm not the only one who puts some thought into the situation.

Some will say I'm being too hard on him, that at least he's fessing up to the crime. And to those people I would say… sure, he's fessed up. But he's making it sound like it could happen to anyone with 'poor judgment'. Now, do you want someone, who at 35 years of age had enough poor judgment to steal high-end bras and panties on your child's school board? Me, personally (even without kids)… I'm not so certain.

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How my dog contributed to today’s immigrant boycott

May 2, 2006 at 12:18 am (Culture, The Dogs)

For your information, I do not support the whole illegal immigrant issue. That is, that our country would come to a grinding halt if we were able to successfully enforce our immigration laws, thus sending home hundreds of thousands (millions?) of illegal residents in the USA.

However, this is about my dog. And, in the interest of serving a good friend of mine who likes poop stories, I thought I would share something I thought of today that at least *I* found humurous.

For a long time, I've guessed that my dog, Peanut (the smaller of two), is part chihuahua. He was described to me three years ago as a "Jack Russell Terrier / Mix," but it's been quite clear by his shimmy, shrill high-pitched yap, and bone dome of a head that he really is more chihuahua than JRT.

Today I made that assumption even more concrete as I walked him, watching his butt for that special moment dogs have when they must succomb to natures's forces and let out a number 2. See, I walk my dogs twice a day for that purpose alone – and they regularly donate, twice a day, to the fertilization of the apartment complex's weed strewn lawn.

However, this morning Peanut wouldn't let it go. I could see his little butt clenching and relaxing – sure signs that he is ready to. A few times he got close to a full squat but decided to give up. After 20 minutes, I decided to give up myself and go go to work.

Then again this evening the same thing occurred. Once, even, he DID squat and go to start but then decided against it! The willpower this mexican has! We walked the entire complex. We were out there for 30 minutes! My older dog who had already done his duty to nature tried several times to lie down and take a nap. All I could think was, "I'll be dammed if the chihuahua in him is doing this to spite me, the illegal immigrant oppressor!"

Finally, just as I was rounding the corner to return home, I checked my watch – 6:00pm… Peanut gave in! He stopped dead and went, right there on the lawn, right after closing time. It was as if he was punching back into his normal daily routine after a long day of slacking off of his normal lawn job.

Funny, though – life went on.

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Why I hate crowds (and Central Market)

May 1, 2006 at 1:40 am (Culture)

Let me start by saying that I'm not afraid of crowds. There is no fear involved. The issue is that I despise them. They are full of people who care nothing about their surroundings. They stop and linger and group into smaller crowds that do the same, all the while blocking the path for those of us who actually want to achieve pedal progression.

This isn't a recent epiphany. In fact, it's been a developing hatred over the years. However, last weekend I treated myself to a double-dose of crowds: one Saturday and another on Sunday.

On Saturday I drove out to Fort Worth to peruse the wares offered at the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival. As this is one of the top Arts festivals in the nation, I figured braving the crowds was worth it. And, though I managed to spend roughly $200 on some awesome handmade items [this necklace, a vase similar to this one, and another vase by the same artist] it took a lot of perseverance to wend and weave my way through the people eating their turkey legs and kettle corn, 'steering' their strollers (loosely termed), and stopping dead in their tracks for no apparent reason what-so-ever. Note that I didn't say it took patience. No, there was little to no patience involved. In fact it took all I had to not take out a few kids under 5 feet of height as they clipped my new flip-flops and stopped dead in front of me to do – again – nothing.

Sunday I decided to make my annual pilgrimage to the local Central Market. Note that I said annual. Somehow, though I find myself leaving the store with a headache, I get the urge to return again – but only about once a year.

As I drove away that Sunday I decided to think a bit more deeply about why I hate Central Market. Ultimately I decided that the concept doesn’t succeed – in suburbia – the way I imagine it should. I like the concept that it’s more like shopping in an urban market where you can see the fishmonger tossing the tuna while you hand-pick overpriced produce. However, suburbia and this experience simply cannot coexist. Why? Crowds. Crowds of people such as the following:

  • People with 5 young children in tow, each with their own cart
  • After church goers on Sundays
  • Foodie trend followers
  • Coffee-klatschers

The issue: In suburbia grocery shopping is a family event, especially on Sundays after church as people are trying to follow Emeril's latest trendy recipe as they catch up on their gossip over coffee. Shove all of this into a trendy over-sized maze of a food market and you have a crowd of people who stop dead in their tracks to do apparently – all together now – nothing.

Toss into the mixture the layout of the store and you have these crowds mingling in a never-ending ess-curve of a maze. Simply entering the store is a challenge in and of itself because it’s where the produce section starts and everyone decides to park their cute little double-decker carts at the first item stand.

In a nutshell, last weekend tried my patience with crowds. Two days in a row I subjected myself to environments that aggravate me to the point of headaches. Undoubtedly these won’t be the last times I find myself willingly participating in similar situations simply because the world is only getting more crowded and the things I want to see are surrounded by crowds. If only there was a way to discreetly carry an air horn so I could plow an open path ahead of me. That’s all I want, really – people to just get the hell outta my way so I can enjoy myself – without a headache.

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Greatness: “Thank You for Smoking”

April 8, 2006 at 2:56 pm (Culture)

"When someone tries to act like some sort of expert, you can respond, 'who says?'" (Aaron Eckhart as Nick Naylor in "Thank You for Smoking") I'm no expert, but that is one of the many great lines in the film.

Last night I nearly succombed to the comfort of my oh-so-supple leather recliner; it was a fight to convince myself that I needed to keep my plans to head to Uptown Dallas to catch the flick and not just fall asleep in front of the television.

I couldn't be happier with my decision. "Thank You for Smoking" is among the funniest, wittiest, and most clever films I have ever seen. What struck me is… though the topic is to satirically portray big tobacco and their interests it actually has a deeper message.

Nick Naylor is the spokesperson – Spin Doctor – for the "American Institute for Tobacco Studies" (or something like that). He is a master at argument and spin; but he's also divorced with a pre-teen son and wants to be a better father. Hint: that's there the core message lies. I won't give too much away since the movie is still fresh in theatres. What I will do is recommend this movie highly – HIGHLY – to anyone who wants to laugh at some clever 'spin' for 90 minutes and come away with some great quotes with which you can impress your friends.

Film's website here

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