ETHER: the heavens

There I was, listening to the Diane Rehm Show on N.P.R. , when I heard Diane say something about drawing something in from the ether. She didn’t pronounce it like the anesthesia one takes for surgery.  It was pronounced like “leather” without the “l.“   I immediately recognized it as having something to do with the […]

PUBLIC OPINION: the collective opinion of many people on some issue, problem, etc., esp. as a guide to action, decision, or the like.

The quote accompanying the graphic I have chosen for today says this: “A new situation has arisen throughout the world, created by the spread of literacy among the people and the miraculous improvement of the means of communication. Always the  opinions of relatively small publics have been a prime force in political life, but now, […]

NEITHER HERE NOR THERE: an idiom meaning “not important”

The English language is full of idioms, small phrases which have a peculiar meaning when used in a specific context.  Neither here nor there is one which has particular appeal.  It is used in sentences such as: Whether she chooses to accept the nomination or not is neither here nor there to me. It expresses […]

UN-AWED: is it a word?

In a New York Times commentary this past week, columnist David Brooks used the word un-awed. It feels good to vent in this way. You demonstrate your own importance by showing your buddies that you are un-awed by the majority leader, the vice president or some other big name. You get to take a break […]

POLICE ACTION: a euphemism for war

Sixty years ago the Korean War began.  That’s a sobering thought, as I realize that I can remember the whole thing…from beginning to end.  Not the details, mind you, but the simple fact that it was going on.  I was too involved in growing up to pay attention to the details. When a distant cousin […]

TOTEMIC: anything serving as a distinctive, often venerated, emblem or symbol

I really had to work hard on this one.  My daughter was reading an article aloud to me from the June, 2010,   edition of Vanity Fair magazine.  James Wolcott, a regular contributor to the magazine, was reporting on the life of the late author, Norman Mailer. At one point in the well-written article, Wolcott refers […]