MALICIOUS MISCHIEF: willful destruction of personal property motivated by ill will or resentment


So yesterday I talked with you about mischief, the innocent kind that kids do to have fun, and (hopefully) not at the expense of others.   But I mentioned that there is another kind of mischief  referred to as malicious mischief.   It, too, can be undertaken by kids, and sometimes ends up looking like vandalism, […]

MODERATE (adj.): not extreme, excessive, or intense


There was a day when there were three categories of political expression, the great bulk of which were called moderates.  It was that factor that drew me to register with a political party.  At first I was a registered Republican, drawing my enthusiasm from the political positioning of Nelson Rockefeller, then Governor of the State […]

SCHMISOGENESIS [shmiz-o-JEN-e-sis]: mirroring interactions in which every move by one side makes the other respond more negatively


Wait!  Don’t click out of this just because it’s a long word!  I know, I promised that this blog would be about words we use in everyday language, but I couldn’t ignore this word that popped up in the Times the other day.  Bear with me.  It’s worth it. Schmisogenesis is an amazing word that […]

REFORM: improve by alteration


The urgency in Congress to bring about immigration reform is palpable. There is a lot of emotion about the subject, some of it getting to the level of argumentation and anger. I’m convinced that some of the volatile behavior is based upon the fact that the word reform is being used inappropriately by some.  The […]

JUST SAY “KNOW”: a response to anti-intellectualism

Over the past year I have made numerous references to the attempt to “dumb down” the expectations of the American people in order to assuage the desires of a group of political activists who embrace anti-intellectualism as their credo.  The most obvious example of this segment of our society is the Tea Party movement which […]

SHAMBOLIC: highly disorganized, in shambles

Talk about reacting to the moment.  Our word for today is shambolic, a word I heard for the first time an hour ago.  David Brooks, who I consider to be one of the most thoughtful, intelligent conservative commentators on television, was a member of a panel convened by David Gregory, the host of Meet the […]