That form is apparently now the usage of choice. One contributor to Stage Time Magazine
is described as "a 22 year-old lover of standup, literature and spoken
word." I'm a lover of standup, too. Also sit-down, lie-down and crouch.
But they mean he's a lover of stand-up comedy – one phrase in the new pidgin English I have learned.
many people don't understand the connection between an adjective and
the noun it modifies, or consider the noun necessary. One comedian –
actually, a very funny one – does a bit where he says, "I've got a pet
Lock Ness." It takes a second or two to realize he means "a pet Lock
Similarly, many people say "a porno" when they mean "a porno movie." For example, in the Wall Street Journal, ("An Improviser Sticks to the Script," by Rachel Dodes, Jan 18, 2013) we see,
director Lynn Shelton is known for . . . "Humpday," about two
heterosexual buddies who are pressured into making a gay porno. . .
use of the adjective alone, without the noun or the actual thing it
refers to, sounds off-kilter to traditional (or "normal"?) speakers of
English, and it is a fairly new thing. It may seem like a small issue,
but it is significant in that it involves an elementary concept in the
English language. There seem to be people who lack an understanding of
very basic concepts of how one word relates to another, and how they
connect to make thoughts. These people's use of English is descending
almost to a level of parrot-like repetition, or the assembling of stock
may seem incredible to think that a grown person could fail to grasp
the concept of an adjective modifying a noun. One would think that it is
an innate, pre-programmed aspect of human cognition, which everyone
grasps in childhood as he grows up. But consider this bit of research
(from "Many English Speakers Cannot Understand Basic Grammar," Science Daily,
July 6, 2010). It's a study that originated in a British university,
but it illustrates how basic a person's misunderstanding of his native
language can be; one of its startling conclusions is that some speakers
were not able to understand passive voice:
into grammar by academics at Northumbria University suggests that a
significant proportion of native English speakers are unable to
understand some basic sentences.…
[B]asic elements of core English grammar had not been mastered by some native speakers.
project assumed that every adult native speaker of English would be
able to understand the meaning of the sentence: "The soldier was hit by
the sailor.".… She adds: "Our results show that a proportion of people
with low educational attainment make errors with understanding the
passive, and it appears that this and other important areas of core
grammar may not be fully mastered by some speakers, even by adulthood.
seems that fundamental linguistic stupidity is indeed possible; if some
people don't understand passive voice, probably some don't understand
the use of an adjective with a noun. Some of us seem to verge on
speaking English by cutting and pasting together set catch-phrases, as
if from a foreign-language phrasebook, rather than actually
understanding the inner structure of our own native tongue.
Past-perfect is passé
element of English that is apparently too difficult for us today is
past-perfect tense. This is not something that should be too hard to
grasp, but it is completely disappearing from our spoken English.
I can still remember when our teacher first introduced past-perfect tense, in about the 6th or 7th
grade. (It may sound implausible that I would remember that, but I do.)
The term "past-perfect tense" sounded so complicated and esoteric, that
I sat there in class afraid I would never be able to grasp it. But
then, as our teacher explained it, it wasn't really that difficult at
all; the name was more abstruse and complicated-sounding than the actual
To refresh the memory: past-perfect tense is a way of saying that some second event took place prior to the first
event we are speaking of. "He had already done one thing, before he did
the other thing." It's not that difficult, and I would venture to say,
only a few kids in our class were unable or unwilling to grasp it.
I can't say when was the last time that I heard a TV news announcer use
past-perfect tense. Here are just a few examples of the new, modern
2010, after Rush Limbaugh moved out of the state because of high taxes,
New York Governor David Paterson reacted by saying, "If I knew that
would be the result, I would've thought about the taxes earlier."
- Sean Collins, a writer based in New York, wrote for www.spiked-online.com, "The protesters would have remained obscure nobodies if the media did not promote them…."
busybodies The Ad Council issued this pronouncement: "If I knew there
was a way to escape last night, I definitely would have taken it…."
- In 2007, Hillary Clinton said of her vote on the Iraq War, “If I knew then what I now know, I would not have voted that way.”
nobody uses past-perfect tense nowadays, at least in the media. We are,
all of us, becoming the slow kids in the back of the class, who
couldn't or wouldn't grasp past-perfect tense. Increasingly, we speak a
kind of simplified or dumbed-down English, with the more complicated
elements removed – a simplified subset of English, like a child's
dictionary. Or maybe our English is more like the Newspeak of Orwell's 1984, where vocabulary dwindles down to pasted-together constructions like "doubleplusungood."
little minds can't seem to handle too much complexity, and so our
language is shrinking and shriveling. We are losing linguistic
complexity, like a polar bear on a shrinking ice floe.
Subjunctive Mood is gone
chunk off the shrinking ice floe of our language is the subjunctive
mood. Hardly anyone says "If I were" anymore. The standard usage is "If I
am." We hear things like a radio sports announcer saying, "That's how
I'd do it, if I'm the Commissioner of Baseball" (Nick DiPaolo, radio
podcast, Sep. 6 2012). Fox newscaster Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly
Factor" always says "If I'm" rather than "If I were."
Tevye would have to sing, "If I am a rich man," and the Cowardly Lion
would sing, "If I am king of the forest," to be understood by all
Americans. Yet subjunctive mood shouldn't be that hard to grasp, given
normal levels of intelligence.
Mass Nouns (things that are measured rather than counted)
is another area involving such a basic aspect of English that it's hard
to see how any native speaker of English could fail to grasp it; yet
apparently we do. This area is mass nouns. These are nouns that don't
have plural forms (at least in their ordinary sense), but refer to
things that are measured rather than counted – nouns like milk, compassion, importance. We don't normally speak of "a behavior" or "a luggage," or "a wealth."
it is now accepted practice to refer to "behaviors." Academics love
that usage. It sounds so abstruse and elevated, and thus it sets the
academics above the common non-academic herd. ("Normal," non-academic
people, ironically, tend to use "behavior" properly, as a mass noun;
they say good or bad "behavior," not "a behavior" or "behaviors.")
The misusage is taking over, as in these cases:
- Lunesta commercial: "Abnormal behaviors may include restlessness ..."
- "They were imitating perfectly the behaviors of the soldiers that made the planes land." – "How Self-Expression Damaged My Students," by Robert Pondiscio, The ATLANTIC, Sep. 25, 2012.
Here are some other mismanaged mass nouns:
Parts of downtown Hillsborough were temporarily shut down Sunday evening after an Orange County resident drove an ordnance to the Hillsborough Police Department on Churton Street...
– The Raleigh Times, "Person Takes Ordnance To Police Station," July 6, 2008.
The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality stated that the Keystone Pipeline will have "minimal environmental impacts" if properly managed.
– "The Keystone XL Objections Wither Away," Wall Street Journal, Jan. 25, 2013, by Paul C. Knappenberger.
have changed, as has our basic grasp of English. In the Edward G.
Robinson movie "Larceny, Inc." (Warner Brothers, 1942), the character
Jug Martin says, "I could have sold him a luggage." Jug is a lug, and
his English usage brands him as such, class-wise and intellect-wise; the
viewers draws the intended conclusion. But the point of such facetiae
might be lost on an American audience today. If they accept "behaviors"
as completely normal English, they would probably accept "luggages."
Written English– The Dreaded Apostrophe.
is a simple distinction that totally eludes our collective tiny
intellects today: the difference between "its" and "it's,"
"your" and "you're," and so on. It's something that we learned in 6th or 7th
grade (11 or 12 years old), and it's not that difficult a distinction.
But today it's always a toss-up whether a writer will use the right
version or not.
Here are some other instances where the dreaded apostrophe gets the better of us:
are two $30 baseball hats on the MittRomney.com store — one of them
add’s Ryan above the bill — and both of them boast being American
– from www.theblaze.com, "Debunked: Here’s the Explanation for the ‘Made in China’ Romney Hat You’re Seeing on Facebook," Oct. 30, 2012, by Liz Klimas.
Feinstein's bill lists all kinds of firearms she want's to ban the real
purpose is to ask for more than what she really wants. . ."
– from Breitbart.com, at http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/01/24/How-Did-Shotguns-And-Handguns-Become-Assault-Rifles#comments.
mouth is cleaner a dog or a humans? . . . A dog's mouth because it
holds less bacteria in it's mouth and because the saliva in a dog's
mouth is more acidic so it breaks down the bacteria in there mouths."
– from http://wiki.answers.com/
there is the Federal Social Security and Medicare payroll tax of 13.3%.
You pick up 5.65% while you're employer pays 7.65%."
-- Financial adviser Gerri Willis, in "Half Your Paycheck To The Government In 2013," Nov 15, 2012, www.foxbusiness.com
- "Despite it's small size and affordable price, the IdeaPad S405 notebook offers a robust array of cutting-edge features."
– from www.newegg.com, a commercial computer-hardware business site
reasonable estimate is that a good 50% of the public don't know how to
use apostrophes. Half the population is now the dumb kid in the back of
the class in 5th grade. That's a new level of stupidity.
we can't handle too much complexity in word pronunciation. If a word
has too many syllables or sounds, it overloads our primitive mental
circuitry, and part of the word has to be left out.
course, some inexactitude of pronunciation is normal in spoken
language; nobody gives a dictionary pronunciation of words in everyday
speech. But there is a continuum of pronunciation, and when we get too
far toward the sloppy end of the continuum, when we drop too many sounds from the word, we cross into the stupid-sounding zone.
instance, a hospital in my home town runs radio ads that brag about
their fine department of "respitory" therapy. If a hospital spokesman
can't pronounce "respiratory," who can?
example is "temperature," which is most often rendered "tempachur."
Radio ads for the Exergen Temporal Scanner Thermometer say, "I just
snuck into my kids' room and took their tempachures." That is: an ad for
thermometers can't pronounce "temperature." ("Snuck" is a
well-entrenched usage, by the way. "Sneaked" is too pretentious and
toffee-nosed, apparently. We can only be grateful that "drug" for
"dragged," and "clumb" for "climbed," haven't taken over. As it is,
"break" and "burst" have been displaced by the absolute dominance of
nobody expects a dictionary pronunciation all the time; we don't say
"tem-per-a-ture" in everyday speech. But most of us manage to include
the first "r" somewhere, saying something like "tem-pra-chur." As more
and more sounds are omitted, the speaker drifts toward the mush-mouthed
and oatmeal-brained end of the spectrum.
has apparently placed the less literate populace in charge of the
English language, at least here in the U.S. I hear supposedly educated
people say "pitcher" for "picture" – a distinction only the very dumbest
kinds in the class couldn't learn back in 6th grade.
is one sign that our stupidity is of a different order today: it is now
presumably educated, responsible people who use stupid pronunciations.
Well-paid radio and TV announcers sound like the slow guy in the back of
the 6th grade class. There's no grown-up in the room.
sign of advancing stupidity is that what used to be said and written
facetiously, and understood as facetious, is now done seriously, and no
one gets the joke. Cartoon characters used to say "hunnerd," indicating
they weren't too bright; the audience heard and understood that signal.
Now the audience mostly says "hunnerd" itself, and the joke's on us. For
example, radio ads for a company called Regal Investment use the
pronunciation "hunnerd." That's a financial firm, and they can't get an
announcer who can intelligently pronounce "hundred"? There's no grown-up
in the room.
a proviso: few people would slow down and carefully pronounce the word
"hun–dred." Most people say something like "hunderd" and always have. It
isn't an exact dictionary pronunciation, but it retains most of the
sounds (phonemes) of the word. If someone gets still sloppier and says
"hunnerd" (or God forbid, "hunnert"), they cross into the dumb-sounding
end of the spectrum; and that's where a large percentage of our
Some other words we seem unable to process:
- Entrepreneur: too
many sounds, too close together. The pronunciation "entre-PA-neur" is
prevalent now. A typical example: Dennis Miller, on his radio show ("The
Dennis Miller Show," Salem Radio Network), introduced the author of the
book The Entrepreneur: The Way Back for the U.S. Economy, using the pronunciation "entre-PA-neur," and he used it continually during his interview – as did the author of the book.
At least half the time, it's pronounced "deppity." Even John Bunnell, a
former sheriff and now the announcer on the TV show "World's Wildest
Police Videos," always says "deppity." As recently as the 60's,
"deppity" was a comic pronunciation, used for humor and to indicate that
the speaker was sort of a dim-bulb. There was a cartoon show " Deputy
Dawg," with the word always pronounced "Deppity." Everybody got the
joke, because we knew the difference. Today, the pronunciation "deppity"
is normal; it has no comic effect.
forget it! The voiceover announcer on the TV show, "Video Justice,"
says, "You want to cowoborate or refute...." It seems "cowoborate," or
"cooborate," is the closest the vast majority of Americans can come to
pronouncing that word.
a radio ad for Williams Brothers Health Care Pharmacy says, if you have
a "perscription," do such and such. Prescriptions are their business,
and they can't say "prescription"? (That leaves aside the mush-mouthed
formulation, "Health Care Pharmacy" -- a stupid name in itself.
Replacing the adjective "medical" with a noun phrase, "health-care," is
The TV commercial for Crestor, a cholesterol-lowering drug, says "That's why my doctor per-scribed Crestor...."
receives regular vetinary care..."-- guest hostess on "Fox Report with
Shepard Smith," July 4, 2008. The word "vet-er-in-ary" just has too many
sounds for the average American mind and tongue.
- On the TV series "Solved," a sheriff says a victim was "afixiated" – meaning, "asphyxiated".
- In a radio ad for a restaurant, the announcer extols "Fat Man's Barbecue, assetra." Shudder!
Gene Weingarten has also commented on how deep the rot has got. He
bemoans the spoken pronunciations provided by Merriam-Webster's online
dictionary in his article, "You talk funny!" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/, November 28, 2010):
have finally proved they no longer can be relied on to offer reasonable
assessments of proper pronunciation. There's a vacuum of leadership in
this area. . .
have not only begun recognizing even more wince-inducing formulations,
but of late they have been uttering these unutterable pronunciations
aloud, via online audio links. So it is now possible, with just two
clicks of a mouse, to access Merriam-Webster.com, and to hear the
crystal-clear voice of an intelligent-sounding woman. . . informing your
impressionable children that it is just peachy to say ... "liberry."
Also, "ath-a-lete." . . .
finally, ironically, in what can only be seen as its ultimate
abdication as a trusted authority, Merriam-Webster gives us, aloud, the
"Pronounciation." In short, the dictionary is dead to me -- and, I hope, to you, too…
We're good spellers, too
(image from http://worldduh.com/
Donna Brazile @donnabrazile
Why are your health insurance premiums higher? Price gauging, not #Obamacare. My provider told me it was because of my age. More to come.
We're Stupider At Mathematics
some dumb people up at the Arby's, ain't they?.... You wanna have some
fun up there at the Arby's? Do this. Get you three beef and cheddar
samwiches in there, right? Your order's going to come to $4.81. Give
that feller in there working the register ten dollars and a penny. Kick
back and watch the fun begin at Arby's! "
-- Larry the Cable Guy, stand-up comedian, "Git'R Done"
schools are poorly qualified to teach mathematics, because math is a
subject that requires study and hard work; there is no royal road to
geometry, as Euclid famously said. The various fads and enthusiasms now
in vogue in American schools– things like self-esteem exercises and
politically-correct propaganda attacking our society – may be fun for
students and teachers, but they are poor replacements for actual
instruction and practice in mathematics. And computers and calculators
just substitute for mathematical ability, they don't teach it.
a result, a great many Americans are illiterate in mathematics, as was
reported in the story, "Americans Are Illiterate and Innumerate, But
Unionized Teachers Are 'Criminally Low Paid',” http://politicalmavens.com:
studies have shown that millions of Americans cannot read or do basic
math well enough to conduct basic transactions of life, according to The Washington Post. . .
recent study conducted by Vanderbilt University found that 4 out of 10
adults were unable to calculate the amount of carbohydrates in a half a
bagel, based on [the carbohydrates in] a whole bagel. Get this: 68
percent of the study participants had at least some college education,
yet they could not divide by two!
is not hard to discover the mathlessness of the modern generation.
Columnist Lori Borgman recounted this incident, in "Excitement about
mathematics adds up," Jewish World Review, January 9, 2009:
often find myself excited about mathematics and young people. I was at
the grocery store and asked for two-thirds of a pound of deli meat. A
young man behind the counter, who looked to be about 19, took the meat
to the slicer, then asked, "Is two-thirds .75 or .66?"
.66," I told him. I go in a week later, and the same young man is
working, so I ask for two-thirds of a pound again, just to see if he's
tracking. He walks to the slicer and again says, "Is that .75 or .66?"
aren't taught much real mathematics today, not even how to make change –
and that's not even arithmetic, it's counting. Victor Davis Hanson
relates his educational experiences (in "Back to school blues," Jewish
World Review August 23, 2007):
family has attended the same public schools since 1896. Without
exception, all six generations of us . . . were given a good,
competitive K-12 education.
after a haircut, I noticed that the 20-something cashier could not
count out change. The next day, at the electronic outlet store, another
young clerk could not read — much less explain — the basic English of
the buyer's warranty. At the food market, I listened as a young couple
argued over the price of a cut of tri-tip — unable to calculate the
meat's real value [i.e., total price] from its price per pound.
is not unfair to make the blanket statement (using a line from a Pet
Clark song), "to reason is not what we care for." So it's no wonder that
our modern yobs and youths can't calculate.
Movies Are Stupider
starts with our English usage, but it doesn't end there. Seemingly
every aspect of our culture is being invaded and overwhelmed by
stupidity. Our movies, our TV shows, our "music," our politicians – all
stupider than ever before.
are dreck." That blunt assessment was made by author and columnist Joe
Queenan; and it would be hard to deny it. Blogger "Ace of Spades HQ"
said, ("Why Movies Are Awful: An Insider Report," http://ace.mu.nu/archives/335421.php, Dec. 04, 2012):
really have become awful, haven't they… It's very hard to name movies
made in the last 20 years which are made for adults.…
every studio movie is just an assemblage of things that have worked in
other movies for the last 20 years. And as Hollywood's hits are fewer
and further between, every movie seems to be rehashing the same Moments
That Worked from previous movies.
movies are rather simple-minded today. Some of them are "like watching
the tantrum of a neglected psychotic child," said Richard Brookhiser –
and he wasn't even discussing Quentin Tarantino!
Movie-makers seem to have run out of ideas, or at least, intelligent
ideas. They're raking through the ashes of past movie vitality, looking
for an ember they can fan back into life – some movie, TV show, comic
book or amusement-park ride they can repackage.
in a movie is no impediment to its becoming a block-buster hit. The
highest-grossing movie of all time was a piece of juvenile agitprop,
"Avatar" – a "Smurf-murdering movie," in Glenn Beck's choice
characterization. As for "Avatar's" morality play, John Hawkins (in "The
7 Most Overrated Blockbuster Movies of the Last 20 Years," http://pjmedia.com/, September 5, 2012) summed it up this way:
was a . . . gorgeous, illogical movie with a trite, recycled plot that
could be fully summed up with “Trees good! Natives good! Military bad!”
repeat: stupidity is no impediment. "Titanic" was the
second-highest-grossing movie of all time, and it is a piece of childish
agitprop and soft-core smut. Here are some apt comments about that
schlock-house film (from "Schlock poetry," by Peter Rainer, Dallas Observer, Dec 18, 1997, http://www.dallasobserver.com/ ) :
James Cameron film Titanic. . . could best be described as Romeo and
Juliet Get Dunked.… As a piece of storytelling, it's almost as easy to
read as a grade-school primer; even toddlers shouldn't have trouble
following the action. . . . The people aboard the Titanic are instantly
pegged for us, and they stay that way: They're greedy or good-natured or
craven or valiant. Ambiguity and subtlety are strangers to this film.
They're about as welcome as icebergs.
TV is stupider
want to be entertained. Instead, I get Ice-T threatening strangers, a
fat kid who thinks she’s cute, and reality shows that are so obviously
scripted, you’re watching bad actors do a fake action movie for free. I
want to enjoy TV, but every time I open my mind, a TV executive in LA
takes a dump in it."
– "10 Things I Hate That Everybody Loves," by Gavin McInnes, Taki's Magazine, September 28, 2012
saying TV is stupider, I'm not especially thinking of "reality TV"
shows, mainly because I don't watch them. But plenty of other people
have commented on the apocalyptic stupidity of the genre. Dave Barry,
for instance, said (in "Dave Barry’s Year in Review 2012", Washington Post, http://articles.washingtonpost.com/):
year the “reality” show “Jersey Shore,” which for six hideous seasons
has been a compelling argument in favor of a major Earth-asteroid
collision, finally got canceled, and we dared to wonder if maybe, just
maybe, we, as a society, were becoming slightly less stupid.
then, WHAP, we were slapped in our national face by the cold hard
frozen mackerel of reality in the form of . . . “Here Comes Honey Boo
Boo,” which, in terms of intellectual content, makes “Jersey Shore” look
Barry has taken aim at "Jersey Shore" before. From "Dave Barry’s 2010 Year in Review":
put things into perspective: 2010 was not the worst year ever. . . .
For example, toward the end of the Cretaceous Period, the Earth was
struck by an asteroid that wiped out 75 percent of all the species on
the planet. Can we honestly say that we had a worse year than those
species did? Yes we can, because they were not exposed to Jersey Shore.
course, reality TV did not arrive in a vacuum. It came along after
Oprah had softened up the intelligence of TV viewers with a relentless
barrage of doltishness for 25 years. Regaling her audience with quack
therapies, sob-sister exhibitionism, and the chronicles of her vejayjay,
she lowered the national I.Q. with every episode of her show. She was a
mother lode of mumbo-jumbo like this (as reported by http://jezebel.com/ ):
favorite gyno, Dr. Christiane Northrup, answered lots of vagina
questions for O and her audience today. Dr. Northrup is way into
spirituality, so she employs methods other than straight medicine as
remedies for physiological problems. Today she taught the women about
Qigong (pronounced chi gung), which is when you use your mind to
increase energy flow to the body. Naturally, they were trying to send
the energy downtown (to their "low heart" aka vajayjay), as a way to
arouse themselves. . .
and reality TV may be seen as the Scylla and the Charybdis, the phony
uplift and the exhibitionist descent, of American TV.
Music is stupider
my problem with hip-hop music: there's no singing, no one's playing any
instruments, and anything catchy has just been stolen from another
song. . . . Since when did yelling over our favorite hits from the 80's
– stand-up comedian Natasha Leggero
is also regressing. Like our use of English, our music is shrinking
beneath us like an ice floe under a polar bear. One genre, rap or
hip-hop, has discarded melody (and therefore harmony) altogether,
reducing itself to a sort of witless doggerel chanted over a rhythm
track. This is the stupidest form of musical performance ever invented.*
show that this is not just one man's eccentric opinion, here are some
disparaging words from people with music credentials. First, from an
interview with rhythm & blues (and jazz, and standards) great, Ray
Charles (http://entertainmentmagazine.net/, "Interview with Ray Charles and 'My World'", 1993):
Q: How do you feel about today's music? Are you hearing anything you like?
Not much. I'm just not into rap. What is rap? Nothing but somebody
talking. . . . See, I call myself a musician, so I want something to
trigger my brain and make me sit up and say, "Did you hear that?" . . .
That's what I'm looking for. I don't hear that in rap.
another occasion Charles said his opinion on rap would be unprintable
("Black History Month/ Ray Charles," Gale Cengage Learning – http://www.gale.cengage.com/ ):
Commenting on rap music, he said in the same source [U.S. News and World Report]
that "You can't even print what I think.... Just to talk to music, I
did that years ago on 'It Should've Been Me' and 'Greenbacks'." . . .
the non-rap music segment is pretty dumbed-down. Today, to rise above a
monotonously similar-sounding crowd of aspirants, a singer needs a
gimmick; and the more ordinary and uninteresting the music, the more
extreme the gimmick must be.
to pick on her alone, but Lady Gaga is typical of the phenomenon: a
more or less bog-standard pop artist, she pulls such stunts as wearing a
meat dress or a pistol bra, in an effort to stand out. Thus she is well
on her way to becoming the Carmen Miranda of the girly-pop set, known
more for her outlandish get-ups and gimmicks than for her musical
Our Government Is Dumber
Boehner is a spineless twerp, and few House Republicans are any
better…. [Obama's] opposition doesn't have a full set of vertebrae
between them…. A nation gets the government it deserves, and this is the
one we got."
– John Derbyshire, audio podcast on Taki's Magazine, Dec. 8, 2012.
"Sometimes a society becomes too stupid to survive."
-- Mark Steyn
and space don't permit a discussion of all the stupidities of Congress.
Suffice it to say: former Rep. Barney Frank. Nancy Pelosi. Maxine
Waters. Harry Reid. Charles Schumer. Such a collection of power-mad,
imperious, mentally-challenged autocrats and dolts has rarely been seen
in the annals of "free," democratic nations.
First Family is no better (i.e. smarter). Though left-wingers
automatically bestow on any prominent Democrat kudos for being the
smartest person on Earth, Obama has never said anything remotely
smart-sounding; on the contrary, he comes across as calculated and
manipulative, possessed of low cunning, not intelligence.
Obama's use of English – that is, his speaking style. He manifests a
dumbed-down, childishly simple-minded style of rhetoric that grates on
my adult ears. Since he is usually playing to a crowd of adoring
acolytes, his simple-minded banalities go over well; but to observers
outside the clique of true believers, he comes across as childishly
manipulative. To me, he always sounds like a con man addressing a
roomful of grade-school kids, trying to bamboozle them out of their
group which measures such things said Obama's last State of the Union
address measured on an 8th-grade level of English complexity.* That
sounds about right to me. The group said (as reported in "State of the
Union registers at 8th grade reading level," by Byron Tau,
www.politico.com, Jan. 25, 2012):
Obama's 2012 State of the Union address again rated at an 8th grade
comprehension level on the Flesch-Kincaid readability test — the third
lowest score of any State of the Union address since 1934. . . .
President Obama's three addresses have the lowest grade average of any
modern president. . . .
First Lady is no brain trust either, despite the fact that she once
held an important, well-paid, absolutely unnecessary job at the
University of Chicago Hospitals. Here she is, answering the question of
whether any TV shows are off limits to her daughters:
really thinks some of the Kardashians--when they watch that stuff--he
doesn't like that as much. But I sort of feel like if we're talking
about it, and I'm more concerned with how they take it in– what did you
learn when you watched that? And if they're learning the right lessons,
like, that was crazy, then I'm like, OK.
Diagram those sentences!
Cashill's article has some pithy comments about Michelle Obama:
biographer Liza Mundy writes, "Michelle frequently deplores the modern
reliance on test scores, describing herself as a person who did not test
did not write well, either. Mundy charitably describes her senior
thesis at Princeton as "dense and turgid." The less charitable
Christopher Hitchens observes, "To describe [the thesis] as hard to read
would be a mistake; the thesis cannot be 'read' at all, in the strict
sense of the verb. This is because it wasn't written in any known
conclusion, I defy anyone to say we're not the stupidest generation of
Americans – possibly the stupidest generation of people anywhere,
anytime. We're no longer capable of managing our own affairs; we need a
guardian or keeper. The only problem would be to find a competent
nation, in this modern world, to handle the job.
the Depression they used to sing, "Potatoes are cheaper, tomatoes are
cheaper. Now's the time to fall in love." Nowadays we can sing, "Our
movies are stupider, our language is stupider, the future looks dark for
*Except possibly the genre "flatulist." Here's a description of one such, from wikipedia:
Pétomane was the stage name of the French flatulist (professional
farter) and entertainer Joseph Pujol . . . . He was famous for his
remarkable control of the abdominal muscles, which enabled him to
seemingly fart at will. . . .
was able to "inhale" or move air into his rectum and then control the
release of that air with his anal sphincter muscles. . . . Some of the
highlights of his stage act involved sound effects of cannon fire and
thunderstorms, as well as playing "'O Sole Mio" and "La Marseillaise" on
an ocarina through a rubber tube in his anus. He could also blow out a
candle from several yards away.
The author, a computer programmer and consultant for 25 years, is now a free-lance writer. He has written a book, Why Marx Was Wrong, and articles in such magazines as Chronicles - A Magazine of American Culture and Quarterly Review (U.K.)
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