To Blog or Not to Blog

“Blog” is an ugly word, a cow pie that splats upon the page. A linguist, which I am not, might explain it by pointing out plosives and glottal stops, but I don’t think “block” is ugly, or “clog”, “cog”, “bog”, ‘blot”, slog”. “slot”, “sloth” (a sin they say, but not ugly),”flock”, you get the idea. “Flog” is ugly only in terms of its meaning, but somehow even that was ameliorated when it was metamorphosed into meaning selling something, perhaps to give an image of the salesman lashing his customers with hyper-inflated language and promises. (By the way, I am still flogging my book.) “The captain’s log” has a stately feel to it and suggests both authority and order. And “log” brings to mind the five cords of lodge-pole pine I used to split to heat my home in northeastern California through the winter. The pile of rounds three to four feet wide in my backyard was literally as high as an elephant’s eye, and it would take me weeks of splitting and stacking to reduce it to a toothpick. But I won’t start another string of associations from that. Now I live in the Bronx and pay the oil company for my comfort. The delivery man has to back his big oil rig up our narrow driveway, then snake his hose to the filler pipe near the house. I hear the gallons going in and picture the dollars going out. Some may profit from global warming, but only in the short run.

It’s the election season, and I was loathe to get sucked in, but everyone is talking about how the President blew it in the first debate, how forceful Romney was. And all the commentary is about style, hardly a word about content. Romney didn’t fact check well, but someone in his camp has already said that they wouldn’t be derailed by the facts. It is the age of psychology–appeals, both blatant and otherwise, to fears, hopes, dreams, anxieties, biases, greed, and cockeyed visions of reality. Everyone should read (or reread) George Orwell’s timeless essay, “Politics and the English Language.” Language matters, especially when used by those who can afford to buy ads that speak to millions.

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