Phrases I’m Tired Of

Since Earth Day is always good for a rant or three, I’ve been thinking of phrases I could stand to hear and see less of.

“Novel corona virus”— after thee months, any novelty has worn off. Call it Wuhan fever, which should be it’s proper name based on nomenclature standards for disease naming. And it is not new anymore.

“Unprecedented [thing]” You want unprecedented global warming? Look at North America at the end of the last glacial. Minnesota, the Dakotas, and parts of what is now Iowa went from tundra to forest to grassland in a few hundred years, possibly in some cases one hundred years. THAT is unprecedented, as best we can tell from palentological records. Just because you have never heard of a thing before, or have never looked at historical and proxy data for [thing] does not mean nothing like it has ever transpired. “Unprecedented disease outbreak?” Allow me to introduce you to the plagues of Pericles, Justinian, the Black Death, the Sweating Fever in England, small pox in the Americas (and elsewhere), Yellow Fever in the US, the 1918-20 influenza, and others I could dig up.

Impact – Enough already! I was reading a standardized test question that used “impact” three times in one sentence, rather than “influence” or “affect” or “effect” or “change” or “impress upon” or something else. Arrrrrrgh! Let us use impact for a medical difficulty, or for what happens when a hurled thesaurus hits the hands of someone who cannot be bothered to use said thesaurus. The Sweet Meteor of Doom, or volcanic ejecta from Yellowstone, will have a large impact, especially if either one hits Wyoming. A subway strike in NYC will have zero impact, unless someone gets hit with a protest sign or flying garbage can. [I might allow “policies that will impact the economy” because yes, it has cratered. Maybe.]

Hero – A person doing their job is not a hero. A person doing her duty is not a hero. The garbage man may be great, he is a vital part of society. He provides a service far too underrated in most western countries. He is not a hero. Teachers are not heroes, unless they do something so far above and beyond what is expected of a normal person that their actions are exceptional. That’s true of anyone. People can be worthy of admiration and high praise without the word “hero” being tossed around.

“Health Care Provider” for anyone who does not have anything to do with patient care. A file clerk is not a health care provider. A hospital cook is not a health care provider. A pathologist is not a health care provider, especially not if he’s a forensic pathologist or coroner! [Yes, I saw that. Yes, I applied head to desk several times. Unless you are a ghoul or vampire, you should not be getting medical care from a coroner.]

“Pristine wilderness” and “heal the planet” – OK, who defines what condition is pristine? Anyone who thinks pre-modern humans, even neolithic humans, did not change their environments to the point of having to relocate is woefully ignorant. Aside from the Arctic and Antarctic, every bit of this planet has been touched by human influence in some way, shape, or form. The planet is not sick. It is an inanimate object. We can affect the physical and biological environment such that the previous ecosystem can no longer function fully, yes. We can replace biota (and do it with gleeful abandon, as my garden will attest). The activists won’t like a colder planet, trust me. Read about the 1300s and the period of 1580-1660, and tell me how wonderful it was.

Crisis – it comes from an Indo-European root word meaning to sieve or sort, in other words, to make a distinction. The first uses in English referred specifically to the moment in the progress of a disease when the patient either started to recover or became mort. In the 1600s it took on a wider meaning of a point in any endeavor where things improved markedly or disaster ensued. In each meaning, it refers to a single point. One. An instant or moment, not seven weeks and more. Let us cease from referring to the ongoing problems surrounding Wuhan fever as a crisis.


33 thoughts on “Phrases I’m Tired Of

  1. Teachers are not heroes, unless they do something so far above and beyond what is expected of a normal person that their actions are exceptional.

    *teacher standing in front of billboard*
    Label: NOT A HERO.

    *teacher blocking doorway with his body so the students can escape*
    Label: HERO.

  2. I have been entirely sick of the dramatization and exaggeration of everything since the reporting on Desert Storm. The news going on and on about the horrible losses and hideous death rates in the Middle East skirmishes disgusted me. Don’t get me wrong, I regret losing anybody serving in our Armed Forces and we need to do our best we can to protect them while still allowing them to do their jobs. But, those horrible, unspeakable losses? That’s not a war, that’s a minor skirmish! We lost more soldiers on single DAYS in almost every major war (WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, War between the States, etc.) we have fought since the founding of our country, than we have lost in the last THIRTY YEARS of skirmishing in the middle east!

  3. The original meaning of “Decimate” was “kill one tenth of a group” but modern usage involves a much higher body-count.

    This “nit” may be a lost cause.

  4. Noble Savage. The idea that primitive people were somehow more moral, smarter than modern man regarding “sustainability” (another one) and lived a bucolic lifestyle is simply ludicrous. They were H. Sapiens just like us. The defining characteristic of H. Sapiens is that unlike any other animal we modify our living environment to suit our needs and desires.

    • I see your absolutism and offer you beavers, nest builders, and burrowers. Especially the first. Please. Take them. Their modifications are incompatible with mine.

      I suspect the defining characteristic of homo sapiens is closer to arguing about whether it’s moral to do the things.

  5. Sigh… concur with all… About as bad as ‘saving’ Eucalyptus trees in California because they’re ‘native’… not… But the tree huggers melted down, held protests until CALDOT backed off. Two or three months later, massive fire, home losses and deaths because of those trees!

  6. Unfortunately, your rant will have no impact on the pristine ignorance of those driving these unprecedented crises.
    But a healthcare provider can help protect you from grinding your teeth.

    • Oddly enough, that’s the one stress/dental quirk I have not developed. Yet. My biteguards are for severe congenital TMJD, not tooth grinding.

  7. And don’t forget “the new normal,” which seems to be a euphemism for a completely abnormal and unconstitutional suspension of liberty.

    • Yes. “The current abnormal” would be too true. Especially since my local government keeps saying that “we don’t know when we will ease up because cases are not going down/we don’t know when the peak is” and so on. I fear they like working without public supervision far too much. (In all fairness, one member of the city commission does have a problem that causes immune suppression, so that person’s mild paranoia is at least understandable.)

      • I saw a proposal from one genius that grocery stores be closed. I wanted to suggest that he be tied to a lampost out front of one and watch people going in and out while *he* starves to death. Or eat least until he confesses to being too stupid to occupy public office in a free country and swears that he never will again. There are rather too many elected public officials that deserve to be forced to similar confessions and penalties: One would like to hope that the voters will remember that junior Stalins like these were elected to office and can still be voted out. The danger to the American republic is not a virus. Far more dangerous is when their elected officials can’t betray their principles because they had none in the first place.

  8. You know up until a couple months ago I would have said Corona Virus was a euphemism for Brown Bottle Flu. . . only with a clear bottle.

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