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Lose/Loose, Use and Abuse; More about [sic] from the Last Newsletter

I probably should have been more precise with my discussion about “lose” and the [sic] example of “loose”. Whenever we mean that something has been lost, we should NEVER say, “I loose the hounds” or “I loosened the hounds” OR “The quarter back loosed his grip on the football” when LOST is meant!

The [sic] misuses are when people replace “lose” with “loose”. Again, I should have written, “... we NEVER ‘loose’ anything when ‘to lose’ is meant! They are two different verbs with different meanings and should not be confused. It’s certainly correct to say, “I let the dogs loose so they could run around (for example).” I maintain that it is unacceptable to say, “I loosed the dogs and I don’t know where they are” when “I lost the dogs .... ” is meant. Does this clarify the point?

I do appreciate the comments from readers. If nothing else, they make me aware that I must be more precise and probably should not have sent the letter out when I was so tired. It was after 2:30 a.m. (where I am) when I submitted the letter to the web and I wanted to get it out to see if it would go out properly (over the internet, that is).

For those who wrote, thank you. It means you’re paying attention and that’s better than being ignored. This reminds me of something I read recently about the “conspiracy of silence”. The phrase was coined by Sir Lewis Morris, a minor poet of the Victorian era. He wanted to be Poet Laureate in England but he never gained this honor. He claimed that critics were jealous of him and, as a result, damned his poetry when they bothered to mention it at all. He once complained at length to Oscar Wilde of this treatment, finally saying: “Oscar, there’s a conspiracy of silence against me. What shall I do?” Wilde replied simply: “Join it!”

This entry is located in the following unit: Focusing on Words Newsletter #02 (page 1)
SARSphobia, a panic about a potential pandemic

With all the news in the media, SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) is rapidly becoming a phobia that is spreading panic around the world. Consider the following headlines:

1. SARS Alarmism, When Fear Is A Virus: First there was denial, then sluggish response›and now irrational fear.

2. Fear Aiding Spread of Sickness, Health Officials Say: The care of many patients with a mysterious respiratory illness is being seriously jeopardized because nurses and other health care workers are staying home and refusing to treat them, officials at the World Health Organization said.

3. SARS: From China’s Secret to A Worldwide Alarm: Last November in Foshan, a small industrial city in Guangdong province in southern China, a businessman became desperately ill with an unusual type of pneumonia. Doctors could not identify the germ that was making him sick. Omniously, although pneumonia is not usually very contagious, the four health workers who treated him also fell gravely ill with the same disease.

4. In Hong Kong, Fast-moving SARS sets off alarms: A fast-growing cluster of killer pneumonia infections in a Hong Kong housing estate fueled fears that the disease known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS, may be more contagious than experts believed.

5. Fear of Respiratory Disease Stymies Swiss Jewelry Fair—Many Exhibitors Barred by Medical Authorities: When Swiss health officials decided last week, just before the show was to begin, that exhibitors and buyers from places affected by SARS would not be allowed to attend because of concerns about spreading the virus, the show became a debacle.

6. SARS Could Slow Asia Industry—Fall in Business Trips Threatens China’s Computer Sector: In Hong Kong, companies and consumers bought every desktop, laptop and notebook computer theY could find as more and more people worked from home often with their employers’ encouragement, for fear of becoming infected if they showed up at their work stations.

7. Fear of War and Illness Hurt Asia Travel: The war in Iraq and the outbreak of a mysterious respiratory ailment that began in China are combining to wreak havoc on tourism in Asia. “This has definitely affected the city,” said Tina Liu, communication manager at the Grand Hyatt in Shanghai. “We’re experiencing cancellations›more from the virus than the war.”

8. Thousands Quarantined in Beijing to Curb SARS: China implemented a sweeping quarantine on thousands of Beijing residents who have had contact with suspected carriers of a highly infectious respiratory illness, as the Communist government began using its massive police powers to combat a national health crisis. Dense crowds of temporary laborers descended on major train stations seeking emergency passage out of the city.

9. Fear of SARS and Fear Itself: We’re all within the reach of fear; fear of the unknown and the half known. Every day brings news of the spread of the killer virus. You could say that this is all alarmist nonsense. More people die from diarrhea or flu than SARS, and the risk to any particular individual is small; but one person taking the disease into Hong Kong practically crippled the health system there. One person brought SARS into Toronto and shut down two hospitals. More devastating than the human cost of the virus is the damage it is inflicting on fragile economies of all kinds.

There is much more that could be presented here, but it should be sufficient to convince you that there is a SARSphobia which has spread throughout the world.

This entry is located in the following unit: Focusing on Words Newsletter #12 (page 1)
Think about it, etc., etc.
Daffynition: stray cattle, the roving kine.
—Harold Emery

The window of opportunity won’t open itself.
—Dave Weinbaum

Change is not merely necessary to life. It is life.
—Alvin Toffler

Why is it when we talk to God we’re praying—but when God talks to us, we’re schizophrenic?
—Lily Tomlin

The nice thing about egotists is that they don’t talk about other people.
—Lucille S. Harper

The trouble with ignorance is that it picks up confidence as it goes along.
—Arnold H. Glasow

Politics is said to come from the Greek prefix, poly, meaning “many”; and ticks, meaning “blood sucking insects”. A pretty good description, wouldn’t you say?

—Charlie Tuna, Los Angeles Disk Jockey [Note: this is not the real etymology of the word, “politics”; however, Tuna does make a point.]

Like the proverbial bolt out of the blue: “Tornadoes may take out whole neighborhoods. Hurricanes may threaten whole states. But lightning, on average, kills more people every year than tornadoes and hurricanes combined.”
In Florida, “Seventy-one people have been hurt so far this year, compared to the usual yearly toll of 30; five have died.”
“Says Bob O’Brien of the National Safety Council: ‘Lightning is going to strike, and you don’t want to be there when it does.’ ”
USA Today, August 10, 1994

   Richard Cory

Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
“Good-morning,” and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich—yes, richer than a king—
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in this place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.

—Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)

This entry is located in the following unit: Focusing on Words Newsletter #06 (page 1)