The Value of Words

Miscellaneous musings on our culture’s spoken and written language.

Meaningless Words

Facebook invited us to toss words into the dust bin when they created those cute little emoticons or emojis. Now, let me say from the get-go that I use those cute little emojis. I am a user. But what do they really mean? Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry. The words—and underlying concepts—are virtually meaningless.

Hang onto your britches and let me explain. FB invites us to express supposed emotions with a single symbol, to save us the time and mental effort involved in using vocabulary to formulate sentences to express thoughtful replies. No need to do that when we can express displeasure by inserting an angry-face emoticon, or astonishment with a wow-face emoticon—when we may not feel anything like true anger or astonishment, in which case we’re conveying pseudo emotions. They’re not real.

Sometimes the feelings involved are deep and genuine—I’m not suggesting we’re all phonies on social media (but I think a lot of us are a lot more unreal there than we care to admit). Continue reading “The Value of Words”

From the Wacky-News Desk

RE: Robert Lee, Confederates, and Related Nonsense

Robert Lee

ESPN announced yesterday (or the day before—it doesn’t matter) that one of their broadcasters, an Asian American by the name of Robert Lee, who was scheduled to cover a football game in Virginia this weekend, was pulled from the assignment because (are you ready for it?) someone might be offended by the similarity of the man’s name to that of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who, as we all know, is offending plenty of folks lately with his frightening statues. What in the world is going on with these pantywaist ESPN execs?

So my question is, where will the insanity end? What’s next in Zanyville, USA? Continue reading “From the Wacky-News Desk”

My Choice for President? It’s a Hobson’s Choice.

An unpolitical reflection on a most appropriate term.

SONY DSCI’ve always counted it both a privilege and a duty to exercise my constitutional right to vote, and this November will be my eleventh presidential election. While I have typically voted for my party’s official candidate, I have been known to diverge from party affiliations when it seemed appropriate. Often the choice seemed a no-brainer: one candidate clearly stood for my cherished ideals—which, in my mind, were American ideals.

Election Choices

The choice in my first election, in 1976, was . . . well, let me say, a little difficult. There was Jimmy Carter, the affable peanut farmer from Georgia and upstart candidate of the Democratic Party, and there was the staid and dependable but uninspiring incumbent, Gerald Ford, the unfortunate soul who inherited the job two years before after the unprecedented mid-term resignation of his embattled predecessor, Richard “I Am Not a Crook” Nixon. Mr. Carter—truly a nice man—lasted one term and thankfully gave way to his successor, who in my exceedingly humble opinion was one of our nation’s greatest presidents, Ronald Reagan.[1] Continue reading “My Choice for President? It’s a Hobson’s Choice.”

Narcissistic Victim Syndrome

It’s more than a myth.


The noun narcissism[1] comes from the Greek myth about the beautiful youth, Narcissus,[2] who gazed admiringly at his own reflection in a pool of water until he wasted away, died, and turned into a flower—the narcissus flower (a daffodil). A narcissist is one who is completely absorbed in his- or herself.

Narcissus (Greek mythology)
Echo and Narcissus – John William Waterhouse (1903)

It is said that one or more of our current presidential candidates are narcissists, and I’ll neither confirm nor deny it. But according to psychologists and counseling therapists, closer to where many of us everyday folk live are individuals with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) who make life difficult for those who live, work, or otherwise regularly interact with them.

In this post, I’m sharing (below) a fascinating PowerPoint slideshow by Jeni Mawter I discovered online. It seems important to me, and it might be helpful to you or someone  you know. After you view the presentation you’ll find that other related slideshows are available from the same author.


[1] Pronounced ′nar-sə-si-zəm.

[2] Pronounced nar-′si-səs.