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Showing posts from 2016

We Need Some Better Words in the English Language

We have nearly a quarter of a million words in the English language, and yet I can't help feel we have some we don't need, but are lacking some others.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) contains 171,476 words currently in use, another 47,156 obsolete words, plus 9,500 more derivative words. New words are being added all the time, but lately, the quality of the words being added makes me weep for civilization's decline.

For example, in September 2016, the OED added "squee," "cheeseball," and "moobs" to their lexicon.

Moobs? Seriously, moobs? How could the OED, that honorable and erudite repository of the English language, add the portmanteau of "man boobs" to their 20 volume set? Centuries from now, long after our civilization has fallen, archaeologists will find an old copy of the OED, carefully examine it, and discover the entry for "moobs."

"This explains everything," they'll say sadly, shaking their heads…

Learning to Fly

Erik is out of the office this week for the Christmas holiday, and so we're reprinting a column from December 2005.

It was a question on a discussion card to make car trips and bad dinner parties go faster: Would you rather have the power to fly or become invisible?

Your answer is supposed to provide some insight about who you are as a person.

For example, a lot of people who choose invisibility tend to do so for less than ethical reasons. They would spy, sneak, and do mischief if they could do it unseen. But the flyers talk about saving time, avoiding traffic, and experiencing the freedom that soaring through the air can bring.

I'm a flyer.

Not in a plane though. It's just not the same. I've never had the dream of flying my own plane or becoming a pilot. Flying in a plane isn't like flying like Superman. You don't experience the wind in your hair, or the sense of speed. Also, the food sucks, and I'm right in front of the kid who won't stop kicking my s…

An Open Letter to the Well Actually Guy

Dear Well Actually Guy,

"Well, actually, women do it too."

See, you're already doing it. I can't even say four words without you opening your mouth and well-actuallying all over everything.

What is wrong with you, Well Actually Guy? How did you become that one annoying guy on Facebook who responds to every opinion with "Well, actually. . ."

"Well, actually" you'll explain the punchlines of jokes.

"Well, actually," you'll argue about a single statistic in a news article for hours.

Well Actually Guy likes to point out when things are technically correct, even though those details are not important to the discussion. In fact, Well Actually Guy likes to throw in these minor technical corrections as a way to derail a story, or call an entire philosophical argument into question.

We should call it "wagging," or use the hashtag #WAG. As in, "Did you just #WAG me?"

"Well, actually, I don't start my arguments w…

The Deckers Family, Inc. 2016 Annual Report

To: All members of Deckers Family, Inc.
From: President Dad
RE: Yearly Evaluation Report

Dear Shareholders, Partners, and Employees of DFI:

It has been six years, since I have submitted an annual report for your review. In fact, it's been so long that my title has changed from President Daddy to President Dad. This was actually a sad day for me and CEO Mom, because it meant that our junior staffers had long surpassed their probationary period, and were now moving into their own positions of responsibility.

I also had a feeling of predictions gone wrong when I read in our 2010 report that DFI had moved to its "permanent headquarters" and that "we have no plans of moving." And yet, the old adage, "the only thing that is constant is change" holds true, because we since moved to Orlando, Florida, to our new semi-permanent headquarters.

I say "semi-permanent," because the last several years have shown that making plans for permanence is optimistic a…

Helicopter Parents May Ruin Childhood Christmas

It's Christmas time, and you know what that means! It's time for parents to drive themselves deeper into debt by buying their children's happiness and getting them into a good college. Their biggest purchases are usually in mad pursuit of the year's hottest toy, designed to bring minutes and minutes of joy before the kids get bored and start thinking about their birthdays.

In 1983, the big toy was Cabbage Patch Kids, and there were riots at several retail stores as crazed would shove, hit, kick, and even whack each other with baseball bats, over the plush toy.

In 1996, it was Tickle Me Elmo, and parents spent as much as $1,500 for a $29 toy. Again, people rioted. Two Chicago women were arrested for fighting, and a Walmart clerk in British Columbia received a broken rib and a concussion when 300 people trampled him to get an Elmo.

Because nothing celebrates the birth of the Prince of Peace like clocking some jackwagon over a child's toy.

This year's must-have-to…

Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year is a Lie

The Oxford Dictionaries, makers of one of the world's heaviest dictionaries (137.72 pounds), has released its word of the year, as well as the other words that made their shortlist, for the annual recognition. These are the words that "had an impact on 2016, for better or worse," said the dictionary's website. "(They) reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past twelve months."

The 2016 word of the year is "post-truth," which the Oxford Dictionaries defines as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

In other words, people choose to believe opinion and emotion more than actual science, evidence, and their own senses.

Like the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

While the idea of post-truth has always been around, it's only in the last 12 months that we've really seen it surge. If you have a basic working knowledge …

Oxford Dictionaries' Word of the Year is a Lie

The Oxford Dictionaries, makers of one of the world's heaviest dictionary (137.72 pounds), has released its word of the year, as well as the other words that made their shortlist, for the annual recognition. These are the words that "had an impact on 2016, for better or worse," said the dictionary's website. "(They) reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the past twelve months."

The 2016 word of the year is "post-truth," which the Oxford Dictionaries defines as "relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief."

In other words, people choose to believe opinion and emotion more than actual science, evidence, and their own senses.

Like the O.J. Simpson murder trial.

While the idea of post-truth has always been around, it's only in the last 12 months that we've really seen it surge. If you have a basic working knowledge of…

Castigat Ridendo Mores: What's In Your Motto?

Do you know your state's motto?

Not the bumper sticker slogan that your state's tourism department paid an out-of-state marketing agency $100,000 to create.

No, seriously, $100,000. A couple years ago, the Indiana Office of Tourism Development spent $100,000 to come up with "Honest-to-Goodness Indiana," which a lot of people hated. And who could forget Massachusetts' $300,000 slogan, "Massachusetts . . . Make it Yours" back in 2002?

Those expensive marketing slogans aren't actually associated with a state's founding philosophy and guiding belief. That's what the state motto does.

A state motto is something that's usually been around ever since the state was founded. And it's frequently written in Latin, which means most people don't know what it actually means.

For example, a lot of people think Alabama's motto is "Sweet Home Alabama," but that's just the state slogan, which they've had since 1951. It's …

Ask Mr. Answer Dad: What Do I Tell My Kids?

Welcome to another week of Ask Mr. Answer Dad, the know-it-all dad who knows everything worth knowing about raising children. If you want to know how to talk to your kids about politics, religion, or sex, Mr. Answer Dad is here to answer all your questions and/or make light of your situation.

Dear Mr. Answer Dad: My 5-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter recently started asking where babies come from. I said they came from my tummy, but they asked how they got in there in the first place. Help me, Mr. Answer Dad. What do I tell my kids? Uncomfortable in Des Moines.

Dear The Monks: Lie to them. Lie to them for as long as you can, until they start public school and learn it on the playground, like we did when we were kids. If you're lucky, your daughter will explain it to your son before he even starts school. Problem solved.

Dear Mr. Answer Dad: My kids went to bed thinking Hillary Clinton was going to be president, and woke up to a Donald Trump presidency instead. What do I tell m…

Canadian Super Baby Attacked by Cheese

Dear hyper-intelligent super baby,

May I call you Juli?

I was sorry to read about your recent injury, when you broke your leg at the Great Canadian Cheese Rolling Festival, in Whistler, BC. That's unfortunate, and must not have felt very gouda.

Sorry! I'm so sorry! I make terrible jokes when I'm nervous.

I'm nervous, Juli, because I read on the CBC website that you filed a lawsuit in October over your injury. I figured a three-year-old who can file a lawsuit is a baby to be reckoned with.

My wife says your dad, Toshihiro Nonaka, filed the lawsuit, but I'm not so sure. The Canadian newspapers all named you as the plaintiff, which means you're more advanced than all other babies in the world.

So I thought I would write to you, since a) a hyper-intelligent super baby will most likely run the world one day, and b) you can probably already read. I'd like to offer some friendly advice and wisdom as you rise to ultimate power.

First, I read that the culprit was a…

The NFL: Everything’s Fine, Just Fine

Minutes from the weekly NFL Disciplinary Committee Meeting, Roger Goodell, chairman.

GOODELL: Let’s get this thing started. I have to be uptown at the Youth Football Awards Luncheon. We’re giving them $500 and a Peyton Manning jersey to their concussion prevention awareness campaign. What’s on the docket this week?

JOHNSON: Oh, the usual: unnecessary end zone celebrations, uniform violation, the National Anthem thing, and domestic abuse.

GOODELL: Let’s start with the easy stuff.

JOHNSON: Odell Beckham made the list again. He was penalized for an end zone dance when he cradled the football like a baby and pretended to sing to it. Two of the other players stood next to him and pretended to shush the crowd.

GOODELL: Ha, Odell cracks me up. Fine him five thousand dollars.
JOHNSON: Except the next time he scored, he held the ball but pretended he was crying. Some of the sports pundits claimed he was making fun of the league’s anti-celebration stance.

GOODELL: Like who?

JOHNSON: Well, Skip …

Would You Eat Broccoli if it Tasted Like Chocolate?

What's the difference between broccoli and boogers?

Kids don't like to eat broccoli.

I don't blame them. I hate broccoli.

There, I said it. I hate broccoli. I don't like it, I don't like the way it tastes, and I avoid eating it whenever possible. I'm like that episode of West Wing where President Bartlett didn't like green beans, and the green bean farmers of America clutched their pearls in despair.

(Just to be clear, I don't eat boogers either.)

It's not that I'm opposed to eating vegetables. Not even resistant. It's not like I refuse to eat vegetables. It's just that when I'm given the option of eating them versus not eating them, I don't always make a mature choice.

Sorry, ever. I don't ever make a mature choice.

I mean, when you have a choice between a salad and a cheeseburger, I think most people would like to choose the cheeseburger. And those who don't are lying.

That's not to say they will actually choose the …

Love Letter Marketing

Erik is out of the office this week, so we are reprinting a column from 2005, mostly because we don't think anyone is reading these things anyway.

One day this past spring, I was lying in my hammock, drinking a beer, and relaxing. I was just starting to nod off, when I heard a quiet "ahem."

I opened my eyes and spotted my young neighbor, Jeremy, who had nearly finished the 6th grade, and was considering the leap to 7th grade in the fall.

"Hey, Mr. Deckers," he said. "Taking a nap, huh?"

"No flies on you, lad, although I wish you had a better sense of timing," I said. "What services may I bestow upon you, young Jeremy?"

"Huh?"

"What do you want?"

"I need some advice. Mrs. Deckers said you were pathetic with girls when you were my age."

"Oh she did, did she? Mrs. Deckers didn't even know me back then. How would she know about my past performance?"

"She said you were pretty hopeless unti…

Talking About Hurricanes and Power Outages

"Okay, nobody panic. We prepared for this."

"Of course we paid the bill!"

"You did pay the bill, didn't you?"

"I never doubted you."

"Well, they asked, and that made me wonder."

"Buddy, go see if the neighbors' lights are out."

"There, see? Either the power is out on the street, or everyone on the block didn't pay their electric bill."

"No, of course not. What are the odds of that happening?"

"Well, no, I don't actually know. That's something your grandfather would know. He taught statistics."

"No, I'm not going to call him."

"Because the power is out!"

"Of course I charged it. There's just no point in wasting my cell battery just to call my dad."

"Because he won't actually know the odds of 10 families not paying their electric bill on time."

"If you want to know, you figure it out."

"No, don't look it up!&q…

We're Being Invaded by a Horror Of Clowns

Halloween is coming, and I'm not looking forward to it. It's the second biggest holiday, bumping up against Christmas for the "Most Obnoxious" awards.

It's also the time of year when costume stores stock unveil their two most popular costume styles: Zombie and Slutty.

No longer satisfied with someone just being a nurse, a firefighter, or a circus ringmaster, they offer instead Slutty Nurse, Zombie Firefighter, or Slutty Zombie Ringmaster.

Haunted houses are over the top as well. When I was a kid, haunted houses were usually just mazes made in our grade school gym, where teachers dressed like the Wicked Witch of the West and the Werewolf to jump out to scare us.

Now, haunted houses have monsters with such disgusting special effects that even the Walking Dead makeup artists are grossed out.

It's not just enough to have a werewolf with a leg bone clutched in its hairy paw. Or a zombie with gray skin and wild hair. Now, we've got demon-possessed killer pirat…

Is a Hot Dog a Sandwich?

Hey, Karl, here's a deep philosophical question for you: is a hot dog a sandwich?

"What? What the hell kind of question is that?" Karl turned and faced me. "That may be one of the dumbest things you've ever asked me."

Oh yeah? Then answer the question.

We were sitting in Victory Field on a Thursday evening, watching a minor league baseball game. The Indianapolis Indians were taking on the Louisville Bats, and I had just returned to our seats with our obligatory hot dogs and ballpark beer.

"Of course it's not," he said, taking his hot dog. "I mean, look at it. Does this even look like a sandwich?"

What is it then?

"It's. . . well, it's just a hot dog! It's a thing unto itself."

Like a hamburger, I said.

"Exactly. Like a hamburger."

A hamburger's a sandwich though.

"A hamburger's a hamburger. It's not a hamburger sandwich."

The hamburger was created either by a guy in Connecticut or …