Weasel Words by Mike Baron

WEASEL WORDS

In the never-ending battle to obscure or ameliorate whatever it is they want to say, certain parties have infected the English language with weasel words. When my dog Freddie was dying from heat stroke, the veterinarian at CSU said the test results were very “concerning.” He said it over and over again. I wanted to strangle him. If Freddie was dying, why didn’t he just say so?

Some find words empowering. I find the word empowering debilitating. Don’t trot out those dictionary definitions! I’m warning you, do not do it! But I must. I feel empowered. To empower: “authorize, entitle, permit, allow, license, sanction, warrant, commission, delegate, qualify, equip.” Well how empowering can it be if another party has to do it for you? I’ll do it myself without your help, thank you very much.
But is my empowerment sustainable? What does sustainable mean?

The ability to be sustained, supported, upheld, or confirmed. Environmental Science. the quality of not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance: The committee is developing sustainability standards for products that use energy.

“To be sustained.” There’s that passive tense again, blithely ignorant of Newton’s Laws of Physics. The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed, energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. In other words, energy cannot be created or destroyed. Are electric cars sustainable? From where does the energy come? Could it come from coal-burning power plants? Perhaps it comes from nuclear power plants. We all know that nuclear power plants lead to world-wide disaster and death, except for those nuclear power plants that power most of France.

The US has 99 nuclear power reactors in 30 states, operated by 30 differenT power companies, and in 2017 they produced 805 TWh. Since 2001 these plants have achieved an average apacity factor of over 90%, generating up to 807 TWh per year and accounting for about 20% of total electricity generated.
Is it sustainable? You be the judge.

I love Judge Judy. Whenever a litigant says, “Basically,” Judge Judy interrupts.
“NO BASICALLY. Just tell me what happened.”
The word basically needs to go the way of the dodo.

Likewise “literally.” When you use the word “literally,” you sound like a fool.
And “undocumented immigrants.” And the word “optics.” One day the media rose up as one and decided that the “optics” would replace appearances. They think it makes them sound smart. Optics means, “The scientific study of sight and the behavior of light, or the properties of transmission and deflection of other forms of radiation.”
When I watch a show on On Demand, they warn me that “fast forward and other functionality may not be available.” Functionality? What the fuck? What’s wrong with functions? And “may not be available?” It’s never available. Like those car ads that say, “available 800 horsepower engine.” That means you gots to pay extra.

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