Monthly Archives: November, 2014

Word Watch: fruitloopery

Credit: drjohn08318

Credit: drjohn08318

Fruitloopery — the improper or ignorant use of scientific or technical language to make a false or impossible claim seem more believable — is the latest addition to the lexicon by Canada’s Word Spy, Paul McFedries.

It comes from the use of the term “fruit loop” as a “whimsical way of describing someone who is a bit crazy, scatterbrained, or weird,” which has been used in that sense since at least 1982, McFedries wrote on his WordSpy website.  McFedries says it  “likely” comes from the Kellogg’s cereal  Froot Loops (but I ask you: where else would it have come from?), with a boost from associations with the word loopy, meaning crazy or bizarre. Continue reading →

Ebola fears infect tropical medicine conference; state officials cite “abundance of caution”

Credit: Balint Radu

Credit: Balint Radu

To be clear: it’s not the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) that has problems with delegates from Ebola-affected countries who might actually shed some light on the epidemic at its annual meeting in New Orleans this week.

It’s the State of Louisiana that has pulled the welcome mat.

As reported today (3 November) in the Chronicle of Higher Education and elsewhere, the state sent a letter to conference registrants (through the ASTMH) last week asking anyone who has even visited the affected West African countries to stay away. Continue reading →

Cancer: ‘bravery and fighting have nothing to do with it’

wwbravelyfightingIn his recent list of the “top 10 most fatuous phrases in the English language,” Rod Liddle, the somewhat controversial associate editor of The Spectator, included at #7, “bravely fighting cancer.”

“An odious phrase, patronizing and meaningless,” Liddle wrote. “All people with cancer are bravely fighting the vile disease. All people with cancer who have decided not to fight it, but instead to acquiesce, are also brave — perhaps even more brave. In truth, ‘bravery’ and ‘fighting’ have nothing to do with it.”~TM

Neat trick on Ebola ‘announcement,’ Chris Alexander! What are you afraid of?

Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander • Screen grab from CTV National News

Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander • Screen grab from CTV National News

Yesterday — Friday 31 October, Halloween — Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander “announced” that Canada was temporarily halting issuing visas to people coming here from Ebola-stricken West African nations.

Except the nature of his “announcement” was puzzling. It was contained in a blandly-headed news release (“Protecting the Health and Safety of Canadians”), issued late in the day (it arrived in my inbox at 5.50pm), by which time Alexander was not available for comment, even if his handlers in the PMO had allowed him to speak.

This is a typical tactic of the Conservative government, but what makes it particularly noteworthy is that the release was issued after Alexander had held a 15-minute news conference on immigration policy, during which he didn’t mention the policy change, according to a report by CTV National News.

Why is the Government of Canada afraid to take ownership of this policy decision? Continue reading →

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