Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tiny bubbles; dirty rotten scoundrels

Another of our readers (we apparently have more than two now...) offered less-than-gentle criticism for our use of the verb form of "effervescent."

Talk about having things bass-ackwards. Turns out the noun "effervescence" and adjective "effervescent" are derived from the verb.

"Effervesce" comes from the Latin "efferescere." The link on is the old saying goes "you could look it up." We've taken the trouble to copy it for the click challenged, though:

1695–1705; < class="ital-inline">effervÄ“scere, equiv. to ef- ef- + ferv- hot (see fervent ) + -Ä“scere -esce

So there. Another handy tip. Forgive us for being smug in our correctness.

In entirely other news, one of our college friends -- who, but for his need for us as a reference for his FBI background check might deny any association with us -- recently spoke at, get this, a "corruption workshop" for elected officials. As if our political class needs lessons.

According to the Palm Beach Post:

Former federal prosecutor and now private defense lawyer Bruce Reinhart had the best approach to teaching public officials how to stay out of legal trouble. He spoke to them as if they were children.

Taking his lead from a popular book, he told Palm Beach County's elected elite "Everything you ever need to know about how to stay away from honest services fraud you learned in kindergarten." Here's Mr. Reinhart's list; the comments are mine (note: "mine" refers to Joel Engelhardt, the Palm Beach Post editorial writer):

1. "You don't lie to people." That includes voters.

2. "Don't take candy from strangers." Or free hotel rooms. Or $8 million parcels of land. Or cash-stuffed shaving kits.

3. "Stop, look and listen." If honesty is not your first inclination, perhaps it will be your second ... or third.

4. "You have to tattle." Newspaper reporters love that one. Call us and see.

5. "When in doubt, go ask a grown-up." Unless the grown-up is your co-conspirator. Likewise, "Never do anything you'd be embarrassed to tell your mother." Unless your mother is evil.

That last one shows what the whole kindergarten approach is missing. Some people just never learned right from wrong. In fact, some politicians view public office as a right to help them do wrong. They probably have been behaving that way since kindergarten.

We might suggest a final addition: "when you blew it, admit it" (with apologies for the obvious implied references to Ms. Lewinsky and former caught-red-handed President Clinton).

Recent examples from a CEO in India to a Finance Minister in Japan show the honor of stepping down when you're wrong instead of taking the OJ Simpson (and Rod Blagojevich, and so many others') defense of "deny, deny, deny."

Would that our children and politicians, would learn to do the former rather than the latter...


Bruce Reinhart said...


As the aforementioned college friend, I appreciate the free publicity. I will proudly proclaim my association with you, especially if you succeed in ridding us of people misusing "myself". May I also suggest that you open a second front on "hopefully".

Here's another one that'll get your blood boiling. I recently got an announcement from a law firm that was opening a "Government Enforcement Litigation" practice. Last I checked, that was known as criminal defense. I guess they don't want to use the "c" word.

Mike Diefenbach said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike Diefenbach said...

In my earlier comment, I wasn't claiming that your use of the verb "effervesce" was incorrect...
I was merely suggesting that it was haughty.

Unlike the dog who licks his "twigs and berries" in public because he CAN, unaware that he SHOULD NOT (after all, he's just a dog), we better-bred humans who know fanciful, but rarely-used words ought to refrain from using them just because we CAN.

Our superior vocabularies ought to be used to clarify and illuminate, not to show others up or send them needlessly to the dictionary.

...and I couldn't care LESS about your "chicken/egg" lesson about which came first, the adjective or the verb. (LORDY!) But "bully for you" for pointing it out.

I love ya, babe, but use your powers for good, not self-aggrandizement.