On being precise

Posted by Lex, on August 14, 2006


Fidel Castro either did or did not turn 80 yesterday, depending of course on whether or not he’s either 1) alive, or 2) in hell. At this point the evidence is inconclusive.

The rumors of his imminent demise have had the effect of bringing into the spotlight those who secretly get the vapors in the presence of the right brand of tyranny. Also, in what may constitute double counting, certain newspeople.

But I rather wish that everyone would get their language right. First, too many news articles point out almost gushingly that Castro has lasted longer than 9 US presidents. Which for a dictator has to be faint praise, considering that the 22ndAmendment to the US Constitution makes that, you know: Nearly inevitable, at least for those tyrants who do not choose the retirement plan.

Also, that earlier BBC link mentions that Castro is the world’s longest-serving leader, which is neither true (Taranto points out that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth superannuates him – the BBC can google her, if they need help) nor precise: Over the course of 50 years of despotic power, hasn’t served anybody but himself.

Is this a British thing?

”When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” 

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”  

–Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Gl

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, by lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Media, Neptunus Lex, Politics and Culture

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