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Monday, December 10, 2007

Blameworthy

Headline, CNN, December 4, 2007: Storm Blamed for 18 Deaths

Headline, Washington Post, December 10, 2007: 3 Shooting Deaths Blamed on Domestic Dispute

"Blame" derives from the Late Latin word, blasphemare, (also the root of "blasphemy") and primarily means "to hold responsible or accountable."

Can a force of nature be held to account? Can it be responsible (as in, to answer for)? Can it defend itself (as in, to respond)? Can it be hauled into court and subsequently required to pay recompense or be remanded in durance vile? No? Then it cannot be "blamed." Blame requires fault, and fault requires intent, and intent requires consciousness. Storms (at least as far as Livia is aware) have yet to develop self-awareness. The deaths can be attributed to the storm; they can be a result of the storm, but they cannot be blamed on the storm.

And how on earth did that domestic dispute get its hands on a gun?

LIVIA DRUSA

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How To Speak Nonsense

1. Clyde's is one of the only restaurants in Northern Virginia to offer vegan entrees.

2. I have one of the only copies of Mein Kampf in Urdu.

If you can't see what's wrong with these two sentences, you will be shot. Line up at sunrise.

This locution causes Livia actual pain. (As opposed to the virtual or literal variety, which will be dealt with at a later date.) Why? Let's take this slowly.

One. Only. Get it?

No? Shooting is too good for you. A month in a soundproof room listening to public radio fundraisers.

If ONLY = ONE, then "one of the only" is impossible because "one of the" implies MORE THAN ONE, genius. What you mean is "one of the few," if you're not brave or knowledgeable enough to say "the only." "Only" is SINGULAR, dammit!

You have been warned.

LIVIA DRUSA