While driving, I heard a newsradio report about someone who committed a heinous action but was given absolution. That last word struck me as sounding very much similar to the word “absolute.” So, I checked out a dictionary definition of “absolute” and it read “free from imperfection, complete, perfect.” Now, wait a minute! How can someone who did a no-no in the eyes of the law (and maybe even a higher jurisdiction) be free from being imperfect”? Huh?

In mathematics, they talk of the absolute value of a number. That refers to its core value regardless of the sign. Doesn’t make a difference if it is a 1 or a -1, the absolute value is still 1. But, -1 is less than a 1, so how can that be a perfect solution to a value? Hey, if I can get away with this logic, maybe I can convince the bank that a
-100.00 balance in my checking account is absolutely 100.00 and to lay off the fines and penalties and bad credit ratings.

Of course, there are mathematicians who will explain that it really means to indicate the distance of the number from zero. I will kindly suggest to those geniuses that they ought to go out in 30 degrees below zero weather as opposed to 30 degrees above and still try convincing themselves that it is all absolutely relative to zero and it makes no difference.

In philosophy, they say that absolute is an objective reality that replaces the concept of there being a Deity. Well, you try saying ‘absolute damn it’ several times when you bump your knee into a chair.

I understand that astronomers use the expression “absolute magnitude” when measuring the radiance of a star. Why can’t they just say the “brightness”?

Linguists talk of absolute construction of phrases. Don’t ask me what that means but I understand that using the expression, “all things considered”, or “this being the case” are prime examples. Absolutely. Trust me.

A Passing Fancy

Pass- a simple word with so many uses that it’s a shame to pass it up.

There is pass on and pass away- I think they mean the same. A person passes on while passing away the time. And a person who passes out could end up passing away for good.

A person passes over but not necessarily for religious reasons. If truly in need, he can pass his hat. And for a different type of need, he can always make a pass.

A quarterback expects his receiver to catch and hold the pass but the guy who passes gas better be passing through.

On the other hand, the passive fellow defers to the passionate one.

A password to let one in more often now a numeric pass code, too.

A motorist who avoids stopping at toll booths uses a mobile pass while the traveler who goes from country to country carries with a passport. Unless, of course, he is lost and must use a compass point.

In foxholes, it’s pass the ammunition. At dinner tables, it’s pass the ketchup.

In chess, the cry is “en passant!” In Monopoly, it’s “gimme my 200 bucks! as ‘GO’ my token has passed”

But for all those who find this ditty arguably passable, remember- this too shall pass.

Chinese President Hu is On First

Chinese leader President Hu Jintao made a historic trip to the United States this week to meet with President Obama and members of Congress. On Wednesday, Obama and Hu held a joint press conference that developed unintentionally into an Abbott and Costello routine. For whatever reason translators were not made available who could provide almost simultaneous translations of both presidents statements as well as answers to reporters questions. One would think that if the United Nations could do it, so could the White House. Instead, President Obama was surprised when after giving an opening statement for what seemed like ten minutes, a Chinese translator gave an equally long harangue to the straight-faced Hu. A couple of minutes into the translator’s talk, Obama cut in and apologized to the newsmen present that he had no idea that this was going to be the protocol.

When Hu spoke, Obama looked askance and tapped his ear, making a motion that he was clueless as to what was being said but to his credit showed patience to wait as did the rest of the audience to finally find out its meaning. And when a reported asked Hu why he seemed to be evading answering a specific question, Hu replied that he didn’t even know it was being asked of him.

I can imagine a reporter in the back of the room turning to another and asking, “Who’s speaking?” and the other fellow replying, “exactly”. Which reminds me of the time I first came face to face with a live Asian when I was a teenager in the mid 1960’s. Until then, the only ones I had noticed were Charley Chan and his number one son in the old movies shown on television as well as Fuji, the cook and erstwhile captive on McHale’s Navy.
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English Ain’t What it Used to Be

Whatever happened to English? I’m not referring to the citizens of a certain country who cried “Uncle” in the late 1700’s and then again in 1812 or so. You know, the ones who said that the sun would never set on the British Empire? Our European forefathers made a point in saying that we do not speak or write English but an American jive.
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