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MARTHA SEZ: It’s meere battologies of loathsome repetitions

March 17, 2017
By MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

Why do people criticize social media? Sanctimonious twaddle. Were it not for social media, I would never have seen the March 9, 2017, "New York Times" story, "Thousands of Radioactive Boars in Fukushima Thwart Residents' Plans to return" sent to me by my sister, Molly. I forwarded the story to my brother Bill and he shot back, "It's always sumpthen."

Cheer up! Think you have problems? You could be thwarted from returning home by toxic wild boars.

Residents abandoned their homes around the Fukushima nuclear power plant after its catastrophic failure in 2011. Since that time area wildlife has prospered, much as it has in Russia since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. Rats have taken over Fukushima supermarkets, no doubt patiently awaiting the next food delivery. Wild boars have settled into the houses of evacuees, reportedly becoming quite territorial, even vicious. The area has become a kind of hog heaven.

I forwarded the story to a friend in Texas and she told me that yes, she and her neighbors have problems with feral hogs, but at least they are not radioactive.

Wild boar meat is considered a delicacy in Japan, but this pork contains 300 times too much radioactive celesium 137 to be edible, scientists say.

A Japanese newspaper reported that the boars have done extensive damage to farmland, but, since they became radioactive in the first place by eating the local plant material, how can the farmland be safe to grow crops on anyway?

When I read a story like this there are always questions that will never be answered. News items just appear, and then they are gone, and that's the end of it, as far as we're concerned, although I suspect the Japanese will be grappling with the radioactive hog problem for some time to come.

As I write this, New York state, Pennsylvania and most of New England is besieged by a giant blizzard, although, if you were to watch the news on television, rather than to look out the window, you would think that it was limited to New York City. (The city only got a few inches. We are getting feet of snow in the Adirondacks.) This is an excellent day for social media, as long as we don't lose power.

We are told that Facebook prevents people-young people are generally singled out for criticism- from communicating in person. This is false, of course. Teenagers used to monopolize the family telephone, what we now call the land line, talking to their friends for hours. Back then only one person at a time could use the phone, unless someone else, maybe your little sister, picked up another extension and either surreptitiously listened in or added her two cents worth to the conversation. Hang up, Susie! I can hear you breathing. Get off the phone!

Social media or no, it is well nigh impossible to prevent young people from getting together. Telephones and social media are not substitutes for human interaction, they are just add-ons.

The popularity of online dating is criticized by some, who complain it's not like it was back in their day. "Why can't young people get acquainted the old-fashioned way-drunk, in a bar?" they ask.

Social media are not the sole province of the very young. The elderly just love to go on line to view and post pictures of their grandchildren and pets, and to see all of those adorable and inspiring animal videos from around the globe that other people pass along. Not to mention celebrity gossip and political news, some of which is of course fake news. But any time you listen to people battologizing, you can be sure some of what they say is false.

I found the word battologize, meaning to repeat unneccessarily, while I was looking up blizzard in the "Oxford English Dictionary." Here is an example from 1618 listed in the OED:

"Meere battologies of loathsome repetitions "

Then I saw the Scottish word blithemeat, which refers to the refreshments served to celebrate the birth of a baby. My friend Jenny and her family will be enjoying blithemeat soon.

"Blizzard, U.S., a modern word, suggestive words blow, blast, blister, bluster. As applied to a 'snow-squall,' the word became general in American newspapers during the severe winter of 1880-1881. 'New York Nation,' 1881: 'The hard weather has called into use a word which promises to become a national Americanism, namely blizzard.'"

Outside, the national Americanism is raging.

Have a good week.



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