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Going copless

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From a review of the book "Poisoned Pens: Literary Invective from Amis to Zola":

"It can be a rather ugly spectacle — literary pugilism from men you suspect wouldn't have been much cop in a real fight — but it is always compelling."

I was unfamiliar with cop the way the reviewer used it in a British newspaper. A dictionary of British slang says that cop can mean "worth, value." I gather it's most often used in negative constructions, as the reviewer did.

A reader sends an article from Fortune magazine about companies "that have attempted to disintermediate banks by connecting borrowers directly with lenders." He has painted disintermediate yellow and put three question marks in the margin. He writes: "Wade through enough prefixes and a suffix to postdeterminate what this means."

I recall my first exposure to disintermediate. It was years ago at some kind of seminar intended to teach economics to journalists. Ha! No fool's errand was ever foolisher. I left disintermediate behind at check-out. On the rare occasions since when someone has used it in my presence, I've pretended I didn't hear. I've avoided Fortune magazine.

For those who must know, Merriam-Webster says that disintermediation is (1) "the diversion of savings from accounts with low fixed interest rates to direct investment in high-yielding instruments," and (2) "the elimination of an intermediary in a transaction between two parties."

Seems like fiduciary was in that seminar too.

"Anytime trustees have 'a direct interest in a banking issue as it relates to board meetings ... they would and should recuse ... or disqualify themselves or their banks from participation,' Beebe said. 'We have not gotten any feedback that someone is using their position to unduly grandize their business.' "

John Hall found no grandize in the dictionary. Aggrandize is there, though: "to make great or greater; increase, enlarge."

The error here is more likely the reporter's than Beebe's, I expect. The governor was a lawyer before his aggrandizement, and lawyers learn a lot of big words with which to impede communication. He probably knows disintermediate and fiduciary too.

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