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Who's exasperated?

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"NEW YORK — IBM's first-quarter earnings fell and revenues came in below Wall Street's expectations amid ongoing decline in its hardware business, one that was exasperated by weaker demand in China and emerging markets."

Jim Newell was gripped by exasperation himself after reading this item in the business section. "Exacerbated" is the word the writer wanted, he sagely suggests.

"Look here — in this TV Guide — I had this exact same idea 6 months ago! Another one of my ideas stolen!"

"Ideas are like that — they're in the air — the same idea pops up in many places at the same time — it's called 'zeitgeist'. "

I usually have to look up zeitgeist in the dictionary whenever I see it. Thanks to the comic strip "Too Much Coffee Man" for saving me the trouble. I know the feeling even if I don't know the word very well. Many's the time I've seen Stephen Hawking rush one of my ideas into print just before I had time to do it myself.

Zombies are very much a part of the current zeitgeist. You can't turn on the TV without bumping into a pack of them. A little-known fact — zombi was the original spelling, according to Garner's Modern American Usage: "Zombi derives from nzambi, the Bantu name of a West African python deity thought to raise the dead. A generally disparaging term in common use (in the sense 'a dullard'), zombie was, for example, what Canadian Army regulars called draftees in World War II. The notion of a zombie as brain-eating monster evolved from horror movies, starting with White Zombie (1932), starring Bela Lugosi."

My favorite zombie movie is "I Walked with a Zombie (1943)," one of those old Val Lewton jobs that managed to be scary without the graphic disassembly popular today.

Sports-page headline: "Johnson out to qwell doubters."

He hopes to qwench fans' thirst for victories.

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