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Words, Dec. 30



"I am opposed to the proposition that it was ordered by President Nixon. That argument is totally false, demonstratively false."

I don't know whether it was Henry Kissinger who confused demonstratively with demonstrably, or the Washington Post, which quoted him. Probably the Post, although English was not Kissinger's first language, and after 70 years in this country, he still speaks with a German accent.

n Homer is coaching. Jachilles is academically ineligible:

We noted the other day that Odyssey Sims plays for the women's basketball team at Baylor. Since then, I've learned that Julysses Nobles is on the men's team at the U of A.

n "The sheriff's office has ruled the death a suicide."

Wayne Jordan writes, "I don't believe that a sheriff's office ever 'ruled' anything. It might make a finding based on investigative evidence and give an opinion as to the cause of death, but I don't believe it can make a 'ruling' like a court can. Have I become too picky?"

Possibly, but pickiness keeps this column going.

One dictionary definition of rule is "to decide or declare judicially or authoritatively; decree: The judge ruled that he should be exiled." Jordan is correct that a sheriff doesn't rule in that way. Lacks the authority.

But rule can also mean "to make a formal decision, as on a point of law." I think a sheriff's official opinion on cause of death could be called a ruling, even though it's not authoritative in the way a judge's ruling is. But a simple "The sheriff's office has said the death was a suicide" would be sufficient here.

n Prepositions gone wild, Part XXVIII:

"Cal Amadee, a motion consultant, said he's known Snively for the better part of 20 years. 'I hold him to the utmost respect,' Amadee said." Hold him to the utmost respect, eh? What for, to see if the respect's sleeves need shortening? To greatly admire someone is to hold him in the utmost respect.

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