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Words, Nov. 1

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I wish I had Donald Trump's money and he had a feather in his portfolio:

“Snapping up Bella Vista lots at a recent courthouse auction, Warren Kamishin feathered the portfolio of Arkansas resort properties he's recommending these days to the investors who attend his real-estate-to-riches seminars.” Maybe it's real-estate jargon, but I've never heard feather used this way. I wonder if the writer meant fingered.

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. — Mark Twain”

The quotation is going around on the Internet, but its authenticity is doubted by some, including me. Bartlett's has a lot of Twain quotes, and that's not one of them.

Putting us on is a usage of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. I don't believe Mark Twain ever said putting us on, or any variation thereof. Huckleberry Finn either.

A recent Arkansas Court of Appeals decision quoted from a 2005 Arkansas Supreme Court opinion:

“It is the duty of those who enforce the law to follow it, and ignorance thereof can no more excuse the conduct of officers and judges than it would excuse the conduct of a defendant. If anything, a higher duty of compliance rests on those whose responsibility is to enforce the law than on the general populous.”

Evidently, editors of Supreme Court opinions aren't populous enough.

Christopher W. Deren of Stuttgart finds it offensive “when worn-out jock loudmouths posing as announcers bellow about the ‘athleticism' of a player.” And well he should. Until recent years, nobody'd ever heard of “athleticism.” Now you hear it every time you turn on the TV to watch a football or basketball game. It's not quite so common in baseball, which relies heavily on certain specialized skills and where victory may not necessarily belong to those who can run fastest and jump highest. I think it was John Kruk who was supposed to have said “I'm not an athlete, I'm a ballplayer.”

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