Attention, World

To:  The English-Speaking World
From: Mitch Berg, Angry Language Purist
Re:  Lunchtime Frenzy of Anger

Dear World:


It’s pronounced “Sha-POTE-lay”.

Not “Sha-POLE-tay”.

See to this at once or suffer the consequences.  Flaming, shrapnel-laden consequences.

That is all.

The Left’s War On The Western Intellect

One never needs to look far for a Berg’s Seventh Law violation.  But this one may be the big daddy of them all.

For all the left’s bargling about how smart they are and how stupid the teabagging wingnuts are, it’s the left that’s waging a war against the intellectual traditions that made the West a great, and – by world historical standards – free, prosperous and enlightened place.

The Late, Great Debate:  I did debate team for one year, and speech team for two in high school.  And with all due respect to the debaters in my social circle – including John Hinderaker, a national college debate champ – there was no question about it; debate team was the lesser set of skills.  The best “debaters” merely honed their ability to rattle off, auctioneer-style, factoids in a coherent-sounding case; oratorical style and even audible legibility didn’t make the cut as priorities.  Debaters tended to make lousy “forensics” speakers.

But debate teaches a vital skill – indeed, perhaps one of Western Civilization’s most vital skills; classical logic.  A good debater knows how to contruct a logical argument, quickly, steering clear of glaring logical fallacies which will, of course, cost them points with literate judges.

Or rather, they knew it.

John Hinderaker relates the story of the decline and fall of collegiate debate, where teams are now winning “debate” tournaments while ignoring the stated topic and swerving into their own personal polemics, often in “slam poetry” and hip-hop styles and, dumber still, declaring the idea of “logic” and “structure” to be racist:

The assertion that “the framework of collegiate debate has historically privileged straight, white, middle-class students” is puzzling. By “privileged,” the writer apparently means that these are the people who have been good at it. Historically, most college students have of course been white and middle-class, but so what?

“Collegiate debate” has turned into the MinnPost comment section!

I’m tempted to declare that the structure, rules and equipment of the NFL are ageist, classist and ableist, and play using only a shotgun and a hockey stick; why should those privileged with athletic talent and lack of years have all the fun and money?

Well, no – I won’t.  Because I’m not an idiot.

The underlying message from the academy (and hip hop forms notwithstanding, the end of collegiate debate is a battle between academic points of view, not tastes in music) is that logic and structure – the building blocks of western philosophy, “liberal” government, modern science, and indeed every Western intellectual tradition worth preserving – are matters of racist “privilege”.

Would we have had a small-”l” liberal government, ann Enlightenment, a Renaissance, math and science as we know it, a legal system remotely worth having, and any common intellectual tradition without classical logic?

Happy To Be An Intellectual Midget For A Better Minnesota!:  Of course, it’s more than just a national thing; the Minnesota Left has been doing its best to make politics and public life in Minnesota  dumber, coarser, nastier thing.

Bill Glahn dials this tendency in as remorselessly as a sniper:

As the 2014 election campaign heats up, a drearily familiar pattern is repeating itself. Flush with big dollars from out-of-state donors, Democrat-front group Alliance for a Better Minnesota (ABM) is attacking Republican candidates under the theme Wrong for Minnesota…Back in the dim mists of time—when dinosaurs still trod upon the earth—I was taught that arguing against the person (ad hominem) rather than what the person was saying, defied the laws of logic.

When I was in debate in high school, and moreso when arguing points in college, leading with the ad hominem was a good way to have your thesis sent to the showers.

I was taught in classical Greek rhetoric that a message that relied exclusively on raw emotion (pathos)—rather than reason (logos) or an appeal to values (ethos)—was considered the lowest form of communication.
Ad hominem and pathos are the only form of expressions ABM is capable of. The reason why ABM relies on these tactics is because they work. The object is not to engage in debate, but to end debate by surpressing voter turnout. ABM is not trying to convince you that you should vote for Democrats, they are trying to convince you that no Republican possesses the personal character worthy of your vote.

And it works.  A potential candidate for higher office talked with me about ABM’s efforts last year; this person wanted very much to run for an office that would be up for election this year, but couldn’t; while they have the political savvy, experience and record to do the job, ABM would make their personal life – things unrelated to politics, of course – a living hell.  And so a good candidate opted out of the race – leaving that bit more room for an inferior Democrat.

To add insult to injury?  The same media full of Lori Sturdevants and Keri Millers that snivel about the “vitriol” and “anger” in politics, are utterly silent about the Alliance’s crimes against logic:

Should a Republican whisper about the health of our current governor or the temperament of our junior senator, they are immediately shouted down by local media.

Either because of personal relationships or broad sympathy with the aims of ABM, these tactics are never questioned by local media. ABM’s increasingly fantastic and desperate claims against Republicans are never subjected to the “fact-check” apparatus.

And why is that?

Why has MPR, especially their “Fact-Check” operation, “Poligraph”, never systematically looked into ABM’s propaganda?  Catherine Richert?  Mike Mulcahy?  Tom Scheck? Anyone?

Lines Must Be Drawn

To:  The Powers That Be
From: Mitch Berg, Uppity Peasant
Re:  The Future Of Our Civilization

Dear Powers,

Since I, myself, don’t much care if they legalize marijuana – and believe it would actually solve some social problems, beyond its medicinal purposes – the idea of a pot vending machine doesn’t especially faze me.

However, any marijuana legalization, to succeed, must include a provision allowing anyone using the term “Budtender” to refer to Chiba be killed with flaming grease.

That is all.

It’s Donor Season!

Not to joke about the death of young Anand Baskanan, a Long Island transplant who came to Minnesota to work at 3M, and brought his passion for very fast racing motorcyles with him…

…to I394 this past weekend, where he apparently dumped it while racing at 100-120mph one night.  Baskanan died at the scene.  My condolences to his friends and family.

Continue reading

They All Mean The Same Thing Eventually, Don’t They?

 Remember:  the reason the mainstream media is better than all of us bumptious alt-media people is that they have layers and layers of gatekeepers. 

Now, don’t get me wrong; I read h this AP piece in the Strib, about United Airlines cracking down on people hauling refrigerator-sized “carry-on” bags onto their flights, and went “yay”. 

But this sentence here stuck in my craw:

It has nothing to do with revenue, [United spokesman Rahsaan Johnson] said, adding that one non-complaint bag takes up the same space as two complaint ones.

One suspects a bag that generates no “complaints” would take up much less than half the space of two bags that generate complaints. 

Unless the word they were looking for was “compliant”.   Which is a whole different word – indeed, geometrically opposite in this context. 

English in America today: I’m afraid a generation of hasty online spelling means were loosing the standard’s of are language. 

Layers.  Of Gatekeepers.

Duckspeak, Part CXXVIII

Death Panels don’t exist Death Panels always existed, citizen.  And They are a wonderful thing!

(Note to anyone who’s ever worked in health insurance: you know that Death Panels have existed for decades.  It’s called “Care Management”, and HMOs have been doing them since the seventies or eighties. And while the linked article relates to Canada, Obamacare is no different.  I present this mainly as an academic exercise, so you can see if your lefty friends start changing the spin they put out…)

Sowell: “Train!”

So sue me – my dad was a speech teacher.  So I get frustrated at the complete inability of too many Republicans to not only state any message at all, but state is in a way the resonates with people who don’t live and breathe politics for a living.

And so does Thomas Sowell, who is frustrated by the fact that the GOP leadership seems to think the mission is to convince the Beltway:

When Speaker Boehner today goes around talking about the “CR,” that is just more of the same thinking — or lack of thinking. Policy wonks inside the Beltway know that he is talking about the “continuing resolution” that authorizes the existing level of government spending to continue, pending a new budget agreement.

But, believe it or not, there are lots of citizens and voters outside the Beltway. And what is believed by those people whom too many Republicans are talking past can decide not only the outcome of this crisis but the fate of the nation for generations to come.

You might think that the stakes are high enough for Republicans to put in some serious time trying to clarify their message. 

As the great economist Alfred Marshall once said, facts do not speak for themselves. If we are waiting for the Republicans to do the speaking, the country is in big trouble.

The Dems – at least the party as a whole – get it:

Democrats, by contrast, are all talk. They could sell refrigerators to Eskimos before Republicans could sell them blankets.

What they “get” is the first cousin of the old saying, “repeat a big lie often enough and people will believe it”:  

Indeed, Democrats sold Barack Obama to the American public, which is an even more amazing feat, considering his complete lack of relevant experience and questionable (at best) loyalty to the values and institutions of this country.

The Democrats have obviously given a lot of attention to articulation, including coordinated articulation among their members. Some years ago, Senator Chuck Schumer was recorded, apparently without his knowledge, telling fellow Democrats to keep using the word “extremist” when discussing Republicans.

Even earlier, when George W. Bush first ran for President, the word that suddenly began appearing everywhere was “gravitas” — as in the endlessly repeated charge that Bush lacked “gravitas.” People who had never used that word before suddenly began using it all the time.

Today, the Democrats’ buzzword is “clean” — as in the endlessly repeated statement that Republicans in the House of Representatives should send a “clean” bill to the Senate. Anything less than a blank check is not considered a “clean” bill.

The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the responsibility to originate all spending bills, based on what they think should and should not be funded. But the word “clean” is now apparently supposed to override the Constitution.

In the battle for the low-information voter, who leaves the last buzz phrase in the voter’s ear before polling time is the winner.

And Republicans just don’t do buzz-phrases well.

And in a perfect world, where voters and taxpayers paid attention and had, as P.J. O’Rourke put it, “the infinite good sense to give a s**t”, we wouldn’t have to.

That is why I get so impatient with conservative pundits who talk and write about politics like everyone is a member of the Center of the American Experiment.  Lots of good, smart people with conservative inclinations but “independent” politics aren’t.

This Is What Hatred Of Democracy Looks Like

If you had “within minutes” as your entry in the  ”When will the Democrats blame their Colorado rebuke on GOP perfidy pool, you’re a winner.

Democrat National Committee chair Fran Drescher Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is blaming the crushing rebuke at the polls on “Vote Suppression”. 

“The recall elections in Colorado were defined by the vast array of obstacles that special interests threw in the way of voters for the purpose of reversing the will of the legislature and the people. This was voter suppression, pure and simple,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

This has been part of the extremist Democrat playbook since 2000; things that go well for them are signs that democracy works; reverses, on the other hand, are signs that democracy is rotten to the core. 

It’s a play for the low-information voter that still gets their information from CNN – and giving her extremist special interest base an “out” for having been humiliated by Real Americans even after outspending them 3:1.

Linguistic Hit List, Part VI

To:  The World
From: Mitch Berg
Re:  This Say I


This is in re the phrase “What Say You?”.  It’s been popping up a lot in conversation over this past few years. 

What say me?  Me say “It’s a linguistic anachronism that’s become a pretentious cliche”, that’s what me say.

Me say kill with fire.

That is all.


(SCENE:  A lecture room at an esteemed university.  As 30-odd students take their seats and set up their laptops, Professor Evelyn MUNCHENBERG-SCROGGINS welcomes an older man, Avram COHEYN – a frail 80-something man with thin white hair covered by a Yarmulke.  COHEYN sits on a chair next to the professor’s podium.

MUNCHENBERG-SCROGGINS:  Class?  (Din gradually subsides).  I’d like to welcome Mr. Avram Coheyn to the class.  He’s a native of Poznan – do I have that right? (COHEYN smiles and nods), and he’ll be talking with us about his experiences in the Holocaust.  I’d like  you to give him your undivided attention, and come up with some good questions for him at the end of his talk.  Mr. Coheyn? 

(Class applauds politely as COHEYN rises)

COHEYN (speaks with faint Polish-Yiddish accent):  Thank you, Professor Munchenberg-Scroggins.  And to all of you, also, my thanks.  I am Avram Coheyn.  In Sosnowiec, Poland I was born, in 1929.  And from 1941 through 1945, in a variety of concentration camps I was kept.  By the Nazis…

(Corey KRETINOWSKI, a 21-year-old political science major, leaps to his feet).

KRETINOWSKI:  Godwin’s Law!  

COHEYN: (Stops, puzzled).

KRETINOWSKI:  Godwin’s Law!  He mentioned Nazis!  (MUNCHENBERG-SCROGGINS shifts uncomfortably in her seat)

COHEYN:  Er – what is this “Godwin’s Law” of which you speak?  Of this I have not heard…

(Jane PLATT-WANCKER, a severe-looking 22 year old anthropology major, rises): “It’s a law on the internet or something.  When you mention the Nazis  you get banned”

(Ian BIMMLER, a 21 year old Victimology Studies major in a “Che” T-Shirt):  It’s the law that says when an argument goes along, there’s going to be someone who wrecks it with a Nazi reference”

KRETINOWSKI:  So, dude, your argument is shut down because you mentioned the Nazis.

COHEYN:  Er…what?

(Stacy KREEFELD, a 21 year old Womyn’s Studies major with a “Question Authority” button on her Mao cap):  I think it means that your argument is done.

KRETINOWSKI:  Whenever you mention Nazis, everyone gets to tune you out because mentioning Nazis means you don’t have an argument!

(A few students clap, while a few others look on, confused, and others stare blankly at their desktops)

(Bree EPSTEIN, a 20 year old Sociology major, speaks up):  Mr. Coheyn, I don’t mean to lecture, but perhaps you should try to tell your story without any references to Nazis.  It might make your argument better.

COHEYN:  An argument?  What is this, argument?  I’m telling my story!  When I was 13 year old, my family and I were rousted from our home in Poznan, and force-marched through the cold to the railyard, and packed onto trains by the Nazis…

(KRETINOWSKI, KREEFELD and BIMMLER simultaneously yell): Godwin’s Law!  Godwin’s Law!


KREEFELD:  You keep mentioning Nazis!  Godwins Law says that means whatever you’re saying is invalid!

COHEYN:  What?  What is this madness?  Do you mean that saying the name of the…(catches himself)…National Socialist German Workers’ Party (a few students trade puzzled looks) means I get you crazy kids yelling “Godwin whatsis” at me?  This do I have right?

(A few students nod). 

COHEYN:  When I was 15, I escaped from a concentration camp.  A year in the woods I spent, fighting with the Partisans, fighting so that what we went through, my children and their children and my childrens children freynde would never forget – and now, to me you say I can’t say “Nazi”…

(Several students): “Godwin’s Law!”  (A few titters of juvenile mirth follow)

COHEYN: …without your verkachte yapping?  Distinguished professor Munchenberg-Scroggins, for this you have to say what?

MUNCHENBERG-SCROGGINS (Looks up from iPhone):  I can see both sides, here. 

BIMMLER (Shouts):  This is what democracy looks like!

(A few students clap and cheer). 

COHEYN:  What?  Millions died, my family along with – and because of some stupid internet rule, their names I can not mention? 

(Students fidget, looking amongst themselves)

COHEYN:  Because from what happened there are probably some things we can learn!  That there are things we, today, can learn about that ordeal, do you not see?  Huh?

(More fidgeting)

COHEYN:  With this I am finished! 

(COHEYN stomps from the room, as the shadows and sun form, completely at random, a series of shapes on the window that read “While invoking Nazis can be lazy rhetoric, lazy invocations of “Godwin’s Law” are, if anything, a bigger hurdle to effective communication, in that they give the invoker an unearned sense of intellectual accomplishment” before disappearing. )


Conversations I Hope I Hear Someday

WOMAN:  You’re “mansplaining”. 

GUY: Huh?

WOMAN: “Mansplaining”.  When a guys gives a condescending and inaccurate explanation that the assumption that I’m entirely ignorant on the subject matter or topic.

GUY:  You are utterly ignorant of the subject matter and topic.  Our discussion has shown you haven’t the foggiest clue about the subject.  90 degrees removed from literacy.

WOMAN: You’re doing it again.  You’re mansplaining.

GUY: You’re being a whineanist.  You need to unisexshushupandlearnsomething.


“Rindfleischetikettierungs-überwachungsaufgaben-übertragungsgesetz” ist Vorbei

In German, if you need a new noun, you just cram other nouns together.  It makes for some long, long words.  

But even German has its limits.  They just dropped the longest official word, “Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz” from their language. 

No, really:

The word – which refers to the “law for the delegation of monitoring beef labelling”, has been repealed by a regional parliament after the EU lifted a recommendation to carry out BSE tests on healthy cattle.

It is interesting that many of the longest, least-decipherable words come from the bureaucracy…

I Would Have Gone With Scheiβgewitter

I’m a language geek.  I also minored in German in college,und weil ich noch mehr Übung brauche, spreche ich’s noch gern.

So I’m rosenkitzelt to report that Germany’s latest official word (according to their equivelent of the Oxford English Dictionary) is…


 The word appears to have caught on in Germany during a scandal involving Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg .

The word appears to have caught on in Germany during the financial crisis and a plagiarism scandal which claimed the job of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the then defence minister.

In Germany, the phrase is used to denote a public outcry, especially one that gathers pace on the internet.

…but that words can apparently officially enter the German language through the most delightful back channel:

The phrase won ‘Anglicism of the Year’ in February last year, with a jury saying: “S—storm fills a gap in the German vocabulary that has become apparent through changes in the culture of debate.”

It added that established German words, including ‘Kritik’, meaning criticism, were not descriptive enough.

We can learn from the Germans.  I propose the following noun:

Schitzkrieg:  the Alliance for a Better Minnesota’s patented smear campaign.

Pass it on.

Alles Klar?

Oh, It’s That Michele Bachmann Again

Can you imagine what would have happened if Michele Bachmann, rather than Sonia “The Wise Latina Woman” Sotomayor, had said this:

Mr. Olson, the bottom line that you’re being asked — and — and it is one that I’m interested in the answer: If you say that marriage is a fundamental right, what State restrictions could ever exist? Meaning, what State restrictions with respect to the number of people, with respect to — that could get married — the incest laws, the mother and the child, assuming they are of age — I can — I can accept that the State has probably an overbearing interest on — on protecting the a child until they’re of age to marry, but what’s left?

But #crickets.


A Gap In The Language

Now, this is one of those stories where there are really a couple of levels.

At the surface, this is a story about liberal hypocrisy; a Pennsylvania NAACP leader blames a rape victim for tempting a couple of football players into perfidy:

In shocking comments, the president of the Steubenville chapter of the NAACP places the blame for the rape case that has shocked the nation on the 16-year-old victim.

Royal Mayo, a lifelong resident of the Ohio city that gained national infamy following the rape of the girl by two Steubenville High School football players, says that attention should be focused on the role of the young woman, whom he calls the “alleged victim,” saying she was drunk and wanted to go out with one of the football players. He also claims that other teens involved in the incident were let off easy, because they were “well-connected.”

Yes, yes, I know – official for a liberal organization violates PC kashrut with great gusto, exposing the left’s deep-seated hypocrisies, yadda yadda.  An example of the left’s war on women.  Same as it ever was.

But I’m here to issue a challenge to conservatism’s assembled linguists, the movement’s neologic engineers.

These stories are with us always.  They are constant blog fodder, and have been ever since most people still thought “blog” was a sound associated with gas-station burritos.  And these stories almost always need to plod laboriously through explaining something along the lines of “if a Republican or conservative would have said this, the media and the left’s chanting-point-bots (ptr) would be howling for blood, but since it’s one of their own, they’re silent”.

We need to come up with a snappy, dismissive word or short phrase to wrap up that meaning.  If I were a lefty and this were twitter, I’d make it a hash tag with an acronym: “#IAROCWHSTTMATLCPBPTRWBHFBBSI1OTOTS”, but that’s almost worse than having to type out the explanation.

So set to it, real men of linguistic genius!  We need a single word or short phrase that goes Alinsky on this pattern, and does it with style!

Open Letter To The Entire American People

To:  Everyone in the USA
From: Mitch Berg, Peasant who’s been through it all before
Re:  ”Sequestration”

Hey, everyone,

You may not remember this, but we’ve been through all this before.  Remember the “partial government shutdown”, back in the nineties?  It was a whole big nothing-burger.

Oh, the Clinton Administration tried to make sure that the people felt whatever pain was generated – closing parks, cramping down on the voters.  But as a rule, the whole thing affected nobody.

And here in Minnesota, we had a “complete” shutdown two years ago (which, again, wasn’t – the courts kept most of the government going as “essential”).  It lasted a few weeks.  Then Governor Messinger Dayton abandoned it, when he realized Minnesotans, for all his efforts to squeeze and scare them – shutting down state parks and highway rest areas, threatening to lay off teachers – barely noticed any difference.  While the media did its best to prop up the Messinger Dayton line, the people of Minnesota heard the gales of calumny but saw and felt a big fat nada burrito.  Even Governor Messinger Dayton – as cosseted and isolated from reality as his staff keeps him – noticed; on his trip around the state to whip up support for the DFL budget, he saw tepid crowds of union droogs, and a few professional protesters, and realized he had nothin’ (which may be why Dayton makes so few public appearances these days).

So it’s time for “sequestration” – the “radical” budget cuts that Obama and the super-di-duper commission agreed to as a stick to lead everyone to the “carrot” of an actual federal budget.  We’ve been waiting nearly 1,400 days for a budget from the Democrat-addled Senate, so Washington figured a “stick” was needed.

By the way – how radical and drastic are those cuts?:

Yep. They’re not even cuts.  They’re reductions in the increase.  Indeed, almost completely worthless, if cutting spending is your goal, but really nothing but a fart in the wind; sort of like “dropping HBO” in your family budget, even though your gas bill is rising and your teenage kids are costing more and more.

Obama will try to make “sequestration” hurt; he’ll slow down the TSA lines, he’ll gundeck some ship overhauls and clamp down some military maintenance budgets, he’ll inveigle some big cities to lay off a few cops and teachers, he’ll shut down Yellowstone as the cameras record photos of crestfallen children.  Hell, Joe Biden may even personally try to close the gates at Disney World.

But there is no there, there.  It’s a scare tactic, engineered by Obama and his compliant media.

It needs to be ignored.

That is all.


Language Note

Over this past six weeks of fairly constant writing about Second Amendment issues, it’s occurred to me that I’ve been letting the Orcs drive the discussion by controlling the language involved.

It’s time to roll that back with extreme prejudice.

So from now on on this blog and in all personal and public discourse on the matter, the following terms shall be used, with the following meanings:


Definition Out In
Keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the insane in a meaningful way that results in actual impact on crime (Media uses no current term) Gun Control
Restricting the access of law-abiding citizens to firearms “Gun Control” Victim Disarmament
Weapons with collapsible/folding stocks, large-capacity magazines and bayonet lugs “Assault Weapons” Ugly guns
People who favor restricting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans “Gun Safety Advocates” Orcs
Heather Martens “Leader of “Protect Minnesota”" Pathologial Liar

That is all.

Doakes’ Law

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Godwin’s Law says the first person to bring up Hitler in a debate, loses. Is there a comparable law for playing the race card?

“The person who attributes opposition to a public policy proposal to racism is presumed to have no valid arguments in support of the public policy proposal and the opponent no longer need participate in the discussion, having won by default.”

Joe Doakes

Como Park

Well, we should at least try to get this generally accepted.

Our Kids’ Vocabularies Are As, Y’Know, Bad As Whatever

This next bit worries me almost as much as last week’s story (about Minnesota’s “social studies standards” being turned into nothing more than lefty indoctrination).

The English language, as taught in our schools, is dying:

I was a teacher in the inner city between 1992 and 1996 and immediately realized that those unfortunate kids could not read anything, because nearly every sentence had at least one word they had never seen before. This went for magazine and newspaper articles as well as traditional English stuff. I was not shoving college chemistry texts or The Fall of the House of Usher at them. (Read Poe to a 16 year old today and you will get the glassiest stare imaginable; in Usher, there are 20-25 words in the first paragraph, as well as a round-about way of expression, that would totally defeat all but the brightest teen.)

Now, I”m not sure how many teenagers could follow Usher even 30 years ago.  Still, there’s no question; literacy is receding in our country:

They said they don’t like black and white films, and they didn’t, but I truly believe they didn’t like how much people talked. Watch a Bogart film and see how much of the action is moved by dialogue, sophisticated and adult dialogue, and compare the number and length of words to a contemporary film.

And it’s not just schools or pop culture:

Or, my personal favorite annoyance, my church sings all Contemporary Christian Music, what I call Sesame Street music. There are few words of more than one syllable. I

It’s one of the reasons I seek out churches whose hymnals include no music written after 1880.

 How does one reverse this? I spent a long time encouraging them to see the value of having more tools in their linguistic tool box, but when f*** is their primary adjective and adverb, when using “big” words is excoriated, and every “art” form they enjoy diminishes rather than exalts language, what could I do? Read to them, put lists of words they would never see again on the board, encourage expression with some complexity. Not generally fruitful options.

On the one hand, while it was an awful movie, I did like the Leonardo DiCaprio/Claire Danes MTV-friendliy version of Romeo and Juliet if only because it demanded its audience keep up with Shakespearean vocabulary and pacing (which may be why it flopped, but work with me here).

On the other?  I despair of anything getting any better.  Our nation’s media, academia and too much of our ruling class benefit from dumb subjects.