Thursday, February 08, 2007

Nuke You Less

Stumbled on this NYT blog piece by...Dick Cavett?...on a subject near and dear to my heart, and a mainstay of my cocktail party banter: just why W refuses to say "nuclear" correctly. Everyone knows it's "new clear", but even now, more than six years after "winning" the 2000 election, he insistently, deliberately says "nuke you lur" over, and over, and over again. Really, I've learned to accept it as the usual follow-up joke people make when I tell them my profession for the first time. While it instinctively drives me nuts, it's not a matter of personal and professional pride. I certainly agree with Cavett that it's a slight to the English language. But I have also thought that it's his way of being stubborn in the face of criticism from "intellectuals", whom he probably ultimately as effete ineffectuals, worrying about pronunciation when there are more important things to deal with in the post-9/11 world. But of course this is the same stubborn disregard that has gotten him and his colleagues and our country into such trouble in the past -- and which continues unchecked to this day.

Anyway, I heard Andy Rooney riff on this on 60 minutes when I surfed by CBS at the gym last week. And I like Cavett's transliterations, especially "nuke-you-luss". I'll have to sneak that into a talk one of these days. And I'm not going to reflect on "nuke you less" in the light of Seymour Hersh's reporting on the Administration's plans for Iran.

(And an interesting footnote: surfing around Google images to find a nice image of a nukeyouless, there are a lot more cells than subatomic clusters of nucleons... A sign of the times?)

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