Sunday, July 26, 2020

Language Corner: Redundant expressions

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the noun "redundancy" is defined as "a superfluous repetition; an act or instance of needless repetition."  It involves the use of two or more words that mean the same thing.  English language speakers often use redundant expressions.  There are some obvious ones such as "That's the honest truth."  Isn't the truth honest?  Another one is "tuition fee."  Tuition is a fee.  It is only necessary to say "tution.'  Then, there's "bare naked."  Doesn't "bare" already mean "naked."

We pepper our speech and our writing with common redundancies such as "free gifts" and "foreign imports."  So, if you want to clear the clutter from your speech and your prose, avoid the following redundancies.


actual facts (When is a fact not actual?)

advance preview  (Does a preview ever come after?)

circle around (There is no way to circle except to go around.)

cease and desist (Cease and desist are synonyms.  Both words mean "to stop.")

empty space (Are there any full spaces?)

live studio audience (Is there a dead studio audience?)

frozen tundra (According to Merriam-Webster, tundra is "a black mucky soil with permanently frozen subsoil.  Therefore, tundra, by definition, is frozen.)

join together (Can something be joined apart?)

final outcome (Every outcome is final.)

end result  (Is there a beginning result?)

future plans (Do plans refer to the past?)

general public (Is the public non-general?"

little baby (Are babies huge?)

assemble together (Can you assemble apart?)

unexpected surprise (A surprise is always unexpected.  Otherwise it wouldn't be surprise.)

bald-headed (If you are bald, your head is bald).

added bonus (A bonus is extra.  It is always added.)

false pretense (Can a pretense be true?")

difficult dilemma (Is there an easy dilemma?")

revert back (Revert means to go back.  The "back" isn't necessary.  It's the same as saying "go back back."

My last example is very appropriate during these times.  It's "global pandemic."  A pandemic, by its very nature is global.

- Joanne

Friday, July 10, 2020

Meditations at Home During the Pandemic #6

This is the sixth in a series of reflections while I am at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Hello to readers from around the world.  Greetings and well wishes from Toronto, Canada.  It is July 10, 2020 and I have been at home for almost four months now..  Restrictions have been eased somewhat in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but we are still limited in many ways.  Public transit is running and the wearing masks on buses and subways is mandatory, as it should be.  I still don't feel comfortable enough to use public transit and I haven't done so since the COVID-19 crisis began.  Restaurant patios are now open, but I choose to avoid them too.

I am pleased to report that I have finally had my hair cut and styled.  I felt satisfied that my hair salon adhered to all public health procedures and that correct protocol was strictly followed.  The salon was very well sanitized and I was required  to answer a series of questions before my stylist was permitted to proceed with my appointment.  I would have preferred to wait for safer times to get my hair styled.  It's not ideal to have to wear a mask while you're getting your hair done, but it's necessary right now.  The reason I didn't wait any longer is that I felt sweaty and unruly in the summer heat.  I had an opening to get my hair trimmed and I took advantage of it because businesses may be shut down again during a second wave of the virus.

I have not purchased any new clothing since I've been at home.  I am sadly in need of underwear and summer attire.  Some stores are open, but I've been trying to avoid indoor areas as much as possible.  They are hotbeds for the virus.  I have no desire to buy clothes online, as I need them to fit properly.

Once this crisis finally subsides, there will be residual effects, some of which I deeply regret.  It seems that we are back to using plastic, because thanks to the virus, stores are not allowing reusable bags.  This is a a horrible occurrence for our oceans and our marine life.  We should shun the use of much as possible.  Our environmental crisis has not gone away because of the pandemic.  In fact, once the virus threat subsides, we must focus even more on fighting the effects of climate change.  That does not mean,, however, that we should just toss our environment concerns away because of the urgency of dealing with COVID-19.

I am also concerned about the detrimental effects of the coronavirus on small business, one of the life bloods of our communities.  Huge companies will survive this crisis and they will prosper post-COVID-19.  Small shops and businesses are fighting for their very survival and many will not last through this time of upheaval.

Let me be clear and candid.  This crisis has been an absolute nightmare for the whole world.  So far, t 2020 has seemed like a bad dream.  The only problem is that we can't awaken from it.  The horror is very real and we have to deal with it.  COVID-19  will remain a serious threat until a reliable and safe vaccine is made available to the masses.  It will not, as Donald Trump has stated, magically disappear one day.  We must remain vigilant.  We cannot afford to be complacent and let down our guard.

This is crisis is not over by a long shot.  The virus has not yet run its course and we all must be prepared for a second wave.  However, I'm just grateful I haven't contracted the virus and neither has any member of my immediate family.  I'm also grateful that I am in Canada, not south of the border, where Trump and his cohorts have completely lost control of the situation.  I feel sorry for Americans who are suffering and dying needlessly due to their president's recklessness and apathy. Back in February, while speaking at a campaign rally in South Carolina, Trump referred to a "new hoax."   He accused Deomocrats of politicizing the outbreak of the coronavirus, comparing it to their efforts to impeach him.   He likened the virus to the common flu.  On May 8th, he claimed that the United States "is the world leader" in responding to the virus.  As of today, the United States has recorded about 136,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Why does anyone still listen to this man?  How does he get away with it?  It is unbelievable that he has walked away from his many crimes, lies and misdemeanours, from locking migrant children up in detention centres, to obstruction of justice, to the Stormy Daniels affair etc. etc etc.  I've got to believe that the American people can no longer abide all the death and degradation in the United States and that they will finally hold their leader, Donald Trump, to account for it.  How much longer can America wallow in the mire before rising up and taking charge of its destiny?  How much longer can Americans stand by and watch the piecemeal destruction of a great nation?

The world and the United States need a fresh start in 2021.  I urge American voters to remove Donald Trump from office on November 3rd and replace him with Joe Biden.  The former vice-president is not perfect, but he is infinitely more decent and more conciliatory than Trump.  He knows how to work with others and he is empathetic.  He will set a much better example than Trump and he will listen to medical experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci for advice on dealing the COVID-19.  Joe will also take climate change seriously.

I believe that there is some kind of social media campaign, inspired by Trump, his supporters and most likely the Russians, to portray Joe Biden as having dementia, or being totally incoherent.  Some people I have spoken to actually believe that nonsense and they contend that there is not much difference between him and Trump.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I remember how Hilllary Clinton was maligned during the 2016 election campaign.  An acquaintance of mine revealed to me that she had been told that Hillary was "evil."  Whatever one may think of Hillary, she is not the devil incarnate.  If she were president right now, the United States would be in far better shape and the number of COVID deaths in American would be substantially less.

The 2020 election is absolutely critical to the survival of American democracy. If Trump somehow remains in office, the consequences will be dire.  America, you have one last chance to save your country from the ravages of Trump and Trumpism.

Take care and stay safe.  My thoughts and prayers are with you all..

- Joanne

Sunday, July 5, 2020

America on the Brink: The Aftermath of a Tragic 4th of July in the USA

"If there's a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child.  If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandmother.  If there's an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.  It's that fundamental belief, I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper - that makes this country work.  It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family.  'E plubum unum."  Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spy masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.  Well, I say to them tonight - there's not a liberal or conservative America - there's the United States of America.  There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.  The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats.  But I've' got new for them to.  We worship an  awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around out libraries in the Red States . . .

- Barack Obama
From his Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention

What has happened to the values that Barack Obama brilliantly set out in his memorable speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston?  What has become of America since Obama left office in 2017?  Where is the hope?  Where is the unity?  Where is the national sense of purpose?  Why has America's standing in the world fallen so sharply?  What has happened to America's ideals?  What has happened to its democratic principles?

Donald J. Trump and his enablers, such as Mitch McConnell and William Barr, have happened.  The Trump administration has taken America to a dark and dangerous place, a place where it has never been before.  America is on the precipice.  It faces enormous challenges, and a long road to recovery in 2021, provided Donald Trump is no longer president.

Yesterday, on Independence Day, the nation marked its 244th birthday amid a virus that is growing out of control and severe racial unrest.  America is on the brink and something has got to give.  The situation is comparable to the Civil War of 1861 - 1865 or the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

I've been carefully following the 2020 American presidential election campaign.  I've been a keen observer, even though, as a  Canadian, I don't have a vote.  As a citizen of the world, however, I certainly have a crucial stake in the outcome.  The world has suffered enough with this horrid pandemic.  Four more years of Donald Trump will be an added nightmare and a real setback for global harmony and for the environment.

One of the most important duties of a national leader is to unite the country.  Trump has done nothing but sew the seeds of division.  If Abraham Lincoln was the Great Emancipator, then Donald Trump is the Great Divider.  He has divided the United States along racial lines, economic lines and partisan lines.  He has divided rural and urban Americans, college-educated and non-college educated Americans, native-born Americans and immigrants.  He has even divided America from other countries with his "America First" policy.  He has shunned traditional European allies such as Germany and France.  He doesn't understand that the United States cannot separate itself from the rest of the world.  We all share this planet.

Trump's crassness and his lack of compassion have been sadly evident since he assumed the office of the presidency of the United States.  These qualities have  been especially evident in his approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.  To date, An estimated 230,000 Americans have lost their lives to the deadly virus, and their purported leader refuses to take take the crisis seriously.  He has declared that one day it will magically go away.  It will suddenly disappear and everything will be wonderful, never mind the people who have suffered and died.  His re-election is more important to him than any individual human life.

Trump's followers think that wearing a mask and social distancing means giving up their freedom.  That is a fallacy and they have a warped notion of liberty.  Freedom has limits.  It is not absolute.  Thy do not have the freedom to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.  They do not have the freedom to spread the COVID-19 virus and endanger the lives of innocent people.  Despite what their  Dear Leader says and does, they do not have the right to put their fellow human beings at risk of sickness or death.

The virus is out of control in the United States.  This should never have happened, and it wouldn't have happened if Trump had taken the situation seriously from the beginning.   Now he's putting lives at risk by holding rallies without social distancing or masks.  He's trying to drown out the voices of respected physicians such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and an expert on infectious diseases.  How can Donald Trump even presume to think he is as knowledgeable as Dr. Fauci in dealing with the virus.  Tell me, where and when did Trump receive his medical degree?

Donald Trump refuses to treat the pandemic as a health crisis.  As always, he views the world with dollar signs in his eyes.  He looks at it with his own self-interest in mind.  He only sees it as an economic crisis that he can readily fix as long as the stock market is bullish.  He will not face the fact that this pandemic is far from over.  The virus is spreading rapidly across the United States.  Yew, the crisis will end someday, but it's not over yet, not by a long shot.  Donald Trump is deluding himself and misleading his followers when he says otherwise.  The rest of the world knows how poorly the United States has handled COVID-19.  That's why European countries will not open their borders to Americans.  That's why we Canadians are also fearful of opening our border to our southern neighbours.

That is also why the November 3rd is so important.  I do not exaggerate when I say it is the most significant presidential election in American history.  It must be fair and free.  Mail-in voting must be accepted and allowed.  For the sake of the world and for the sake of American democracy, Donald Trump must go down to electoral defeat or he must resign.  I shudder to think what will happen if he holds on to power.

Joe Biden is leading by a comfortable margin in the polls, but November is still months away.  Something could change drastically or Trump could play some dirty tricks, with the help of his good friend, President Vlladimir Putin of Russia, to whom he is greatly beholden.  He will not criticize Putin even though the New York Times received intelligence (largely corroborated)  that Russia paid  bounties to Islamic militants in Afghanitan in return for killing American soldiers.  This is a disgrace and it is nothing short of treason.

Americans cannot afford to be complacent.  Americans must remain vigilant.and keep a watchful eye on Trump and dictator Putin.  In the coming months, I will will watch history unfold with great anticipation  I am writing this because I am extremely concerned about the state of the world.   I don't have a vote in the U.S, election, so this is my outlet.  It is the best way I can express myself and my strong concerns.  Frankly, I am terrified for the future of humanity if Donald Trump wins reelection or if he refuses to let go of the reins of power.

- Joanne