Sunday, January 31, 2021

Language Corner: Words that have a negative connotation for women

As we all know, words matter.  Some words in the English language display a subtle or not-so-subtle anti-female bias.  

Kieran Snyder is the CEO and co-founder of Textio, an augmented writing platform that predicts the response one will receive based on the language of a particular piece of writing.  Snyder is a linguist and a writer.  She holds a PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania and her work has been published in Fortune, Re/Code, Slate and The Washington Post.

In a 2014 study for, entitled "The Abrasiveness Trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews," Snyder examined 248 job performance reviews from 180 people (105 men and 75 women).  The reviews were taken from 28 different tech companies of a variety of organizational sizes.

Kieran Snyder

Snyder found a common occurrence in her study.  One particular word appeared 17 times in reviews of women, and not once in any of the reviews of men.  That word was "abrasive."  Other words, such as "bossy " "aggressive," "strident," "emotional" and "irrational" were applied unequally to describe women.

The word "aggressive" did appear in two reviews of male employees, but only in the context of them being encouraged to be more aggressive.  Reviews of women, on the other hand, only ever used the term "aggressive" as a means of criticism. 

Some Subtle and Not-so Subtle Sexist Terms to Avoid

NAG: According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, nag as a verb, means "to irritate by constant scolding or urging; to badger, worry to find fault incessantly : Complain"  As a noun a nag is "a horse, especially one that is old or in poor condition"  It is also "a person who nags."

Although dictionaries such as Meriam Webster does not explicitly define a nag as a female, the implication is clear.  The word is subtly sexist.  One often hears reference to a "nagging wife," such as in the cartoon above.  How often does one hear the term "nagging husband?"  Some terms that are        similar to nag include "fishwife," "hen-pecked," "shrew"  and "harridan."  We hear of a "hen-pecked husband."  When do we hear of a "hen-pecked husband?" One of William Shakespeare's most well=known plays is titled The Taming of the Shrew.

SPINSTER and OLD MAID:  There are no similar terms for older unmarried men.  They are simply described as a "confirmed bachelor" or a "lifelong bachelor."  The words spinster and old maid are pejoratives.  They conger up an image of  a shy, unattractive or vey ugly woman.  Think of the card game "Old Maid."  The picture on the "Old Maid" card is that of a very hideous looking woman.

EFFETTE:  According to Merriam Webster, the word effette is derived from the word Latin word "effetus," meaning "no longer fruitful."   For a time it was used to describe an animal no longer capable of producing offspring.  As an adjective, it now means "lacking strength, courage or spirit; resembling a woman."

WORKING MOM:  Have you ever head of a "working dad?"

SOCCER MOM:  Have you ever heard of a "soccer dad?"

STRIDENT:  How many times does one hear female leaders or politicians described  as being "strident" or having a "strident voice."  That's exactly what happened to Hillary Clinton.  Let me know when you hear a male described as "strident" or "having a strident voice."

There are many more words I could include on this list.  There is clearly an anti-female bias in the language we speak.

- Joanne

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

6 Iconic Film Posters With The Cars That Could've Been

Here is something for car lovers.  The UK's Bristol Street Motors has recreated six of the most iconic car movie posters.  They feature cars that could have been famous, but didn't quite make the cut.  I hope you find it entertaining and informative, even if you are not an automobile enthusiast.

- Joanne

Alternative Pop Culture Cars

 In some films, the cars can become bigger stars than the actors that drive them. The DeLorean DMC-12 from Back to the Future is iconic in it’s own right, but did you know the films could have turned out with completely different motor stars? 

Bristol Street Motors have uncovered that iconic movie cars of the past weren’t always the original plan and have reimagined what the movie posters would have looked like if their alternatives were used.

 Aston Martin DB5 v Blower Bentley

Goldfinger (1964)

 007 could have easily been driving a 1931 Blower Bentley instead of the now-iconic Aston Martin DB5 in the Goldfinger movie. Bristol Street Motors found that in the novels, Bond was something of a car nut and counted his treasured Blower Bentley as his own personal hobby.

 As revealed by Top Gear’s 50 Years of Bond Cars special, author Ian Fleming received a letter from a fan one day encouraging the author to “have the decency to fix him up with a decent bit of machinery”, as the Blower Bentley was dated and over 20 years old. 

Fleming gave Bond an Aston Martin DB3 for the Goldfinger novel, which updated to the classic DB5 when the movie was released 5 years later.  

It was by pure chance that The Lincoln Futura made it into the Bond film, looking extremely futuristic back in 1966.

Lincoln Futura v Cadillac Series 62

Batman (1966)

It was originally planned that the Batmobile was to be a 1959 Cadillac, but 20th Century Fox announced they needed something faster for Batman to drive. Hollywood car designer George Barris was hired but with just three short weeks until filming started, he bought the Futura and dawned it with Batman-esque features and fail fins, and the rest is history.


Volkswagen Beetle v Volvo P1800  

The Love Bug (1968)

The Volkswagen Beetle, known as Herbie, found fame in The Love Bug but was close to never making it to the big screen at all.

 The movie producers had no specific car in mind to star in the film, and so held a casting call. Car manufacturers could show their cars to Disney executives and crew who would be working on the movie. There were Toyotos, a TVR and the Volvo P1800 all in for a chance as playing Herbie. 

During the audition, the Volkswagen Beetle was the only car to elicit an emotional reaction from the crew, with many of them reaching out to pet it. VW was offered the chance to feature their Beetle in the film as a result of this.


Mini Cooper v Fiat 500

Italian Job (1969) 

The Italian Job is known as one of the most iconic movies ever made. The movie was considered to be totally original upon its release. However, what people don’t know about is how close the Mini Coopers were to being replaced with Fiat 500s. The two cars have a close rivalry now due to their similar size and target audience, and back in 1969 it was similar. 

According to Michael Deeley, the British Motor Cooperation sold the production three Mini Coopers at cost price but they had to buy an additional 30 for action scenes. Alternatively, Fiat boss Gianni Agnelli offered an unlimited supply of top-of-the-range Fait 500s for free. He also offered Deeley a Ferrari and $50,000 towards the picture. Upon consideration, Deeley couldn’t make sense of British Crooks driving Italian-produced cars in Italy, so decided to stick with Mini Coopers.


Ferrari 308 GTS v Porsche 928

Magnum PI (1978)

Originally, the 6 foot 4 actor Tom Selleck, who played the character of Thomas Sullivan Magnum lll, was supposed to be driving a Porsche 928. Unfortunately, Porsche refused to allow their car to be specially altered for the tall actor, and producers were forced to look for alternatives. Step forward Ferarri with their 308 GTS – they were happy to modify their car to house Selleck and the car became an icon.


Delorean DMC 12 v A Refrigerator

Back To The Future (1985)

A firm favourite from our childhoods, fans will be surprised to know that the famous scene of Doc and Marty’s time-travelling Delorean disappearing in a line of smoke and fire almost never happened. Bristol Street discovered that in the first two drafts of the movie, a lead lined refrigerator took the role of the time machine. However, when mobility became an issue, co-author Bob Zemeckis dared to ask, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to build the time machine into a car?”

* Bristol Street Motors operate under the Vertu Motors Group.  Serving England from its local dealerships, it represents 14 of the world's major manufacturers as well as offering a wide variety of quality assured used cars across a range of the best-known car franchises.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Brian Sicknick: The Capitol Police officer who was killed in the storming of the U.S. Capitol

Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick died at 9:30 p.m. on January 7, 2021.  Let's not forget that name.  Let's not forget that face.  Sicknick died protecting others.  He died defending democracy from an unruly mob of neo-Nazis. far-right extremists and white supremacists.  He died in hospital from the injuries he sustained in the violent siege on Capitol Hill on January 6th.  Authorities say he was injured "while "physically engaging" with rioters.  Two law enforcement officers informed The Associated Press that Officer Sicknick was hit on the head with a fire extinguisher during the riot.

Sicknick was 42 years old when he lost his life.  He was from South River, New Jersey and he was the youngest of three sons.  In 2008, he joined the Capitol Police.  According to s biography issued by his family, Officer Sicknick is survived by his parents, Gladys and Charles Sicknick, his brothers Ken and Craig, and his longtime girlfriend, Sandra Garza.  In his leisure time, Sicknick rescued and tended to dachshunds. He was also a fan of the New Jersey Devils hockey team.

Officer Brian Sicknick

Officer Sicknick's death. at the hands of pro-Trump insurgents, is being investigated as a homicide.  A good man is dead because Donald Trump tried to subvert democracy.  Trump could not and would not accept defeat in the November 3, 2020 election.  He urged his followers to go to Washington and to be tough.  On January 6th, his supporters shouted that they were in the Capitol at the invitation of the president.  This what four years of Trumpism in the United States has brought to bear.  How sad and disgraceful!  America, is this where you want to be? Is this the image of you that you want the world to see?   Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, what would you say to Officer Sicknick's grieving family?

- Joanne

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Trump's Last Stand: Reflections on the Storming of the Capitol

It's heard to swallow what happened in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.  On that fateful day, the U.S. Capitol was invaded for the first time since the War of 1812.  This time, however, the invasion did not come from an outside enemy.  Oh no.  This time, it was domestic.  It came from within and it came at the bidding of a man who swore to uphold, defend and protect the Constitution of the United States.

Donald J. Trump,, the 45th President of the Republic, actively encouraged violence and sedition.  He incited his extreme, right-wing, neo-Nazi followers to march on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.  The president aided and abetted this insurrection and he should be held accountable for this heinous crime and for the other criminal acts he has committed during his presidency..  

Millions of Americans and people around the world witnessed the horrifying events in Washington on their television screens.  Right before their eyes, live and in colour, they saw the desecration of the most sacred temple of American democracy.  They watched in stunned disbelief as the Capitol building was vandalized and violated by an unruly mob.  For several hours, parts of the building were occupied and ransacked, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office.  It was all very surreal.  Yet, it really happened, thanks to Donald Trump, his spineless sycophants in the Republican Party and his cult-like adherents.

Unfortunately, far too few Americans hold the president responsible for what happened in Washington.  According to a new YouGov poll, a majority of Republican voters named President-elect Joe Biden as the culprit rather than Donald Trump.  1,450 eligible voters were surveyed and 52 percent of Republicans blamed Biden rather than Trump.  In comparison, only 28 percent of Republicans pointed the finger at the president for inciting the violence, while 26 percent blamed congressional Republicans for attempting to block the final tally of Biden's Electoral College win. 

This should not be a partisan issue.  It is a matter of upholding democracy and the rule of law.  Yes, Donald Trump received over 74 million votes, but Joe Biden received over 81 million votes.  The Electoral College confirmed Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election with 306 to 232 the final count. .  Biden was the clear winner and accusations of electoral fraud were proven baseless and were rejected by numerous courts. 

Sadly, fascism has come to America in the form of right-wing extremists who believe they are patriots and who wrap themselves in the American flag.  The distressing fact is that so many Republican voters still support Donald Trump's delusional conspiracy theories.  They contend that the election was rigged and that it was stolen from Trump.  They believe this without any credible proof.  In fact, the evidence shows that the election was free and fair.  

Are these Republican voters so brainwashed, their minds so addled that they cannot see the truth - or is it that they prefer to ignore the facts?  On January 6th, the day that lawmakers were to meet to make Joe Biden's Electoral College victory official. Donald Trump held a rally and urged his supporters  to march on Capitol Hill.  Trump told the crowd: "You'll never take back your country with weakness.  You have to show strength and you have to be strong."   It was Donald Trump, not Joe Biden, who egged on his followers and caused them to wreak havoc.  He gave them his blessing and the green light to act as they did.

Since media have posed some hard questions about the storming of Capitol.  Reporters and broadcasters have demanded to know why there was such poor security around Capitol Hill.  Why were the insurgents allowed to stand on the steps of the Capitol, break windows and vandalize offices.?  Why were police so ill-prepared for what happened?  For weeks Donald Trump exhorted his followers to to go to Washington on January 6th.  It was no secret.  It was no surprise when his ardent supporters obeyed him.  What was surprising and terribly shocking was that law enforcers were so ill-prepared for what happened.  Why were Trumps band of thugs, anti-Semites and white supremacists able to breach security so easily?  Would the situation have been different if a majority of the Capitol invaders had been black?  These questions cannot be ignored.  They cannot be brushed away.

Make no mistake.  What has taken root in the United States is not conservatism, but Trumpism, and it's this Trumpism that must be soundly defeated if the U.S. is to remain a viable democracy.  For the safety of the American people and for the sake of the free world, Donald Trump must be removed from the White House as soon as possible. This president is not fit for office.  He is clearly unstable, unhinged and very dangerous.  Donald Trump is a cornered man.  He is desperate and desperate people take desperate measures.  

This president  must be held accountable for his actions and for his high crimes and misdemeanours.  He should do the right thing and resign.  Failing that, the 25th Amendment should be invoked.  If that does not happen, Donald Trump must be impeached for a second time, whether he is convicted or not. This must be done so that no president can be allowed to undermine democracy the way he has.  Donald Trump is not above the law and he must never be allowed to hold office in the United States again.  Every day he remains in the White House, America is in peril.  

I am so glad that Twitter permanently banned Donald Trump.  He does not deserve any forum to spew his hatred, his venom and his lies.  He should not be permitted to incite violence.  Enough is enough is enough  Donald Trump has got to go before he causes further damage to the democratic fabric of the Republic.  Five people, including a police officer, died in Wednesday's attempted coup.  Trump's term in office ends on January 20th.  Does the U.S. need more violence and more deaths during that time:?

- Joanne

Thursday, January 7, 2021

My 2021 Wish List

 Last year I posted my personal wish list for 2020.  I promised to let you know which of my wishes came true and to write another wish list for 2021.  Here's how my 2020 wish list turned out:

Of course, when I made my 2020 wish list, I had no idea that a deadly pandemic would sweep the world.  I never dreamed that this year would be a nightmare in so many ways.  Yet, I remain hopeful for 2021 because without hope, what is there?

In January of 2020, I fervently hoped that Donald Trump would resign from office in 2020 or that he would lose the November election.  I also wished that the Republicans would lose control of the Senate, so that Mitch McConnell could no longer be called the "Grim Reaper."

Well, thankfully Trump lost the election in November, although he still refuses to go gently into that good night.  Unfortunately, McConnell was re-elected.  He won his senate seat in Kentucky.  However, much to might delight, the Democrats won control of the Senate by winning the two runoff elections in Georgia on January 5th.

I hoped that Benjamin Netanyahu would be ousted from power by Israeli voters.  Unfortunately, his is still prime minister, even after having been charged with corruption.  After Netanyahu's unity government with alternate prime minister Benny Gantz.  Gantz was set to become prime minister in November of 2021.  However, the coalition collapsed. and  new elections were scheduled for Israel on March 23, 2021.  I hope Netanyahu will finally be ousted from power then.

I  hoped that the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan would be successful and that Canadian athletes would  Due to COVID, they were cancelled.  They are scheduled to take place this summer instead.  

I didn't have high expectations for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2020.  My wish was that they would have a much better record than they did in 2019.  Due to COVID, the Major League Baseball season was shortened to just 60 games.  The Blue Jays have become a young, up-and-coming team but there are still some pieces of the puzzle to be completed before they are able to really compete.  Fans wait patiently.

I lowered my expectations for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020.  Despite the crazy COVID season, the Blue and White still managed to disappoint.  I really don't think they will go anywhere until they stop investing so much of their payroll on four players - William Nylander, John Tavares, Mitd\h Marner and Austan Matthews.

I wished for my civility in the world.  It certainly didn't happen in the United States.  Once Trump is finally out of the White House, I expect a return a more civil atmosphere in the U.S.  

As for war and terrorism, 2020 didn't really stand out, thank goodness.  It may be because everyone was too concerned about COVID-19. 

Here is my 2021 wish list:

My biggest wish for 2021 is that COVID-19 will be brought under control around the world.  I also hope that once that goal is achieved, more attention will be turned to the environment and combatting global warming.

I hope that Joe Biden will meet his destiny with honour and become a good president.  I hope that he will restore the soul of America, as he has promised.  I want Donald Trump to be accountable for his crimes and for the damage he has done to American democracy.  If that means going to prison, so be it.  No one is above the law.

I hope that Benjamin Netanyahu is ousted from power.  

I don't want a federal election in Canada this year, not as long as the pandemic is raging.  

I hope that the Olympics will go on as scheduled this summer in Tokyo.

I hope the Toronto Blue Jays keep improving and that they will make some good moves over the winter.  I also hope that at some point in 2021 and will be able to attend a game at Rogers Centre.

I hope the Leafs make the changes needed to compete, but I have no lofty expectations for them.

I wish the best for the Canadian Football League, which was forced to cancel its 2020 season due to COVID.  I truly hope there will be a 2021 season.

As I do every year, I wish for more peace and harmony in the world.  I hope 2021 is a better year for you and your family.

In January of, 2022, I will write another wish list and I will let you know if any of my 2021 wishes came true.

- Joanne

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Mitt Romey's Statement on Certification of U.S. Presidential Election Results

 I urge you to read this statement from Mitt Romney, a Republican, and the junior United States senator from Utah.  Thoughtful Republicans will realize that the issue of the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election goes far beyond partisanship.  It's a matter of preserving American democracy for future generations.  

- Joanne

Romney Statement On Certification of Presidential Election Results

Sunday, January 3, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY– U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT) released the following statement in response to an announcement that several Republican senators plan to oppose certification of the presidential election results:
“The egregious ploy to reject electors may enhance the political ambition of some, but dangerously threatens our Democratic Republic. The congressional power to reject electors is reserved for the most extreme and unusual circumstances. These are far from it. More Americans participated in this election than ever before, and they made their choice. President Trump’s lawyers made their case before scores of courts; in every instance, they failed. The Justice Department found no evidence of irregularity sufficient to overturn the election. The Presidential Voter Fraud Commission disbanded without finding such evidence.
“My fellow Senator Ted Cruz and the co-signers of his statement argue that rejection of electors or an election audit directed by Congress would restore trust in the election. Nonsense. This argument ignores the widely perceived reality that Congress is an overwhelmingly partisan body; the American people wisely place greater trust in the federal courts where judges serve for life. Members of Congress who would substitute their own partisan judgement for that of the courts do not enhance public trust, they imperil it.
“Were Congress to actually reject state electors, partisans would inevitably demand the same any time their candidate had lost. Congress, not voters in the respective states, would choose our presidents.
“Adding to this ill-conceived endeavor by some in Congress is the President’s call for his supporters to come to the Capitol on the day when this matter is to be debated and decided. This has the predictable potential to lead to disruption, and worse.
“I could never have imagined seeing these things in the greatest democracy in the world. Has ambition so eclipsed principle?”

EDITOR'S UPDATE (January 4, 2021): On Sunday, January 3, 2021,  Former House Speaker, Paul Ryan, a Republican who represented Wisconsin in Congress from  1999 to 2019.  He spoke out against members of his own party who were planning to reject congressional certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election.

Paul Ryan

Here is Ryan's statement

"All our basic rights and freedoms flow from a fidelity to the Constitution and the rule of law.  This principle is not only fundamentally American but a central tenet of conservatism.  Under our system, voters determine the president, and this self-governance cannot sustain itself if the whims of Congress replace the will of the people."

I don't usually agree with Paul Ryan, but in this case, he's absolutely correct about the rule of law.  I wish more conservatives felt this way.

- Joanne