Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Before Gore

D.C. resident John Lockwood was conducting research at the Library of Congress and came across an intriguing Page 2 headline in the Nov. 2, 1922 edition of The Washington Post: “Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt.”

The 1922 article, obtained by Inside the Beltway, goes on to mention “great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones,” and “at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared.”

“This was one of several such articles I have found at the Library of Congress for the 1920s and 1930s,” says Mr. Lockwood. “I had read of the just-released NASA estimates, that four of the 10 hottest years in the U.S. were actually in the 1930s, with 1934 the hottest of all.”

Worth pondering

Reacting yesterday to word that certain European governments and officials are suddenly trying to abandon their costly “global warming” policies, Royal Astronomical Society fellow Benny Peiser, of the science faculty at Liverpool John Moores University in Great Britain, recalls the teachings of Marcus Aurelius: “The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.”

Darker dome

The Architect of the Capitol estimates that by having installed energy-efficient comfort-control systems and lighting, including occupancy sensors that automatically turn off lights when they are not needed, they are saving American taxpayers more than $2.2 million per year.

No pun intended

Pair of headlines as positioned for release yesterday by the Associated Press:

Karl Rove to Resign at End of August.”

“Stock Futures Point to Higher Open.”

Cleavage surge

The Global Language Monitor (GLM), a U.S.-based assemblage of academics, wordsmiths and bibliophiles that analyzes and catalogues the latest trends in word usage, word choices and their effect, just completed its first ranking of top “political buzzwords” for the first half of 2007.

For instance, the 2006 list of the most popular buzzwords — terms or phrases that become loaded with emotional freight beyond the normal meaning of the word — included “global warming,” “insurgency,” “credibility,” “throes,” and “quagmire.”

Now we see the effect of the early start to the 2008 presidential campaign, with the top buzzwords “Obama,” “cleavage,” “YouTube,” “Live Earth,” “surge,” “all-time low,” “subpoena,” ” ‘I don’t recall’ ” and “pardon.”

“This disparate collection of buzzwords speaks volumes about today’s electorate,” said GLM President Paul J.J. Payack. “We have an Iraq war strategy, a name, a corporate entity, and a commentary on a female candidate’s ‘neckline’ at the top of the list.”

Further explaining the emotional aspect of buzzwords, Mr. Payack points out that the word “surge” has been in the English-language vocabulary since time immemorial. However, in its new context as an Iraq War strategy, it inspires a set of emotions in many people far beyond the norm.

Record fines

The Federal Election Commission collected civil penalties totaling more than $2.2 million during the first six months of 2007, the second-largest half-year total of any year in FEC history.

In one case, the FEC collected a $750,000 penalty from the conservative Progress for America (PFA) Voter Fund, the third-largest penalty in the commission’s history. Under the terms of the settlement, the PFA did not admit to any wrongdoing, but said it agrees “to register as a political committee if it undertakes any activities similar to those in 2004.”

It was in 2004, at a reported cost of $14 million, that the PFA produced and aired the highly emotional “Ashley’s Story,” a campaign ad that was televised 30,000 times in the four weeks leading up the 2004 presidential election. It showed President Bush hugging 15-year-old Ashley Faulkner, who lost her mother in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.

More recently, the PFA produced pro-Iraq-War ads, calling the conflict essential to fighting terrorism.

c John McCaslin can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washington


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