I Love Words.
I receive compliments (and detriments) on my writing style from the gentle readers of The Teller. People have compared my (at times) irreverent prose to the Territorial Enterprise’s own Mark Twain. While I am grateful for these complements, I am uneasy with the comparison to the creator of modern satire. Still, while self praise is no recommendation (cough Lance “The Magnificent” Gilman cough), when others do it you should welcome it and be grateful.
I Do. I Am.
To become a good writer, you need to read good writers. As a kid I read a lot of good writers. Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, J.R.R. Tolkien, Phillip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut and, of course, Mark Twain were all on my shelf in Gold Hill growing up.
The way I have built the vocabulary that readers complement me on is by reading. I still read a lot today although most of my reading is online. I have about 400 books on my to read list. Need to get to that. One of the ways I keep that vocabulary strong as my brain ages is by being exposed to new words. The absolute best tool I have found on the internet to do this is from a website run by the amazing Anu Garg (yes, that is a real name, just like John Smith).
Anu’s website, wordsmith.org, has a great service called A Word A Day (A.W.A.D.). Every week Anu gathers five words that are somehow related and sends one a day to help you build your vocabulary. The daily offerings will often contain a lesson in etymology (look it up) In addition to the word of the day, Anu includes a great quote from a notable person. I highly recommend wordsmith.org to anyone who is interested in language and words. If you like words and etymology, do yourself a favor and sign up to A.W.A.D. It’s wonderful, and it’s free.
Meanwhile, Here In Storey County…
Perhaps my favorite author recently sent me an offering from A.W.A.D so relevant to Storey County I had to do a double take. The word of the day is what we have, like a small daily dose of arsenic that doesn’t quite kill you but makes you godawful sick, become used to here in Storey County. And if the quote of the day doesn’t seem tailor made for the magnificent man who single-handedly saved Storey County, Nevada, and these glorious United States from despair and destruction, I don’t know what does.
With that preamble, gentle reader, I present the A.W.A.D. offering from August 24th, 2005. Tell me if the word doesn’t reflect the sad shape of our outgoing County Manager and sitting commissioners here in Storey. The quote fits Mr. Magnificent snugly.
with Anu Garg
noun: Corrupt behavior in public office.
From Middle French malversation, from malverser (to embezzle), from Latin maleversari (to behave badly), from male (ill) + versari (to behave), from vertere (to turn). Ultimately from Indo-European root wer- (to turn or bend) that is also the source of words such as wring, weird, writhe, worth, revert, and universe.
“Ramon Magsaysay called for inquiries into the alleged malversation of the Motor Vehicles Users Charge and the reported overpricing of the project.”
Rome C. Jorge; Senator Proposes Reforms; The Manila Times (Philippines); Jul 22, 2005.
The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause. A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business. -Eric Hoffer, philosopher and author (1902-1983).