A little over a year ago, I decided to use this site to note some pet peeves. I entitled the resulting post “Some curmudgeonish thoughts.”
Well, surprise: I have more to add to the list. So we’ll call this the 2019 edition of that original. Whether it will become a truly annual occurrence here: I guess we’ll see in about another year.
If you spend a lot of time dealing with businesspeople, one word that will come up frequently is verbiage.
For example, there will be a discussion about an upcoming customers-targeted ad or email or web page, and you’ll hear one of the participants say something like: “And right here in this section, we can add some verbiage about . . .”
However, the primary meaning of verbiage is not “words we haven’t yet written” or “some text we’ll jam into this spot”—it’s an excessive amount of text.1 So, yes, text can be verbiage, but only if it’s ’way more text than is necessary.2
As one who remembers a dark time not that many years ago when we truly thought there would cease to be an Apple, but instead happily has gained from using that company’s products in the ensuing years, I simply do not get the degree of hate that Apple receives.
Are Apple products perfect? Oh, my, no. There ain’t no such animal. And I write in the fall of 2019, when Apple is getting justifiably slammed for the bugginess of iOS 13 and macOS Catalina; so complaints ring truer now than at other times.
But those who whine and moan about Apple operating systems, Apple devices, and Apple in general—and I’m talking about users, not those who simply hate it from afar3—simply lack the perspective for how far things have come.
Do I wish Apple would take more time in testing and issuing upgrades? Yep. Do I wish Apple would just die and leave us to the likes of Windows, Android, and the never-gonna-be-ready-for-the-business-desktop Linux? No way. But that’s apparently the attitude of a highly vocal online minority.
And to them, I say: “Tough nougies.”
There’s a saying: “When everything is an emergency, nothing is an emergency.” To that, I would add: “When everything is ‘breaking news,’ nothing is ‘breaking news.’”
For those of you not at the advanced age bracket from which network and cable newscasts still get a big percentage of viewers, be aware their producers now try desperately to retain (or regain?) relevance by beginning every news program with words like “Breaking news as we come on the air tonight”—even when the “breaking” story is one about which those of us with smartphones saw an alert hours ago.
Dear marketing departments for the newscasts: if this old fart knew about it hours ago, it ain’t breakin’.
The best example I ever saw of a story truly breaking during an evening newscast was back in January, 1973, when the CBS Evening News came back from a segment and, on camera, anchorman Walter Cronkite was on the phone getting the first word about the death of ex-president Lyndon Johnson (video here). Now that was breaking. I only wish today’s networks understood how tired and, therefore, useless that they have rendered the “breaking news” descriptor.
Once upon a time, sports teams had two kinds of uniforms: one for road games, and one for home games. And they never wavered. It became a source of pride for each new generation of players—and fans wearing souvenir gear—to wear the same colors as their predecessors had.4
Then, at some point, the greedmeisters who supply not only uniforms to the actual teams but also souvenirs to their adoring fans realized: “Hey, if we just encourage the teams to wear many different variations of uniforms, we can sell lots more souvenirs.”
Now, especially among college football teams, I never know whether a team is going to be wearing shiny red helmets over black jerseys with barely legible dark gray numerals, or dull gray helmets over blue jerseys with clashing red numerals, or neon-striped pants, or—well, you get the idea.
Why even call them uniforms any more? They ceased long ago to have any type of uniformity. They’re simply ways to sell stuff.
. . . like certain holidays, and more so every year. But I’m not going there. Not this year, anyway.
The first-listing-in-the-dictionary meaning is “A profusion of words usually of little or obscure content,” according to merriam-webster.com—although, to be fair, that source also gives the more commonly accepted use as a secondary definition, and pooh-poohs sticklers such as I with this paragraph: “In the early 19th century, ‘verbiage’ developed a second sense meaning, simply, ‘wording,’ with no suggestion of excess. This second definition has sometimes been treated as an error by people who insist that ‘verbiage’ must always imply excessiveness, but that sense is well-established and can be considered standard.” Okay, fine, but I still believe the first definition should be the key. Back when dinosaurs were still blissfully unaware of the flaming asteroid about to finish them off, I was taught that you go by the first definition the dictionary gives, while any others were often sops to those who insist on using a word differently despite their errors in doing so. Harrumph. And then there’s this. ↩︎
Please spare me the obvious rejoinder about how, oh, right, verbiage is essentially what we’re reading now. Har de har-har. Hey, you ought to see it before I edit it. ↩︎
As for those who just hate Apple without even bothering to try its products: oh, just hush. Think about it as if we were talking about cuisine rather than tech: it would be both silly and childish to complain about a food that you’d never tasted, right? Same, exact thing. I have owned competing products—for multiple decades, in the case of Windows computers—and therefore know whereof I speak. ↩︎
I am, of course, quite aware that baseball teams got wild and crazy with colors starting back in the 1970s and 1980s, inspired by what Charles O. Finley’s Kansas City/Oakland Athletics did in the 1960s when they went from staid colors to bold green and gold colors. But at least they typically stuck with the colors; they didn’t have a different look for nearly every game, and that’s the kind of non-uniform choice about which I’m lamenting. ↩︎