Word Chemistry fails to graduate

Again.  Forget the oil spill, the nation is drowning in word spill.

This weekend, in South Bend, IN, I attended a graduation, and offer excerpts from the commencement address.

From the SB Tribune:

NBC anchor Brian Williams on Sunday urged 2010 University of Notre Dame graduates to help find ways to contain and correct the massive oil spill that is polluting the Gulf of Mexico.

As we speak, there are 4 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil is pouring, billowing into the Gulf of Mexico.”

As I stand here, there is nothing to stop it,” he said. 

“We are staring, make no mistake, at a slow-motion environmental disaster,” Williams said.

The anchor said he is certain this graduating class has the brain power to help fix it.

Please note that the highlighted phrases are meaningless, word compost at best, that when removed do not alter the message.

    As we speak ?

Note, he’s the only one speaking while thousands are compelled to listen.

    As I stand here.

Hmmm, 15,000 attendees noticed, as we were seated.

    Make no mistake.

Is he emphasizing the ignorance of the audience that clearly must know nothing of the BP disaster ?

Williams is probably an o.k. guy, but he and his ilk have inundated us with worthless drivel.  

The more vacuous Matt Lauer incessantly resorts to the following:

  • Be that as it may
  • Truth be told
  • By and large
  • If, in fact
  • That being said

Harry Smith, suffering from terminal sappiness, makes me beg for the return of Howard K. Smith and Walter Cronkite.  George Stephanopoulus, among the best, is being held hostage by the toys and bubbles network, ABC, and the certified dingleberry, Charlie Gibson.

Why can’t Andy Rooney and Charles Osgood buy these guys a copy of Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”, if only to reference in the bathroom during moments of meditation ?  

First published in 1918, “forty-three-page summation of the case for cleanliness, accuracy, and brevity in the use of English” 

Williams, conferred the traditional honorary academic credentials, never graduated from college (he left early for an internship with the Jimmy Carter campaign).  

But Brian will always have a terrific punchline,” No, I never graduated from college, but I do have a degree from Notre Dame”.


  1. says

    Arguably, notwithstanding your comments and taking into account all relevant factors, in my humble opinion there is a case, such as it were, where we as Americans can, if you will and pardoning the expression, “obfuscate the truth” by introducing, from my perspective, redundancies and irrelevancies, such as they are.

    The other thing I hate about TV announcers is that they’ve all been trained to drop conjugations of the verb “to be” and substitute the word “now” in an attempt make their speech seem more exciting. “Police now searching for the missing girl.” “Reports now coming in.” “The candidate now taking a stand on the issue.”

  2. says

    Ahhhhhhh, colorful wordspeak at its best.

    BTW, the code at the bottom of the page, required to submit my meaningless post was “cheney last”. Does that guy have his fingers in this pie too? Does Haliburton know?


  3. Jerry says

    As I sit here (reading the above) hoping to make – no mistake – in my comments on said meaningless drivel and the critique of it, I wonder……… does it accomplish anything if Brian, Harry, Charlie etc, never get the critique? There must be a way to get them in on this blog and beyond the short list.

  4. Brianna says

    You are such a creep.

    Is it envy that Brian is cute, has neat eyebrows, millions of fans, and you, you jerk, have none ? Get a life you cranky old @hole.

  5. Bro says

    Brianna (derivation of Brian) said it all sooooo succinctly! In fact, she speaks the sentiments of your other siblings… Could she be?
    Blue Hair Vistas, Phase 14, AZ

  6. dan carter says

    Ok, let me see how many people I can offend.

    First off, critiquing a commencement speech is like debating over which fast food restaurant has the best French fries.
    Someone may win the argument, but nobody really cares.

    Secondly, is the commentary actually a thinly veiled whine against them there liberals at NBC, or Brian Williams?
    If that’s the real issue, don’t dilly dally around the issue nickpicking his word usage. Have the juevos to say what you mean.

    Thirdly, I am an etymological Nazi, and cringe when I hear needless or inappropriate word usage. “Anxious” in place of “eager” is my pet peeve du jour.

    Fourthly, I suspect jealousy of current news rock star Brian Williams, who I envy. Listen to his bit an NPR show. He’s respected and charming as hell.



    Fifthly: “Certified dingleberry” was very funny. To imagine a certification process for dingleberrism is just wonderful.

    Sixthly: Brian could have made his “oil spill” point more dramatically, by interjecting on occasion, “the amount spilled since the start of my speech would now cover your ankles,” which would help the audience visualize the amount vs. his trite word choice.

    Seventhly: While I’m tired of the SpillGate 2010, I do think we all have minimized the damage since we can’t see egrets soaked in oil. If BP’s PR machine was behind injecting dispersants right where it’s gushing out to keep it below the surface – they’re friggin’ geniuses.

    And we’ve already forgotten about the West Virginny miners, so if anything Don Blankenship of Massey Energy Coal Mines blew up the rig and planted crappy words in Brian’s speech.


    Dan Carter, Dingleberry 1st Class

  7. insightout says

    Wow, Dan, you need to shed the cloak of piety and let the beauty of your soul shine through, i.e., tell us how you really feel.

    For all intents and purposes, I’d be ANXIOUS to introduce you to Brianna, if, in fact, all else being equal, she is released from re-hab.