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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Plurals, Insurance, Spaghetti, AM Radio, Lady Gaga and a Crab

This posting consists of a batch of miscellany which is mostly non-political.  I really would like to see more contributions (poems, stories, political and economic ideas, sports, photography) from the readers of this blog.  If you wish to comment on anything that appears on the blog, you need not use the "comment" link at the bottom of the blog.  You can just send me an Email.  

The political scene is very much in flux.  As the economy tanks, the President's popularity is waning.  The Republicans haven't settled on a candidate yet.  Congress is tied in knots.  Europe's banking and economic systems are in danger of collapsing.  Unemployment is rampant.  The stock market is like a yo-yo.  Can any of you offer any solutions to these problems?  Remember, it is always darkest before the dawn.

Jack Lippman

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From the Esquire Magazine Calendar for November, 1945 by Alberto Vargas. (Let me know if you like these pictures, and I will continue to include them.  They have, ahem, historic value.)

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Plurals and Pasta

Years ago when I was in the insurance business, we knew how to spell insurance.    Often, down here in Florida however, I hear it referred to as “insurances.”  A sign in a doctor’s office will indicate what “insurances” they accept.  Advertisements for all types of health care from podiatry to orthopedic footwear indicate “insurances accepted.”  How did this corruption of the English language occur?

My guess is that is originated in South Florida where many of the clerical workers are of Hispanic origin.  In Spanish, the word for insurance is “seguros,” a plural usage.  I would bet that some years ago, a hospital billing clerk in Miami came across the word “insurance,” believed it to be a mistake since it was in the singular, fixed it so that it was in the plural, as anyone who spoke Spanish knew it had to be, and  “insurances” has been with us ever since.

And while on the subject of plurals, you may call it pasta, but though it has many varieties, some people simply call it spaghetti.  In certain neighborhoods near where I grew up, it was referred to as “spaghettis” in the plural.  I suppose that one day a semi-literate gourmet twirled a single noodle-like strand of the dish on his fork, looked at it, and called it a “spaghetti.”  The rest of what remained on the brimming plate before him, of course, therefore had to be “spaghettis.”  I wonder if the hospital billing clerk who spends her day handling insurances occasionally has spaghettis when she goes out for lunch.

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AM Radio Fright

Frankly, most of the time when I listen to the radio, at home or in my car, I tune into an FM station.   The only time I ever listen to AM radio is when I listen to a baseball game.   I don’t know why it is that baseball is broadcast almost exclusively on AM.  Perhaps the baseball teams still think that most people don’t have FM radios or that FM radio is the domain of acoustically concerned chardonnay-sipping pointy headed folks whereas they are looking to sell their beer and get their ballgames out to the “masses.”

Well, that might be the reason AM radio has turned into what it is today, a vehicle to reach the “masses.”  The other evening, I found an old AM radio in a drawer and turned it on to see if it worked.  It did.  And what I heard scared the hell out of me.   Other than a few music stations, occasional programs in Spanish, never-ending religious programs or sports talk programs, everything else was right wing political talk.  Rush Limbaugh was there. Mike Savage was there. Dennis Prager was there. Glenn Beck was there. There were hosts I had never even heard of before, and who were so far to the right that they were in danger of falling off of the edge of the earth, which I am certain they believed was flat.  

After listening to these guys for a while, I can understand why many folks out there consider anyone supporting the President or the Democratic Party to be at best a closet socialist.  If you are for gun control, unions or choice for women, you are even worse.  And this is what millions oft of American voters are listening to on AM radio, 24 hours a day.  

I suspect that many of us who are not on the right haven’t been aware of this tragedy because in all probability, our radio listening involves the FM band, which has not yet been infected by the screamers on the right to the extent that its AM cousin has been.  And more frighteningly, I don’t think that the strategists who are trying to re-elect the President and elect Democrats to the House and Senate recognize how thoroughly AM radio has inoculated its listeners with an immunity toward anything coming from a liberal or progressive (their latest code word for socialist) source.

One of the screamers I had tuned in on, after denouncing preservation of our environment and awareness of climate change as some sort of subversive plot, made the point which I have often made in this blog that if only ten percent of his listeners went along with him, it would be enough to change who's in charge in Washington. It saddens me to contemplate that the First Amendment very well may be our nation's undoing.  I hope it is not too late.


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A Crabby Tale

Not that I ever lost it, but my faith in teenagers was strengthened the other evening.  I was taking a stroll along Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach east of the Intracoastal Waterway when I came across a group of them gathered at curbside about two blocks west of the beach.  A large crab was clambering along the curb in a very confused manner.  I thought the kids were going to mistreat it in some manner, but I was wrong.

One of them had run off somewhere and was just arriving back on the scene with a five gallon pail, half filled with water and a large piece of cardboard with which to scoop the crab into the pail.  The crab, by now, was defensively opening its claws, not knowing what to expect.  This didn’t deter the teenagers who, when I last saw them, were trooping toward the beach with the crab safely in the pail.  Long life, Mr. Crustacian!  You are one of the lucky ones.                                                     

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Lady Gaga at the Royal Albert Hall

If Lady Gaga walked into the room, I would not recognize her.  If you played one of her recordings for me, I would not recognize her voice nor the tune.  That’s why I got a big surprise the other night while listening to an NPR broadcast of a concert by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London.  As an encore, the guest piano soloist played a recently composed fugue by a serious composer based on the melody of the 2009 Lady Gaga hit, “Bad Romance.”  

What surprised me was the reaction of the audience in the Royal Albert Hall when the first few bars of the encore were played.  They recognized it, applauded and laughed politely.  I never knew that symphony-goers had such broad tastes.  Perhaps I’ve been away too long.  The trouble is I don’t know where I’ve been nor what I’ve missed.


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