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Words, July 3 

Yes, it are:

“President Bush made headlines while in Germany for praising the country's asparagus after a dinner with Chancellor Angela Merkel. ‘The German asparagus are fabulous,' Bush said.”

“Another Bushism,” I thought. “He should have said ‘is fabulous.' ” But usage manuals failed to provide a firm ruling that Bush's language was impermissible. And we do eat more than one unit of asparagus at a time.

I gave up on the grammarians, and sought help from someone more down to earth. Dr. Craig Andersen of Fayetteville is a horticulturist with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service. “Asparagus is the name of a class of plant,” he said. “My preference would be ‘asparagus is fabulous.' Now, you could say ‘The asparagus spears are fabulous.' ”

The Germans grow a kind of white asparagus they believe is the best in the world, Andersen said, but whether it's really better than American asparagus is probably a matter of personal taste. Two members of Congress from Washington sent Bush 10 pounds of their state's asparagus, claiming it's the best.

Anderson said there's at least one large asparagus grower in Arkansas. I'm sure the Arkansas asparagus is, at the very least,  fabulous.  

 

We're crying us a river:

While all the Russert-wailing was in progress, someone on the Internet created a new word. “Eulorgy: n. fr. Eng. eulogy + orgy — the massive, sickening group display of phony piety and grief over the death of a well known individual, frequently going on for days or weeks.”

We do carry on these days whenever somebody reasonably well recognized crosses over. Racecar drivers, once-popular singers, fatuous TV commentators — they all get the kind of mourning that used to be reserved for presidents who died in office, or for someone that the mourner had actually met in person. Just as the gap between rich and poor has widened, so has that between famous and obscure. I doubt this is progress.

 

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