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Published on November 29, 2012


That, declares the Oxford English Dictionary–OED, to friends and family–is the word of the year, 2012, presumably, though it seems to have got its start in 2009 on a British political satire TV show.  I’m sure you’ve used it countless times since then, right?  It did manage to gain some currency in Europe after Mitt Romney’s goof-prone visit there but was transmogrified ( Isn’t THAT a great word?) into “Romneyshambles”.  

One good thing about it is the fact that it’s pretty easy to figure out the meaning even if you’ve never seen it before.  “Omni”, from the Latin, means “all”, as in omnipotent, omnivorous (speaking of Thanksgiving dinner), omniscient, omnibus, all of that stuff; and shambles is pretty self-explanatory(Though you’d be surprised to find that this comes from a term meaning meat market and morphed into something meaning a scene of great destruction, a state of great disorder or confusion.).  It’s all sort of reminiscent of the WWII expressions like SNAFU and FUBAR regarding Army situations…although much cleaner (The big boys can tell you what those mean).

Anyway, this was THE word of the year but there were other words and terms under consideration.  “Second screening” is one of those.  It means, more or less, using a smart phone, ipad, laptop, digital reader or some such personal communication device while watching TV, thus distracting one from full attention to the commercial messages so vital to the sponsors of all the programming.  It’s probably a function of the same mind-set that has people texting at the dinner table and absorbed in on-line gaming while Grandma’s here to visit (Thus removing them from the last will and testament, probably).

Another word on the list was “mobot”.  This one definitely has possibilities too.  The primary definition is “mobile robot” but sometimes expanded to “socially interactive autonomous robot”. And in this vein, Carnegie-Mellon University has gone all-in (This being a vastly technical school, after all, one of the first to require all of its incoming freshmen to bring a computer with them) and is this year sponsoring the 18th Annual (Described in one blurb as the atomic number of Argon race)RoboCup American Open, featuring such competitions as the Mobot Slalom or the Mobot Joust, wherein the robot operators attempt to simulate the action of a downhill skier  or a pair of knights on horseback–not real easy, I would imagine, seeing as humans have a hard enough time attempting to complete these actions in the first place.  Then the whole thing got expanded by some Olympian, Mo Farah, this past summer, who, in a bit of showboating at the finish line–and on the podium when he won the 5000m, made a hand-and-arm “M” gesture over his head–sorta like in the Village People song “YMCA”.  Now that’s a mobot too and can be seen being performed by showboaters worldwide.  Do NOT confuse this with the folks at the Missouri ( Postal abbreviation : MO) Botanical Garden who are too busy studying angiosperm phylogeny to get into any showboating at all.

Also of interest was “mansplaining” (Sounds like something that Lucille Ball might have come up with in the ‘50’s when Ricky was always trying to “splain” something to Lucy, usually with disastrous results) which was defined as “explaining in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of the audience” or “condescending and/or inaccurate explanations assuming the audience is ignorant of the topic under discussion.”  Prime movers in this area seem to be techie-types who cannot fathom the idea that there might actually be female researchers, scientists, mathematicians, CEO’s or others with capabilities equal to their own.  Politicians rank right up there too and the examples of this hubris are too numerous to mention, having been showcased in the recent unpleasantness of the 2012 campaign.  However, I WILL mention a couple just to prove that this is not exactly a modern development.

John Adams and his wife, Abigail, had a famous correspondence while he was away from Boston, 1776, helping to write the Declaration of Independence(and at plenty of other times, for that matter)and she urged him to “remember the ladies” and see to it that women would be assured equal rights, protected from abuse by men.  He, in his exalted spousedom replied that all of the men, himself in particular, presumably, knew that the condition of women would certainly be better if guaranteed by the men whose rights were specified in the document.  Really?

Lyman Abbott, a New England theologian, wrote in the Atlantic Magazine in 1903 an article titled “Why Women Do Not Wish the Suffrage” outlining the views of what, at a later date might have been labeled “the Silent Majority” of women thought…which he, of course, knew better than all of those rude types out in the streets marching to get the vote.  Of course he did.

Mansplaining doesn’t have to be gender-specific either.  Who hasn’t been to a meeting of some sort where the–sometimes self-designated–leader proceeds to point out to the assembled workers facts and procedures that they all know about since that’s why the meeting was called in the first place?  And don’t let us get started on church gatherings!

So put THAT in your lexical pipe and  smoke it.

More breaking news at 11:00.

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