Sometimes I see things in the news or around town and I wonder “What were they thinking?” One of the latest things that had me wondering this was the recent outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or “SARS” for short.
If you paid attention in English class, you know that “Acute” and “Severe” are pretty much synonymous – particularly when referring to a medical condition. At best, adding “Severe” to the name is merely meant to emphasize the “Acute” part and, at worst, is being dramatically redundant just to allow some breathless news anchor to say “severe” and “acute” in the same sentence.
“What difference does it make?” you might ask. Well, normally none. In fact, even I thought I was being too critical of the name until the other day when I heard a report on some SARS cases that occurred here in Florida. According to the story, the victims survived, which was fortunate, but the REASON they survived really annoyed me: Apparently, they didn’t have a SEVERE case of SARS.
WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY DIDN’T HAVE A SEVERE CASE OF SARS?!? “Severe” is the first word in its name! It HAS to be SEVERE or it ISN’T SARS! Aaaaaaaaaaah!!! Obviously, they just had MARS (Mildly Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which is ironic since that’s apparently where the people that get to name new diseases come from.
On the ‘plus’ side I’m resting easier now that I know I’ll be OK as long as I don’t come down with Fatal, Ruinous, Extirpative Affliction that Kills and is Incurable, Non-treatable and Grievous - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (FREAKING-SARS.)
Here’s another thing that had me wondering “What were they thinking?”: A few weeks ago at the Regatta here in Miami Springs (call it whatever you want, I call it “The Regatta”) there was a booth set up by “Parents Against Bad Things On TV” or something - their actual name escapes me at the moment – and they were soliciting signatures for a petition to make the television networks clean up their act.
Apparently, some people have televisions that lack channel-selection or power buttons and they have to passively sit there and watch whatever comes on without recourse. As for me, I enjoy watching shows such as “South Park” and “The Man Show”. If something offensive comes on, like the local news, I change to the Food channel. (You can rest assured that, as far as my kids know, our TV’s only get The Disney Channel.)
Anyway, in order to attract people to their booth, these people were giving away…you guessed it…a new color television. So, I suppose the logic is: “There is too much smut on TV, thus TV rots the minds of our children and thus TV is bad. So join our cause today and we’ll give you a new TV!” It’s like Alcoholics Anonymous raffling off a bottle of vodka to new members.
Personally, I think they should have been giving away gift certificates to Amazon.com or Borders. Of course, I’ve seen more smut in print than I have on TV, so encouraging kids to read might prove to be counter-productive here, but it’s a thought.
Now that I’m done ranting, I’ll leave you with another useful computer tip:
If you’re like me, you get a new computer and are amazed with its speed and performance. Then a month goes by. Then another and another. Pretty soon, your speedy computer doesn’t seem so speedy anymore.
One of the reasons for this is that a lot of Web sites surreptitiously load programs on your computer that monitor your activity and then report it back to the site. This is called ‘Spyware’. Of course, they all deny doing this for ‘extirpative’ reasons but they do it nonetheless. Privacy concerns aside, the end result is that your computer now spends a greater percentage of its time trying to track and report what you are doing rather doing what you want to do. (Are you still with me?)
There are a number of programs out there that can help you combat this activity, but the one that received PC Magazine’s highest marks is available online for FREE! That’s right - at no cost to you whatsoever. It’s called “SpyBot: Search and Destroy” and it can be downloaded from http://security.kolla.de/.
Just download, install and run the program and it will automatically scan your computer for any known programs that might be monitoring your online activity. Once it identifies them, it allows you to disable or delete them. There’s also an ‘advanced’ mode that provides a “shredder” for destroying sensitive files and some other utilities. The interface has a lot of explanatory text and there’s an online help file so I won’t bore you by getting into its use here. If you have any questions about it, feel free to E-Mail me at:
Well, it looks as if we have room left for one question and answer:
Q: Hey, Chuck, is “Extirpative” a real word? If so, what does it mean?
A: Yes, it’s a real word (so is ‘surreptitiously’.) You can check them both out at www.dictionary.com.