Monday, September 28, 2009

William Safire


Welcome to the last week of September. Fall is fully upon us, the trees have begun to turn their leaves into a muted rainbow mosaic, the weather is beginning to swing from chilly and wet to warm and mild in the span of one day, and if you listen hard enough, and are quite still enough, you can hear and feel the moments around you becoming history, here in this season we've named Autumn.

William Safire passed away yesterday, of the same disease that killed Patrick Swayze: pancreatic cancer.

He was a presidential speechwriter-turned-columnist for the New York Times, and he won a Pulitzer Prize. Read more about his life here.

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THE WIT and WISDOM of WILLIAM SAFIRE

"I think we all need to know that we do not need to know."

"Knowing how things work is the basis for appreciation, and is thus a source of civilized delight."

"The right to do something does not mean that doing it is right."

"Avoid clich├ęs like the plague."

"Is sloppiness in speech caused by ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care."

"English is a stretch language; one size fits all."

"No one flower can ever symbolize this nation. America is a bouquet."

[selected from various and sundry quotation sites by Mark Raymond]

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WORD for YOUR WEEK: A quick Google search reveals that "behoove" appeared to be Mr. Safire's favorite word, based on the number of times it appears in his work, apparently. The origins of this word are a bit complicated, and I won't go into all the etymological nuance, but it's an Americanized spelling of the Old English "behoof," which means "use, benefit, or advantage" with the implied meaning of taking that advantage for your own benefit. As in, "it would behoove you to reflect on this matter."

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