or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Monday, February 11, 2008


Here on Salon is a review of a rather awful-sounding diet book called "Skinny Bitch".

And here is a sentence from that review.

But it was a photograph of pop star Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice, holding a copy of the 2005 title "Skinny Bitch" that jettisoned the book sales to bestseller status.

Did you really need any proof that Salon employs no copy editors? If so, here it is.

It's a little hard to believe that someone wrote "jettisoned" as if it meant "jet-propelled", harder still to believe it got past a copy editor into publication. The only possible answer is that the article's author was sleep-deprived and that Salon employs nobody to vet copy before it hits the virtual newsstands. Big heaping spoonfuls of shame all around.

"Jettison" means not "jet" but "eject"; to jettison something is to throw it away, specifically to throw it overboard. It's just about the wrongest word to use in that sentence, breathtaking in its tin-eared clumsiness.

"Jettison" is related to "jet", unsurprisingly, through Latin "jacere", "to throw". But "jettison" isn't descended directly from "jet", nor is it a progenitor of it. It came into English quite independently, from Latin "jactatio", a word which also entered English as "jactation", meaning "tossing and turning" or, amusingly, "boasting" ("throwing your weight around", I suppose).

You can read the comments section of that review to marvel at the astounding quantities of contumely heaped upon the author and Salon in general. (There are other mistakes, too mundane to go into here; the commenters leave no stone unhurled.)


I would, however, like to mention that the review, using a quote from the book, manages to employ the portmanteau word "cankles", which I find delightful in its sheer cruelty. If you are one of those unfortunate women who does not have a well-turned ankle--if your calves are indistinguishable from your ankles, in other words--then cankles are what you have, and poor you, for no plastic surgery yet exists to correct this dreadful deformity.


Blogger Thiltetu said...

I doubt you follow US politics closely, especially the lesser-known political commentators/pundits, but a very conservative pundit, Debbie Schlussel, frequently refers to Hillary Clinton as "Cankles"

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 3:07:00 AM  
Blogger pyramus said...

I've been trying to avoid the whole thing, to be honest. It doesn't surprise me that the Republicans are smearing their opponents' looks (though I don't suppose people of any political stripe are immune to the temptation), particularly that of women. Ann Coulter is famous for doing so, of course, and Rush Limbaugh loves little more than to make fun of the appearance of women in politics whom he deems to be insufficiently attractive, which is to say pretty much all Democrats. (In 1993, on David Letterman's talk show, Limbaugh described Hillary Clinton as looking like "a Pontiac hood ornament" (an odd and obscure insult, but an insult nonetheless), and Letterman responded by saying, "You can say that because you are the finest-looking human specimen on the planet," thrilling the audience and flustering Limbaugh.)

It's a little sad to see a woman doing this sort of thing. You expect it of antediluvian douchebags like Limbaugh, but you'd think women would know better. But no. Once a partisan hack, always a partisan hack.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 8:11:00 AM  

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