James A. Landau <> JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Mon Apr 13 22:06:30 UTC 2009

On Sun, 12 Apr 2009 10:27:37 Zulu - 0700 a wide-awake Easter Bunny named Dave Wilton <dave at WILTON.NET> wrote:

Yes, the AP in particular seems to have gotten sloppy with their usage.
(Maybe they could actually get advertising revenue and not have to
restrict their content if they improved the quality of their reporting.
Here's an idea: hire reporters and editors who know what they're writing
about instead of hacks out of journalism school.)

Today, Reuters made the mistake, referring to US warships off Somalia as

On Sun, 12 Apr 2009 13:34:40 Zulu - 0400 another equally alert Easter bunny name "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:

At the time when there was only one "battleship" near the lifeboat, I
heard (or possibly read) a report that the U.S. Navy had surrounded it.


One news report this morning (I failed to note who) said that the snipers fired "from the rear of the ship".  The average landlubber would snear at that one.

(OT: something not yet reported, to my knowledge, is that a very rare and possibly unique event in naval history occurred: a warship fired on a lifeboat it had in tow)

A pet peeve of mine: misuse of the word "sniper".  A sniper is a person who takes careful aim at his target before firing, as those snipers on the Bainbridge must have done.

However, numerous news reports from the Third World have referred to "sniper fire" as if it were an everyday occurrence.  Yet almost never do we hear of anyone getting hit, much less killed, by said sniper fire.  If Ms. Clinton had really been under sniper fire in Bosnia, as she claimed, there would have been bodies piled up around her airplane, quite possibly including hers.

It would seem that reporters have turned "sniper fire" from "careful, aimed fire intended to kill specific targets" into its near-antonym of "random and frequently harmless gunfire".

Another, related peeve is that reporters invariably refer to any rifle with the easily-recognizable Kalashnikov profile (including the rifles carried by the pirates) as an "AK-47".  There are at least three rifles in the "AK" ("Aftomat Kalashnikov", Kalishnokov being the man who designed them) series, the AK-47, the AKM, and the AK-74.  At the beginning of the Vietnam War the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army both carried AK-47's, but I'm sure that by the end of the war some carried AKM's.

Aside: most of those perpetrators of alleged "sniper fire" probably use Kalashnikovs, which are excellent all-around rifles except for one short-coming: they are mediocre sniping rifles (due to Kalashnikov having designed them with mediocre-to-useless rifle sights which nobody has ever bothered to correct).

OT: used the word "liquefy" twice, once as

"the Maiden Lane III transaction arranged for AIG by the Federal Reserve. Maiden Lane was a way for AIG to liquefy exposure it already had on its books."

and once as

"Now, many people have suggested that the counterparties should have taken a haircut. But keep in mind, AIG did get to liquefy its risk outside the scope of the contract"

Is "liquefy" a valid piece of financial jargon?  If so, does it mean "liquidate" or "make liquid"?

I've only once (1970) heard "liquefy" used in finance and that was as a joke: "The Air Reduction Company is in trouble.  It's liquefying its assets and its inventory consists of thin air".

           James A. Landau
           test engineer
           Northrop-Grumman Information Technology
           8025 Black Horse Pike, Suite 300
           West Atlantic City NJ 08232 USA
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