Random Thoughts

Why is “gunite” pronounced gun-ite, whereas “granite” is pronounced gran-it?

If, in 1950, Harry Truman had said “four score and seven years ago,” he would have been referring to 1863, the year in which Abraham Lincoln uttered that famous phrase.

In the computer industry, “email” is preferred to “e-mail.” But it seems to me that “e-mail” better represents the phrase “electronic mail.” The meaning of “e-mail” is immediately obvious to me; “email,” at first glance, looks like a typo.

If the dismal northern weather of early April and late October — which delayed the start of the 2008 baseball season in some cities and then disrupted the World Series — doesn’t convince Major League Baseball to lop two weeks from each end of the regular season, nothing will.

One of the funniest movies I’ve seen is Harold Lloyd’s Dr. Jack (1922). It starts slowly, but builds to a hilariously frantic finish. Lloyd’s Safety Last! is better known — and deservedly considered a comedy classic — but it isn’t half as funny as Dr. Jack.

Between novels, I have been slogging my way through Thomas K. McCraw’s Prophet of Innovation: Joseph Schumpeter and Creative Destruction. There’s too much armchair psychology in it, but it whets my appetite for Schumpeter’s classic Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, which (I hate to admit) I haven’t read. Schumpter’s famous term for capitalism, “creative destruction,” often is applied with an emphasis on “destruction”; the emphasis should be on “creative.”

I must observe, relatedly, that my grandmother’s lifetime (1880-1977) spanned the invention and adoption of far more new technology than is likely to emerge in my lifetime, even if I live as long as my grandmother did.