Random Thoughts while Driving in Waco

By Jack Smith

The English language was once mostly owned by England.

But Mark Twain once said, “The King’s English is not the King’s. It’s a joint stock company, and Americans own most of the shares.” He meant, I think, that we Americans were taking over the language and adding more new words to it. Our most popular export, as far as words are concerned, is “OK.” Where did OK come from — Oklahoma? It has been said to be an abbreviation of “orl korrekt,” a jocular respelling of “all correct.” I don’t know why “all correct” needed to be jocularized. AK would have been OK with me and with folks in Alaska.

Vetting is a big word these days. We vet immigrants and cabinet appointees and lots of other things. Does the word “vet” need to be vetted? Vets are also animal doctors and military alumni. Vet is a totally different work, and vette is a cool car.

Speaking of cars, we still say, “Wait, let me get my car keys.” We don’t actually have car keys any more. In olden times, we had a key to the ignition and a separate key to the car door. We had two keys for our car. Now we have one key, and it’s usually a “key fob” (the little black clicker thingy) with a remote door opener. I was surprised when I first learned that there was an actual key inside the key fob. This was after my fob’s battery died and I called a friend for help. I was embarrassed but learned something new.

Speaking of olden times, do you think our grandchildren would believe that when we were young, we only had three TV stations and if we wanted to change channels, we had to get up and walk over to the TV and rotate the dial to the new channel? We may have had to adjust the antennae also. Times were really tough back then.

College insanity has now migrated to Canada where at Carleton University the weight scales have been removed from the campus gym and workout facility. Students in favor of the change claim that scales can be “very triggering.” Other students have complained that now they can’t tell whether or not their work at losing weight is working. They lost. Hey, if you don’t want to weigh, just don’t, you mental lightweights.

The University of Minnesota has done away with homecoming king and queen and replaced them with the gender neutral “royals.” This is, of course, silly, but I’m also very surprised that colleges still have homecoming kings and queens.

From college to secondary schools: New York education officials will scrap a literacy test for people trying to become teachers. Why? They say it weakens diversity within the profession. OMG. Do we need to be so diverse that we have teachers who can’t read well?

From secondary school to elementary school: Three third grade boys in Groesbeck recently left elementary school during the day and told friends that they were going to steal a four-wheeler and go to Dallas. Stealing is terrible, but planning to ride on a four-wheeler to Dallas is worse. Have they ever been on I-35? These kids need to stay in school and pay attention for a long time.

You have probably noticed that there are four Chicago-related TV shows: “Chicago FD,” “Chicago Med,” “Chicago PD” and “Chicago Justice.” Next I’m expecting “Chicago CPA” as we watch accountants wrestling with new tax laws. And maybe “Chicago Undertaker.” Who knows what they might undertake?

IF I WERE KING: I would maintain both the King’s English and homecoming kings. It would be personal.