Delta (spotted in the Roanoke [VA] Times)

School funding issue dominates council debate
March 12, 2010

…The Republicans targeted what they view as waste in the city’s budget. They particularly rallied around an early statement by Craig that placed city government budget growth over the last decade at $83 million.

“I think that there’s room in that $83 million delta between 2000 and 2010 to take care of a lot of the problems in the schools,” Craig said. “Besides that, as I told you, the resourcing of the schools is idiotic. It makes no sense.”

…Trinkle fired back on that point, arguing that the city budget is currently at its 2007 level, and that the school budget is at its 2006 level.

“You can talk about magic money, you can talk about an $83 million delta,” Trinkle said. “But all money is green, and the fact of the matter is we have supported the schools well. Our schools are supported in the top third when you look at all cities in the state of Virginia.”

Oh, you guys. You do not squeak by on this one just because you referred to a difference. Your use of delta is unnecessary, pretentious and wrong. A delta does not “take care of problems,” any more than it compares to “magic money.” Frankly, unless you’re talking accounting, finance, mathematics or science, you should not be using the word. It’s useful only for padding your verbiage.

But at least now I know how my client picked up delta as a weasel word. Apparently, it’s out there in wide circulation — and on both ends of the political spectrum, as noted in the article. Everybody, for the sake of the children, please stop!


Case and point (spotted on the ‘net)

Another suggestion, this time submitted via Facebook. Our reader writes:

Nothing like naming your software company after a misheard idiom.

I have not heard this one personally, but a quick Google search (I searched for “case and point” in quotation marks) reveals a small, but troubling proliferation of this incorrect construction. Will it become the next mute point?

Otto E. Mezzo


Thank you for your understanding

I was cleaning out my inbox when I came upon this gem.
— Otto E. Mezzo

> Per your request, [website] can be altered via any number of best
> practices strategies available to the company at this present time.
> Suggestions that can be made leveraging the latest technologies to
> incent conversion and user engagement consist of:
> • Landing page experience facilitating common and consistent user
> experience and mitigating oververbose verbiage sometimes present due
> to articles of greater word count in length. C&R department leveraged
> suggestion effecting display of initial paragraph of latest entry in each
> category. Idea has meritorious qualities and is met here with approval
> verbiage, and it is advisable to effect alteration.
> • Organization of entry index in line with alphanumeric standard
> (ascending). Have already assessed impactfulness of organization with
> author-initiated sorting. This can be seen as effective, but is not a
> software-integrated solution.
> • Our department would like to engage in educational opportunity
> whereby increased knowledge of operation of WordPress is leveraged.
> • Please ensure your department impacts the contribution of content.
> Thank you. I will be out of the office immediately after sending this
> email. This message may be short and poorly composed because it was
> sent from my mobile device and I don’t give a damn.

Under guise of (heard in a webinar)

“Sell your clients bundles under guise of collective buying.”

I have already covered under guise of as a bad, bad, bad substitute for “under guidance of,” but this is far, far, far worse. What this presenter was trying to say was, “Sell your clients bundles in the name of collective buying.” (Even better, try “Sell your clients goods in bundles, which will lower the price per unit. That’s collective buying.”) What he actually said was, “Sell your clients bundles and deceive them into thinking they’re taking advantage of bulk costs.”

And by the way, he was trying to sell us a bad Powerpoint presentation under guise of a merchandise bundling program. I wasn’t fooled.

Otto E. Mezzo

It’s actually ironic

That Copy Kat requested I address the misuse of ironic, which we both agree reached its pinnacle with the song by Alanis Morisette. But the Lord (and VH1) works in mysterious ways! The song “Ironic” focused a flurry of attention on how un-ironic the song’s narratives were. So my work here is done.

Until I saw this video. My work here was only half-done. Now it’s all done, thanks to You oughta know.

Otto E. Mezzo

UPDATES: It’s actually ironic, episode II (March, 2010). It’s like word advice that you just can’t spell.

It’s actually ironic, episode III (November, 2015) Alanis revisits the song twenty years later. She must have read my article, Who would have thought?

Quantum leap (spotted in Field & Stream)

The 50 Best Guns Ever Made

September, 2007
15. Smith & Wesson Model 500

Introduced in 2003, this 4 1/2 -pound monster of a double-action revolver is as much of a quantum leap over existing handguns as the Model 29 was 50 years ago…

A “quantum leap over existing handguns?” F&S has one thing right — this express revolver does not represent a quantum leap in the true definition of “sudden change.” For drama, though, it’s a game changer — literally, if not figuratively!