Sentences on Which I Would Like to Declare a Moratorium

  1. “We sure could use it.”
    Every single time someone says, “Looks like rain this week,” the response is always “We sure could use it.” And it’s not just when the grass is brown like right now. It seems to be a kneejerk reaction, like “How are you?” “Fine.”
  2. “How are you?”
    There’s no point in asking this. The answer is always, always, always, “Fine.” I guess it’s just a complicated way of saying hello.
  3. “I was going to say…”
    This sentence creates its own paradox. If you were going to say something, that implies that you’ve changed your mind. And yet you have now said it.
  4. “I wanted to thank you for…”
    Then do it. Just thank me for whatever. I don’t need to see your work.
  5. “Are these the best candidates we can come up with?”
    Yes, I know the unfavorable polls are historic with Trump & Clinton, but still…I recall this question being asked every four years going back at least to Mondale vs. Reagan.
  6. “When you assume, you make an ‘ass’ out of ‘u’ and ‘me.'”
    I remember the first time I heard this pearl of wisdom. I was in Cub Scouts, and my den mother told this to all the boys. She said it in a conspiratorial tone, like she was imparting some deep gnostic wisdom upon us. We were all in awe, but that was mainly because we heard a grown-up say a potty word. (And by the way, I’ve never understood how I make an ass out of you in this situation.)
  7. Anything complaining about “new math.”
    For one thing, “new” math has been around a long time. I distinctly remember a joke being made about it on The Cosby Show. For another thing, the strange-looking math that a lot of our kids are learning is actually fantastic stuff, and it’s not new. I was the kind of kid who took books about math out of the library, and I recall learning a lot of shortcuts and techniques to do math quicker in my head. Some of them are great tricks that I still use in adulthood. They’re the same things that kids are being taught in class now! I can add and multiply large numbers in my head because I was lucky enough to stumble onto these tricks…my kids will be able to do it because our educational system has improved!

And one sentence I like a lot, which I think should be repeated more frequently:

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” – John F. Kennedy, 1962

This is the most famous line of one of Kennedy’s most famous speeches, the speech in which he announced a goal that Americans would land on the moon before 1970. I absolutely love this line when it’s taken out of context like this, because of the phrase “and do the other things.” Just a moment before, Kennedy had just compared the lunar challenge to climbing the highest mountain and to flying the Atlantic. Those are the “other things.” But I just love it without that context. I would like to add the phrase “and do the other things” to my sentences more often.


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