The word | Tom Camfield

Tom Camfield
Posted 5/17/23

“COUPLE OF,” AS ABOVE, IS ANOTHER source of some argument. A for-instance is the writer of a fiction book under the Tom Clancy name that I recently read. He writes about “a …

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The word | Tom Camfield


“COUPLE OF,” AS ABOVE, IS ANOTHER source of some argument. A for-instance is the writer of a fiction book under the Tom Clancy name that I recently read. He writes about “a couple” this and “a couple” that — and treats the “of” with total disdain. He apparently wants us all to follow his lead. However, it doesn’t ring quite right to me. I’ll stick with ”a pair OF shoes,” "a yoke OF oxen,” “two OF a kind,” “a couple OF the same,” “a trio OF songbirds,” etc.

This same writer also spoke of such things as “the damn chair.” I’m well convinced that I’m correct on this one — that he should have said “damned chair,” One can “damn” (verb) a chair, at which point it comes a “damned” (adjective) chair.” No way the guy could have been tied in a “damn” chair. But I will admit they sound the same when spoken.

I’ve presumed that “apps” is just short for “applications” when used in reference to electronic devices such as cell-phones. Who has room these days for unnecessary syllables?

The other day I was browsing a column by a guy who’s been a professional writer all of his life. He said of a comic strip that it “has been around longer than me.” I believe that should read “longer than I“ (have).

I also believe that one needn’t recognize a dangling participle on sight to to raise the level of one’s writing. Just take “. . . one that I’m a sample of.” and conclude your sentence with “. . . one of whom I’m a sample.” That not only makes proper use of “whom” as an object, but also leaves conclusion of a sentence with something other than a preposition (of, to, for, etc.) looking vainly for its object.

And an early-day horse thief was “hanged,” not “hung.”

Annie Jarvis taught me to read in first grade, and Vivian Finnell taught me to spell in second grade. By 10th grade I had sacrificed a useless study hall period to take an elective typing class (the only boy in her class) from teacher Emma Pringle. Now 94, I remember them all fondly. I also was a mere sophomore in 1945 when I won the engraved medal from the local VFW post in a county-wide, all-grade competition for an essay on “How to ensure a lasting peace.”

I was still learning a lot some 45 years or so later from the late newspaper journalist, columnist, author, writer and grammarian James J. Kilpatrick. “Writing comes in grades of quality in the fashion of beer and baseball games,” he said, ”good, better, and best.” He published the book “The Writer’s Art” in 1985 and was a syndicated columnist under the same title for a number of years in The Seattle Times. We corresponded occasionally.


WITH ROOM LEFT OVER THIS WEEK, I’ll switch to a bit on guns.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

That all appears to be a single sentence, but for more than 230 years, the first half has been conveniently ignored as if it didn’t exist by conservative members of the Supreme Court such as pocket-lining Clarence Thomas (and his wife). Also conservative gun-owners about everywhere else, including the NRA. Even we Democrats have born forced into a corner somewhat — although we draw the line short of assault rifles and such . More than 13,900 people have died from gun violence already this year. There have been 184 mass shootings in 2023 alone, in shootings defined by the Gun Violence Archive as incidents in which four or more victims are shot or killed. These mass shootings have led to 248 deaths and 744 injuries.

All of which led me to read with interest the following item from the small nation of Serbia, a former part of Yugoslavia with a population of 8.6 million compared to our country’s 326.7 million.

“Serbian citizens have handed over nearly 6,000 unregistered weapons in the first three days of an amnesty period that is part of a month-long anti-gun crack-down after two mass shootings last week . . . Police have received nearly 300,000 rounds of ammunition and about 470 explosive devices during the same period . . . The effort to rid Serbia of excessive guns was launched after 17 people were killed in two shootings.”

Apparently there was little quibbling there over such things as a 230-year-old “well-regulated” militias, national guard or whatever.
And life is more valuable.


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  • Justin Hale

    Regarding firearms, years ago, like in the 1950s, a firearm could be purchased from the Sears catalog. Firearms were much easier to obtain in those days, and yet we didn't hear about these mass shootings. It's not the gun, it's the nut behind the gun.

    Wednesday, May 17 Report this

  • Thomas Camfield

    Only gun of which I saw anything during '51 and '52 was the M-1 carbine, engineers' weapon during the Korean War. That was with the army of course. Prior to that, in 1947, I trained in a 5-inch deck gun mount aboard a navy destroyer.

    Monday, May 22 Report this

  • MargeS

    What if that "nut" didn't have access to guns?

    Tuesday, May 23 Report this

  • Justin Hale

    Good luck with that M.S. Exactly how do you imagine that would work?

    Tuesday, May 23 Report this

  • Thomas Camfield

    Start with more psychiatric counselors in the public schools. Resist the efforts of conservatives to destroy public education of reality and make good little money-hungry Republicans out of as many little kids as possible.

    Tuesday, May 23 Report this

  • Justin Hale

    So in Tom's world, our Second Amendment rights should be subject to the opinion of a school psych. counselor? What is a psych counselor going to do?

    "the efforts of conservatives to destroy public education of reality "??? What the hel is "education of reality"?

    Tuesday, May 23 Report this

  • MargeS

    What weapons were available when the 2nd Amendment was passed?

    What 'arms' looked like when the 2nd Amendment was written ...

    The typical firearms of the day were muskets and flintlock pistols. They could hold a single round at a time, and a skilled shooter could hope to get off three or possibly four rounds in a minute of firing. By all accounts they were not particularly accurate either.

    If you want to be an "originalist" then only the above weapons should be allowed.

    5 days ago Report this

  • Justin Hale

    The second amendment says nothing about restricting "arms" it says that citizens have the right to bear arms.

    Cannons, mortars, and howitzers were weapons available when the Second Amendment was passed. I will never understand you people who are determined to disarm U.S. citizens, should the government be well armed and trusted to not use those arms against the citizens? Remember Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Kent State?

    If you want to play the "originalist" game then you just lost the right to vote.

    5 days ago Report this

  • MargeS

    Actually I would rather not allow people to kill randomly, school children and other groups. Obviously, your obsession with guns of all types is more important to you. Pity.

    5 days ago Report this

  • Justin Hale

    Actually, I would rather do all that I can to ensure that I don't become one of those randomly killed. And yet there are people out there who say "no, no, no" you can't have access to a firearm to protect yourself and your family because there are "nuts" out there.

    I support our Second Amendment, and I own a firearm, which I haven't touched in years, in your world that makes me obsessed with guns? Get real!

    4 days ago Report this

  • MargeS

    To protect yourself, wouldn't it be better to not have so many guns available to people who use them to harm others. Do you have assault weapons, a handgun [only works close up]. Now if you need those guns, we should follow Canada's lead and you can have them but they must be kept at a gun range, or gun club, you can use whatever one you want, but it needs to stay there. For home security a shotgun is the better choice, although make sure you drag the body inside before the police get there. If your a hunter you can have hunting rifles, bow and arrows, just pass a background check and make sure you have a secure gun safe, especially if you have children. Doesn't that sound a little more sane?

    4 days ago Report this

  • Justin Hale

    "To protect yourself, wouldn't it be better to not have so many guns available to people who use them to harm others." I'm all in favor of keeping firearms out of the hands of people who want to harm others but I'm not so naive as to believe that taking guns away from honest people makes all of US safer.

    Keeping a handgun for personal/home security at a site that is miles away from your person or home, is no protection at all.

    I live out in the county, and my first line of defense is myself, best way to not become a victim.

    4 days ago Report this

  • MargeS

    Living with a handgun owner particularly increased the risk of being shot to death in a domestic violence incident, and it did not provide any protection against being killed at home by a stranger, the researchers found.

    “The reason people have guns in their home is for protection from strangers,” said David Hemenway, director of Harvard University’s Injury Control Research Center. “But what this is showing that having a gun in the home is bad for people in the home.”

    3 days ago Report this

  • Justin Hale

    If a person breaks into your house intending to do you harm are you safer with or without a gun?

    If you hear someone breaking into your house and you call the police to come to your rescue are they coming with or without a firearm?

    If Paul Pelosi had a firearm and knew how to use it would he have been almost killed by the nut who broke into his home?

    When Congresspeople have security, are those security people armed?

    More children are shot in homes where firearms are present than in homes where no firearms are present, Duh!

    3 days ago Report this

  • MargeS

    Never mind what statistics say, you just ignore them and do what you want. The point is there are two many guns in America.

    Using background checks and other data, The Trace estimates that gun sales almost tripled between 2005 and 2020, from 7.8 million to 21.8 million. Firearm sales eased to 18.9 million in 2021 and 16.6 million in 2022. All three figures are larger than the gun-sale total for any other year in the new millennium.

    2 days ago Report this

  • Justin Hale

    The "research" you cited was stupid. Of course there will be more victims of gunshots when guns are present than when no guns are present. Sadly there are way too many bad guys with guns out there willing to victimize innocent people.

    Yes, it seems that the more the government pushes for more and more gun control, the more concerned citizens will arm themselves. What does that tell you?

    Yesterday at 5:37 PM Report this

  • MargeS

    It tells me people do not care about saving lives, just concerned about themselves not having any kind of gun they want. So selfish. Never think of anyone else.

    Handguns are the most common weapon type used in mass shootings in the United States, with a total of 161 different handguns being used in 111 incidents between 1982 and April 2023. These figures are calculated from a total of 142 reported cases over this period, meaning handguns are involved in about 78 percent of mass shootings.

    The involvement of semi-automatic rifles in mass shootings

    Owing to their use in several high-profile mass shootings, there has been much public discussion over suitability or necessity of assault weapons for the purpose of self-defense. While any definition of assault weapon is contentious, semi-automatic rifles are generally the main focus of debates around this issue. Since 1985 there has been a known total 58 mass shootings involving rifles, mostly semi-automatics. This figure is underreported though, as it excludes the multiple semi-automatic (and fully automatic) rifles used in the 2017 Las Vegas Strip massacre – the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, killing 58 and wounding 546. In fact, semi-automatic rifles were featured in four of the five deadliest mass shootings, being used in the Orlando nightclub massacre, Sandy Hook Elementary massacre and Texas First Baptist Church massacre.

    AR-15-style semiautomatic weapons are considered to be civilian versions of military weapons that gun control advocates say aren't very different. Its original military design dates back to the 1950s.

    The AR-15, like its military version, is designed to kill people quickly and in large numbers. The National Rifle Association calls it "America's Rifle."

    Critics say the weapon has no valid recreational use and civilians should not be allowed to own them.

    In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed an assault weapons ban, which banned the AR-15 and other similar semiautomatic rifles. The ban made it illegal to manufacture the weapon while also setting a limit on high-capacity magazines. Though as The Washington Post noted, there were plenty of loopholes.

    Mass shootings across the U.S. went down in the decade that followed, in comparison to the decade before (1984-94) and the one after (2004-14)

    Once the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, gun manufacturers quickly began producing the guns and sales quickly rose.

    The Republican Party were in the majority in the House and Senate in 2004. George Bush was president.

    Yesterday at 9:55 PM Report this

  • Justin Hale

    I've read that there are more guns in this country than there are citizens. Seems like your point of view regarding guns is in the minority.

    Many of US choose to take responsibility for our personal safety, you want to be dependent on others to provide for you that which you refuse to provide for yourself? Good luck with that.

    Yesterday at 11:36 PM Report this

  • Thomas Camfield

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    This was added to the U.S. Constitution back around 1791, before our country had a stream-lined standing army, navy, marine corps, air force, coast guard . . . even National Guard.

    To say that civilian right to bear arms is "necessary to the security of a free state" is just plain ridiculous.

    3 hours ago Report this

  • Justin Hale

    The Second Amendment also says that the right "shall not be infringed.” What do you think a ban on firearms is?

    The early Americans understood the importance of a well-armed populace that could be called to defend our country, and they did. Nowdaze there is this idea that we are somehow safer without firearms, and only the government can be trusted with them.

    This is from Wikipedia, militia: "a private group of armed individuals that operates as a paramilitary force and is typically motivated by a political or religious ideology. specifically: such a group that aims to defend individual rights against government authority that is perceived as oppressive."

    What distinguishes a Militia from any other group of citizens?

    They have firearms!

    What is ridiculous is relying on others to provide for your security in your home. God forbid any of us ever have to face an armed break-in. My first line of defense is to get my shotgun, unchambered, and then my cell phone to call the sheriff and hope I have a signal and they get there in time to help me. What do you do? call for someone with a gun?

    15 minutes ago Report this

  • MargeS

    Most home burglaries take place during the day. While the darkness tends to cause apprehensive feelings, most burglars actually prefer to break in during the day. ...

    Most home burglaries occur between 10 am and 3 pm. ...

    More burglaries occur in the summer months than in the winter months.

    What do Burglars Hate

    Working From Home. Most home burglaries are planned and executed by careful thieves who spot an opportunity and stake out a property to find out when the occupants aren't at home. ...

    Security Systems. ...

    Door and Window Security. ...

    Burglar Alarms. ...

    CCTV Systems. ...

    Smart Locks. ...

    Doorbell Cameras. ...


    Have you and your family take a self defense Course

    Report this