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— During the recent Michael Jackson episode the word "icon" kept being repeated as the tube-ers jawed continually for a week. They still are.

Icon for a hundred years held a religious connotation meaning a sign, a religious image, a symbol, an object of devotion and of course an idol.

Now ask a teenager what an icon is and you'll get all kinds of replies relating to teen heartthrobs, movie stars, guitar playing singers as well as various sports celebrities. How far we have come.

There have been many changes in recent years in our language. Consider the word "closure". Not the door closing kind, but a final acceptance of the loss of a loved one or friend, or even a pet.

And take "transparent". It used to mean a window pane, a clear bottle that showed how much cough syrup remained, a piece of cellophane (and what is cellophane?). Now we all know it's what we expect of our government and political leaders and their actions. In that respect it might be considered a piece of weathered plastic that hides the real goingson.

One phrase that reallyrankles me is "went missing". Why don't the news media just say a person is "missing" or "lost" or "disappeared"? Apparently that is much too simple.

The other day I read in a national newspaper a farmer in Texas "confirmed his hay (big bales) was going missing a couple of bales at a time". Really? They were just rolling away by themselves?

Maybe that's what we can say on April 15 each year: My money went missing, or when the deer ravaged the garden. The tomatoes and okra went missing. Or when we finish a can of Grapette we can say the soda went missing. There are all kinds of possibilities. Perhaps when we consider some of the idiocy that goes on in Washington we can say that sanity has gone missing.

So much for this Cuff. You know, you might say, you know, that logic has gone missing. Or, you know, if this space were just left blank, you know, you could wonder what went missing. Or, you know, who cares, you know?

And that, you know, brings up another challenging phrase, you know, you know.

Opinion, Pages 4 on 08/26/2009

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