Understanding the fuss

As the coronavirus slowly dips its toe into even the furthest fringes of my sphere of influence, the seriousness of the virus becomes evident to me.

***This week’s Words of the Week is one word short of its standard length. This is due to a clerical, copy-and-paste error. The author regrets the error.***

Words of the Week – April 7-14, 2020

As the world is still raptured by news and rumours of news about COVID-19. Incredibly (or, perhaps not incredibly – it is a global pandemic after all, something we love to watch in movies and video games) it has put what would otherwise be non-stop news coverage on the back pages or well below the fold. I speak of the departure of Bernie Sanders from the presidential candidacy race. I was half-surprised to learn that he dropped out of the race. I felt that was inevitable. I was more shocked that I had to fossick carefully through the sections of CNN.com or APNews.com in order to read more about it. Normally, news like that is blazoned across all news web pages and mobile push notifications.  

The biggest take away this week for me is my reflection on word number 7: asymptomatic. Nothing about the word itself is striking, but, as you can read in the word’s breakdown, I have come to the realization that whether or not I feel at risk to the coronavirus, other people do have legitimate concerns of this virus, and I need to be respectful of that.

Let us dive into the Words of the Week for April 7-14, brought to you by Merriam-Webster’s Online Abridged Dictionary (this is a non-sponsored promotion, but if you are a nerd about words and you do not have the rucksack space to haul such a massive dictionary, I recommend for you to pay for the unabridged version of Merriam-Webster.)

1. Furlough

So many people are on furlough because of the virus. Factory workers and hourly-paid staff are the most-furloughed people across the States.

In addition, it seems that a second-division American football league is cursed. It is doomed to ever live past one year. The XFL announced this week that they laid off their entire staff, and that they have doubts of returning as a league for 2021.

This league was actually working; I was invested in this league and could see how important it would be. Knowing the level of talent here in Europe, the XFL could have been that viable bridge for Europeans to truly make a living by playing American football. Just take a look at the talent being advertised on Podyum.com.

2. Coronavirus

Last week, I conjectured that the use of certain online platforms must be rising sharply. To the surprise of no one, Netflix and Zoom dominate our online time.

3. Pandemic

I want to avert your attention from the actual pandemic around us and highlight a video game company that brought joy and glee to my childhood: Pandemic Studios.

The now defunct company brought the gaming world enthralling classics such as Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Star Wars: Battlefront I and II, and Mercenaries I and II. Their introduction to each of their games played FDR’s famous line of “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” as a black and white image of a WWI gasmask is shown and later pops into the studio’s branded yellow colour.

This is a great video detailing the height and fall of the beloved video game makers.

4. Corona

I learned that “corona” is a taxonomic synonym for Coronatae, a family of large pelagic or deep-sea jellyfishes. Retain this fact for your next quarantined family trivia night.

Then, Corona, the beer, and the production of it is being suspended in Mexico in order to meet government orders during the pandemic. The beer’s distributor says also “the unfortunate name of the beer had not dampened sales,” despite reports claiming otherwise.

This cerveca best survive the pandemic. No other beer pairs better with tacos.

5. Quarantine

Here in Malta, we may be locked in our homes with great fervour and urgency.


6. Noun

Noun stays put at number six on the list. I am put to the test each week to find ways to write about noun. As long as it remains on this list, I will lob baseless accusations without ceasing towards mankind because they do not know what a noun (and adjective and verb) is.

7. Asymptomatic

I will admit: I am at times apathetic to the concerns and fears of others towards the coronavirus. Last week, I learned that a high school classmate came down with corona-like symptoms, and this changed my perspective on the whole ordeal. When news of any kind hits just an inch closer to your inner circle, you tend to become pathetic to the situation. Understanding better that I could be an asymptomatic carrier of the virus, I will try not to be so cynical to the idea of social distancing.

8. Adjective

See 6. Noun.

9. Fascism

As with draconian, fascism as a word is used to described any sort of preventive measures designed to slowdown the spread of the virus.

It is indeed a difficult balancing act. We all want this virus to be suppressed, and we certainly want our leaders to make moves towards that, but then leaders make the moves to suppress the virus, and those measures are then dubbed as fascist or draconian. The alternative approach seems to be to allow society to continue on as normal and see who is left standing at the end of it. That does not sound so nice.

10. Adrenochrome

You have time on your hands; you are bored at home because you have exhausted your activities. You want to read and better yourself, but reading puts you to sleep. What to do?

Read this thorough article about adrenochromes. It will put you down a conspiracy theory rabbit hole with no shortage of bizarre elements to ponder.

11. Draconian

I hear people are worried that governments will take advantage of these strict measures to “flatten the curve”: stay home, do not gather here, and do not assemble there. I do not believe that civil liberties will be washed away overnight because of these temporary measures. Yet when there are reports of mayors offering compensation to snitch on people for leaving their homes, then I become concerned about draconian policies coming to affect us, even if they are just for the short term. Then, the Italians unleash drones to measure citizens’ temperatures and issue fines. Oh, dear.

12. Nimiety

Nimiety, a word which here means “to be in excess”, joins the list this week. It is a nice, whimsical word; a nice alternative to saying that “ESPN Player and NFL GamePass now offer a butt-load of great documentaries and all-time classic games”.

13. Virus

This has gone viral (pardon the pun): a high schooler in Washington State has developed this sophisticated website for tracking COVID-19 cases globally.

14. Apex

We are all wondering when this stupid virus will reach its apex. This is a fruitless endeavour to research because of the absurd amount of information across the spectrum that is out there.

Topping the “apex”-related news is the announcement of further seasons for the battle-royale video game Apex Legends and speculation that Bitcoin will explode in importance during this pandemic.

15. Malapropism

[Disclosure: I may have been performing this word my entire life after realizing that I’ve been saying “malo-propism”.]

Malapropisms are hilarious and, like the breaking of the wind, everyone has done it in public at some time.

The assumed-to-be Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has endearing examples of malapropisms, but this has also been part of the knock on his viability and sharpness to run and dethrone Trump. Trump has had his share of malapropisms, too, so this year’s presidential debates may be comedy gold.

16. Novel

Coronavirus is no longer novel. Allow me to bore you with news from my day-to-day life:

I am reading The Brothers Karamazov, the classic novel by Theodor Dostoevsky. Before now, I had only read excerpts of the book as required reading for an intro to philosophy class that I took at Idaho State. Now reading it with mature eyes and mind, I am floored by the content, themes, and issues that this novel explores.

Dr Jordan Peterson used Dostoevsky and other Russian writers as examples of how to best write novels: find a problem in the universe, create real and fascinating characters, and explore how those characters react and evolve and grow throughout the story. It was an awesome bit of writing advice that I have taken to heart. I do not know how a story will end. I have characters, I have a setting, and I have an overarching theme or problem plaguing these characters and worlds: let us see what happens!

17. Assuredly

A wonderful adverb; an adverb that needs to be dispensed equally amongst the nations. I will assuredly say that mankind will be made better through this experience.

18. Verb

A new verb I learned this past week is fossicking, an Australian/New Zealander gem that means “to search for gold, typically by picking over abandoned workings” or “to rummage; to search about” and which, I presume, we get the phrase “to fuss about” something. The origin of fossick comes from fussick, “to potter” over one’s work.

Australians have a propensity to make up words, but this is a verb I can easily and happily adopt to my American-based vocabulary.

19. Culture

It is quite something to think how quickly our culture can change during a crisis such as this. I will look at it from a sporting point of view; sports is integral to American culture. March Madness is one of the top events in America – a month-long celebration of hoops and drama (or greed, depending on your view). The announcement of March Madness being cancelled because of the coronavirus was a shot to the collective gut of sports enthusiasts. Days later, though, it seemed we are able to move on. We now fill our time with other activities – productive activities, more often than not.

When this is all over, the return of sports will be greatly celebrated by me.

20. Plenilune

Plenilune (noun) is “the time of a full moon”. April 7 was the time of a Super Moon, or a Pink Moon. I daydream of one day renting an Airbnb capsule on the moon and taking in the sites of a Super Earth or a Third Quarter Earth.

21. Socialism

Socialism’s biggest American proponent, Bernie Sanders, dropped out of the US presidential race on Wednesday, 8 April. I am eager to see if this word will stay atop of the charts in the weeks to come.

Socialism is touted as the system that can bring about the best in mankind. In doses, perhaps, yes; I see socialism working in miniscule scales (a family unit, or with my college roommates (Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and Costco chicken breasts distributed evenly amongst us)). Yet this pandemic has brought out the best in people, and you can find several stories of ordinary men and women stepping up to the plate of need and delivering goods to those who need it most. No political system is required.

22. Jacket

This one is strange. My survey of the news did not result in anything of interest regarding jacket other than sales on said word.

I did learn that jacket can be used as a transitive verb, as in“I jacketed myself as I wintered in Jackson, Wyoming.”

23. Love

Ah, love. Christians around the world celebrate on a special and very, very good Friday, April 10, the greatest act of love ever committed.

In Malta, Good Friday is a hugely important day of remembrance where people celebrate with massive and elaborate processions in the streets to commemorate the death and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It was neat to see that not even COVID-19 could halt this tradition in Malta.

24. Featherbrain

Featherbrain is an insult used to describe “a foolish, scatterbrained person”. After resuming Words of the Week and sensing a pattern of ways to describe leadership and their actions during the pandemic, I can take just a few guesses as to whom this word is targeted.

25. [none]

As you may have noticed, the screenshot of the Words of the Week is without the 25th word. This is a clerical error. I am unable to backtrack and get accurate results. So, this error in data input will force this week’s Words of the Week to be short one word.

The Stormtrooper at night

The cover image of this blog was taken from my intro to photography class portfolio, and it was a particularly painstaking process to get to turn out how I wanted. I was armed with a sub-par digital camera that I had purchased secifically for this class. For nearly three hours I laid out in the foothills of Pocatello, Idaho under a plenilune night sky as I tried to get the focus just right, to capture the contrast of the dark sky behind the white Stormtrooper figurine all the while trying to capture the full moon in detail. I could not capture this in one shot. In the end, I took one photo of the Stormtrooper in focus, and a second photo of the full moon in focus, and then used Photoshop to crop the two together.

You may see that the full moon is not there in the cover photo, but instead the Death Star; you may notice that it is not a natural-looking photo, but one awashed with pre-made filters. I do not know where the original photo is, but this one with the Death Star is more appealing to me anyway. Below is a trial shot I found with the moon out of focus, but shining nonetheless.

Yes, this Stormtrooper is a bit bug-eyed.

2 thoughts on “Understanding the fuss

  1. Pingback: Immured no more – Oranjetaan.com

  2. Pingback: 2020: a PURPLE PASSAGE IN HISTORY – Oranjetaan.com

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