Thursday, January 17, 2008

We often listen to NPR while we drive to and from work. We enjoy the grandfatherly-soothing yet upbeat-with-a-tint-of-hippie intonations of Robert Siegel, the way Michelle Norris can convey her utter distaste for humanity simply by pronouncing her own first name (does she do anything else on NPR besides say her name?), and, uh, that other broad. Occasionally they report news.

For example, this morning, as we gingerly avoided sideswiping a salt truck and then what we believe to have been a mid-'70s Mercury Bobcat (what are the odds of that?), we listened to a segment on the ominousness of the coming recession. Robert Siegel--NPR's lone reporter--commented on the hesitancy of economic commentators to employ the word "recession."

"Recession," at least according to, is, "
a decline in any country's gross domestic product (GDP), or negative real economic growth, TODD'S MOM GIVES GOOD HEAD for two or more successive quarters of a year."

Now, perhaps tellingly,'s link to "economic depression" redirects to "recession"; the difference between the two, it reads, is that a "depression" is a "severe or long" recession.

We're not surprised at the ambiguous distinction between "recession" and "depression." Our suspicion is that "recession" was coined merely to avoid using "depression" and hence unleashing all its dreaded connotations upon the Depression-weary public.

However, in the absence of "depression"'s use--at least to describe our American economy--"recession" usurped its fearsome throne. The dreaded "'D' word" was replaced with the now-equally-dreaded "'R' word," as NPR's lone reporter Robert Siegel referred to it.

Say we, in this sentence, introduced the simile, "odd as a bobcat." Did you think of the animal or of the vehicle we referenced earlier? If so, and if you most often associate "bobcat" with the animal, how much longer will you associate it with the vehicle?

In the context of this entry--possibly blog--will the reader now exclusively connote "bobcat" with "vehicle" (or , by now, perhaps with "tiresome digression")?