Is there any kind of gall other than unmitigated gall? Have you ever met a hussy who wasn't brazen? Have you ever applied "blithering" to any noun other than "idiot?"
Anybody who flatly denies having used those words in pairs is talking arrant nonsense (and the only time we use "arrant" is with "nonsense"). These wedded words are faithful to each other: you never hear "unmitigated nonsense" or "arrant gall," "blithering hussy" or "brazen idiot." The words never stray from their lifetime partners in cliche.
Here's an exception: the verb "denies," as used above, has broken up with the adverb "flatly" and moved in with another suitor. Apparently "flatly denies" is not mouth-filling enough. Those who deny (or are in denial, to use the hottest psychobabble) want a word partner with a fiercer, yet more intellectual connotation.
Senator John Kerry shot down a salacious rumor recently with "I just deny it categorically." Asked about charges that al-Qaeda prisoners were being maltreated at our base in Cuba, a spokeswoman for Joint Task Force/Guantanamo replied, "They're categorically false, completely untrue." And in Madrid, asked if he planned to switch football clubs, the English metrosexual soccer star David Beckham said, "I can categorically deny I have had any meetings with Roman Abramovich."
Farewell, "flatly;" a more ringing emphasizer has run off with "denial." Though "angrily," "hotly" and "flatly" are used by journalists to characterize the denials of interviewees, deniers themselves choose the modifier made famous by philosophers.
"As used originally by Aristotle," wrote Sir William Hamilton in his 1866 classic on logic, "the term `categorical' meant merely `affirmative' and was opposed to `negative.' By Theophrastus it was employed in the sense of `absolute' ... opposed to `conditional;' and in this signification it has continued to be employed by all subsequent logicians."
Aristotle used `category' to classify 10 predicaments. It was the 18th-century German philosopher Immanuel Kant who laid down an unconditional ethic, binding on every reasoning being: "Act as if the maxim from which you act were to become, through your will, a universal law." This became known as his "categorical imperative."
"What is a `categorical denial' as contrasted with a `denial?'" ask Tom and Carol Creel in e-mail-land. (If you're going to send a digigram to firstname.lastname@example.org, please say where you're from.) "We have never heard anyone make an `uncategorical' denial."
That word, not in use, would mean "imprecise, conditional, hypothetical, tentative." The word that has clasped "denial" to its bosom, snatching it from "flatly," is categorical: "direct, unconditional, pertinent, clear." The noun "category" places subjects in separate folders for easy locating and study; the adjective "categorical" calls up the sense of orderly, defined classifications, defeating the army of ignorance in detail.
If you want to emphasize your denial without sounding lawyerly or philosophical, try "absolutely."
RECUSE to the rescue
Justice Antonin Scalia, who recuses himself from Supreme Court cases about 10 times a year, decided -- in a 21-page memo -- not to disqualify himself from a case about Vice President Dick Cheney's refusal to reveal the names of members of an energy task force. The Sierra Club had charged that because he and Cheney had been guests on a duck-hunting trip, Scalia should not participate in the case. Scalia countered that because the vice president had been sued not personally but in his official capacity, much precedent existed for justices to sit in that circumstance.
"Since I do not believe my impartiality can reasonably be questioned," he wrote, "I do not think it would be proper for me to recuse."
But here's the head-scratcher: Why did he not write "recuse myself?" This verb, meaning "to withdraw from judging," is usually transitive, taking an object like "myself." Chief Justice William Rehnquist wrote that any suggestion "as to why a justice should recuse himself in a pending case is ill considered."
But a school of thought holds that "recuse" is intransitive. Judge Ronald Kessler of the King County, Washington, Superior Court sends along this citation: "Strictly speaking," wrote the Court of Appeals of Washington in the 1992 State versus Kron, "to `recuse' is to challenge the judge. In response, the judge may or may not disqualify himself; he does not recuse himself. `Recusal' is the process that results in the judge's disqualification."
I'll hear from other lawyers and judges on this, and I hope from Scalia, who speaks as strictly as anybody. But let me nit-pick one usage in his memo analyzing the limits of conflict of interest and his view of the impropriety of failing to sit. In noting that Justice Byron White went on a skiing vacation with Bobby Kennedy in 1963, Scalia wrote, "Justice White was close friends with Attorney General Robert Kennedy."
Which is more precise: "close friends with" or "a close friend of?"
Five years ago, I put that to the great usagist Jacques Barzun. He found a shade of difference: "`Friend of' refers to an established relationship. `Friends with' gives the connotation of `friendly toward,' referring to the attitude rather than the firm relationship. `I'm friends with her,' in my book, is not incorrect, but is informal."
Final note about that word "recuse," from the Latin recusare, "to object or demur." During the Jimmy Carter administration, I wrote that Attorney General Griffin Bell had "recused himself" in a case.
He then held up the Times in a Carter Cabinet meeting and noted a typographical error in the article: "It says here I `rescued' myself -- and, come to think of it, that's exactly what I did."
Unless Hollywood movies like Greenland, Deep Impact, and Armageddon have predictive powers and a rogue space rock is heading our way, stopping Chinese Communist Party expansionism is likely to prove the single most challenging and dangerous problem of our lifetimes. How can the United States, Taiwan, and other liberal democracies prepare for and prevent attacks from China? How can Washington bolster Taipei’s confidence when it doesn’t recognize Taiwan as a real country and, so far, lacks the political will to make major adjustments to its ossified China policy and Taiwan policy? How can Taiwan make itself heard on the world stage when
Hypersonic weapons are defined as armaments capable of traveling at speeds faster than Mach 5 and can be broadly classified into two types: hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV) and hypersonic cruise missiles. The former are launched into the upper atmosphere by ballistic missiles. The vehicle is then separated from the booster to maneuver, or glide, toward its target. The latter can be launched from a jet plane or rocket to reach supersonic speed before igniting a scramjet engine to achieve hypersonic speeds. As the US engages in a great-power competition with China and Russia, all three countries are racing to field hypersonic
The number of people emigrating from Hong Kong has been rapidly increasing, Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department data show, with the territory’s population dropping by 110,000 people from 2019 to this year. China’s imposition of a National Security Law has clearly triggered a massive population outflow. However, not only people but also foreign businesses are leaving Hong Kong. For example, Vanguard Group, the world’s second-largest asset management company, VF Corp and Sony Interactive Entertainment have moved their top regional management from Hong Kong to Singapore. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury goods company, has also relocated staff
President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) Double Ten National Day address has attracted a great deal of analysis and many different interpretations. One core question is why Tsai chose this occasion to discuss Taiwan’s national status. What was her main motive and what effect did she intend to have? These are issues that clearly need further clarification. The section of Tsai’s speech that attracted the most attention internationally was, not surprisingly, the part where she laid out “four commitments” that she said should serve as common ground for all Taiwanese, regardless of political affiliation. The commitments were to liberal democracy and constitutional government; that the