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More stuff caught in the cobwebs

“Ninety percent of everything is crap.” — Theodore Sturgeon

I found something I had not seen or thought about for a very long time the other day while looking for something else (that of course, I never found) — the very first column that I ever wrote.

It was published in The Clarksdale Press Register almost exactly 42 years ago this week and about the kindest thing I can honestly say about it is that it was just simply awful, as the initial efforts of young would-be columnists generally are. The fact that I wrote that one and ever got the opportunity to write a second one serves as testament to the fact that I had an editor with a great deal more patience than have I.

But it set me to thinking. Whether good, bad or indifferent, for any fellow to write a column just about every week — at least 50 a year — for 42 years means he’s going to have produced something close to 2,100 opinion columns and that’s a whole lot of opinions for anybody to even hold, much less about which to wax more or less poetic in print.

And as one might very reasonably hope, if not expect, I have learned a little bit about column writing in all that time.

I’ve learned that like a lot of other things in life, it is not as easy as it might look at first glance. There are just a whole bunch of people out there who I am sure think they can write a newspaper column better than I can, but based on a fair number who actually do, no doubt being of the same opinion, I rather tend to doubt it.

Of course, I can’t run a trot line or change out a transmission, either. A man needs to know his limitations.

And one thing is as true today as it was way back in 1977 when I started to write a newspaper column with the audacity to name it The Different Drummer after a favored line from a favored Henry David Thoreau poem — I was and remain committed to not having it become a niche column, one that could be pigeon-holed as purely political or comedic or anything else that would limit its subject matter. By God, if I was going to call my column “different,” then I was going to make it different. Esoteric, perhaps, or eclectic or maybe once in a while even enlightening.

After all, a fellow is going to take the time to write what he thinks about something, he certainly wants to make it interesting enough for folks to want to read it.

So, what do I want to write about today?

I could write something serious. There are certainly enough serious subjects upon which to opine at the national, state and local levels, but to tell you the truth, I am not in the greatest of moods to start with today, and doing that would likely just depress me (and you) more, so I think instead I’ll make this little weekly one-way discussion of ours about something that I like and like to play around with — words.

How about we take some words, good, solid words, the meanings of which most folks still reading this know (We’ve likely lost most of the abject morons by now.), and tinker around with them a bit, maybe even coming up with some amusement in the process.

Here goes:

• Adversity — That which does not kill you may or may not make you stronger, but certainly postpones the inevitable.

• Doubt — In any contest, regardless of its nature, between you and the world, bet on the world every time.

• Economics — The pseudo-science of explaining tomorrow why the prediction you made yesterday not only did not but could not possibly have happened today.

• Pessimism — Not only does every dark cloud have a silver lining, but lightning kills hundreds of people trying to find it each and every year.

• Ineptitude — If you find yourself unable to do something properly, then for heaven’s sake, take a little pride in learning how to do it improperly.

• Government — If you think the problems it can create are bad ones, just wait until to see some of its solutions.

• Tradition — Just because you, your family, and all of your friends have always done something one way, does not mean it is not breathtakingly stupid.

• Ambition — Not only does the journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step, quite often it ends very, very badly.

• Sniping — The instant your target becomes in range, so are you.

• Perseverance — The courage to ignore the increasingly obvious fact that you are going the wrong way and need to turn back.

Ray Mosby is editor and publisher of the Deer Creek Pilot in Rolling Fork.