The Jackson Herald
July 25, 2001
This is a big
pile of stuff
Did you see John McDuffie's letter to the editor two weeks ago?
He said he reads my stuff first because I am "always thought
provoking" and I force him to look up words he thought he
knew the meaning of, like "stuff."
I've never met you, Mr. McDuffie, but you are a true friend.
That's just about the nicest compliment I've received in nearly
six decades of writing-or trying to write.
I really appreciate your taking the time to look up "stuff."
As far as I know, you and Tom Bryan are the only two readers
who did that.
Would that more of you out there followed suit-and became really
educated. The word "stuff" embodies all of the stuff
you need to know to be a success-or failure-in whatever you undertake
You can find "stuff" in one of the most informative,
interesting and fascinating books ever written. It is called
a "dictionary," and one of my greatest fears is that
the computer and its word processor will make it obsolete. If
that ever happens, we'll really be a stupid nation.
The dictionary I have in front of me (I never sit down to write
without it) is a big one. I mean, it is THE WORLD Book Dictionary.
Also nearby is Dictionary's first cousin, Thesaurus. (Look up
Look, I am not writing down to you people. I just feel like there
are some out there who don't know what a thesaurus is. They need
"Stuff" and all its offspring (I don't think that's
the right word) occupy one full column, or one-third of a page,
in my dictionary.
For your information, "stuff" is followed by "do
one's stuff," "know one's stuff," "strut
one's stuff," "stuffed shirt," "stuffer,"
"stuffily," "stuffiness," "stuffing,"
"stuffing box," "stuffing nut," and "stuffy."
Why, you could use "stuff" as a text and teach a full
year's course on etymology and semantics. And the University
of Georgia ought to offer such a course. It should be required
for all football players. They could begin and end a sentence
with something other than "like, you know."
OK, class, let's look at the word more closely.
The first definition of stuff (stuf) n. is this: "What a
thing is made of."
Delve deeper and we learn that the word also applies to a person-a
real, live, flesh-and-blood human being, like you and me.
First test question: What kind of stuff are you made of? Is the
answer definition no. 5, "worthless material, useless objects;
refuse," or no. 6, "silly words and thoughts,"
or no. 7, "inward qualities; character; capabilities"?
Like I said, stuff has a lot to do with success or failure.
The word perfectly describes Greg Maddux and offers a pretty
good clue as to why he is successful: "the ability to throw
a variety of pitches with deception." Greg's got good stuff.
Strut one's stuff ("to show off"), stuffed shirt ("tries
to seem more important than he really is"), and stuffy ("angry,
sulky") pretty much nails a former Braves pitcher who is
now blowing saves for the Cleveland Indians.
Stuff is what we wear ("any woven fabric, especially a woolen
or worsted one").
It can be a substance ("The doctor rubbed some kind of stuff
on the burn").
I hope the doctor knew his stuff ("competent or well-informed,
especially in a particular field").
There are people who stuff pillows, and there are people who
stuff the skins of dead animals to make them look like they did
when they were alive.
And in just about every election some crooked politician stuffs
the ballot box.
OK, you've had enough of this stuff. I don't want to become stuffy
("lacking freshness or interest; stodgy; dull").
So let us move on to two other words that give me a lot of trouble.
I am speaking of "know" and "believe."
I am not sure if I know what I am doing or believe what I am
doing. All this stuff is very confusing.
There I go, back on stuff again. It's hard to get away from stuff.
Stuff permeates our lives. We live with stuff 24 hours a day.
The answer? Just put up with it.
"Know" and "believe" are powerful words,
too. Most people know or believe (take your choice) that they
mean one and the same thing. Most people, of course, know or
believe a lot of stuff that just isn't so.
Know and believe have been important parts of my life for many
years. The first sentence in my written-down philosophy goes
like this. "I know the only years of my life are out ahead;
I believe the best years of my life are out ahead."
I have been asked why I know the one and believe the other. I
used to wonder about that myself. So I took it upon myself to
study the two words.
In the dictionary, there is a slight difference between them.
In real life, the difference is as wide as from here to eternity.
Know and believe are often used interchangeably with little thought
given to their shades of gray. However, it is possible to use
them with discrimination to convey quite distinct ideas.
To know stresses assurance and implies a sound logical or factual
Believe, too, stresses assurance but implies trust and faith
(as in a Higher Power) as its basis.
"I know he is telling the truth" is quite different
from "I believe he is telling the truth."
I know I am riding in the back of the pickup; I believe I'll
arrive safely at the campsite.
I know the sun will come up in the morning. Or do I? Perhaps
believe is the better word here. It does involve trust and faith.
(Look up faith in the dictionary. See also Hebrews, chapter 11.)
Sorry, but I cannot end this without adding to the pile of stuff.
Our Contractor used pretty good stuff in laying the foundation.
In fact, He said it was very good. Now we are a work in progress.
It's up to us to use the right stuff to finish the job.
I know (?) believe (?) that with all my heart. The reason I'm
not sure, stuff keeps getting in the way.
Virgil Adams is a former owner-editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Jackson Herald
July 25, 2001
Some thoughts on
Most people are aware of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals), the animal rights group which I believe to be filthy,
illogical communists. Their off-the-wall ideas and practices
will make the average person wonder if there is any sanity left
in the world.
I began researching at www.peta.org to find out how ignorant
these people actually are. Within 30 seconds, I was enraged.
Since I am a fisherman myself, I first noticed a link about how
the Boy Scouts should de-merit the fishing badge. I found an
article featuring a boy by the name of Justin Aligata who is
a vegetarian, animal rights activist and the star of PETA's anti-fishing
commercial. He believes that fishing (one of many techniques
for survival) is wrong because it harms the fish within the environment.
He also believes that when someone fishes, it must deaden a piece
of his or her heart.
First off, if this boy had any common sense, he would realize
that humans are omnivores and eat meat. Secondly, there is nothing
wrong with catching fish and putting them back. Also, if the
angler chooses to harvest the fish to eat, then that's fine.
After all, fish can be quite tasty.
PETA also claimed that fishing and hunting may lead to violence
later in life. They're basically saying that participating in
outdoor sportsmanship will put you on the path to homicide. I
gladly admit that if someone deliberately sets a cat ablaze for
a good laugh, they might end up harming or killing another human
being. But if fishing and hunting secretly taught people to kill
fellow human beings, then I would have been in jail a long time
Fishing and hunting aren't PETA's only concerns. This group is
attacking fast food restaurants all over the country. There was
a case in Ohio a few days ago where a lady stripped naked, painted
herself pink and laid like a sow outside a Wendy's. She refused
to move until they agreed to quit abusing the animals they use
for their food. The article made the lady out to be a hero, who
probably is spending some quality time in jail right now.
Last year, PETA actually got McDonalds to agree to change a few
of their techniques they use to slaughter animals. Why McDonalds
agreed to terms made up by these maniacs is beyond me.
The truth is that PETA members have no biological background.
When reading their articles, I noticed things like "common
sense tells us that these fish feel pain." If they were
trying to convince me that fish feel pain, they should at least
try to give me some facts rather than trying to sell me an opinion.
PETA claims to have gained the support of the ever-so-famous
communist Alec Baldwin, James Cromwell and the disease-stricken
Richard Pryor. The last I heard about Richard Pryor is that he
can't think for himself, much like other PETA members.
Radio talk show host Neal Boortz has a hypothesis that PETA is
a huge joke put on by masterminds who wear fur and meets at a
steakhouse once a week discussing what ludicrous scheme to come
up with next. With group as unbelievably stupid as PETA, who
Charlie Broadwell is a staff member for MainStreet Newspapers.
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