Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Newspaper of Wrecked Word

David Brooks, in the opening paragraph of a typically asinine column, says this:

Then there was John Thain, who was humiliated because it is no longer acceptable to spend $35,000 on a commode for a Merrill Lynch washroom.

Back on Sunday, Deborah Solomon and J.D. Trout, in one of Solomon's usual Russert-level dialogues, had this exchange:

[JT:] When you’re spending lots of excess money — money that wouldn’t make any difference to your subjective well-being — you’re spending the money on a hedonic vomitorium of sorts.

[DS:] You’re comparing piano lessons to the apocryphal vomitoriums into which decadent Romans supposedly regurgitated their dinner?

[JT:] The vomitorium image is just the idea that you’re consuming something that can’t be used by other people, and it gets wasted on you.

A commode is -- and I believe we went through this with Duke Cunningham, didn't we? -- a set of drawers (h/t). You don't put it in a washroom.

A vomitorium is a tunnel in an amphitheater. (Solomon almost avoids the error, but the vomitoriums weren't "apocryphal" -- the Roman vomit parties were.) Vomitoriums allow actors to come onstage, and aren't actual conduits for purging.

These people are paid to use words correctly. That is all.