Harold Meyerson writes in The American Prospect that the economy has been so bad for so long (“The Forty-Year Slump”) even the language has been affected. “The middle-income jobs of the nation’s postwar boom years have disproportionately vanished. Low-wage jobs have disproportionately burgeoned. Employment has become less secure. Benefits have been cut. The dictionary definition of ‘layoff’ has changed, from denoting a temporary severance from one’s job to denoting a permanent severance.”

Meyerson continues: “All the factors that had slowly been eroding Americans’ economic lives over the preceding three decades — globalization, deunionization, financialization, Wal-Martization, robotization, the whole megillah of nefarious -izations — have now descended en masse on the American people.”

This is the second time I’ve seen Wal-Martization in print recently, but I’ve yet to find a definition. Obviously, Meyerson didn’t intend it as a compliment; nefarious means “infamous or wicked.” (Those “nefarious -izations” remind me of the “damnable isms” regularly deplored by a long-ago writer of letters to the old Arkansas Gazette. He meant communism, fascism and the like.) I’d guess Wal-Martization has something to do with being a giant, low-wage, low-price retailer that puts other retailers out of business. Many Arkansans have mixed feelings about Wal-Mart. They may be nefarious, but they’re our nefarious.

Might as well take up megillah while we’re rummaging through this passage. In Judaism, megillah is a scroll containing the biblical narrative of Esther, traditionally read in synagogues to celebrate the festival of Purim. In slang, the way Meyerson uses it, megillah is “a tediously detailed or embroidered account.”


I seem to have grown out of touch with sports-page lingo. ” ‘He is an athlete, and he’s a gamer,’ Maumelle Coach Mike Buchan said. ‘He kind of does the cool-dust thing in practice, but he gets out here and he turns into a great runner.’ ” I remember “Cool Water” by Bob Nolan and the Sons of the Pioneers, but “Cool Dust” is foreign to me.

Another new one: “When the offense isn’t having as good a day, we’ve got to lift them up, just like when we’re not having as good a day they lift us up. We’ve got a hold-the-rope mentality.” Muhammad Ali employed a “rope a dope” strategy. Not the same thing, apparently.