Roads to hoe


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An American national-security expert, speaking to BBC about national security, says, “That’s a tough row to hoe …” — then stops himself and says, “a tough road to hoe.”



Unfortunately for him, he was right the first time. When he tried to “correct” himself, he committed both a language error and a logical error.

I mean, have you ever tried to hoe a road? All that macadam or concrete makes it rather a tough, well, row to hoe.

It’s difficult enough to “hoe a row” of corn or beans by hand, from what I understand, not having ever tried it (certain things you should just never try at home no matter how cool they sound) — which is what farmers and farmworkers used to do. And that is why most farmers these days use machines bigger than your house (unless you’re one of those secret Republican donators) with 90-foot-wide sprayers and herbicides.

On the other hand, it’s been, more or less, a “tough road to hoe” year.

Why bother with how people write or talk? my pal Phil continually asks me, which is better than constantly asking me but only just. As long as they communicate what they mean, who cares?
And he’s right, in a sense, as he usually is. He’s a smart guy and has a postgraduate degree in something or other, so it’s easy for him to be right.

But I’m still stuck with the image of a national-security expert, hoe in hand, strenuously trying to hoe North Gilbert Street as my friend Phil cheers him on.

And I can’t help but wonder what exactly people are trying to communicate when I run into such items as “Don’t let the national dynamic and the Republican machine fool you into thinking Iowa is a baron wasteland.”

So, Iowa is full of land barons? Well, I suppose there are some pretty big farms and livestock operations, but I suspect, the owners being Iowans, they’d be insulted to be called barons.

And then there’s “Officials from the UI, Iowa Bored of Regents, and the City of Coralville pose for a pictures.”

I don’t know about that writer, but I’m not going to call the regents boring. For one thing, they exert a tremendous influence on the economy of Iowa City, even more than the 21-ordinance, hard as that is to believe. So, no, regents, you’re not boring; you’re interesting, intelligent, sometimes even vivacious, people. Remember — you heard it here first.

And I almost have to applaud the writer who penned (if one can, indeed, pen on a computer) “We very rarely have a year that no one brakes any rules.”

Because you know, certain rules truly need some brakes that we could stomp on and say, Whoa, wait a minute.

I think that’s what the brouhaha (which has not very much to do with laughter) over the 21-ordinance is mostly about. Not to mention the whole Tea Party thing, which seems to be all about braking the country to stop it from going in the direction it’s heading.

Frankly, I wasn’t sure the country was going in any particular direction, but whatever.
After today, probably, everyone will start talking like Sarah Palin, and everything will be “refutiated.” I can hardly wait.

And, after today, speaking of a “tough road to hoe,” a certain congressman from Ohio will no doubt become the Boehner of our existence.

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