Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Diaster, Diasters (for Disaster, Disasters)

In yesterday's post, I drew a comparison of 19th-century volcanic ash to Dr. Seuss's icky oobleck. However, on second thought, the sorry snafu occupying the Gulf Coast of Mexico would be a much better analog. The 1949 children's classic is a tale of hubris and environmental disaster precipitated by King Derwin's idle discontent with rain in the spring, sun in the summer, fog in the fall, and snow in the winter. He's angry and wants some new and improved weather, but when the young Bartholomew reminds him that "even kings can't rule the sky," he enlists the aid of his Royal Magicians to make it happen. Oobleck begins to fall and when the boy finds a mother bird trapped in her nest and other things getting gummed up in the works, he tries to warn the people. With mounds of green goo blanketing the Kingdom of Didd, King Derwin finally takes Bart's suggestion to say that he's sorry, which miraculously melts the oobleck. Would that British Petroleum could do the same, and that an apology would have the same result. There were 12 examples of Diaster in OhioLINK and three each of Diasters and Diastrous. (We also got 31 hits on Disasterous, but this is often more a misspelling than a typo per se and may derive from the work itself, so be sure to check the source.)

("BP Oil Flood Protest" at Jackson Square in New Orleans, by Derek Bridges, May 30, 2010, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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