Bad News On Jobs: As Scrutable As It Is Concerting


My Man Godfrey, a flinching, sparing look at joblessness.

In the universe of hack journalism, and in the vaster world of careless language everywhere, there's an honored place for words that rarely or never appear without their negating prefixes. You never hear about the gruntled workers, the reverent comedies, the stoppable ball clubs, the vincible armies or the placable foes.

It may be time to add expected/unexpected to this heap. Otherwise, somebody will have to explain how even the most sarcastic copydesk can take bad news on job losses—possibly the most precedented story of our time—and give it the headline "Initial jobless claims increase unexpectedly."

Then again, the Morlocks of the copydesk couldn't come up with a piece of prose poetry like this: "The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits rose last week, a sign that jobs remain scarce even as the economy recovers." For that you need AP Economics Writer Christopher S. Rugaber. who deserves bridled acclaim for his trepid use of information taken from reproachable analysts and impeachable government sources. It's defatigable journalism like this that makes the thought of a world without the mainstream media so imaginably bleak.


NEXT: Reason's Peter Bagge is Busting Out All Over (And Nominated for a Prestigious Eisner)

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Absolutely paralleled in it’s insipidness.

    1. Okay, now I want to know if sipid is a word.

      1. What about negative suffixes, like the word ruthless. Someone can be ruthless but, can they be ruth without being named such?

        1. RUTH is a legal word in Scrabble. As you’d expect, it’s the quality you lack if you’re RUTHLESS.

          1. Ruth ain’t no word!

        2. Well you don’t hear it much anymore, but ruthful means filled with sorrow, pity and/or compassion.

          1. My favorite word used only in the negative. I was going to add a clever post using it, but I’m too late.

  2. A+, Tim. You get the top grade for keeping it short, which I realize is most likely simply because there weren’t enough negative-prefix-less words to bump up your paid-by-the-word rate, but still, good stuff.

    1. A paid-by-the-word rate isn’t bumped up by adding words.

  3. Aw. I like My Man Godfrey.

    1. Yup. Great film.

      Carole Lombard = super hot. Very underappreciated. Blows Garbo away on the hotness scale.

      1. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I’d say she’s far hotter than a number of other hotness icons of those days: Jean Harlow and Betty Grable come to mind. And supposedly she was quite a nice person, being friendly with the crews and etc.

    2. One of my favorites, too.

      And it has a free-market message — a rarity for Depression-era films. Instead of getting the homeless men make-work government jobs, the hero opens a nightclub and hires them.

  4. I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who has noticed this. (I can’t list all the links)

    January 14th:


    In another disappointing economic report, the number of newly laid-off workers requesting unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week as jobs remain scarce.

    January 21st


    The number of newly-laid off workers seeking jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week, as the economy recovers at a slow and uneven pace.

    Feb 2:


    WASHINGTON ? The number of newly laid-off workers filing initial claims for jobless benefits rose unexpectedly last week, evidence that layoffs are continuing and jobs remain scarce.

    Feb 18th


    The number of U.S. workers filing new applications for unemployment insurance unexpectedly surged last week, while producer prices increased sharply in January, raising potential hurdles for the economic recovery.

    Today’s numbers are out. Ugly again (up 12% over two weeks). Guess what word popped up?

    Feb 25th


    WASHINGTON — The number of new claims for unemployment benefits jumped unexpectedly last week as heavy snows caused layoffs to rise.

    March 31st


    Companies in the U.S. unexpectedly cut payrolls in March, according to data from a private report based on payrolls.


    April 8th

    (Bloomberg) — More Americans unexpectedly filed initial claims for jobless benefits last week.

    1. Nice Mises. No linky-links but it seems about right. When the hacks have religion on New Deal economics reality is always unexpected.

      1. Exactly. All bad economic news in 2000-2008 was the fault of the evil Bush, and the Unicorn Rider with his Democratic Congress was elected to change all that. Thus, all bad economic news is now “unexpected.”

    2. Most egg-cellent, Mises. And I’m not saying that to be ingenuous.

  5. Uncategorically, the best post in a long while.

  6. Tim,
    Your canny knack for word play and literary genuity is genuous.

    1. Or perhaps it’s disgenuous

  7. “information taken from … impeachable government sources

    One of my favorite Nixon era gags about a government leak ran:

    Reporter 1: “I have information from an unimpeachable source.”
    Reporter 2: “Well, that lets the President out, then.”

  8. Cavanaugh is best after he’s had a couple. This post is epic win.

  9. lol. brilliant. *golf-clap*

  10. Unexpectedly, unicorns don’t live on the White House lawn.

    1. Sadly, lead poisoning from grazing near Michelle’s garden.

      1. Too bad. The Unicorn shit would probably make a great fertilzer for her.

        1. If a unicorn is a horse (stripeless zebra?) that has one spike protruding from its skull, then corn=spike. Could we call a unicorn a monocorn? Is a horse cornless?

          Horses shall henceforth be called corn-challenged americans.

          I’m trying here, but it’s still early.

          1. A traditional unicorn has the body of a horse, but a goat’s beard, cloven hooves, and a lion’s tail.

            That should give you more to work with, and you’ve had another hour to wake up.

            1. Dang, so that spike I drove into my horse’s head didn’t make him a unicorn. No wonder he died, I forgot the beard.

  11. Only one extra phillp:

    “It’s defatigable journalism like this that makes the thought of a world without the mainstream media so imaginably manageably bleak, as the new media fills the void.”

  12. Tim for the wins. You have renewed my disbelief. Keep up the lack of faith.

  13. Why aren’t House and Cameron in color?

    1. What about Cutty and Foreman…(Racist!)

      1. My bad — it’s early here in the CTZ

  14. We’ve had a progressive run government for over a year now, surely the economy has to have turned around by now,…please, anyone?

  15. There’s a sadness in the press. Reality won’t cooperate with their President. So many hopey changes, so much unexpected hopelessness.

  16. One of the funniest things I’ve read all month. Good work!

  17. Ruth, Baby, to name a few

  18. I could swear i’ve heard reverent used somewhere.

    Irregardless, nice list.

    1. It’s what a scout is.

  19. “California also closed its state offices for a holiday on March 31, which likely held down the claims figures.”

    A solution to unexpected unemployment claims that should be adopted nationwide.

  20. Cavanuagh,
    You are the best. I love it.

  21. Oh, well done, sir! Well done indeed!

  22. “The number of newly laid-off workers seeking unemployment benefits rose last week, a sign that jobs remain scarce even as the economy recovers.”
    I would think rising empolyment would be a sign of recovery. Is this like zombies rise fromt the undead? Or the patient unstable condition stabilized at death?

  23. I’m told that at UC Berkeley in the 1950s there was a group called The Society for the Restoration of Lost Apositives, like “scrutable” and “gruntled.”

  24. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Please to post comments

Comments are closed.