Bus Plunge Journalese

Headline to an article about the third reactor explosion in Japan: “Spewing radiation prompts warning.”

C’mon, journalists, does radiation always have to spew?  Can’t it emanate, spread, propagate, or otherwise pour into the atmosphere?  Why must it spew?

When Nevil Shute wrote On the Beach, did he make his radiation spew?  No, he didn’t, and yet his radiation managed to cover the earth and kill us all in the end.

In the coming days and weeks we’re going to to relearn Cold War words we thought we’d safely forgotten: roentgens, rads, rems, curies, sieverts, perhaps even the dread Becquerel.  But let us all agree right now, so there’s no debate or confusion later: radiation must always spew, just as buses must always plunge.

© 2011, Paul Woodford. All rights reserved.

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