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small red square I like Deborah Tannen - she's the linguist from Georgetown University who writes about how people speak. I've only read her first book, That's Not What I Meant!, but I've seen her on television a couple times and read articles and bits from her other books. In Sunday's "Washington Post" she had an column about how, when and why people apologize - here's some excerpts:

No one wants to take the whole rap if they feel they are not the only one at fault. Clinton, no doubt, was thinking of all the others who will not offer matching apologies. He is not likely to hear, for example, from Kenneth Starr: "I'm sorry I shifted from investigating Whitewater to investigating your sex life," or from the Supreme Court, "We're sorry we ruled that the Paula Jones case could go forward while you are in office; we were wrong to think it would not distract you from your duties," or from the lawyers for Paula Jones, "We're sorry we used the discovery procedure to force Monica Lewinsky to testify against her will," or from whomever is responsible, "We're sorry we leaked grand jury testimony that was supposed to be sealed and secret." (The one contributor who has apologized is David Brock, the author of the American Spectator article that first mentioned "a woman named Paula," as part of an effort to dig up dirt on the president.)

...the uproar from professional commentators and journalists that the president did not really apologize. What, after all, constitutes a good apology? First, it has to include an admission of fault. That's why "I'm sorry I hurt your feelings" (in private) or "I'm sorry if my remarks offended anyone" (in public) fall short. They seem to want to masquerade as an apology without taking blame. Second, there has to be some promise of action to make amends. Finally, the apologizer has to seem apologetic--in other words, contrite. In his remarks, Clinton did admit fault ("it was wrong," "a personal failure") and did promise to make amends ("I must put it right and I am prepared to do whatever it takes to do so"). Though he didn't say the words "I'm sorry" and "I apologize," and went on to criticize the independent counsel investigation (which left an impression of anger that for critics replaced an impression of contrition), the president was remorseful nonetheless.

So, what Clinton offered was an apology. And indications are that over half of the citizens were satisfied with his statement. Maybe that's because they, too, were angry at the investigation and because the president, after all, has to go on being president. Since they do not think Clinton should be forced out of office, they would rather have a strong president than a weak one. And that probably explains why they were satisfied with the president's remarks.

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small cyan square I was wrong. I was wrong about Chocolate Low-Fat Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream - they are still making it. Previously when I observed its disappearance from the dairy case, I limited my observation to the Safeway - although it's been missing there for months, I just found some at the small market in the Palo Alto Town & Country, where I'd just eaten at the Sushi House <1>. This won't be the first time I've discovered curious omissions from the Safeway inventory.

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<1>I think I'm going to have to assemble a "places" page where I describe those locations I mention frequently - but for now, check this entry for more "Sushi House" info.