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    You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight.
    - Lieutenant General Honore addressing reporters about New Orleans evacuation plan for Hurricane Rita, September 20, 2005

It is said that ancient Persian noblemen had to master only three things to be honorable: to ride, to shoot, and to speak the truth. As a native of Lakeland, Louisiana General Honore has served in a variety of command and staff positions. Currently he is serving as Commander, Standing Joint Force Headquarters a part of Homeland Security, U.S. Northern Command. The addressees of this verbal reproof were two members of the fourth estate who wouldn't stop asking about lack of evacuation efforts before Hurricane Katrina. Later in his statement Honore reemphasized the need for them to be absolutely crystal clear about the evacuation plan as responsible journalists and then apologized. It’s no wonder that New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin calls Lt. Gen. Russel Honore a "John Wayne dude" who can "get some stuff done."

Stuck on stupid, sittin on silly and waitin on dumb.

Stuck on stupid is military short speak that illustrates “someone who repeatedly does stupid or foolish things.” The phrase is a backronym, which is defined at The Word Spy as “a reverse acronym, that is, the words of the expanded term were chosen to fit the letters of the acronym.” The expression "backronym" is a portmanteau of back and acronym that began to appear in print as early as the early 1980’s.

    Some backronyms are back-formed from an existing acronym,” notes Wikipedia, “by creating a new expanded term for the initials when the original term becomes inaccurate. "DVD", for example, was originally an acronym for "digital video disc"; when it was realised that a DVD could be used for non-video applications, the term "digital versatile disc" was invented (although it did not become official).

Oftentimes backronyms are derived from acronyms that have been expanded and their applications can be serious, jocular, critical or laden with irony. Wordplay frequently plays a part in their creation and Stuck on stupid is a good example of one.

Save Our Sammich

In the case of Stuck On Stupid the expression was taken from the international distress signal SOS. Near the end of the 19th century Guglielmo Marconi made the practical use of wireless telegraphy possible. At the time ships at sea and out of visual range were very much inaccessible from land and other ships, but by 1904 there were many trans-Atlantic British ships outfitted with wireless communications. Railroad and postal operators were brought on board and many of the landline customs were adapted to the nautical needs. Traditionally the English used a general call "CQ" signaling “all station” that eventually became an established protocol worldwide. Eventually the Marconi Company recommended the utilization of "CQD" for a distress signal with the idea in mind that it would mean “Come Quick Distress.” Like other acronyms it is misinterpreted or misconstrued as "Come Quick Danger." A couple of years later at the Berlin Radiotelegraphic Conference an exchange of ideas concerning a distress signal for ship and shore were raised and discussed once more and by the end of the conference it had been decided that SOS would be adopted. The signal was to be sent as one letter rather than three split signals to indicate that it was not an abbreviation (· · · - - - · · ·) and it was to be sent together as one string since it was straightforward enough for even an amateur to use or identify, even with interference. By 1908 SOS had been adopted and officially ratified as the international distress signal. Four years later, on April 15th it was be the RMS Titanic that would make the use of the signal tragically prominent when the onboard operators used it in conjunction with the CQD signal to call for help.

So SOS was developed simply as an easy-to-recognize distress signal, but even though it’s not an acronym over time many have tried to come up with one; the most familiar ones being “Save Our Ship" and "Save Our Souls.” The naval and other military communities adopted the acronym with “Save Our Sailors, “ “Send Out Signal,” “Send Out Someone,” along with a variety of more colorful phrases. In this instance Stuck On Stupid began to indicate the human predilection for insisting on having what we want which gets us into trouble, hung up, or stuck every time. No one really knows who or when it was coined. More recently, the phrase has made its way into urbanese and tailored to describe a variety of situations such as when the mind draws a blank for an extended period of time due to the effects of everything from the opposite sex to drugs and now at the divergence of a general, two hurricanes, and a couple of reporters.


Absolute Astronomy: SOS : http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/encyclopedia/s/so/sos2.htm
Accessed September 22, 2005

EncycloZine, bacronym:
Accessed September 22, 2005

Libertypost.org, Don't get stuck on stupid:
Accessed September 22, 2005

Lt. Gen. Honore a 'John Wayne dude
Accessed September 24, 2005.

Urban Dictionary, Stuck on stupid:
Accessed September 22, 2005

What is the Meaning of SOS?:
Accessed September 24, 2005

The Word Spy, bacronym:
Accessed September 22, 2005

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