Sherwood's Notebook: New Year? No Problem


The Marist Poll says "whatever" was ranked as themost annoying word

or phrase for 2013. And it's been the worst word for five years in a row.

Now, the Marist Poll is the pride of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and it enjoys a fine reputation. But we would argue that the worst word/phrase has been and continues to be the flippant response "no problem" that one hears in almost any encounter any day.

But "no problem" didn't even make the list.

The poll showed 38 percent placed "whatever" at the top as their most annoying. Another 22 percent cited runner-up "like."

"You know" was third, at 18 percent. "Just sayin'" irritated 14 percent. And last, with 6 percent, came "obviously."

The poll said 2 percent of the respondents were unsure of any annoying word or phrase. No problem -- we've got a whole new year to get rankled again.

Quit or paused? Here's our grumpy take on the common practice of making New Year's resolutions.

Another Marist Poll says 44 percent of Americans have made or are making resolutions for 2014. Of those, 8 percent say they'll stop smoking.

It's been the Notebook's experience that friends, co-workers and acquaintances who say they've "quit" smoking actually have only "paused," doomed to take it up again over and over. Smoking certainly is a difficult habit to break. Our best wishes to those who truly make it to the "quit" stage and stay there.

Maybe we can distract you from smoking with a few more humbling numbers.

Only 12 percent said they intended to spend less and save more. Another 12 percent said they would exercise more. Still another 12 percent said they would seek to be a "better person." And 11 percent said they would try to lose weight (we guess this one overlaps a little with exercising more, but the poll doesn't say).

Add it all up and it leads to another tried-and-true saying: Hope springs eternal.

Good luck. The big news from nearby Prince George's County in 2013 was easy. MGM was formally picked to build a five-football-field-longcasino at National Harbor

. Duh.

Ever since National Harbor was conceived, people have thought it was destined to eventually house legal gambling to feed off of the nation's capital and flourishing Northern Virginia.

No elected official anywhere in Virginia has ever seriously proposed state table games or slots gambling. Creation of the Virginia lottery was a defensive move to retain gambling cash.

But in the District, city officials long ago proposed a downtown D.C. casino.

In 1993, 20 years ago, then-Mayor Sharon Pratt foresaw the national casino boom and suggested that the city's prematurely aging convention center be turned into an upscale casino. City officials even visited New Orleans to check out a casino being built there.

"We're looking at it in a very serious manner," said George Brown, the then-assistant city administrator for economic development. "We're going to do the appropriate study and see if it makes sense for us."

The idea went nowhere, of course.

What about now? No city official has caught gambling fever.

On WAMU 88.5's Politics Hour recently, at-large D.C. Council member David Catania turned up his nose at the idea.

"Absolutely not," he said quickly. "Under no condition would I support a casino in the District of Columbia, especially with the way in which our government's presently organized."

He went on to explain that the 13-member council and rest of the city government are too tempted toward wrongdoing. He said of the council, "you can get seven people to do just about anything."

A casino in D.C.? Don't bet on it. At minimum, the conservative members of Congress from Virginia would oppose it and the Maryland money-grubbing delegation would fight tooth-and-nail to keep out a competitor in the nation's capital.

Quote of the year. Unless something extraordinary was said in the last couple of days (after our deadline), the Notebook's local quote of 2013 goes to U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen and his "there's there there" comment.

In an interview with us in late November at the Hill Center on Capitol Hill, Machen was responding to criticism that his probe of Mayor Vincent Gray's 2010 campaign was taking too long.

The normally taciturn prosecutor responded:

"You've got four people associated with a mayoral campaign who have pled guilty to felonies," he said. "It's not like we've been looking at this for three years and there's no there there. I mean, there's there there, and we're trying to gather information, we're trying to get documents and we're trying to talk to people."

So there.

Happy New Year one and all, no matter where your "there there" leads you.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

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