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Sunday: August 25, 2013

Unfortunate Juxtaposition

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:14 AM GMT-0500

Why you should never trust a computer algorithm to arrange any part of your web-page for you – seen today (off and on) on PJMedia:

PMG latest

Friday: March 1, 2013

How insulated from American reality is the Washington Post?

Filed under: — site admin @ 2:21 PM GMT-0500

One of today’s InstaPundit posts, in full:

IN THE WAPO, A SHOCKING DISCOVERY: For some, lessons of boyhood include learning to shoot and hunt.

I’m not going to bother to follow the link and read the article, because even the title is so stupid. Did they really write “boyhood”? Here in the Shenandoah Valley, not three hours by car from the Washington Post’s offices, I know quite a few girls, as well as boys, who shot their first deer in middle school and their first bear in high school, and ate parts of both species.

Saturday: October 20, 2012

An Opportunity Missed

Filed under: — site admin @ 1:29 PM GMT-0500

Charlie Parker fans will be disappointed to hear that none of the six hotels in Camarillo, California is a Relax Inn. What bebop fan wouldn’t want the opportunity to use the phrase ‘Relax Inn at Camarillo’ in a sentence?

Saturday: October 6, 2012

Weird News out of Canada

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:26 PM GMT-0500

That someone has been stealing massive quantities of maple syrup in Quebec is certainly news, but not particularly weird. What is weird is what the Fox News story mentions in passing as apparently unremarkable: that the theft occurred at “the province’s global strategic reserve at St-Louis-de-Blandford”. Quebec has a Strategic Maple Syrup Reserve? Do other Canadian provinces? Does Vermont? Perhaps something has gone wrong with a translation from the French, and the reserve is not really “strategic” in the usual English sense. Or perhaps Canadians consider maple syrup an essential wartime resource.

Monday: August 20, 2012

Compare and Contrast

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:25 PM GMT-0500

A recent picture of Obama, seen on JustOneMinute and other sites:

A month ago today, InstaPundit reprinted a picture of Jacques Chirac from several years ago (“Ah, that old Chirac photo never fails to amuse.”):

The resemblance in expression is striking, though Obama adds a pint or two of malice, or perhaps fear. What is he scowling at off-camera? And what’s he doing with his hands? Perhaps a photoshop contest is needed.

Saturday: August 4, 2012

Hmmmm . . . .

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:44 PM GMT-0500

While shopping for groceries this morning, I finally figured out why it always bothers me to see stacked-up bags of dogfood brand-named ‘Old Yeller’. It looks like they really wanted to name it ‘Soylent Yeller’, but were afraid people might figure out what it’s made out of.

Wednesday: August 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mr. James

Filed under: — site admin @ 7:41 PM GMT-0500

Today is the 150th birthday of Montague Rhodes (‘M. R.’) James. Go to this University of Adelaide website and read at least one of his ghost stories.

Monday: June 18, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ivan Alexandrovich

Filed under: — site admin @ 7:57 PM GMT-0500

I’d been thinking of tackling some long novel I’d never read over the summer break, and having trouble deciding which of the many such books to begin with, when I noticed that today is Ivan Goncharov’s 200th birthday. That settled it. Here are some of the bits that caught my eye in the first three chapters of Oblomov (Everyman edition, translated by Natalie Duddington):

1. I had thought that this famous passage was the opening of the novel, but it actually comes on the second page (4):

“Lying down was not for Ilya Ilyitch either a necessity as it is for a sick or a sleepy man, or an occasional need as it is for a person who is tired, or a pleasure as it is for a sluggard:it was his normal state. When he was at home – and he was almost always at home – he was lying down, and invariably in the same room, the one in which we have found him and which served him as bedroom, study, and reception-room.”

3. Just a little further on, after mentioning the dirty plate left (as always) from last night’s dinner (5):

“If it had not been for this plate and for a freshly smoked pipe by the bed, and for the owner himself lying in it, one might have thought that the room was uninhabited – everything was so dusty and faded and devoid of all traces of human presence. It is true that there were two or three open books and a newspaper on the chiffoniers, an inkstand and pens on the bureau; but the open pages had turned yellow and were covered with dust – evidently they had been left so for weeks; the newspaper dated from last year, and if one dipped a pen into the inkstand a startled fly might perhaps come buzzing out of it.”

3. Nice work if you can get it – Oblomov’s friend Volkov (28):

“I have a post that doesn’t oblige me to go the office, thank goodness; I only go twice a week to see the general and have dinner with him.”

There is much more on the banal horrors of bureaucracy – too much to quote here. I’m surprised that LanguageHat, with his love for Russian literature, has not mentioned the anniversary.

Monday: May 28, 2012

Maybe I’ve Been Reading LanguageHat Too Long . . .

Filed under: — site admin @ 10:36 AM GMT-0500

. . . since I misread Tim Blair’s post about a Prince concert in Sydney as saying that it took place at “Allophones Arena”. I suppose Allphones is an Australian telephone company. (Don’t tell me: if I cared I could find out easily enough. In less time than it took to write this parenthesis, actually.)

Friday: April 6, 2012

Am I Overthinking This?

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:09 PM GMT-0500

If “Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage”, does that mean that love is subjected to slavery for the convenience of marriage? An interesting simile, when you think about it.

Or perhaps I’ve watched too much Married With Children . . .

Sunday: February 5, 2012

More Significant Than ’42’?

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:00 PM GMT-0500

On his fifty-sixth birthday, Terry Teachout laments that “56 is a thoroughly uninteresting number”. Au contraire: it is quite significant as a birthday, perhaps the most significant birthday of all.

Solon was the first (or one of the first) to write on the ‘Ages of Man’ theme, best known to English-speakers from Jacques’ “All the world’s a stage” monologue in As You Like It, II.7. Where Shakespeare distinguished seven ages with no specific lengths in years, Solon had divided the life of man into ten ‘hebdomads’ or periods of seven years each. I quoted the whole passage (Fragment 27, in M. L. West’s English translation) without comment on my fifty-sixth birthday. The most important part for Terry is lines 13-18:

With seven hebdomads and eight – fourteen more years –
    wisdom and eloquence are at their peak,
while in the ninth, though he’s still capable, his tongue
    and expertise have lost some of their force.

For the mathematically-impaired, that means that one’s mental peak (or perhaps plateau, given its extent) is from the 42nd to the 56th birthday, and after that it’s all downhill. Welcome to the downhill slope, Terry.

Sunday: January 15, 2012

Bloomberg as ‘loathsome slug’

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:40 PM GMT-0500

Mark Steyn calls Mayor Bloomberg a “loathsome slug of a man” for slandering a tourist who was unaware that New York City routinely defies the Second Amendment, by alleging falsely that the white powder she had in her pocket was cocaine when tests had already shown it was what she said it was, powdered aspirin.

InstaPundit agrees: “Loathsome slug is right.”

At first I thought they were being unfair to slugs, who do, after all, fill a useful niche in the ecosystem. At least, I assume they do, though I’m not sure what precise role they play besides providing food for unfastidious predators. On second thought, I realized that “slug” is a more appropriate epithet than Steyn or Reynolds seem to notice. Is it a coincidence that Mayor Bloomberg is vehemently opposed to salt, and deeply suspicious of other harmless white powders like aspirin? Harmless to others, I should say: perhaps that Englishman who thinks the world is ruled by shape-shifting lizards from outer space is almost, but not quite, right, and they’re actually shape-shifting slugs. (Try saying that three times fast.) The only way to be sure is for some brave person to spill some salt on him. If he’s (technically) human, it wouldn’t hurt him, and if he’s a shape-shifting alien slug it wouldn’t really be murder, would it?

Saturday: January 14, 2012

What Can a Virginian Do?

Filed under: — site admin @ 5:36 PM GMT-0500

Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom and others have blogged about the court decision affirming that the Virginia Republican primary this year will list only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on the ballot. Goldstein comments: “Feeling disenfranchised, those of you in VA who wanted to cast your vote for some other candidate? Sorry, them’s the (procedural) breaks.” Commenter geoffb adds that one obvious countermove is foreclosed: “Virginia primaries do not allow write-in votes. Write-in and it’s a spoiled ballot.”

Should Virginians angry about this lack of choice (I am one of them) go to the polls and spoil our ballots? I don’t know whether spoiled-ballot totals are normally reported in election results, but surely they would be if they were a quarter or a third or half of all ballots, and that would make an unambiguous statement of discontent with the choices offered. (Not that the choices are all that much better in other states, but that’s another story.)

Of course, a statewide campaign of ballot-spoiling sounds like the kind of thing you’d see in a dictatorship where no other option is available. I can’t find the passage, but I believe it was the Younger Pliny who recorded an incident in which someone in the Senate under the brutal emperor Domitian defaced his voting-slip with insults and obscenities before putting it in the voting box. As I recall, Pliny was shocked, or professed to be shocked, that any senator would do that.

Coincidence? or Allusion?

Filed under: — site admin @ 4:57 PM GMT-0500

John Edwards’ lawyer claims that he can’t answer the serious charges against him until March because he suffers from a “serious heart condition that will require a medical procedure next month” (þ Cold Fury). That’s an interesting choice of words. “Serious Heart Condition” is the title of a song by the Two Dollar Pistols, a honky-tonk band from Chapel Hill. Edwards’ mansion is just west of Chapel Hill in Orange County.

The lyrics are not on-line, so I’ve transcribed them, with a question mark for the one syllable I can’t quite make out – if you’ve heard the song and can help, put your suggestions in the comments:

Well, I can’t go on livin’,
but if livin’ is this way,
a steady diet of sour grapes
made me the man I am today.

Now I thought it might just be a phase,
but that was only wishin’.
The doctor told me there’s no hope:
I got a serious heart condition.

A serious heart condition:
There ain’t nothin’ they can do.
They gave me three to six months to ease the pain
of walkin’ on [?] to you.

But having you here in my arms
would be the best prescription.
But if you go I’m left alone
with a serious heart condition.

I could feel myself burn
with desire for you, I’m sure,
but the heartache will be returnin’,
when you walk out the door.

Now how am I supposed to cope
when a part of me’s gone missin’?
The doctor told me there’s no hope:
I got a serious heart condition.

(Repeat Stanzas 3-4)

(Instrumental break)

(Repeat Stanzas 3-4)
If you go I’m left alone
with a serious heart condition.

I’m not the only one who doubts whether Edwards has anything wrong with his heart – physically, I mean: there’s plenty else wrong with it -, and these lyrics only reinforce my doubts. (Having his lawyer say that he needs “a procedure” rather than “an operation” adds to my dubiety.) I hope his lawyer’s choice of phrase isn’t a sly joke, using ambiguous language to suggest a medical problem without quite lying, since a messy love-life could also be described as “a serious heart condition”, as in the song. How messy is Edwards’ love-life? He left his wife for a woman with a disturbing resemblance to David Spade (no links: Google them both yourself, if you dare). Of course, if he ever claims to have come down with “Honkytonkitis”, or admits to suffering from “Heartaches and Hangovers”, we’ll know for sure.

Amazingly, Wikipedia has no article on the Two Dollar Pistols. Amazon has all six of their albums for sale, with the usual audio snippets, so you can easily judge whether you like them as much as I do. YouTube also has plenty of Two Dollar Pistols performances, though not (so far as I can tell from a quick glance) this song.

Sunday: December 18, 2011

Less Than Zero?

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:14 AM GMT-0500

The Blogosphere is buzzing about Obama’s recent claim to be one of the four best presidents ever. What few have commented on is that he doubles his stupidity by listing Lyndon Johnson as one of the three who may (may!) be ahead of him. Surely enough time has passed for any sensible person to conclude that Lyndon Johnson belongs in the bottom half-dozen American presidents, for character or accomplishments.

If Obama had said that he was almost as good a president as LBJ and that that makes him the fortieth-best so far, that would be more plausible, though still overgenerous. Not that he would ever be so sensible as to say anything like that.

Saturday: December 17, 2011

Missing the Obvious Allusion

Filed under: — site admin @ 4:08 PM GMT-0500

InstaPundit links to a post on Vuurwapen Blog entitled ‘How To Tell Your Date You’re Carrying A Gun’. It’s full of double entendres, but neither the author nor any of the 18 comments (as of this writing) makes the obvious Mae West joke: “Don’t think I’m not glad to see you, but yes, that is a gun in my pocket”.

Sunday: December 11, 2011

Ifs, Ands, and Butts

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:58 PM GMT-0500

If they want to justify their places in the ‘About’ paragraph of About Last Night, OGIC (‘Our Girl in Chicago’) and CAAF (Carrie Frye) really need to get off their butts* and write something. It seems like months since either of them has posted, and I for one miss them.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

*Or should that be “get on their butts”, since that’s the usual posture for bloggers?


Filed under: — site admin @ 12:33 AM GMT-0500

Last Sunday, I inadvertently washed a SanDisc Cruzer USB drive with a load of laundry and plenty of soap. To my great surprise, it still worked after I found it rattling around in the bottom of the washing machine. I of course immediately copied everything on it to my PC, thinking that it would surely be susceptible to long-term damage, since the insides are not hermetically sealed and therefore (I thought) would be prone to rust or mildew when wet. However, it still works almost a week later. One more thing to like about modern technology: it’s a lot less fragile than a floppy disc.

Sunday: November 13, 2011

How Do You Make Hamlet Even More Tragic?

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:38 PM GMT-0500

Do what the grad students in Shakespeare Studies at Mary Baldwin did in the performance I saw tonight (directed by Zach Brown):

1. Leave out Fortinbras entirely.

2. Have Horatio ignore Hamlet’s plea at the end of the play, drink the poison, and die. His last words were, of course, “The rest is silence”.

The result: I believe Osric is the only member of the upper classes left alive to inherit the throne. The accession of King Osric I would be a truly tragic outcome.

If any of my readers are in the Shenandoah Valley, there is a second performance tomorrow night at 7:30. The theater’s website is here.

Sunday: November 6, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:25 PM GMT-0500

Ten years ago today, I began this blog. Here’s the first post, in full:

Cheney Goes Hunting
Though I’m sure it was primarily intended for relaxation, VP Cheney’s pheasant hunting expedition has some nice side-effects: implicit support for the NRA, a manly sport to symbolize homeland defense, and other things too obvious to be worth listing. On the other hand, given the stupidity of many of America’s enemies — as evidenced in the recent claim that Rudy Giuliani is the ‘Jewish, homosexual, governor of New York’, whose father named him after ‘Rudolph Hitler’ — and their often shaky grasp of English, do we really want to give Al Jazeera and the like the opportunity to claim that Cheney goes out shooting peasants for sport? Not that America has ever had any peasants to shoot, but how would the ignorant fanatics who support Osama Bin Laden — a troglodyte in more ways than one — know that? Would Michael Moore or Noam Chomsky, for that matter?

The link for the quotation about Giuliani is unfortunately dead: it’s not often that even terrorists manage to squeeze four separate easily-checked errors into a dozen or so words.

What should I do for my second decade? Post every day, or at least more often than I’ve been posting, and see if I still have any readers? That seems like a good plan.