Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere.
Speak Softly and Carry a Nerf Stick
Mark Steyn wrote about Obama’s Nobel Prize, and quoted a letter from Judi Romaine to The Times :
I guess this means if you say only nice things, only nice things will happen? By “conversative” does she mean conversation? At first read it seems to have something to do with “converse” or opposition. Which is what conversation’s all about, silly girl.
In one of my Examiner.com bits this week, I wrote about the fact that so much political commentary these days is about political language, name-calling, definitions and redefinitions, and manipulation of language in general. This is nothing new, of course. Perhaps you’ve heard that those who organize and attend Tea Party protests to the health care bill et al are called “teabaggers”. This has an obscene meaning which you can look up for yourself if you care to. Name-calling is one way of trivializing and ridiculing your opponents to reduce their credibility, and to avoid dealing with the issues themselves, a technique of Saul Alinsky’s, though he didn’t invent it. Maybe it’s a step up from demonizing one’s opponents.
By the way, the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize recipient went to Rigoberta Menchu, who falsely claimed authorship of a 1982 autobiography which was later found to have been written by French Marxist Elisabeth Burgos-Debray. I had heard that Menchu’s story was largely fictional, but didn’t know she had a ghost writer. When the fraud was discovered, neither the Nobel committee nor the teachers who’d been using the book in classes really cared. They thought it was “truth” even if it wasn’t true. It’s hard getting at the truth through lies, but if you’re conversative enough…
Quoth the Maven
The Middle Wife
David Rogerson passed along a funny story that’s been making the rounds of the ‘Net for a long time called The Middle Wife, ascribed to an anonymous infant school teacher. There’s no way to trace its origins, but it’s quite realistic in the verbal misfires children make. The story goes that a little girl in show-and-tell acted out her mother’s labor with a pillow stuffed under her sweater and talked about the day her brother was born, the highlights being:
This reminds me of when one of my sons at age 4 excitedly recognized his favorite characters in The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Tin and Doorknob.
Mike Sykes Cracks Down
Theodore Dalrymple wrote about “antisocial” vs. “hate crimes” in the UK: “the seriousness of an offense committed in Britain now depends upon who the victim is.” For example, a murder is worse if the victim is gay or disabled, etc. Why?
Not because it’s a “hate crime”, though, even if the killer is seething with political hatred. It’s more akin to the way cops don’t give any slack to cop killers.
Deviancy or deviance is a statistical term meaning variant on average behavior, though it has also come to mean psychological perversion.
Mike sent this correction:
I never did take a statistics class.
"The people who built America did it with both guns and religion."
I don’t know why the population isn’t pouring out of our borders as I write. Anyway, I didn’t mean to rag on England, because we have some of the same problems today, though perhaps Mike and I don’t have the same sense of what’s a problem and what’s not.
Sydney J. Harris
I used to read Sydney J. Harris in the Akron Beacon Journal when I was in college, and his short columns on whatever was on his mind, more than anything else in the paper, for some reason made me want to write a syndicated column. Unfortunately I didn’t get on it until the newspapers started to wane; nowadays they don’t need a constant content feed. Harris has passed on and I can’t remember anything he wrote, except one thing that irritated me, which was that men get more attractive as they age, what with character lines and gray at the temples, but women deteriorate. I assume he was speaking of himself and his poor wife. Of course older men’s attractiveness is often helped along by their success and money (e.g. Hugh Hefner). (This does not apply to Fred, who shines like a good deed in a naughty world, as Shakespeare wrote.)
Nevertheless, I got a collection of Harris’s columns from the library and found something I vaguely remembered over the years but couldn’t place. He had fun with pairs or trios of adjectives that we use to praise ourselves and condemn others. Example of two-parters:
The three-parters were the ones I kept trying to remember, in the I-you-he format; they have a nice weight and balance:
How about: “I am distinguished looking; you look lived-in; he’s a sway-backed, pigeon-chested, pot-bellied, rheumy-eyed wreck.”
You can make a party game out of this. See below.
Quote of the Week
Helen Keller was a supporter of the eugenics movement, and said, “Our puny sentimentalism has caused us to forget that a human life is sacred only when it may be of some use to itself and to the world.”
Are you being useful enough? “Usefulness” justifies all abortions, of course, since embryos are all pre-useful, parasitical actually, and their futures are unpredictable, though the aborted tissues can be made use of to patch up other people who are more useful. Old people who aren’t making money, but are costing money, can’t be said to be useful, even if they have so-called “wisdom”, which you can’t measure. The best that can be said for them is that they provide jobs for the medical profession.
Keller herself would have been a candidate for waste removal in some times and places; I suppose she thought she was useful because she went on to write and speak publically, but she was never self-sufficient.
Fred corrected me once when I said I wanted to be “useful”; he thought I should say “helpful”, the idea being that human beings should not “use” each other, because we are ends in ourselves.
I am useful; you serve as a bad example; he’s a waste of space.
The Gritty Bits: My Week in Examiner.com
Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Tea Partiers' statement: "On a cold wet day, Patriots held their ground and rallied for freedom, while most...
Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Rifqa Bary, the 17-year-old apostate, is safe in Florida until October 27, according to Pamela Geller. Rifqa is the...
Plain speech is a rare and unwelcome commodity
Tuesday, October 13th, 2009
Especially since the presidential election, a larger than ever proportion of political commentary is about the...
Sunday, October 11th, 2009
The November ballot will contain a tax levy to support Hamilton County libraries. Libraries are among the most...
I’m publishing for the Kindle digital reader with Amazon and now also on Lulu.com for download to computer and for printing. Most of these titles are available in both locations. Search for Rhonda Keith on Amazon.com Kindle store and Lulu.com.
A Walk Around Stonehaven is a travel article on my trip to Scotland. Short article with photos. (Lulu.com only.)
The Wish Book is fantasy-suspense-romance featuring the old Sears Roebuck catalogues. Novella.
Carl Kriegbaum Sleeps with the Corn is about a young gambler who finds himself upright in a cornfield in Kansas with his feet encased in a tub of concrete; how would you get out of a spot like that? Short story.
Still Ridge is about a young woman who moves from Boston to Appalachia and finds there are two kinds of moonshine, the good kind and the kind that can kill you. Short story.
Whither Spooning? asks whether synchronized spooning can be admitted to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Humorous sports article.
Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Cats: One woman's tale of menopause, in which I learn that the body is predictive; I perceive that I am like my cat; and I find love. Autobiographical essay.
Parvum Opus Volume I. The first year (December 2002 through 2003). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get PO’ed. Collection of columns.
10% discount on my Lulu publications:
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Scot Tartans: T-shirts and more (custom orders available).
Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at http://www.geocities.com/