Pesky 18th Century

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on January 31, 2008 @ 4:49 pm

“Transpire,” or “transpired.”

Meaning: To become known, as in “It did not transpire until the next day that McClellan had actually been defeated.”

Misuse: To happen, as in “What transpired there between Lee and McClellan is not yet known.”

True, Merriam-Webster, as with “comprise,” says that because the incorrect meaning has been in use since the 18th century, it’s all good. But why should meanings that come into use through misuse gain legitimacy solely on that basis, even if they are perpetrated by leading lights like Abigail Adams? On that basis, the apostrophe’s torturous misuse in phrases like “She went to see the Sheldon’s” will soon be completely okay. Which would be a multitude of shame’s.

Eh, Screw the Question Mark

Filed under:Politics — posted by Anwyn on January 30, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

I’m all in for Romney. I don’t want to say this video sealed the deal, but it helped. Obviously most people by that point wanted measurable progress in Iraq, and “timetables and benchmarks” were a way to measure that progress. The fact that war doesn’t typically work that way is beside the point. We’re forging a new type of war and people are feeling their way forward in it. McCain’s being an irascible, dishonest old ass and thinking we can’t draw our own conclusions about Romney’s words–or rather, trying to make sure we don’t. I’m not as firebreathing about illegal immigration as many of my blogging peers, and I am a lot more firebreathing about abortion than many of them, but McCain’s just a real jerk a lot of the time.

Romney ’08. Feel the love.

Time to Go for Romney?

Filed under:Politics — posted by Anwyn @ 4:19 pm

I’ve spent some time reading some of his position statements at Mitt’s website today and I’ll be reading more tonight and tomorrow.

And this is some savvy marketing: FredHeads for Mitt. Hey, Romney web guys & gals, I like the concept, and thanks for making a play for us poor downtrodden Thompson supporters, but some of us don’t have big ad banners, or spaces for them, on our blogs. Make me a little button similar in size to the one I already have for Fred, so that it fits neatly in my sidebar, and I’ll grab it if I decide to go for your guy. Thanks.

Update: Voting advice to benighted voters. From Xrlq. Heh.

The “Indiana Joe” Plan

Filed under:Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn @ 9:33 am

My pain has been heard. Slublog’s friend Joe from Indiana (lotsa smart guys in Indiana) has a plan to break the states up into three groups and have a three-month settled primary. Doc Rampage was on the same track in the comments here.

The plan divides the states up into three groups selected numerically from a rank-ordering according to number of electoral votes. Thus each group of states has roughly 30 percent of the delegates. (Go read the details at the link–it’s actually not even that complicated.) I propose a rotational wrinkle: That instead of Slublog’s Group 1 going first in every primary, they should rotate each election cycle, starting with the presidential election and keeping their slot until the next presidential election.

It’s a sound plan. Doc Rampage was right that my toss-off “have them all at once” negates good campaigning, or rather, probably rewards poor campaigning. It’s tempting, in the age of mass media and the plurality of the kinds of media involved (print, radio, TV, internet), to write off personal campaigning as unnecessary, but voters deserve a chance to see up front how the would-be president interacts with real people on the ground. So the rotational-group plan focuses the candidates’ attention on groups of states, the same as now, but different states and more of them, so that more voters get a chance to put their first-choice stamp on the proceedings instead of taking leftovers.

The downside: It seems likely that more elections would end without a majority winner. But given that most of us have to give up our first choice and rally behind somebody we’re lukewarm at best about, that would just be putting into numbers the actual feeling of the voters. Isn’t that what elections are supposed to do?

How Crazy Would It Be?

Filed under:Not Cool,Politics,Priorities — posted by Anwyn on January 29, 2008 @ 7:46 am

For the parties to mandate that all primary elections/caucuses be held on the same day?

I don’t like having my candidate chosen by default through the elimination processes of other people. And the influence on voters of who won other states shouldn’t be discounted, either.

I know I said I wasn’t going to be quick to name my next candidate, but if Giuliani drops out, that’s two candidates removed from my choosing long before my state’s primary even gets here. Leaving me to vote for a candidate by default rather than by preference. And it sucks.

The Currently Most Frequently Misused Word in the English Language

Filed under:Language Barrier,Need a Good Editor? — posted by Anwyn on January 28, 2008 @ 10:38 pm

“Comprise” or “comprised.”

Meaning: To consist of; to include; to take the parts into the whole, as in “The nation of Canada comprises several distinct provinces.”

Misuse: “The nation of Canada is comprised of several distinct provinces.”

The whole comprises the parts. The parts never comprise the whole; nor is the whole ever comprised of the parts. The word you’re looking for, misusers, is “composed.” “The nation of Canada is composed of several distinct provinces.” Drop two letters and substitute a third and you will have the correct usage.

The vast number of educated people who constantly misuse this word boggles my mind. If you’re one of them, stop it. Stop it right now, I say. Unfortunately the misuse has become so common that it has passed into general usage. Just because Saul Bellow decided he was cool enough to do it and his editors didn’t stop him doesn’t mean you have to contribute to the gradual erosion of proper meanings.

The Rant: Chandelier Bulbs and Chandelier Shades Do Not Go Together

Filed under:It's My Life,Not Cool,Rants — posted by Anwyn on January 27, 2008 @ 10:30 pm

I bought a pretty, tiny lampshade in the Salvation Army store one time because I liked its design and colors and it was cheap. I bought a lamp on eBay to go with it. They coordinate in size and style. You know what chandelier shades look like, right? And the mechanism by which they’re supposed to attach to the light bulb? A little wire clip. Well, you can take it from me that these shades do not attach to the bulbs they’re supposed to go with. The bulbs are too big; the clip on the shade slides right off.

These are the bulbs that the shade’s clip actually latches right onto: Four- to seven-watt night light bulbs, which are utterly useless for any purpose other than their stated use in night lights, which are neither needed nor wanted in this house. I want to use my pretty little lamp to shed 40 watts on my work without taking up much space on my small work surface, but nooooo. Shade won’t stay on the 40-watt chandelier bulb.

I’m mostly just ranting about a minor domestic problem, but if you know how to get around this, or where to find 40-watt bulbs shaped like night-light bulbs (also the same as older Christmas lights), let me know.

Two Good Reads at TWS

Filed under:Not Cool,Politics,Priorities,Sad — posted by Anwyn @ 7:15 pm

If you want to know how Jena’s nooses and its six-on-one beating came to be related in the public mind even though they weren’t, how it’s plausible that the nooses were never intended as a racial statement at all, how the ringleader of the six is a repeat thug, and who put together the “greater narrative” that the media and the race-baiters swallowed hook, line, and sinker, here it all is in cool, collected detail. (H/t Sarah.)

And if you need comforting over Thompson’s withdrawal from the race: rest glumly assured that it’s because he was every bit as normal as we thought him and not a pandering, lying ignoramus. My favorite passage:

It’s telling that his most notable moments were negative–marked by his refusal to follow some custom of the modern campaign. (From another debate: “Should government step in and help Chrysler and the other auto makers?” Thompson: “No.”) Asked about education reform, he said: “It would be easy enough for someone running for president to say: I have a several-point plan to fix our education problem. It’s not going to happen. And it shouldn’t happen from the Oval Office.” When journalists and candidates, with their typically childlike enthusiasm, suddenly began gumming the word “change” after the Iowa caucuses, Thompson pointed out the obvious: “Change has been part of every election since the dawn of elections, if you weren’t an incumbent.” He noted how easy it was “to demagogue” the issue of federal spending by dwelling on relatively insignificant earmarks: “All these programs that we talk about in the news every day are a thimbleful in the ocean compared to the entitlement tsunami that’s coming to hit us.”

Views like these might have earned another candidate a reputation for “straight talk”–maybe even the title of “maverick.” But Thompson was more subversive than that; he was an existential maverick, and his campaign was an implicit rebuke to the system in its entirety. He was a man out of his time. With its reduced metabolism and procedural modesty, his campaign still might have served as an illustration of what politics once was like and–if we have the audacity to hope–might be again. After all, by the standards of a century ago, Thompson was a whirligig.

Just One Thing I Love About My Son

Filed under:Cool,It's My Life,Music — posted by Anwyn @ 9:56 am

He can listen to (and sing) bluegrass and pop-bluegrass and folk and classical and ’80s pop and classic rock all day long, but if you try to play him Spongebob Squarepants, he puts his hands over his ears.

Good taste at four years old is hard to come by.

A Core Delusion

Filed under:It's the Jihad,Language Barrier — posted by Anwyn on January 26, 2008 @ 9:36 am

That using words to define something as other than its inherent characteristics will make it other.

So, henceforth, any terrorism perpetrated by persons of an Islamic persuasion will be designated “anti-Islamic activity” Britain’s home secretary, Jacqui Smith, unveiled the new brand name in a speech a few days ago. “There is nothing Islamic about the wish to terrorize, nothing Islamic about plotting murder, pain and grief,” she told her audience. “Indeed, if anything, these actions are anti-Islamic.”

Well, yes, one sort of sees what she means. Killing thousands of people in Manhattan skyscrapers in the name of Islam does, among a certain narrow-minded type of person, give Islam a bad name, and thus could be said to be “anti-Islamic” — in the same way that the Luftwaffe raining down death and destruction on Londoners during the Blitz was an “anti-German activity.”

This is not even the position of Humpty Dumpty that one can make words mean whatever one chooses. It is worse–it is the attempt to change the nature of a thing by the words one calls it.

What the people who choose to engage in this inverse name-calling apparently refuse to realize is that as with Germany and its WWII “German” actions, acts of jihadist terrorism are only “Islamic” as long as nothing rises up to take away either a) the right or b) the power to carry them out. And ironically, the delusion that the English government can alter the facts by their choice of words contains a single grain of glittering truth: Muslims could take away the right by engaging in a little inverse naming themselves. If enough Muslims would rise and alter their governments and radically reform their mosques so as not to permit or encourage this activity in the name of Allah–i.e. take away the jihadists’ right to call their actions righteous or Islamic–it would indeed cease to be Islamic terrorism and turn into something anti-Islamic. If enough of the governments of the nations from which the jihadists spring would be more aggressive in detecting and rooting them out, they would lose much of their power.

In the absence of either of these courses, nations that must defend themselves from the outrage can only engage in taking away the power–because until and unless the religion being represented declares itself opposed without reservation to the tactics being used by these jihadists, no amount of inverse name-calling or kow-towing by Western nations will bring about the desired result. Ever. Steyn:

If the Three Little Pigs are verboten when Muslims do not yet comprise ten percent of the British population, what else will be on the blacklist by the time they’re, say, 20 percent?

You remember the Three Little Pigs? One builds a house of straw, and another of sticks, and both get blown down by the Big Bad Wolf. Western civilization is a mighty house of bricks, but who needs a Big Bad Wolf when the pig’s so eager to demolish it himself?

(H/t: Hot Air headlines.)

PS: Imagine a black leader referring to Klan violence as “anti-white activity.”

News to Me

Filed under:Jerks,Politics — posted by Anwyn on January 25, 2008 @ 5:58 pm

That George Soros is a decrepit-looking old manhag. I never saw a picture of him and always sort of unconsciously assumed he was a younger fire-breathing type, like Mark Cuban without the popping off.


Brave, Beautiful Mother

Filed under:Mothering,Sad — posted by Anwyn @ 2:25 pm

Lorraine Allard delayed cancer treatment so that her unborn son might live. She died two months after he was born. She was my age. RIP.

Cowboys Fans, Get Over Yourselves

Filed under:Sports — posted by Anwyn on January 24, 2008 @ 6:57 pm

Because, seriously, if your boy can’t keep his head just because his (ex-)girlfriend’s at the game, he doesn’t belong in the NFL.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace