WOW #52

Dictionary

The United States, and Canada – two counties, separated by a single language.
If you think that’s a problem, compare either country’s speech/writing, with Britain’s. If only they’d all speak the Mother Tongue. Instead, most of them speak in some Motherf**king tongue. It’s like the bloody tower of Babel.

I recently had my ears assaulted from the TV, by the word

MANKY

It was used by the narrator on a (Would you believe it?) BBC archeology show. From context, I knew what he meant – scanty, paltry, mere. It’s a very British, English word. Since I live as near to (almost)French-speaking people, as they do there, I thought that it came from the French word, manqué – lacking, or needing. When I checked, I found
slang:  worthless, rotten, or in bad taste

dirty, filthy, or bad

Word Origin for manky

via Polari from Italian mancare to be lacking

So, I got the lacking, or needing right, but not from French. Polari??! What in Hell is Polari??

A distinctive English argot in use since at least the 18th century among groups of theatrical and circus performers and in certain homosexual communities, derived largely from Italian, directly or through Lingua Franca.

The show I was watching was called Time Team. When the wife first found it, I hoped that it was a paradox-laden Sci-Fi program. Only the Brits could make a series about archeology, interesting. Using actual archeologists to explain what was going on, would be as dull as the dirt they were excavating.

To make it interesting, they added a perky little narrator who runs his own little production company, doing little historical satire films. Suddenly, I understood the homosexual reference.

There is a core group of 10 or 12 experts. They are each the best in their respective fields. Some of them are professors at prestigious universities, with doctorates, and letters after their names. They are not all archeologists. Some are historians, or geophysical investigators, or pottery experts, or a landscape analyst, who knows how the presence of humans alters the scene over centuries, or eons. They all have their regular “day-jobs.” The show began when BBC convinced a bunch of them to rush away from those jobs on long weekends, or what the English call Bank Holidays, and spend three days digging at various sites.

There are only 8 or 9 ‘Bank Holidays’ per year in England, but the series increased to 12 or 13 episodes a year. They did this for 20 years, stopping in 2014, but there have been several ‘Making Of….’ specials produced since. 20 Years??! This show lasted as long as Gunsmoke.

They dug mostly in England and Scotland, with a couple of trips over to Ireland. They did a dig in the Channel Islands, the only portion of Britain that the Nazis invaded and occupied. They did one in France, one in southern Spain, and managed to get all the way to the Caribbean island of Nevis, to investigate 400 years of British sugar plantations.

Check it out! Give it a try. It’s a great idea in the spring, when regular network shows all become reruns – of reruns – of reruns. Caution – you may learn something interesting.

You’ll Pay For That

Every year, around tax time, there are a spate of hard-luck stories about how unfair the American tax system is. One subject which always comes up is about Americans who work out of the country.

The American IRS is the greediest, graspingest, most inflexible, most confiscatorial system in the world. They make paying the vig to an underworld loan shark look easy and polite.

Many people think that those who work abroad are well-to-do. Many are free-lancers, barely getting by, and the American government makes it overly difficult. There is a law which states that a person born outside the US, to even one American citizen, is also automatically an American citizen. That was the rule that allowed Ted Cruz to run for President, even though he was born in Canada.

IRS

The Internal Revenue Service has a rule that, any citizen working outside the country, must pay taxes to them. This often means that people have to pay taxes twice, and the IRS paperwork involved is intrusive, convoluted and arcane. It’s enough to cause a career bureaucrat to throw up his hands and retire.

The money-grubbing and paperwork has got so bad, that many Americans are giving up their citizenship. No taxation without representation! This used to be an easy “fill in a form, and pay a $300 fee.” In retaliation, the IRS has instituted new regulations which require a whole tree’s worth of paper, and an increased charge, north of $2000. You have to pay lots of money, not to have to pay lots of money.

The shit has hit the fan, even if it’s not obvious yet. This year, just about tax-time, something occurred which will cause waves, if not change the entire ex-pat tax scheme. A baby was born. There was no star in the East, and definitely no three Wise Men.

Prince Archie

Megan Markel gave birth to Archie Harrison Windsor. Being born in a foreign country, to one parent of American citizenship, the Federal Government has declared him to be an American citizen. The IRS rule says that he must declare all assets, income, and increase in financial worth – and pay taxes on them.

Most 1-year-old children don’t have much of an income stream, but as a member of the British Royal Family, Archie owns a chunk of a nation, and his worth is considerable, and increases constantly. The chances of the IRS collecting a piece of that, are less than the Jehovah’s Witness Church forcing Michael Jackson to tithe 10% of his obscene income.

There’s trouble looming down the line, too. All American citizens, no later than the day after their 18th birthday, must register for Selective Service. Can you see a future King of England fighting in a foreign war? Nah, I can’t either.

The invasive, prying paperwork that either Megan or Archie would have to submit, must include full financial information about a spouse or parent, since that can affect taxes owed. This means that Prince Harry must also reveal to the IRS, all his assets, income, and investments. I can just imagine a Federal clerk opening a letter on Buckingham Palace stationery.

Dear IRS

Re: your request for full disclosure of Harry Windsor’s financial situation

FUCK YOU! Strong language to follow.

I will not be surprised to hear of special dispensation in this case, but surely some enterprising lawyer/taxpayer team can use it as a precedent, to force changes to a Federal Department whose mascot is a shark.

Shark

Book Review #19

The Psychology Of Time Travel

The Book – The Psychology of Time Travel

The Author– Kate Mascarhenas (?)

The Review – Let’s start with the author’s name. It’s really Kate Flynn, but the name on the cover is Mascarhenas. That comes from the same base as ‘mask’, and ‘mascara.’ It’s a Portuguese-language nom de plume, which means “nom de plume.”

In the book, she includes the words ‘quango’ and ‘lanugo,’ neither common, even in Britain. They are valid English words, but seem as if they should be peeking out of a Romance language, like Spanish, or Italian. I’ll properly introduce you to them later.

This is a book – by a woman – for women – about women. It includes the description of an 8-year-old girl’s birthday party, where, “Her blonde ringlets hung down to the tops of her puffed sleeves, and her lacy skirt stood out straight to the side whenever she twirled around, which she did, a lot.”

The story is inhabited almost entirely by females. The only men who show up, are a male police detective and a journalist, who provide information and clues to the young woman investigating a locked-door murder.

The British authoress works in a commentary on racist attitudes in England. Our hardy, mixed-race investigator came to England as a child, from the Seychelles Islands, where she viewed herself as white. Having recently graduated University as an Engineer, she is working for the time-travel Conclave as a volunteer, but the female police constable who interviews her, regards her as colored, and assumes that she is the cleaning woman.

As usual, I was hoping for some temporal paradoxes to be solved, or some Back To The Future III suspense and manoeuvring, to prevent them. Didn’t happen! I was not surprised to not be given, even a vague hint, at how the time-travel process was accomplished, but it was invented by four women.

As a linguist, I was pleased to read that the process was powered by a newly-discovered, transuranic element called Atroposium, aptly-named after Atropos, the Greek Goddess who cut the thread of fate of mortals’ lives. Apparently the stuff was so safe and stable that it could be carried around in charcoal briquette-sized lumps, wrapped in lead foil.

While not described or explained, the time-travel process is so simple that it is used to produce a child’s toy, a Rubik’s-cube-sized box with a hole in the top. Children put candy in, and it disappears, only to return a minute later. What would happen if they stuck their finger in?

The “psychology” of the title is really just the mental stress felt by (female) time-travellers, caused by experiencing history in a non-linear way. Travelling to the past, they meet people that they know are dead. Travelling to the future, the see death certificates and gravestones for people they know are alive.

The detective/heroine goes back several times, to visit her father, who died when she was young. To her, the visits are weeks, or months, apart. I see, from his perspective, that she shows up twice the same afternoon, or on successive days. This grown woman is not his 8-year-old daughter. ‘Go away lady, you’re bothering me.’

I was expecting nothing when I ordered this book, and that’s what I got. No real time travel. No real psychology. It’s a good thing that I got it for free from the library. It had all the panache of a ‘Nurse Jane’ romance novel, full of ‘feelings.’ I feel disappointed and let down. I feel that I’ll need to read and review something with a little more OOMPH. Stay tuned; I’ll see you later.  🙂

Why I’m Proud To Be From Ontario (Or Not)

After a micro-surgeons’ conference in New York City, some of the leading surgeons were in the bar and, being drunk out of their faces, began to reminisce and brag about their accomplishments.

The first, a British surgeon explained:

“We had a chap caught in a printing press at a factory last year, and all that was left of him was his little finger.  Our team of surgeons constructed a new hand and built a new arm, engineered a new body, and ultimately, when he returned to the workforce, he was so efficient that he put five men out of work.”

That’s nothing, boasted the American surgeon:

“We had a worker trapped inside a nuclear reactor, and all that was left of him was hair.  We constructed a new skull, a new torso, and new limbs, and put him back in the workforce.  He is now so efficient, that he put thirty men out of work.”

Not to be outdone, the Ontario surgeon claimed:

“I was walking down the street one day, when a fart went by.  I took it to the hospital in a garbage bag, let it loose on the table, and we got to work.  First of all, we wrapped an asshole around it, built a butt onto it and attached a body to one end, and legs to the other.  Gradually it turned into Premier Dalton McGuinty, and he has now put the whole fucking Province out of work.”

Having thoroughly screwed things up, Daddy Dalton has now resigned, and taken his Golden Handshake with him.  It would be nice if I could have the entire Handshake, but one finger would suffice.  Goodbye, Asshole, you old fart!