Minutia II

I don’t know whether or not BrainRants wears his when he’s driving, but I saw a post the other day which said that the worst of the bad drivers out there, wear hats.  It could be Dapper Old Dude, with his outdated fedora.  It might be Society Doyenne, the Red Hat lady.  It could even be DUI Doublewide, the reckless redneck, with the bill of his Busch NASCAR cap down his neck.

If they’re going too fast, or too slow for driving conditions, if they’re blocking the passing lane or weaving in and out, cutting people off, there’s a good chance they’re wearing headgear of some type.  If you pull up behind one of them, you might have an urge to try another street or road, but it’s no use.  Their cap-wearing compadres are on that one too.

I saw Doublewide in a video the other day.  He was trying to watch a ball-game, with the extra-long visor of his ball-cap covering his red-neck, and holding his hand out from his forehead, to block the sun, so that he could see what was happening on the field.  Hey, Dummy, that’s what visors are for; you got your head on backwards!  Are you so dumb you can’t even drive a hat?

I recently posted about what Canada isn’t.  It’s interesting, and sometimes disappointing to see what grabs people’s attention.  When I checked, I found that the tag, “Igloos” had caught 27 views, but the “Patriotism” tag had yielded zero.

I’m not a fan of blind, Jingoistic Patriotism.  Like religion and politics, it often goes too far.  In 1775, Samuel Johnson said that, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.”  But really??!  No views for Patriotism?  It’s why guys like BrainRants are necessary.  As long as the cell phones are charged, and the lattes are hot – let someone else worry about it.

Back when I first set my blogsite up, and before I knew about luring visitors with tags and categories, one of the labels I put on my posts was Printed S**t.  I used that to not look uncouth.  When I found out about search terms, I changed it to Printed Shit.  I might as well have just left it as it was.  Like Patriotism, I’ve never seen anyone else ever use it.  ….maybe if I changed it to Porn??

I recently watched a video of a wedding.  Instead of the instrumental Wedding Processional, the preacher sang them down the aisle – and did a great job of it too, sort of a Katholic Karaoke.  As the videographer panned from the minister to the bridal party, the shot took in the front of the lectern.  I don’t know what church it was, or where, but the name apparently had the initials S and H, superimposed.  It just looked like a giant dollar sign to me.   $

Dictionary.com, my electronic source of linguistic values, is beginning to seriously disappoint me.  Five times in the last month, it has shrugged its little shoulders and told me the word I was asking about didn’t exist.  I’m not talking about monster words like sesquipedalian.  The last one I tried to look up was cyser.  It’s a good thing that Google and Wiki know about them.  Cyser is merely an apple-flavored mead.

Speaking of shortbreads, (We weren’t??!) BrainRants recently emailed me for some assembly/cooking details of my mother’s/wife’s shortbreads.  Apparently Mama Rants is willing to have a try at making some.  So used to only making them at Christmas, it threw me for a bigger loop than I’m usually in.  I told him to contact us for any further help, and possibly make the bake the subject of a post.  I haven’t heard from him, or seen any results, but, if you smell something nice baking in eastern Kansas.  ….just sayin’.

Everything old is new again.  I made my grandson aware of Lonnie Donegan, a 1960s, British singer of nonsense songs, like the Americans, Ray Stevens or Jim Stafford.  Now he has chewing gum on his bedpost, and a passel of similar songs, in his computer’s music files.

His Mom mentioned the great British comic, Benny Hill, from twenty years before his birth.  Soon he was trolling YouTube and laughing his ass head off.  She has got us DVD sets of British programs like Lewis, and Poirot, and promised that she would get him a big Benny Hill collection for his birthday.  Oh wait, was that supposed to be a surprise??

Music lovers are going back to vinyl records, and more and more artists are releasing in that medium again.  The grandson picked up what, at first glance, seems to be a small, overnight suitcase but, when opened, is an amp/turntable combo which can play 45s and 33 RPM albums.  Of course, it can also burn a CD of the record being played.  I plan to offer him a good-quality pair of ear-muff type stereo headphones which we haven’t used for years.

 

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Intelligentsia

I have previously written about haunting a website called Dictionary.com.  Since I started blogging, I visit less often, but still stop in at least once a day, to do my on-line crossword.  I also use it to translate foreign words and phrases, sometimes to get an idea of the meanings of non-English names.  Johnny Carson commented one night about the awe and fascination Americans have for foreign names.  “There’s a fancy new restaurant in town, named La Fourchette.”  It’s a French fork!

I used to read a couple of articles a week about the development of the English language.  There were discussion threads under them for people to make comments, ask questions or disagree with the post.  I was amazed by a couple of things.  I would have thought that those coming to a dictionary site would already have a fairly good grasp of the language.  I was hugely disappointed to see grade six level usage by people who mentioned jobs.  Even a McJob these days requires decent language skills.

I also thought that only those interested in improving their English would show up, but read posts like, “im Amanda and im going to miss upshalls grade five math class at xyz elementary school.”  This isn’t Facebook chicky.  Take the time you spent formatting this non-message and study the word-of-the-day.

Another thing which perplexed me would be an interesting word usage discussion, followed by one or more yahoos posting things like, “you guys are dum who gives a shit”.  Obviously we do, but if you don’t, why are you hanging around an English site?  Why don’t you go to a NASCAR site, or watch a fishing show, Bubba?

Some of the comments showed real (illiterate) antipathy for anyone trying to improve themselves and their language skills.  I’m obviously not the only one to notice or comment on this phenomenon.  I read a post the other day where the writer said, “It is a seriously scary thought that there are sub-sets of American society that think being intellectual is a BAD thing!”

We sometimes blame teachers, or the education system, or even society, when Johnny can’t read.   Johnny’s immediate society may have something to do with it, because he’s obviously been raised with the intent not to learn – reading, or anything else.  In an article about food served to children at schools, the government had decreed that, for the purposes of nutrition, pizza was (contained) a vegetable.  The following is Bob Johnson’s considered opinion.

“i think that pizza being a veggy is hoped mostly because it only has a veggy dose not mean that checan pot pies should be a veggy!!!!  if pizzas a veggi then cows are envolpopes”

I only hope that Bob Johnson is a school student, and not the student’s father.  Actually, a real McJob doesn’t require you to read.  Some fast-food places have had to install cash registers with little pictures of the foods, so that geniuses like this push the right buttons.

There was a story that Webster’s Dictionary was removing 20 words from its smallest, abridged dictionary, to make room for new words and usages.  They based this decision on their counts of how often these words were accessed on their online dictionary.  The discussion thread was immediately full of comments from people who thought that these words were somehow being removed from the entire language.  One of the clearer thoughts on the subject was the following.

“why do people have to think that have to rid of these words when it it the people who chose to say what they say and half the time it is what they have grown up listening to”

I saw a suggestion today that people who are caught texting or talking while driving should have their cell-phones impounded, the way we impound cars for DUI, or racing.  I’ve been told that, despite the stupid abbreviations, texting actually improves teens’ spelling and composition skills.  Ladies and gentlemen, check your children’s language skills.  If your kid’s writing skills look like either of the above, confiscate the cell-phone and stick it up….where it will make them sit tall to study their English text.  Confiscate the game console and the TV in their bedroom too, and don’t give them back until they can submit a clearly written letter, requesting them.

Do school-kids even have English texts anymore?  In a conversation about language, I was asked, “Why do you study English?  We all speak it.”  And then the native-born Canadian asked the immigrant from Chile to help him fill in his production report.  Am I repeating myself from a previous post?  It bears repeating, and at least I’m doing so with correct construction and spelling.

I don’t know how to inspire our youth to study and learn our home and native language.  I don’t know how to change our schools and education system so that students actually acquire skills and knowledge.  I’d like to eliminate the feel-good, lib-left bureaucrats who design basket-weaving curricula and promote students who don’t know subjects.  I’d like to go back to solid rote-learning, and tough-love teachers who expect, nay demand, that students learn something, and can prove they did.

We’re on the slippery slope kids, and the bottom of the handbasket has been greased.  Something needs to be done.  Does anyone have any informed opinions?

Real Romney

The following is reblogged from David Brooks, political and cultural commentator for the New York Times.  I wish that I could produce a piece as humorously accurate as this.  I can’t, but I felt even non-Americans would appreciate the chuckles and the insights.

*The purpose of the Republican National Convention is to introduce America to the real Mitt Romney.

Fortunately, I have spent hours researching this subject.  I can provide you with the definitive biography and a unique look into the Byronic soul of the Republican nominee:

Mitt Romney was born on March 12, 1947, in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Virginia and several other swing states.  He emerged, hair first, believing in America, and especially its national parks.  He was given the name Mitt, after the Roman god of mutual funds, and launched into the world with the lofty expectation that he would someday become the Arrow shirt man.

Romney was a precocious and gifted child.  He uttered his first words (“I like to fire people.”) at age 14 months, made his first gaffe at 15 months and purchased his first nursery school at 24 months.  The school, highly leveraged, went under, but Romney made 24 million Jujubes on the deal.

Mitt grew up in a modest family.  His father had an auto body shop, called the American Motors Corp., and his mother owned a small piece of land, Brazil.  He had several boyhood friends, many of whom owned NASCAR franchises, and excelled at school, where his fourth-grade project, “Inspiring Actuaries I Have Known,” was widely admired.

The Romneys had a special family tradition.  The most cherished member got to spend road trips on the roof of the car.  Mitt spent many happy hours up there, applying face lotion to combat windburn.

The teenage years were more turbulent.  He was sent to a private school, where he was saddened to find there are people in America who summer where they winter.  He developed a lifelong concern for the second-homeless, and organized bake sales with proceeds going to the moderately rich.

Some people say he retreated into himself during those years.  He had a pet rock, which ran away from home because it was starved of affection.  He bought a mood ring, but it remained permanently transparent.  His ability to turn wine into water detracted from his popularity at parties.

There was, frankly, a period of wandering.  After hearing Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side, Romney decided to leave Mormonism and become Amish.  He left the Amish faith because of its ban on hair products, and bounced around before settling back on college.  There, he majored in music, rendering Mozart’s entire oeuvre in Power-Point.

His love affair with Ann Davies, the most impressive part of his life, restored his equilibrium.  Always respectful, Mitt and Ann decided to elope with their parents.  They went on a trip to Israel, where they tried and failed to introduce the concept of reticence.  Romney also went on a mission to France.  He spent two years knocking on doors, failing to win a single convert.  This was a feat he would replicate during his 2008 presidential bid.

After his mission, he attended Harvard, studying law, classics and philosophy, though intellectually his first love was always tax avoidance.  After Harvard, he took his jawline to Bain Consulting, a firm with very smart people with excessive personal hygiene.  While at Bain, he helped rescue many outstanding companies, such as Pan Am, Eastern Airlines, Atari and DeLorean.

Romney was extremely detail-oriented in his business life.  He once cancelled a corporate retreat at which ABBA had been hired to play, saying he found the band’s music “too angry.”

Romney is also a passionately devoted family man.  After streamlining his wife’s pregnancies down to six months each, Mitt helped Ann raise five perfect sons – Bip, Chip, Rip, Skip and Dip – who married identically tanned wives.

Some have said the Romney’s lifestyle is overly privileged, pointing to the fact that he has an elevator for his cars in the garage of his San Diego home.  This is not entirely fair.  Romney owns many homes without garage elevators, and the cars have to take the stairs.

After a successful stint at Bain, Romney was lured away to run the Winter Olympics, the second most Caucasian institution on Earth, after the GOP.  He then decided to run for governor of Massachusetts.  His campaign slogan, “Vote Romney: More Impressive Than You’ll Ever Be,” was not a hit, but Romney won the race anyway on an environmental platform, promising to make the state safe for steeplechase.

After his governorship, Romney suffered through a mid-life crisis, during which he became a social conservative.  This prepared his way for his presidential run.  He barely won the 2012 republican primaries after a gruelling nine-month campaign, running unopposed.

At the convention, where his Secret Service nickname is Mannequin, Romney will talk about his real-life record: successful business leader, superb family man, effective governor, devoted community leader and prudent decision-maker.  If elected, he promises to bring all Americans together, and make them feel inferior.*