Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lagniappes (XIX)

A sample to taste;  click for the real deal.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Minimalism and Entomology

This blog was begun in defense of Platonism -- sword flashing, doubts to the rear.
The emergent theme of Minimalism  has been experimental … feeling our way forwards…
But just at this moment (this very night) the idea presents itself, of a relation between Minimalism   and this:
(And thus, with theology.)

Kibbles & Bits (XVIII)

[The subject-line?  Inside joke.]

Karefully krafted kwotes 4 U.  (For context, click thru.)

Stabat mater dolorosa
iuxta Crucem lacrimosa,
dum pendebat Filius.

Then Christ revealed his wound so wide
  Oh the leaves drop down in autumn
And Thomas thrust his hand inside.

Bobby D & me

So me’n Bob are sittin’ aroun’, chowin’ down, and passing a big fat joint back & forth like we always done.  Heck -- me & Bobby? -- we go way-y back.
He took a long drag and held it in;  which gave me a chance to get a word in edgeways.
“Say, Zimm,” I said -- I like to call him “Zimm”, just a little thing we have between us, “you see where that New Yorker writer went and just plumb made up some of your quotes?  Or maybe some were real only he like tweaked a preposition?"
A little intake of breath, and then a long exhale.  Mumbles:  “Messed-up, man.”
For a while we were silent, just taking in the sunset, and the moan of a distant train.
“Least he had the decency to commit hara-kiri with his own quill pen, right there in the office of the editor.”
Bob nodded.  “Said it, man.”
A long pause  while we contemplated unspoken things.
“Y’know,” I confided.  “I been real, real protective of your reputation, ever since I wrote Blowin’ in the Wind and you had your hit with it.”
He nodded thoughtfully.  “You written me some righteous songs, man.”
“And you remember that time when you were too stoned to sing, and I filled in for you on your album doing Rainy Day Women?”
A hint of a grin.  “Good times, man.”

~ Celebrity Endorsement ~
“To distract my mind from current troubles,
I like to dig into a gritty mystery,
starring those tough-talking, two-fisted Private Eyes,
the lovable Murphy Brothers.”
(My name is Woody Guthrie, and I approved this message.)


Monostich Monopoly

For months (as we have long complained),  Clueless Google sent stringsearchers for “monostich”  on a wild goose chase, sending them to sucky sites and to pages that have nothing to do with monostichs or anything else.   Yet today, for the first time, some of WDJ’s splendid offerings in this department  appear within the top returns, as Wonderful, All-Knowing, Godlike Google  finally wises up.   So -- to all you fans out there in Monostichostan -- today is your day !!

We now celebrate monostichistically (without the least intention of goosing the stats) the monostichality or monostichosity of the vast
-loving public  by coining a new word:


which means:  rapid back-and-forth dialogue (technically “stichomythia”) consisting entirely of monostichs.    Many plays have a witty interlude that is exactly that.

[Webmaster:  Put the following into encrypted stego so that it will only show up to members of the Tychonoff Cabal, and not to the ordinary user.]

Here, then, comrades -- now that we are alone -- I can reveal our Secret Plans:

(1) Corner the market in monostichs
(2) Corner the market in couplets
(3) World domination

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Adventures in Empathy Acquisition

I remember a Battersea little girl  who wheeled her large baby sister  stuffed into a doll’s perambulator.  When questioned on this course of conduct, she replied:  “I haven’t got a dolly, and Baby is pretending to be my dolly.”
-- G.K. Chesterton, Tremendous Trifles (1909)

Now that’s … meta.


Marya  strolled by with her little toy dog, who last time had been nameless, and gave me an update.
“I named him ‘Cutie’.”
“Ah!  Because he’s cute.”
Nomen omen,” I refrained from saying.


She held forth, in her tiny hand, two little flowers side by side:  a buttercup, and a clover-flower.  “Look what I made for mommy -- a bouquet!”
Two tiny flowers -- one almost a weed -- just barely make bouquet-hood:  but they do.  They compose, indeed,  Minimalist Bouquet, reduced to its essentials.  Not for her the gaudy floral excess of a Mafia funeral.

[For the complete dossier of Marya's special adventures, click here.]

Nibbles ‘n’ Tidbits (XVI)

Something to munch on; click for a full meal.

Mezze (XV)

[Language note:  That word is from Turkish, and refers to tasty Mideast treats;  the Arabic is مزة ]

More morsels -- click for the full take.

Word of the Day: “Wazzock”

[Update 17 Jan 2016]   Now that The Mitt is off the ticket, and The Trump has taken his place, our friends across the Atlantic have unpacked  from the woolsack   the word wazzock,  saved for ceremonial occasions, and bestowed it upon that (un-)Presidential contender.
We give the historical background here:


A florilegium of Britishisms:

Conservatives in London oozed scorn. Mayor Boris Johnson mocked “a guy called Mitt Romney". Fleet Street spanked “Nowhere Man” and “Mitt the Twit.”
Conservatives on Fox News were dumbfounded. “You have to shake your head,” Karl Rove said. Charles Krauthammer pronounced the faux pas “unbelievable, it’s beyond human understanding, it’s incomprehensible. I’m out of adjectives.”
We may wince when the blithering toff, or want-wit, as Shakespeare would say, arrives at the Brits’ home and throws his Cherry Coke Zero can in the prize rose bushes.
He came across like a wazzock, as The Daily Telegraph called him, using a British insult for a daft know-it-all.

As for the pronunciation, the stressed syllable, WAZZ-, rhymes with spazz (from spastic), and the suffix -ock is reminiscent of British ballocks (American: balls).   Indeed, quite likely the origin of the word wazzock is grounded in such associations, rather than in (say) a deformation of the word wiseacre, as has been elsewhere suggested.  (W-Allahu a`lamu.)

You can view an unretouched roentgenogram of an actual wazzock  here:

For further fun wordstuff, click here:  Logophilia.

For some spicy wiseguy trashtalk, click here:  Murphy on dames.

For clues to the origins of Romney's wazzock tone-deaf cluelessness, try this:
Mitt Romney:  the Early Years

*     *     *
~ Commercial break ~
Relief for beleaguered Nook lovers!
We now return you to your regularly scheduled essay.

*     *     *

[Update, 1 Aug 2012]  Ms. Dowd has outdone herself, with a new word-of-the-day:  “Gowk”.  Excerpt:

The Gadding of a Gawky Gowk
Remember when Janice Soprano shot her fiance to death after he punched her in the mouth? Then she calls Tony to come over and help her. He mops up the blood and has his thugs chop up the body.
“All in all, though,” Tony tells his sister sincerely, as he drops her at the bus station, “it was a pretty good visit.”
By Sopranos standards, all in all, Mitt Romney had a pretty good visit overseas. But by political standards, it was more like Munch’s “The Scream.”
When Barack Obama went abroad in July 2008, searching for some foreign policy cred, European leaders smothered him with love and respect.
More than 200,000 Germans thronged to the Victory Column in Berlin, hailing him as “Redeemer” and “Savior.” In a joint press conference in Paris, a smitten Nicolas Sarkozy was so touchy-feely that even Obama looked a little embarrassed.
“You must want a cigarette after that,” I teased Obama on the plane to London later.
Poor Mitt Romney had no such magic carpet ride. He insulted the British and infuriated the Palestinians while pandering to the Israelis and American Jewish voters, including donors like the Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson who tagged along.
Egged on by some of the same neocon advisers who brought us the Iraq pre-emptive invasion, Romney offered “Go ahead, make my day” diplomacy, signaling he would support Israeli action to pre-emptively strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.
In an inadvertently hilarious grand finale in Warsaw, where Romney was pandering to American Catholics by dropping Pope John Paul II’s name every chance he got, his spokesman insulted the traveling press clamoring for a rare dollop of attention from the Republican contender.

Falls Sie im Doktor-Justiz-Sammelsurium
weiterblättern möchten,
Bitte hier klicken:

[Update 11 Oct 2012]   Don't be a wazzock!  Gin up on the latest Limeyisms:
"MITT ROMNEY is not the “bumbling toff” he’s made out to be..."

[Update 24 June 2013]  Someone just found this post by searching on “wassock originated in arabic”.   Such an etymology  I must very much doubt.  There is an Arabic adjective meaning ‘dirty’ which is phonetically somewhat similar to the British noun, though not very.  FWIW, Buzzfeed offers this: “Enjoying its heyday during the ‘lad’s mag’ culture of the 1990s, ‘wazzock’ is a Northern accented contraction of ‘wiseacre’.”
However, if it's Arabic you're interested, check this out:

Tapas (XIV)

Choice chewy quotes of gooey goodness, browned to a turn in our firebrick ovens, and served fresh 2 U.  (Click for the full meal.)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Screenscript Minimalism

Jack Bauer,  having offered himself to a cold-blooded killer as hostage, is about to go in unarmed, and hands his pistol to Marilyn:

Jack: Do you know how to use this?
Marilyn:  No.
Jack:  Point -  and - Shoot.

Jack Bauer and Mike Doyle  exchange torture tips:

Mike:  I’ve  never found pharmaceutical torture all that effective.
Jack:  I have.

Ready-made pick-up lines (XIII)

Choice quotes from WDJ.  Try these out in your favorite bar!

Update:  However, don’t try these in France.

“Looking at someone up and down”

Updated here:

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hors d’oeuvres (XII)

More mini-morsels for the discriminating palate;  click for the full plate.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Starters (XI)

[Atlantic-spanning note, for our American friends:
That’s British for “appetizers”.]

Tasty tidbits -- click on one, for the real meal.

"Man Camps"

I happened to click on this op-ed by Gail Collins, simply because it was at the very top of the "most e-mailed" listing for articles in the NYTimes.  It contains no mention of celebrities;  not much politics (other than what is implied); and no car-chases.   And it warms my heart that, nevertheless, our fellow citizens chose  to e-mail this --  boing-boing, back-and-forth --  around the globe.  A snapshot of the state of labor:


So -- from Hoovervilles to Man-Camps, in ten easy lessons.
And this, note, in a town with only 1% unemployment -- which means that this is as good as it gets in America these days, for labor.

Dumbo Does Diplomacy

[A note to our younger readers:
 That subject-line is a playful allusion to the title of a notorious movie from before you were born, “Debbie Does Dallas”. ]

It’s almost comical.

In the shock of 9/11,  Le monde  (perhaps with a nod to JFK’s celebrated “Ich bin ein Berliner”) headlined: “Nous sommes tous américains.”   But Dubya wasted no time wasting that good will, stirring up the francophobes that pullulate in his milieu, until finally the House changed “French fries” to “Freedom fries” on the menu (again with a Germany-related echo:  during WWI, sauerkraut was re-dubbed “Victory cabbage”).

So now Dumbney goes to England, and pointlessly stirs up a hornet’s-nest:

If Barack Obama were dreaming up the ideal start to Mitt Romney's first overseas visit as the presumptive Republican nominee, the president might wonder whether his rival could offend the US's historic transatlantic ally.

That would obviously be rejected as impossibly ambitious, so the president might then ask himself whether Romney would fail to remember the name of one of his hosts in London.

Surely a successful businessman would never make such a basic error. So the president would wonder whether Romney would breach convention by saying in public that he met the head of MI6, Britain's overseas intelligence agency.

To the undoubted joy of the White House, Romney stumbled on all those fronts in London on Thursday, the first day of his visit to three of the US's closest allies - Britain, Israel and Poland.

Downing Street, which had gone to great lengths to give Romney the red carpet treatment without breaching strict protocol rules, was astonished when he questioned whether London was capable of running a successful Olympics. In an interview with NBC after his arrival in London, Romney said it was "disconcerting" that the Olympics organizers had encountered difficulties over security. One Whitehall source described Romney's remarks as a "total shocker" that had rendered officials "speechless".

David Cameron wasted no time in delivering a carefully calibrated put down. During a visit to the Olympic Park, the prime minister said Britain was delivering the games in a bustling city. "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere," the prime minister said in a none too subtle reference to the 2002 Salt Lake City games …

If Romney, and the xenophobes who have been key to his primary campaign, somehow claw their way back into office, the House menu may come to feature “Freedom muffins” instead of the English kind …

Appendix:   Comments from readers and kibitzers

This admittedly minor gaffe has evoked reams of gleeful comment.

Here’s what he was saying: “My Olympics were better than these guys’ Olympics, and my hair is better, or at least much stiffer, their their hair.”

From TN in Texas:
All is not lost, Mitt! You can still mollify our friends across the Pond! All it takes is something in the spirit of Gilbert and Sullivan, the Pirates of Penzance perhaps. Here goes:

"I am the very model of a modern major candidate.
My thoughts are incoherent, and I am without a plan, to-date.
I've managed the Olympics, and I quote my base hysterical
On everything from gun control to policies chimerical.

"I'm very well acquainted too with matters economical
I outsource jobs in such a way I think you'd find quite comical.
About my healthcare history I am teeming with a lot of views
With many shameless flips and flops, depending on the facts I choose."

Julie of Joysy:
Wow, this is surprising. I thought that, you know, being Anglo-Saxon and all, this part of the trip would be a piece of cake for Mitt. Now he's gotten Cameron and the mayor of London all riled up, and the mayor of Salt Lake City is firing back at Cameron for implying that Salt Lake City is "in the middle of nowhere". One day out of the country and Mitt's created an international incident. Just imagine what a President Romney could do at a summit meeting.

Joyce of DC:
Another one born with a silver foot in his mouth

[Update, late]   Tsk, tsk, tsk.
Someone just found this page via the searchstring
   mit s.o.b. romney
(for you see, WDJ knows every keystroke you make -- every thought in your head, in fact).
This, we deprecate.  Firmly do we condemn such ad-hominem remarks anent a public servant (well no actually, not currently or recently a public servant, more like a private predator -- but let that pass).
Anyhow, where were we (harrumph).
Ah yes -- Ringingly do we denounce any reference to Willard "the Mitt" Romney  as an "s.o.b."
For truly, he is not the son of one.
His father, Romney the elder, was a businessman who actually helped make things;  and later a politician known for moderation, who never flippantly proposed invading foreign countries simply to please a domestic chickenhawk constituency, and who freely made available his personal tax returns for a period of many years.
No, it is not the father who is the "b."
If anything... it is the son.

[Update, 29 July 2012]  The tournée continues:

Does this include our support for an unprovoked attack upon Iran using the nuclear weapons that Israel already has, in abundance?

(You were aware of that fact, weren’t you ?  Surely you didn’t fall for the propaganda about Iran “introducing” nuclear weapons into the Middle East.)

A disturbing consideration:  That is what his spokesman said in public.   The Mitt then proceeded to a closed-doors meeting with Israeli leaders, having revoked his earlier permission for press-coverage.
If egging on a combative nuclear power to launching an pre-emptive war is what he says in public, then what is so sensitive that he has to say it in private?

A reader comments:
Old, war mongering theocons like Bishop Willard are eager to send someone else's child to bleed and die while they themselves were dining on escargot in France when it was their turn to serve, and have kept their kids out of harm's way as well.

“Theocons.”  Nice.


 The sabre-rattling (or rather ICBM-rattling) alluded to above, we bar, but at least it is a legitimate position;  it is not logically self-refuting.   There are, indeed, folks out there in America, who would welcome a MidEast war involving the Holy Lands, since that would be the signal for Armageddon, after which they and their co-parishoners in the Hardshell Twiceborn Megabaptist Texas Tabernacle get Raptured up to heaven, snickering all the way and thumbing their noses at their heathen neighbors and at the Papists, who get Left Behind.  Fine; soit.

Less important geopolitically, but amusingly self-refuting, were some of the other gems he let fall from his vast store of them, e.g. re healthcare:

As for Romney’s invidious comparisons with Palestinians -- but no, I’ve got to get away from this corrupting stuff, and get back to math.  Let Tom Friedman tell it himself;  like he says, he’ll make it quick:

July 31, 2012
Why Not in Vegas?

I’ll make this quick. I have one question and one observation about Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel. The question is this: Since the whole trip was not about learning anything but about how to satisfy the political whims of the right-wing, super pro-Bibi Netanyahu, American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, why didn’t they just do the whole thing in Las Vegas? I mean, it was all about money anyway — how much Romney would abase himself by saying whatever the Israeli right wanted to hear and how big a jackpot of donations Adelson would shower on the Romney campaign in return. Really, Vegas would have been so much more appropriate than Jerusalem. They could have constructed a plastic Wailing Wall and saved so much on gas.

The observation is this: Much of what is wrong with the U.S.-Israel relationship today can be found in that Romney trip. In recent years, the Republican Party has decided to make Israel a wedge issue. In order to garner more Jewish (and evangelical) votes and money, the G.O.P. decided to “out-pro-Israel” the Democrats by being even more unquestioning of Israel. This arms race has pulled the Democratic Party to the right on the Middle East and has basically forced the Obama team to shut down the peace process and drop any demands that Israel freeze settlements. This, in turn, has created a culture in Washington where State Department officials, not to mention politicians, are reluctant to even state publicly what is U.S. policy — that settlements are “an obstacle to peace” — for fear of being denounced as anti-Israel.

Add on top of that, the increasing role of money in U.S. politics and the importance of single donors who can write megachecks to “super PACs” — and the fact that the main Israel lobby, Aipac, has made itself the feared arbiter of which lawmakers are “pro” and which are “anti-Israel” and, therefore, who should get donations and who should not — and you have a situation in which there are almost no brakes, no red lights, around Israel coming from America anymore. No wonder settlers now boast on op-ed pages that the game is over, they’ve won, the West Bank will remain with Israel forever — and they don’t care what absorbing all of its Palestinians will mean for Israel’s future as a Jewish democracy.

It is into this environment that Romney wandered to add more pandering and to declare how he will be so much nicer to Israel than big, bad Obama. This is a canard. On what matters to Israel’s survival — advanced weaponry and intelligence — Defense Minister Ehud Barak told CNN on Monday, “I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”

While Romney had time for a $50,000-a-plate breakfast with American Jewish donors in Jerusalem, with Adelson at his elbow, he did not have two hours to go to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority, to meet with its president, Mahmoud Abbas, or to share publicly any ideas on how he would advance the peace process. He did have time, though, to point out to his Jewish hosts that Israelis are clearly more culturally entrepreneurial than Palestinians. Israel today is an amazing beehive of innovation — thanks, in part, to an influx of Russian brainpower, massive U.S. aid and smart policies. It’s something Jews should be proud of. But had Romney gone to Ramallah he would have seen a Palestinian beehive of entrepreneurship, too, albeit small, but not bad for a people living under occupation. Palestinian business talent also built the Persian Gulf states. In short, Romney didn’t know what he was talking about.


Vorspeisen (X)

More munchies.  Click on the quote  for the full meal.

Facilis descensus Averno.
Herewith some recent waymarks on the declivity.