Dried Roses

Wednesday garden pix

Wednesday Garden Pix has gone global.* Now we’re GardenPix LLC leaf.png. Our Asia correspondent sends us this shot of a balcony near Kathmandu.
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26 May 2008
*But of course we’re still with Saint Louis.

LinkAugust 6, 2008 in Garden

Dep’t of Dead Language

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Every so often, a phrase comes along that seems to suit the Zeitgeist. Originating sometimes in obscurity, and sometimes in expensive, tightly-managed ad campaigns, such phrases are soon on everyone’s lips and fingertips. But before you know it, rot sets in. What had been a striking metaphor becomes a pestilence, a drug against thought. The polite thing to do with such a phrase is to show it the door. Here is a Perfect Storm of Overutilization.
Addendum: Christopher Borrelli, ace Blade staff writer, found some further fine specimens of stormity, including this gem:
Scooby Doo is the perfect storm of cartoons.
Borrelli counts the occurrences of the dreaded phrase at the New Yorker (twice in 2008), the New York Times (57 times) and his own newspaper (155 times since 1997, the year in which Sebastian Junger’s bestseller was published, putting the phrase into circulation). He confesses to having used it himself.
  • “We seem to be in the midst of a ‘perfect storm’ leading to more bankruptcies: high levels of debt, high energy and raw materials costs and weakness in the U.S. economy,” George Putnam, III of New Generation Research […] said in a statement.
  • The world just got a bit riskier for us “road warriors.” You see, there’s this perfect storm of risks lined up to make our lives a little more dangerous.
  • […] at a time when inequality is undeniably growing, wages are stagnating and a perfect storm of disparate factors have blown lots of middle-class folks precariously close to the edge of real financial disaster […]
  • “It could be a great contribution to any legal challenge,” [Dan Seligson] said. “That’s what happened in 2000, when we had this perfect storm of questions about ballot counts, ballot designs, and dead voters.”
  • Just last week, Dealscape noted how the phrase “the perfect storm” is becoming a mantra for bankrupt companies seeking to explain their current predicament.
  • Perfect Storm: Is Global Warming Racist?
And no, you can’t redeem the phrase by diddling with it.
  • In what may be a perfect sophisto storm, none other than Sir Ben Kingsley plays Philip Roth’s academic antihero David Kepesh, a solemn piano underscoring his negotiations with sex, art, and mortality in the Continental Manhattan of Isabel Coixet’s new film, “Elegy.”
  • For Morgan, who reports there are still instances of “rosé racism,” this summer has the makings of a “perfect rosé storm.”
See perfect storm in Wikipedia. Search on ‘perfect storm’ in Clusty, AlltheWeb, Google, Google Scholar, Icerocket (blogs).
Find more Dead Language here.

LinkAugust 6, 2008 in Language

Sunday cat pix

Musa neatens up for dinner.
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Musa, 29 July 2008

LinkAugust 9, 2008 in Cats

Dep’t of Dead Language

This week the elephant in the room was:
  • Hillary Clinton (2 votes)*
  • Race (2 votes)
  • Retiring baby boomers
  • Women in comedy over a certain age
  • Not the Republican mascot
  • The Trade Center towers
  • Iran
  • Death
  • The requirement for all new aquaculture management areas to require a private plan change to a Regional Coastal Plan
  • Brother Nick (not so much)
  • Madden NFL 09
  • Former husband Gabby Concepcion or a 300-pound gorilla
  • Something that is growing more obese this decade
  • Something that gets shot with a bazooka
  • Ein amerikanische Ausdruck
  • An elephant
  • *(or maybe it’s the media’s hatred of Hillary)
The elephant weighed:
  • 800 pounds
  • 9,000 pounds
  • 10,000 pounds
The elephant has or has not been:
  • featured
  • recognized
  • embraced
  • contended with
  • dared to be talked about
  • openly acknowledged
  • growing more obese
  • stumbled into
  • included as a reminder
  • shot
What a versatile creature!
You will see in the quotations below that the elephant in the room and the white elephant have merged at least once. The elephant in the room has probably also met the 800-pound gorilla who sits wherever he wants. (An 800-pound gorilla is a big gorilla, but an 800-pound elephant would be much less than pygmy-sized. Not very formidable at all.)
Find more Dead Language here.

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LinkAugust 14, 2008 in Language

Sunday cat pix

At the top of the stairs she beheld her old nemesis.
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Musa & LG, 16 Aug 2008

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LinkAugust 17, 2008 in Cats

Dep’t of Dead Language

Who got emboldened recently?
  • Russia (many times)
  • the Russian bully (at least once)
  • the Georgians (many times)
  • Saakashvili (many times)
  • managements of large institutions
  • some commentators
  • inflation hawks
  • the spirit
  • the right-wing noise machine
  • Libra
  • scientists who think a liquid ocean lies beneath the surface of Enceladus
  • cyclists
  • an already cocky homosexual lobby
  • an “anti-Semitic regime”
  • India
  • friends
  • friends… or enemies
  • book titles
  • Americans
  • criminal activities (but only potentially, which is still enough to get you convicted)
What emboldened them?
  • zingers
  • a concession or bone
  • subsidizing common stockholders
  • today’s interview at CNBC with David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors
  • a “confrontational” approach
  • the break to the upside of the change in the core rate
  • everything’s being reduced to faded prints in the back of a newspaper
  • distancing the Obama campaign from Clark
  • the genius thinking patterns of Aquarius
  • the weak, unresolved response of the West
  • not doing the things that are needed to be done
  • longing to be loved but to no avail
  • a finding
  • bike lanes
  • Gregoire’s being elected and the Legislature’s remaining unchanged
  • a promise from Bush
  • a few suggestions
  • a deal between Steiner and the Iranian government
  • concern for Israel’s future
  • McCoy (a writer of pedophilic fiction)
One of our distinguished contributors below asks: “Is it just me, or does ‘embolden’ already belong on the list of words that will be verboten come 2009?”
I think we know the answer to that one.
Find more Dead Language here.

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LinkAugust 21, 2008 in Language

Dep’t of Dead Language

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The Olympics, in keeping with its venerable tradition, has been chasing younger viewers by adding new events. But beach volleyball, tacky though it may be,* is never going to grab the youth like Grand Theft Auto II or Mortal Combat.
*Did I say ‘tacky’? Yes I did.
In recent years, however, a new sport has arisen that promises to make kick-boxing look like badminton. From the turbulent border between sports and politics comes
THROWING things UNDER the BUS
In just the last month, dozens of sports figures, politicians, and Hollywood projects have been thrown under buses. Some have been thrown under buses more than once. Though sometimes the opportunity to participate in this burgeoning new sport has been refused, many people, in all walks of life, have known the thrill of throwing things under buses.
The Olympic version of this sport will include a wide spectrum of events:
  • Throwing Grandma under the bus (lightweight division)
  • Throwing John Edwards under the bus (middleweight division)
  • Throwing Bill Parcells under the bus (heavyweight division)
  • Throwing quarterbacks under the bus (two in the trials, three in the finals)
  • Throwing oneself under the bus (a demonstration event in 2012)
  • Throwing a guy under the bus while staving off wolves (a summer version of the biathlon)
  • Throwing the White Sox under the bus (a bus-throwing marathon)
Though its popularity is new, throwing people under the bus has its roots in ancient Rome and India, where during certain holy days people would be thrown under the wheels of chariots or juggernauts. It fell out of favor during the Dark Ages because vehicles were scarce, but took off again in the Age of Steam when throwing things under locomotives became a fad. After 1890 the advent of bicycles and then automobiles threatened to confine the sport to certain less-developed countries that still retained their transit systems.
Now, however, as public transportation makes a comeback in American cities, buses, trolleys, and even trains are again plentiful enough to allow for mass participation, the formation of leagues, and a competitive structure leading to the national championship to be held this year in New York. Recognition of the sport by the Olympics has sealed the cap on its renaissance.*
*The alert reader will have noticed, in examining the sources below, that not throwing things under the bus is popular too. But of course anyone can not-throw just about anything, whether it’s javelins or Bill Parcells.
I suppose there could be a sort of Puritan Olympics in which people refrained from acts they very much wanted to perform. But it would be hard to tell the not-jumpers from the not-runners. On the other hand, you wouldn’t need a fancy pool for the not-swimmers, or big salaries for the not-announcers. And not-watching would take no time at all.
Find more Dead Language here.

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LinkAugust 22, 2008 in Language

Sound of the week

Some piano noises.
The initial sample (a home recording, sweetened with reverb). The piano player was me.
alt : Piano noises

LinkAugust 23, 2008 in Music

Sunday cat pix

Time out on the sofa.
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Musa & Josie, 21 Aug 2008

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LinkAugust 24, 2008 in Cats

McCain’s Wife’s Money

Very good reporting on the origins of the Hensley millions, which helped McCain start his political career.
By now, many Americans know John McCain’s family story. His best-selling memoir, Faith of My Fathers, chronicles the lives of the senator’s father and grandfather, distinguished admirals. The book takes readers up through John McCain’s own military service, including his five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. But Faith of My Fathers ends there, a few years short of John McCain’s marriage to Cindy Hensley and the advent of his political career.
That’s only half the family story.
The rest could be called “Cash of My Father-in-Law,” a tale of how beer baron James W. Hensley’s money and influence provided a complement to McCain’s charisma and compelling personal story and launched him to a seat in Congress — and perhaps to the White House.
Taking advantage of restrictions on liquor by violating them to make money is a common racket. Joseph Kennedy, father of Jack, is supposed to have made money from illegal imports of liquor from Canada during Prohibition. Our no-longer-local beer company, Anheuser-Busch, though it didn’t score during Prohibition, did very well immediately after. Among the first public appearances of famous Clydesdales was a delivery of fresh cases of Budweiser to the White House in April 1933.
Added 26 Aug: more of the same from the Times: David M. Halbfinger, “For McCains, a public path but private wealthNew York Times 22 Aug 2008.

LinkAugust 24, 2008 in Society