Saturday salmagundi

Saturday salmagundi December 1, 2012

• Headline: “Genius or clown? Paris show weighs Dali legacy” Without offering any evaluation of Salvador Dali himself, we should note that genius and clown are not mutually exclusive categories.

• Mark Evanier, of course, has a Larry Hagman story. It’s several stories, actually, and they’re all pretty good.

• Caitlin Desjardins offers a thoughtful reflection on a poem by Yehuda Amichai. Go read the whole thing, but here’s a tiny taste of the poem:

The place where we are right
Is hard and trampled
Like a yard.

• “The Amazing TV Remote Dead Battery Trick.” This trick does not seem to work for a wireless mouse.

• Studies about religion that measure what respondents say about themselves are useful for telling us what respondents are likely to say about themselves.

• My new favorite DJ: DJ Focus. Wow.

A letter of note from the Attorney General of the State of Alabama.

• If decades of Scooby Doo have taught me anything, it is this: Tackle the ghost and take off its mask. (If only Hamlet had tried this.)

• “How to speak a fake Asian language,” with 10 examples.

• David Barton responds to marriage equality votes in four states, gets the outcomes wrong, surprises no one.

• Leah Libresco invites a dispute on grammar, hermeneutics and theology — or perhaps a dispute on grammar, hermeneutics, and theology — in a post about the Oxford comma in the Lord’s Prayer.

• And speaking of things in the AP Stylebook that some find infuriating, Nathaniel Frank says the Associated Press gets it wrong by banning the word “homophobia.”

• Ed Stetzer, who earlier was disappointed in his fellow evangelicals uncritical devotion to Fox News, has conducted some follow-up research to see if evangelicals learned any lessons from Fox’s epically misleading pre-election coverage:

Much to the surprise of many — and the dismay of some — the results don’t support the post-election conversation about Fox News losing its reputation among viewers. Quite the contrary. In fact, some evangelicals support Fox News even stronger now than they did before the election.

• Stetzer also had a good post this week about why lotteries are bad for the poor. There aren’t many points on which I’m wholly in agreement with the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention, but this is one of them. Stetzer isn’t just a Southern Baptist, of course, he’s also a statistician, so he has two reasons to dislike state lotteries.

• New Hampshire’s state legislature is still too big.

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  • Tricksterson

    Couldn’t we just invite the strippers?

  • Tricksterson

    To be fair, such a society would be unrecognizable to anyone, present or past, residing on the planet.

  •  Honestly, I like where the rule against ending sentences on prepositions is at. I realize that even so, there are many cases it should be broken on. But one thing I have noticed over the years is that a lot of inexperienced writers will stray into patterns where they seemingly end every other sentence with one, not even realizing what they’re using those extra words for. In fact, sometimes they just seem to be tossing prepositions at the end of sentences for flavoring and could simply omit the word they ended their sentence with. I once read some long story where the most common lines of dialogue were “Where is he at?” and “Where are you going to?”, and every time it was like the dialog had just played a tin note and made me wonder how long I’d have to keep reading it until.

  • Tricksterson

    I agree with you with two caveats:  1: I oppose bear baiting  (as well as lethal bullfighting and cockfighting) because it’s cruel to the animals.  I added “lethal” to the bullfighting because there are forms of it that don’t harm the animal.  These I don’t have a problem with. 

    2:  You would be surprised how many people still think professional wrestling is real.  I have confronted them with the fact that the WWE, formerly WWF has outright said it’s fake (in order to avoid regulation) only to be told “Yeah but it’s still real.” Literally told  that.

  • Spare me your self-righteousness and spleen. Your carping is misidirected.

  • Carstonio

    Mad magazine once joked that people who claim to watch pro wrestling for the laughs also claim to read Playboy for the articles. I found out not long ago that tween boys make up a large percentage of the entertainment’s fans. I’m troubled by that, because in the two times I’ve viewed it, I saw much pandering to racism, sexism, xenophobia and anti-intellectualism. It looked like it was training boys to be fans of Fox News.

  • Carstonio

     Anyone notice that every Scooby Doo episode is a rewrite of The Hound of the Baskervilles?

  • ohiolibrarian

    Why is it any worse to question lotteries than to question any other institution run by rich people that poorer people largely participate in? Should we not wonder about redlining and food deserts and other situations that seem designed by SOMEONE to part largely poorer people from their cash or other things of value?


    Anyone notice that every Scooby Doo episode is a rewrite of The Hound of the Baskervilles?

    * Scooby Doo rips off dog mask in frustration, revealing Sherlock Holmes *

    “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for that meddling Carstonio!”

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not sure what you mean by redlining, but I’m just as vehemently against food deserts and predatory lending and so forth as I am against the lottery.
    I think people who are against the lottery but not against food deserts and predatory lending either aren’t aware of the scope of the influence and effects of food deserts and predatory lending or are looking for another reason to blame the poor for being poor. The people hurt by the lottery are the people who choose to buy the tickets. The people hurt by food deserts and predatory lending, they don’t have much of a choice in the matter, so putting blame where it’s due would mean blaming people who aren’t poor.

  • As Winston Churchill said, this is an affectation up with which I will not put.

    I’ll never forgive him for that one.  And the people who help spread it….  “Up” is not generally a preposition, you fool!  (Meaning Churchill, not you, Jurgan.)  And certainly not in this case, where it’s clearly an adverb.

  • And you can’t hear an Oxford comma so any list that needs one to not look silly will still sound silly if read out loud.

    I pronounce the Oxford comma sometimes, depending on the sentence and depending on the context. Usually I pronounce it for the same reason I put it in in the first place: that extra pause helps differentiate the last two items so they are not mistaken for a unit. See the “Mother Teresa and God” example posted above.

    I don’t think it sounds silly at all to pronounce a necessary Oxford comma.


    originally coined to refer to the practices of banks to refuse mortgages for certain neighborhoods, usually with the intent of stratifying property ownership along racial lines.

  • Numbers games have very low odds, and lotteries represent political cowardice by legislators too timid to raise taxes.

    I think this is more the crux of the matter. It’s not that the lottery is preying on a helpless pitiful subpopulation who can’t control their wallets, poor dears; it’s that state-run lotteries are generally substitutes for taxes, takes that, given that buying habits are not unaffected by the promise at a chance to rocket out of poverty, falls disproportionately upon the poor.

    It’s not a very strong argument, because  unlike other regressive taxes, the lottery is optional. And to the extent that it’s not guaranteed that the poor will buy more tickets than the well-off, its regressiveness is optional too. Weak or not, though, it’s still a valid argument, and not one that boils down to “save the poor from themselves” or “the poor shouldn’t have nice things,” so maybe let’s not accuse everyone who opposes lotteries of being jerks.

  • Jurgan

    How is it not a preposition?  Doesn’t it indicate position?

  • Reconstruct the clause as a sentence.  “I will not put up with [this].”  “With” is the preposition; if “up” were, then what’s its prepositional object?  And, adverbs do indicate position among other things, so, yeah.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I always thought he was rephrasing to avoid saying ‘this is a thing I will not put up with’.

  • Paul Durant

    You would be surprised how many people still think professional wrestling is real.  I have confronted them with the fact that the WWE, formerly WWF has outright said it’s fake (in order to avoid regulation) only to be told “Yeah but it’s still real.”

    It’s real in the sense that these dudes are really athletes really doing difficult and impressive physical stunts. Wrestling is fake in the sense that the outcomes are predetermined and the wrestlers are cooperating to put on a show. Wrestling is real in that the Undertaker really did throw Mick Foley through the Spanish announcer’s table. 

    I would guess most people who watch wrestling aren’t all super up on the insider lingo and smart to every trick in the biz, but they know this isn’t an actual record of real factual events (the use of cameras for backstage segments and pre-taped segments makes it really, really hard not to notice this), and they don’t particularly care.

  • Yes, but the standard way to rephrase would be to reintroduce the implied relative pronoun, so you get “this is a thing with which I will not put up,” since as I said, “up” isn’t a preposition here.  His “up with which” is just a rhetorical strawman that he demolishes to make a point against a rule which existed only in his imagination.

  • Madhabmatics

     “Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship with god. Totes different” is pretty old, O’reilly is just the latest to get on the bandwagon.

  • GDwarf

    And you can’t hear an Oxford comma so any list that needs one to not look silly will still sound silly if read out loud.

    I always pronounce them. Perhaps this is a dialect thing.

  • WalterC

     I don’t think there’s anything wrong with condemning lotteries, but I would say that food deserts and redlining are significantly harder to avoid than lotteries, which, after all, you can simply choose not to purchase. With redlining or food deserts, you would have to have some sort of prescient awareness of the internal workings of the entire financial sector of your community (more for the first one) and be able and willing to uproot your entire family to stand a chance of getting away from them. With lottery tickets, you can buy one if you want or save your money/buy something else if you don’t, and it doesn’t require any extra effort or knowledge on your part.

  • I have confronted them with the fact that the WWE, formerly WWF has outright said it’s fake (in order to avoid regulation) only to be told “Yeah but it’s still real.” Literally told  that.

    To be fair, they have a grain of a point buried in there.  Real competetive wrestling has never been very popular as a spectator sport because, unlike things like boxing, the match is decided one way or another within a couple of minutes at most.  Such a short-term show rarely keeps the crowds entertained for long.  Entertainment wrestling though is designed to keep the crowds entertained by deliberately drawing out the match to give the crowd some back-and-forth to get excited about.  The winners and losers are pre-determined, most of the match is rehearsed and choreographed  and everything is tarted up with gimmicks and deliberate melodrama.  

    However, where the “real” does come into play is that the wrestlers themselves have a lot of physical training to do to still participate (even if the participation is not strictly competitive) and there is no way to get out of a certain amount of actual pain being inflicted.  The performers may not be deliberately trying to hurt each other seriously, but the ability to take a beating is a requirement for the job, and injury is real risk they take.  Mick Foley in particular is famous for his ability to accept punishment, and has several injuries due to it (some missing teeth, dislocated joints, a torn ear, etc.)

    As a result, even if someone knows it is fake, there is a certain “real” tension present in watching a match.  At least that is my understanding of it, not being a wrestling fan myself.  

  • Pro Wrestling is essentially a fusion of a highly stylized form of ritual dance and a vaudeville-style show. When you get down to it, the fact that it’s got continuing storylines and is targeted toward a blue-collar audience is really what separates it from something like Cirque du Soleil.

  • AnonymousSam

    I have to agree with you; as a way of establishing common ground with Christians, I have sometimes said that I try to live as a follower of Jesus regardless of whether or not I believe in the Christ. Detailing exactly what my interpretation of the Christ’s ideals are tends to cause the conversation to go south pretty quickly as the person gives me a disgusted look and says “Jesus ain’t never said nothin’ like that!”

  • Tricksterson

    I think of it as ballet for men who don’t like ballet.

  • Rhubarbarian82

    Combined with a soap opera for men who don’t like soaps. 

    ETA: Not that there aren’t women who enjoy it, as well.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     In the interest of accuracy, it really should say “THIS IS YOUR GOD” on our money.

  • As I mentioned in the last comment, I am not a fan of professional wrestling, but what I do know about it is because I am a fan of Mick Foley.  It helps that he writes children’s books and runs a rape-relief charity.  

    Besides, just watch his excellent reporting while on The Daily Show.  Wow!  :D

  • Carstonio

     As someone who has seen Cirque shows, I can see your point, although I think the difference is deeper than that. Pro wresting appeals to a specific collection of US tribalisms, and the blue-collar aspect is certainly a particular spin on it, but those tribalisms can be found at all income levels. I think of this collection as the truck-nuts mentality.

  • Ross Thompson

    I’ll never forgive him for that one.*  And the people who help spread it….  “Up” is not generally a preposition, you fool!  (Meaning Churchill, not you, Jurgan.)  And certainly not in this case, where it’s clearly an adverb.

    “… with which I will not put up” is no less clumsy than the construction he used; had he used it, it would have made exactly the same point.

  • I believe the original construction is “which I shall not put up with.”

  • stardreamer42

     We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.

  • stardreamer42

     Not only that, but the people who followed that philosophy would not properly be described as Christians. The core truth of Christianity is faith in the divinity of Jesus; if you discard that, there’s no religion left.

  • EllieMurasaki

    How does that sentence make sense, Oxford comma or no? Mine makes sense with the Oxford comma, if one assumes that ‘I’ is a Christian who finds zir parents supportive and Mother Teresa inspirational. Yours…yes, it illustrates the need for the Oxford comma excellently, but beyond that, huh?

  • I think it’s less “the sentence makes sense” and more “the sentence can have two meanings depending on if you have the comma in or not”. Are you inviting the strippers and JFK and and Stalin, or are you inviting two strippers whose stage names are “JFK” and “Stalin”? I can’t tell you which scenario would be more kickass though, but I’d like to spend a weekend with the kind of person who regularly needs to employ that sentence while making plans. 

  • There are no prepositions in the sentence in the first place. “Put up with” is a transitive phrasal verb meaning “tolerate”. Any separation of its component parts makes the sentence into nonsense. (Which, if Churchill actually made the possibly-apocryphal remark, would have been the point.)

    “Put up with” doesn’t mean anything related to “put”, nor anything related to “put up”, which is itself another transitive phrasal verb meaning either “preserve” (eg “Mom put up some beans for the winter”) or “restore to its proper location” (eg “Dad put up the clean laundry”) .

  • I think the point being made by the anecdote is that trying to contort English to fit certain arbitrary-sounding rules can make it look like quite the mishmash. (^_^)b