Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"SOS to German Coast Guard! We Are Thinking! I Repeat, We Are Thinking!"

Popcorn by The Colonel # 84 

☻ “The reason for making pots is the emptiness within them.” --Zen saying

☻ “There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.” --George Carlin

☻ Short science fiction: The last woman on Earth sat in a room padlocked on the outside.

☻ Short history of angels: Ancient people thought of deities as resembling their kings and queens in not doing things directly but through others. So gods were understood to communicate to their subjects through fearsome messengers. Later, medieval thinkers believed between any two points must be a midpoint, so beings must exist in the gap between God and humans. Somewhere along the line, angels got pretty. Post-postmodernism says that anything that can exist must already exist in many of the polycosmos's infinite parallel universes. Since they're pretty and we have lots of pinheads that need to be danced on, why not have angels in this one?

☻ As the centenary of the Great War (1914-1918) rolls around, one remembers stories of that war. A young American soldier was especially close to his grandmother, who wrote him every week, and he treasured the letters as he received them at the front. The grandmother was diagnosed with a fatal illness, kept it a secret, and wrote a year’s worth of letters in advance so that the grandson wouldn’t learn of her death while he was at the front.

☻ Years ago, we shot a man in Reno just to watch him die. That’s not important right now. What’s important now is that “gibbous,” pronounced with a hard g, refers to both the waxing and waning phases of the moon, not just moving toward full. “Waxing” means “growing” (cf. German “wachsen”), and “waxing roth” means “growing angry,” where “roth” is an old word for “red,” which came by extension to mean angry. “Rothschild” has nothing to do with children. It means “red shield” and should be syllabified as “Roth-schild” and pronounced "rote shilled." The word “child” in its plural form shows rare traces of a time when some English nouns inflected in a special way when naming two things: one child, two childer, three children. Finally, bear in mind that paragraphs should always develop their topic sentences.

To get mittens” is a common Finnish expression for having a marriage proposal rejected. In the Great War, German soldiers would cry across the wintry No Man’s Land to the American trenches, “Gott mit uns!” (“God [is] with us!”). The Yanks would cry fiercely back, “We got mittens, too!” So the wedding was off.

“Slash fiction” is always homosexual, never heterosexual. The heterosexual counterpart within fanfic (fan fiction) is “het fiction.” Both names imply a sexual component, without which the name “gen” applies, as in “for general audiences.” The best-known slash fiction involves Kirk/Spock. See the slash mark? It's called a "virgule." “Slasher movies” are another matter.

Americans seldom realize that the U.S. has a culture as real and specific as France’s or China’s. Immigrants get this. Foreign tourists get this. But Americans, even self-hating Americans, think the way we do things is just how things are done.

“Clickbait” is a name for tantalizing headlines aimed at getting eyeballs, as in "Twelve Child Stars Who Grew Up Ugly." If the Web had existed when Erle Stanley Gardner was writing, “Will Perry Marry Della?” would have been prime clickbait.

“Greylisting” is an anti-spam protocol that temporarily rejects incoming e-mail from unknown senders with instructions to the originating server to send the message again after a delay. Spammers’ systems usually aren’t set to comply, so it’s a simple way to insure that e-mail is genuine.

Turdiform, like crapulent and formicate, sounds naughty but isn't.

Huck is a skateboarding term, meaning to go all out or throw oneself into the air with great force, as in “I knew if I landed my run I’d podium, so I thought I’d just huck it.”

Nummit and crummit is not a mild oath, but a Devonshire dialect phrase for a between-meals snack. You can use it as an oath, though: “Nummit and crummit, my dealer is late. I must admonish him, lest this become his regular practice, causing me to wax sore roth.” (“Sore” is an old adjective for “very”; cf. German “sehr,” meaning “very.”)

☻ Japanese saying: “In a lifetime, everyone must eat a peck of dirt.” “Dirt” may be a euphemistic translation. The saying may comfort someone who must do something distasteful.

☻ One quotation attributed to Lincoln is, “It will not do to investigate the subject of religion too closely, as it is apt to lead to infidelity.” Lincoln had a sense of humor, so he may have been joking. Or perhaps he shared the view that religion promotes social order, while atheism leads to anarchy.

☻ The reason for the high incidence of infidelity in college faculties is not the above-average incidence of atheism in that quarter, but the fact that there's something about academic life that drives people crazy. The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated this statement for efficacy or safety.

☻ A bon mot attributed to Lincoln and Churchill is "Waiter, if this is coffee, bring me tea. If this is tea, bring me coffee." We vote for Lincoln, since Churchill already has a good one along those lines: "Waiter, take this pudding away. It has no theme." 

A cartoon showed a pier where mobsters are standing, having just tossed a man in cement boots into the water, where he stands afloat on the surface. One mobster says to the others, “I guess we get six more weeks of winter.” The caption was “Punxsutawney Vito.”

☻ The spelling “catalog” is not approved in the Ivy Leag.

☻ Now (Sid) Caesar belongs to history. Two items from an obit:

His first TV comedy-variety show, ‘The Admiral Broadway Revue,’ premiered in February 1949. But it was off the air by June. Its fatal shortcoming: unimagined popularity. It was selling more Admiral television sets than the company could make, and Admiral, its exclusive sponsor, pulled out.”

“[His] demons included remorse about the flared-out superstardom of his youth - and how the pressures nearly killed him. But over time he learned to view his life philosophically. ‘You think just because something good happens, THEN something bad has got to happen? Not necessarily,’ he said with a smile in 2003, pleased to share his hard-won wisdom: ‘Two good things have happened in a row.’”

☻ “Making poetry is putting the best words in the best order and letting them have intimate relations with each other.” --Roy Marshrigger, improving on Coleridge

☻ Writer John Warner believes that there’s no demand for higher education as such, only for the stable, secure life some believe it can provide. Warner says the credentialing has less influence on later life than the contacts one makes attending college and grad school. For example, Mark Zuckerberg’s roommates financed his Facebook venture. Influential teachers get jobs for favored students. MOOCs (massive open online courses)  don’t do this, and may for that reason fail as a full substitute for brick-and-mortar colleges, or at least prestigious ones with much social capital.

☻ New York City rarely cancels school, even in brutal snowstorms, because for many children, the hot meals at school are the only food they get. (Source: Slate)

☻ The door displayed at this link is so ingenious it will blow your idea of “door” off its hinges.

☻ “Buy Cracky, the cocaine product for seniors.” Is this what will follow medicinal marijuana?

☻ “Pastures of Polenta: A Cookbook for Prisons and Other Large Institutions (And Wedding Receptions on a Budget)”

☻ Christian Wiman, author of “My Bright Abyss,” uses the interesting term “secular fundamentalists.” It reminds one that secularists’ views are as varied as believers’.

☻ “Christianity scandalized the ancient world, partly because it was for common people, open to anyone, rich or poor, slave or free. It offered no secret, specialized knowledge that could be acquired by a select few.” --Christian Winan

☻ “We were poor. Mamma used Spam Helper.”

☻ “Compassion is your suffering burning in my nerves, whereas pity is my lament for myself, projected onto you.”

☻ “Everyone alive deludes himself. Whether the dead do the same, we do not know.”

M & M Enterprises sells cork in New York, shoes in Toulouse, ham in Siam, nails in Wales, and tangerines in New Orleans. How would you describe its niche? (To refresh your recollection, the first M stands for Milo, and the second for Minderbinder.)

Some people get lost in thought because it’s unfamiliar territory.” --Paul Fix

“Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense.” --Thomas H. Huxley

☻ If you ever experience an awkward pause in a conversation, consider touching on the situation in the Balkans. There's always a situation in the Balkans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I like the flip panel door - really innovative!