Saturday, January 23, 2016

Isn’t It Ironic That When the Sun Burns Out, It’ll Blow Up? The Colonel Carries On #15

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Epigraph: “Are you talking to me or to your food?” --Zippy

From the Carolinas to New England, enough snow will fall in total to give every man, woman, and child in America 7,000 snowballs. --Slate

The Marines say: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” Muy macho, si?

Ever the romantic, he plighted her his trough.

Latin Declines "Lolita." Singular: Lolita, Lolitae, Lolitae, Lolitam, Lolita. Plural: Lolitae, Lolitarum, Lolitis, Lolitas, Lolitis.

“The tree of life is a lovely metaphor but the bush of life is more accurate.”

“Nothing wastes more time than preoccupation with method. No universal method applies to all sciences. The method of mathematics is not the method of botany; the special character of botany dictates the way to study botany.”  --after Diderot

“[The] long-term importance [of the materialist current of thought] lies in its aspect as a programme for studying the connections between physiological and psychological phenomena rather than in its dogmatic reduction of the latter to the former.” --Frederick Copleston, historian of philosophy

“Pssst! Never give in to paranoia. It helps no one.”

Chesterton once said that people who make history don’t know any, and we can tell by the kind of history they make.

A former competitive bridge player writes:

“Finally found something you might find amusing.  At least I did, after acknowledging the egregious nature of it all. Several top winning pairs were caught cheating at bridge.  There are several videos showing these pairs at ‘work.’ The best one and easiest to follow is what I call the 'coughing concert.'" Here’s the link:

“It's not tedious as you are not sitting through hand after hand.  I believe these two (Elinescu and Wladow) are German medical doctors.  Very humiliating for them.  The video speeds up and isolates the bidding where you see the illegal exchange of information. There are other pairs with different signals.  This one is the least subtle.”

“A mouse who sleeps with an elephant must be very careful.” (Said of small countries neighbornig large ones.)

I can’t find the quote, but I seem to remember reading of Stalin’s instruction to his negotiators with the Western Allies concerning the allocation of cabinet posts in the post-WWII “coalition” governments in Soviet-occupied Eastern Europe: “Promise them anything, but get me the Ministry of the Interior” (i.e., the national police, not like the U.S. Department of the Interior).

Contract drafting: I no longer use “including” for lists, as in “fruit, including lemons, limes, and oranges.” It has two problems, “exhaustion” and “ejusdem generis.” Exhaustion means “is the list complete?” (“Are grapefruits included, or just lemons, limes, and oranges?”) “Ejusdem generis” means (literally) “of the same kind” and freely “are the unlisted included items similar to the listed included items?” (“Are apples and tomatoes included, or just citrus fruits?”)

The obvious “fix” of saying “including without limitation” (or one of its many wordy variants) has two problems: first, courts sometimes treat the following list as exhaustive anyway, on the theory that “IWL” is “boilerplate” to be ignored if it doesn’t correspond to the parties’ “intent” found from other sources.

Second, even if “IWL” is effective to clarify that the list is not exhaustive, it may be read to address only the exhaustion issue and not to solve whether unlisted items must be like the listed ones.

My solution is to say “lemons, limes, oranges, and all similar and dissimilar fruit.” I ban “including” as a breeding ground of trouble. Nothing, however, is guaranteed judge-proof, so it’s a matter of reducing judicial risk.

Donald Trump on putting his assets in a blind trust if he becomes president: “I’m very proud of my company. I know I built a very great company. But if I become president, I couldn’t care less about my company. It’s peanuts.” Or in this case, “Trump change”?

Three new expressions in the OED (Oxford English Dictionary) are phablet (a cross between a phone and a tablet), locavore (one who eats only food produced locally), and bank of mom and dad (no explanation necessary).

A recent OED word of the day is oniomania, which is not a madness for onions, but “a compulsive urge to buy things; an uncontrollable desire for acquisition.” It’s from ancient Greek ὤνιος [ōnios] for sale, related to the (Latin-derived) English word “venal,” meaning “for sale” in the sense of bribable.

“So Donny, what’s with the hair?”

Literary interview with The Colonel:

Q: What will you do if your biographer is not a kind person?

A: Nothing. I’ll be dead. If I’m not dead, someone will be, if you catch my drift.

Q: Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

A: The Shadow knows.

Q: Who knows that too often books that grapple with history are leaden and self-serious -- sociology tricked out as literature? Who is light-handed and gloriously silly? Who gives us the full measure of life’s weirdness and banality and terror? Who knows how brave we are, how ridiculous, how endlessly deserving of compassion and mockery?

A: I’m thinking The Shadow again. No, wait, lemme think more. Got it! The Czech author Bohumil Hrabal. If not he I know not who. By the way, thanks for giving me a chance to say “if not he I know not who.”

Q: What are the limits of human rationality?

A: When it’s my kid.

Q: Thanks for your time.

A: Pleasure.

Ray Davies of The Kinks pronounces his surname “Davis,” but his brother Dave Davies also pronounces it “Davis.” Their late father, the Canadian novelist Robertson Davies, pronounced it “McYone.”

For most people, what they read is dictated by research requirements. Fortunately, most people are deeply involved in researching escapist literature.

“Take us to your leader, and it had better be a dog or we’ll be pissed.”

Are you looking for a sober, nonpolemic book about how we are ruining Earth’s oceans through overfishing and poor management? I didn’t think so. You like your mahi-mahi too much, you little devil, you.

In what universe does it make a dime’s worth of difference whether a movie is faithful to the book on which it is based? On the other hand, in how many universes do they have dimes and other hands?

“Scholars bore me; I lack the spine to withstand colorless writing, which to me indicates colorless thought.” --after Luc Sante. That could really harsh a scholar’s mellow.

The late Iain Banks wrote both mainstream novels and science fiction novels. The former subsidized the latter, he said.

“The sky above, yes, but also the mud below.” --a balanced view of life

Okay, if Donald Trump can play to the gallery, so can I:

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