By Oliver Wendell Watson, judge and sidekick, and Waclaw Prndl, automatic shift driving instructor
Epigraph: “The storms come and go, the waves crash overhead, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling.” --George R.R. Martin
Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1809-1890)
Karr is best remembered for "plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose,” literally “the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing,” but usually translated as “the more things change, the more they stay [or remain] the same.”
That may seem banal, like “it is what it is,” but it may be profound. I can’t make up my mind, which is perhaps why I esteem more highly another of his aphorisms, about the movement to abolish capital punishment: "je veux bien que messieurs les assassins commencent" (“let the gentlemen who do the murders take the first step”).
Single-handed dinghy boats of the Optimist international class cluster around a motorboat during a training session for young yachtsmen in the Yenisei River in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, June 6. Looks like money somehow. (Ilya Naymushin/Reuters)
The "NATO phonetic alphabet" (Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, etc.) is also known as the "International Radio Spelling Alphabet" (but not, apparently, the "IRS alphabet" or the "IRSA alphabet" -- the former would be terrifying, and the latter a product of the Department of Redundancy Department, like "ATM machine" and "PIN number"), the "ICAO phonetic alphabet" (ICAO = International Civil Aviation Organization -- isn't it nice that something is still civil?), and the "ITU radiotelephonic alphabet" (ITU = International Telecommunication Union).
(Note to self: if you keep writing sentences like the immediately previous one, stay pseudonymous.)
I propose to comment on that alphabet, but first, here's all of it:
Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.
Here are the comments:
Sometimes a so-called "phonetic" alphabet is called a "spelling" alphabet. I approve, not least because the alphabet isn't technically phonetic, but acrophonic, so "spelling" is more accurate.
If you criticize "spelling alphabet" as obvious, on the ground that what else is an alphabet for, I answer: "numeration."
"Acrophonic"? The name of the letter starts with the letter: the name "Delta" starts with a delta.
How strange that the letters of the English alphabet lack agreed written forms of their names: "Double-Yew"? Greek outshines English in this regard.
"Alfa" eschews the "ph" representation of the "f" sound. What's it all about, Alfa?
"Charlie" may be pronounced either "Char-Lee" or "Shar-Lee." Vas you dere, Sharlee?
"India" is pronounced "In-Dee-Ah," not "Inja." No colonialists need apply. Nor Steely Dan "Aja" fans.
"Juliett" is spelt with two final T's. Wherefore art thou "Juliett"?
"Lima" is pronounced "Lee-Muh." Cool beans.
"Oscar" is pronounced "Os-cah," but "November" is pronounced "No-Vem-Ber." If it looks like a discrepancy, walks like a discrepancy, and quacks like a discrepancy, it might be a discrepancy, pronounced "Dis-Creh-PANTS-ee."
"Papa" is pronounced "Pah-Pah," not "PAH-Puh."
"Quebec" is pronounced "Keh-Bek," not "Kwe-Bek."
"Uniform" has options: "Yew-Nee-Form" or "OO-Nee-Form," but not "Yew-Nih-Form."
"Victor" is pronounced "Vic-Tah."
The words with "r" endings are pronounced as if you're from England or NYC.
Boston wasn't consulted, or there'd be "Al-Fer," "In-Dee-Er," "Lee-Mer," "No-Vem-Bah," "Popper," and "See-Air-Ur."
By the way, "acrophony" is pronounced "uh-CROF-uh-nee," not "acro-phoney," like some high-wire hypocrite.
The NATO phonetic alphabet for the numbers zero through nine is of interest in part: Tree, Foe-wer, Fife, Niner. And it's "Zero," not "aught" or "naught," it will greatly relieve you to know.
For some reason, this whole discussion makes the following words float to the surface of the turbulent mind: "In the unlikely event of a watery landing, your seat cushion can serve as a life preserver."
Digression: Join my crusade to pronounce "long-lived" as "long-lyv'd," not "long-livv'd." The reference is to a long "life," not a long livv. Henry VIII was six-wyv'd, not six-wiff'd.
“Historians will look back for signs of when civilization finally got its act together and began to blossom. They'll point to the early 21st century, when photos of turkey egg arrangements started appearing on social media.” --after Stephen Henri Devoto
“My Elegant Solution” is an aftershave name I just made up. The stuff itself smells mathematical, but in a good way.
This is a picture from an ad claiming that Amazon Channels is better than Netflix or Hulu. I’m guessing it’s from an historical costume drama. Which of the two figures more attracts you speaks volumes about you.
“I got troubles. Lotta troubles. One is, I don’t get no respect. No respect at all.”
“Watch out! You might get what you’re after!” --Talking Heads, “Burning Down the House”
Which SCOTUS justice’s high school yearbook photo is this? If you guessed Anthony Kennedy, you’re right! Right out of your gourd! It’s the notorious RBG, and it was James Madison High School.
“Six blind men lived in a village.
“A boy said, ‘An elephant is in the village square.’
“The blind men did not know what an elephant was, so they said, ‘Let us go and feel this elephant we cannot see.’
"‘A pillar!’ said the one who touched the elephant’s leg.
“‘A rope!’ said the one who touched the tail.
“‘A tree branch!’ said the one who touched the trunk.
“‘A big fan!' said the one who touched the ear.
“‘A wall!’ said the one who touched the side.
“‘A solid pipe!’ said the one who touched a tusk.
“A Baha'i sage came by and spoke.
“‘Each of you is right in his own way,’ he said.
“‘The elephant is a great beast with a tail like a rope, legs like tree trunks, sides like walls, ears like fans, tusks like solid pipes, and a trunk like a tree branch.’
“The blind men killed him, crying, ‘Liar!’ and fell to fighting among themselves till all were dead.
“The violence shocked the elephant, who went away, hoping never to see another human.
“The moral is that man's character as killer is so deeply etched that the paths of truth, partial truth, and error all lead to violent death.”
I was appalled to see a version of this photo in which both men wore “Bloom County” tee shirts. It’s disgraceful that anyone would abuse wonderful Photoshop technology for the low purpose of putting product placements into legitimate news photos.
Vladimir Putin: his eyes flash “KGB.”
These are for your clickbait collection:
☻ A brief history of children sent through the mail;
☻ Scientists create molecular black hole;
☻ Sidney Blumenthal, is that you?;
☻ Play someone a song on the world’s smallest violin;
☻ Lightning in slow motion;
☻ 7-11 vs. 6-12;
☻ Pitbull stops home invaders;
☻ Scientists hear ancient black holes collide (“Why doncha watch where you’re going?”);
☻ Scientists wiggle mouse whiskers with electricity, alleviate mouse depression as unexpected side effect;
☻ A brief history of the GIF;
☻ Japanese pigeon shoes;
☻ At age 111, America’s oldest veteran is still smoking cigars, drinking whiskey, and loving life;
☻ Tarantula crawls out of its own skeleton;
☻ World’s largest privately owned Star Wars collection has been robbed;
☻ Mummified dinosaur found;
☻ Florida man shoots McDonald’s manager over food order;
☻ Dad’s gotta Dad.
Jamie Gorelick is a “lawyer-fixer.” She doesn’t fix broken lawyers, except sometimes she fixes broken lawyers. So what’s a “fixer”? Merriam-Webster: “one that intervenes with police officials or other authorities for a person in legal difficulty or with government officials for a person seeking a political favor often with use of corrupt methods and for a fee or other consideration : an influence peddler.”
“We miss you, Groucho.”
“Hello. I’m a small person. My goal is to be on a postage stamp.”
“You wouldn’t believe what I can find out when I get myself up so no one knows I’m Karl Rove.”
Even more than Roger Moore, Raymond Burr did his acting with his eyes. Barbara Hale, who played Della Street, died on January 26, 2017.
Debt can make your life worse, as this picture shows in a stupid, silly, symbolic way.
Those who say Bob Dylan shouldn’t have gotten the Nobel Prize for Literature because his lyrics are worse on paper than when sung would have denied the prize to Homer.
“They say we Neanderthals can’t talk. That’s baloney, whatever baloney is. It’s just that everything worth saying has already been said. But try telling that to a homo sap.”
“America is no more immune from collapse than were some of history’s most stable and impressive consensual governments. Fifth-century Athens, Republican Rome, Renaissance Florence and Venice, and many of the elected governments of early 20th-century Western European states eventually destroyed themselves, went bankrupt, or were overrun by invaders.” --Victor Davis Hanson
There’s no one to save us but ourselves. If it’s to be done, we have to do it.
I think of bad posture as sort of a life stance. Sort of Unitarian, if you will.
We miss you, Frank. Not as much as we miss Groucho, but some.
“No, I’m not the dictator of the Hermit Kingdom, but I’d jump at the chance to nuke your sorry ass. Now please leave, preferably to Mars.”
“You wouldn’t believe what I can find out when I get myself up so no one knows I’m James Comey.”
When you listen to one of the twins talk, can you tell if it’s Rhett or Rick?
“You took the toaster when you went” is the fine opening line of the very fine Richard Shindell song, “Are You Happy Now?” The line has two instances of alliteration (“took the toaster” and “when you went”) and one of a device I’m alert to but have never seen described or named: one disyllable amid a stream of monosyllables. Here, the disyllable is “toaster.”
The noblest example I can think of is Churchillian: “When we see all these things, we know that the sword we bear is the sword of justice, and we shall wield it to the full, and to the hilt.” Jus-tice.
Poor man’s TARDIS.
“You wouldn’t believe what I can find out when I get myself up so no one knows I’m Jamie Gorelick.”
Hypograph: “Ideas are like fish.” --David Lynch