“I only regret that I have but one asterisk for my country.”
–Nathan Hale (paraph.)
This is what happens to persons who go looking at dictionaries. One thing leads to another, and the next thing you know Oz & environs (for some large-ish value of “environs”) have to put up with dreadful(ly good) puns. Tsk!
Credit where it’s due: A comment from “Wal Webster” at Dictionary.com, to a brief history of the ampersand:
Wal Webster – December 19, 2014 – 4:08 am
Reminds me of that other much-misrepresented character, the *, which was allegedly going to be renamed the “nathan” back in 1976, in bicentennial honour of the great American patriot, Nathan Hale, whose last words were said to have been along the lines of, “I only regret that I have but one asterisk for my country.”
I just read something dreadful on Facebook.
It was truly dreadful, arguably even racist.
To demonstrate just how nasty some people can be, I show you, right here, below the fold, just what some people are capable of.
“In everything that can be called art there is a quality of redemption. It may be pure tragedy, if it is high tragedy, and it may be pity and irony, and it may be the raucous laughter of the strong man. But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid.
The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor — by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things.
He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks — that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.
The story is the man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in. ”
― Raymond Chandler, The Simple Art of Murder
It is a brilliant essay – the whole thing I mean – highly recommended to anyone who likes detectives and despises the “literary” types who despise “genre” fiction. Just go read Chandler. He was an awesome prose stylist and Phil Marlowe is an epic character. I can think of few people I’d rather have at my back in a tight spot.
There is another name for “disproportionate response”.
It is called “winning”.
According to the Bible, Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Palestine. A country where people are called Mohammed, Abdul, Mounir, Aziz, Ahmed, Farid, Omar, Youssef, Mouhoud, etc.
Yet he managed to find 12 friends called Andy, Bart, Jim (two of them), John, Jude, Judas, Matt, Pete, Phil, Simon and Tom….. who all liked getting pissed on wine!
Someone who is trying to climb out of poverty by working their way up can easily reach a point where a $10,000 increase [ in pay]* can cost them $15,000 in lost benefits they no longer qualify for. That amounts to a marginal tax rate of 150 percent—far more than millionaires pay.
–Quoted by Hunter Lewis in his piece “50th Anniversary of Federal Government’s Failed War on Poverty.”
*Parenthetical not mine. –J.
Actually, it is the quote of a couple of months ago, but is still worth putting up.
Obama intensely wants to sell out to Putin, but Putin isn’t buying. He prefers to take without the patina of agreement. He views Obama with the utmost contempt, and he is proving himself a rather more perceptive student of character than his Western counterparts, Obama foremost among them.
Scott Johnson – Powerline, March 17
I appreciate this is a new and self reffing one but I’m giving my co-blogger, Cats, a QOTD…
Collective action will occur in any group of people, and so it should. Universal self sufficiency is just an alternative term for universal poverty. No civilisation above savagery can survive without specialisation, and no dwelling much better than a mud hut can be built by a single person.
Not only is there nothing wrong with collective action, it is something to be sought. The issue is exclusively one of how it is organised, whether by free cooperation or enforced.
Absolutely. The whole principle of the free market is that we do different things. Cats, for example, might install a bang-on computer network but I suspect he is no Kylie when it comes to singing popular songs whilst gyrating his hips – well, not for me anyway… Having said that I can’t exactly imagine Ms Minogue crawling under a desk with a posidrive. Though given her legendary ass (a treasure of the English speaking peoples) I’m not sure I wouldn’t mind seeing her give it a go. Anyway, and this is a bit of an aside things like this are more effective contra radical Islam than any number of JDAMs. Try watching that video, having a wank but thinking of the wit and wisdom of Abu Hamza.
But… This is not exactly a new observation from Cats but one that, like a Kylie video, deserves another run-out. An advanced society requires specialities. Nobody can do everything. And that is where trade comes from. For example the ’70s BBC sitcom “The Good Life” which focuses on the attempt by Tom and Barbara Good to be “self sufficient”. But their neighbours Jerry and Margo who are utterly conventional (and somewhat conservative – I shall not even mention Mrs Mountshaft and the Music Society) eternally dig the Goods out of Pinky and Perky’s sty. I see the show as a satire on the dismal attempt by the Goods to do everything. The money quote comes from Jerry. Tom has a go at “wage-slave” Jerry about why he obeys “Sir”. His reply is roughly, “18 thousand a year (note this is the mid-70s), a company car and an expense account”. He shoots, he scores because money can be exchanged for goods and services including those services done vastly better than by a bodger. Note also Tom is a total git and treats his wife Barbara (played by Felicity Kendal (who frankly I wouldn’t have minded watching wiggling her bum whilst crawling around with a posidrive either) better than your bum Cats – no offence meant Cats!) as little more than a feudal chattel.
Tom Good is something you wouldn’t get now on TV. He is a kinda proto-green who is portrayed by Richard Briers as a deeply unsympathetic character. He treats the toothsome Barbara like a lackey. Jerry and Margo have a vastly more balanced relationship and they also enable Tom and Barbara’s insane attempt to run their half-arsed small-holding in a London suburb. What is amusing is of course Tom gives-up a good job as a senior draughtsman to pursue this absurd dream and the only way he keeps it “pretending to work” is that when push comes to shove Jerry and Margo are there. So the very middle-class “wage slave” and his executive missus keep Tom in his absurd fantasy. It might as well be about wind-farms.
The show circles the overhead on Dave in the Sky of course. Beamed from the Satellites of Love until the heat death of the whole game. Nothing that ever matters (and ’70s sitcoms) ever truly dies.
Not with the overhead of digital immortality of the clacks. Not even Mrs Slocombe’s pussy is dead. God help us! I mean we* will be laughing at dismal pussy jokes** till the sun becomes a red giant.
Anyway back to the Goods…
And this is very interesting. Margo and Jerry were first envisioned as minor characters but couldn’t be kept down. To the extent that when the show aired in the USA it wasn’t called “The Good Life” but “The Good Neighbours”.
*For a different “we” obviously.
**I find them quite amusing because I am utterly puerile. Here is a taster… “Is that Mr. Ackbar? Mrs. Slocombe here, your next-door neighbour. I wonder, would you do me a favour? Would you go to my front door, bend down, and look through the letter-box? And if you can see my pussy, would you drop a sardine on the mat?” That is fucking genius. Read it all here. There is a serious point (though humour is very serious of course). These lines are with us for eternity.
A picture is worth a thousand words, so enjoy this essay.
H/T Tim Blair
“I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall, but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men, it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless — while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors — like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going around doing damage. I could have written a ‘thriller’ about the plot and its discovery and overthrow — but it would have been just that. Not worth doing.”
―The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 256
Yup. Wise old stick was JRRT. I don’t do his anti-industrialism but what I bolded (and italiced) says worlds to me. “their quick satiety with good”. Oh yeah, baby – we have that in spades! And in pure literary terms how could he top LoTR? It just wasn’t the epic. Tolkien was very English (as was Elgar – also a Brummie – sort of) – “a smiling with a sigh” – the violin concerto? They saw hideous things (JRRT was a junior officer in WWI and got a Blighty) and an age of genuine progress (Victoria) hit the buffers, badly. You heard the phrase, “How the other half live”? Ever wondered what that specifically reffed? Before Victoria came to the throne roughly half the population of these Britannic Isles lived in abject poverty. By the time she joined the choir eternal it was 10%. I’d call that a result. Was this the result of political machinations? Was it heck! It was the result of the Stephensons and Teslas, the Armstrongs and Watts, the Swans and Edisons, Daimler and Benz, Parsons and Morse, the Maxwells and Marconis, Semmelweiss and Seacole… And hordes more. We built the foundations for a paradise undreamed of by the greatest potentates of Egypt or Babylon and we pissed it up the wall because as JRRT put it we can’t sit still.
In 1900 Russia had the highest rate of GDP growth on the planet. Yes, the Tsar was a vainglorious dimwit but imagine Russia now if folks had just hung-on? Imagine Europe now without two catastrophic wars?
JRRT wrote some unforgettable lines but he out-did even himself with…
“the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good”
Absolutely bang on the money. We are kids, really. We will play with something till it is broke. It is the curse of the double-knowing ape. Maybe it can be our blessing too. I dunno. I am due at our little war memorial tomorrow. It is somewhat sobering.
When I was a primary school kid me and my mates built a fall-out shelter – having seen “Threads” – on some waste ground. We lined it with cardboard boxes – well proof against a Sov bomb and we had the Armstrong Works Tank Factory just down the road. Actually my mate Steve brought the dog – a Collie – and she did much of the digging. We were really scared. We even stashed some bottles of pop in there, in case. And to think a few years later the Berlin Wall comes down (Nice! Peace at last!) and then we have bearded loons flying Boeings into buildings! Jesus fuckimg wept! It never ends.
How do the Czechs know that the world is round?
In 1945 the invaders were driven out to the west and in 1968 they came from the East. In 1989 they were driven to the East and in 2004 they came back from the West
Made in reference to the Czech Republic (and previously Poland) telling the EU that they aren’t going to subsidize their Warble Gloaming nonsense anymore and are going back to all those millions of tonnes of cheap, dirty, brown coal that they’ve got underground (WSJ Link)
Let’s hope this attitude is catching and it starts becoming a UK meme as well. We’ve still got about 1,000 years worth of coal underneath us if it wasn’t priced to death with all of this Warble Gloaming idiocy
JRR Tolkien started writing a sequel to the Lord of the Rings.
I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall [of Sauron], but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless – while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors – like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going round doing damage. I could have written a ‘thriller’ about the plot and its discovery and overthrow – but it would be just that. Not worth doing.
I think that says as much about our World as Middle Earth. No moment of triumph ever lasts. It’s a second law of thermodynamics for societies.