Monday, February 05, 2018

A terrible beauty is born

Let the record show that on this date, 5th inst., in the year of our Lord the two thousand and eighteenth, has published its first house-brand editorial cartoon to illustrate a frontpage story. (At least, the first that I recall seeing, and I try to keep up with these things.)

The story itself is hardly a surprise:

Once upon a time, former intel chiefs employed a restrained and nonpartisan tone in the public eye. Now, they're diving right into the mud of today's rancorous political fights.

And the current battle between law enforcement circles and congressional Republicans over the controversial memo on alleged surveillance abuse has pulled Obama-era spy guys even deeper into the brawl.
... but the cartoon is an unusual treat. No details in the story or on the website beyond the "Branco" signature, which along with the tone and style suggests the cartoonist A.F. Branco.

The 1A cartoon itself, of course, isn't new; it's hard to miss if you keep up with isolationism, exceptionalism and the old-school Tribune. Here, indeed, is the Trib's Carey Orr from this date 70 years ago, longing for some "party discipline":
As a field of study, you have to admit it beats the heck out of Photoshop.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

'We' is not amused

Pronouns: How can you miss 'em if they won't go away? The vermin press shows how it's done:

President Trump placed the emphasis on “we” over “I” in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

A review of the president’s prepared remarks by The Daily Caller reveals he used the word “we” more than four times as many times as he said the word “I.”

President Trump used the word “I” 29 times in his speech, while using “we” 129 times. Another communal word used often by the president: “our,” which he used 104 times.

“As long as we are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve,” Trump said near the end of his speech. “As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail.” (RELATED: Obama Mentions Himself 45 Times During Memorial Speech For Dallas Police Officers)

“As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail. Our families will thrive. Our people will prosper. And our Nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.” 

You don't even really need the link to get the point, do you? No pronoun was safe in the hands of the Kenyan usurper: "Someone is going to say, 'Am I the only one* who thinks that Obama likes the sound of his own voice?'" Fortunately, there's a new sheriff in town, and he are not amused.

The experts -- we could say "the coastal eee-lites," but that'd be piling on -- have traditionally spread the bizarre pseudo-sociolinguistic fictions about the meaning(s) of presidential pronoun frequency (Language Log's catalog can be found here). True to form, the impact has already been felt over at the National Review:

Trump’s publicly well-received speech (we hope the Obama first-person singular continues to give way to the Trump first-person plural) did not register with his enemies, mostly progressives but some Never Trumpers as well.

But what if Trump follows up on his speech by letting his successful policies speak for themselves, even as his critics are permanently stuck in the past obsessing on the shadows of Trump — oblivious to his record and brawling against a style and comportment that could be increasingly dissipating?

After watching the Democratic and celebrity boilerplate reaction to Trump’s speech, and the Kennedy response, a person from Mars might conclude that Trump was sober and judicious in reviewing a tangible record, while his critics were emotional and petulant while ignoring definable reality to focus on nebulous symbolism.

I've never been one to suggest that our first contact with the Martians -- "person" or otherwise -- should carry the assumption that they plan to wipe the galaxy with us, but doesn't it seem a little rude to think they'd all act like Daily Caller readers?

* No. You're not even the only white one, moron.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018


You can get a pretty clear idea from the Sunday morning homepage what the master story of the universe is at Fox. It's a hat trick of lese-majeste (1, 2 and 4):

A group of Hollywood elites, progressive groups and social activists are planning a “People’s State of the Union” as a “public alternative” on the eve of President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will not be attending President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday. Instead, she will be at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, for a talk that was announced in August, the Providence Journal reported.

President Trump responded Sunday to recent criticism from rap mogul Jay-Z by citing joblessness for black Americans under his administration, before asking that somebody “please inform” the hip-hop star about the record-low unemployment.

So if you're not a eee-lite making light of (or being responded to by, or being worshipful toward, otherwise interacting with) the president, you need to be either a Clinton or a random tragedy involving white people if you want to land on the Fox front.

If you're wondering why the world in general (Iran and Afghanistan, to name two parts of it) is only a story when Mr. Trump is angry about it, or why school shootings are only news when the president blesses them with thoughts and prayers (or responders rush to the scene to make strange discoveries), this is partly why. News itself -- the timeliness and prominence of it -- does play a role: 12 hours on, the top two stories are about the Grammy awards, but the lead, "Dialed Up Activism," is exactly what you'd expect, as is "Red Carpet Statement."

I suppose there's more to say, but I need to go do other stuff for a while.

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Carnivorous yellow fruit

Why do you suppose the Raleigh paper uses a story from Charlotte (which, unless we're leading with the earthquake, is quite a bit farther inland) to warn its readers not to feed the elongated yellow fruit?

A seal sighting reported by the National Park Service on North Carolina’s Outer Banks has prompted a warning to tourists: Seals bite.

Read more here:

... The ocean-going marine mammals come from growing colonies in New England and Canada, it is reported.

Thanks as always to alert fruit-spotters in the Old Home State. And, because the elongated yellow fruit AND the popular orange vegetable both come in bunches ...

In the first study of its kind, the researchers carried out an in-depth audit of various sandwiches throughout their life cycles and found the triangular meals could be responsible for the equivalent annual carbon emissions of 8.6 million cars in Britain alone.

Read more here:

More about that one later.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Get off my lawn. Here's why.

I'm not suggesting that a single screenshot actually means that Great Cthulhu is loose again and ravening for delight, but -- supposing he was, do you think we could return to the days when headlines told you what happened, rather than what the story was likely to contain?

That, after all, used to be the real challenge of hed writing: "Amazon to city: Too many morons, too few trains" would have been fun, as would "Amazon: Worst corporate suck-up since the NFL." So I'd like assent to add "Here's why" heds to the list of constructions that are banned under all circumstances, forever.

I'm not especially persuaded by the clause-now-clause or clause-then-clause that you kids are using these days, either. Oh, for the days of "Hotel agrees to settle with poisoning victim's family." And with the whole third line to spare there, is there any particular reason not to tell people which town near Charlotte?

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Death to all modifiers, he declared one day

Headlines 'round the world continue to march to the music that only their creators hear. I'm tempted at first glance to call the BBC example above a noun pile, except that it isn't one. It doesn't stack nouns up to modify each other (as in "Bannon Congress Trump Russia hearing row"*); it just throws some nouns at the wall to see if they stick.

Drudge, as usual, simply does stuff that Drudge readers appear to have come to expect:

* Or  "Palestinian viral slap video teen," downpage.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

Baby names: A slight return

Well, here's an old friend back on the Drudge homepage, just in time to welcome Pete Hoekstra to his new job. The name count is sourced here to the vermin press (specifically, ZeroHedge) rather than to the London press, but the end result is much the same:

Dutch mainstream media reported that Noah was the most popular baby name for boys in the Netherlands, but a little digging turned out a different finding.

Pesky mainstream media!

The name Noah was putatively considered the most popular boy’s name for 2017, having been given to 635 new-born boys in the Netherlands. But as VoE reports, a journalist from broadcaster Powned did some research into the database, however, and noticed that another name, a non-traditional Dutch name, was slightly more prevalent.

This journalist checked for Mohammed and its alternative spellings.

Brave journalist! Or whatever you call someone from "broadcaster Powned," which you may now look up on your own. But does the prose seem sonehow -- less like a home-language English speaker than you're used to expecting from Tyler Durden?

He thus counted:

Mohammed 221, Mohamed 211, Muhammed 110, Mohammad 51, Muhammad 43 and reached a total of 636. Other forms like Mohamad, Muhamed, Muhammet, Mouhamed, Muhamad and Mahamuud could not be checked for “privacy reasons”.

Of course, other forms of Noah like Noa and Noach should be checked as well for the sake of fairness: both, however, were not listed according to the Dutch journalist.

The author says, it is the second year in a row that Mohammed is the most popular name for baby boys: In 2016 there were 724 baby’s named Mohammed (or one of it’s Arabic alternatives) in the Netherlands.

Well, no. If you can get over cringing at the apostrophes, those aren't "Arabic" alternatives; they're Dutch, English and French ones, and probably a number of other languages as well.

He also mentions that the same tendency was seen in England in 2016: It is not Oliver, but Mohammed (with all its permutations), that is the most popular name for baby boys.

That's a little odd, in that -- to hear the redtops tell it -- 2016 was the year little Oliver knocked Muhammad out of the top spot. But we still have a bit of a question: Other than a minor tweak to the second graf (not well enough done to avoid the "but ... however" problem), did our little friends at ZeroHedge do anything here besides putting their name on someone else's work?

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