Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pronouns: George F. Will are not amused

The pronouns are back, and George F. Will's got 'em! But first, of course, the obligatory sideswipe at the Kenyan usurper:

Trump, who uses the first-person singular pronoun even more than the previous world-record holder (Obama), promises that constitutional arrangements need be no impediment to the leader’s savvy, “management” brilliance and iron will.

In case you've been holed up in the survival bunker hoping the freeze-dried food lasts until January 2017: No. Obama doesn't even crack the presidential Top 10 in first-person-singular use, and if he did, the derpmongers who've been most assiduous in spreading that particular fable -- mostly Will and Charles Krauthammer -- would be no closer to proving him the narcissistic, arrogant fraud of their nightmares, because that's not even enough of a correlation to be a bogus correlation. But this column is about a different candidate from a different party, so let's have a quick look at Trump's presidential announcement, as reported by the New York Daily News.

There are always going to be challenges in getting an exact ratio of FPS pronouns to words. When the same paragraph (or the transcriber's best guess at it) contains "the $5 billion website" and "a $5 billion dollar website," how many words were spoken each time? (And, if don't set your watch by AP style, what happens if we make it "Web site," two words, as God ordained?) But letting MS Word do the overall word-counting, and tallying "I," "me," "my," etc. by hand, Trump comes in around 4.4%, which -- going by the MSNBC chart reproduced at Language Log* -- puts him about even with Ike and Bush Sr. but behind the notoriously uppity taciturn Harry Truman.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's all about the fear

Because it can't really be a bombing without some kind of connection to those scary people who go to church on Fridays -- right, The Washington Times?

The garish, multistory Nana Entertainment Zone is a cul-de-sac best known for its sensational striptease bars, nude lesbian transsexual clubs and illicit prostitution.

It is not typically a place where one would expect to find the national police chief, assuring the foreign men drinking beer at a bar beside dolled-up Thai women that they had no need to worry for their safety.

So -- not the mosque, then?

But that’s where National Police Chief Somyot Pumpanmuang and his uniformed officers were to be found Saturday night, part of a governmentwide effort at damage control five nights after a pipe bomb killed 20 people and wounded more than 100 at a popular nearby religious shrine.

Now we're getting somewhere! Unless ...

... The bomb at a popular Hindu shrine in what is known as “Bangkok’s Times Square” shattered the authoritarian government’s 15-month-long, expensive propaganda campaign, which boasted monotonously that Mr. Prayuth seized power to “return happiness to the people.”

Kind of a shame you couldn't work "Hindu mosque" into the hed. That might have cut down on the confusion among commenters:

A mistake or deliberate media misinformation designed to make us this Muzzies were the target? Every mosque everywhere in the world should be bombed - with chemical weapons.

Bangkok "MOSQUE" bombing? If only it was. It was the Shrine to Brahma that was bombed by a Moslem. The State religion of Thailand is Brahmanism.

Probably a good thing you bought gold and freeze-dried food after the usurper turned his minions on the stock market, huh?


Monday, August 24, 2015

'Time is forever just running out'

Sometimes it's like reorganizing the vinyl, isn't it? There's the baby name peril, sounding just the way it always did. Well, except it's a little less direct than the last couple times:

PARENTS chose 62,000 different names for babies born last year as Britain becomes ever more multicultural, research revealed today.

While Amelia and Oliver were the favourite names nationally, Muhammad topped boys’ names in London.

And when spelling alternatives including Mohammed, Muhamad and Muhammet were combined, the traditionally Muslim name even overhauled Oliver as the national favourite boys’ name.

But Elizabeth McLaren, the author of the Office for National Statistics report, said adding together British variations such as Oliver and Ollie or James and Jim would overtake Mohammed in all its incarnations.

Was it just a few years ago -- OK, eight years and change -- that "Muhammad" had vaulted into the No. 2 spot and was poised to overtake "Jack" any day now? And five years ago that the apocalypse had come? Can Britain gird its loins this time and rise to the challenge, or is the baby name peril already headed for the oldies station?

There's more at stake here than the births of a few Amelias and Olivers and Muhammads, though. As Richard Hofstadter put it five decades ago, the spokesman for the paranoid style "traffics in the birth and death of whole worlds, whole political orders. whole systems of human values. He is always manning the barricades of civilization. He constantly lives at a turning point: it is now or never in organizing resistance to conspiracy. Time is forever just running out."

Because someone asked last time I posted about the baby menace, here's the resulting article.

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Happy birthday, H.P. Lovecraft!

Makes perfect sense to me. Size-wise, the Building Horror ought to fall somewhere between the Dunwich Horror and the Thing on the Doorstep, and either SoHo was feeding it or someone else fed it to SoHo -- either way, it's basically, run.

I expect it's a lot more prosaic in the land of the redtops, where readers can presumably untangle an expletive noun pile (Soho Hols Yob Drinks Ban Row) before breakfast: There has been a horror at a federal building in SoHo. For the rest of us: Loose after its aeons-long imprisonment and ravening for delight ...

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Friday, August 21, 2015

The protest paradigm revisited

Did the No. 3 story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network on Thursday evening look familiar?

A crowd gathered Wednesday evening to protest the shooting of an armed suspect by Missouri cops, but no mention was made of the 9-year-old girl who had been shot dead by an unknown assailant just seven miles away the night before.

Here's a hint. Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear -- December 2014, for example, and the events following the resignation of a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.:

If the message in the day's top story is a little subtle, see if you find some conceptual suggestions in the links:




Given the ways that news organizations structure their reward systems, you have to wonder: Do you get to park next to Roger Ailes's space for a week if you're the first Fox staffer to find a case that those angry black people ought to be spending their energy on instead?

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Before the ball was over

I hope this is one an editor missed, because the alternative -- it's one an editor inserted -- would be a sign of the End Times.

How do things like "but not after enduring a wild few days that started with a sudden cancellation of the whole program by Wayne County Community College District" go wrong? Hard to say. but it looks like shifting gears in mid-thought. A clause took shape on the screen, and somebody thought "well, of course she couldn't have gone back to class before the turmoil," and the poor little "but not" went unnoticed.
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Monday, August 17, 2015

Today in agenda-setting

If emails = golf made sense to Drudge on Sunday night ...

... maybe you should expect to see it at Fox on Monday morning:

And with a little more time to think, Fox can make the headline even better!

Though that creates a few pragmatic/discursive challenges of its own. "Reportedly flagged" is a nice, comfy headline passive: the point is the emails, of course, so why bother with a subject? "Teeing up," on the other hand, puts that question to the reader: Who's doing the teeing? Fox? The WashTimes? The cunning usurper himself, finally launching his move to push Secretary Clinton off the ticket in favor of Valerie Jarrett?

The emails are an interesting case, in that -- unlike the transparently bogus BENGHAZI !!!!! scandal -- they do point to some genuine questions about, if nothing else, common sense. If Fox, following in the master's footstomps, casts it as just another Black Guy Plays Golf Again story, it's missing a chance.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Let not thy left hand ...

Friday afternoon's top story: The feckless Kenyan! He's bringing turrists to America for trial!

No. 2 story: The feckless Kenyan! He's not bringing a turrist to America for trial!

That's the real fun of Fox-watching. Most stories, most days, Fox is almost indistinguishable from journalism. Sources say things, and sometimes other sources contradict them, and scandals and celebrities and threats to our stable way of life show up in a predictably rank-ordered fashion. But every now and then, the wires get crossed: Mr. Ailes thinks he has the Kenyan going one way, and the Kenyan goes the other, and hilarity ensues.

The rest of the day's top news? Well, the No. 3 story stretches things somewhat farther than the originating Fox affiliate. There's no indication the family was "threatened with jail"; that seems to be what they told the locals, but no one seems to have bothered asking the folks who allegedly did the alleged threatening. Or, for that matter, whether Missouri lets HOAs* throw people in jail. (It didn't when I lived there, but you never know.)

Story No. 4 is still intact as of this writing (around 9:30 p.m. Eastern), though the original source reported more than three hours ago that the missing mom had been found.

* Never a good thing at Fox, though usually for other reasons. Why does Fox hate contracts? WHY DOES FOX HATE AMERICA?

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

"Kathy, I'm lost," I said

Who needs the Fair 'n' Balanced Network when you have the AP?

The news came as Sen. Charles Grassley said two of the emails, which traversed Clinton's insecure home email server, were deemed "Top Secret, Sensitive Compartmented Information," which is among the government's highest classifications.

Here's a tip. If you want a server with a robust sense of self-efficacy, rent a Sontaran. Otherwise, the word you want is probably "non-secure."

I regret to report that in a later writethru, it's "two emails that traversed Clinton's personal system." I like the restrictive clause better, but you have to admit it lacks that "Hello, darkness" vibe of the original, and I'm not entirely sure the AP isn't accusing her of swallowing the evidence.

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Sunday, August 09, 2015

That's not exactly the problem

This one isn't entirely the Freep's fault. It's basically an AP suggested hed with a substitution: "killer" for "shooter," which picks up two counts and allows it to fit. The trouble is that the real shortcut -- "death" for something like "likelihood that a death sentence would be carried out, if approved by the jury" -- takes the corner a little too fast. Death has a way of being awfully certain. That's why we have the cliche.

You could take the hed down a few points and try something like "Death sentence would have been uncertain for theater killer." I'm not passionate about it, but at least Benjamin Franklin isn't rolling over and grabbing for the kite strings.

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Thursday, August 06, 2015

Who did what to whom?

Anyone want to take a guess at the meaning, or would you rather just cut to the jump and spoil the surprise?

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