The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Voted most likely ...

... to be overlooked in the great scheme of historical commemoration, 2012 (coming right up, here -- a matter of a few hours) begins the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. For a good summary of this clumsy little sideshow of the Napoleonic wars, see John Elting's Amateurs to Arms!. For an even more abbreviated and less readable summary, look it up in Wikipedia. And for a completely abbreviated list of 1812's main events, see below.

DateEventApprox LocationNotes
6/18/1812Declaration of War38 52 N 77 2 WPres. Madison was honked off about the Brits stopping our trade and hijacking seamen ("Hello, Sailor!")
7/12/1812US invades Ontario, from Detroit42 19 N 82 02 WAs noted below, this didn't work out all that well for us.
7/17/1812Surrender of Ft. Mackinac45 51 N 84 37 WThe Brits in Ontario got the memo about war first and staged a preemptive strike on Mackinac Island.
8/16/1812Surrender of Detroit42 19 N 82 02 WThe US invasion force in Ontario turned around, retreated to Detroit, and then surrendered. Most of the Northwest Territory -- certainly Michigan and the western Great Lakes -- were now back in British hands.
8/19/1812USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere41 42 N 55 33 WThe first of a series of disheartening defeats suffered by the Royal Navy at the hands of US heavy frigates
10/13/1812Queenston Heights43 9 N 79 3 WAnother US attempt to invade Canada went very wrong, with a thorough defeat at Queenston Heights, near Niagara.
10/25/1812USS United States vs HMS Macedonian30 39 N 27 11 WAnother of our heavy frigates trounces a British ship of nominally (but not actually) equal force.
12/29/1812USS Constitution vs HMS Java13 21 S 31 21 WJust barely in 1812, a third British Frigate is administered a whuppin' by the fledgling US Navy. The Constitution, of course, is the famous Old Ironsides (42 22 N 71 3 W).

Friday, December 30, 2011

Banned words

Lake Superior State University has published its annual list of "banned" words. It should be noted that the words are not really "banned," in any sense at all (for example in the sense that kids saying "naked chimichanga" in schools seems to be banned -- don't ask) except the opprobrium which appearing on the list brings to the utterer. Nevertheless, although using them won't get you an appearance on COPS, here they are, with my own take on the choice.
  • Amazing: LSSU essentially caved to overwhelming pressure from around the English-speaking world to include this word, which people perceived as amazingly overused. I tend not to watch/read/listen to the media that were blamed for overusing it, so I have no comment.
  • Baby bump: meaning the visible evidence of pregnancy. Vulgar, for sure, but again, not widely used in the flow of communication that reaches me, so I don't care one way or the other. I guess I would have banned other phrases beginning with "baby" first -- "baby momma," "baby daddy," etc. Even more vulgar, in my considered opinion.
  • Shared sacrifice: huh? Who says that?
  • Occupy: I agree completely. If I never hear it again, it'll be too soon.
  • Blowback: apparently meaning, according to LSSU, push back or resistance. Technically, it means a simple form of automatic weapon action, in which the direct pressure backwards of the propellent explosion on an unlocked breach forces the gun to cycle and chamber a new round. I would not expect the folks at LSSU to know this.
  • Man cave: Evidently, this is the new "den." I don't care if you don't.
  • The new normal: Whatever the speaker thinks is inevitable, as in "Being a moron is the new normal." Well, OK, as long as I can continue to define myself as not normal, I don't really care what some imbecile thinks is the new one. I think I'd have preferred to just ban "The new *" -- essentially, any trend-spotting banality that claims something other than X is the new X. "Type II body armor is the new black," for example. If "the new" is banned, I pledge to edit this post and remove the list item above.
  • Pet parent: I hadn't even heard that one. I prefer Linda's description of herself as a dogma, personally, although I guess it makes me a dogpop.
  • Win the future: meaningless rubbish. Right up there with "How's that ... working out for you?" Ban it, by all means, for all the good it'll do. They'll just think of something worse.
  • Trickeration: oh, come on. Never heard it, don't believe anyone actually says it. The claim is that it has something to do with football, which would explain why I'm not familiar with it, I guess.
  • Ginormous: meaning "big." This I have heard, and I'm fine with banning it as long as "huge" goes with it. I use that one far too much, myself, and I'd be glad to have someone dope-slap me every time I do.
  • Thank you in advance: for not whipping out an Uzi and shooting everyone in sight. For not molesting the rattlesnakes. For not voting Republican. Back in the Eighties, we were at a national park in Ireland, and they'd created or restored a traditional cottage, complete with thatched roof. Apparently, there'd been some vandalism (or just sheep nibbling at it,) since they had a very polite sign that read, "Kindly do not interfere with the thatch." I would support a global replace of the "Thanks in advance" phrase with something more along these lines, if I thought the average Joe Bagadonuts would have any idea what it meant.
Although I applaud LSSU's ongoing attempts to sweep out the linguistic stable floors from year to year, there are a few words or phrases I'd have nominated for banage ahead of the entries above. Here are mine.
  • Making a noun, describing a process or attribute, by adding "age" to a verb, like I just did above when I said "banage." Again, if it makes the banned list, I promise to quit doing it.
  • Poop: can we just stop? What changed to make this extremely vulgar word OK? It's not cute, it's not any more acceptable than some other euphemisms for feces or the act of defecation, and I'm really tired of hearing adults say it.
  • Newt Gingrich: another highly vulgar term, but if we banned it, a large amount of useful mockage would go to waste. So I withdraw the nomination, at least for now.
  • Tea Party: not the phrase, the group, a crew of feces-heads whose moronage is so amazing that if I were to win the future, I'd be tempted to demonstrate some blowback by confining them in a man cage.
Oh, enough for one night. Time to go think about making dinner.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A dangerous man

I don't often agree with the Manchester Union Leader, but this time, I couldn't have said it better myself. Come to think of it, I did. Over and over again.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Really. The man is brilliant.

Over and over again, the same refrain: no matter what you think of Newt Gingrich, he's brilliant.

Maybe so. Maybe there's a method to the madness of a candidate who can't even staff his campaign with people smart enough to get him on the VA ballot. Of course, others didn't, either. In fact, only Mitt Romney and Ron Paul did. As far as I know, none of the other losers called for write-in votes, since they appear to have known (unlike Newt) that Virginia doesn't allow write-ins in its primaries. This adds up to a flaming mistake, followed by a proposed solution that would be illegal. Maybe, somehow, there's some kind of underlying tactical thing here, a brilliant scheme to accomplish ... something. If so, it's beyond my limited experience with tactics. Maybe someone else can explain it.

But ever ready with an asinine statement, drawn from his extensive study of history and massively limited understanding of it, Gingrich says that this was his Pearl Harbor. He doesn't say who played the part of Japan in this version. Whoever it was got in the first blow and destroyed all his battleships, but will eventually go down to defeat when up against his awesome industrial might. Or that's Pearl Harbor, anyway. Whether it works out for Newt quite that way remains to be seen. And of course, the guy who helped him come up with this dumbass analogy, campaign director Michael Krull, would be himself analogous to US admiral Husband Kimmel, who was Commander-in-Chief of the US Pacific Fleet at the time of the attack, and who was canned subsequently. Whether or not Kimmel deserved it, Krull certainly does -- or not, depending on whether you think it was another piece of Newt's alleged brilliance.