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August 08, 2022

Comments

Me three on that one.

Although I wonder if the usage isn't getting a little slithery with online forms.

These people really are extraordinary. Do the FBI wear bodycams to disprove this kind of nonsense? Whatever kinds of precautions are taken, they will always be at least a step behind the crazy...

https://www.mediamatters.org/fox-news/fabricated-claim-fbi-planted-evidence-mar-lago-taking-right-storm

As usual I have not read the whole thing, but this newsweek article is an goofy mixture of serious information (if it's actually accurate) and "I'm smarter than everyone else" framing. (In this case, "I'm smarter than the FBI about how to do their jobs.")

It implies that there could or should have been a way for the FBI to do execute the search warrant without getting a sensationalist reaction from every direction, and I think that's utter nonsense. There was no way they were going to do this without a Niagara Falls of blowback. Seriously?!?

Other than that, it sounds like Clickbait is the traitorous criminal asshole we all thought he was, and I hope he's in big trouble. But I'll believe that part when I see it.

russell: I'm not even waiting for the commercial break - I'm watching the first of a four part series on Sky Arts called The Art of Drumming. Lots and lots of great drummers, talking about all sorts of stuff. Seems like the kind of thing you might be interested in, if you can find a way to get it..

I think that's utter nonsense.

I'm a lot more tolerant of punditry than you are, but I completely agree. And with your final paragraph too, Janie.

On Janie's link, the author says a "30 year Justice official" said both that the raid was timed for when Trump was away to avoid giving him a photo op. And that same official (supposedly) said it was a "spectacular backfire." One would hope that anyone who's been paying attention would have a clue about how much worse it would have been with Trump there. Then again, perhaps "not totally successful" was merely improved to "spectacular backfire."

(And now I'm imagining saying "Yeah, right" in a tone that conveys agreement ... )

Once upon a time in a galaxy called North Carolina, there was a saying, “Yeah it is” meant to convey agreement:
“This pulled pork is amazing!”
“Yeah it is.”

Because of its similarity to “Yeah, right” it was often confusing to outsiders who couldn’t figure if it was sincere or sarcastic, myself included. But it eventually got stuck in the lexicon and I still catch myself saying it when I see that confused look.

What's an example of a double positive, anyhow?

Doubleplusgood?

I imagine “in line” will prevail as “on line” has taken on a meaning of its own.

I fill in a form but fill out a questionnaire. And I never once thought about this until reading this comment thread.

The new usage that I cannot stand at all under any circumstances is "gifted" instead of "gave" or "given" as in "That was gifted to me" or "SHe gifted me that."

Doubleplusgood

I've encountered doubleplusungood many times. But not this one.

russell: gosh I'm used to being behind the times, but this is ridiculous. I've just discovered that The Art of Drumming came out in 2018, so I'm sure you've seen it. Completely new to me, and I now know: a) the actual details, theory etc are Greek to me, b) you have to be something of a genius to do it, and c) it's amazing, and the people who do it seem almost uniformly cool. Huh. Who knew? (to quote wj)

I'm with you about "gifted," wonkie. It's barbaric. ;-)

Also, “yeah, right?” with the voice going up conveys agreement whereas the flat “yeah, right” is the sarcastic one.

I dunno. I ain’t no linguistics-talkin-guy. Know what I’m sayin’?

I've encountered doubleplusungood many times. But not this one.

pessimist. ;-)

I'm with you about "gifted," wonkie. It's barbaric. ;-)

Where I'm familiar with it is in legalese, and think it goes back hundreds of years in that setting. "Gifted" implies all of the necessary legal niceties have been taken care of to transfer ownership; "gave" not so much.

One of my wife's former employers is reorganizing the firm and will be "gifting" her with stock shares to replace the old ownership warrants that she has. There will be forms to fill out -- not in -- and papers to sign and all sorts of legal bits.

Say, rather, that I have friends who are pessimists. (Gotta maintain my optimist cred.)**

** And where did "cred" for "reputation" come from?

I'm with you about "gifted," wonkie. It's barbaric. ;-)

I was going to enthusiastically agree until Michael Cain threw a spanner in the works. But even if he's right, most people these days just use it instead of given or gave. So they are still barbarians. Like people who use utilise for use, and transportation for transport, which I think Janie has scorned before. Huh. This really is the Pedants' Revolt.

** And where did "cred" for "reputation" come from

I thought it was short for “street credit”.

GFTNC: never saw The Art Of Drumming, but now I need to go check it out. Thanks for the tip!!

My favorite quote about it all, from a guy on a drumming blog, and which kinda rings true to me:

“Playing drums is not that hard, it just takes a lifetime to be good at it”.

Applies to oh so many things…

Also - if I’m not mistaken “cred” -> “credibility”.

But I still say “cool” and “right on” and “solid”, so I may not be the authority.

@russell -- i thought it was credibility too, and then street cred means street credibility

Also - if I’m not mistaken “cred” -> “credibility”.

With, AIUI, a connotation of a non-negative value. A reputation can go either way, good or bad, positive or negative. Cred, you either have it or you don't.

Any ideas on the origin of "do me a solid" with "solid" sort of meaning "big favor"? I've only been hearing it in the last 5-8 years at most, but certainly could have missed it if it started in social contexts outside my range and then usage expanded.

Priest -- a quick google search suggests that no one seems to know. I didn't find it on language log at all, and people just gave anecdata on Urban Dictionary (but someone said they used to use it in London in the 60s).

A reputation can go either way, good or bad, positive or negative. Cred, you either have it or you don't.

With the caveat that, while cred is positive for the target audience, it can be something that the rest of the world considers negative. For example, you can get street cred with your fellow gang members (or fellow militia members) by being willing to throw a punch at any police officer who comes within reach. Not really a major plus, as far as the general populace is concerned.

“Solid” started showing up in the usus loquendi of my youth somewhere around 1971 or 1972. It can be either a noun (“do me a solid”) or an adjective, usually as a single word (“solid!!”).

Ahh, trying to draw me in.

I am happy, in a way, to hear that the know-it-all that comes thru in Pinker's books is not something I'm adding on cause I disagree with him. What's interesting to me is that there is markedly less tolerance for that sort of personality in the past half decade or so, though I don't know if that is from people being more skeptical about arguments from authority or if it is cause we have so many people who think a quick dive in the internet can catch out people who have spent their life researching about a subject. Probably a little of both.

Janie, if you are still thinking of explaining how we add the definite article (and don't mind me dropping into know-it-all mode, cause we generally get most upset by the things our own personal traits seen in others), I personally think it is explained by deixis. With the way Japanese students are learning English, I'm having more and more students who never really grok it, so they write Sakura says I like... This is partly an overuse/misuse of quotes and covering more material superficially. (one would think that starting to teach English in elementary school would be a good thing, but what has happened is that assumptions are made about what students learn as then move, which then has teachers skip things because they are sure that students have learned it earlier) It's not ironclad, but it's more to explain why it is rather than producing it.

So how does deixis explain definite articles? Well, any time you drop the definite article, it means that it is something like a location where there is a shared understanding. I went home, where we know that everyone has their own home. I went to school where we know that there is a system where most people my age went to an educational institution. Hospital is interesting, I think it reflects the cultural divide between US health systems and the NHS. Anyway, that's how I explain it to the tiny handful of students who reach a point where they are wrestling with that.

A different question about usage, my facebook has an entry from a Japanese friend who is a very proficient user of English and he was a bit pissed off that he got an email reply that opened with 'well noted'. A number of Brits said that it was becoming quite common. Thoughts?

For those like me (or am I the only one?) who never previously heard of "deixis":
https://www.english.cam.ac.uk/elor/lo/deixis/index.html

Obsidian Wings -- your source for English words that nobody you know will recognize.

The FBI warrant went as well as could ever be expected, and probably avoided some delays and monkey wrenching by happening in Trump's absence.

There was never any way that this would not be spun as persecution. The aggrieved right cannot conceive the world in any other terms and will always scramble to find the framing that allows for it. There is no such thing as good faith with them.

Given that, just act, and worry for nothing more than that the process is followed faithfully within the letter of the law. There is nothing to be gained by worrying about appearances, just about expediency.

What nous said. (And how often do I say that?)

lj, my son was last in China in 2016, so this discussion happened a long time ago. Deixis sounds like it could be the explanation, but I have to say I'm skeptical that the NHS has anything to do with it. :-)

I'll think about it when I'm less tired, though, because I'm not 100% convinced it's that simple.

Meanwhile, the discussion of double negatives reminded me of a juicy item from a discussion I had with a friend a week or two ago. He mentioned a phrase that was used in his work context: "more likely than not." We agreed that it means something like "probability is > 50%," and that is indeed how it's used at his workplace.

Someone at the workplace tried to use "less likely than not" as its opposite.

Heh....

At least it wasn’t “fewer likely than not.”

wj, check out fillmore's lectures on Deixis

http://websites.umich.edu/~jlawler/FillmoreDeixisLectures.pdf

It has been done as a paperback, but you can almost smell the freshly mimeoed paper with the link I gave you.

Janie, one of my grad school teachers, Talmy Givon, was big on biological explanations of language, arguing that if you get something that covers 80% of what is happening, it would be crap for physics, but pretty good for biology (my restatement) I've kind of borrowed that for my philosphy of explaining things to students, if the explanation covers the bulk of examples, I'm pretty happy with that.

nous....lol

lj, that makes sense from a practical standpoint. That won't stop me from thinking about it some more for my own entertainment, though. :-)

"more likely than not." We agreed that it means something like "probability is > 50%"

I admit to a fondness for "the way the smart money bets" for high probability alternatives. It occurs to me that this odd for someone who never visits casinos (or race tracks) and has never even bought a lottery ticket.** But there it is.

** I figure the odds of buying a winning lottery ticket are essentially the same as the odds of picking it up off the sidewalk.

wj -- my son often says, "What's the over under on...such and such." I have to have him explain it every time; i had never heard of that kind of bet until a few years ago and I'm not sure I'll ever get used to it.

The "valley girl" use of the word "like"

actually, much earlier

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2016/11/the-evolution-of-like/507614/

I had never heard of deixis, but I'm glad to know about it now (although I doubt I'll ever be quite confident enough to use it). I did like that Thom Gunn poem at the bottom of wj's link though.

I haven't much encountered "well noted", although it doesn't ring strangely to me. It seems to be an (at least implicit) riposte and acknowledgement to NB - nota bene.

someone said they used to use it in London in the 60s

I'm pretty familiar with London slang from that period (even including cockney rhyming slang), through having older siblings who were on the scene. I don't remember "do me a solid", or even the use of "solid" in that sense, but (and I have no idea where this is coming from) I have a nagging and fugitive sense that it may have a (not necessarily English) military origin. I only recently became aware of the expression "three hots and a cot" to signify a situation in which you were guaranteed three hot meals a day and a bed - I similarly have a hard-to-pin-down sense that this may be a) military and b) American, but I'm perfectly happy to be contradicted or otherwise enlightened.

This is the page where someone says this:

Seinfeld, schmeinfeld, we were using the expression "Do me a solid" mid-sixties in London. But I don't know where it started.

A random anonymous internet commenter, so who knows. But several people felt the need to swat down the commenter who so said so confidently that the phrase was first uttered in a Seinfeld episode.

I use "Do me a liquid" for more minor favors.

hsh -- admit it, this is your revenge for my double negative.

Laughing out loud, partly at the joke itself and partly at the beat it took me to get that it was a joke.

But several people felt the need to swat down the commenter who so said so confidently that the phrase was first uttered in a Seinfeld episode.

That's the internet for you! I don't doubt that commenter is telling the truth, but I only have some doubt about whether it was any kind of widespread usage, or rather the patois of a particular small clique. It would be interesting to know, and to know whether it was a transplant from the US. For example, it was common in hip London in the 60s to refer to black men (I don't recall it being used of women) as "spades", with no derogatory undertone. Did that come from the US, I wonder? There was so much cross-fertilisation happening with the music etc that it is an interesting trail to try to follow.

I use "Do me a liquid" for more minor favors.

This made me laugh, too. Probably because it is one of the more common requests that one might make of a friend, at least at their place!

hsh -- admit it, this is your revenge for my double negative.

I won't not admit it.

Just don't say
"do me a gas"
or the results might be ... unfortunate.

Just don't say
"do me a gas"
or the results might be ... unfortunate.

Not as unfortunate as "do me a plasma"

I really don't want to distract from this fun thread. But this example of incredible pettiness was irresistible.

Donald Trump’s endorsement catapulted Michels over front-runner Rebecca Kleefisch, who had served as lieutenant governor. The former president soured on Kleefisch after learning her daughter attended a high school homecoming dance with the son of a state Supreme Court justice who has opposed Trump’s moves to overturn the 2020 election.
Objection to someone's kid's date! What a great basis for a political decision like this.

H/T https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/11/wisconsin-governors-race/

Merrick Garland scheduled to make a statement at 2:30 -- he's late.

The anti-climax of all anti-climaxes.......

Depends on what is in the warrant. Assuming the judge unseals it, which seems likely since Trump already knows what's in it. (Unsealing the affidavit which convinced the judge to approve the warrant would be a different story.)

Figure the warrant merely says where they can search, when they can search, and what they can seize. (Don't know if they can seize or otherwise act on something else blatantly illegal which is in plain sight.) So, other than a clue (depending on how specific the description is) about what they expect to find, probably not too dramatic. But we shall see.

wj -- yes indeed. And Garland is very understated and reserved, but you could see how pissed he is about the attacks on FBI and DOJ people. It's good to have him saying that.

I got in too late last night for serious news trawling, but saw the substance of Garland's statement, and the general feeling that he had (since we are talking national idioms) shot the GOP's fox.

shoot (one's) fox. To undermine or thwart someone's plans, efforts, or ambitions by taking action that pre-empts them or makes them redundant.

(Predicated, one presumes, on the absolute assumption that the only normal, permissable way to kill a fox is after pursuing it for some time on horseback, with hounds.)

The situation today still seems ambiguous - as I understand it, Trump released a statement demanding the release of the warrant, but seems not to have taken the step necessary to actually, legally give his permission. I await input and comment from those better informed than I.

And, in further news from the UK, here's Marina Hyde on the ongoing leadership struggle:

Given the crises raging outside, the contest resembles a Dickensian reality show, in which two grotesques compete to run the workhouse, simply refusing to be thrown off course by the increasingly desperate entreaties of their paupers. Who, as a mark of lavishly sarcastic respect, are these days referred to as “clients”.

The hustings now take place at a pitch only 75-year-old sociopaths can hear, so I’m afraid I don’t know whether bubbly detention centre redcoat Liz Truss last night promised to “look again” at bringing back the poor laws, though I am enjoying the doomed efforts of the Sunak campaign to insist that their guy gets it. “For too long, water hasn’t had the attention it deserves”, burbled Rishi, on the same day the Northern Echo ran an aerial photo of the huge swimming pool complex Sunak is building at his constituency home in Yorkshire, under an authority that this morning announced a hosepipe ban. Sunak’s really done everything to show us his struggle is real, short of running under the slogan “Kim, there’s people that are dying!”.

Not being an afficiado of the Kardashians (I've never watched any of their shows), that final catchphrase meant nothing to me. But now it does.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/12/warring-tories-radical-change-mythical-liz-truss-rishi-sunak

Meanwhile, in a reminder that once we were led by serious people, or even (as a true-blue Tory not that long ago described Blair and Brown to me) giants:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/aug/10/tax-profits-freeze-energy-prices-bring-suppliers-into-public-sector-gordon-brown

I thought the phrase "do a solid" was prison/ criminal/law enforcement slang. I don't think I have ever heard that expression used in real life.

Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to justify/minimize/lie about/defend Trump, thereby proving that there literally is no low too low for them to go. None. The party is a bottomless pit of moral degeneracy.

I'll admit that I have a bit of paranoia about the claims that Pres. Pussygrabber had secret documents pertaining to nuclear weapons. It would be a good play on the part of Faux or Congressional Republicans to limit the damage of whatever Garland has found by first leaking that the materials were the worst possible, only to have Garland reveal later that the materials were bad but not nuclear bad. That's the kind of thing Karl Rove would have done.

On the other hand, Republican leaders don't have to think of any excuses for Trump. Republican base voters have shown repeatedly that their loyalty lies with their egotism, and that nothing will shake their conviction in their own superiority over all other Americans. They cannot admit to error. They will continue to confabulate excuses for Trump no matter what he does.

It is painful to realize that neighbors and acquaintances are the same kind of people who supported Hitler or Mussolini or Franco.

as I understand it, Trump released a statement demanding the release of the warrant, but seems not to have taken the step necessary to actually, legally give his permission.

A district attorney (or, in this case, the Department of Justice) cannot unseal (make public) the warrant without the agreement of the judge who approved it. And the target has an opportunity to oppose unsealing -- which Trump has announced he will not do.

But the target, in this case Trump, can make it public without anyone else's agreement. The instant it was served, he could have put out a press release with the entire text.

So if he hasn't, that's entirely on him.

He's preying on ignorance by acting as though he's allowing the authorities to release the warrant because he's a stand-up guy that way. Reality TV, dontcha know?

The instant it was served, he could have put out a press release with the entire text... So if he hasn't, that's entirely on him.

I suspect he's getting a lot of push back from his legal team -- or perhaps former legal team by this point -- over releasing the warrant. If the warrant is suggestive of some of the worst things people are speculating about, those lawyers are in a bad position. They knew, or should have known, about the documents that were seized on Monday, and failure to include them under previous subpoena could cost them dearly. If Trump tells the judge he doesn't want the warrant released, there's an interval, I believe of two weeks, before Trump's team has to present the case for why it shouldn't be released. That's two weeks for the lawyers to try to get their situation sorted out.

I would take this tack, of course. My own speculation on why the warrant was issued now is that some young junior lawyer who was stuck in Florida while the big guys partied in Bedminster and New York knew of or found pretty bad stuff, decided he wasn't going to risk losing his law license over it, and called the FBI.

Good points, Michael Cain, esp. the first paragraph. Can you imagine being his lawyer? Well, unless you're Rudy Giuliano or Sydney Powell, I guess, and you're as crazy as he is.

Well, in a bit over an hour we'll know who's representing Trump at the hearing. I'm almost as interested in that as I am in the hearing proper.

If the warrant is suggestive of some of the worst things people are speculating about, those lawyers are in a bad position. They knew, or should have known, about the documents that were seized on Monday, and failure to include them under previous subpoena could cost them dearly.

One of a lawyer's worst fears is a client who lies to him. First, because it makes putting together a strong case difficult -- if testimony/evidence presented in court directly contradicts the client's statements to you, you have no chance to prepare a response. Second, the judge may decide that you knew what you were saying was false. And lying to a judge in court is professional suicide -- which is why all those lawyers who stood on courthouse steps proclaiming "electoral fraud" were all so careful, in court, to say "Oh no, your honor, we are not alleging fraud."

lj, thanks for the John McWhorter - The Atlantic article. I still find the contemporary usage of "like" grating. For example, in conversation, Matthew Yglesias, a talented wordsmith, really hammers this usage.

https://www.politico.com/news/2022/08/12/search-warrant-shows-trump-under-investigation-for-potential-obstruction-of-justice-espionage-act-violations-00051507

In the list of documents seized is one set listed as “Various classified TS/SCI documents,” a reference to top secret/sensitive compartmented information -- that's well abvoe merely Top Secret.

First, it will be fascinating to hear (if we ever do) Trump's excuse for why he should have taken such a document with him. I mean, normal Trumpian incompetence could account for why it wasn't turned over initially. Just because the FBI found it easily enough doesn't prove that the incompetents working for Trump (including his lawyers) could reasonably be expected to do so. But why take in the first place? Because,

Second, it boggles the mind that compartmentalized information could possibly have been accidentally taken along. (Not that, to the best of my knowledge, anyone has tried that claim. Except, in jest, Alexandra Petri.) That stuff is tracked with incredible care. It's not something that just gets dropped in a drawer labeled "Miscellaneous".

Thanks for the Alexadra Petri link, wj. I don't automatically go read her columns, but I should.

Her stuff varies from good to brilliant IMHO More of the latter of late. (Perhaps maternity agrees with her.)

Apparently apart from everything else, there was stuff on Macron. Apart from possibly keeping info to sell, maybe he was keeping stuff for blackmail purposes? So many fun possibilities! And nary a one that will bother most of the GOP or Fox.

I have wondered almost from the beginning whether a big reason for the lock-step of so many people in Clickbait's wake is because of blackmail.

Who among us doesn't have some skeletons in our closet? ;-)

Who among us doesn't have some skeletons in our closet?

Mine are pretty small beer. Certainly not enough to motivate me to embrace Trump.** But I suppose getting close to Trump gains you access to bigger and better skeletons.

** Besides, when I joined the US Air Force I took an oath to "support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." It was many years ago, but it didn't come with an expiration date.

I have wondered almost from the beginning whether a big reason for the lock-step of so many people in Clickbait's wake is because of blackmail.

The older I have become, the more convinced I am that the rich, famous, and/or powerful are all guilty of behavior that's useful for blackmail. I worry about me. So many men in my age/race/sexual orientation cohort seem to become fixated on having sex with teen-aged women. Am I doomed to that? What do you talk about afterwards? How Alex is angry that Johnny won't ask her to the prom? OMG, I'm failing Algebra II?

Wait, what, you're supposed to talk afterwards? ;-)

(You made me laugh, Michael.)

(You made me laugh, Michael.)

Any day I can make someone laugh is a good day.

You both made me laugh!

Who among us doesn't have some skeletons in our closet?

I wonder about the utility of it anymore. So many have been caught (at least figuratively) pants/ankles with no repercussions.

Clutching your pearls, Sen. Graham.

Pete -- I've been wondering for a long time how, in the age of cell phones and the internet, anything will be secret enough to cause a stir when it's revealed.

Well, it's hard to argue with this, by Dana Millbank (about whom I know nothing):

Headlined Liz Cheney's demise was set in motion by her father

It has all the makings of a Greek tragedy.

The tragic hero, a statesman of great ability, is driven by hubris to abuse power. The forces he unleashes spread uncontrollably — and eventually destroy his own daughter. He comes to her aid, but it is too late.

Sign up for a weekly roundup of thought-provoking ideas and debates
Citizens, I give you the tragedy of Dick and Liz Cheney.

Closing the last hearing of the House Jan. 6 select committee, the younger Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, delivered a powerful indictment of Donald Trump’s abuse of his followers. “He is preying on their patriotism,” she said, turning “their love of country into a weapon.” A moment later, she added: “We must remember that we cannot abandon the truth and remain a free nation.”

She’s right. And Cheney deserves the lionization she is getting as she courageously fights the authoritarianism that has taken over the GOP. For this, she lost her party leadership position, and on Tuesday will likely lose her primary to a Trump acolyte.

There is a bitter irony in Cheney’s fall: She is being undone by the very politics her father championed. Weaponizing patriotism? Abandoning the truth? Vice President Dick Cheney was a pioneer.

In my new book, “The Destructionists: The Twenty-Five-Year Crack-Up of the Republican Party,” I traced the actions of GOP leaders who essentially created the Trump era by removing the guardrails of our political system. Dick Cheney was one such leader.

As you can imagine, many examples follow.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/08/12/dick-cheney-liz-demise-deception-iraq/

Obviously, the following sentence should have been deleted:

Sign up for a weekly roundup of thought-provoking ideas and debates

For those not following the other thread, this is worth reading:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2022/08/15/inside-the-war-between-trump-and-his-generals

Not to be confused with a war between a president and his privates...

Zing! Good one, Charles

As an aside, the first known joke told online that got someone canceled. Though it was in the '90s before the Internet. Short form:

A Scotsman and a Jew go to an expensive restaurant to eat a meal together. When they had finished and the waitress brought the check, the Scotsman said, "I'll pay for it."

The headline in the newspaper the next day, "Found murdered in an alleyway, Jewish ventriloquist.

More correctly, in the '90s before the worldwide web.

They didn’t agree before dinner to go Dutch?

"in the '90s before the worldwide web."

That's a pretty narrow time window, considering that info.cern.ch went live in 1993 (maybe before that, in limited release)

This first-person account has it happening earlier than I had remembered reading.

"It all started in late 1988. rec.humor.funny had been running for around 17 months, and was doing very well. I had set up a system so that I could deposit accepted jokes into a queue directory, and once or twice a day, the computer would automatically select a random joke from the directory and post it to the net.

On November 9, 1988, the computer picked the following joke to post
...
The bad news was that November 9, 1988 was the 50th anniversary of Krystallnacht, the horrible night when the Nazis burned and smashed the property and temples of German Jews, considered by some to be the start of the worst of the holocaust."

The Rec.humor.funny Ban

An account of the incident by The New Yorker."

"On January 30, 1989, an article appeared in the student-run Stanford Daily under the headline “Racial slurs cause University to shut down bulletin board.” The bulletin board in question, rec.humor.funny, was one of hundreds of so-called newsgroups—glorified mass e-mails organized around specific interests—that streamed onto the school’s computer terminals via Usenet, an early precursor to today’s Internet forums."
The Origin of Silicon Valley’s Dysfunctional Attitude Toward Hate Speech

Sigh... Another day, another flash flood warning for the mountains a few miles to our west. West Central Texas must be uninhabitable by now. The only time the monsoon blows this strong and this long is when West Central Texas is bone dry with temperatures pushing 100 °F most days.

This is the view out our north window. The Cheyenne Ridge about 20 miles north of us is a natural trigger for thunderstorms when the monsoon blows from the proper direction.

Technical note: The image will fail to load if your browser is set to disallow links to non-secure hosts that are embedded in secure pages.

Re: the Scotsman and the Jew:

I find it hard to bemoan a university cutting off access to a newsgroup that features jokes about how cheap Jews are. Or lazy blacks are, or stupid blond women are, or what have you. I’m sure anyone interested in that can find ample opportunities to participate, I don’t know why a university is obliged to make it available.

There are so many truly important things to get out into the “marketplace of ideas”. Why somebody would pick stuff like that as the hill to die on escapes me.

“But it’s a slippery slope!”. There are many slippery slopes in life. Some of them lead to progroms.

I look forward to the day when advocates for freedom of speech use their advocacy to champion something other than somebody somewhere being a jerk.

I look forward to the day when advocates for freedom of speech use their advocacy to champion something other than somebody somewhere being a jerk.

Why do I think that this will be the same day as the one when there are no more jerks?

Another day, another flash flood warning for the mountains a few miles to our west.

It will be no news that the Southwest, including all the way up to Oregon, is in the midst of a prolonged drought. But apparently our area has historically been subject, every couple of centuries, to "megafloods" -- more than 100 inches of rain in 30 days.
https://www.sfchronicle.com/climate/article/California-flood-17368353.php

The last one was some 160 years ago, so it might seem we are OK. But apparently, thanks to climate change we might be looking at 2-3 per century. Feast or famine can apply to drinks as well as eats.

I find it hard to bemoan a university cutting off access to a newsgroup that features jokes about how cheap Jews are.

The joke seems to imply that Scotsmen are homicidally stingy and Jews are sneaky tricksters.

Well, somewhat connected, I wonder what the commentariat think of this (I think the 2nd and 3rd paras are a direct quote):

Writing in the Guardian, Margaret Atwood said Rushdie had never missed an opportunity to speak out on behalf of the principles he had embodied in all his writing life.

Freedom of expression was foremost among these. Once a yawn-making liberal platitude, this concept has now become a hot-button issue, since the extreme right has attempted to kidnap it in the service of libel, lies, and hatred, and the extreme left has tried to toss it out the window in the service of their version of earthly perfection. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to foresee many panel discussions on the subject, should we reach a moment in which rational debate is possible. But whatever it is, the right to freedom of expression does not include the right to defame, to lie maliciously and damagingly about provable facts, to issue death threats, or to advocate murder. These should be punishable by law.

As for those who are saying “Yes, but …” about Rushdie – some version of “He should have known better,” as in “Yes, too bad about the rape, but why was she wearing that revealing skirt” – I can only remark that there are no perfect victims. In fact, there are no artists, nor is there any perfect art. Anti-censorship folks often find themselves having to defend work they would otherwise review scathingly, but such defences are necessary, unless we are all to have our vocal cords removed.

1. But whatever it is, the right to freedom of expression does not include the right to ... advocate murder.

Quoted without comment.

2. But the sentence that I quoted part of in #1 seems to be the pith of it, and I'm glad she included it, because otherwise....

I mistrust anyone who says, at this moment in history, "the ... right" and balances it with "the ... left," as if they're both equally bad and especially equally influential.

If there's an extreme left that can be characterized as Atwood characterizes it, it's damned funny because they must be very good at hiding in the shadows, while the extreme right takes over the airwaves, women's bodies, and indeed the world (in aspiration).

(Of course I'm still stuck in thinking of left and right mostly in terms of economics. If she means that advocating for having LGBT+ people visible in the world--just for example--is "extreme left," then she is lost to me. Not that she has ever been very found to me in the first place.)

The last paragraph is good. I find this especially apt: "In fact, there are no artists, nor is there any perfect art." I have been thinking about art as I get more serious about photography. I find it almost impossible to think of myself as an "artist." I take pictures. That's enough for me.

If there's an extreme left that can be characterized as Atwood characterizes it, it's damned funny because they must be very good at hiding in the shadows, while the extreme right takes over the airwaves, women's bodies, and indeed the world (in aspiration).

There's definitely a (relatively) extreme left. It's just that these days (for some decades, actually) they are nowhere near as extreme as the extreme right. Or, for completeness, the extreme libertarians.

wj, I was thinking of influence more than degree of extremity, but I'm just another armchair dweller with opinions, so....

I think part of the reason I react to Atwood's use of "extreme left" and "extreme right" is that she frames the usage as if those phrases mean something coherent. I don't really think they do anymore, any more than "socialism" means something clearly definable.

They're terms that get used mostly as blanket references to people, trends, and viewpoints we don't like. If I say "right" or "R" I mean the whole R party enterprise for a number of decades (since FDR?), culminating in its current cult-like lunacy centering around Clickbait. Other people (at least one of who pops in here to berate us from a position of condescending superiority now and then) use "left" or "socialist" in the same way: people I don't like and views I don't agree with.

So if Atwood thinks she's saying something coherent, I don't know what it is. I wish she would just specify it.

Just thinking aloud here, I think that characterising it primarily in terms of right and left is wrong, for starters. I do not really recognise the enemies of Rushdie, for example, as rightwing in any normal political sense. Although it is certainly true that the urge to privilege religious belief above everything else, in America and some other countries, is pretty much exclusively one of the political right. But the urge to privilege certain other beliefs, such as for example the belief that gender identification is more important than biological sex in allocating rights, is generally held more by those on the left.

But please believe me when I say I definitely am not trying to wrench this into a discussion of trans activism, or trans rights. I just cannot, off the top of my head, think of another good example on the left, and the right to challenge this belief, and hold the contrary belief, has recently been adjudged to be a protected belief in English law.

However, having said all that, you'd have to be nuts to argue with this:

the extreme right takes over the airwaves, women's bodies, and indeed the world (in aspiration)

However, the part of the Atwood comment that interested me, was:

But whatever it is, the right to freedom of expression does not include the right to defame, to lie maliciously and damagingly about provable facts, to issue death threats, or to advocate murder. These should be punishable by law.

I cannot see how someone lying damagingly about provable facts in America would be open to be punishable by law. It is an absolute staple of the media and the political right (not really the left, as far as I know). Dominion is suing Fox, but they can prove loss and damage to Dominion. Who would you sue on the grounds that Sean Spicer lied about the size of the crowd. Lies like that damage America alright, and laid the groundwork for the Big Lie, but who has standing to sue?

Cross-posted with Janie. I agree, on the left and right issue!

It's just that these days (for some decades, actually) they are nowhere near as extreme as the extreme right. Or, for completeness, the extreme libertarians.

Go back and read the original Green New Deal resolution, the one that passed in the House (and lost 0-57 in the Senate). One chamber of the US Congress passed a resolution that called for a radical restructuring of the US economy and a radical change in the power relationship between federal and state governments. And depending on how you read between the lines, perhaps a radical change in the US's relationship with the rest of the world. There's simply no other way to read it.

OK, with that understanding I can see it. The nutcase fanatics on the right** have definitely got far more influence at the moment. They are far outnumbered by their useful idiots, but they are driving much of what the right** is doing.

** I keep saying "the right". But technically a big piece of the group (exclusive of the useful idiots) is libertarian rather than reactionary. If, God forbid, their alliance of convenience actually got control, they would likely be fighting it out with even more fury within a decade. Because, at base, their core principles are utterly antithetical. The reactionaries want control, so they can force everybody else to do things their way. Whereas the libertarians only want control so they can make it impossible for anyone else (including the reactionaries) to limit their license to do whatever they with.

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