Time to retire: “Drunk the Kool-Aid”

July 13, 2009

Here’s a cliché phrase whose time to retire has come:  “Drunk the Kool-Aid.”

Once upon a time it may have been a culturally cool reference to the mass suicide at Jonestown, Guyana.  Following the charismatic and crazy minister Jim Jones, more than 900 people committed suicide, most by drinking cyanide in a Kool-Aid solution.  With some irony we should note that Kool-Aid may not have been used at Jonestown at all, but a similar product, Flav-R-Aid.

Makers of Kool-Aid are probably not too happy about the common use of the phrase now, though it would be interesting to see what their marketing studies show — does the use of the phrase hurt sales or keep the name of the product in the public’s mind?

No matter.  Use of the phrase to mean that an insult target is brainlessly following some concept is tired, decrepit, grating, and in need of retirement.

Uses just in the past few days:

  • Daily Kos:  “Of course, the CoC crowd have drunk the kool-aid and blamed “liberal regulators” for their problem.”
  • Daily Green, by Marion Nestle:  “But before you decide that I must have drunk the Kool Aid on this one, hear me out. He really is a good choice for this job.”
  • In The Baltimore Sun, the Rev. Jason Poling:  “But I must have drunk the Kool-Aid back in civics class, because when I think about freedom, liberty, just government and all that good stuff, my thoughts fly to the Declaration of Independence.”
  • The Wall Street Journal, John Paul Newport:  “I remember pondering these issues back when I first started paying attention to golf as an adult, before I’d drunk the Kool-Aid.”
  • Michael Hirsh in Washington Monthly:  “Before long, Power says, she had ‘drunk the Kool-Aid‘ on Obama.”  [And this usage in an otherwise excellent story that you really should read.]
  • Bill King in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:  “I still haven’t drunk the Kool-Aid when it comes to Big 12 teams, so while I recognize the Pokes have a high-powered offense that some expect to overpower the Dogs defense, and others question whether Georgia’s offense, minus last year’s star power, can keep up, I don’t believe that’s going to be the season’s biggest road challenge.”  [Longest sentence in this list?]
  • Todd Robberson in a blog of the Dallas Morning News: “Steve Salazar on the City Council has drunk the Kool-Aid on this subject, convinced that the online and phone-in survey conducted last year regarding possible names for Industrial somehow constituted a scientific poll with, as Salazar told us, a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.”
  • TPM, “Teamster blasting Rush Limbaugh”: “He’s drunk the Kool-Aid that unions are socialism and socialism is evil.”
  • Politics Daily:  “If you feel like forwarding this to those who are open minded and have not drunk the Kool-Aid, feel free.”
  • Newsbusters: “Back on Thursday, March 5 when Obama held a dog and pony show at the White House, CBS drunk the kool-aid.”  [When I used the phrase “drunk the Kool-Aid,” I thought I’d avoid incorrect grammar in use of the Kool-Aid phrase — clearly I was wrong.]
  • Frank Rich in The New York Times:  “Those Republicans who have not drunk the Palin Kool-Aid are apocalyptic for good reason.”  [This is the one that set me off, today — Rich is too good a writer to drink the Kool-Aid on using such clichés.]

Can we just retire the phrase now?  Copy editor’s, make a note of Darrell’s Corollary:  When any writer uses the phrase “drunk the Kool-Aid” to mean something other than someone has drunk some Kool-Aid, the piece needs to be rewritten.

Building in Hasting, Nebraska, where Kool-Aid was invented by Gerard and Edwin Perkins.  Wikimedia photo

Building in Hasting, Nebraska, where Kool-Aid was invented by Gerard and Edwin Perkins. Wikimedia photo


Happy birthday, Kathryn!

July 4, 2009

Fireworks in Texas - supposedly in Addison, but I cant figure where

Fireworks in Texas - supposedly in Addison, but I can't figure where

I used to tell the kids their mother was so beloved that the town set off fireworks every year on her birthday.  They probably didn’t believe the cause, but the town did, indeed, set off fireworks on her birthday.  I don’t always do the best planning, but at least I don’t ever forget Kathryn’s birthday — I cannot forget it.

We saw a lot of great displays on the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., and a fantastic show one year out on the water in Baltimore’s harbor, right over Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write his now-famous poem.  One year with brother Wes and his wife, Momie, we watched bluebirds all day, and then stayed for the fireworks at the Yorktown Battlefield, where Cornwallis was cut off by George Washington and the Continental Army with a grand assist from the French fleet.

We’ve seen great shows in Dallas, a bunch of shows in Duncanville, Texas, and Ogden, Utah, and we saw a part of a show in Addison, Texas, before the rain and wind shut it down (no, I can’t figure out where that photo came from, either) — and that doesn’t count all those shows before we met.  New York City, Hyde Park, from the parking lot of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salt Lake City, overlooking Liberty Park, Derks Field, and a dozen other displays across the valley; from Wahkara Ridge, high up in Payson Canyon, catching the displays from Payson, Springville, Spanish Fork and Provo, Utah; and right there in Cougar Stadium in Provo.  Ohio, Michigan, Idaho, upper New York State, and probably a few other places we’ve forgotten about.  Great fireworks displays every one.

Last year we camped at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park in Utah on the Fourth of July — no gunpowder fireworks, just the Milky Way and the most spectacular stars you can imagine, perched on 80-foot sand dunes where voices carried 150 yards with no shouting.  The decision not to drive back into Kanab for their show was a good idea.

This year?  Heck, we’ve already had some fireworks — Kathryn’s mother made a quick trip to an emergency room Friday, and we’ve had to rejuggle the dinner arrangements just a bit for tomorrow.  But the knockwursts and bratwursts from Kuby’s are in the refrigerator; the potato salad’s halfway done.  The beans will cook up most of the morning.  The flags will wave from their new poles.

The kids are home.  Buddy the border setter has his sedatives, so maybe the illegal fireworks around the neighborhood won’t make him a total wreck; and we can choose between a Grucci show at the Cotton Bowl or the local fireworks two miles away — or maybe the fireworks at the U.S. Capitol again, this time on PBS, with a glass of champagne.

The nation may not be setting off all those fireworks just for you, Kathryn, but they should be — and the coincidence can’t be explained except by divine intervention, eh?  Happy birthday, sweetie!


Happy Birthday, Judge Ben Davidian

July 3, 2009

George M. Cohan sang that he was a “real-live nephew of my Uncle Sam, born on the Fourth of July.”

Ben Davidian would have liked that birthdate, but truth be told, he wanted to savor the full day — so he was born on the third of July.

In April he was named by Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar to a judgeship in Sacramento.

Happy birthday, Ben. (Which is it:  39?  40?)   I won’t tell anyone that secretly you’re a great fan of Joan Baez.


Sore, suckered loser

February 5, 2009

One of the sites suckered in by the Obama/Las Vegas/Pledge hoax keeps insisting he’s really taking the high road when he spreads calumny against the president, against teachers, and against the flag.

So when it became clear that there is no corroboration for the wild claims against teachers and the schools of Clark County School District (Nevada), the site’s ruling masked man, Ronin (see his avatar) claimed the story was really about “idol worship” of Obama gone awry.

I called him to task, he went all Dembski and Uncommon Descent on us.  No, that’s not fair — he’s worse than Dembski.  In a hoax, he has put my name on his own profane remarks, replacing what I actually said that he cannot respond to.  Do we need any further evidence that these guys are trying to perpetrate hoaxes against Obama and teachers?

Obama’s opponents lack all honor, it appears.


Blue Collar Scientist, Jeff Medkeff

August 4, 2008

Blue Collar Scientist burst on the blogosphere last December.  News from Pharyngula is that Jeff Medkeff’s liver cancer took him — he died last night.

With luck, someone will be sure his on-line and in-print work is archived.  His voice, his activism, his enthusiasm, his patience and deep knowledge seem irreplaceable.  Scientists and other rational people will have to work much harder to fill in the gaps.

So long, Jeff.


Golden Primate award

July 20, 2008

Kate at the Radula gifted Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub with a Golden Primate Award. It’s a blog award for blogs that “appeal to the rationalists among us, and those of us who aren’t ashamed to be related to monkeys.”

Who was it said “the more I know of men, the more I love my dog?” (Some sources say Pascal; I doubt that attribution.)

Substitute “monkey” for dog — who wouldn’t be proud to be related to such noble creatures?

The symbol for the award will be displayed on the blog’s front page.


Back from the brink

July 12, 2008

Literally.  Lots of brinks — the brink of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the brink of the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, the brink of Bryce Canyon, the brinks of canyons in Zion National Park . . .

Just got back from the tour of southern Utah and northern Arizona.  WiFi is available out there, but it’s not always easy to use.  We’ll be doing some catch up here.

Thanks to all the kind folk who dropped by and left comments.  Thanks to the unkind folk, too.


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