You couldn’t make it up

April 14, 2011

Yeah, I know — Eagles sang about how things would “get down to the bone,” but I don’t think they meant it the way this birther said it:

I knowingly and of sound mind would ask as a.bonified Citizen of the United States of America request that our President “Barrack Hussein Obama ” step down from

Bonehead

"Bonified" genius

(That’s it.  No end to the sentence, no end to the clause.  No period.)

You think, maybe, he meant bona fide?”

Ick.  “Bonified” suddenly brings all sorts of ugly visions.  Others have thought of it, too.


If you get pulled over in Arizona . . .

July 26, 2010

Has Arizona’s legislature thought about this question?

Si un policia me dice “papeles” y yo le digo “tijeras” . . . gano yo?


I get e-mail poetry: 20 Questions

June 18, 2010

Actually, I get a lot of e-mails with poetry, between list-servs with a few (very good) amateur bards, and the Poem-a-Day feature.

This one came in this morning:

Eisenhower warned us “Beware of the Military/Industrial Complex. Today we have the Political/Military/Industrial Complex and it survives through euphemisms. This poem illustrates the process.

Twenty Questions


When did oil drilling become energy recovery?
When did putting people before profits become distorting the market?
When did death become negative patient care outcome?
When did the poor become economically disadvantaged?
When did very low food insecurity replace hunger?
When did hiding the truth become lack of transparency?
When did denying your own words become “I may have misspoke”?
When did truthiness become close enough?
When did taxpayers replace citizens?
When did mercenaries become security contractors?
When did overthrowing a country become regime change?
When did a prisoner of war become a detainee?
When did torture become pain compliance?
When did killing your own soldiers become friendly fire?
When did killing civilians become collateral damage?
When did massive bombing become shock and awe?
When did genocide become ethnic cleansing?
When did lies become spin?
When did peace become pre-hostility?
When did all of the above become acceptable?

Devona Wyant
June 2010

All rights reserved


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


Immigrants learning English: Not so fast

October 22, 2008

Economics fans, pay attention:  Immigrants tend not to learn English when they move to America.  Moreover, they do well without it.

Greg Laden’s got a nice write up of a study on immigrants learning English.  I especially liked this story:

I once met … at a centenary celebration of some kind … the grandchild of a man who moved as a teenager from the old country to southern Wisconsin, ahead of his family, to learn the local customs, farming techniques, and language. After a few years in a small town in Wisconsin, his family arrived to start farming. The young man had indeed learned the local practices, the local farming techniques, and the local language. German. His family, arab speakers from Palestine, were well served by this young man because German was all they needed to get along in the US.

Not what the “English only” crowd wants to hear.

Here’s the citation on the study Greg Laden wrote about:

M. E. Wilkerson, J. Salmons (2008). “GOOD OLD IMMIGRANTS OF YESTERYEAR,” WHO DIDN’T LEARN ENGLISH: GERMANS IN WISCONSIN American Speech, 83 (3), 259-283 DOI: 10.1215/00031283-2008-020 [you’ll need a paid subscription for the full text]


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