Shakespeare: Still viral after all these years

September 19, 2011

A little sketch in her notebook, an off-the-top-of-her-head list of common phrases.  Common today, but originating with William Shakespeare.

Becky's tumblr image:  Things we say that we owe to Shakepspeare

Becky's quick summary of some of the best-known phrases we use everyday, invented by Shakespeare. From Becky, age 20, in London.

Becky’s quick work caught a lot of eyes.  One of NPR’s blogs brought it to my attention.  English teachers, take notice (maybe someone at your school has a large format printer, and can make for you a poster . . .)

Someone could write a book explaining the original Shakespeare meaning of these phrases, the play, the context, and the value in the story. (Perhaps it’s already been done.)  It’s really quite stunning to consider how many phrases trace back to the Bard — surely he did not originate each and every one.  But Shakespeare’s works are rivaled perhaps only by scriptures in producing so many common phrases and aphorisms.

Is this graphic design of a sort that would meet with approval from Edward Tufte and his followers?


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


Dan Valentine – Muggy

May 24, 2010

By Dan Valentine

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) likes a staffer around when he speaks, so he can get some immediate feedback afterward, and one night the task fell upon me, his speechwriter at the time, because Paul Smith, his press secretary, who usually accompanies him, was off on vacation.

Afterward I walked him to his car, telling him along the way basically three words. “You were great!”

“What did you think?”

“Senator, you were great.”

“Think it went well?”

“You were great.”

He had strayed from the prepared remarks and rambled all over the place, going on a tangent about a recent Supreme Court decision. (“I just want to say one thing … I just want to add one thing … And let me just say …”) But that’s his speaking style.

As the Senator got into his car, he said, “I’d like to see more like it.”

I closed the door behind him. He unrolled the window. “I need a speech on drugs. Can you write me one?”

“Sure,” I said. “No problem. For or against?” I had lots of confidence back in those days.

He looked at me, shook his head. I watched him drive off. Then, briefcase in hand, I thought to myself: Okay, now for that drink!

I hailed a cab and said, getting in, “A little muggy.”

It was mid-August. D.C. was built on a swamp and even at night the heat is stifling.

The cabbie looked up at me in the rearview mirror. “What’s the–?”

“Muggy?” How to explain? “You know. Hot. Sticky.” I loosened my tie. “Makes you want to take off all your clothes.” I unbuttoned my top shirt button.

“Hot? Sticky? You like–?”

“Muggy? I can take it or leave it.”

He asked: “You police?”

I shook my head.

“Just checking.” He hit the meter. “In my country of Bangladesh, muggi is word for–how do you say?–hooker.” He pulled into traffic. “Redhead, you like that? You want blonde? Two blondes?”

“Just a minute,” I said.

“Short one, tall one? Yes? No? Just let me know. I know big, big blonde.” He took his hands off the wheel to form imaginary large breasts in the air–

“Hey! Look out!”

–and almost ran into an on-coming car. “Very nice. She does everything.”

“Listen–”

“I think you like her.”

“Will you listen?”

“Yes?” he said.

“I think we have a little misunderstanding here.”

“No muggi?” He was very disappointed.

“No muggi!”

“All right, all right. Relax, my friend. No need to get excited. Where do you want to go”

A few blocks later the taxi pulled to a stop in front of my destination. I paid the fare and got out.

“How about twins?”

“No!” I slammed the door. “No muggi.”


Four Stone Hearth #88: Sit, read and warm yourself

March 20, 2010

Four Stone Hearth #88 rests nicely in the St. Patrick’s Day edition at Ad Hominin.

World history and geography teachers, take special note.  There are real gems in this one.

Lots more stuff.  Which articles do you find compelling?

Odd update, January 23, 2013:  The link to “List of the 100 best blogs for anthropology students” is dead; it went to a page from OnlineDegrees.net.  I have an odd request from that site asking me to remove the link because it’s “over-optimized,” and they are trying to get straight with Google.  It all sounds shady to me.

My apologies, Dear Reader, for having linked to such a shady source as OnlineDegrees.net.  I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

http://www.onlinedegrees.net/blog/2010/100-best-blogs-for-anthropology-students/


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


Four Stone Hearth #69 at Wanna Be an Anthropologist

June 21, 2009

Four Stone Hearth #69 plunges into summer, at Wanna Be An Anthropologist.

Quite a thorough edition — there is a lot gathered there, including links to posts about the summer digging of several projects.

There’s a bunch of discussion on open access journals, too, which should be of particular interest to anyone with students doing projects these days.


Great discoveries at Four Stone Hearth 65

April 27, 2009

Okay, now Four Stone Hearth can apply for Social Security.  It has come of age.

Seriously, FSH 65, hosted by Primate of Modern Aspect, continues the tradition of that particular carnival with great links to great research, in anthropology, archaeology, and linguistics.

Hobbits?  Chimps?  Linguistics? Brains?   It’s all there.  Go see.


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