Tuesday, May 31, 2005

For Memorial Day

'Good morning; good morning' the General said,
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,
And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
'He's a cheery old card,' grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack...
But he did for them both with his plan of attack.

—Siegfried Sassoon

For us Down Under, April 25 is Anzac Day.

More New Zealanders died in the trenches in France and Belgium than fell in Turkey, but Gallipoli was the crucible in which one of the earliest facets of a national identity was forged from the experiences of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What's not to like about Ike?

A few days ago, The Heretik channeled the ghost of Eisenhower. Summoning the shades of the departed struck me as an awful lot of effort to go to when so many of the man's recorded words were so accessible and apt.

Courtesy of www.bartleby.com:
  • "Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed."

    — June 14, 1953, Dartmouth College.

  • "May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion."

    — May 31, 1954, New York City.

  • "Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of United Nations disapproval be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal?"

    — radio and television broadcast on the situation in the Middle East, Washington, D.C., February 20, 1957, following Israel's invasion of Egypt on October 29, 1956, precipitating the Suez Crisis.

  • "But we know that freedom cannot be served by the devices of the tyrant. As it is an ancient truth that freedom cannot be legislated into existence, so it is no less obvious that freedom cannot be censored into existence. And any who act as if freedom’s defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America."

    — letter on intellectual freedom to Dr. Robert B. Downs, president of the American Library Association, June 24, 1953.

  • "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

    — to American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953.

Où sont les Républicains d'antan?

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Words words words

A confession: I have a dilettante interest in the language of abuse, profanity, and obscenity. So when a commenter on Jesus' General wrote
Billy's right, you know. What say we just bring back the use of all racial slurs.
of course I had to take a peek. But that list is less than reliable if the entries relating to New Zealand are any indication.

Bogan - Whites - New Zealand white trash or rednecks.

This one's very close, actually. Good enough for the purposes of that list at least. Bogans are urban - no rural connotations like "redneck" - but it's closer to "redneck" than "white trash" in intensity. Folks don't refer to themselves as "white trash" (except ironically) do they?

Looks like this one came from Australia, but has developed an entirely different connotation in crossing the Tasman:
bogan (plural bogans)
  1. (Australian) A young person who is not cool.
  2. (New Zealand) A member of a lower socioeconomic group historically classified by the wearing of black jumpers, black T-shirts decorated with designs including such bands as Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Nirvana or favourite drinks such as Jack Daniels or Jim Beam. Bogans often drive larger cars and are often referred to as petrolheads.
Kiwi - New Zealanders - The native bird is the Kiwi. Not necessarily a slur to New Zealanders.

Uh, I'd like to know who considers it a slur, if only so I can avoid contracting Stupid Cooties from them.

Pakeha - New Zealanders - White New Zealanders only. Maori for "white devil". Curiously, this is an official term.

Bollocks. A definitive etymology is unknown. There are several suggestions, some of which are innocuous, others less so, and none of which are "white devil". The most amusing hypothesis is that it came from the early whalers' and sealers' frequent use of the curse "bugger ya!"

The word does have official status though, which from a pragmatic point of view should, no matter how unpleasant any putative origin may be, make it no more offensive than "vanilla" is for its root in "vagina". (Aussies and Kiwis of any age or gender will get a dirty little schoolboy snigger out of the close proximity of "root" and "vagina" there, but that's beside the point.)

This article discusses the etymology of "Pakeha", concluding that the most plausible origin is in "Pakepakeha - Mythical, human like being, with fair skin and hair who possessed canoes made of reeds which changed magically into sailing vessels." Frankly too flattering.

Pom - British - Used by Australians. It's the acronym of "Port of Melbourne", the port where British immigrants landed in the colonization of Australia.
Pome - British - 'Property Of Mother England' - Used in Australia, New Zealand, etc. Probably related to and/or another version of Pom.

This is seriously confused. Pom, or Pommy for a Briton is correct, though a Scot, Welshman, or Ulsterman is much less likely to be referred to as such than an Englishman.

Beyond that, etymology is uncertain, and the "Port of Melbourne" derivation is a new one to me. The standard version is "Prisoner of Mother England", but this smells like a back-formation. More convincing is the suggestion that it's a humorously semi-rhyming misrendering from "immigrant" through "immigranate" to "pomegranate" to— you get the picture.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Speaking of surprising quotes

This one from commenter BOHICA at Steve Gilliard's place:
"The powers in charge keep us in a perpetual state of fear: Keep us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant sums demanded. Yet in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real...."

—General Douglas MacArthur

Well I never.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Ease off that throttle, Congressman

This isn't what I was threatening er, promising in that last post, but it's such a jawdropper I can't let it pass. Besides, I can't start whoring this blog until there's something to read.

If you patronise the sort of blog I link to on the right, you are probably:
  1. A traitorous liberal weenie, most likely French, harbouring blackest treason in your twisted commie soul.
  2. Already aware of the story, curiously underplayed in your media, of 64-year-old Representative Don Sherwood and the 29-year-old woman who is definitely not his mistress, goodness me no. And he was only giving her a backrub. The Lord only knows why she called 911 claiming his hands somehow wound up around her throat.
Via All Hat No Cattle, Yahoo! news has this update. The money shot's right there in the first two paragraphs.
Pa. Papers Spar Over Congressman Coverage
By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writer
Thu May 12, 7:06 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA - Some news outlets in northeastern Pennsylvania have declined to report on an encounter between a married GOP congressman and a 29-year-old woman, with one managing editor telling readers he didn't think the matter was "my business. Or yours."

"Where is the connection between the politician's private moral life and his public performance?" Lawrence K. Beaupre, the managing editor of The Scranton Times and The Tribune, explained in a letter to readers Sunday.
Tell that to Bill Clinton.

There's a useful word for when one encounters moments like these. That word is "gobsmacked".

Just warming up

I've had a LiveJournal for a little while now, and dumped political musings and finds there from time to time, but it's not really the best environment for that sort of thing. Besides, folks who are interested in that stuff aren't so likely to be interested in the occasional sharing of minutiae of my life, or vice versa. So here we go: two minds, half a brain.

In all probability, more of the postings here will relate to US politics than what's going on in New Zealand (though we do have an election later this year which could turn up some interesting stories.) The reason for this is simple: when you're in bed with an elephant, you really do need to know which way it's going to roll over next.

I almost have a plan for the next few entries. I've noticed that the current US administration has been copping well-deserved flak for invoking FDR whenever they're fingered in the act of dismantling his legacy. There's someone else from the same era who is often (ab)used in the same way, but whose own words - and he wrote many, many words - frequently confound those who would summon his ghost.

Let us see.