the minor premise

the minor premise

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hot Water

by Dminor

Now it appears that the party of TEA
had some success in the late primaries
which has caused some distress, as all can see,
in a troubled, divided GOP.

A Moderate Element, the party of ME
is now in a conflict with the party of TEA,
and where they both run competitively,
the party that benefits starts with a D.

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Polyglottal Stop

Something for National Punctuation Day.

Language can be a funny thing, and the more languages you know, or with which you have acquaintance, the more fun you can have. For instance, my son used to call the highway near our house in Germany the "Stautobahn," combining the German words for traffic jam (Stau) and superhighway (Autobahn). Recently, my daughter brought back the following tale from French class.

A translation had the class in stitches. However, the sentence itself was not funny by itself.

Elle frappe, ma cousine, sur le vieux piano.

The student translator, however, forgot some very important punctuation, and the fact that French word order can seem a little backwards to speakers of English. The student's translation read:

She bangs my cousin on the old piano.

While waiting for our youngest to finish dancing this evening, C and I stopped off at the local Waffle House for coffee.  The place was packed with a post football Friday crowd, and understaffed. So, we had time to take in a bit of the ambience. On the table was a bottle of the house salsa. I was initially amused because I didn't really think of a place that specializes in waffles and hashbrowns as being a place that would have its own salsa. The salsa bottle's lable read:

Señora Jackie's Casa de Waffle Salsa. 

I read the lable aloud, pronouncing the word Casa to C's satifaction, but she didn't like my pronunciation of Waffle, saying a word like that would come out like Vah-flay if pronounced with Spanish sounds. 
"Well, how would you spell it in Spanish, if you wanted to pronounce it closer to its English equivalent?" I asked.

C replied with this spelling:  GUAFEL. The W sound exists in Spanish, but it is rendered GU, as in Guadalupe. Spanish words, she added, rarely if ever have a double F, and if a vowel is to be pronounced between the F and the L, you better put one there.  

The word as she spelled it didn't call to my mind a toasty waffle, but looked like it belonged in cough syrup. It was sort of reminiscent of  George Bernard Shaw's demonstration of the absurdity of English spelling. He spelled "fish" GHOTI. GH from the word "tough,"  O from the word "women," and TI from the host of TION words such as "convention."

"Well how about the first part of the label? If you pronounce that correctly, shouldn't that be Señora Hacky?" 
"No, No, No," she said, "that should be Yacky, although you might want to spell it with a Y and a QU (Yaqui).

I stuck by my guns. "But a J is pronounced like an English H. Shouldn't it be Hacky?" Although, to be honest, I really don't want to eat anything from a Mrs. Hacky. It just doesn't sound appetizing.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

He who has four and spends five. . . .

A scary graph from the Congressional Budget Office:

While some might want to emphasize the projected coming together of the two lines, 2009 and 2010 just look plain ugly. For those who are into nominal values instead of GDP percentages, a percentage point equals $142 billion dollars  in 2009 and $148 billion in 2010. That puts the 2009 deficit at about $1.42 trillion, and $1.33 trillion projected for 2010. Something is going to have to give . . ..

Data from the Congressional Budget Office.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Poll Reddy

Something that always raises my blood pressure is the attitude that a majority in a poll equals truth. It is usually leveled against a moral position by someone who perceives benefit from that position going away. Since those on folks are very often on the left, I note with some amusement the alarm with which the the left received the Pew research poll indicating that 18% of respondents believed President Obama was a Muslim.

To be honest, the President does not help himself in this regard with what appears to be partiality toward Islam, but what must be judged at attempts at even-handedness (or, if you like, relativism). Add to that the President's childhood in Indonesia (the most populous Muslim country in the world), some difficulty with aspects of American culture, and a little imagination, and you have a nice, tidy stealth Muslim conspiracy theory.

So, in light of the poll, the reaction, and the President's own difficulty with parts of the American culture, the parody department presents:

I'm Not Muslim
(to the tune of I Am Woman)
by DMinor, with apologies to Helen Reddy and Ray Burton

I'm not Muslim, and I'm sore;
Poll numbers to big to ignore
Say I pray five times a day while facing East.
But I've heard it all before
I've got no prayer rug on the floor,
And at Christmas time I light the tree, at least.

Oh ask Rev'rend Wright
'Bout my listening to his flames
At Iftar tonight
I'll take time to explain.
If they bring up
my Muslim middle name,
they are wrong.
I am the President
I'm not Muslim.

I can bow to Saudi rulers
And to Israel I'm cooler.
I'm determined to placate the Muslim world.
Meet Iran with no condition,
Even change up NASA's mission;
now it's outreach to the Muslim boys and girls.

Oh why do they fight?
Must I answer it again?
I can say my life
should make it more than plain.
Don't you bring up
That I'm Barack Hussein.
You are wrong.
I am the President.
I'm not Muslim.

I'm not Muslim, don't you know
When you see my baseball throw
I'm as Yankee as a winning soccer goal.
Cut my teeth on Malcom X
Had Bill Ayers write my book text.
A patriot down in my very soul.

Just ask Rev'rend Wright,
He can verify my claim.
I can say my life
could not make it more plain.
Not my call,
my Muslim middle name.
Is it wrong,
to favor basketball?
I'm not Muslim.

Oh, I'm not Muslim.
To be one is okay.
It's not wrong
To be Muslim
And an American.
Don't be wrong.
I'm not Muslim!

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Dialect Material

When seen from the outside, the U.S. is often viewed as a homogeneous place. Non-Americans have remarked to me about how great it is that in the vast area of the U.S. one needs only a single currency and a single language. While the currency advantage is indisputable, anyone who has traveled in the U.S. will tell you that, even setting aside recent immigrants mother tongues, regional linguistic differences can present a challenge. My eldest daughter has moved to an area of the country with which she had been previously unfamiliar. Among her accounts of the different weather and geography, she mentioned some linguistic differences. She admitted that she had anticipated some differences in accent, she had not anticipated certain vocabulary and usage differences. To my surprise, the one that annoyed her the most was their usage of "pop" for common carbonated soft drinks. In her experience, such things were always called "soda."

"'Soda' actually describes something in the drink," she asserted. "'Pop' is just an onomatopoeia. Just barely a real word."

As a certified old geezer (I have a child who has finished college and moved away), I was well aware of the "Pop" vs. "Soda" split, having had it brought to my attention when I traveled to Iowa as a boy. In fact, in 1996, there was a article on the subject written by Luanne von Schneidemesser, PhD in German linguistics and philology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and senior editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English. In fact there is a web site devoted to the subject, and a U.S. map, derived from survey data from 2002 was available:
What surprised me about this map was how widespread the "coke" area was (I had previously assumed it was pretty much a Georgia phenomenon).  Also of interest was that certain areas still called the soft drinks "dope," probably harkening back to the time when there was real dope (cocaine) in some soft drinks.

Information taken from 308 - The Pop Vs Soda Map and The Pop vs. Soda Page.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Why D and I Could Not Possibly Have Married Anyone Else

That, or we've been together so long we're now interchangable.

I chatted on the phone with Hon. Daughter #1, now out in the Big World, earlier this week. She described an upcoming fundraising event for the domestic violence shelter where she works: a beer tasting.

Me (visions of drunken debauchery and violence dancing in my head): "What, are they trying to drum up business?"

Last night D was reading his Facebook page when he announced, "Hon. D. #1 updated her status. She says she's at a beer tasting."

Me: "Oh, yeah. That's a benefit for the shelter."

D (completely unprompted, I swear): "What, are they trying to drum up business?"


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Railroad Revisited

Donald McClarey on The American Catholic recounted his encounter with one of those ubiquitous spam emails attempting to garner ill-gotten revenue from an unsuspecting victim trying to garner ill-gotten revenue: A Nigerian Scam. Back in 2008 we wrote a parody on the subject, and actually made an attempt at a recording. Here it is for your listening pleasure:

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