Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Contemplating "homophobia" literally

Resurrecting posts I never got around to at the time...

Remember a few years ago when a man who was fired from a business that teaches English to foreigners for writing about homophones (because his ignorant boss thought it had some association with homophobia), I am... finally... using that as a paltry excuse inspired to share the following which I'd composed before that incident (for no particular reason), despite the peril in which I could be putting myself.

(Having never made a penny from the blahg, I'm not risking much, I concede.)


Let's take a moment to consider the term "homophobia." Obviously that designates a prejudice toward homosexuals, derived from the pejorative truncating of that down to "homo" and tacking on the Greek "phobia" ("fear of"). This construction has been around for many years now and certainly is ingrained in the contemporary lexicon; I'm not suggesting it isn't handy for identifying that, or that there isn't still a significant need for such a term.

However, that construction—of a slang-influenced abbreviated version of one term and the (let's call it) scientific-based term—seems, upon reflection, like it should be somewhat troublesome. If one is aware of the etymology of "homo" and knows that means "same" then the literal translation becomes "fear of the same," and while that could still be construed to mean "fear of those who are sexually attracted to their same gender" it could just as easily suggest a fear of those who are like oneself. I'm not implying that's really a thing (although I'm not going to say it's not either), or that there seems a need for such a term. I'm merely noting it's a word that operates a little better if one doesn't break it down to its component parts, if one doesn't know the origins of those parts.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The cuddle/snuggle distinction

What is the difference between "cuddling" and "snuggling"? Both suggest a prolonged period of affectionate touching with one's body pressed at least in part with another's body, but the terms are obviously different words so conceivably there's some difference.

The only definite distinction I can draw is that on the Simpsons "snuggling" is Marge's euphemism for having sex, and so as far as I'm concerned that can be the difference: the latter carries a sexual connotation (if it occurs between consenting adults).

When in doubt, look to Matt Groening's characters.


As further evidence of "cuddle" being the less innuendo-laden one, I offer that in the show Doc McStuffins when one of the characters is sad or in some distress it is said (by Lambie) he or she needs a cuddle--not a snuggle.

The doc is in.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

You don't know what 'aarp' should mean

Commercials for the American Association of Retired Persons have included the slogan "You don't know 'aarp'" for a while now, and in the ad that ran during tonight's Emmy telecast still had that in the voiceover, bringing this to mind again.

Turning the initials into an acronym (so rather than it being pronounced by the individual letters in "A.A.R.P." it turns into a single-syllable term that rhymes with "harp") is in keeping with the clear push to make the organization seem not just for old fuddy-duddies.

However, to my ear, that pronunciation makes it one slight exaggeration away from being the acronym for the American Association of Retired Pirates.


(Perhaps it's in part from yesterday being Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday.

No, it's just me. I know.)

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Splitting the alphabet

Looking at TV for young children where they list the alphabet I've noticed they struggle with how to split up the lines of letters when there isn't room all on one or two. Given that 26 is not divisible by three or four or any whole number until one gets to 13 the lines end up unbalanced.

But it occurred to me that five lines would be closer to equal (with one leftover) than other possible splits. Then I had the thought that the five vowels could make for another way of separating the lines, putting each vowel at the start of one of the five lines; those letters hold a distinction so having the notice from being at the front of the lines made a certain sense.

And while working out each remaining line (with the set of consonants after each vowel) I realized that gave an unexpected sort of quasi-symmetry:


Thursday, August 13, 2015

More outdated children's shows observations: Daniel Tiger wears no pants!

On Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood the eponymous lead character is an anthropomorphic tiger living in a Mr. Rogers-inspired town with other anthropomorphic animals—Katarina Kittycat, O the Owl—and with human characters. The stories give lessons with little songs about topics like compromise and dealing with frustration. As previously noted, Our son finds it enjoyable.

One of Daniel's friends is Miss Elena, who it's shown has mixed race parents. So the show seems progressive in ways like that.

However, there is something that I notice that seems less congruous with that sort of theme. Now, I concede analysis of a show with such a clear distance from verisimilitude is utterly futile, but if nothing else we live in the era of utterly futile analysis so here goes:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Music soothes the fussy toddler (thanks, Doc McStuffins)

We don't let our son watch a lot of TV (to appease the Parenting-Industrial Complex I must note that) but we have put on some shows for short periods when we need to keep him occupied (like when we're getting ready to go to work in the morning). We have recorded some episodes of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Yo Gabba Gabba, and Doc McStuffins to be able to play when necessary.

What he particularly likes are the songs. Sure, all kids like music but he really responds to it. He started dancing almost as soon as he could stand up. At daycare when they have the "music man" come in on Fridays he's always the most excited of all the children.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


On the walk to the station one evening I found myself briefly behind a young woman proceeding at a slower pace and her head pointed toward something in her hand. Oh great, I thought, another smart phone shuffler, not looking where she's going and enrapt in whatever email or text cannot wait.

However, when the opportunity to get around her presented itself and I stepped up beside her I discovered her hands held not a phone but an actual book.

The quaint nature of her old school distraction made my slight delay while stuck behind her somewhat less annoying for no reason other than it being unexpected.

I guess there's something to be said for novelty in one's inconsiderate behavior.