Friday, September 22, 2017

Our purple nation

When people in the media refer to "purple states"—those where the populace falls between being mostly a (conservative) "red" state or mostly a (liberal) "blue" state, that clearly is thinking in terms of dyes, where red and blue make purple.

However, on the spectrum of light waves, obviously purple (violet) is nearer to blue than to red, and is not between those two colors.

Politicos prefer textile analogies over science.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Prep time for Alaska

I merely hope when inevitably the current president allows Russia to annex Alaska (because, as you know, it was once part of their country... 150 years ago) that he gives enough notice to Sarah Palin so she has time to learn the Cyrillic alphabet (because, as you know, she's not exactly a quick study).

(You thought I was going to make a joke about how it will be much easier to see Russia from her house, but that seemed a bit too obvious.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Fight the power... but...

I know we need to keep resisting this buffoon who is currently in the Oval Office and his ridiculous cabinet and his poorly considered policies, and certainly we should, but just in case that doesn't work out I have this humble request:

If it looks like we're all going to succumb to despair, all I ask is that someone give me a heads-up as early as possible so I can do it without just seeming like I'm jumping on the bandwagon.

Thank you.

Saturday, January 07, 2017


Our three-year-old son has taken to occasionally wanting to hold my arm for a few seconds as a soothing gesture when I put him to bed. And it's not my wrist he seeks but my bicep; he has even gone so far as to ask me to roll up my sleeves to grant him better access to that part of the upper arm.

As a parent of a pre-schooler, I am generally tired and will appease him because it means he will go to sleep faster.

At first I thought he found it comforting to touch the muscle, as though it made him feel safe to be near his strong Daddy. Then he started squeezing my bicep and gleefully saying it was "squishy."

Here's the thing: I am absolutely certain in his mind that is a colossal compliment. That his father has a part of the arm which he can squeeze is apparently what makes him feel better in those moments after I've turned off the light in his room.

It is that oblivion that makes it somewhat endearing, and allows me to put aside societal conditioning about musculature when he specifically asks for "the squishy part" (as has become his preferred phrasing).

I could be more physically fit (of course), but rather than this inspiring me to hit the gym I am merely pleased he hasn't figured out a way to try to grab my stomach. Which I'm sure will only be a matter of time until he does.

And I'm sure I'll learn to live with that, because while I may only be doing so-so when it comes to being "in shape" I can roll with such things by being in reasonably decent parenting condition. Or, again, too tired to object.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Michael saw Mommy kissing Santa Claus

Obviously numerous versions of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" have been recorded since Jimmy Boyd first did in 1952, but the best clearly was the one performed by the Jackson 5 on their 1970 Christmas Album.

It's not merely the pop mastery of the group or the production, but the way young Michael says just before the solo:
"I did, I really did see Mommy kissing Santa Claus, and I'm gonna tell my dad."

Why does that put it above all others? Let's examine.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Give a shit?

Some months back I struggled to put together the headboard for an Ikea bed (and was reminded the items one gets at that store are actually Swedish torture devices masquerading as affordable furniture), and I vowed it was the last fucking thing I'd ever put together from there*. As I was alone I didn't refrain from venting my frustration through profane utterances. At one point I declared (in reference to the possibility of being required to assemble some such item in the future) that I "didn't give a shit" in some hypothetical wherein I may have to leave my wife and child in order to escape another agrivating assembly scenario.

It was not one of my finer moments, but that's not the point here.

Reflecting later on that expression—"I don't give a shit"—I was somewhat intrigued as to how that became a common idiom. It connotes a significant lack of concern for consequences with the indication of anger and/or exasperation; it carries a bit stronger message than merely saying "I really don't care." And while I have no difficulty believing there would be a need for such a sentiment, parsing out the literal meanings of the component terms there is the suggestion that if one does care about the ramifications of a decision one "gives a shit," and in that scenario it raises the question: To whom is one giving that shit?

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.