27 October 2011

To y'all semi-literate denizens of the Internet:

I know homophones (words that sound the same but have different meanings) can be tricky.  But for crying out loud, "rain", "rein", and "reign" should not be.

RAIN:  watery precipitation that falls from the sky.  German cognate regen.
REIN:  a strap used to control a horse.   Latin cognate frenum.
REIGN:  the period of rule by a king, emperor, or powerful principle (e.g. "reign of terror") Latin cognate regnum.
Perhaps it's the fact that hardly anybody outside Mongolia rides horses on the job anymore that causes this silly confusion.

24 October 2011

This is my preview / non-review of the movie Anonymous, coming out this Friday:

The idiots who believe Shakespeare didn't write the plays of Shakespeare are no more respectable than the idiots who believe President Obama was born in Kenya.  Both kinds of idiots have a hard time accepting that talent sometimes comes from obscurity and villainous* backgrounds.  One kind of idiot is concentrated in the base of the Republican party, the other kind in Hollywood circles of actors whose egos have grown tumescent.

If you were tempted to see this movie, I advise you to watch The Princess Bride instead.  It will have much more of reality in it.  That is all.

*I'm using the word in the pre-modern sense, which meant someone of common birth and inferior education.  See Henry VI:  "base dunghill villain and mechanical, I'll have thy head for this thy traitor's speech."

23 October 2011

People who hate Rachel Maddow for being "mannish" aren't talking about her short hair, I suspect.  It's those opinions she has, and those books she reads.  A real American goodwife (and she is actually a wife) should lock her mind away and not sully her character with book-learning....

07 October 2011

The NY Times reports:
The Most Rev. Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury, will travel to Zimbabwe this weekend as part of an African tour and will seek to persuade President Robert G. Mugabe to help end a rift among the country’s Anglicans, according to the archbishop’s office here. Archbishop Williams, the spiritual leader of the world’s Anglicans, wrote to Mr. Mugabe this year and urged him to stop “the continuing bullying, harassment and persecution” of Anglicans who support the global Anglican Communion rather than a breakaway group led by Nolbert Kunonga, an excommunicated bishop and ally of the president. Mr. Kunonga, an American-trained priest, broke with the church, one of Zimbabwe’s major denominations, in 2007, saying that gay priests and congregants had gained too much influence...
I'm all for dialogue and listening, but this seems like the very definition of a doomed mission.  Hopefully it won't give Mugabe an excuse to imprison or torture more dissenters in his country.

Worth noting that in 2007, when Kunonga broke with the Communion, there was just one openly gay bishop in the US Episcopal Church, out of 110 dioceses.  Too much influence, indeed.

03 October 2011

Actor Mark Ruffalo has some choice words for those who superficially attack the Occupy Wall Street protesters:
When people critique this movement and say spurious things about the protesters' clothes or their jobs or the general way they look, they are showing how shallow we have become as a nation. They forget that these people have taken time out of their lives to stand up for values that are purely American and in the interest of our democracy. They forget that these people are encamped in an urban park, where they are not allowed to have tents or other normal camping gear. They are living far outside their comfort zone to protect and celebrate liberty, equality and the rule of law.
He goes on:
Their message is very clear and simple: get money out of the political process; strive for equality in taxation and equal rights for all regardless of race, gender, social status, sexual preference or age. We must stop poisoning our food, air and water for corporate greed. The people on Wall Street and in the banking industrial complex that destroyed our economy must be investigated and brought to justice under the law for what they have done by stealing people's homes and savings.
My criticisms:  "Getting money out of the political process" is perhaps not the first thing we should be aiming at.  It's "sexual orientation," not "sexual preference."   And there is no "banking industrial complex," because the biggest banks aren't industrial.  They are parasitic, sucking from the economy of real goods and necessary public services.  Nonetheless, I thank Mark for trying to articulate the goal of this movement.

01 October 2011

At the Atlantic, someone is whining about Congress killing the debit card.  (What has actually happened, starting today, is that the cap on bank charges to merchants for debit card use has been reduced to 21 cents per transaction.) The argument laid out there plumbs new depths in baloney.  For example:

in particular, this action by Congress will hurt low- to middle-income Americans more than wealthier Americans. Banks find it very important to cultivate relationships with their wealthier customers, because they want their high deposits and to sell them other financial services. So banks' wealthiest customers will likely escape fees like this. Instead, less affluent Americans will end up paying more than their fair share.
Oh, because government is to blame for everything that banks do to raise profits?  A more self-evident proposition was never made, surely.

Courtier-lobbyists in old regime France made a similar argument against the abolition of feudal dues on the peasantry.  "The removal of these dues will gravely destabilize the ability of lords to care for their peasants.  Grands seigneurs will be unable to make an honest living without getting their 5 ducks a year!"