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Gheorgheni's Helpful News Summaries #2: The Trouble with Beauregard

Superfrenchie's on holiday this weekend, in Normandy. When she told me she was going, I sent her a song on our collective Core Team working IM thread. The song was probably not well-chosen. It was 'Our King Went Forth to Normandie', a 15th-century ditty praising Henry V. Superfrenchie said something about 'Americans'. Robbie Stamp happened by and asked if that were Superfrenchie singing. She replied, 'We don't celebrate defeats.'

I am from Tennessee, so I was surprised. 'You don't? We do it all the time. Haven't you heard of Confederate Memorial Day?'

Europeans may not realise it, but North Americans whose families have been here long enough have some weird naming traditions. Sometimes, the names tell us things we didn't want to know. Of course, if you have an ancestor named Flee Fornication Hopkins, you can empathise.

I had a great-grandfather named Robert Lee Gheorgheni. Yes, his daddy, Black John Gheorgheni, has 'CSA' on his headstone. I don't know if he was just being a diehard when he named his son, or whether he thought 'Robert Lee' sounded good and was politically tone-deaf…I never got to ask him. Fortunately, the trend did not last, and my grandfather didn't get a Reb name. The Gheorghenis moved on.

This is not nearly as bad as my friend Linda. Her son's first name is Major. As she explained it, her husband's great-grandfather wanted to name his firstborn after his commanding officer – but didn't know his first name. So 'Major' became a popular first name in this Southern family. The current Major has a great sense of humour, which is just as well.

All of which is to explain the flap over the current US Attorney General. That's our top lawyer. His name is Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. That name needs to be 'unpacked', as they say.

The 'III' means ol' Jeff is the third to bear this name. His grandfather was born in 1860, and was named after Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, and Pierre Gustav Toutant-Beauregard, a flamboyant general from Louisiana. Keeping the name down to the third generation makes it a Tradition, and possibly a statement.

Which partly explains why people laugh. Another reason may be meanness – Mr Sessions is rather short and has a deceptively impish appearance. Also, many, many people disagree with his actions in office and his expressed opinions in and out of it, which cause them to look for ways to make mock.

Nonetheless, laughing at Mr Sessions can have consequences. Not too long ago, an activist was arrested for being 'disorderly' during the Congressional confirmation hearing for Mr Sessions. It all started when she began laughing.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/04/desiree-fairooz-laughing-jeff-sessions-confirmation-hearing

There is a reason why saying 'Beauregard' in a certain tone of voice will make you laugh. I was going to give you a cartoon to explain why, but in terms of political incorrectness, it was *way* over the line. (They were insensitive 60 years ago.) However, I *can* give you a more modern take on it. This commentator has everybody's interests at heart, and tells us how to avoid jail time by assiduously *not* laughing at Mr Sessions.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IYeOCyNfdCg

Having done my bit today for historical accuracy and international understanding, I will now leave you.

smiley - dragon




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Latest reply: 13 Hours Ago

Gheorgheni's Helpful News Summaries #1

It has come to our attention at the smiley - thepost that all those other, inferior news sources are managing to make their audiences feel overwhelmed and anxious in the face of all the 'urgent' stories that aren't.

Therefore, here is a roundup of the more important news stories of the week, free of cant and/or interviews with double-talking political spokespersons. Read, draw a relaxed breath, and get on with more important things, such as weeding that flower bed or ordering the sunflower seeds.

The week's news, courtesy of the denizens of Planet Earth:

Category: Vocabulary Building

1. A Twitter user has introduced a new expression: 'treasonous illiterate kumquat.' We refuse to speculate as to the object of this new description, although some Twitter users claimed to wonder how in the world they'd lived without this expression ere now.

2. Merriam-Webster, the ever-helpful US online dictionary (not the OED, but in there pitching), reports that its most-searched word or phrase yesterday, 19 May, was...wait for it...'nut job'. (Or 'nutjob'.) Lookups of this term increased 173,750%, according to the site.

Why, you ask? Oh, that's easy. We quote:

"I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job," Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. "I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off."
—Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman, and Matthew Rosenberg, The New York Times, 19 May 2017

We have learned two things from this statistical anomaly:

a. Encouragingly, US citizens are educable - at least to the extent that if they do not know a word, they look it up.

b. Apparently self-evident expressions are apparently LESS self-evident that one might suppose.

Category: Stretching Your 'Fifteen Minutes'

Yesterday, Fox Sports reporter Emily Jones' interview with a baseball player was photo-bombed [look it up in your Merriam-Webster] by a baseball fan. The fan? George W Bush.

Category: The Awesomeness of the Dutch

Until two days ago, the world at large had no idea that King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands was a professional airline pilot. He's been flying for KLM (the 'K' stands for 'Royal') for 21 years. He didn't give up his day job to become king in 2013 - and he's now training to fly bigger jets. Story here:

http://www.metronieuws.nl/nieuws/binnenland/2017/05/buitenlandse-media-verbaasd-over-vliegende-koning

We want King Willem-Alexander to fly KLM to Dulles and make the whole US government look like a bunch of amateurs - which they are, anyway, see above.

Category: Truth in Advertising

A refreshingly honest cat adoption ad from Melbourne, Australia, has gone viral. Among other things, the lady from Cat People of Melbourne wrote, 'I have been ordered to say that Lord Bigglesworth believes he was put on this earth to be decorative and be worshipped by his human slave.'

http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/19/529135011/will-someone-please-adopt-this-utter-bastard-of-a-cat

We can always count on the kittehs to bring Earth News back to the positive side.

Keep smiling, friends, and remember to pet your cat.

smiley - dragon


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Latest reply: Last Week

The Red-Red-Green Frigid Ghost Flocks with a German Bank

I've just kidnapped a page from a 1958 scifi/science magazine. You'll have to wait for the 15 May issue of smiley - thepost to see it. Basically, though, it contained a rather rosy prediction about the future of machine translation. I suggest to the reading public that they look up http://www.spiegel.de/ and then let Google perform its translation magic. Just for a laugh. I used to work in a translation office, and we'd do this during breaks for comic relief. That was more than a decade ago, and it's still funny.

Here are some of today's titbits from Spiegel Online:

'The red-red-green frigid ghost lives' ['Schreckgespenst'? Seriously? They're talking about politics, by the way.]

'Chinese flock with HSH Nordbank' [The original title suggested the Chinese were making goo-goo eyes at the bank (liebäugeln), which is way funnier and should probably have been translated as 'flirt'.]

'Netflix series on teenage suicide - "This could be really dangerous"' [That's what it said. Just an unfortunate headline in any language. What they meant was that some people thought the tv series was dangerous in the way that it dealt with teen suicide.]

'Thriller "Sechzehneichen" - Lies, sex and globules' [Your guess is as good as mine. I haven't seen the series and do not know these brain-washing 'Globuli' of which they speak.]

'Transport Minister Dobrindt is planning a retrofit campaign for diesel cars. In this way, he wants to prevent driving bans from being imposed in indoor areas - and vehicles with self-igniters [Selbstzünder] become junk goods. ' [What Dobrindt was trying to prevent was bans in city centres. We're relieved to know they still aren't driving indoors - except maybe in the BMW museum. I always wanted to drive in there...]

You'd think it was a simple enough task, but no...they still can't do it. Take that, 1958.

smiley - dragon

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Latest reply: 3 Weeks Ago

Deconstructing the Bahamas: Fyre Festival and Its Discontents

I'm fast becoming a fan of Twitter - mostly as a reader, although there's a Post challenge coming on 8 May that's entirely due to a contact...

The instant crowd over there will tell you the 'news' before it becomes news. The tweeters also provide raw data for any number of academic papers by sociologists, psychologists, and postmodernists of every stripe.

I enjoy mentally composing the titles for these papers. Such as the one in the subject line.

Yesterday, I observed gleefully, as did so many others, the near-apocalyptic collapse of something called the Fyre Festival. In case you don't know, Fyre Festival was an elites-only rock concert, billed to be held on a private island in the Bahamas, at the utterly exclusive price of around $12,000 per ticket. It was supposed to be the ultimate luxury experience, with only the hottest groups, superior-type A-list beautiful people, something called Instamodels...you get the idea.

Forget Woodstock: this was more like Disaster Area, complete with kamikaze rocket. Only it didn't exactly happen that way.

The 'big idea' people had envisioned something beautiful: a super-festival that would make them 'legends' (their word). They've probably become legends, all right. Just not in the way they would have liked.

The big take-home message is: if you want to have a rock festival, you need to pay the artists. You need to put up tents, and rent buildings. You need to hire portable toilets. You need...oh, so many things. You need to organise the catering. (Go on Twitter for the photos of the cheese sandwiches attendees were served. Go on, you need a laugh.)

All of this work was too tedious for the 'big idea' people. They were sorely let down when the peons they hired failed to make their dreams come true - possibly because many quit when they suspected, probably correctly, that they would not be paid.

Fyre Festival turned into a disaster. You can read about it here:

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/jia-tolentino/the-fyre-festival-was-a-luxury-nightmare

But Fyre Festival was far from a disaster for Twitter. The joint was buzzing. The tweets were oh-so-instructive. By reading yesterday's Twitter feed, I have discovered something vitally important about social media.

Thoughtful observers will point out that Twitter's favourite mode is outrage. Outrage is very popular on Twitter, as evidenced by the United Airlines flap a couple of weeks ago. But I have discovered the medium's secret passion, the meme it loves even better than outrage and 'x-shaming'...

Schadenfreude. Twitter loves Schadenfreude. Fyre Festival is all about Schadenfreude.

The event has allowed literature buffs to display their erudition. Many, many references could be spotted to 'Lord of the Flies'. Fair enough: finally, all those millennials had a use for that book they had to read in school. I for one thoroughly enjoyed this JG Ballard pastiche, and I hope you will, too:

http://boingboing.net/2017/04/28/already-regretting-assigning-j.html

Personally, I don't think there IS a moral to Fyre Festival, but the resemblance of these people to clueless French aristocrats of the 1780s might yet prove me wrong...

I'm so glad Twitter brings me such insight and amusement, far from the scene of flying umbrellas and cheese-sandwich carnage.

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [2]

Latest reply: 4 Weeks Ago

Deconstructing the Bahamas: Fyre Festival and Its Discontents

I'm fast becoming a fan of Twitter - mostly as a reader, although there's a Post challenge coming on 8 May that's entirely due to a contact...

The instant crowd over there will tell you the 'news' before it becomes news. The tweeters also provide raw data for any number of academic papers by sociologists, psychologists, and postmodernists of every stripe.

I enjoy mentally composing the titles for these papers. Such as the one in the subject line.

Yesterday, I observed gleefully, as did so many others, the near-apocalyptic collapse of something called the Fyre Festival. In case you don't know, Fyre Festival was an elites-only rock concert, billed to be held on a private island in the Bahamas, at the utterly exclusive price of around $12,000 per ticket. It was supposed to be the ultimate luxury experience, with only the hottest groups, superior-type A-list beautiful people, something called Instamodels...you get the idea.

Forget Woodstock: this was more like Disaster Area, complete with kamikaze black spaceship. Only it didn't exactly happen that way.

The 'big idea' people had envisioned something beautiful: a super-festival that would make them 'legends' (their word). They've probably become legends, all right. Just not in the way they would have liked.

The big take-home message here is: if you want to have a rock festival, you need to pay the artists. You need to put up tents, and rent buildings. You need to hire portable toilets. You need...oh, so many things. You need to organise the catering. (Go on Twitter for the photos of the cheese sandwiches attendees were served. Go on, you need a laugh.)

All of this work was too tedious for the 'big idea' people. They were sorely let down when the peons they hired failed to make their dreams come true - possibly because many quit when they suspected, probably correctly, that they would not be paid.

Fyre Festival turned into a disaster. You can read about it here:

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/jia-tolentino/the-fyre-festival-was-a-luxury-nightmare

But Fyre Festival was far from a disaster for Twitter. The joint was buzzing. The tweets were oh-so-instructive. By reading yesterday's Twitter feed, I have discovered something vitally important about social media.

Thoughtful observers will point out that Twitter's favourite mode is outrage. Outrage is very popular on Twitter, as evidenced by the United Airlines flap a couple of weeks ago. But I have discovered the medium's secret passion, the meme it loves even better than outrage and 'x-shaming'...

Schadenfreude. Twitter loves Schadenfreude. Fyre Festival is all about Schadenfreude.

The event has allowed literature buffs to display their erudition. Many, many references could be spotted to 'Lord of the Flies'. Fair enough: finally, all those millennials had a use for that tedious book they had to read in school. I for one thoroughly enjoyed this JG Ballard pastiche, and I hope you will, too:

http://boingboing.net/2017/04/28/already-regretting-assigning-j.html

Personally, I don't think there IS a moral to Fyre Festival, but the resemblance of these people to clueless French aristocrats of the 1780s might yet prove me wrong...

I'm so glad Twitter brings me such insight and amusement, far from the scene of flying umbrellas and cheese-sandwich-fueled carnage.

smiley - dragon

Discuss this Journal entry [7]

Latest reply: 4 Weeks Ago


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