Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

You’re done

November 25, 2015

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm (Thanksgiving edition):


So this turkey comes into a bar…

And sits down next to the Boston terrier Ralph, who cuts off the turkey’s drinks, announcing to him that he’s done (finished drinking). — because. pointing to the pop-up timer in his breast, he’s done (cooked thoroughly).


Four from the New Yorker

November 19, 2015

In the November 16th New Yorker, four cartoons that made me consider, once again, what you need to know to understand what’s going on in a cartoon and what you need to know to understand why the cartoon is funny. Two cartoons by artists who have appeared on the blog before (Harry Bliss, Shannon Wheeler) and two by newcomers to this blog (Kaamran Hafeez and Tom Chitty). The cartoons:






How can we help, caller?

November 18, 2015

Today’s Bizarro, with a hotline for the threatened:

(If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Don Piraro says there are 3 in this strip — see this Page.)

Advice hotlines are a specialized form of conversation by telephone. The callers seek advice about something that is troubling them (sometimes desperately so), and the staffers try to guide the callers towards useful responses to their situation.

Of course, the idea of dinosaurs using telephones is wonderfully absurd.


Fischli & Weiss

November 18, 2015

In the front section of the November 16th New Yorker, under the heading “Winter Preview” (by Andrea Scott):

Conceptualism takes a comic turn at the Guggenheim with “Peter Fischli David Weiss: How to Work Better,” a career survey of the two Swiss artists, who met in Zurich in 1977 and collaborated until Weiss’s death, in 2012. Their first project was a series of irreverent photographs, featuring gherkins and sausages as dramatis personae; their most famous is the live-action film “The Way Things Go,” a spectacular chain reaction of unspectacular objects. For more than three decades, Fischli and Weiss uncovered hilarity, and pathos and mystery, in the workaday world. Don’t miss “Suddenly This Overview,” an installation of scores of small, unfired-clay sculptures whose subjects range from the Biblical to the cultural to the banal: the parting of the Red Sea, Mick Jagger and Brian Jones feeling satisfied after writing “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” a wedge of cheese. (Opens Feb. 5.)


At the Carpet Shop from the 1979 sausage series


The news for penises: omnibus edition

November 18, 2015

On AZBlogX, a series of five postings with penises as the unifying theme. All five are highly X-rated, not for the kiddies or the sexually modest.

11/17/15: Cockfest #1: the basic offer (link): offer of an erect penis to suck

11/17/15: Cockfest #2: jacking off together (link): two men jacking off together: competition or collaboration or both?; sickling or winging the foot in ballet

11/17/15: Cockfest #3: Josman boy on boy (link): two cartoons by gay cartoonist Josman, showing boy-on-boy action

11/17/15: Cockfest #4: penis-to-penis (link): on a still from the gay porn flick Splash (naked men kissing and sharing their erections)

11/17/15: Cockfest #5: cum guzzling (link): on the gay porn flick The Cum Guzzler Club, with comments on cum play


November 17, 2015

An entertaining photo that’s been floating around the Internet for some time:


In speech, the intended parsing

(1) [ Alaskan cod ] [ pieces ]

is indistinguishable from the humorous parsing

(2) { Alaskan ] [ codpieces ]

In writing, the conventional spelling distinguishes the two and enforces parsing (1). But if you’re not aware of the item of apparel the codpiece (more on that to come), or if the possibility of an ambiguity hadn’t occurred to you, you might be tempted to the spelling codpieces instead of cod pieces.


Novelty ties

November 17, 2015

On the penguin watch.

On the front page of yesterday’s NYT, a color-splash of an ad for Salvatore Ferragamo ties, one of which clearly had litte penguins on it. Ferragamo novelty ties, 100% silk, selling for $190 each (fashion doesn’t come cheap) from Ferragamo, somewhat less at fine men’s clothing stores. The fish and penguin tie, in a thumbnail:



Le mot juste

November 4, 2015

In the NYT Book Review on the 1st, Charles Finch on “‘Career of Evil,’ by J.K. Rowling Writing as Robert Galbraith”, where we find this:

What Rowling writes these days, under the pen name Robert Galbraith, are crime novels: the closest equivalent adults have to the apotropaic formula of childhood literature, parading the unimaginable in front of us and then solving it, stabilizing it.

Whoa, apotropaic! Now that’s an obscure word. Either Finch has in fact glossed it with “parading the unimaginable in front of us and then solving it, stabilizing it” (in which case, demonstrating that he knows le mot juste is just showing off) or he’s amplifying on le mot juste in full awareness that scarcely a single one of his readers will know what the word means, which is just maddening.

Either way, an infuriating Buckleyism.


Define slavery

July 14, 2015

Today’s Dilbert has our office hero confronting the CEO:

So you buy people and make them work without pay. How can you “spin” that as anything but slavery? Politicians manage to achieve similar feats of denial every day.

Maybe the CEO is going to maintain that the two acts (buying people on the Internet and making people work without pay) simply have nothing to do with one another: the first is just a purchase, a commercial transaction, and the second is just an unpaid internship; it’s an accident that the same set of people are involved.

What a difference 30 years makes: take 2

May 31, 2015

A paper given at Stanford on the 29th: “Pronouncing the Z’s: Epenthesis in English plural possessives” by Simon Todd (a Ph.D. student in linguistics). The beginning of the abstract:

The interaction between the English regular plural affix (PL) and possessive clitic (POSS) presents a theoretical puzzle (Zwicky, 1975). Both have the form /z/, and so the OCP [AZ: Obligatory Contour Principle] (Yip, 1998) predicts their combination (PL+POSS) should trigger epenthesis. Yet, in cases like my friends’ /fɹenz/ car, only PL is overtly realized. Why does the OCP fail to apply?

Two previous theories address this non-application of the OCP in PL+POSS constructions. The POSS-suppression theory (Stemberger, 1981; Zwicky, 1987) claims that POSS essentially inspects the morphological composition of its host and is actively suppressed by adjacent PL /z/, without exception. The alternative POSS-allomorphy theory (Bernstein & Tortora, 2005; Nevins, 2011) claims that POSS has a phonologically null allomorph, which is chosen when the possessor has the plural feature. Either POSS allomorph may be chosen for a singular possessor with embedded PL; thus, contra the suppression theory, epenthesis may be triggered in cases like the son of my friends’s /fɹenz ~ fɹenzəz/ car.

(Some of this is seriously technical, but try to get the drift.)

The crucial paper of mine comes from about 30 years ago, and the question can now be examined with tools that weren’t available then.



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