Archive for September, 2013

Two from The Week

September 23, 2013

Two recent items from the magazine The Week: Neal Whitman on libfixes, James Harbeck on apostrophes. Both with humor.

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Captain Underpants

September 23, 2013

Today begins Banned Book Week. From today’s Washington Times: “Banned Book Week opens with ‘Captain Underpants’ under fire” by Cheryl K. Chumley:

Banned Book Week has arrived — and librarians around the nation are asking readers to consult the list and make a selection.

It’s a quiet protest that the American Library Association has waged since 1982, an annual event to draw attention to the more than 11,300 books that have been challenged or outright banned and highlight First Amendment freedoms and oft-ridiculous literary criticisms.

And heading the list of most-challenged on the 2012 top 10 list: “Captain Underpants,” by Dav Pilkey — the entire series. Why? The language and content is seen by many as unsuitable for the targeted age group, the younger than 12 crowd.

Also on the 2012 list of top 10 banned or challenged books: “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie, for offensive language, sexually explicit scenes and racism, The Washington Post reported; “Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher, for content that includes drugs, sex, alcohol and suicide; and “Fifty Shades of Grey,” by E.L. James, for offensive language and sexually explicit content.

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Job description

September 23, 2013

Yesterday’s Dilbert:

The pointy-headed boss clearly has no clue about what Dilbert is talking about (which is an actual issue in programming), and Dilbert responds with an (implicit) blunt criticism of managers who don’t understand what the people they manage do.

Two stories

September 22, 2013

From the NYT on the 19th: fairies and Ganesh(a).

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Miscellany for 9/19/13

September 19, 2013

Twelve items that have come by me recently.

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AZBlogX: rear view, full frontal, harnesses

September 18, 2013

Over on AZBlogX this morning, three postings: two with images sent to me by Chris Ambidge (seven celebrating male butts, in a variety of settings, in “Rear views”; and four celebrating penises, in “Full frontal”), plus one posting on “Harnesses”, inspired by an image of a leather hunk in a cross harness in “Rear views”.

The images in “Rear views” aren’t X-rated, but they’re of no particular linguistic interest. The images in “Full frontal” are, of course, all X-rated. Only one of the images in “Harnesses” is X-rated, but the posting is drenched in sexual content. On the other hand, there’s some discussion of “flagging” one’s sexual interests (communicating these in public) by choice of clothing.

Why on Earth?

September 17, 2013

The title of a letter in the October Harper’s Magazine from Howard Passell (of the Earth Systems Analysis Department, Sandia National Laboratories
, Albuquerque NM):

Harper’s Magazine is one of the most progressive periodicals being published, yet it lingers in the dark ages when it comes to referring to the planet on which we live. In “Emptying the World’s Aquarium” [Letter from the Sea of Cortez, August], Erik Vance writes that “there is no better place on earth to look at the future of global fishing” than the Gulf of California. This is a story about what’s in the water, not in the soil, so the word “earth” is obviously incorrect. Referring to Earth as “earth” is a vestige of the Judeo-Christian legacy. You can’t have dominion over our planet or pillage it quite so easily if linguistically you put it on the same level as all the sacred words we capitalize. Please change your style. This is an egregious philosophical error in an otherwise excellent story on the decline of our Earth.

Yes, it’s a rant about capitalization. And it presumes that earth (so spelled) can have only one meaning (‘land’, as opposed to sea and sky) — this despite the fact that every dictionary and style sheet I’ve looked at treats the word as ambiguous between this ‘land’ sense and reference to our planet.

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Indian pipes

September 17, 2013

My posting on Aristolochia, a genus that includes plants commonly known as Dutchman’s pipe and pipevine, reminded me of another pipe plant, the bizarre Indian pipe:

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Sexual -zillas

September 17, 2013

Scrolled past in the avalanche of spam this morning, a penis enlargement ad that promised to give me Cockzilla. Surprisingly, I hadn’t noticed this use of the libfix -zilla (from Godzilla) before — but it’s all over porn, straight and gay. And it’s spawned Blackzilla and Whitezilla, in which the cock is silent (but understood).

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Joe Boys

September 16, 2013

(Not about language.)

In my postcard queue yesterday, one by illustrator Joe Phillips:

Joe Phillips (born February 13, 1969) is an American artist, known for his mainstream comic book art and for his work depicting his views of gay life. He currently lives in San Diego, California. (Wikipedia link)

Phillips is the creator of the Joe Boy — young, fit, hung, playful, celebratorily gay, and highy sexed. Often found on California beaches, very often in groups of guys, just hangin’ out or horsin’ around.

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