Archive for April, 2017

Annals of interruption

April 30, 2017

Some well-known phenomena: ceteris paribus, in conversations between men and women, (a) men speak significantly more than women, and (b) men interrupt women significantly more than vice versa. The effects carry over (not surprisingly) to argument between justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, and there they are augmented by another effect, that conservatives interrupt liberals significantly more often than vice versa. (These results from a study now in press for the Virginia Law Review.)

These effects can be seen as instances of a larger phenomenon: a tendency of those who are, or believe themselves to be, more dominant in an interaction to feel free to impose themselves on their partners and a corresponding tendency of those who are, or believe themselves to be, less dominant in an interaction to avoid imposing themselves on their partners.

The story came to me in the NYT on the 18th, in a piece by Adam Liptak. Well, in print in the national edition on the 18th, under the title “Let Me Finish, Please: Conservative Men Dominate the Debate’ — and on-line on the 17th, under the title “Why Gorsuch May Not Be So Genteel on the Bench”:

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The Gay Sisters

April 30, 2017

The title of a 1942 movie, which I came across by accident a while back:

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(That would be gay ‘light-hearted’, as in Our Hearts Were Young and Gay and The Gay Divorcee. Then there’s gay ‘showy’, as in the flower name gayfeather for Liatris spicata, or blazing star. One or the other of these lies behind the folk etymology in the surname (and then personal name) Gaylord < OFr. Gaillard, which is relevant to the movie. No queers for some years, at least in the general culture.)

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Margalit Fox, Bruce Weber, and more

April 30, 2017

The immediate impetus for this posting is a “Fresh Air” piece on NPR on the 27th, “For ‘New York Times’ Obit Writers, ‘Death Is Never Solicitous Of A Deadline'”, in which NYT writers Margalit Fox and Bruce Weber were interviewed in connection with the appearance of the documentary Obit (released on 4/15/16) in theaters:

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Bruce Weber and Margalit Fox have written obituaries for thousands of people, ranging from heads of state to the inventor of the Etch-a-Sketch. They are featured in the new documentary Obit.

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Word by Word

April 30, 2017

The title of a new book by Kory Stamper, subtitled The Secret Life of Dictionaties:

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About how dictionaries are made and the people who make them, and about English words.

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Camembert Day

April 29, 2017

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Yesterday’s Google Doodle — big hat tip to Benita Bendon Campbell — honored the legendary inventor of Camembert cheese, Marie Harel. From the Google site:

Marie Harel’s 256th Birthday: If not for Marie Harel, born April 28, 1761, brie might have no gooey counterpart. Harel, who’s credited with creating the first camembert in 1791, is said to have encountered a cheese whisperer at the Normandy manor where she worked as a dairymaid. According to legend, a priest (purportedly from the region of Brie) took shelter at Beaumoncel near Vimoutiers during the French Revolution, and he shared his secret for making the now-famous soft-centered cheese. Harel added her own signature, packaging the cheese in its iconic wooden boxes.

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Ruthie in the sky with O’Ryan

April 29, 2017

Just a few days ago I was wondering how Calvin Trillin was doing — he’s in my age cohort, five years older than me, so I have a certain fellow feeling — and then Andy Sleeper pointed me to a Shouts and Murmurs piece of his in the most recent (May 1st) New Yorker: “The Irish Constellation: Until about five years ago, I was under the impression that Orion was spelled O’Ryan”. Andy was reminded of Ruthie from One Big Happy, who does her best to turn the unfamiliar into something she recognizes.

But good to see Trillin doing what he does so well.

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Appeal to base instinct

April 29, 2017

The Daily Jocks ad from the 25th, with an appeal to base, or low, instincts (of taking pleasure in viewing the male body); to the basic, or fundamental, instinct of sexual appetite; and ultimately to an appreciation of the fundamental, or basilar, that is, gluteal:

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On the lexical items involved — among them, the moral adjective base, the adjective basic, the noun fundament, and the adjective basilar — see my discussion in the earlier posting today “base(ly)”. Here, I’m slipping back and forth between locational understandings of these expressions, moral understandings, and anatomical understandings.

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base(ly)

April 29, 2017

On the moral adjective base (and its derived adverbial basely), with a note on its occurrence in Sacred Harp music (in Leander 71 and Confidence 270), setting up the, um, basis for a future posting on interpreting a Daily Jocks underwear ad with double meaning (moral and anatomical).

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Faces follow-up 2: Augusta Savage

April 28, 2017

Following up on my “Faces” posting earlier today (on the Rose Gangloff Curates Portraiture exhibition at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center), while I pursue three queries on paintings in the show: a progress report on the painting

Gwendolyn Knight Lawrence, Augusta Savage, 1967

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From Wikipedia:

Gwendolyn Clarine Knight (May 26, 1913 – February 18, 2005) was an American artist who was born in Bridgetown, Barbados in the West Indies.

Knight painted throughout her life but did not start seriously exhibiting her work until the 1970s [when she was in her 60s]. Her first retrospective was put on when she was nearly 80 years old, “Never Late for Heaven: The Art of Gwen Knight,” at the Tacoma Art Museum in 2003. Her teachers in the arts included the sculptor Augusta Savage (who obtained support for her from the Works Progress Administration) and Jacob Lawrence, whom she married in 1941 and remained married to until his death in 2000 [nearly 60 years].

A fascinating life story, especially in how it intersects with the stories of the subject of #1, her teacher, mentor, and friend, the sculptor Augusta Savage; and of her husband, the painter Jacob Lawrence, who was the subject of a posting on this blog on 3/30/15.

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Faces follow-up 1: Master Beckford

April 28, 2017

Following up on my “Faces” posting earlier today (on the Rose Gangloff Curates Portraiture exhibition at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center), while I pursue three queries on paintings in the show: a progress report on the painting

Benjamin West, “Pinkie” (Master Beckford), c. 1797-99

A photo of the painting, courtesy of the Cantor staff:

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I was especially taken by the painting because of its formal composition (the lines of organization established by the boy’s gaze, the alignment of his body, and the placement of the two dogs), the voluptuousness of the fabrics in contrast to the rough background, and the apparent allusion to Thomas Lawrence’s 1794 portrait of Sarah Barrett Moulton, known familiarly as “Pinkie” and now invariably paired with Thomas Gainsborough’s 1779 portrait The Blue Boy (but maybe its customary name just alludes to the pink color of the boy’s clothes).

The puzzle is the historical background of the painting. William T. Beckford was one of West’s main patrons (King George III was the other major one), and he was a fabulous eccentric on several fronts, one being that he was a nut about family. He commissioned several portraits of his ancestors from West, but I’ve found no mention of this one, which might be an imagined portrait of Beckford himself as a boy. (Beckford had two daughters but no sons, so the obvious interpretation is out of the question.)

So: down the West / Beckford / Gainsborough rabbit-hole, which will take us to Swarthmore College, the Huntington Library in San Marino CA, architectural follies, same-sex sexual shenanigans in the late 18th century (anticipating Oscar Wilde and Bosie by a hundred years), early Gothic novels and the fashion for the picturesque and grotesque (anticipating Bram Stoker’s Dracula by a hundred years, but Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by only a bit), modern gay porn magazines, and more.

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