Archive for May, 2022

What do we want? Change!

May 31, 2022

The Mother Goose and Grimm strip for 1/29

turns on an ambiguity in the VP, which is of the form:

want/need + NP1 + in NP2

The ambiguity appears more generally, in VPs of the form:

 want/need + NP + PredicativeComplement

The ambiguity involves two different constituent structures for the VP, with concomitant differences in the argument structures, and indeed, in the semantics of the primary verbs of desire, want and need: desiring a thing — the much more common semantics, seen in Mother Goose’s assertion:

I want that dress in the window

— versus desiring a change of state (an inchoative ‘I want that dress to be in / get into the window’ or causative ‘I want that dress to be put into the window’ reading), presupposed by Grimmy’s objection:

But that dress is in the window


Into the holiday fire pit

May 30, 2022

Welcome to the holiday fire pit! For Memorial Day (this year, Monday May 30th, today) — because searing slabs of raw meat over an open fire is an obvious way to honor our war dead — and for Father’s Day (this year, coming up on Sunday June 19th) — because searing slabs of raw meat over an open fire is the obvious way to recognize a man’s ability to, as the poet put it, fuck kids up.

In past years, advertisements that came my way for the masculine meat holidays were entirely focused on  conventional grilling apparatus: from various forms of charcoal-fired grills (the simplest round portable grill / barbecues, more substantial wheeled rectangular devices), through gas-fired stoves on wheels, up to motorized spit-roasting machinery.

But in my on-line life, this seems to be the year of the fire pit, ‘a pit dug into the ground or a freestanding metal vessel, in which a contained outdoor fire is made’ (NOAD).


The pansies and the birds will speak for us

May 29, 2022

About Paul Harfleet, who’s one tough pansy. Who I learned about from Richard Vytniorgu on Twitter (posted on 5/25):


Re-reading Paul Harfleet’s beautiful picture book on bullying at school due to a boy’s gender nonconformity, by @ThePansyProject. “His modest plan to raise awareness, increased the prospect of future fairness.”

Then about The Pansy Project. And about Harfleet’s ornithological apparel project Birds Can Fly. Earnest, passionate, humane, fiercely resolute, and delightful, all at once. But first, two p.r. photos for Birds Can Fly, showing Harfleet’s admirable presentation of himself as a proudly tough but whimsical pansy —  ‘(offensive) an effeminate or gay man’  (as NOAD has it).


Ark of Triumph

May 28, 2022

Today’s morning name (from who knows where): the word-playful Ark [vs. the usual Arch] of Triumph. In French, somewhat confusingly Arche [vs. the usual Arc] de Triomphe.

The Ark (that is, Noah’s Ark), Arche de Noé + the Arch of Triumph (that is, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris).

Wherever it came from, Ark of Triumph led me to the wonderfully playful artist Rodney Alan Greenblat, some of whose work it turns out I was familiar with (without knowing he was the artist), but whose 1984 work Ark of Triumph I’m pretty sure I’d never even heard about before, much less seen.


Woolly mammoths in Birkenstocks

May 27, 2022

Knowing that the woolly mammoth is my primary totem animal, Anneli Meyer Korn has pointed me to this little slice of the University District in Seattle:

(#1) The Woolly Mammoth shoe store, 4303 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105: “Comfortable, high quality, good-looking shoes and excellent customer service”

And from Wikipedia, on the excellent qualities of Mammuthus primigenius, the original woolly mammoth:

The woolly mammoth coexisted with early humans, who used its bones and tusks for making art, tools, and dwellings, and hunted the species for food.

M. primigenius provided humans with comfort, offering up its huge bones  to form into shelter, and beauty, in ivory carvings. Plus useful tools and life-sustaining meat. The Woolly Mammoth store’s shoes provide comfort and good looks, but can they be used as needles or stave off hunger? I thought not.

Still, those are damn fine shoes. Especially the Birkenstocks:


Faces and phalluses

May 26, 2022

(The title is an indictor of what’s to come. No visible phalluses, but plenty of references to them, in plain speech, so not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

Brief musings on this morning’s ad from the Gay Empire company, with a sale on their DVDs:


The Threat Illusion

May 26, 2022

More from the annals of selective attention and confirmation bias, now in the journal Psychological Science.

The umbrella phenomenon is the Frequency Illusion: if your attention is drawn to some phenomenon, it’s likely to appear to you to be very frequent, all around you. Then in the special case of the Out-Group Illusion, in which your attention is drawn to a phenomenon associated with a group you don’t belong to (which then appears to you to be characteristic of that group and especially frequent there). Now in the even more special case of what I’ll call the Threat Illusion, in which your attention is keenly drawn to a phenomenon associated with an out-group you perceive as being threatening to you (which then appears to be not only characteristic of that group but extraordinarily frequent there).

A Frequency Illusion cartoon (under the more colorful label of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, a name based on one example of the effect, the sudden omnipresence of the Baader-Meinhof Gang’s name):


The Stanford Dragfest

May 25, 2022

From the Stanford Events Calendar for 5/20: at 7 p.m. on Wilbur Field:

(#1) The poster

The announcement:


How did you come to be this way?

May 24, 2022

(A few references to man-on-man sexual acts, which I have, contrary to my usual practice, reworded with technical terminology, rather than plain street talk, so as not to contaminate this whole posting for some readers. But the references remain.)

Today’s Zippy strip:

(#1) Ah, the peri-natal trauma: the film podfolk have robbed Lippy of the ability to experience pleasure

But as Bill Griffith fully realizes, it’s a pressing question: how do we come to be the way we are? Framing the answer in this preposterous fashion only points up the complexity and mystery of the question. And how it nags at us: could I have been otherwise?


Two more Bizarro balloons

May 23, 2022

The speech balloon as physical object, in a continuing series of Wayno / Piraro Bizarro cartoons on the theme. Previously on this blog, my 5/18/22 posting “Orienting your speech (balloon)”, in which speech balloons have front sides and back sides. And now the 5/19 cartoon, in which you can record what’s in a balloon by plugging into it. And the 5/21 cartoon, in which the speaker’s laryngitis manifests itself as an empty balloon; it’s the balloon that’s afflicted.