Chamblee54

Fat Or Racist

Posted in Library of Congress, Race, The English Language, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on April 23, 2021


@jimchines Could we just stop with the use of “fat” as an insult already? You’re trying to hit the person you’re insulting, but you’re hurting a lot of other people in the process. Grow the hell up. @jimchines Yeah, Shakespeare also made his share of fat jokes/insults too, unfortunately. Do better. Get creative, and scrub that particular tired, lazy insult from your repertoire.

@chamblee54 What about the use of anything as an insult. I would start with racist.

@jimchines Racism is something we can choose to support, or we can choose to push back against. Too many people simply choose to ignore it. Which means accepting it. Don’t want to be described as racist? Stop doing/supporting/accepting racist shit. Seems simple enough to me. @jimchines Usually when I see people saying “racist” is an insult, all they’re trying to do is shut down criticism and silence conversation about race and racism. It’s tiresome.

@chamblee54 “Don’t want to be described as racist? Stop doing/supporting/accepting racist shit.” That is a lie. Even if you do quit being racist, how will your haters know? That lie is used to justify prejudice. Out of respect for our mental health, this thread should end now.

@jimchines Consider it ended. But in the future, perhaps don’t stir up conversations you’re unable or unwilling to have.

@chamblee54 Point taken. That was not my intention, however. Unfortunately, that is how it turned out. Fat compares to racist, in the third party conception that it is something the insultee has control over. In the case of fat, the change is measurable and apparent.

As twitterspats go, this was mercifully brief. One could go on about the relative merits of using fat, or racist, as weapons of verbal destruction. Both epithets usually have elements of bullying, and hypocrisy, in their use. Many language custodians, who would be appalled by fat, feel virtuous in calling someone racist. It would be better to retire both insults. That probably is not going to happen.

What makes this episode noteworthy is the connection between @jimchines and @chamblee54. There is a third party, who we will call @duh. This is not his name, but does incorporate his initials.

@chamblee54 and @duh quit communicating in 2008, after quarreling at @duh’s LiveJournal. @chamblee54 developed a distaste for online combat, and has tried, with varying degrees of success, to stay out of trouble. @duh, otoh, seems to glory in digital feuds. If a person goes to his facebook feed, they will see many examples of this.

One of these disputes included @jimchines. If you have a lot of free time, you can read about it. (one two three four) The beginning, and end, of one @jimchines post says a great deal. “Well, this has been quite the week. … My thanks to everyone for their patience while I worked through this.”

What makes yesterday’s episode ironic is that @duh is an aggressive pro-black pundit. He will call someone RACIST at the slightest provocation. To see the target of white-shaming defend the use of racist is quite the spectacle.

FWIW, @chamblee54, who sports an old man”s pot-belly, has only seen face pictures of @jimchines. @duh is flamboyantly skinny. @chamblee54 has never met either gentleman irl. Judgements about waistlines, or racial attitudes, are not appropriate.

While finishing this post, a tweet turned up. @melaninbarbie “Ma’Khia Bryant being fat matters. The violence that young fat Black girls experience contributed to her death and if you don’t understand why, y’all need to start cracking open some fucking books on fatphobia.” Pictures are from The Library of Congress. The men are Union soldiers, from the War Between the States.

Eleanor Roosevelt Liberal

Posted in Library of Congress, The English Language, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on April 15, 2021


Eleanor Roosevelt has become the focus of a facebook meme. A flattering portrait illustrates a quote about “liberal.” Here is the text: “Long ago, there was a noble word, liberal, which derives from the word free. Now a strange thing happened to that word. A man named Hitler made it a term of abuse, a matter of suspicion, because those who were not with him were against him, and liberals had no use for Hitler. And then another man named McCarthy cast the same opprobrium on the word … We must cherish and honor the word free or it will cease to apply to us.”

“Did Eleanor Roosevelt Say This About the Word ‘Liberal’?” Apparently, she did. The text appears in Tomorrow Is Now. The book is the last word of Mrs. Roosevelt, who died November 7, 1962. Tomorrow Is Now was published in 1963.

The l-word has had a wild time in the last 58 years. In the sixties, it essentially meant someone who supported civil rights. Liberal came to be a favored insult of many conservatives, a role that continues to this day. As with many english words, liberal continues to evolve. Today a popular phrase is “classical liberal,” which means something to people who say it. It is safe to assume that Mrs. Roosevelt had a different concept of what liberal means, than many people today.

Merriam-Webster has several definitions for liberal, some of which are not related to political ideology. The etymology: “Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin liberalis suitable for a freeman, generous, from liber free; perhaps akin to Old English lēodan to grow, Greek eleutheros free.” This compares to the etymology for liberty: “Middle English, from Anglo-French liberté, from Latin libertat-, libertas, from liber free — more at liberal.” As for Mrs. Roosevelt’s claim that liberal is the same as free … she appears to be taking *liberties* in her use of language.

A red flag is dragging Adolph Hitler into the quarrel. Hitler comparisons are an easy gimmick for cheap rhetoric. Mr. Hitler spoke in German. Der Liberale probably has different implications than the American term liberal. A google search for “did Hitler say liberal” did not yield helpful results.

Wikiquotes did have 2 direct quotes of Hitler using the l-word. “… We might have called ourselves the Liberal Party. We chose to call ourselves the National Socialists. … ” Interview with George Sylvester Viereck, 1923 … “The main plank in the National Socialist program is to abolish the liberalistic concept of the individual and the Marxist concept of humanity and to substitute therefore the folk community.” Speech in the German Reichstag (January 30, 1937). Neither of these quotes is the type of Republican rhetoric so familiar to modern Americans.

Citing Joe McCarthy is ironic in 2021 America. Today, one danger to freedom is social justice jihad. An insistence on ideological purity is ever present in the “woke” landscape. Radical anti-racism is plausibly considered to be the new McCarthyism. A “classical liberal” is open to a discussion of ideas, rather that condemning people for having incorrect opinions. One wonders if Eleanor Roosevelt would be considered liberal today.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress. The men pictured are Confederate soldiers, from The War Between the States.

Hawaiian Good Luck Sign

Posted in GSU photo archive, The English Language, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on April 3, 2021

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Dear Grand-daughter, The other day I went up to our local Christian book store and saw a ‘Honk if you love Jesus’ bumper sticker . I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance, followed by a thunderous prayer meeting.

So, I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper. Boy, am I glad I did; what an uplifting experience that followed. I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good he is, and I didn’t notice that the light had changed. It is a good thing someone else loves Jesus because if he hadn’t honked, I’d never have noticed. I found that lots of people love Jesus!

While I was sitting there, the guy behind started honking like crazy, and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, ‘For the love of God!’ ‘Go! Go! Go! Jesus Christ, GO!’ What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus! Everyone started honking! I just leaned out my window and started waving and smiling at all those loving people. I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love!

There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a sunny beach. I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air. I asked my young teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant. He said it was probably a Hawaiian good luck sign or something. Well, I have never met anyone from Hawaii , so I leaned out the window and gave him the good luck sign right back. My grandson burst out laughing. Why even he was enjoying this religious experience!! Praise the Lord!!!

A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment that they got out of their cars and started walking towards me. I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed. So, grinning, I waved at all my brothers and sisters, and drove on through the intersection. I noticed that I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again and felt kind of sad that I had to leave them after all the love we had shared.

So I slowed the car down, leaned out the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good luck sign one last time as I drove away. Praise the Lord for such wonderful folks!! Will write again soon, Love, Grandma. This repost is written like J. D. Salinger. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”.

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Who Invented The Word Racism? Part Two

Posted in History, Library of Congress, Politics, Race, The English Language by chamblee54 on March 11, 2021


Last week this blog ran a story about the word racism. The story stated that the earliest use of the r-word was 1932. A comment led to The Ugly, Fascinating History Of The Word ‘Racism.’ Apparently, Col. Richard Henry Pratt used the word in 1902.

“The Oxford English Dictionary’s first recorded utterance of the word racism was by a man named Richard Henry Pratt in 1902. “Segregating any class or race of people apart from the rest of the people kills the progress of the segregated people or makes their growth very slow. Association of races and classes is necessary to destroy racism and classism.” Col. Pratt was speaking at the Lake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the American Indian.

It is always good to check out the context. Col. Pratt spoke at the Fourth session, Thursday Night, October 23, 1902. The event was well documented. There are some other noteworthy quotes.

“We have brought into our national life nearly forty times as many negroes as there are Indians in the United States. They are not all together citizen and equal yet, but they are with us and of us; distributed among us, coming in contact with us constantly, they have lost their many languages and their old life, and have accepted our language and our life and become a valuable part of our industrial forces.” The text capitalizes Indian, and presents Negro in lower case.

“It is the greatest possible wrong to prolong their Indianism, whether we do it for humanitarian or so-called scientific reasons. … The ethnologists prefer the Indian kept in his original paint and feathers, and as part and parcel of every exposition on that line. … It will be a happy day for the Indians when their ethnological value is of no greater importance than that of the negro and other races which go to make up our population.”

Col. Pratt “is best known as the founder and longtime superintendent of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School at Carlisle, PA.” While progressive for the times, many of the school’s policies were harsh.

“He pushed for the total erasure of Native cultures among his students. … The students’ native tongues were strictly forbidden — a rule that was enforced through beating. Since they were rounded up from different tribes, the only way they could communicate with each other at the schools was in English. … “In Indian civilization I am a Baptist,” Pratt once told a convention of Baptist ministers, “because I believe in immersing the Indians in our civilization and when we get them under, holding them there until they are thoroughly soaked.” … Pratt also saw to it that his charges were Christianized. Carlisle students had to attend church each Sunday, although he allowed each student to choose the denomination to which she would belong.” Carlisle closed in 1918.

“In 1875, Captain Richard Pratt escorted 72 Indian warriors suspected of murdering white settlers to Fort Marion in St. Augustine, FL. Once there, Pratt began an ambitious experiment which involved teaching the Indians to read and write English, putting them in uniforms and drilling them like soldiers. … News of Pratt’s experiment spread. With the blessing of Congress, Pratt expanded his program by establishing the Carlisle School for Indian Students to continue his “civilizing” mission. Although liberal policy for the times, Pratt’s school was a form of cultural genocide. The schools continued into the ’30s until administrators saw that the promised opportunities for Indian students would not materialize, theat they would not become “imitation white men.”

“Beginning in 1887, the federal government attempted to “Americanize” Native Americans, largely through the education of Native youth. By 1900 thousands of Native Americans were studying at almost 150 boarding schools around the United States. The U.S. Training and Industrial School, founded in 1879 at Carlisle Barracks, was the model for most of these schools. Boarding schools like Carlisle provided vocational and manual training and sought to systematically strip away tribal culture. They insisted that students drop their Indian names, forbade the speaking of native languages, and cut off their long hair.” As Col. Pratt said at the LMCFAI, “I also endorse the Commissioner’s short hair order. It is good because it disturbs old savage conditions.”

Col. Pratt was known for saying “Kill the Indian, and Save the Man” He probably meant that you should destroy the native culture, so the man inside could flourish. It is easy to misunderstand this type of rhetoric. The source of this phrase: “Official Report of the Nineteenth Annual Conference of Charities and Correction (1892), 46–59. Reprinted in Richard H. Pratt, “The Advantages of Mingling Indians with Whites,” Americanizing the American Indians: Writings by the “Friends of the Indian” 1880–1900 (Harvard University Press, 1973), 260–271.” There are some tasteful quotes.

“Inscrutable are the ways of Providence. Horrible as were the experiences of its introduction, and of slavery itself, there was concealed in them the greatest blessing that ever came to the Negro race—seven millions of blacks from cannibalism in darkest Africa to citizenship in free and enlightened America; not full, not complete citizenship, but possible—probable—citizenship.” Col. Pratt used African Americans as an example of how to assimilate Native Americans.

“The five civilized tribes of the Indian Territory—Cherokees, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles—have had tribal schools until it is asserted that they are civilized; yet they have no notion of joining us and becoming a part of the United States. Their whole disposition is to prey upon and hatch up claims against the government, and have the same lands purchased and repurchased and purchased again, to meet the recurring wants growing out of their neglect and inability to make use of their large and rich estate.”

The best known student at the Carlisle School was Jim Thorpe, coached by Pop Warner. Wa-thohuck was born May 28, 1888, near Prague OK, into the Sauk and Fox Nation. He won gold medals in the pentathlon, and decathlon, at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Sweden. It later came out that he had been paid to play semi-pro baseball, and was not an amateur. The gold medals had to be forfeited. Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

Who Invented The Word Racism?

Posted in Library of Congress, Race, The English Language by chamblee54 on March 4, 2021


Writers tackle was rampaging through Brookhaven. PG looked in a list of old product, and found a feature built on the output of Teju Cole. He has a dandy article, at the New Yorker, about what is antiseptically called drone warfare. It is the twitter feed that gets attention. This is a repost.

@tejucole George Carlin’s original seven dirty words can all be said freely now. The one word you can’t say, and must never print, is “racist.”

The quote marks lend mystery to the tweet. Does he mean the dreaded “n word”? Or does he mean that other six letter slur? There is no shortage of people screaming racist in Georgia, often at the slightest provocation. There is an attitude that racism is the worst thing you can be accused of. Once accused, you are guilty until proven innocent. If you do a bit of research into racism, the word, you will see some interesting things.

The concept of populations not getting along is as old as mankind. The word racism apparently did not exist before 1933 (merriam webster), or 1936 (dictionary dot com). (In 2020, both of these sources have updated their notes, on the original use of the word “racism.”)

Something called the Vanguard News Network had a forum once, What is the true origin of the term racism? This forum is problematic, as VNN seems to be a white supremacist affair. One of the reputed coiners of the R word was Leon Trotsky, also referred to as Jew Communist. Another Non English speaker who is given “credit” for originating the phrase is Magnus Hirschfeld. As for English, the word here is: “American author Lawrence Dennis was the first to use the word, in English, in his 1936 book “The coming American fascism”.”

The terms racist and racism seem to be used interchangeably in these discussions. This is in keeping with the modern discussion. As Jesus worshipers like to say, hate the sin, love the sinner.

The Online Etymology Dictionary has this to add: “racist 1932 as a noun, 1938 as an adjective, from race (n.2); racism is first attested 1936 (from French racisme, 1935), originally in the context of Nazi theories. But they replaced earlier words, racialism (1871) and racialist (1917), both often used early 20c. in a British or South African context. In the U.S., race hatred, race prejudice had been used, and, especially in 19c. political contexts, negrophobia.”

Pictures are from The Library of Congress. Part two is now available.

Flannery O’Connor

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, History, The English Language by chamblee54 on December 18, 2020

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With one day before it was due, PG finished reading Flannery: A Life of Flannery O’Connor , by Brad Gooch. The author is a professor of English at William Patterson University in New Jersey. He spares no citations. You can see where he gets his information. This is a repost.

Chamblee54 has written before about Miss O’Connor , and repeated the post a year later. There is a radio broadcast of a Flannery O’Connor lecture. (The Georgia accent of Miss O’Connor is much commented on in the book. To PG, it is just another lady speaking.)

Mary Flannery O’Connor was born March 25, 1925 in Savannah GA. The local legend is that she was conceived in the shadow of St. John the Baptist Cathedral, a massive facility on Lafayette Square. Her family did leave nearby, and her first school was just a few steps away. This is also a metaphor for the role of the Catholic Church in her life. Mary Flannery was intensely Catholic, and immersed in the scholarship of the church. This learning was a large part of her life. How she got from daily mass, to writing stories about Southern Grotesque, is one mystery at the heart of Flannery O’Connor.

Ed O’Connor doted on his daughter, but had to take a job in Atlanta to earn a living. His wife Regina and daughter Mary Flannery moved with him, to a house behind Christ The King Cathedral. Mr. O’Connor’s health was already fading, and Mother and Daughter moved in with family in Milledgeville. Ed O’Connor died, of Lupus Erythematosus, on February 1, 1941.

Mary Flannery went to college in Milledgeville, and on to the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She dealt with cold weather, went to Mass every day, and wrote. She was invited to live at an artists colony called Yaddo, in upstate New York. She lived for a while with Robert and Sally Fitzgerald in Connecticut, all while working on her first novel, “Wise Blood”. In 1950, she was going home to Milledgeville for Christmas, and had been feeling poorly. She went to the hometown doctor, who thought at first that the problem was rheumatoid arthritis. The illness of Flannery O’Connor was Lupus Erythematosus.

Miss O’Connor spent much of that winter in hospitals, until drugs were found that could help. She moved, with her mother, to a family farm outside Milledgeville, which she renamed Andalusia. She entered a phase of her life, with the Lupus in relative remission, and the drugs firing her creative fires, where she wrote the short stories that made her famous.

Another thing happened when she was recuperating. Flannery was reading the Florida “Market Bulletin”, and saw an ad for “peafowl”, at sixty five dollars a pair. She ordered a pair, and they soon arrived via Railway Express. This was the start of the peacocks at Andalusia, a part of the legend.

During this period of farm life and writing, Flannery had several friends and correspondents. There was the “Bible Salesmen”, Erik Langkjaer, who was probably the closest thing Flannery had to a boyfriend. Another was Betty Hester, who exchanged hundreds of letters with Miss O’Connor. This took place under the stern eye of Regina O’Connor, the no nonsense mother-caregiver of Flannery. (Mr. Gooch says that Betty Hester committed suicide in 1998. That would be consistent with PG stumbling onto an estate sale of Miss Hester in that time frame.)

The book of short stories came out, and Flannery O’Connor became famous. She was also dependent on crutches, and living with a stern mother. There were lectures out of town, and a few diverse personalities who became her friends. She went to Mass every day, and collected books by Catholic scholars. Flannery was excited by the changes in the church started by Pope John XXIII, and in some ways could be considered a liberal. (She supported Civil Rights, in severe contrast to her mother.)

In 1958, Flannery O’Connor went to Europe, including a trip to the Springs at Lourdes. Her cousin Katie Semmes (the daughter of Captain John Flannery, CSA) pushed Flannery hard to go to the springs, to see if it would help the Lupus. Flannery was reluctant…” I am one of those people who could die for his religion sooner than take a bath for it“. When the day for the visit came, Flannery took a token dip in the waters. Her condition did improve, briefly. (It is worth speculating here about the nature of Flannery’s belief, which was apparently more intellectual than emotional. Could it be that, if she was more persuaded by the mystical, emotional side of the church, and taken the healing waters more seriously, that she might have been cured?)

At some point in this story, her second novel came out, and the illness blossomed. Much of 1964 was spent in hospitals, and she got worse and worse. On August 3, 1964, Mary Flannery O’Connor died.

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PG remembers the first time the name Flannery O’Connor sank in. He was visiting some friends, in a little house across from the federal prison.

Rick(?) was the buddy of a character known as Harry Bowers. PG was never sure what Harry’s real name was. One night, Rick was talking about Southern Gothic writers, and he said that Flannery O’Connor was just plain weird. ”Who else would have a bible salesman show up at a farm, take the girl up into a hayloft, unscrew her wooden leg and leave her there? Weird.”

Flannery O’Connor was recently the subject of a biography written by Brad Gooch. The book is getting a bit of publicity. Apparently, the Milledgeville resident was a piece of work.

PG read some reviews of this biography, and found a collection of short stories at the library. The book included ” Good Country People”, the tale about the bible salesman. Apparently, this story was inspired by a real life incident. (Miss O’Connor had lupus the last fifteen years of her life. She used crutches.) And yes, it is weird. Not like hollywood , but in the way of rural Georgia.

Some of the reviews try to deal with her attitudes about Black people. On a certain level, she is a racist. She uses the n word freely, and her black characters are not inspiring people. The thing is, the white characters are hardly any better, and in some cases much worse. In one story, “Everything That Rises Must Converge,” a black lady is the hero.

The stories are well crafted, with vivid descriptions of people and places. The reader floats along with the flow of the story, until he realizes that Grandma has made a mistake on a road trip. The house she got her son to look for is in Tennessee, not Georgia. She makes him drive the family car into a ditch. Some drifting killers come by. Grandma asks one if he prays, while his partner is shooting her grandchildren. Weird.

In another story, a drifter happens upon a pair of women in the country. The daughter is thirty years old, is deaf, and has never spoken a word. The drifter teaches her to say bird and sugarpie. The mother gives him fifteen dollars for a honeymoon, if he will marry her. He takes the fifteen dollars and leaves her asleep in a roadside diner.

There was a yard sale one Saturday afternoon. It was in a house off Lavista Road, between Briarcliff and Cheshire Bridge. The house had apparently not been painted in the last forty years. Thousands and thousands of paperback books were on the shelves. The lady taking the money said that the lady who lived there was the friend, and correspondent of, the “Milledgeville writer” Flannery O’Connor. This is apparently Betty Hester, who is mentioned in many of the biography reviews.

PG told the estate sale lady that she should be careful how she said that. There used to be a large mental hospital in Milledgeville, and the name is synonymous in Georgia with mental illness. The estate sale lady had never heard that.

UPDATE: PG sometimes reads poems at an open mic event. His stage name is Manly Pointer. This is the bible salesman in “Good Country People.” This is a repost. Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library.” It was written like James Joyce. An earlier edition of this post had comments.

Fr. J. December 10, 2009 at 3:00 pm I am glad you take an interest in Flannery, but to say baldly that she is a racist is to very much misunderstand her. For another view on Flannery and race, you might want to read her short story, “Everything that Rises Must Converge.”
chamblee54 December 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm “On a certain level, she is a racist.” That is not the same as “baldly” labeling her a racist. (And I have a full head of hair, thank you). As a native Georgian, I am aware of the many layers of nuance in race relations. I feel that the paragraph on race in the above feature is accurate.

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What Is A Cynic?

Posted in Library of Congress, Quotes, The English Language by chamblee54 on December 10, 2020


“A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything, and the value of nothing.” ― Oscar Wilde. This quote is one of Oscar’s greatest hits. If you think about it for a minute, it is not totally accurate. You are not supposed to think. Quoting Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde is about sounding clever, not making sense. Did he really create that definition of a cynic? This is a repost.

Oscar Wilde is a quote magnet. This is more than something you put on your refrigerator. When people hear something clever, odds are good that Oscar will get the blame. As Dorothy Parker wrote: “If, with the literate, I am, Impelled to try an epigram, I never seek to take the credit; We all assume that Oscar said it. [Life Magazine, June 2, 1927]”

Wikiquote says this line is from Act III of Lady Windermere’s Fan. It was spoken by Lord Darlington. Did the play write intend for the line to be taken seriously, or was he making the character look foolish by saying it? With Oscar Wilde, it could be both of these things at the same time.

Principle Four, of the four principles of quotations, reads “Only quote from works that you have read.” In the case of Lady Windemere’s Fan, this would mean a youtube video of the play. There is a posh BBC production available. You don’t have to watch the cell phone recording of high school players.

Lady Windemere’s Fan is a production where upper class Brits say clever things in glorious costumes. Nobody ever goes to the bathroom, or looks less than perfect. Lady Windemere’s six month old child is neither seen, nor heard. Lady Windemere finds out her husband, Lord Windemere, is having an affair with a Mrs. Erlynne. The Lord proceeds to invite the floozy to Lady Windemere’s birthday party.

After the party, the men go to their club, then to Lord Darlington’s room. There are five men in the conversation, beginning with Lord Windemere. Lord Darlington has just told Lady Windemere that he loves her, and wants her to run off with him. Lady Windemere said no. Lord Augustus is a suitor of Mrs. Erlynne, and is begging her to marry him. Cecil Graham, and Mr. Dumby, wear their splendid costumes with conviction.

The scene starts with the men saying clever things, most of them insulting to someone. Lord Augustus, or Tuppy, is the butt of many jokes. Before long, we get this exchange:
Dumby. I don’t think we are bad. I think we are all good, except Tuppy.
Lord Darlington. No, we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
Dumby. We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars? Upon my word, you are very romantic to-night, Darlington.
Cecil Graham. Too romantic! You must be in love. Who is the girl?
Lord Darlington. The woman I love is not free, or thinks she isn’t. [Glances instinctively at Lord Windermere while he speaks.]

A few minutes later, we hear another famous Oscarism.
Lord Darlington. What cynics you fellows are!
Cecil Graham. What is a cynic? [Sitting on the back of the sofa.]
Lord Darlington. A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Cecil Graham. And a sentimentalist, my dear Darlington, is a man who sees an absurd value in everything, and doesn’t know the market price of any single thing.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

The Ta-Nehisi Coates Video

Posted in Library of Congress, Race, The English Language, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on November 19, 2020


There is a video, Ta-Nehisi Coates on words that don’t belong to everyone It is being praised to high heaven. PG has some issues with this entertainment. The transcript is from vox, Ta-Nehisi Coates has an incredibly clear explanation for why white people shouldn’t use the n-word. This is a repost, with pictures from The Library of Congress.

Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates gave an interview once, The Playboy Interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates. “The n$$$$$ thing? I understand if you’re black and you say, “Man, I had white people call me this shit all my life. … But that ain’t everybody’s experience. I’ve never had a white person call me a n$$$$$. I had somebody call me le négre here in France, but I was 38 years old and I couldn’t have cared less. It didn’t mean anything. So not all of us come out of that experience.”

The monolog starts off with a discussion about how some words are appropriate for some people to use, but others should not say them. “My wife, with her girl friend, will use the word bitch. I do not join in. You know what I’m saying? I don’t do that. I don’t do that. And perhaps more importantly, I don’t have a desire to do it.” The question arises: is his wife a four legged dog? Unless she is, then the b-word does not apply to her.

“Coates pointed to another example — of a white friend who used to have a cabin in upstate New York that he called “the white trash cabin.” “I would never refer to that cabin” in that way. I would never tell him, ‘I’m coming to your white trash cabin.’” Of course, a person with an upstate cabin is likely to be far removed from the trailer park. He is using *white trash* with irony, and would not be the least offended if TPC called it “the white trash cabin.”

“The question one must ask is why so many white people have difficulty extending things that are basic laws of how human beings interact to black people.” (Is TPC saying that black people are not human beings?) … “When you’re white in this country, you’re taught that everything belongs to you. You think you have a right to everything. … You’re conditioned this way. … the laws and the culture tell you this. You have a right to go where you want to go, do what you want to do, be however — and people just got to accommodate themselves to you.”

At this point, PG turned off the video in anger. He has never been taught that everything belongs to him. Nobody that PG knows has been taught that. PG does not know anyone who teaches that message. This is a lie. It makes PG not want to believe anything else that TPC says. Maybe there is some privilege/culture mumbo-jumbo that explains this concept.

Lets go back a minute to the white trash cabin. TPC does not want to use this phrase. And yet, he feels entitled to make a sweeping generalization like “When you’re white in this country, you’re taught that everything belongs to you.” It is wrong to say white trash, but ok to slander white people.

“So here comes this word that you feel like you invented, And now somebody will tell you how to use the word that you invented. ‘Why can’t I use it? Everyone else gets to use it. You know what? That’s racism that I don’t get to use it. You know, that’s racist against me. You know, I have to inconvenience myself and hear this song and I can’t sing along. How come I can’t sing along?’”

“The experience of being a hip-hop fan and not being able to use the word ‘n$$$$$’ is actually very, very insightful.” To begin with, why do you assume that PG is a hip hop fan? Many people think hip hop is garbage. If you are forced to listen to music that you do not enjoy, why would that make you want to use a forbidden word? The logic of TPC is falling apart, faster than the Falcons pass defense in the Super Bowl.

“It will give you just a little peek into the world of what it means to be black. Because to be black is to walk through the world and watch people doing things that you cannot do, that you can’t join in and do. So I think there’s actually a lot to be learned from refraining.”

If you are in the mood to get yelled at for a half hour, you can ask someone about “things that you cannot do, that you can’t join in and do.” There might be some. If you go along with the rhetoric so far, you will probably believe what you hear. You might even understand why not using a nasty word will give you “a little peek into the world of what it means to be black.” As for PG, he seriously doubts this. He is not someone who says that this video is “an incredibly clear explanation for why white people shouldn’t use the n-word.”


Once upon a time, cigarettes were advertised on television. One new brand was a cigarette for women, Virginia Slims. The ability to kill yourself with tobacco was presented as being a privilege. Some wondered why women would want to take up this filthy habit. Today, African Americans have the privilege of using the n-word. What a deal. A nasty word, which degrades both the speaker, and the spoken of. Why would anyone want to use that word?

If you don’t have anything good to say, you can talk about the n-word. This *trigger* word is an aphrodisiac for the american body politic. Recently Ta-Nehisi Coates performed in a video, Ta-Nehisi Coates on words that don’t belong to everyone There is much praise for this entertainment, like this: @SneakerWonk “#TaNehisiCoates has an incredibly clear #explanation for why #whitepeople shouldnt use the #nword.” PG has a few paragraphs, about this video, in the text above.

PG has written about racism, anti-racism, and racial attitudes on many occasions. People get angry, and call PG rude names. He must be doing something right. Later, there was a double feature about James Baldwin. In the first half, Mr. Baldwin expresses a few opinions about that word. In the second half, PG substituted racist for the magic word, with interesting results.

One item that keeps coming up is speculation about who invented the n-word. Negro means black in Spanish, and is derived from a latin word. The Oxford English Dictionary has some usages going back to 1577. “1577 E. Hellowes tr. A. de Guevara Familiar Epist. (new ed.) 389 The Massagetes bordering vpon the Indians, and the Nigers of Aethiop [Sp. los negros en Ethiopia], bearing witnesse. ~ 1584 R. Scot Discouerie Witchcraft vii. xv. 153 A skin like a Niger. ~ 1608 A. Marlowe Let. 22 June in E. India Co. Factory Rec. (1896) I. 10 The King and People [of ‘Serro Leona’] N$$$$$$, simple and harmless.

The TPC video is based on the concept that white people want to use the magic word, but should not. This assumes a great deal. Chamblee54 published a piece about the n-word, that spelled out why he does not like to use this noun/verb/adjective/adverb/interjection. Here are four reasons for a white person to refrain from saying america’s favorite dirty word.

1- The n-word hurts people’s feelings. PG has known many fine Black people. He does not want to say anything that will hurt these people.
2- Being heard saying the n-word can cause all sorts of problems. This can include physical retribution, loss of employment, lawsuits, and having to listen to enough loud angry words to make you wish you had never learned how to talk.
3- It is not a fair fight. There is no equivalent phrase for a Black Person to say to a White person. Why give that power to another group of people … to turn you into a mass of incoherent rage, just for hearing a six letter word. The closest thing is “Cracker”, which PG only recently found out was an insult. There used to be a minor league baseball team, the Atlanta Crackers.
4- The use of the n-word demeans the user. When you say an insulting word about another human being, you make yourself look bad. For a Black person, using the n-word degrades them as the object, as well as the speaker. Why would a person would want to do that?

Esoteric and Pedantic

Posted in Georgia History, GSU photo archive, The English Language by chamblee54 on November 17, 2020






Obviously,there is something to be said for wanting to speak up, but not having anything to say. To prove that, I am going to talk about a word…esoteric. According to Wiktionary , esoteric is :”1. Having to do with concepts that are highly theoretical and without obvious practical application. 2. Understood only by a chosen few or an inner circle. 3. Confidential; private.”

The “E word” plays a role in a story from 10th grade English. We were discussing a story, “The Rocking Horse Winner”, by D.H. Lawrence. The story was, well, boring and obscure, just like most of what I have seen by Mr. Lawrence.

The summer after 10th grade I worked in a movie theater. The ushers wore ghastly yellow uniforms, and saw the movies over and over. When I started, the Lenox Square 2 theater was showing “Women in Love”, based on a novel my D.H. Lawrence. Glenda Jackson copped an oscar for her portrayal of Gudrun Brangwen, and young Larry Kramer was one of the screenwriters. It did not improve my opinion of D.H. Lawrence. If the censors had not touched “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” D.H. Lawrence would be forgotten today.

Back to 10th grade english. We were discussing this wretched story, and a girl raised her hand. Why would any author would write something so esoteric? The teacher had never heard of this word before, and was amazed to hear it.

The Lenox Square 2 theater was a long, slender thing with a small screen. This was in 1970. The multiplex concept had not matured. LS2 was under a grocery store. When their automatic door openers operated, you could hear the motors in the theater below. The movies the rest of the summer were Fellini Satyricon, The Christine Jorgenson Story, and The Landlord.

Back to esoteric…or did I ever go away? Before you can understand esoteric, you must plumb the depths of pedantic. “1. Like a pedant, overly concerned with formal rules and trivial points of learning. 2. Being showy of one’s knowledge, often in a boring manner. 3. Often used to describe a person who emphasizes his/her knowledge through the use of vocabulary; ostentatious in one’s learning. 4. Being finicky or picky with language.”

Pedantic is an adjective that describes itself. The technical term for this is autological. Here is a poem using autological words. This repost. Pictures for this visit to the Nixon era are from “The Special Collections and Archives Georgia State University Library”.





Grammar Oppression

Posted in GSU photo archive, The English Language, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on July 23, 2020

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An MF writer (Melissa A. Fabello) at Everyday Feminism chimes in today with Why Grammar Snobbery Has No Place in the Movement. She means a social justice movement, not a bowel movement. The two movements have a similar aroma. This is a repost.

With more and more people using written english, there are more grammar mistakes. Some people enjoy pointing these out. The EF post says that such behavior is elitist, privileged, and yes, racist. The distinction between written, and spoken, is not made.

“So, if a person wrote a Facebook comment that said “That their was an example of cissexism,” a prescriptive grammarian might comment back, “I think you mean ‘there,’” and a descriptive grammarian might respond, “You understood what they meant.” And while both schools are accepted forms of linguistic thought, it’s important to note that any time we create a hierarchy by positioning one thing as “better” than another, we’re being oppressive.” (“That there” sounds clumsy and ignorant, even using the correct “there.”)

“Ghanaian blogger Delalorm Semabia, in a conversation about the eradication of “the Queen’s English” in Ghana, explained, “The idea that intelligence is linked to English pronunciation is a legacy from colonial thinking.” And this is precisely where we need to start this conversation. As educated (and – okay – snarky) activists, we’re quick to respond to “According to the dictionary” arguments with “Who wrote the dictionary, though?” We understand that a reference guide created by a white supremacist, heteropatriarchal system does nothing but uphold that status quo. Similarly, we have to use that line of thinking when talking about the English language: Who created the rules? And who benefits from them? As per usual, what this comes down to is an issue of privilege (of course!). In fact, grammar snobbery comes down to an intersection of multiple privileges.

…You’ve probably never given much thought to this, aside perhaps from believing that you speak “correctly” and that everyone else who speaks a different type of English than you do speaks the language “wrong.” And perhaps you’ve noticed how often “those people” are people of color. And we (as a society) denounce any form of the language that isn’t “white” enough. Umm, that’s racist.”

English is a living, evolving language. Spoken english changes faster than written english. The written form, devoid of vocal inflection and facial expressions, is more dependent on rules of grammar to communicate.

As different people use english, they develop different ways of speaking. Many of the phrases that are common today began as slang in ethnic populations. As time goes on, these phrases become accepted as standard english. (Some see this use of “other culture’s expressions” as cultural appropriation. PG is neutral in that debate.)

The rules for written english are slower to change. At what point do we criticize the grammar of others? It can be a useful rhetorical tactic, along with -splaning what the person really meant. Or do we just accept that some people are not privileged enough to use good grammar? (There is a certain condescension in excusing the bad grammar of others because of their background. “Oh, they can’t help not knowing that, because they is a poor oppressed POC.”)

In the list of grammar nazi privileges, MF quotes Kurt Vonnegut. PG likes to research quotes, and found a reddit page about the passage. The full quote (MF only used one sentence.) “First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college. And I realize some of you may be having trouble deciding whether I am kidding or not. So from now on I will tell you when I’m kidding.” And yes, Kurt Vonnegut does use semicolons in his work.

Pictures are from “The Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library”. “Photographs taken at a horse show in Atlanta, Georgia, 1937.” UPDATE: There was an twitter exchange with the person who tweeted about the article: Knowing the difference between there and their is not oppression. ~ Not everyone has the luxury.

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Mensa Invitational

Posted in Library of Congress, The English Language, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on January 12, 2020

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This sunday morning feature is a repost. The text is borrowed from this blog. Pictures are from The Library of Congress. They were taken at Arlington Farms, “a temporary housing complex for female civil servants and service members during World War II.”

Washington Post’s “Mensa Invitational” which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus: A person who is both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with. The money was loaned to the government without interest.
4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
7.Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high
8.Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed after you’ve walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

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What Are You Trying To Proooove?

Posted in Library of Congress, The English Language, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on December 3, 2019





Once a week, bloggingheads.tv has a feature called Science Saturday. Some of the best feature John Horgan and George Johnson. They are pals, and say “oh really” a lot. This past week they discussed the business of scientific research, how big money can corrupt the findings. It makes cents sense … when you get government grants to fund your research, it is in your best interests to get the results the government wants. Or, if your employer stands to make billions of dollars from selling a new drug, you want to “prove” that the drug works.

Perhaps it is a semantic issue. People often say prove, when what they should say is indicate. Prove is a murky legalistic concept, full of smoke and mirrors. Indicate is what the numbers on the screen say.

John got mixed up in a controversy about this recently. While discussing this, he quoted an scientific journal to about Why Most Published Research Findings Are False . This caught PG’s ear, and made him put down his photo editing, and make a comment. (Those pictures from the War between the States have waited 145 years. A few more minutes is not going to hurt.) This comment resulted.

chamblee54 wrote on 12/18/2010 at 02:10 PM Re: Science Saturday: Discovery and Invention (John Horgan & George Johnson) John makes a bold statement .

It seems as if an author, writing behind a paywall , wrote about corruption of the scientific method. At the end, he wrote
“Just because an idea is true doesn’t mean it can be proved. And just because an idea can be proved doesn’t mean it’s true. When the experiments are done, we still have to choose what to believe.” ( John says it here. The link no longer works. )
In a touch of irony, George begins the discussion by recalling a visit to California, and a report on the medical marijuana scene. Marijuana is a good example of the government deciding the results, and then commissioning a study to “prove” what had already been decided. If your lab depends on Uncle Sugar for funding, then your study is going to show that Reefer makes you turn purple.

When PG was in tenth grade, he had a geometry teacher. She had participated in LSD experiments (and said a shot of whiskey would do more for you.) Basic geometry is dependent on proofs, or a series of statements that show a theorem to be true. (There is a difference between a theory and a hypothesis.) A foundation concept of geometry is the Pythagorean theorem. This teacher said it was possible to disprove the Pythagorean theorem.

A couple of years later, PG grew shoulder length hair, and went to visit his uncle. The relative was known for being to the right of Herbert Hoover, and was not amused by PG’s fashion statement. The uncle got into the firewater, and would say, over and over,
“What are you trying to proooove with your long hair?” Spell check suggestions for proooove: ovenproof, groove.
This is a repost. Bloggingheads TV is having money problems, and is converting into a non profit enterprise. The future of Science Saturdays is in doubt. In another surprising development, research shows that tabloids do not always tell the truth.