Skip to content

One of our trucks is burned (sic)

Snowy Delivery
Funny spam I received just now, which purports to be from FedEx, and reads:

We apologize, but it seem so, that we not can deliver your package. One of our trucks is burned tonight. In attachment you can find a form for insurance. Please fill it out and send it us urgent, because we must told amount of damage to the Insurance company

Ok! I’ll get right on that.

Chicago train system: Called the L not the El

Station hopping shuffler
Station hopping shuffler

Since I was looking for this Chicago Transit Authority citation recently, I’m posting it here so I can find it easier in the future. Proper usage is important, especially if you know there is a proper usage.

As far as I could tell, Grid Chicago didn’t actually make this a blog post, but their Twitter conversation was picked up by a few outlets, including the Chicago Tribune:

You may have wondered, as you climb aboard a CTA train: Are you about to ride the “El” or the “L”?

Grid Chicago, a blog devoted to energy-conscious transit issues in the city, asked on its Twitter feed last week which usage people prefer — the single “L” or the longer “El.”

Among the responses came one from the official CTA Twitter account:

That’s not to say the “El” isn’t used, despite the fact that only parts of the city’s rail system are elevated. Time Out Chicago, a publication devoted to covering arts and entertainment in the city, is among those preferring “El.”

“El” can also be found in some book references. For instance, in his 1947 collection “The Neon Wilderness,” Chicago author Nelson Algren refers repeatedly to the “El.”

“She put her hat on the dresser and sat by the window, looking out at the night-fuming neon all the way down Congress to the El,” Algren writes at one point. Though, in fairness, some credit (blame?) East Coast editors for changing the usage.

(click here to continue reading Chicago train system: Is it the L or the El? – Chicago Tribune.)

I’ve had a few of my photos published by Grid Chicago – they are good people, and have a good mission. Check ’em out…

Your Digital Privacy and the US Govt Watchlist


I don’t know about you, but when the government acts stupidly like this, I don’t like it. The list of “forbidden” words is so ridiculously broad so as to be meaningless. I don’t deny there are evil people in the world, and I expect my government to protect me from these criminals as best as a government can, but this is not the way. Monitoring conversations that contain “pork”? or the word, “cloud”? Defeats the purpose by purposely bringing in lots of non-relevant data. 

By now you have likely seen reports that contain news of the list of terms the Department of Homeland Security searches for online, as it tracks what people are saying around the Internet. The list is extremely long, vague, and often quite humorous (even in the face of its importance).

As the Daily Mail notes, the Department of Homeland Security was forced to release the list, along with its entire Analyst’s Desktop Binder, following a Freedom of Information Act request. Essentially, the list is what the government is looking for online, hoping to spot threats, events, and other such things that would be of interest to the sprawling agency. The Mails report states that the Department has made the claim that the list is not used to search “the internet for disparaging remarks about the government [or] signs of general dissent.”

However, the list is worrisome all the same. The broadness of the terms that are being used as a starting point for tracking online communications is disconcerting; these are the words that could flag a person or conversation as potentially a threat to the United States. And thus, to have terms that come up in the daily news, and normal conversation, marked as worthy of tracking, is unsettling.

 Therefore, anyone in the media, period, doesn’t have the right to have their private information kept secret by the Department of Homeland Security. Woah. Scarier is how broad this is – anyone who uses social media to update others, and is merely ‘known’ as perhaps being a ‘reporter’ has no right to their PII being kept secret. In other words, if you are online, and comment on the news to an audience, you are essentially absolving the Department of Homeland Security from the need of redacting your private information, including “1) full name; 2) affiliation; 3) position or title; and 3) publicly-available user ID.”

I’m certainly not trying to be overly paranoid or tin-hatted, but the rules on how PII can be distributed for the above listed groups sounds quite like this: ‘if you fall into any of these categories, we are going to use any information about you that we can in any level of government, foreign or domestic.’ And that, if you are but an active user of social media that happens to be talking about an issue that is on their list of terms, you just may fall into the group. Now, to the list.

The following list of terms is directly taken from the Binder. Again, I had to strip them out, clean the text, and them format it, so please just take the list. Don’t do all that tedious work all over again. This post is for anyone. Educate people. Here you go:

The List

  • Assassination
  • Attack
  • Domestic security
  • Drill
  • Exercise
  • Cops
  • Law enforcement
  • Authorities
  • Disaster assistance
  • Disaster management
  • DNDO (Domestic Nuclear Detection Office)
  • National preparedness
  • Mitigation
  • Prevention
  • Response
  • Recovery
  • Dirty bomb
  • Domestic nuclear detection
  • Emergency management
  • Emergency response
  • First responder
  • Homeland security
  • Maritime domain awareness (MDA)
  • National preparedness initiative
  • Militia
  • Shooting
  • Shots fired
  • Evacuation
  • Deaths
  • Hostage
  • Explosion (explosive)
  • Police
  • Disaster medical assistance team (DMAT)
  • Organized crime
  • Gangs
  • National security
  • State of emergency
  • Security
  • Breach
  • Threat
  • Standoff
  • SWAT
  • Screening
  • Lockdown
  • Bomb (squad or threat)
  • Crash
  • Looting
  • Riot
  • Emergency Landing
  • Pipe bomb Incident Facility
  • Hazmat
  • Nuclear
  • Chemical spill
  • Suspicious package/device
  • Toxic National laboratory
  • Nuclear facility
  • Nuclear threat
  • Cloud
  • Plume
  • Radiation
  • Radioactive Leak
  • Biological infection (or event)
  • Chemical
  • Chemical burn
  • Biological Epidemic
  • Hazardous
  • Hazardous material incident
  • Industrial spill
  • Infection Powder (white)
  • Gas Spillover
  • Anthrax
  • Blister agent
  • Chemical agent
  • Exposure Burn
  • Nerve agent
  • Ricin
  • Sarin
  • North Korea
  • Outbreak
  • Contamination
  • Exposure
  • Virus
  • Evacuation
  • Bacteria
  • Recall
  • Ebola
  • Food Poisoning
  • Foot and Mouth (FMD)
  • H5N1
  • Avian Flu
  • Salmonella
  • Small Pox
  • Plague
  • Human to human
  • Human to Animal
  • Influenza
  • Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Drug Administration (FDA)
  • Public Health
  • Toxic
  • Agro Terror
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Agriculture
  • Listeria
  • Symptoms
  • Mutation Resistant
  • Antiviral Wave
  • Pandemic
  • Infection
  • Water/air-borne
  • Sick
  • Swine
  • Pork
  • Strain
  • Quarantine
  • H1N1 Vaccine
  • Tamiflu
  • Norvo
  • Virus
  • Epidemic
  • World Health Organization (WHO) (and components)
  • Viral
  • Hemorrhagic
  • Fever
  • E. Coli
  • Infrastructure security
  • Airport
  • Airplane (and derivatives)
  • Chemical fire
  • CIKR (Critical Infrastructure& Key Resources)
  • Collapse
  • Computer infrastructure
  • Communications infrastructure
  • Telecommunications
  • Critical infrastructure
  • National infrastructure
  • Metro
  • Subway
  • BART
  • Port Authority
  • NBIC (National Biosurveillance Integration Center)
  • Transportation security
  • Grid
  • Power
  • SmartBody scanner
  • Electric
  • Failure or outage
  • Black out
  • Brown out
  • Port
  • Dock
  • Bridge
  • Cancelled
  • Delays
  • Service disruption
  • Power lines
  • Drug cartel
  • Violence
  • Gang
  • Drug
  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Border
  • Mexico
  • Cartel
  • Southwest
  • Juarez
  • Sinaloa
  • Tijuana
  • Torreon
  • Yuma
  • Tucson
  • Decapitated
  • U.S. Consulate
  • Consular
  • El Paso
  • Fort Hancock
  • San Diego
  • Ciudad Juarez
  • Nogales
  • Sonora
  • Colombia
  • Mara salvatrucha
  • MS13 or MS-13
  • Drug war
  • Mexican army
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cartel de Golfo
  • Gulf Cartel
  • La Familia
  • Reynosa
  • Nuevo
  • Leon
  • Narcos
  • Narco banners (Spanish equivalents)
  • Los Zetas
  • Shootout
  • Execution
  • Gunfight
  • Trafficking
  • Kidnap
  • Calderon Reyosa
  • Bust
  • Tamaulipas
  • Meth Lab
  • Drug trade
  • Illegal immigrants
  • Smuggling (smugglers)
  • Matamoros
  • Michoacana
  • Guzman
  • Arellano-Felix
  • Beltran-Leyva
  • Barrio
  • Azteca
  • Artistic
  • Assassins
  • Mexicles
  • New Federation
  • Terrorism
  • Al Qaeda (all spellings)
  • Terror
  • Attack
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan
  • Iran
  • Pakistan
  • Agro
  • Environmental terrorist
  • Eco terrorism
  • Conventional weapon
  • Target
  • Weapons grade
  • Dirty bomb
  • Enriched
  • Nuclear
  • Chemical weapon
  • Biological weapon
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Improvised explosive device IED (Improvised Explosive Device)
  • Abu Sayyaf
  • Hamas
  • FARC (Armed Revolutionary Forces Colombia)
  • IRA (Irish Republican Army)
  • ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna)
  • Basque
  • Separatists
  • Hezbollah
  • Tamil Tigers
  • PLF (Palestine Liberation Front)
  • PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization)
  • Car bomb
  • Jihad
  • Taliban
  • Weapons cache
  • Suicide bomber
  • Suicide attack
  • Suspicious substance
  • AQAP (AL Qaeda Arabian Peninsula)
  • AQIM (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb)
  • TTP (Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan)
  • Yemen
  • Pirates
  • Extremism
  • Somalia
  • Nigeria
  • Radicals
  • Al-Shabaab
  • Home grown
  • Plot
  • Nationalist
  • Recruitment
  • Fundamentalism
  • Islamist
  • Emergency
  • Hurricane
  • Tornado
  • Twister
  • Tsunami
  • Earthquake
  • Tremor
  • Flood
  • Storm
  • Crest
  • Temblor
  • Extreme weather
  • Forest fire
  • Brush fire
  • Ice
  • Stranded/Stuck
  • Help
  • Hail
  • Wildfire
  • Tsunami
  • Warning Center
  • Magnitude
  • Avalanche
  • Typhoon
  • Shelter-in-place
  • Disaster
  • Snow
  • Blizzard
  • Sleet
  • Mud slide or Mudslide
  • Erosion
  • Power outage
  • Brown out
  • Warning
  • Watch
  • Lightening
  • Aid
  • Relief
  • Closure
  • Interstate
  • Burst
  • Emergency Broadcast System
  • Cyber security
  • Botnet
  • DDOS (dedicated denial of service)
  • Denial of service
  • Malware
  • Virus
  • Trojan
  • Keylogger
  • Cyber
  • Command
  • 2600
  • Spammer
  • Phishing
  • Rootkit
  • Phreaking
  • Cain and abel
  • Brute forcing
  • Mysql injection
  • Cyber attack
  • Cyber terror
  • Hacker
  • China
  • Conficker
  • Worm
  • Scammers
  • Social media


(click here to continue reading Your Digital Privacy and the US Gov’s Watchlist.)

Drinking in Colonial America

Whiskey Helmet - Koval's First Distillery
Whiskey Helmet – Koval’s First Distillery

In response to some complaining about the debauchery of St. Paddy’s Day in Chicago, I tweeted:

Undergraduate history class was a long time ago, so I started looking on the internet for some facts, and found this bit of fun:

Colonial Americans, at least many of them, believed alcohol could cure the sick, strengthen the weak, enliven the aged, and generally make the world a better place. They tippled, toasted, sipped, slurped, quaffed, and guzzled from dawn to dark.

Many started the day with a pick-me-up and ended it with a put-me-down. Between those liquid milestones, they also might enjoy a midmorning whistle wetter, a luncheon libation, an afternoon accompaniment, and a supper snort. If circumstances allowed, they could ease the day with several rounds at a tavern.

Alcohol lubricated such social events as christenings, weddings, funerals, trials, and election-day gatherings, where aspiring candidates tempted voters with free drinks. Craftsmen drank at work, as did hired hands in the fields, shoppers in stores, sailors at sea, and soldiers in camp. Then, as now, college students enjoyed malted beverages, which explains why Harvard had its own brewery. In 1639, when the school did not supply sufficient beer, President Nathaniel Eaton lost his job.

Like students and workers, the Founding Fathers enjoyed a glass or two. John Adams began his days with a draft of hard cider. Thomas Jefferson imported fine libations from France. At one time, Samuel Adams managed his father’s brewery. John Hancock was accused of smuggling wine. Patrick Henry worked as a bartender and, as Virginia’s wartime governor, served home brew to guests.

The age of the cocktail lay far in the future. Colonists, nevertheless, enjoyed alcoholic beverages with such names as Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip. If they indulged too much, then they had dozens of words to describe drunkenness. Benjamin Franklin collected more than 200 such terms, including addled, afflicted, biggy, boozy, busky, buzzey, cherubimical, cracked, and “halfway to Concord.”

(click here to continue reading Drinking in Colonial America: Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site.)

Abstraction in Green
Abstraction in Green

Oh, and for the record, the website Paddy Not Patty amused and informed me. You do know that it is correctly called St. Paddy’s Day and never, ever called St. Patty’s Day, right?

Paddy is derived from the Irish, Pádraig, hence those mysterious, emerald double-Ds.

Patty is the diminutive of Patricia, or a burger, and just not something you call a fella.

There’s not a sinner in Ireland that would call a Patrick, “Patty”. It’s insulting. It’s really as simple as that.

Where I’ve Been

Any Questions?
Any Questions?

This has been floating around the internet for a while, and though I am not sure of where it originally came from, I’m still passing it along to you:

Where I’ve been

I have been in many places, but I’ve never been in Cahoots. Apparently, you can’t go alone. You have to be in Cahoots with someone. I’ve also never been in Cognito. I hear no one recognizes you there.

I have, however, been in Sane. They don’t have an airport; you have to be driven there. I have made several trips there, thanks to my friends, family and work. I would like to go to Conclusions, but you have to jump, and I’m not too much on physical activity anymore.

I have also been in Doubt. That is a sad place to go, and I try not to visit there too often. I’ve been in Flexible, but only when it was very important to stand firm. Sometimes I’m in Capable, and I go there more often as I’m getting older.

One of my favorite places to be is in Suspense! It really gets the adrenalin flowing and pumps up the old heart! At my age I need all the stimuli I can get!

I may have been in Continent, and I don’t remember what country I was in. It’s an age thing.


Does Obama Use the I Word More Than Other Presidents?

Fist Bumps

Of course not. But that doesn’t stop bloviators like George Will from repeating this lie, nor does it stop the Fox News Enemies-of-Rational-Thought from repeating the lie either. Facts are not important to these people. So if you hear the allegation spewed somewhere, instead of just rolling your eyes, here’s an answer from the reality-based world:

But here’s one more tedious bit of fact-checking, based on a nearly-complete sample of the texts of weekly radio addresses delivered by Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and a newly collected sample of about 10% of Ronald Reagan’s weekly radio addresses. (I didn’t have time to clean up a more complete set for Reagan, but this temporally-random sample should generalize fairly well.)

As expected, Obama’s rates of “I” and of FPSPs in general are slightly lower than the other two presidents — and in fact George W. Bush alone has almost three times more I’s in total than Obama, since his higher rate was maintained for two full terms rather than for 3/4 of one term. Similarly, if we project Reagan’s rate to his full set of radio addresses (which tend to run longer in terms of word count as well), we expect his total I-word count in weekly radio addresses to be more than three and a half times greater than Obama’s:

# of addresses Total words “I” (%) Total 1st pers. sing. pro. (%)
Obama 99 77,555 704 (0.91%) 834 (1.08%)
Bush 2 230 223,305 2095 (0.94%) 2686 (1.20%)
Reagan 23 26,125 258 (0.99%) 340 (1.30%)

So the idea that Barack Obama “uses the I word more than … all presidents have used it collectively in the two hundred and some odd years of our nation” is a preposterous fabrication. But it’s only the most extreme version (so far) of a meme that has spread like pond scum through the stagnant waters of wingnut punditry since George Will popularized it in 2009.

Frankly, I’m disappointed in these people. Can’t they invent new fabrications instead of tediously repeating old ones?

(click here to continue reading Language Log » Flaming Napalmed Knickers.)


Captain Beefheart’s 10 Commandments of Guitar Playing

Andrew's Rock God Pose

Probably the best obituary of Captain Beefheart I’ve yet read is not even an obituary, but something written by Don Van Vliet himself:

1. Listen to the birds

That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere.

2. Your guitar is not really a guitar

Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also a fishing rod. If you’re good, you’ll land a big one.

3. Practice in front of a bush

Wait until the moon is out, then go outside, eat a multi-grained bread and play your guitar to a bush. If the bush doesn’t shake, eat another piece of bread.

4. Walk with the devil

Old Delta blues players referred to guitar amplifiers as the “devil box.” And they were right. You have to be an equal opportunity employer in terms of who you’re brining over from the other side. Electricity attracts devils and demons. Other instruments attract other spirits. An acoustic guitar attracts Casper. A mandolin attracts Wendy. But an electric guitar attracts Beelzebub.

5. If you’re guilty of thinking, you’re out

If your brain is part of the process, you’re missing it. You should play like a drowning man, struggling to reach shore. If you can trap that feeling, then you have something that is fur bearing.

6. Never point your guitar at anyone

Your instrument has more clout than lightning. Just hit a big chord then run outside to hear it. But make sure you are not standing in an open field.

7. Always carry a church key

That’s your key-man clause. Like One String Sam. He’s one. He was a Detroit street musician who played in the fifties on a homemade instrument. His song “I Need a Hundred Dollars” is warm pie. Another key to the church is Hubert Sumlin, Howlin’ Wolf’s guitar player. He just stands there like the Statue of Liberty — making you want to look up her dress the whole time to see how he’s doing it.

8. Don’t wipe the sweat off your instrument

You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music.

9. Keep your guitar in a dark place

When you’re not playing your guitar, cover it and keep it in a dark place. If you don’t play your guitar for more than a day, be sure you put a saucer of water in with it.

10. You gotta have a hood for your engine

Keep that hat on. A hat is a pressure cooker. If you have a roof on your house, the hot air can’t escape. Even a lima bean has to have a piece of wet paper around it to make it grow.

Quoted from Rolling Stone’s Alt-Rock-A-Rama, as published by

links for 2010-10-25

  • “I’m sure I’ll take you with pleasure!” the Queen said. “Two pence a week, and jam every other day.” Alice couldn’t help laughing, as she said, “I don’t want you to hire ME – and I don’t care for jam.” “It’s very good jam,” said the Queen. “Well, I don’t want any TO-DAY, at any rate.” “You couldn’t have it if you DID want it,” the Queen said. “The rule is, jam to-morrow and jam yesterday – but never jam to-day.” “It MUST come sometimes to “jam to-day,”” Alice objected. “No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every OTHER day: to-day isn’t any OTHER day, you know.” “I don’t understand you,” said Alice. “It’s dreadfully confusing!”
    The Queen’s rule is a pun on a mnemonic for remembering the distinction between the Latin words “nunc” and “iam” (sometimes written “jam”). Both mean “now”, but “nunc” is only used in the present tense, while “iam” is used in the past and future tenses.
    (tags: language humor)
  • Mr. Assange is guilty of one of the worst offenses in American culture: challenging deeply-held beliefs about the benevolence of American foreign policy with facts. It’s no wonder that American media outlets immediately turn the spotlight onto him, and not the actual materials themselves.

Courgetts (or Courgettes)

Courgetts (or Courgettes)
Courgetts (or Courgettes), originally uploaded by swanksalot.

There isn’t much of a language barrier in the UK for an American visitor, but this word baffled me in a few restaurants before stumbling upon this farmers market. Ahh, zucchini.

From Wikipedia:

Zucchini, like all summer squash, has its ancestry in the Americas. However, the varieties of squash typically called “zucchini” were indeed developed in Italy, many generations after their introduction from the “New World”.

In all probability, this occurred in the very late 19th century, probably near Milan; early varieties usually included the names of nearby cities in their names. The alternate name courgette is from the French word for the vegetable, with the same spelling, and is commonly used in France, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. It is a diminutive of courge, French for squash. “Zucca” is the Italian word for squash and “zucchina” is its diminutive, becoming “zucchine” in the plural. However, “zucchino”, the masculine form, becoming “zucchini” in the plural, is just as commonly used and is prevalent in Tuscany. Italian dictionaries such as “lo Zingarelli 1995, Zanichelli editor”, give both forms. “Zucchini” is used in Italy , and in Australia, Canada and the United States. ‘Zucchini’ is plural in Italian whereas in English it is singular. The first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s. It was almost certainly brought over by Italian immigrants and probably was first cultivated in the United States in California.

I didn’t even notice it was misspelled on the sign until Frank1 pointed it out…

  1. aka The Irish Samurai []

Carpe diem my friends

Drink your wine while ye may…

Public Toilet Soho

Since I looked up this phrase to jog my memory of the entire epigraph, here is the Wikipedia explanation.

Carpe diem is a phrase from a Latin poem by Horace.. It is popularly translated as “seize the day”. Carpe means “pick, pluck, pluck off, gather”, but Horace used the word to mean “enjoy, make use of”.

In Horace, the phrase is part of the longer Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero – “Seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the future”, and the ode says that the future is unknowable, and that instead one should scale back one’s hopes to a brief future, and drink one’s wine. This phrase is usually understood against Horace’s Epicurean background. Related expressions Rabbinic phrase “And if not now, when?” (Pirkei Avoth 1:14)

(click to continue reading Carpe diem – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Life is too short, too fragile, ends too suddenly to worry about petty annoyances, and self-imposed barriers to entry in the slipstream should be discarded with haste. There’s more to this tale, but there is no need to spell it out, is there?

A Concise History of Fuck

Juli Weiner of Vanity Fair with a delightful small article reacting to the recent FCC ruling in regards to the expressive and powerful word, fuck

Both verb and noun, infix and interjection, “fuck,” like many chimerical beasts, is of ill repute and unknown genesis. The American Heritage Dictionary, similar to its tweedier brother, the Oxford English Dictionary, is unable to divine the exact etymology of “fuck,” however it does provide information about its first known publication. Specifically, the word initially appeared in a satirical poem composed sometime around 1500 that takes aim at the Carmelite friars of Cambridge. Although the letters F, U, C, and K do not appear in their recognizable, rancorous order, they are expressed in a simple code that “is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now,” according to the dictionary. Drained of its cryptic Latin and less cryptic cryptology, “non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk” begets “they are not in heaven because they fuck wives of Ely [a town near Cambridge].” For what it’s worth, the Online Dictionary of Etymology surmises that “fuck” has roots in the Middle English “fyke,” meaning to “move restlessly.” “Fyke” had sexual connotations, too; it suggested fidgeting as well as flirting, as the wives of Ely might attest.

Hundreds of years later, James Joyce was not as covert in his use of the word. The 1921 publication of the complete Ulysses was met with book banning and book burning. A New York court ruled the work obscene, even though the word “fuck” appeared just twice—once as noun, once as verb—in 265,000 words. Other classics infamous for their embrace of the word include The Catcher in the Rye and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Norman Mailer substituted “fug” for “fuck” in The Naked and the Dead, from which the band the Fugs would later take its name. (One of the group’s founding members, Tuli Kupferberg, passed away yesterday.) “Fug,” a cacophonous cousin, is still an undeserving member of the vernacular. Alternative progeny also include “fink,” “freak,” “feck,” “frack,” and “frig,” the latter regretfully embalmed for pop-culture immortality with the 2004 film Napoleon Dynamite. The Wire eschewed euphemisms altogether, embracing the guttural, satisfying “fuck” a total of 38 times in a single scene.

(you should click to continue reading A Concise History of “Fuck” | VF Daily | Vanity Fair.)


Words are words, no? The government shouldn’t be in the business of deciding what words are appropriate and which are not.

Why saint patrick should be celebrated with lowercase letters

For your daily dose of font nerdery1

The 26 Letters by Oscar Ogg

A few years back, Jasper Bear, one of The Globe’s founders (I designed their logo), gave me a wonderful book called “The 26 Letters” by Oscar Ogg, which was all about the development of the 26 letters of today’s alphabet. Jasper knows I’m a font geek (ahem, “letterforms enthusiast”) from way back.

Anyway, the book’s retelling of St. Patrick’s story was interesting, not only because of his escape from his Roman captors, but because of his invention:

St. Patrick invented lower case letters.

In Ireland, a Celtic land, people used an uncial alphabet. It kind of looks like the writing on the Lord of the Rings cover. When the Christians came with the Bible, it was written in a Roman alphabet, which at the time was all upper-case, like the writing you see on buildings.

St. Patrick devised a transitional alphabet designed to serve between the Roman and Uncial alphabets. Today we call it lower case.

[Click to continue reading why saint patrick’s day should be celebrated with lowercase letters «]


Much better reason to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than watery, domestic that’s been tinted green with Monsanto-created food dyes…

Steel cut Irish Oatmeal

  1. is that a word? Whatever []

Mike Royko and Jerry Moonbeam Brown

“One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko” (Mike Royko)

Factoid I did not know, Mike Royko, one of the famed Billy Goat denizens, coined the long-lasting epithet for Jerry Brown.

For the uninitiated, ‘Governor Moonbeam’ became Mr. Brown’s intractable sobriquet, dating back to his days as governor between 1975 and 1983, when his state led the nation in pretty much everything — its economy, environmental awareness and, yes, class-A eccentrics.

The nickname was coined by Mike Royko, the famed Chicago columnist, who in 1976 said that Mr. Brown appeared to be attracting “the moonbeam vote,” which in Chicago political parlance meant young, idealistic and nontraditional.

The term had a nice California feel, and Mr. Royko eventually began applying it when he wrote about the Golden State’s young, idealistic and nontraditional chief executive. He found endless amusement — and sometimes outright agita — in California’s oddities, calling the state “the world’s largest outdoor mental asylum.”

“If it babbles and its eyeballs are glazed,” he noted in April 1979, “it probably comes from California.”

[Click to continue reading How Jerry Brown Became ‘Governor Moonbeam’ –]

Of course, Mike Royko eventually came to be a Moonbeam supporter, and hated that the nickname stuck:

All of which made Mr. Royko’s epiphany even more striking. It came in 1980, at the Democratic National Convention, where Mr. Royko said that the best speech had come from — you guessed it — Governor Moonbeam.

“I have to admit I gave him that unhappy label,” Mr. Royko wrote. “Because the more I see of Brown, the more I am convinced that he has been the only Democrat in this year’s politics who understands what this country will be up against.”

Call our Butt Cracks Jim Bunning

Apparently, there is a national movement to call Jim Bunning by his proper name. Who knew? I just called him an ass, but that was a bit imprecise

tragically hip

Okay, this is simply a suggestion that should be forwarded to everyone on your email list:

Please immediately rename your butt crack, “Jim Bunning”.

Now, I know this isn’t much of a diary, and I even may take it down in 30 minutes or so, but what could be more fun than starting a nationwide trend of renaming our butt cracks, “Jim Bunning”?

Simply put, every time you would normally be tempted to use words and phrases like “asshole,” “bung hole,” “ass crack,” “butt hole,” “anus,” “shithole,” “arsehole” and, yes, “butt crack,” simply substitute the phrase “Jim Bunning” in its place! Imagine the scenarios…

[Click to continue reading Daily Kos: Just for fun, let’s rename our butt cracks, “Jim Bunning”!]

Just doing my part, even though Google no longer allows their search algorithm to be hijacked like this, unfortunately.

25 Blasphemous Quotations


There’s a bit of a dust-up in my mother country:

An atheist group in the Irish Republic1 has defied a new blasphemy law by publishing a series of anti-religious quotations on its website.

Atheist Ireland says it will fight any action taken against it in court. The quotations include the words of writers such as Mark Twain and Salman Rushdie, but also Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammad and Pope Benedict XVI.

The new law makes blasphemy a crime punishable by a fine of up to 25,000 euros (£22,000; $35,000). The government says it is needed because the republic’s 1937 constitution only gives Christians legal protection of their beliefs.

The new law was passed in July 2009 but came into force on 1 January.

[Click to continue reading BBC News – Irish atheists challenge blasphemy law]

Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

What kind of nonsense is this? Are there not more pressing items on the agenda than governments sticking finger in their ears to block out words they don’t want to hear? Anyway, the BBC, staid journalistic organization that it is, did not provide any samples of these quotations, so I had to find the site on my own.

Just a few excerpts, because I laughed at most, but you should read them yourself.

13. Bjork, 1995: “I do not believe in religion, but if I had to choose one it would be Buddhism. It seems more livable, closer to men… I’ve been reading about reincarnation, and the Buddhists say we come back as animals and they refer to them as lesser beings. Well, animals aren’t lesser beings, they’re just like us. So I say fuck the Buddhists.”

14. Amanda Donohoe on her role in the Ken Russell movie Lair of the White Worm, 1995: “Spitting on Christ was a great deal of fun. I can’t embrace a male god who has persecuted female sexuality throughout the ages, and that persecution still goes on today all over the world.”

Amanda Donohoe spitting on the cross

15. George Carlin, 1999: “Religion easily has the greatest bullshit story ever told. Think about it. Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time! But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more. Now, talk about a good bullshit story. Holy Shit!”

16. Paul Woodfull as Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly, The Ballad of Jaysus Christ, 2000: “He said me ma’s a virgin and sure no one disagreed, Cause they knew a lad who walks on water’s handy with his feet… Jaysus oh Jaysus, as cool as bleedin’ ice, With all the scrubbers in Israel he could not be enticed, Jaysus oh Jaysus, it’s funny you never rode, Cause it’s you I do be shoutin’ for each time I shoot me load.”

[Click to continue reading 25 Blasphemous Quotations «]

Religion and its zealots, hissing with hysteria, are so damned ridiculous.

  1. Is this the common term? Thought that was a defunct nation, a nation that existed from 1919 – 1922. Maybe the British press reverses the order of the words of the Republic of Ireland for some stylistic reason? []