The Homophone and Homonym Intersection

So I was discussing homonyms and homophones with the lad today, and I started thinking about words that are both homophones and homonyms. That is, words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings for the same spellings.

Speaking to a six-year-old, an early example that arises is butt which has two meanings (to hit with the head, the backside) and has the same pronunciation as a word spelled differently (but).

So I’ve been kind of zoning out of conversations and whatnot over the last two days as I run through words in my head. I got row (roe). My beautiful wife contributed ball (bawl).

A bit of a word on the homonyms: I disqualify slang words or meanings that are obviously related, like dough (doe), where dough’s meaning for money is because it uses bread as a metaphor or tie (Thai) because the men’s neckwear is called that because you tie it. Although one could argue that the Twin Ion Engine acronym is a different meaning, but it’s a fictional thing and an acronym and not a proper noun, which is okay. You see, the rules are in flux.

Sorry for injecting that virus into your brain’s clock cycles.

Like An Old Man Driving With His Blinker On

The whole left-right thing continues to lose meaning as journalists continue to use “right-wing” to mean pretty much any political belief they disagree with. Case in point:

A Hungarian far-right politician urged the government to draw up lists of Jews who pose a “national security risk”, stirring outrage among Jewish leaders who saw echoes of fascist policies that led to the Holocaust.

You see, a German fascist who wants to round up the Jews is right wing. Just like small government types in America:

America’s left-wing Occupy movement and right-wing Tea Party are just two examples of the world’s new wave of activists, a diverse and dispersed collection of movements that also includes Spain’s Indignados (the “Indignant”) and the rebellious youth of the Arab Spring.

The smearing of the term to equate Republicans and Tea Party activists as fascists works. In 2004, I remember a friend whose political leanings differed from mine (and, as I surmise it, is no longer a friend because of it) telling me that George W. Bush was going to round up the Jews. He’s not a dumb guy. But he believes it because the convenient, meaningless journalistic shorthand reinforces it.

This just in: As a Republican, I am not a monarchist.

The political term right-wing originates from the French Revolution, when liberal deputies from the Third Estate generally sat to the left of the president’s chair, a habit which began in the Estates General of 1789. The nobility, members of the Second Estate, generally sat to the right. In the successive legislative assemblies, monarchists who supported the Ancien Régime were commonly referred to as rightists, because they sat on the right side.

If there’s one political disposition to centralizing authority in a single government leader, it’s not from my branch of the Republican Party.

Republicans need to make it clear that the whole “right-wing” thing is inaccurate and historically ignorant when it’s applied to contemporary politics, and maybe the journalists and commentators will drop it.

Link breadcrumb trail:
View From The Porch > The Munchkin Wrangler > Hit & Run

Will o’ the Wistful

Man, how it pains me to say the words, but I do have a favorite Kenny Chesney song in spite of how he briefly ruined an element of country music with the whole Beach Cowboy schtick that even affected George Strait, for crying out loud.

At any rate, I heard it on the radio the other day. “Young“:

The strangest thing about it is the double-effect nature of it (I am Mr. Double Effect Narrator right here). When I first heard it ten years ago, I was a little wistful appropriately for my teenaged years (although briefly and only at a surface level, of course, but that is the will o’ the wist).

Now, of course, I can be both wistful for its content and wistful for the time when the song was new.

In related news, that particular clock has started on this current song from Eric Church, “Springsteen“:

The first couple of times I heard it, I thought it was a pitch-corrected song by Willie Nelson. I even did the math in my head to figure out how old Willie Nelson would have been when Springsteen came out. Not 17, but young enough to be wistful for now that he’s almost eighty.

Hey, why not something wistful from Willie, then? “Mendocino County Line“, also from 2002 and featuring Lee Ann Womack:

I Raise You, X

I see Roberta X.’s moon over Roseholme Cottage and raise her one moonset over the Jones place:

Moonset over the Jones place

I didn’t have time to mount my camera on a tripod for the shot as I didn’t have much time between deciding to take a photograph, getting the camera, and getting the photo, so it really doesn’t capture it adequately.

On the other hand, add this to one of my accomplishments in the 1:15 for this morning. If you can call it an accomplishment.

UPDATE: Thanks for the link, Ms. X.

Hey, readers of The Adventures of Roberta X., I have a novel available called John Donnelly’s Gold that’s exactly like I Work on a Starship, except it’s not in first person, the main characters don’t actually have a job, there are no starships involved, and it’s a comic heist novel where four laid off IT employees seek revenge on the CEO of the company that laid them off. So it’s exactly the same in that it’s self-published. Roberta X. herself said of the novel, “it, too is quite an adventure and one that will have you wondering how it all turns out until the very end.” Also, it’s the only place in the world where the names Brian J. Noggle and Larry Correia are mentioned together unless my nephew talks about his annual Christmas gift.

The Most Productive 1:15 of the Day

My most productive hour and fifteen minutes of the whole day comes between 6:15, the time the alarm rings and preparation for school begins, and 7:30, when I load the children up into the truck for school.

In that magical period, I get the following done:

  • Make breakfast for the children (really, it’s only pouring cereal and milk, but).
  • Make lunch for the children (sandwiches, fruit, snack in a sack).
  • Empty the dishwasher (if dishes are clean).
  • Load dishwasher (if it’s empty and there are dishes to load).
  • Make bed; sometimes, I’ll change the linens completely.
  • Shave and dress.
  • Start a load of laundry.
  • Fold a load or two of laundry if available.
  • Clean up children’s breakfast dishes.
  • Get children dressed, enforce tooth brushing, get their assorted gear sorted and loaded.
  • Brush teeth.
  • Sometimes check a blog or two.

That’s a pretty quick moving hour and fifteen minutes, but it’s full of productive tasks, aside from the check a blog or two bit.

Yesterday, my next hour included:

  • Go to the supermarket.
  • Change linens on children’s beds.
  • Make breakfast.
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Tap out a couple of blog posts.

Somehow, the day’s list of accomplishments runs downhill from there. I mean, I did some work and I checked some blogs, but sitting at my desks leads to a uniform experience where time just passes and only a few bullet points get done, not all of them salutatory (you checked Instapundit again? You played Civilization again?)

If I had the same focus as I have that, well, not first hour of the day–I’m often awake for an hour before the alarm rings, an hour unfocused because I’m “waking up,” I would be a millionaire. Or I would feel much more content with what I do every day. But.

The reason I’m so efficient in that hour is that I do it six times a week (including Sunday, where “church” replaces “school”), so I’m very efficient at it, having drilled in it for a couple of years now. The remainder of the day is much more fluid and changing, so I can’t have developed that efficiency and productivity that yield the (same daily) bullet points of accomplishment in them.

I guess I need to make a daily set of bullet points of accomplishment each day beyond those seventy-five minutes and then to work earnestly to ensure that they’re meaningful and that I recognize x hours of paying work, a single bullet point or a couple of lines on a time sheet, are valuable, too. Also, I should get some things done away from the computer to break it up and have, if not dramatic impact, at least some visible sign that I did something besides checking LinkedIn or Twitter.

Well, there’s the alarm. Time to get something done.

Wherein Life Imitates Frank J. Before Frank J.

Revealed: How the U.S. planned to blow up the MOON with a nuclear bomb to win Cold War bragging rights over Soviet Union:

It may sound like a plot straight out of a science fiction novel, but a U.S. mission to blow up the moon with a nuke was very real in the 1950s.

At the height of the space race, the U.S. considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America’s Cold War muscle.

The secret project, innocuously titled ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ and nicknamed ‘Project A119,’ was never carried out.

. . . .

Under the scenario, a missile carrying a small nuclear device was to be launched from an undisclosed location and travel 238,000 miles to the moon, where it would be detonated upon impact.

The headline is a bit misleading, as the plan was to detonate a single atom bomb, not to destroy the moon.

But this secret now revealed makes me wonder how good Frank J.’s sources are, as he wrote the famous essay A Realistic Plan for World Peace a.k.a Nuke the Moon:

Now the world will be pretty convinced that America is frick’n nuts and just looking for a fight, but we need to really ingrain it into everyone’s conscious so that no one will ever even contemplate crossing us. This requires making good use of our nukes. I know, nukes can kill millions of people, but they sure aren’t doing anyone any good just sitting around. I mean, how many years has it been since we last dropped a bomb on someone? No one even thinks we’ll actually use one now. Of course, using nukes shouldn’t be done haphazardly; all uses have to be well planned out because the explosions are so cool looking that we’ll want to give the press plenty of notice so they can get pictures of the mushroom cloud from all sorts of different angles. But what to nuke? Well, usually the idea is populated cities, but, by the beliefs of my morally superior religion, killing is wrong. So why can’t we be more creative than nuking people. My idea is to nuke the moon; just say we thought we saw moon people or something. There is no one actually there to kill (unless we time it poorly) and everyone in the world could see the results. And all the other countries would exclaim, “Holy @$#%! They are nuking the moon! America has gone insane! I better go eat at McDonald’s before they think I don’t like them.”

Yeah, we all thought Frank J. was crazy or just being humorous. It makes you wonder what else Frank J. has the inside dope on. Is or ever was Glenn Reynolds a puppy-blender?

(Link via Ace’s place.)

UPDATE: It looks like fellow old-timer Stephen Green got here first.

The Only Way I Would Watch The Remake of Red Dawn

So we watched some football on Sunday, and they ran the commercial for the remade Red Dawn (in cinemas now!).

I’m with a wise man who long ago said:

By contrast, the long-stalled remake has become a sick joke. To wit: MGM has taken the extraordinary step of digitally scrubbing the film of all references to Red China as the invading villains — substituting dialogue, removing images of Chinese flags and insignia etc. — because “potential distributors are nervous about becoming associated with the finished film, concerned that doing so would harm their ability to do business with the rising Asian superpower.” All without the PRC even uttering a single word of protest.

And who are the new invaders? North Korea. That’s right, the starving-to-death, massively brainwashed “Hermit Kingdom.” I imagine at this very moment, Hollywood script doctors are working on a revised first act in which Kim Jong Il decides it’s a good idea to let hundreds of thousands of his captive countrymen travel to America.

The invasion would last about until the invading armies discovered the American concept of the supermarket, wherein they would all eat themselves sick or into a nap where even 21st century American high school kids could win against them.

The conceit offends me. Apparently, it did not offend enough people to make it the bomb it deserves to be, but those 21st century American moviegoers might lack enough understanding of logistics, current events, and history to think that North Korea might actually pose a threat to the United States outside of maybe Hawaii.

But you know what would make this film a must-see movie for me?

If, instead of reshooting the scenes referring to China, they dubbed over them. Badly.

I would go to see it if every time the characters referred to the origin of the invaders, the actors’ mouths would say “China,” but a deep male voice in the audio track would say “North Korea.” I’d even nominate it for a People’s Choice award, if I’m eligible as a people to do that sort of thing, if the dubbing would include obvious mistakes such as referring to the capital of the invaders’ country incorrectly. The actors’ mouths would say, “Beijing,” but that deep voice (even if it was a woman speaking) would say, “Seoul” or “Manila.”

That, my friends, would be awesome.

Lowe’s and the Two Kinds of Fairness

Lowe’s wants an Internet sales tax. For fairness.

“We lose sales every day — not just on Black Friday — but any time we compete or try to compete on an unfair playing field,” said Scott Mason, vice president of government affairs for Lowe’s, the home improvement chain, which has Black Friday specials on everything from cordless drills to vacuums to artificial Christmas trees. Lowes.com collects sales tax from shoppers in every state that has a sales tax and where the company operates stores and warehouses. “It’s absolutely a position of disadvantage.”

Meanwhile, Lowe’s continues to build in developments within Tax-Increment Financing Districts, where the sales tax is often higher than surrounding areas.

  • Lowe’s proposed for northwest

    A Lowe’s home improvement store apparently will be the centerpiece of a development described in the city’s first official application to create a Tax Increment Financing district here.
     

  • Selectman denounces Lowe’s holdup

    Town Manager Michael Chammings said he was disappointed with the decision by Lowe’s, after the efforts of Norway and Oxford to support the project. He referenced the approval by Oxford residents of a tax increment financing district for Lowe’s, which aimed to use captured revenue to improve municipal water service to the northern part of the town.
     

  • Tulsa Hills adds major retailers to Southwest market of Tulsa County

    Under a tax increment district financing plan, about $16.6 million of the property tax revenue from the center will be set aside to pay for infrastructure.

    . . . .

    The $105 million shopping center will have several anchor tenants, including Lowe’s, Target and Belk.
     

  • Green Mount Commons in Belleville, Illinois, which has caused the city to be sued over and over again:

    Taken as a group, these ordinances establish a tax increment financing district and a business district to enable a St. Louis development company to develop a Wal-Mart store, a Lowe’s home improvement center, a housing development, and a strip center.

Now, it seems to me that Lowe’s wants its fairness both ways: It wants fair treatment in special set-asides and special tax rates in places where it directly benefits from the unlevel playing field, where tax rates differ based on location within a municipality and where tax benefits accrue to those extra equal businesses helped by the local governments often at the expense of smaller businesses in the area who didn’t get helping hands in their development and who get additional competition from the government-assisted larger stores. Some developments get them, and it’s just not fair if the ones with the Lowe’s in them don’t get them, too.

Lowe’s also wants the Internet fairness of making sure that its algorithms don’t have to calculate myriad tax rates whose myriad actually proliferates when Lowe’s wants to be part of a new development.

In other words, fairness and “level playing field” have multiple meanings depending upon how they impact the corporation. Who has, apparently, an executive in charge of helping to manipulate legislation across the country to the company’s benefit.

Lowe’s isn’t the only retailer playing this game, by the way.

(Link to the Politico piece seen on Hot Air.)

Emergency Holiday Substitution Hint

Run out of whipped topping before you’ve run out of pumpkin pie? Dill dip makes a convenient and obvious substitute!

In an unrelated rant, what is it with fickle children’s tastes these days? One day they love something and can’t get enough, and the next they’re upset and refuse to eat almost the exact same thing.

The Christmas Straggler

We’ve reached a point in our lives where we’re actually decorating for Christmas. For a while, we’ve put up a Christmas tree, since we had a family. But we’ve gone past that now and into putting little Christmasy tchotchkes around the house. Well, the living rooms. We’ve not hit that middle-of-life suburban point where we swap out artwork on the walls–unlike a certain aunt of mine–but we do put up mementos. Mostly it comes from me, of course, with my personal-relicophilia. If my mother put it up on the shelf once when I was young, it represents a Christmas tradition going back throughout the centuries. Now that the number of people with whom I’ve shared actual Christmas traditions from my youth dwindles, I need these silly little memory triggers to make sure I remain increasingly depressed during the Christmas holidays. Now, what was I saying before I was rummaging through the junk drawer for single-edged razor blades?

Ah, yes.

So now that we’re doing the little knick-knackery for Christmas, we spread them out on hearths, on bookshelves, on the piano, and whatnot. We disperse them so that when you look, you might catch a little bit of the spirit or whatnot. However, at the end of the holiday season, when we take down the decorations in early January, we don’t always get all of the bric-a-brac back in the boxes. For a week or two, we’ll find another something here or there. A sleigh. A pine cone. A stuffed Christmas tree. Something that had faded into the background over the course of the month that our eyes skipped right over it when it was time to de-Christmastiate.

If we found it in a couple of weeks, we’d still have the wherewithal to pull the boxes out of the most remote storage location in the house, which we always reserve for Christmas gear (although at Nogglestead, it’s a small closet beneath the steps, where we have to bend and twist to get the things out, but it’s not as bad as the attic at Old Trees). But after enough time has elapsed, we sort of let it go and either tuck the tchotchke into a drawer or just let it hang out for the year.

This year’s Straggler of the Year is a little elf-bearing-gifts on the clock:

The elf ran up the clock

My Nana gave me that a couple years ago, sometime after my first son was born. I think it came with a little boy doll that she gave us to decorate his room. For a while, it did, but after we left Old Trees for Nogglestead, the doll moved to the basement and the little elf rightfully became a Christmas decoration. Well, it would have, if we put it away after Christmas.

But atop the clock, it’s outside the normal range of the eye as it travels through the room. I sort of hid it a bit behind the clock’s facade for much of the year, but now that it’s appropriate again, he’s stepped out.

Hopefully, one of you will remind me sometime in January to pack him away this year. Undoubtedly, though, next year we will have a different winner of this annual award.

Paperback Readers

I’ve added a couple bits to the sidebar for pulp fans like me. Well, it is for me, since I’ll be using them, but they’re good reads for paperback lovers:

That ought to hold you between my silly little book reports.

Sisterhood of the Purple Pants

Good god, man! Have we unlearned so much as to unleash this upon our young again?

Purple pants

Purple pants? Must we repeat everything of the 1970s again?

Allow me to dictate a rule of fashion to you people who aspire to be something like men, except with sore thumbs not from hitting them with a hammer while trying to be something like a man (a real man has evolved to hitting the actual nail) but from playing video games all day (although some real gamers would say they’ve evolved to have strong thumb muscles that no longer get sore, with which I would quibble over the word evolve). At any rate, the rule is:

No purple pants unless you are a clown.

Which is a bit of a tautology. If you’re wearing purple pants, you are a de facto clown. And not a scary, nightmare-fodder clown. A clown like Shakespeare would have wrote about. A buffoon from, well, not the country in the modern case, but rather from some enclave in the city where they have Brooks Brothers stores and where women smile warmly and not in mockery when walking next to someone wearing purple pants. Although I am not 100% sure that the female model in this ad is not laughing at the model in the purple pants.

I’ll not be shopping there, thank you. I’m holding out hope that George Zimmmer hasn’t loaded Men’s Wearhouse with these things so I don’t have to deal with them in the event that I buy a good suit in the near future. I’d hate to have to (and by hate to I mean “would really love to but would be conflicted by the expense of”) go to London to get a real bespoke suit.

The Misinformation Continues….

So my six-year-old asked me about cannibalism the other day. I’m not sure how it came up; maybe he was talking to Marc or something. More likely, he’d heard something about it at school, since he got the idea that some people practiced it. “What state do they eat their enemies?” he asked.

“They don’t do that in any state; it’s a bad thing, and there are better things to eat then people.” That’s standard Daddy lectures about natural history and whatnot. Then the Brian J. lectures about history kicked in, and the misinformation commenced.

“Did you know that cannibalism and Canada share the same root word?” I asked.

I don’t know why I do that to the poor lad; he trusts me, well, at least as far as possible, and now he’s got the notion that Canadians are cannibals.

On the other hand, there’s not a lot of ways that could go wrong. Certainly, we’ve never had Patch, my Canadian co-pilot from my testing days, over for an actual meal and probably won’t any time soon, so the boy won’t worry about what’s in the pasta’s meat sauce.

And, on the other hand, it could actually benefit the boy if, after the disintegration of civilization, the Manitoban tribe comes raiding out of the frozen steppes. He and his family will fight to the last to avoid that fate worse than mere death.

Book Report: Winter Has Lasted Too Long by James Kavanaugh (1977)

Book cover Given the tone and type of look of this book, one can’t help but think of Rod McKuen. In tone, both are about aging poets in love with their own poetry and their role as poets, both talk about relationships coming and going and the heady starts of them and the different ways the relationships end, many of them with disappointment.

But, interestingly, Kavanaugh has a different background than McKuen: He was a priest who wrote a 1967 book about how the Church should change in all the ways that they say now that the Republican Party should change. In a speech at Notre Dame, he tore off his clerical collar and stomped on it and became, ten years later, the poet that he is in this book. His interest in marriage didn’t end with one wife, apparently, and one assumes he had other women between them. (According to his bio at the James Kavanaugh Institute.)

At any rate, the tone of the poems, as I said, are of an aging man in the middle of his life, dealing with the knowledge that he’s no longer young but not yet old. The poems have moments where they connect with men of a certain age (and had an audience in the middle 1970s, where the sweaters and the poetry books were an outward sign of coolness even in early middle age), but (as my beautiful wife pointed out), they aren’t very poetic. The verses do not contain a lot of evocative imagery drawing out the theme and conclusions. It’s philosophical musings with line breaks.

So there you go: It’s like McKuenesque poetry with a more dramatic poet backstory. There might be something in it for you, but the moments are just moments amid a whole book of sometimes repetitive sentiments. Which is what you get with any book of work by any single poet, even Edna St. Vincent Millay or Robert Frost.

Books mentioned in this review:

Book Report: Monster From Out of Time by Frank Belknap Long (1970)

Book coverOne of the 1000+ page books I’m working on this year to which I constantly refer is the Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft. Man, I hit “Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath” and bog down every time, which is why I have not ever read that story before and why I keep putting the volume of Lovecraft down. So in the interreadnum, I picked up this book by Frank Belknap Long because I know he’s associated with Lovecraft, it even has the title like something Lovecraft would have written.

The story is about two scientists and their significant others in Mexico, both of whom encounter a strange beast that arises from the Earth, and suddenly they’re transported to an icy plain. They have to learn to deal with their predicament.

And they do, wordily.

The writing style is the worst of Lovecraft, with a lot of verbiage that throws the pacing off. Working against Long, he writes in the contemporary lingo so the discourse lacks some of the delicious archaism that works in Lovecraft, and some of that wordiness lies in philosophical chit-chat that’s preposterously placed. For example, when one couple comes to their senses on a frozen plain, they talk about whether it would be okay to kill the stranger in the distance for his clothing if he turned violent and did not want to help strangers. They discussed this for several minutes before realizing that they were, in fact, dressed for the Mexican jungle on a frozen plain.

So it’s a short book, more akin to the juvie science fiction work of the 1950s than to actual Lovecraftian horror. The scientists team up, a little woman acts intemperately and gets kidnapped by the large-footed natives of the region, the scientists follow the trail and end up in an arena scene, and suddenly they are back to their own times. They speculate on the titular monster, who does not make an appearance after triggering their transport to the past, and the end. The monster is only the catalyst that leads to their ice age adventure, as it were. Which, I guess, is a bit Lovecraftian; it would not be otherwise if it were answered, bested, or understood.

So it’s a quick little read, probably interesting if you’re interested in a cross between juvie sci fi and Lovecraft that’s unbalanced toward the juvie sci-fi. It’s short enough for a one- or two-day read, too, but it does not lend itself well to continuing “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath”.

Books mentioned in this review:

The Dole Bandwagon

This advertisement in a local bimonthly newspaper in the Springfield area made me livid:

Half of everyone is doing it, but it's the cool half

This government advertisement seeking to enroll people in government redistribution programs gives up the pretext of appealing to people who might need supplemental assistance for temporary circumstances. Instead, it goes directly to the bandwagon advertising.

It’s about expanding a government program by convincing people who are not already in the program that so many other people already are. It’s not about convincing a new or expectant mother that she needs it; it’s about convincing her that everyone else is already doing it, so she should, too. There’s no stigma. It’s even maybe cool.

Meanwhile, expanding social programs require increased government spending, and the government is manufacturing money to pay for those programs. That created money makes groceries cost more, so more people need the supplemental plans to get the basic necessities. The program gets more clients, which means it gets more budget and probably more people to serve the growing client base. Government programs serve the government first. Always.

Meanwhile, in my isolated bubble, I’m not on WIC (my children aren’t babies, so they might not qualify for this statistic). I used to fill out the checks when I was a cashier at a grocery store twenty years ago, but my only exposure to the program these days is through advertising and through the little lists printed and taped to grocery checkout stands. You know, the ones that explain new limitations on the program and different products that will no longer be available because of the greedy, heartless Republicans who limit the budget. Not because the growing (goal for 2013: 60% of all Greene County babies!) program participants sharing the limited program budget, not because inflated prices of necessities eating that same limited budget, not because of the new hybrid, high-margin food products being created that need clarification, but because of me.

I’m not saying there’s not actual need out there; I’m the sort of Republican who not only pays his taxes but also gives hundreds of pounds of food annually to local food banks. But this ad is not about need. It’s about fitting in. And it’s odious.

Not 100% Accurate

“Hey, Dad,” my six-year-old son said as I passed by his doorway this weekend. “You know that war we had with the British?”

“We have had two, not counting miscellaneous guerrilla skirmishing amongst them,” I said.

“The one with the fort?” He gestured at something atop his cabinet, formerly known as his changing table. “With the rockets.”

I stepped into the room and looked at what he had created.

Continue reading “Not 100% Accurate”