Saturday, October 22, 2016

Usage tip of the day

From Leddy’s Imaginary Dictionary of Usage (2016).

Also from this non-existent volume: Nice .

Friday, October 21, 2016

Sarcasm and irony

An explanation:

Sarcasm. The student’s word for irony. Sarcasm intends personal hurt. It may also be ironic, but need not be.

Sheridan Baker, The Practical Stylist (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1962).
I’m happy to have Sheridan Baker’s confirmation of this point of usage, something I figured out for myself early on in my teaching, after reading student evaluations that began “He is very sarcastic.” I wasn’t sarcastic, but I learned to travel a road of greater straightforwardness, with fewer ironic twists and turns. I also learned to signal moments of comedy more clearly to minimize possibilities for misunderstanding. And I realize that the previous sentence may sound sarcastic, but honestly, it’s not meant to be.

Also from The Practical Stylist
&QuA? : Bad sentences : Excerpts


Any resemblance to actual #TrumpBookReport tweets is purely coincidental. These are my fake tweets:

Such bad generals- whatever happened to the element of surprise? Oh wait- it wasn't invented yet.


And btw- I was AGAINST the war in Troy.


10 yrs to get home? I don't think so. Look at a map!


Illegal immigration, a very old problem. We must build a wall.


And btw- NO ONE had more respect for women than Aenus. Didoh- WAY too attached.


Like the week I spent talking about Miss Universe, it's not coming back. It's a stupid search. LOSER!
Related reading
All OCA Homer, Virgil, Proust posts (Pinboard)

[It’s too easy, so I’ve stopped with six. I’ve followed Donald Trump’s habit of using dumb quotation marks (here, apostrophes). And in Trump fashion, a hyphen followed by a space substitutes for a dash. How would Donald Trump spell Aeneas and Dido ? Your guess is as good as mine.]

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dunning K. Trump

The Dunning-Kruger effect has interested me since I wrote a short post about it in 2010. Dunning-Kruger helped explain something I had noticed in teaching: that students with serious deficits often have wildly inflated opinions about their ability. According to Dunning-Kruger, a lack of competence entails an inability to recognize one’s lack of competence.

Watching the presidential debate last night left me convinced that Donald Trump is, among other things, a victim of the Dunning-Kruger effect. He has no understanding of how government works, no grasp of how military strategy works, and he has no understanding that he lacks an understanding. Thus his ludicrous assertions: that Hillary Clinton should have changed the tax system (at some point during her “thirty years” in government), that the United States military needs to employ “the element of surprise.” In the second debate he called for “a sneak attack.” A sneak attack! That sounds like the suggestion of a bright third-grader.

And Trump has no understanding that he lacks an understanding of how his words might sound to anyone not already allied with him. “Nobody has more respect for women than I do,” he declared last night. And audience members laughed. I’m reminded of the story of a Hollywood mogul declaring, “I’ve got more class than any son of a bitch in the room.” Or words to that effect.

A related post
Steve Bushakis and Donald Trump

Domestic comedy

[Film studies .]

“Have you ever seen it?”

“If I have, it was so long ago that I haven’t.”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

Fanaticism and reason

Stefan Zweig, Erasmus of Rotterdam , trans. Eden and Cedar Paul (New York: Viking, 1934).

But people cannot always be that patient. Zweig and his wife Lotte took their lives in 1942.

Other Zweig posts
Destiny, out of one’s hands : Happy people, poor psychologists : Little world : School v. city : “A tremendous desire for order” : Urban pastoral, with stationery : Zweig’s last address book

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I. Voted. Early.

I have come to think of early voting as a smart way to vote — you’re off the list, no one needs to spend time calling, and so on. This year I voted early just to be finished with it all.

Or in the words of a typist in The Waste Land , “Well now that’s done: and I’m glad it’s over.”

Klinkenborg’s October

Verlyn Klinkenborg:

“October,” The Rural Life (Boston: Back Bay Books, 2002).

I’ve been waiting to post something from “October,” but the temperatures have been hanging in the low eighties and high seventies. No way. But it’s cooler today, and to quote Robert Creeley, in a poem he wrote with Ted Berrigan, “the air is getting / darker / and darker.”

This post is for Stefan Hagemann. He and I were talking about Verlyn Klinkenborg a couple of days ago, before it felt like October.

Related reading
All OCA Verlyn Klinkenborg posts (Pinboard)

Orange light art

[“As seen in east-central Illinois.” Photograph by Michael Leddy.]

It’s no camera trick: that one light really is different from all the others. Can you guess why the store would have that one bulb be different?

Other posts with orange
Crate art, orange : Orange art, no crate : Orange art turtle : Orange batik art : Orange bookmark art : Orange car art : Orange crate art : Orange crate art (Encyclopedia Brown) : Orange dress art : Orange enamel art : Orange flag art : Orange manual art : Orange mug art : Orange newspaper art : Orange notebook art : Orange notecard art : Orange parking art : Orange peel art : Orange pencil art : Orange soda art : Orange soda-label art : Orange stem art : Orange telephone art : Orange timer art : Orange toothbrush art : Orange train art : Orange tree art : Orange tree art : Orange tree art : Orange Tweed art

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bertolli’s flare

From a television commercial for Bertolli Meals for Two, by DDB California, a descendant of the great advertising firm Doyle Dane Bernbach. Many people must have worked on this commercial — another DDB commercial for Bertolli credits more than three dozen — but DDB still needs someone who knows the difference between flare and flair .

Related reading
All OCA misspelling posts (Pinboard)

[If you watch the commercial, you’ll see that there’s no possible pun on the words. No candlelight, no gas flame.]