Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Joker

Joker (comics)


Richard Bove on Kudlow: Who’s funding WikiLeaks? He raises this question, wonders if W-Leaks is basically market manipulation, a new form of inside trading. This in light specifically of new threat to expose a U.S. bank, with signs pointing to Bank of America. It would be an attack on the U.S. financial system.

Which name comes to mind as bankroller of W-Leaks? The man who hijacked the British money system a few years back, the Batman villain-Joker-like George Soros.

It’s the name I thought of. Silly?

Pope on condoms — and on what else?

Phil Lawler at comes up with something else from the book with the pope-on-condoms item:

If you want to drum up controversy on the basis of one quote pulled out of the Pope’s book-length interview Light of the World, how about this one, found on page 152:

Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation.

Unlike the now-famous quotation about condom use, this sentence isn’t pulled out of context. The Pope isn’t merely speculating. He isn’t raising a possible objection or exception to his own argument. His point is clear.

Thing is, he’s talking about his own institution, where among the clergy there may be no hotter issue.

Chicago Tea Party party, yeah!

The View Across the Snow-Covered Lexington Gre...

The other Lexington Green, at night

Lexington Green at Chicago Boyz spreads the word about a South Loop Tea Party gathering tomorrow night at 7 — Blackie’s, 755 S. Clark — where Adam Andrzejewski is featured speaker, with emphasis on the Open the Books project, a.k.a. forensic audit of state etc. He launches a devastating critique of the recently failed Brady campaign, and in the process of Brady:

I supported Adam on this blog when he was running for the Republican nomination for governor. I had the pleasure of speaking to Adam recently, and I said, and I firmly believe, that had he been nominated, the energy and excitement that caused a GOP groundswell nationwide would have carried him to victory as well. Adam would have presented a real alternative. (As I also told him, he is the only person I have ever voted for, not counting Reagan in 1984, who I actually thought would do a good job, rather than simply voting against the Democrat.)

On the other hand, Green continues,

Brady ran a lifeless and low-risk campaign, a typical idea-free Illinois Republican campaign, that was completely at odds with the spirit of 2010. He stumbled to defeat in a year where victory was there for the grasping, with the Republicans picking Obamas old Senate seat and four Houses seats in Illinois. There are times when fortune really does favor the bold, and this year was one of them. As a result we in Illinois are stuck once again with the feckless and hopelessly wrongheaded Pat Quinn, while the state swirls down the drain, an Island of Blue in a Red Midwestern sea, a big, out of step, bankrupt state like New York or Calilfornia. Too bad.

So well said, that. Maybe I will meet him at Blackie’s. But that can’t be his name, can it?  Lexington Green? (HT: the ever-helpful Instapundit)

The corruption of the Times

The New York Times building in New York, NY ac...

They do have their principles . . .

NY Times, purveyor of WikiLeaks, held up its skirts over ClimateGate revelations, which were too yucky for them. Ah, but that was different!

For a calmly reasoned skewing of The T, see the admirable Power Line.

Oh to be in Trinidad

The location of the Republic of Trinidad and T...

Trinidad & Tobago on the map

Have a look at life in Trinidad from my man Nicholas Stix, visiting his wife’s family there from Queens, a la R.K. Narayan.

Take this opener, from Somewhere in South Trinidad, picking up on an earlier item’s reference to Hindu-prescribed prayers for the dead 11 months after the funeral, in this case for his father-in-law:

We got through prayers for Pa without a hitch, except that hardly anyone showed. Over 150 people had showed for his funeral, in spite of the fact that it was held on a work day, but fewer than 30 for his prayers. Although The Boss [Nicholas’s wife] and her sister from Long Island traveled over 2,000 miles to come, only two of his four daughters living in Trinidad were present for prayers.

Water is a problem:

I’ve been coming since 1999, and the federal water authority, WASA, has locked off the water for hours (i.e., all day, until most people are in bed asleep) and days at a time, since long before that. That’s why everyone on the countryside has to have huge tanks holding up to 500 gallons of water. Most such tanks today are made of heavy-duty plastic, but Pa has two made of steel and concrete, weighing at least 300 pounds empty, in back of the house, and in front, facing the road. When the water locks off, you fill big, plastic paint barrels full of water, and schlep them in the house for bathing and washing dishes. We fill dozens of empty, two-liter Coke bottles with water for washing hands and drinking water.

He has more about the island here, including this:

Trinidad & Tobago [full name] really is a lush, island paradise. It is hot (86-95 degrees) year-round, mosquitoes, flies, and ants are plentiful, the soil is fertile, and most people are poor, by American standards. But though it produces bananas (called figs by the locals) that are sweeter than most youll find in the States, T & T is no banana republic.

The pope and condoms

Pope Benedict XVI in Sydney for World Youth Da...

Done in by incompetents?

Canadian pro-lifer Steve Jalsevac has discovered “the greatest and most damaging incident of Vatican media incompetence that has probably ever happened,” citing’s Phil Lawler, who wrote of “public-relations bungling at the Vatican,” and Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, who wrote of “baffling failures of some [of the pope’s] aides” — both in regard to the pope’s condom-approval comments.

Adventures in worship

Church in the park

Not my church but a very nice one

This morning at mass, I was miles away and completely unaware — 8:30 mass and not at all crowded — when I came to and stood and saw a hand reaching out for mine from my left, in the pew in front of me. It was Our Father time.

I took the hand with my left, holding on to the pew with my right. This matters. I don’t fall down a lot, in fact not at all lately, in part because I do not ask too much of my balance. But the guy two rows up, having grasped his friend’s hand with his left, was leaning back, looking at me and extending his right — across an entire pew.

I tried to shake him off, but he persisted, and I finally had to stage-whisper, “Too far!” He pulled back, but by then I was not saying The Lord’s Prayer very well, in fact not at all, having narrowly missed a dangerous balancing act.

The prayer was over in a few more seconds, I dropped the hand to my left and put both hands on the pew in front, breathing a sigh. In a minute, the handclasp of peace. The woman whose hand I’d held, having witnessed my shaking off the man’s hand, put hers out tentatively. I grasped it gingerly, fingers to fingers, having incipient arthritic issues and being in general not the hand-shaker I used to be.

And of course I had to do the same for the guy two rows in front, including a wink and a nod as salve to whatever feelings I had hurt (none, I decided), and that was that for my going-the-extra-mile worship procedures for the day.

Oh yes, I’m afraid I didn’t meet the searching eyes of the woman giving communion as she seemed to expect, so that our souls might if ever so briefly coincide and commune, because, I must confess, my chief interest was in Jesus, with whom I was trying desperately to make contact. In any case, I got in my “Amen” for her, I think before she said her piece, and she placed the host on my palm.

Back I went to my pew, hands not folded but at my sides, for balance’ sake. It’s better that way, you know. I mean the high-wire man does not hold his hands folded in front, and neither do I returning from communion.


Picture of Julian Assange during a talk at 26C3

Mug shot, December '09

This guy shapes up as a public enemy.

WASHINGTONThe U.S. State Department made a last-minute push to press WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange not to release what’s expected to be around 250,000 classified documents, arguing it could endanger human rights activists globally, U.S. counterterrorism operations and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He wants the names of the endangered, but no soap. For some reason the State Dept. doesn’t trust him.

Touting tout le monde

Double entendre postcard. "All right boss...

Double entendre postcard, late '30s to mid-'50s

Is it time to retire “tout”? So-and-So touts this, touts that, we read and hear it all the time. But does it always mean “recommend,” as the guy hanging around the race track recommends a pony, and with the seamy side of life, if not sleaze, that this usage implies?

Maybe ironically. We do live in an Age of Irony, where double entendre has become the lingua franca and you have to be on your toes whenever anyone says anything. (Not anyone. Transparent and forthright people we still have among us.)

But “tout”? has this:

v. intr. 1. To solicit customers, votes, or patronage, especially in a brazen way. 2. To obtain and deal in information on racehorses.

Brazen. That’s good. And racehorses, yes. In the last half of the 14th century, before my time, there was the middle English tuten, to look out, peer, probably akin to the Old English tōtian to peep out, says, which has the current meaning, “to provide information on (a horse) running in a particular race, especially for a fee,” and close to that, “to spy on (a horse in training) in order to gain information for the purpose of betting.” Also simply “to watch or spy on.”

So it goes with thousands of words. Poke around in their genealogies and you find history. Long time ago as a teacher, I had my high school frosh buy 30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary or another such vocabulary-helper in paperback and instituted a daily quiz on its contents. I have since thought that whole subjects could be taught entirely with vocabulary lessons, that is, definitions. Define the world and you own it, at least conceptually, which is all you can expect from classroom learning.

As for our daily, over-exposed meaning of “tout,” has “to describe or advertise boastfully; publicize or promote; praise extravagantly: [as in] ‘a highly touted nightclub.'”

Is it used a lot?

Search Chi Trib online on this day, and you get 262 occurrences (since 1999), from an eye cream in yesterday’s paper that “slips on smoothly and absorbs immediately. . .” and “touts the ingredient VitaNiacin” — wrong: the advertiser does the touting, not the eye cream, which can’t tout anything, no matter how smoothly it slips on and how immediately it is absorbed. Nor does it do the absorbing, unless you mean your epidermis is pulled up by this skin-eating salve. As for the advertiser, he touts on the basis of inside information gotten by spying on the manufacturing process . . .


a travel book chapter on Los Angeles, in the paper three days ago, that “touts not its fly-by-night, forever-young culture but rather its historic buildings and the revitalization of its old and formerly abandoned neighborhoods” — a now-standard editorial use that denudes the word of nuance and history and color. . . .

and on and on 260 instances later, to

an April, 1999 feature about finding a real estate agent: “While some agents tout their extra training, others say it’s not that important.”

Newspaper and copy writers work under the gun and search for the word that comes quickest to mind. They find “tout,” ready and willing to serve. But he’s tired. Give him a rest. Retire him (or her, if you insist: anything but the unutterably squeamish “them.”) Please.

DeLay’s laundering

Not being legally educated — not illegally either, I mean in the law — and reading over the years about money-laundering, I thought it meant sending ill-got gains to somebody overseas who used it to buy a house which you could then sell, pocketing the proceeds. Or something like it.

But ex-Rep. Tom DeLay did or initiated a series of legal deposits — from his PAC to the Republican National Committee to Texas state legislature candidates who then won office becoming part of a new Republican majority that led redistricting of Texas when DeLay as Congressional majority leader called for redistricting, which was followed in due time by election of a new batch of Republican congressmen from Texas.

And he may do 99 years.

“It will put more people on notice that something which by one perspective might be considered as legal on the other can be characterized as money laundering,” said Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia University Law School.

Which strikes me as a very cautious statement. Look out, people, you may think it’s legal, but someone might not. And there you will be.

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