No Excuse Necessary

With all the brouhaha about fake news, cooked data and other lies fed to us by politicians, scientists, government agencies, the media and so on, it should come as no surprise to anyone when I remind you all that my policy is not to trust information from any source, even when it’s apparently good news or supports one of my long-held beliefs or opinions. Like this one:

A glass of Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc could give your brain an all-over workout.
Drinking wine engages more of the brain than ‘any other human behavior’, according to one leading neuroscientist.
Professor Gordon Shepherd, from the Yale School of Medicine, said drinking wine sparks a reaction in both the sensory and emotional parts of the brain.

It is nice to have Science! endorse one of my long-held beliefs, although I must question whether Sauvignon Blanc has any of those properties (a decent cabernet or burgundy, however…).

And as I’ve always said, a meal without wine is… breakfast.

Lately, I haven’t been drinking much wine simply because I’ve been dining solo (Doc is working some insane hours at the moment), and I can’t drink booze by myself. (Can’t and not won’t. Seriously: no matter how much I may feel like a drink, if it’s not part of a social occasion the chances are excellent that at least half of it will be left untouched in the glass. I’ve been that way my entire adult life.) But if I buy those little single-serve wine bottles the next time I visit Ye Olde Liqueur Shoppe (say, this afternoon), I could probably overcome that habit and help my tired old brain out.

…even though next week I’m probably going to discover from some other doctor that drinking wine with a meal causes herpes or some such bullshit.

Screw ’em all; I’m going to do what I’m going to do, and a pox on anyone who wants to stop me. (I’ve been that way too, my entire adult life.)


Only In Cambridge

From The Englishman comes news of this atrocity:

A development of luxury homes in Cambridge has been daubed with graffiti – written in Latin, of course.
Vandals spray-painted the new five-bedroom river-front houses with the words Locus in Domos Loci Populum.

Locals have said the messages, which appear to be a protest against the development, could “only happen” in the university city.
The homes, in Water Street, Chesterton, priced from £1.25m are on the site of an old pub.
Cambridge University Professor of Classics, Mary Beard, said: “This is a bit hard to translate, but I think what they’re trying to say is that a lovely place has been turned into houses.”

Oh, good grief, it’s not hard to translate at all. What the graffiti actually means is “Private homes from public land.”  (What makes her mis-translation worse is that it’s a classical — i.e. republican Roman — sentence construction, and not Byzantine or European Medieval, so it should be well within her wheelhouse.)

Sometimes I fear for the fate of Western culture, when graffiti-protesters know more about Latin than do university professors. Or when I understand Latin better than Mary Beard, for that matter. They must have had a special deal on Classics degrees at Tesco the day she got hers.

Update: I got an email from a Brit Reader who says that the real atrocity is labeling those houses as “luxury”. I agree.

Might Be Me

this guy, that is; but it’s not, for two reasons: I have an alibi, and I wouldn’t be seen dead in Bristol.

This video shows a self-confessed ‘grammar vigilante’ who has been secretly correcting bad punctuation on signs and shop fronts in Bristol for the last 13 years.
By day the anonymous crusader is a highly-qualified professional with his secret known only to a handful of close family and friends.
But at night he becomes a shadowy figure who patrols the streets of Bristol, armed with his homemade ‘apostrophiser’ and purpose-built trestle.

Yes, I am a grammar Nazi like this guy. Worse than that, I am a grammar Nazi in several languages, especially in Latin, but more commonly in English.

Here’s an example of a typical Kim-the-grammar-Nazi rant:

Good grief, I hate accountant-speak (e.g. “…to 1.8% from 2.0%”).
In English (in which this report was written), we read from left to right, not to right from left; we go from point A to point B, not to B from A; we go from top to bottom, not to bottom from top; we run the gamut of emotions from A to Z, not to Z from A, and graphs (line and bar) also move from left to right along the x axis, not to right from left. (The basis for this construct is actually from the Latin idiom — “ab… ad…”, e.g. “ab terra ad astra”.)

And yes, if you look at the last sentence above, I put periods and commas outside quotation marks (where it’s not part of conversation), simply because that’s where they belong, and where all other punctuation can be found. Unless the comma or period is actually part of the quote, it should follow the quotation marks.

Observe this sentence:
The men were called “bullies,” “brutes,” “yobs,” and all other kinds of names.
Note how the quotation marks are awkwardly placed next to each other, and how the commas have no relevance to the words in quotes, which makes comprehension just a little more difficult and creates what I call a “cognitive speed-bump”. (See what I just did? The period ends the whole sentence and not the phrase, which is just part of the sentence.)
Now the sentence as it should be written:
The men were called “bullies”, “brutes”, “yobs” and all other kinds of names.
The commas are now in their proper role as separators, and not rootless nonentities drifting inside quotes.

Most American English grammar texts will differ from me and mark what I do as incorrect. I hate to say it, but I’m right and they’re wrong. Other than commas and periods, all other punctuation marks are written outside the quotes because they don’t belong inside; why should periods and commas be treated any differently? And that’s just my position on commas and periods; don’t even get me started on misspelled apostrophes. (“You mean apostrophe’s, Kim?”)

Grrrrr. Another reason I’m not the guy from Bristol is that there are no .45-caliber bullet-holes in those offensive signs. “Apostrophiser”? Bah.


My Real Hero

From last week’s post about well-dressed men (or rather, men who dress like slobs), I don’t want anyone to think that Don Draper is any kind of hero to me, other than as it pertains to his clothes.

My real hero in the Mad Men series would have to be Roger Sterling, he of the peerless quips and observations, and serial seducer and womaniser, a sublime mixture of sophistication and dissolution. How could you not be in awe of a man who says things like: “I like redheads; their mouths are like a drop of strawberry jam in a glass of milk” and  “Have another [drink]. It’s 9:30, for God’s sake.”

I never wish that I could be another man; but if I did, it would be Roger: utterly charming, cynical and right, every time. And even when he knows he’s about to make a catastrophic mistake (e.g. marry a much-younger woman), he just shrugs and does it anyway, fully aware of the consequences.

“Have a drink. It’ll make me look younger.”

Every single woman I’ve ever spoken to about Roger Sterling thinks he’s an utter bastard. And every single one of them admitted they’d probably let him have his way with them anyway. We mere mortals can only aspire to such greatness.

And for those Readers who wanted to see Joan Holloway, here ya go:

And Roger’s comment: “Has anyone even seen this baby, with you walking next to him?”



I remember once that Daughter was going out on a date with some guy (whom we hadn’t met), and of course we insisted on meeting him. (I should point out that we told her this a few days before the date, so there’s no excuse for what follows.)

So Date Day comes, the doorbell rings, and Daughter answers the door. Whereupon I hear some furious whispering from her — furious in that I could hear it from down the hall:
“You can’t show up to take me out dressed like that!”
“Why not?”
“I told you my parents are conservative!”
“I’m dressed okay.”
“No, you’re not — Jesus, they’re going to kill you! You have to go back home and change into something nicer! Go, go!” and I heard the door closing.

Of course, I got up and raced over to the library window to see what the kid was dressed like, to Daughter’s extreme embarrassment.

Let’s just say that he looked as though he’d just come from a beach party by way of working on his friend’s car, with dirty cutoff jeans, a ragged tee shirt, and flip-flops. No wonder Daughter had been appalled. And when I asked her, she said that she’d just used us as the excuse: she didn’t want to go out with him dressed like that. Good for her, but that’s not the point. Daughter had told young Slobbo, frequently, that her parents were conservative; so his appearance as a slob on that day was one of two attitudes (or both): “Screw your old-fart parents!” or “Your opinion doesn’t matter: I’ll dress the way I want.” (I should point out that a week later, he was gone from Daughter’s life. After she discovered that he already had a steady girlfriend at university in Houston.)

I don’t know when or how it became acceptable for women to dress up for dates, while their boyfriends think it’s okay to look as though they’ve just come from a beach party by way of working on their friend’s car, with dirty cutoff jeans, a ragged tee shirt, and flip-flops. I don’t even know why young women today put up with it, because at the heart of the matter, if the guy doesn’t care what he looks like when he’s out with her, I can’t help thinking that he doesn’t care what she thinks — surely, no woman would be proud to introduce Skid Row Simon as her boyfriend when he looks like, well, Skid Row Simon.

As with all things, allow me to illustrate with pitchurs. In each case, the girls are dressed exquisitely, while their dates… oy vey.

I should point out that in each case, the men are apparently no longer their boyfriends.

But my question is: what possesses women to answer the door to such slobs, and not say, “I’m not going out with you if you’re going to be dressed like that!” I can understand that less-attractive women may not have the luxury of turning down a date, any date; but the the two above could surely have said something. (For all the invective that Paris Hilton gets — mostly from envious people — you can’t deny that she’s always exquisitely dressed. And she can pick and choose her dates with aplomb, so why this?) And they’re not stupid young girls anymore, either: Paris was in her late twenties or early thirties, I think, when the above pic was taken.

At the heart of the matter is this: dressing like a slob when you go out by yourself is just being a slob, and while I disapprove, I don’t care too much because I have better things to rant about. But to show up for a date dressed like a fucking tramp shows profound disrespect for your partner — like she doesn’t matter — and that I cannot let go by without comment.

Young men need to get their shit together. What was a “statement” during the Dirty-Hippie Era (I was there, I know all about it) is no longer that statement; instead, the statement is: “I’m a tool and an asshole.”

And shame on women who enable this trend, too. I promise you this: if he doesn’t care how he looks to you, you don’t matter to him other than as a cock holster. Raise your standards, FFS, or you’re going to get treated like shit by men for your whole life.

Here’s one last pic to demonstrate the point: on the left, Don Draper and on the right, Jon Hamm. Same guy, different clothes.

If given the choice, a woman would prefer to go out on a date with the guy on the right (and it’s not a beach party), there’s something wrong with her.

For those men who want to update their look by going retro, start here.


In every cult, there are people who try to set their group aside from the rest of the population with language — in other words, creating a shorthand that only the initiates or insiders know, which (I guess) makes them feel superior to outsiders. Many times, this language is made up of abbreviations or (my particular bête noir) acronyms that create a level of inscrutability to the casual reader or onlooker and render the simplest of statements completely opaque to the uninitiated. (I’ll talk another time about academic language, which shuns abbreviation and acronym in favor of dense, elliptical words and phrases used as a shorthand among fellow academics and gives the users a veneer of erudition, usually false.)

The Mrs., who spent her entire life trying to undo the nonsense these people were spouting, referred to them as “mystics” — categorizing them as identical to the priests or priestesses at the various ancient oracles, who spoke in impenetrable riddles and then acted as translators of their allusions to the (paying) populace.

Until recently, the most egregious sinners were people in the information technology (IT) industry, with their MTBF (mean time between failures, a quality control — QA — measurement), AOP (aspect-oriented programming, which has no meaning to me at all), and so on. Go here, and if your eyes don’t start to bleed in a few seconds, you’re a better man than I am.

Don’t get me started on doctors, who have turned simple explanations of illness into jargon-ridden ur-Latinate Rosetta Stones of gobbledegook (e.g. a blood clot on the brain became a “cranial embolism”, a heart attack became a “myocardial infarction”, and so on). I’m sure it works just fine between doctors discussing a patient’s condition among themselves, but for us ordinary folks, it might as well be in Esperanto — which is probably the jargon’s intent: to make doctors sound wiser and more learned than non-medical people. (I can actually understand some of this bullshit better than most people only by dint of having studied Latin for over seven years.)

Incidentally, I am as guilty of this behavior as any of the above tools, because I am multilingual and often use foreign words or (especially Latin) abbreviations because to me, those expressions work better than their often-clumsy English equivalents. The German word Weltanschauung, for example, literally means “worldview” or “perspective on life”, but using it also gives a clue to its source, i.e. from Germanic philosophy. And I just used “i.e.” (id est, or, “that is [to say]”) in the previous sentence simply because I’ve always used the term and its use is universal, even though most people have no idea what the acronym stands for. I caught myself using Latin egregiously the other day, for instance, when I used the word sic (“thus”) twice in a row, but instead of leaving the thing alone, my brain translated the second sic into sic etiam (“also thus”) to show that there were two discrete applications involved. The philosopher Albert Jay Nock was probably the worst offender of this kind because his encyclopedic erudition caused him to scatter not only (Attic) Greek, Latin, French or German words throughout his writing, but sometimes entire paragraphs were written thus, probably because they described (in his mind) the situation or concept better than could be done in English, in the same way that most people use the Latin abbreviation “etc.” (et cetera, “and the rest”). Everybody knows, thought Nock, what it is that I’m describing, except of course that we don’t and have to rely on a translator to get his meaning. It’s ironic, of course, because while Nock’s philosophy has nigh-universal application, Nock aimed his writing purely at the Remnant, whom he assumed had equal erudition to his. (For an explanation of the Remnant, see Isaiah’s Job. Be careful: it may change your entire life, as it did both mine and that of The Mrs.)

I can only say I’ll try to do better, but I can make no promises.

All this pales into insignificance by comparison to people who toss off expressions like “This beta orbiter tried to neg the AMOG in front of the SHB to increase his SMV.” Allow me to translate: “This weakling who hangs around pretty women trying to curry favor with them tried to cut down a charismatic man in front of a beautiful woman, in order to make himself more attractive to her.” (AMOG = Alpha Male Of [the] Group or Alpha Male Other Guy, SHB = Smokin’ Hot Babe [sometimes V(very)H(ot)B(abe), and SMV = Sexual Market Value.)

I speak here, of course, of the PUA (pick-up artist) community, in which the High Priests have created this entire glossary of acronyms to show that, yes, they are the gate-keepers of knowledge which, if you buy their training manuals or pay to attend their seminars, you too, Mr. Sad Beta Male, can unlock the secrets of access to SHB pudenda (Latin alert) and become a “notch collector” similar to these skilled exponents of the art.

It’s bad enough when used in a sentence, but when used graphically or in a chart to illustrate a concept or theory, it becomes completely opaque. Here’s a beauty which attempts to show the correlation between a woman’s looks and the likelihood of her being bitchy:

VHB10 -> BQ 0
HB9 -> BQ 0-1
HB8 -> BQ 1-2
PJ7 -> BQ 3-4
PJ6 -> BQ 5-7
PJ5 -> BQ 6-10
PJ4 -> BQ 4-10
UG3 -> BQ 1-8
UG2 -> BQ 1-4
UG1 -> BQ 0-3
VUG0 -> BQ 0-1

VHB = Very Hot Babe, HB = Hot Babe, PJ = Plain Jane, UG = Ugly Girl, VUG = Very Ugly Girl, and the numeric qualifiers 1-10 are the common delimiters on the Female Hotness Scale (FHS). BQ, by the way, is Bitchiness Quotient, and the numeric qualifiers there are the levels thereof.

Note that this is presented as a scientific analysis or model, when in fact it’s no such thing: it’s a creation solely of the writer’s observation or theory and not supported by actual, you know, data — but creating acronyms gives it quasi-scientific gravitas — damn it, another Latin word, but you know what I mean, right? It’s kind of a pity, because the author at Chateau Heartiste has an excellent way with the English language, when he’s not talking utter bullshit like the above. (Credit where it’s due, though: he also called Trump for the overwhelming electoral victory long before anyone else did, so he’s a more-insightful observer of trends than most mainstream media pundits.)

What amuses me is that most of these PUA aficionados (whoops, Spanish, thank God for Hemingway) are or were themselves Beta males at one point in their lives — true Alpha males don’t need a process to seduce women: it’s completely intuitive or subconscious behavior on their part.

None of this should be taken to mean that I’m being at all dismissive of these Millennial Mystics, by the way. In terms of scoring with the chicks, it’s far better (and cheaper) than plying your would-be conquests with booze, although I note that anecdotally at least, most pick-up artistry takes place in bars because a.) that’s where the younger women hang out and b.) pick-up techniques work better on drunken women, apparently, which kind of undercuts the whole ethos (damn, now it’s the Greeks’ turn; this is getting tricky). But the most amusing part of this whole PUA thing is that as more and more dweebs adopt the practices, the more women are starting to identify the techniques and throwing them back into the hapless would-be seducers’ faces.

But back to the mystics in general. I refuse to be swallowed up by their bullshit, nor do I allow myself to feel in any way inferior to their apparent greater knowledge. I once listened to some consultant describe a proposed change, and the description was filled with consultant-jargon — oh yes, they too have to impress clients with their insider language — and when he was done, I said, as succinctly as I could: “I didn’t understand a single thing you just said. Could you restate it, but in plain English this time?”
“Oh,” he stammered, “I simply meant that we need to streamline the process to shorten our product’s time-to-market.”
“You mean, the time between the thing’s production and its appearance on the retailer’s shelf?”
Then why didn’t you just say  that, instead of having me waste all our time by getting you to explain it to me?

Roger Moore put it best, I think: “The point of language is to communicate your thoughts in the shortest possible time and in the clearest possible way.” My corollary to that excellent sentiment is, “And if somebody is not doing that, he’s either pursuing a different agenda or has something he wishes to disguise.”

And finally, I should point out that Moore’s “clarity” does not equal “simplistic” (I nearly wrote simplisme, but you guys would have chased me from the room, and justifiably so).

Semper claritas should be your guiding principle.