Setting the Record Straight

September 1, 2008

Dan Quayle In A Skirt?

Oh, No! Not Again!

     In her first speech as a national candidate, John McCain’s pick for running mate sounded too much like the current White House occupant.
     Sarah Palin referred to nuclear as “nuke-you-ler” and identified the country in which the United States illegally and foolishly invaded as “eye-rack.”
     Do we really have to listen to this for another two months, or, gasp, for another four years?

How a Vice
President Speaks  

     We deal with personal scandals as just that, personal, and leave it to tabloid-cable to exploit except when a possible abuse of office or policy is involved. We always deal with grammar.
     In one of her first statements on the subject of being vice president, she asked, quite sincerely, what the vice president does all day. Well, one of the things the vice president does is serve as the president’s personal ambassador, meeting exquisitely educated leaders all over the world.
     But one of the e-mails she wrote during her family dust-up that might lead to something we will need to consider, was this: “lack of action towards a trooper whom is described by many as ‘a ticking time bomb’ and a ‘loose cannon.’”
     Give her credit for trying, but she misses the point of the difference between “who” and “whom.” The action she is referring to is about him, and since “who” is the subjective case, even though the part of the sentence in which he is mentioned would appear to put him in the objective case, the phrase should have been: “a trooper who is described by many as a ‘ticking time bomb’ and a ‘loose cannon.’”



August 29, 2008

Two Blows to U.S. Sports

Filed under: life,news — straightrecord @ 9:41 am
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Bye, Bye Baseball,

Annyong-Hi Kashipshio Ladies Golf

         In the same recent week, two major U.S. sports took a pair of shameful PR steps, shameful even for an American industry that already should be embarrassed by highly paid “super- stars” and bottom-line team owners more interested in the name on the stadium or tournament than the players who work in them.
          Major League Baseball–don’t say it without adding “Inc.”–has decided to denigrate one of the most valuable aspects of major sports, the referee.
     The league already had brought shame on itself by tolerating steroid usage in the league and tearing down multi-million dollar stadiums and blackmailing municipalities to help replace them with multi-billion dollar venues for some of the world’s highest-paid athletes.
     Because some of those Hollywood-style incomes depend on endorsements, which in turn are based on sports-page statistics, baseball umpires have come under increasing attack when they make the wrong calls; wrong, that is, based on television replays.
     Anyone who has ever played baseball, along with other sports that require umpires or referees, knows they are keys to the games, even when they occasionally make a bad call. As an athlete, you complain, but learn to suck it up and go with the fact the umpire is just as human as you are.
     Well, major league baseball has decided to sell out to the television empire by allowing TV replays to decide if an umpire is right or wrong.
     Next in the same week came the Ladies Professional Golf Association, which ruled that all participants in its tournament must be able to speak English. That apparently is a response to the dominance in the distaff side of the sport by Korean women.
     What does speaking English, indeed, speaking at all, have to do with playing professional golf, either as a woman or a man? We live in a global society; let the international players in our sports speak their own language. Unless their lack of English is preventing them from being articulate spokeswomen or repre- sentatives the LPGA prefers to present to the world, we have to ask, other than being able to translate meters in to yards and centimeters to inches, what the deuce does speaking English have anything to do with playing golf?


August 22, 2008

Pavlov & Presidents

How Would Pavlov’s Dogs Vote?

     Feel like salivating when you hear a campaign speech? Whether the response is drooling, anger, joy, whatever, the response is no accident, because as far as the two presidential campaigns are concerned, you are little more than one of Pavlov’s dogs.
     Just over a century ago, Ivan Pavlov, a Russian scientist whose biggest achievements were in the fields of medicine, became eponymus for conditioned reflexes when he conducted experiments on training a dog to salivate at the ringing of a bell.
     Pavlov won the Nobel Prize for showing that a dog, conditioned to expect a treat whenever a bell rang, actually salivated at the ring of a bell in anticipation of a treat, regardless of whether the treat was proferred.
     The Pavlovian bells in a presidential campaign are certain phrases, known as propaganda techniques. We’ve already heard many, we are about to be inundated the rest of them. Some lists have up to a dozen items, but the major ones we’ll see in the campaign are: glittering generalities, assertion, lesser of two evils, plain folks and transfer.
     To be a responsible voter, one needs to be able to recognize those and other lures in the candidates’ speeches and statements intended to ring whatever bell they believe you want rung, and make you salivate for their election.
     Thanks to the early primaries, we have been inundated already with a plethora of propaganda techniques that can be classified as Pavlovian bells. More are coming. We are not talking here about the moronic tabloid-cable gotcha quotes, mostly taken out of context.
     Most of the moronic stuff you have heard so far comprises the “transfer” propaganda technique. It includes tying the statements of Barack Obama’s former minister to Obama himself; tying the incumbent president to John McCain, even the positions of the president with which McCain disagrees.  
     The serious Pavlovian statements are the ones candidates, both McCain and Obama, make to tweak your patriotism, prejudices and similar feelings, but mostly to take advantage of your ignorance.
     You have McCain saying early on, “I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.”
         First, let it be known Obama did not say he would rather “lose a war in order to win a political campaign,” this is a phrase inserted into Obama’s mouth by McCain (assertion). But McCain did say he would rather lose a campaign than lose a war (lesser of two evils).
         This is a rah, rah statement (glittering generalities), meant to appeal to your patriotism, a false patriotism. The United States has not won a significant war since World War II. The best it has done is fight to a draw in Korea. In making the statement, McCain may feel it in his heart, or he is simply counting on the outcome of the Iraq war not being decided by Nov. 4.
     Do we really want a president so gung ho he would have had us fight on and on and on in Vietnam, far beyond the 58,000 American dead? If a president had had the guts to admit defeat and leave Vietnam (as we eventually did) years earlier, tens of thousands of American lives would have been saved.
     You have Barack Obama saying, “We meet at a moment when this country is facing a set of challenges unlike any we’ve ever known. Right now, our brave men and women in uniform are fighting two different wars while terrorists plot their next attack.”
         Today’s situation is bad, but we have faced worse times, and recently (card stacking). Candidates never talk about the military, whether it is engaged in a dust-up or all-out war calling them “brave,” (glittering generalities) even though they have not had a choice but to follow orders once they’ve signed up.
         And Obama is counting on a Pavlovian response to the fear of terrorists plotting a new attack as evidence the United States needs a new way to deal with threats (pinpointing the enemy).
         Finally, in most of his speeches, Obama attempts to characterize himself as an outsider who wants to bring about change (plain folks). He is a U.S. senators and that makes him an insider, but talking against “Washington,” of which he is an elite part, elicits a Pavlovian response from the voters.
     Not that more than a few dozen wise voters will ever get the chance between now and November to ask a candidate a question, much less challenge him on his statements, but these statement carefully intended to elicit Pavlovian responses are the very ones that need to be challenged.
     It is the news media, which has its access as representatives of the public, that must ask these questions, challenge these statements and, force responsible answers to the real issues of the day.
     Don’t bet on it. This is the age of tabloid-cable and blogging—the campaign will be about little more than how many houses a candidate knows his rich wife owns (name calling) or whether the other candidate is enough of a Christian to lead this supposedly secular nation (name calling).
     Other propaganda techniques, already professionally massaged in the commercials and programming that floods the airwaves, include bandwagon and stereotyping. There is one other.
    Where did both candidates plan to be on September 11? Of course, in New York City as each attempted to elicit the same Pavlovian response by the voters (testimonials).


August 1, 2008

Of Pigeons & Peanut Butter

Filed under: life — straightrecord @ 1:56 pm
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More Random Musings from Veritas


          ‘Splain to me this:

          –It is said that peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth. But isn’t that the CEILING of your mouth?


Squab anyone?

          –When was the last time you saw a baby pigeon?
          –When a street is level, do we speak of neighbors “just up the street” or “just down the street?”
          –Why do authorities close down a highway, but close up a business?

          –What is the need for so many euphemisms for “died” and “dead?” A friend “passed” or “passed away.” Soldiers were “taken” or they are among the “fallen.” A crime victim was “gunned down.” Our beloved auntie is “deceased.” Some form of “to die” would take care of all these.


          –Why do some people, I guess mainly southerners, speak of a week from Saturday as “next” Saturday? To them, the very next Saturday that will occur is “this Saturday.” Go figure.




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