Sunday, May 20, 2018

“Entirely made-up”

From The New York Times:

The special counsel hopes to finish by Sept. 1 the investigation into whether President Trump obstructed the Russia inquiry, according to the president’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who said on Sunday that waiting any longer would risk improperly influencing voters in November’s midterm elections.

Mr. Giuliani said that the office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, shared its timeline about two weeks ago amid negotiations over whether Mr. Trump will be questioned by investigators, adding that Mr. Mueller’s office said that the date was contingent on Mr. Trump’s sitting for an interview. A spokesman for the special counsel’s office declined to comment.
But from Reuters:
Giuliani was quoted by the New York Times later on Sunday as saying that Mueller had said the investigation would wrap up by Sept. 1.

A source familiar with the probe called the Sept. 1 deadline “entirely made-up” and “another apparent effort to pressure the special counsel to hasten the end of his work.”

“He’ll wrap it up when he thinks he’s turned over every rock, and when that is will depend on how cooperative witnesses, persons of interest and maybe even some targets are, if any of those emerge, and on what new evidence he finds, not on some arbitrary, first-of-the-month deadline one of the president’s attorneys cooks up,” said the source, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sunday in The Trivium

This sentence came as a surprise:

When is position in relation to the course of extrinsic events which measure the duration of a substance, for example, Sunday afternoon.

Sister Miriam Joseph, The Trivium: The Liberal Arts of Logic, Grammar, and Rhetoric (Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books 2002).
[When, or time, is one of Aristotle’s ten categories of being.]

Saturday, May 19, 2018

From the Saturday Stumper

Today’s Newsday Saturday Stumper crossword, by Andrew Bell Lewis, left me defeated. Defeated by a Natick, or at least what I regard as a Natick, a crossing that calls for knowledge of Florida place names, thoroughbred horses, and surfing, producing one answer that looks plausible and one that looks just plain wrong, and which I didn’t even think to try.

But a clue that I especially liked, 67-Across, ten letters: “Half a Wimbledon match-up.”

No spoilers; the answer is in the comments.

[Natick Principle, a term coined by crossword blogger “Rex Parker” (Michael Sharp): “If you include a proper noun in your grid that you cannot reasonably expect more than 1/4 of the solving public to have heard of, you must cross that noun with reasonably common words and phrases or very common names.” Natick is a town in Massachusetts.]

Friday, May 18, 2018

Words for the day

Mike Rawlings, the mayor of Dallas:

I renew my call for Congress and the president to take substantive action on the mass shooting epidemic in our country. History will not look kindly upon those elected officials who failed to act in the face of repeated mass murders of our children. Spare us your thoughts and prayers and do your job.

”Yow! It’s 1956!”


[Zippy, May 18, 2018.]

If. If only.

These are the first and second panels of today’s Zippy. The model for the third and fourth panels: a 1957 photograph from Huntington Beach, California. Notice Lester’s Variety Store on the right, with hammer.

O dowdy world, that had such stores in it.

Related reading
All OCA dowdy world posts and Zippy posts (Pinboard)

Annals of pedagogy

Henrietta Pastorfield is an English teacher at Calvin Coolidge High School in New York City. Her colleague Sylvia Barrett, writing to a friend from college, describes Miss Pastorfield as a teacher who “woos the kids by entertaining them, convinced that lessons must be fun, knowledge sugar-coated, and that teacher should be pal.”

There’s this testimony from a former student:

In Miss Pastorfeilds class I really enjoyed it we had these modren methods like Amature Hour and Gussing Games in rows with a scorekepper and to draw stick figures to show the different charactors in the different books and Speling Hospital and Puntuation Trafic and Sentence Baseball with prizes for all thats the way to really learn English.
And from the school newspaper, the Calvin Coolidge Clarion: “The teacher who makes lessons most like games: MISS HENRIETTA (‘PAL’) PASTORFIELD.” Yes, Punctuation Traffic and the like are team games.

I’ve been quoting from Bel Kaufman’s 1964 novel Up the Down Staircase. In the 1967 film adaptation, Miss Pastorfield explains her pedagogy in a faculty meeting:
“Kid them along, make it a game. l have a new one this year: Hospital Spelling. Misspelled words are the patients, and the kids are the doctors and the nurses.”
Which prompts rakish Paul Barringer to suggest Punctuation Sex: “l shudder to think what an exclamation point might mean.”

I remember standing in a hallway years ago, listening to a game of Punctuation Football underway in a college classroom. Yes, that too was a team game. I have sometimes wondered if the instructor had read or seen Up the Down Staircase.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The past plead

I was puzzled by a graphic on MSNBC this afternoon: headshots of miscreants, each labeled Indicted or Plead Guilty. Not Pleaded?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage:

Plead belongs to the same class of verbs as bleed, lead, speed, read, and feed, and like them it has a past and past participle with a short vowel spelled pled or sometimes plead. Competing with the short-vowel form from the beginning was a regular form pleaded. Eventually pleaded came to predominate in mainstream British English, while pled retreated into Scottish and other dialectal use. Through Scottish immigration or some other means, pled reached America and became established here.
M-W goes on to say that after coming under attack in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, pled is now “fully respectable,” and that “both pled (or plead) and pleaded are in good use in the U.S.” In other words, people say and write these words (including, in M-W’s examples, Sinclair Lewis and a New Yorker contributor), so the words are okay.

In contrast, Garner’s Modern English Usage:
Pleaded has always been the predominant past-tense and past-participial form. From the early 1600s, pleaded has appeared much more frequently in print sources than its rivals. Commentators on usage have long preferred it, pouring drops of vitriol onto *has pled and *has plead. . . .

The problem with these strong pronouncements, of course, is that *pled and *plead have gained some standing in AmE. . . .

Still, pleaded, the vastly predominant form in both AmE and BrE, is always the best choice.
In a sentence, the past tense plead may pose no problem for a reader: “Appearing before a judge this morning, he plead guilty.” Even there, though, my first inclination is to read plead as a present tense. On its own, plead guilty may look like an instance of the present tense, or like a mistake for pled or pleaded. And pled itself may look like a mistake for the “vastly predominant” pleaded. To my mind, Bryan Garner is right: pleaded is the best choice.

[Garner on The Merriam-Webster Dictionary of English Usage: “I really cannot read a page of that book without having a significant rise in my blood pressure.” In GMEU an asterisk marks “invariably poor usage.”]

Net neutrality in Illinois

For Illinois readers only: Please consider calling your representative in the Illinois General Assembly in support of House Bill 4819, which would protect net neutrality in Illinois. Here is a page with the names of all current House members.

“Hourglasses, maps,
eighteenth-century typefaces”

An excerpt:



Jorge Luis Borges, “Borges and I,” in Collected Fictions, trans. Andrew Hurley (New York: Penguin, 1998).

Related posts
Borges manuscript found : Borges on reading : A sentence from “The Aleph”

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Domestic comedy

“I thought you said ‘Help yourself.’”

“No, I said ‘Laurel.’”

Related reading
All OCA domestic comedy posts (Pinboard)

[If you’re lost: yanny or laurel.]