Archive for February, 2008


I have a long-standing interest in the process of how words are borrowed from other languages. This article in Rebelión, about Northern Ireland, contains the following term, which the writer appears to deem self-explanatory:


The interesting thing, from my point of view, is that it is a literal translation of an English word (securocrat) which is in itself an amalgam of a Latin word -securitas, and a Greek word- kratos. I’d never seen it appear before in Spanish -and a google search doesn’t produce any results- so if I would be inclined to include it -along with the Titanic and Gloria Hunniford- as another great Northern Ireland export.


Gotta Get Me Some Placebo

Prozac, the bestselling antidepressant taken by 40 million people worldwide, does not work and nor do similar drugs in the same class, according to a major review released today.

I hope there’s a news blackout on this in Northern Ireland, or by noon there’ll be thousands of people on the streets going apeshit, overturning cars and setting fire to Bruscar bins. By teatime they’ll be back in the house, taking down the hitherto beloved framed Fred Flintstone poster that hangs above the fireplace, which they bought in a breezy moment down the street a few years back.

‘Liberals’ for ‘Democracy’

A lot of American liberals don’t like Ralph Nader much. I’ve been trawling through quite a few big American liberal blogs today, which I rarely ever read, and have been quite surprised at the amount of vitriol and abuse directed towards him. A recurring theme is a diagnosis of narcissism, which, as Adam Phillips puts it, often takes one to know one. This post here on Daily Kos resorts to Max Weber, Hannah Arendt and Goethe, in its long-winded denunciation of Nader’s decision to run for President again. The poster calls it an ‘irresponsible exercise of democracy and free speech’. Yet Nader’s decision is perfectly responsible, in democratic terms, because he is asking people to endorse what he is saying by voting for him. They are under no obligation whatsoever to vote for him if they don’t like what he has to say. For this eejit to hold that (s)he is the one best placed to decide what is irresponsible, in terms of democracy and free speech, illustrates his/her own hatred for both.

If the people who voted for Nader had wanted to vote for Gore, they woulda. But Gore, for whatever reason, didn’t do it for them. And he didn’t do it for the tens of millions of American voters who preferred sitting at home on their asses either. This is Nader’s fault, apparently which is why Talking Points Memo calls him Bush’s Chief Enabler. There is a nauseating sense of entitlement in this, combined with no small amount of contempt for the ability of people to make up their own mind about things: whoever voted for Nader really should have voted for Gore but were just too stupid at the time to realise it – if only there were some way of preventing these people from functioning as independent thinkers.

An interview with Nader here:

Teethed to the Arm

This is the sort of headline that confuses learners of English:

Boy has arm bitten off by lion in China

The reader could be forgiven for wondering how he ended up with it in the first place, and why he hasn’t given it back yet.

Back Stories

As the rest of the country hoovers cocaine by the shovelful, the wildest my Saturday nights get this weather is coping with an overflowing nappy. My son’s nappy, of course.

Anyway, having spent today engaged in various taxing baby related activities, I started to feel a pang of nostalgia for the days when Saturday night meant getting stocious, and Sunday morning meant buying a bottle of Lucozade from the filling station, where one would scan the local tabloid headlines for some seamy tale of dirty deeds done dead dirty. So this evening I had a look at today’s Sunday Life, in remembrance of things past.

The front page headline is GAA Star’s Fureys Sex Tape, about some GAA star who likes to get down and dirty to the strains of ‘The Red Rose Cafe’. Correction: it’s the rather duller GAA Star’s Sex Tape Fury, about a GAA star whose home movie got swiped by bluetooth and ended up on the front page of the Sunday Life.

It says the player:

is immediately recognisable from the distinctive tattoo across the small of his back.

I had a look at the photo. The tattoo is a word in an Old English typeface: Graham, maybe. If I recall correctly, David Beckham has a similar tattoo across the small of his back, in a similar typeface, that reads Brooklyn.

I’ve complained about the silliness of tattoos before, but I’m willing to recognise that some tattoos are more aesthetically appealing than others. A word in an Old English typeface, however, makes you look a bit like a five pound note.

Where did the inspiration for this grand lettering across the small of the back come from? I’m going to stick my neck out and identify the Arsenal kit of some ten years back, modelled below by Emmanuel Petit and Marc Overmars.


A. ‘Rolf’ Hitler

The Telegraph is reporting on claims that Hitler drew Disney characters. It appears the man’s depravity knew no depths.

…and no news in the truth

A couple of weeks back I referred to claims made by Iraqi and US officials that were reported as fact in the press about the use of two women with Down’s syndrome as proxy bombs. It turns out, quelle surprise, that the story wasn’t true. Nothing new about military agencies releasing disinformation, and there’s nothing new about media outlets reporting military claims as fact either.

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February 2008
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