November 29, 2008

yay for beagles

The winner of the Westminster Kennel Club Show always gains at least 15 minutes of fame and becomes an ambassador for his breed. What happens if the winner belongs to a most beloved breed already? This:
Nine months into his reign as the first beagle to win the Westminster Kennel Club Show, 3-year-old Uno is not fading away. He is the show’s busiest-ever Best in Show titlist. He was the first one to be celebrated as a champion by President Bush in the White House Rose Garden last May and still wears the red, white and blue collar that Laura Bush gave him....Now, the world-famous dog show ace is preparing for another first for a Westminster winner: on Thursday, he will be aboard the “Peanuts” float, a rendition of Snoopy’s doghouse, at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (more here/NYT)
And here's a picture of Uno on the day of the parade.

November 25, 2008

No holiday wishes from the Miller's

As I was browsing templates for personalized holiday cards on, I came across this helpful (or condescending, you decide) note:
Apostrophes typically are used to show possession. To pluralize surnames, add -s or -es at the end of the name for most cases. (e.g., The Martins or The Joneses).

In other words: Please don't embarrass us by sending out cards with printed on the back that say "Merry Christmas from the Miller's."

(Of course, it is rather the exception than the rule that the apostrophe in English indicates possession. Usually, it indicates that a letter (or more) has been deleted, as in "hasn't" or "I'm" or "we've".)

November 23, 2008

rabbit meets reindeer

Chocolate Easter bunnies from Lindt ("Goldhasen") are very popular in Germany. Not at Christmas, though. Therefore, I was slightly taken aback when I saw them today at Target.

It turns out the hard-working bunnies are putting in an extra shift as reindeers. Poor little guys, they're not pulling it off very well.

November 19, 2008

zero tolerance for "this criteria"

"I have only one criteria for putting things into the quarterly, which is that the writing is good. It's not so much about it being academic," declared Lewis Lapham, editor of Lapham's Quarterly, at a reading hosted by the literary journal at the National Arts Club on Monday, Nov. 17." (stumbled over here)
Perhaps you might want to start with using criteria as a plural noun -- because that's what it is. The singular form is criterion, from Greek. The quote above reminds me of that terrible (and terribly self-righteous) book Eats, Shoots & Leaves, about which Louis Menand wrote in the New Yorker:
The first punctuation mistake in “Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation” (Gotham; $17.50), by Lynne Truss, a British writer, appears in the dedication, where a nonrestrictive clause is not preceded by a comma. It is a wild ride downhill from there.

November 17, 2008

pet peeve: no problem

I guess I'll return to the topic once I have received and read a copy of this article:

Schneider, Klaus P. (2005): 'No problem, you're welcome, anytime': Responding to thanks in Ireland, England, and the U.S.A. In: Barron, Anne / Schneider, Klaus P. (eds.): The Pragmatics of Irish English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Scheider lists "no problem" along with "don't mention it" as a thanking strategy that minimizes the favor. By contrast, "you're welcome" is a strategy that is used to express appreciation of the thanker. He quotes a study according to which the minimizing strategy is more common in American English than in British English. However, the appreciation strategy, according to a questionnaire study carried out by him, is even more typical of American English.

November 16, 2008

the puppy, again

Yeah, it's not really a very funny cartoon, but note the picture on the wall!

November 05, 2008

about that puppy

Well, it seems that Schnaufblog is not the only blog that is charmed with the idea of a puppy for the new First Family.

What kind of dog? Purebred or mutt? From a shelter or breeder? Puppy or adult? Get it now, or after the family settles in at the White House? Who will take care of it?... The world, as evidenced by chatter and pictures flying around on the Internet today, has become captivated by the idea of a new First Puppy.

And Reuters reports:

Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, is also getting in on the act. He told reporters traveling with him earlier that his wife had promised him a “big dog” if he got elected. Jill Biden had taped pictures of different dogs on the back of the seat in front of him on his campaign plane to inspire the candidate as he criss-crossed the country in the final sprint to election day.

Update on Nov. 6: Here's Maureen Dowd, post-election, on bringing on "the puppy and the rookie".

Update on Nov. 7: President-elect Obama addresses the issue in his first post-election press conference and refers to himself as a "mutt" (what's up with that?):

It must be the first time in recorded history that the leader of the Free World has proudly described himself as a “mutt”. At his first press conference as President-elect, Barack Obama sought to project the gravitas that his post requires.

Making his first market-sensitive comments on the economy, the soaring orator read carefully from notes — even keeping his place with his finger like a child. But his amiable good humour eventually won out when a local Chicago reporter asked about his plans for a White House puppy for his daughters, Sasha and Malia.

“This is a major issue,” he said. “It has generated more interest on our website than just about anything. We have two criteria that have to be reconciled. One is that Malia is allergic, so it has to be hypoallergenic. There are a number of breeds that are hypoallergenic. On the other hand, our preference would be to get a shelter dog. But obviously a lot of shelter dogs are mutts — like me.”

November 04, 2008

president-elect barack obama

10:55 p.m. "Ladies and gentlemen, the next first family of the United States of America!"

"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, tonight is your answer.”
And, on a lighter note, he doesn't forget this:
"Sasha and Malia, .. you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House."

"potentially historic": adjectival countdown

Obama supporters at 1 p.m.

Obama supporters at 5 p.m.

McCain supporters at 5 p.m.

Obama supporters at 7 p.m.
The first bunch of states have been called by CNN:
Vermont, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maine, Delaware, Maryland, DC for Obama (77)
Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee for McCain (34)
No surprises yet.

McCain supporters at 7 p.m.

CNN calls Pennsylvania and Ohio for Obama.
Obama supporters at 9 p.m.

McCain supporters at 9 p.m.

10 p.m. (CST): CNN calls Virginia for Barack Obama.

Wolf Blitzer: "This is a moment that could be potentially historic."
CNN projects that Barack Obama will win the election.

Obama supporters at 10 p.m.

Obama supporters after the CNN announcment:

10.18 p.m. McCain gives an unsnippy concession speech.
His audience boos.

McCain suppporters after the speech.

But let's end on a positive note.
Obama supporters at midnight.

nov. 4, at last

November 03, 2008

counting down words and days

On the one hand:
"Sarasota, I've got just two words for you: five days. We are now five days away from changing America."

"Iowa, I have just two words for you: four days"

"Nevada, I have just two words for you: three days."

"Ohio, I have just two words for you: two days."

“I have just one word for you, Florida. Tomorrow,” Mr. Obama said, drawing huge bursts of applause from his audience. “We are one day away from changing the United States of America.”
On the other hand:
“For those of you who are feeling giddy or cocky or think this is all set, I just have two words for you: New Hampshire
(I suppose one could argue that New Hampshire is actually one word, but let's not nitpick here.)