April 25, 2009

live like you mean it in the dairy state

Wisconsin has unveiled a new official state slogan, “Live Like You Mean It,” much to the dismay of some Wisconsinites who wondered why their tourism department spent $50,000 to come up with a catchphrase that used to be in a Bacardi Rum ad campaign.
What a misstep! Worth an op-ed in The New York Times. And don't let me get started on the logo:

(... the only thing this slogan has going for it is that it recognizes that like can be used as a conjunction)

April 22, 2009

idiosyncratic bumbling

I didn't know NYT authors are such wimps:
How does a professional writer discuss “The Elements of Style” without nervously looking over his shoulder and seeing Will Strunk and E. B. White (or thousands of readers of their book) second-guessing him? (Is “second-guessing” hyphenated or not? Is posing a question the same as using the passive voice?)
It's very easy, actually. You read George Pullum's criticism of the book (" a bunch of trivial don’t-do-this prescriptions by a pair of idiosyncratic bumblers who can’t even tell when they’ve broken their own misbegotten rules) and live happily ever after.

April 20, 2009

NYC sights

The last time I was in New York, there was a little dog park right on Washington Square. It was great to see all sorts of dogs mix and play with each other. Only people accompanied by dogs were supposed to enter the area, but I sneaked in anyway. 
When I visited last week, Washington Square was as lovely as ever, but the dog run was gone. Or under construction, I couldn't tell. But, thankfully, there were still plenty of dogs around.

April 12, 2009

And the winner is..... Bo, the Portuguese water dog!

At last! The announcement the nation has been waiting for: President Obama makes good on his promise to his daughters and gets them a puppy. From the Washington Post:
The little guy is a 6-month-old Portuguese water dog given to the Obama girls as a gift by that Portuguese water dog-lovin' senator himself, Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. The girls named it Bo -- and let it be noted that you learned that here first. Malia and Sasha chose the name because their cousins have a cat named Bo and because first lady Michelle Obama’s father was nicknamed Diddley, a source said. (Get it? Bo … Diddley?).
This will be quite a boost for the breed. I'm sure many people have never heard of Portuguese water dogs. And in case people get annoyed that the Obamas didn't pick a dog from a shelter: Senator Kennedy offered the dog to the Obamas after it turned out that its previous owners did not want him any longer.

Welcome, Bo! I'm sure we will see and read a lot about you in the months and years to come.

April 09, 2009


You'd think that in times like these people might cut down on spending money on dog classes. Well, not across the board, according to an article in the New York Times.

[N]ationwide, classes of doga — yoga with dogs, as it is called — are increasing in number and popularity. Since Ms. Caliendo, a certified yoga instructor in Chicago, began to teach doga less than one year ago, her classes have doubled in size.

Yoga with dogs? Come again?

Appropriate or not, this is how it works: Doga combines massage and meditation with gentle stretching for dogs and their human partners. In chaturanga, dogs sit with their front paws in the air while their human partners provide support. In an “upward-paw pose,” or sun salutation, owners lift dogs onto their hind legs. In a resting pose, the person reclines, with legs slightly bent over the dog’s torso, bolster-style, to relieve pressure on the spine.

Success not guaranteed:

[P]ost-doga smiles run about $15 to $25 a class. Whether this is a bargain or overpriced depends on how — and why — the class is taught. Paula Apro, 40, of Eastford, Conn., owner of an online yoga retail store, tried a class near her home last summer. "A stuffed animal — but not even a dog-shaped stuffed animal — was used by the instructor,” she said. Owners struggled to get their very real dogs to replicate the stuffed-animal poses, she said, and bags of treats were used to get the dogs to change positions. “It was lunacy,” Ms. Apro recalled. “Peanuts, my retired racer greyhound, didn’t participate at all. Instead, I did downward-facing dog while he ate the most treats he’s ever had in a 60-minute period.

Sounds like a dog I know.

April 05, 2009

No more "War on Terror"

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday the Obama administration had dropped "war on terror" from its lexicon, rhetoric former President George W. Bush used to justify many of his actions.

"The (Obama) administration has stopped using the phrase and I think that speaks for itself. Obviously," Clinton told reporters travelling with her to The Hague for a conference on Afghanistan, which Bush called part of his "global war on terror."

The term "war on terror" was coined after the September 11, 2001 attacks against the United States, which were planned in Afghanistan by the militant group al Qaeda.[...]

"I have not heard it used. I have not gotten any directive about using it or not using it. It is just not being used," said Clinton when asked whether the term had been officially dropped by the Obama administration.

April 04, 2009

National Grilled Cheese Month

Apparently not an April Fools' joke.

Who needs a national grilled cheese month? You'd think the love of grilled cheese sandwiches didn't really need a lot of encouragement. Who doesn't like a grilled cheese sandwich? And of those who don't, who needs to be persuaded to change their (yes, their) mind?

April 03, 2009


It's not what you think!

These days, -(a)thon pretty much is recognized as an affix, although its origin, the word "marathon" cannot be split up into [mara] and [thon]. Linguist John Algeo writes in his book Fifty Years among the New Words that the OED,
"looking down a very long and censorious nose, remarks 'barbariously extracted from MARATHON, used occas. in the U.S. (talkathon, walkathon), rarely in Britain, to form words denoting something being carried on for an abnormal length of time'. The events so named are often fund-raisers for charity." (p.6)

April 01, 2009

April Fools' Day on autopilot

This year, Google's April Fools' Day hoax was rather lame:

Gmail AutopilotTM by CADIE

Email will never be a thing of the past, but actually reading and writing messages is about to be. Gmail Autopilot automatically manages your inbox better than you can, with zero effort from you.

The best part of the joke was this:

Match your style
Autopilot calibrates for tone, typos and preferred punctuation. It's just like you, but automated.

Hoax, in case you're wondering (I did), according to the OED is "supposed to be a contracted form of hocus."