March 31, 2015

Scott Walker allergic to dogs?

We all remember the saga of Seamus, Mitt Romney's dog. Seamus survived being strapped to the roof of the car during a family vacation, but Romney's campaign did not survive the story.

It's very simple: A candidate who doesn't love dogs (or who is perceived as not loving dogs) cannot become President of the United States. Nobody doubted that George Bush adored his dog Barney, everybody remembers the time when labrador Buddy seemed to be the only member of the Clinton family that did not mind being seen with Bill Clinton in public. The current president doesn't quite pull off the role of dog lover, but he loves his daughters and they love their dogs, so he is perceived as sort-of-a-dog-person by extension.

Enter Scott Walker. The NYT reports today (March 31) that Walker is allergic to dogs.
Mr. Walker, who gives a gloomy stump speech filled with "worry," perhaps could use a four-legged image softener of his own. But he is allergic to dog dander, an aide confirmed. And in that, he is running against the long sweep of United States political history.
We will see how this plays out. Walker has already been reported to try to get rid of his Wisconsin accent, perhaps he will now seek a coach that teaches him how to hide/downplay/confront his allergy. If all else fails, he could always carry around a goldfish in a bowl.

March 05, 2015

25 Maps/Trees/Charts about the English Language

Illustrations of the global spread of English, the great vowel shift, the origin of English words, the dialects of American English -- it's nice to see them all assembled in one place.

The most beautiful one is, of course, Minna Sundberg's family tree of Indoeuropean languages that are still spoken or that are mentioned in the context of her comic Stand Still. Stay Silent.

You can order an 11x17" print here ($15) or poster version here (23x28"). A perfect gift for the linguist(s) in your life!

March 01, 2015

"People make fun of dog fashion because it’s bad.”

Half the fun of watching the Westminster Kennel Dog Show is scrutinizing the handlers. Nobody ever seems to be dressed like a person ready to spend time with a dog (think business suits, sequins, and ballet flats). Is it good to know that actually a lot of thought goes into these outfits?