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That man and his pronouns

Apparently President Obama’s announcement that U.S forces killed Osama bin Laden has led some writers to fall back on the threadbare canard* that the president is uncommonly fond of the first-person pronouns.

I call this a canard because it has been demolished by Mark Liberman, the University of Pennsylvania linguist who presides over Language Log. Professor Liberman has taken the trouble to compare President Obama’s public statements with those of recent presidents, discovering that he uses first-person pronouns no more often than any other recent chief magistrate, and often less than the Presidents Bush, père and fils. You can see for yourself.**

I do not reflexively assert that every criticism of President Obama is based in racism, and I think that accusing anyone of racist attitudes is something not to be done casually. But I grew up hearing racist remarks and racist attitudes, and when I see complaints that President Obama uses I excessively, what I hear is “That boy is getting uppity.”

 

*Great word, canard. It is the French for duck or hoax and has come to mean a rumor without foundation. The French root, caner, means “to quack.” Coincidentally, English uses the word quack to mean a fraud, but that word comes from the Dutch quacken, or “prattle.”

**Of course, Professor Liberman is one of those Ivy League In-tel-lec-tu-als, so your frame of reference may identify him as a tool of the Bolsheviks. But still, he can count. See also Fev at HeadsUp: the Blog.

 

 

Posted by John McIntyre at 5:49 PM | | Comments (29)
        

Comments

Amen, sir!

I am beginning to wonder if I shall ever disagree with anything you say, as I cannot recall having differed with you yet.

I like "threadbare canard." I also like "craven weasels" on the FEV post.

My mother, who grew up in the South, also doubtless heard racist comments. They were not allowed in this family. But she didn't leap to the conclusion that every criticism of someone who was black was based on race. Some people are simply found irritating, or arrogant, or obnoxious, or incompetent based on perception or actual performance. (The opinion of the Ivy League notwithstanding, of course.)

For "to me" read "to mean".

Just so, Mr. Cowan. Thanks.


Hmm........ so would that make George Dubya a lame-'canard' president, where during his final four year term in office the now late Al Qaeda mastermind, Osama Bin Laden, the FBI's most wanted fugitive from justice for almost a decade, kept falling through the 'quacks' of the Bush Administration's fruitless search net?

Geez, don't these fault-finding, picky-ass pundits who are currently dissing Obama for his alleged over-use of 1st person pronouns have better, more substantive axes to grind? Do these anal-retentive critics expect Obama to speak to the Nation at these White House addresses in the second, and third person? Let's get real, folks.

Politics aside, in my view Pres. Obama, is one of the most articulate, thoughtful, intelligent, and compelling public speakers of his generation, who has ever come down the pike.........., or for that matter, the Washington Beltway. And he just happens to hold the most demanding, critical, and exalted political office in the Land------our 44th President, and Commander-In- Chief.

Compared to his predecessor, the younger Bush (43), who generally relied heavily on the likes of GOP speech scribes like alleged "Axis-of-Evil" coiner, David Frum, to hopefully make this marginally articulate, out-of-his-league pol, sound half intelligent and on point behind the dais, Obama, relative to Bush, IMHO, ranks as a virtual silver-tongued orator when addressing the media.

Obama's handful of mostly self-penned, best-selling books reflect a most thoughtful, intellectually curious, and gifted individual who deserves to be our
President, and clearly, w/ his recent major triumph (shared w/ his Administration, those brave Navy Seals, and the still grieving relatives who lost loved-ones in the 9/11 tragedy), in eliminating the elusive Bin Laden, has shown that as our Commander-in-Chief he has always keep his eye on the prize, sealing his reputation as an effective player on the global stage.

Prof, McI., "threadbare canard", indeed.

As Daffy Duck is want to say, " Dat's dithspicable!".

Ducky "Water Off My Back" isaksson

ALEX

You really do start to wonder how often you have to say "not every criticism of Obama is based on race, and I'm not suggesting that now, and in point of blunt fact no one has _ever_ suggested it" before it sinks in.

For the record, no. Not every criticism of Obama is based on race, and no one has ever suggested it is. But could we have the empirical common sense to admit that the patently racist ones are? That's sort of a way of allowing people to make grownup decisions about whether the ones in the gray areas are subtly racist or just stupid.

"Canard" doesn't mean "hoax" in French. You must be making the confusion with "canular". In French slang, "canard" is a newspaper, and the "Canard Enchaîné" is the name of one of the most famous (and well-informed) French newpapers.

Look, President Obama is someone I admire. His election had me weeping (yes, straightforward, because of his race as much as anything). The stuff about his birth certificate is as clear as daylight racially inspired. But the pronoun business? It's nonsense, of course, but couldn't it possibly be caused by that self-possessed "I'm brighter than you are, and I can preach better than you" tone of voice he uses, which could get up anyone's nose?

When Obama was first in office and people were going on about what a relief it was to have a president who could speak in sentences rather than in George W. Bush's casualisms, I knew that it would be a matter of time until those lawyerly sentences would begin to grate.

Well, we had the same with young Mr Blair's lawyerly sentences.


Picky,

Speaking of Mr. Blair, what, if anything, do you make of both the former P.M. and that other former P.M, Mr. Brown, NOT being invited to the Kate & William's Royal Nuptials?

I heard some media palaver re/ the royals' official excuse/ rebuff being that neither of these former government biggies were members of some Royal Order of the Garter, (or other high-falutin' honorary title), and thus couldn't pass monarchial muster. Sounds just a little feeble to this puzzled Commonwealian. I'm not swallowing that royal 'canard'. HA! (I prefer pheasant -under -glass, anyway. BURP!)

I also heard some rumors floating about that Mr. Blair's 'omission' was likely due to some unfortunate, negative remarks he had directed towards Queen Elizabeth back in the day, which apparently were dramatically depicted in a fairly recent feature film, or TV docudrama, in which Blair's anti-royalist bent was highlighted. Obviously, the betrothed lovebirds, Kate & William were not entirely amused.

Ironically, I gather it was on the urgings and cajolings of then P.M Blair that the Queen did a complete 180-degree turn-around from her initially perceived dispassionate, and distant public (and assumed private) reaction to her daughter-in-law, Diana's tragic demise.

I guess the British royals' motto is "Diss the Queen at your own peril." (At least Mr. Blair got to retain his head, whilst in days of yore, he may have been lopped, forthwith, for his improprieties. SWOOSH! THWACK! PLOP!)

Picky, as to Obama's seemingly supercilious, slightly haughty air while orating from behind the microphone, as our dear Prof. McI. had implied from his earlier comments, it could just be a reflection of his lawyerly, and I might add, professorial (1st person HA!) persona(s)-----just part of his most familiar public communication style. I don't believe for one minute that beyond the appearance of Obama's self-assurance, and projected superior demeanor, there doesn't resides a great deal of self-pride, humility, generosity of spirit, goodwill, and profound gratitude.

I'm also fairly confident that when he let's his hair down (what's extant HA!), so to speak, on the golf course, or the basketball court, relaxing w/ his buddies, he assumes a slightly less officious, and commanding air----not like he's going to take on the mien of some 'boys--in-the-hood' street dude. Yo!

Picky, you may have heard about the recent release of a new biography on Obama's late mum. I've read a few quite positive critic's reviews of the tome, and will undoubtedly try to give it a read.

Little Barry Obama's mum was quite an adventurous, curious, bright, almost fearless, and most passionate human being, who sadly passed far too early in life. Character qualities not unlike her now grown-up son, Barack, who clearly has done, and will undoubtedly continue to do his mum proud. But, unfortunately did not live to see the day of his most profound personal triumph, to date------- assuming his role as 44th President of the U.S.A.. Enough said.

ALEX

I feel nothing. Why should they have been invited?

I (and here I will surprise you, Alex) even I was not invited.


Picky,

Old chap, I am truly gobsmacked. What were those royal 'toffs' thinking?

Can you ever, in your heart-of-hearts, forgive those snooty Royals for outright snubbing you, Picky........... one of London town's finest.?

A little birdie told me that you were actually on their 'short' wedding guest list along w/ messieurs Blair and Brown.......... and surprisingly, the great soccer whiz, David Beckham. Rumor has it that 'Becks' managed to, shall we just say, 'bend it' like only HE can, and w/ his very pregnant wife in tow, showed up all handsome (w/ his OBE medal), and beaming from ear-to-ear, at the 'Big Bash'.

I'm actually joshin' w/ that David "Ball Bender" Beckham tale. Apparently he and Prince William have a bit of a friendship going, although I gather the future monarch's taste in team sport (other than the indoor variety....... nudge, nudge, wink, wink) leans more toward that boisterous enterprise, rugby.

Picky, I presume you were not a big booster of either Mr. Blair, or Mr. Brown while they were in office.......... or out of office, for that matter? What's you take on P,M. Cameron's performance thus far. I noticed that his rather statuesque and attractive wife was one of the few ladies at the Royal 'Nups' who attended sans formal bonnet. She opted for various sparkly jewels affixed, in some manner, to her coif.
IMHO, kind of a nice change of pace.

Some of those gaudy hats resembled freakish satellite dishes, or Lady Gaga rejects,. There thankfully were a few modest, tasteful hats to be seen, but it appeared that most of the socialites, celebs and royals were trying desperately to one-up one another in the custom-designed chapeau department.

Poor Beatrice's, (Fergie's daughter), hat (?) looked like an abstracted octopus, contorted in some complex yoga pose. Dreadful. Hmm........ who said all the royals have good taste?

Well, enough of all this Brit palavering.

Ta! Ta!

ALEX

Alex, I didn't mind the much-photographed hat so much as the layers of dark eye make-up--too much like a raccoon.


Dahlink,

Now, when I come to think of it, clearly aesthetically-challenged young Beatrice did look rather a tad 'racoonish' w/ that overdone mascara mess. Really, more like actress Linda Blair' s dark-circled peepers while portraying that scary demon-possessed kid in the monster horror hit, "The Exorcist", from the early '70s, I'd have to say. BOO!

Hmm.......... maybe she was going more for a neo-Cleo, (i.e., patra) look. Egyptologists have claimed that the fabled queen who allegedly met her demise from an unfortunate lethal bite of an asp, really had a thing for heavy-duty application of eye mascara, along w/ colorfully vibrant eye shadow. (Recall the recently deceased Liz Taylor's memorable film portrayal of the ancient Egyptian (Nubian?) beauty.)

As a professional artist, w/ a sculptural bent, I too marveled at some of the more out-there hat designs on display at the Royal Wedding. But, in my view, when a hat starts to take on the character of modern architecture----a la Frank Gehry, or Renzo Piano---where flashy form begins to trump function, then I'm a bit turned off. (Oops, i said 'trump'. Don't want to give that buffoon any free publicity........... or his sweeping mop, for that matter. HA!)

Dahlink, are you watching American Idol tonight? I forgot if you're a big fan, or not. At any rate, it's getting down to the nitty-gritty at this juncture.

Personally, I'd really like to see contestant James win it all. It's been reported that this young man has mild Asperger's Syndrome and ADD, so his accomplishments on the grand stage, thus far, seem even more remarkable, considering his formidable life challenges.

I'm out of here, folks.

ALEX

I was just pleased to see all those politicians crammed in behind the choir where they wouldn't get in the way.

At least they didn't sing with the choir. And please, no more about the late Princess D. This lady is intelligent, educated and not likely to tell all her tacky tales out of school. And has a sense of humour about it all. Vivat!


Picky,

Indeed, I did take note of the various invited 'pols' tightly wedged in The Abbey's ancient pews, tucked behind the choir.

I also noticed Britain's Chief Rabbi, Mr. Sacks, and a passel of other exalted religious leaders, all resplendent in their holy vestments, mingling about on the fringes of The Abbey like a bunch of bashful Parliamentary backbench wallflowers. They all appeared to be standing, and chatting, but I'm sure they must have had designated seating.

I'm pretty certain the Sultan of Brunei (and his wife), w/ all his accumulated billions, got premium-located seats. Mega-personal wealth would surely have some significant cache w/ the Brit royals, and he is, after all, a monarch/ head of state, to boot.

I must reiterate, from a posting earlier this week, IMO, it was still very cool to see several of the Middleton family's neighborhood townsfolk invited to attend the grand event at The Abbey. The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker............ oh, and the local bookie. HA!

With the very forward-thinking, relatively youthful Kate & William we are bound to see a less stuffy, formal, but more all-inclusive-minded British monarchy, where clearly even a not-so-common commoner can have uncommon dreams, and realistically reach uncommon, most rarefied heights.

(Just found out today that the newly-wedded royal couple will be visiting Southern California for three days this July, after a major meet-and-greet tour of my home-and-native-land, Canada, eh?)

Speaking of Canada, I'm still trying to emotionally collect myself (I'm being hyperbolic here) over the stunning results of Tuesday's general election, where the Conservative Party, under current P.M. Stephen Harper managed to gain a full majority vote, w/ the upstart, pre-election underdogs, the socialist leaning, union-backed National Democratic Party (NDP) becoming the official party in opposition.

Sadly, slightly pompous Liberal leader, Michael ignatieff, and his once-dominating establishment party were tossed to the proverbial curb by the ofttimes fickle Canadian electorate, now relegated to the political fringes, along w/ the Bloc Quebecois, the party that every two decades, or so attempts to vigorously lobby for a national referendum on the province of Quebec officially separating from the Dominion.

Now P.M. Harper and his Conservative Party minions have a full four years of virtually unfettered national governance, going forward, w/ no further need to kowtow, and negotiate w/ coalition forces, as in the recent past.

Canadians, it appears, are generally apprehensive, not fully trusting the slightly enigmatic, w/ the blah personality, P.M. Harper, but appear to still remain cautiously optimistic about the tenor of governance ahead. Harper's governing style is kind of like a good poker player's, who usually plays his cards close-to-the-vest, typically w/ a passive, unemotional face, and who when the chips are down (pun intended), can definitely come out of his seeming torpor, and decisively go for the jugular. This last election being a fine case-in-point.

A front section article (p. A5) ran in yesterday's L.A. Times' morning edition, headed, 'Canadian politics just got interesting' . For us largely reserved Canucks, "interesting" has implications of of utterly stupendous, and irresistibly gripping. HA!

Other superlatives tossed about in this informative, half-page piece described the just completed national election as both "dramatic", and "suspenseful". A suspenseful, let alone dramatic Canadian general election almost borders on an
oxymoron. What's wrong w/ this picture, eh?

Clearly, the times, as Dylan said many moons ago, are a changin'. (Yet still, us Canucks are deferential, and polite, to a fault. It's in our DNA...........hmm............. or maybe our BNA (British North America Act) HA!)

Before I spring off to yet another tangent, I bid you all adieu.

Ta! Ta!

I'm ignorance itself, Alex, but I'm not much enthused by Mr Harper. And are the NDP really socialists? They sound more like boring old social democrats to me. But then I'm old enough to have been a fan of Lester Pearson. Such a humiliation for the Liberals! (Same thing happening here, by the way, except that our equivalent of the BQ - the SNP - are probably doing rather well.)


Picky,

I believe your terse assessment of Canada's NDP is basically on-the-money. Your "boring social democrats" appellation kind of encapsulates their current left-leaning, but hardly Marxist, ideological bent. (They'd fit right in, in say France, where historically the more political parties in-the-running, the better. HA!)

The seemingly amiable, clearly politically ambitious, silver-haired, firm-jawed Jack Layton, the mildly charismatic current NDP chief (compared to the charisma-bi-passed Mr. Harper), gained considerable positive polling numbers leading up to this most recent general election, and his party was a surprise solid runner-up to Harper's Conservatives, w/ the Liberal's complete implosion, not really being anticipated by most Canadian media pundits going into last Tuesday's voting.

The NDP, in its formative years, was basically an agrarian, farm, prairie province-grass-rooted socialist/ cooperative leaning political entity, its legendary firebrand, Saskatchewan-born native-son, the silver-tongued, ofttimes acerbic, Tommy Douglas, giving his party credibility and greater visibility as it gradually became an integral political factor on the wider, national level. Yet the NDP would usually running as a third-party election spoiler, and a potential coalition partner w/ either of the traditionally dominant biggies-----the Libs and Cons.

Over the years many unions, particularly the powerful Canadian teachers' unions have glommed on to the pro-worker-rights NDP, w/ many of its most effective leaders, over the years, coming from the ranks of academia.

Layton appears to be a bit of a Keynsian (sp. ?), at heart, and ran on a rather vague campaign promise to spend more public funds, believing that after this election his party would end up in coalition status, w/ the media projected minority-governing Conservatives. That scenario wasn't to be.

Picky, Lester Pearson? Wow!

There's a true blast from the past. Old Lester, as P.M., was probably even less charismatic than the lackluster Mr. Harper, (if that's humanly possible. HA!), always sporting a jaunty bow tie in public, and on the whole well liked by his fellow Canucks. Outwardly, the bespectacled P.M., projected a rather conservative, wimpy, almost timid, none-forceful demeanor, yet under that facade lay an incredibly sincere, bright, forward-looking, astute, and wily politician, w/ strong and proven diplomatic skills, and an uncanny ability to garner respect, and confidence from his diplomatic peers on the world stage.

His unfortunate persisting, but mild lisp didn't help his public-speaking image, but thankfully it was hardly as problematic an impediment as poor King George's.

Pearson was, of course, the driving political force behind Canada's finally having her own, distinctive, official flag (replacing the old Union Jack), making our beautifully simple, but very recognizable scarlet-red maple-leaf-emblazoned w/ the twin vertical red bars on a pure white ground, our proud nation's now globally recognized emblem. This could be Lester Pearson's most proudest moment in high office, going beyond all his many diplomatic 'wins'.

Of course, the late, once dashing, bon vivant, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, was IMHO, the most charismatic, complex, and controversial Canadian P.M. of our young nation's post-World War II era.

I was a then budding young illustrator/ editorial cartoonist, w/ a degree in fine art (OCA - Ontario College of Art--'74), and an earlier BA degree in political science ( York University, Toronto/ Class of '70), during those heady days of Trudeaumania, when Canadians, en mass, were unabashedly seduced by this extroverted, eloquent, slightly enigmatic, daring, and provocative breath of fresh air, in what had become a rather moribund political scene up till his almost rock-star arrival.

For cartoonist/ caricaturists of the day, Trudeau was the absolute dream subject, and our Toronto Star master editorial cartoonist, the late Duncan Macpherson managed to get about as much pen-and-ink mileage out of that volatile, expressive visage, gaelic shrug, and super athletic physique of the galavanting Pierre, as did the great multi-Pulitzer Prize winning, L.A. Times masterful visual satirist, Paul Conrad, in his dogged, biting deconstruction, some would say crucifying, of Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon. Those were fun times. But I digress.......... as usual.

Frankly, I wish I was a little more up on the trials & tribulations, and intricacies, of your British political scene. On occasion I do catch the back-and-forth tussles, and rants during Parliament's question period, on our C-Span cable channel.

Picky, at least, you appear to have more of a grasp, than most non-Canadians, of our rather provincial (pun intended), often laughable national political goings-on.

Enjoy your weekend, old chappy.

ALEX

Alex, to answer your question to me (belatedly--sorry, it's been a long week), we have never been able to abide American Idol before this season. In the past we might stop for a few minutes while flipping channels, but then that Simon person or Paula would start talking, and we had to change the channel. This season is very different, and, yes, we are fans of James in particular. You knew I was a rocker, right? Come on over to Reality Check to join the conversation there.


Dahlink,

No need for any apology.

As an officially retired man of relative leisure, i clearly have much more discretionary time on my hands to chatter (or fritter) away than most of my fellow bloggers who are putting in a solid day's work, at least five days a week, and moreover have family 'duties' to attend to, as well. I'm sure if I was working a nine-five schedule at the old 'cartoon factory', my happy lot in life for almost three decades, I would hardly have the time to ramble on as i am want to do on this upstanding site.

I know you're saying to yourself, "Geez, why doesn't that McCrae dude just get a darn full-time job, and put us bloggers out of our misery. Too much free time on his hands, for sure. HA!

Now re/ American Idol, I'm pleased to hear you-and-yours at least gave this new season a go. Frankly, I've been pleasantly surprised by the new additions, veteran rocker Steven Tyler, and diva Jennifer Lopez. Although Randy Jackson often comes off as a bit of a broken record w/ his now almost cliched critiques, i.e., "a little pitchy, dude", "dog, you're in it, to win it!", "that just didn't do it for me", and "very karaoke" -----just a little Randy comment sampler, nevertheless, he still seems to have a good grasp of what constitutes a poor, mediocre, or simply stellar singing performance, being both a proven veteran professional musician himself, and very successful record producer, to boot.

I was anticipating, w/ some trepidation, that Steve Tyler was going to be a total over-the-top, self-centered wacko on the show, and yet he's actually come off as almost reserved, low-key, and even on occasion almost poetic in his assessment of some performances that really appeared to move him. Some Tyler bashers claim he often speaks in riddles, and doesn't make much sense. I beg to differ, and moreover feel he has displayed quite a sharp, at times, slightly naughty wit. He's definitely a born charmer.

J. Lo brings the requisite glitz-and-glam, feminine factor into the Idol mix, and has made several astute and constructive comments this season. As a bona fide, proven pop star (IMHO, a far better dancer than a singer, mind you), she deserves to be in that center judge's chair.

I thought w/ the loss of the acerbic, veteran Brit judge and show co-creator, Simon Cowell, that his absence this season could basically mark the death knell of Idol, but a fortuitous combination of a bumper crop of extremely talented young contestants this year, and both Steven Tyler and Miss Lopez more than just merely panning out, well beyond most fan and critic's' early expectations, Idol still has a pretty vigorous pulse going for it.

And the post-show call-in voting numbers, although not in the mega-high-range of earlier seasons, are still very respectable.

After this past Wednesday's performances, I thought young James was just lights-out sensational, even though he had some pitch issues throughout that emotional, former Harry Nillson hit number. Yet the three judges seemed to generously forgive James' technical snafus, and praised him for gutting the song out, clearly wracked w/ so much emotional angst, barely holding back tears.

Smooth Country crooner, Scott McCreery continued to score high marks w/ the judges who unanimously complimented him for showing both his country rocker, and romantic balladeer stage personas w/ his two disparate selections, as well as giving him kudos for staying true to his country roots.

Who knows whether just-turned-sixteen-year-old country-style sweetheart, Lauren Alaina, will lose some positive momentum going forward, after her tearful mini-emotional breakdown while nervously awaiting Thursday night's final verdict on who was heading home----either Jacob, or her. Turns out Jacob's Idol journey ended that evening, and Lauren, as Randy would say, "....... is still in it, to win it, dog!"

Spunky Haley Reinhart I felt sang a super rendition of the Animal's '60s classic, "House of the Rising Sun", amazingly rebounding from what the judges (except Tyler) felt was a major misstep in trying to tackle an unreleased Lady Gaga track, for her first of two song choices.

Clearly the final two (?) weeks will be a real test for these remaining four very gifted young finalists.

May the best young man, or young woman win.

Dahlink, that Idol 'gab-site' wouldn't be the Yahoo blog, "Reality Rocks", written w/ a lot of enthusiasm, and wit by Lyndsey Parker, would it ? (I checked out "Reality Check", and couldn't really find anything music related. Maybe I didn't look hard enough? Oh well.)

I've enjoyed the "Reality Rocks" site though, and Ms. Parker's post-episode Idol commentary, but have never actually joined in on the running conversation, w/ nary a post.

Frankly it's very much a 'now' generation discussion forum, and as an early 'boomer' I would hardly qualify as a hip millennial, considering Idol appeals mostly to legions of enthusiast tween, teen, and 20-something young gals........... and their folks.

But, alas, I still feel very much like a kid-at-heart when it comes to today's popular music, so I see no shame in an all-be-it chronologically old fart, like moi, enjoying American Idol.

Some of those so-called ancient rockers out there like Willie Nelson, B. B. King, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Simon, and Eric Clapton can still, as comic Jerry Seinfeld would say, "get jiggy with it". HA!

McCrae out.

(Echoing Lyndsey Parker's signature parting shot. HA!)

P.S.: Happy Mother's Day to all you super MOMs out there. We just wouldn't be here without you!

(OK dads, don't get all bent out of shape. You're big day is comin' up NEXT month. HA!)

Alex, we are on the same page when it comes to AI, it seems. Going on the show has been a huge boost to the careers of adorable Tyler and JLo.

I thought of this blog when Haley sang Gaga's "You and I." In the context of the lyrics that should have been "You and Me."

I don't know "Reality Rocks." I hang out at the Sun's "Reality Check" and there is a post and a lively discussion after each Idol night (along with DWTS, The Amazing Race, Survivor, etc.) Our friend Bucky is a guest blogger over there.


Dahlink,

Thanks for that clarification re/ the "Reality Check" blog. I had no clue it happened to be one of several of the Sun's interactive sites, but w/ the few weeks remaining of Idol, I'll definitely give it a gander, and who knows, may even toss in a comment, or two to stir up the pot.

I'm also a longtime DWTS fan, and would be curious about the "Reality Check" blog comment crew's take on this season's homestretch run for that cheesy glitter-ball winner's-trophy.

In particular, i really enjoy watching the progressive week-to-week improvement of Steelers football great, Hines Ward (w/ his lovely partner Kym Johnson), over these many weeks, where his confidence and polish just seem to keep exponentially rising to new heights w/ each performance. Ward has such an upbeat, positive approach to his dance challenges, and w/ his seeming perpetually beaming smile, and natural grace on the dance floor, appears to really have wowed the fans and the judges. He seems just so committed to always giving it his all, and I feel he and Kym will be one of the last two teams standing at the finale.

I also like the former Karate Kid, Ralph Macchio, and his talented partner Karina Smirnoff, who are very dedicated to incremental improvement, and ultimately winning it all. Ralph's determination is evident in every performance out there. Sometimes he seems to try even TOO hard, and gets a little stiff and mechanical at times.

Ironically Ralph started out the season very strong, had a few weaker weeks where he faltered a bit, but now seems to be coming back into form when it really counts. Go for it, Grasshopper! HA!

The youngest dancer, the ambitious and amiable Romeo (w/ partner Chelsey Hightower), has shown some fleeting glimpses of real dancing promise, and I feel has the potential to win it all. Kirstie Alley and partner Maks have definitely brought loads of passion, drama, and unpredictability to the competitive dance floor, but I just don't think this zaftig gal can take the whole enchilada.

A win would be great for dashing Maks' ego, since I don't believe he's actually been on a winning team since DWTS debut over a decade ago. By contrast, former pro DWTS dancer Derek Hough has garnered three big wins, as has his adorable sis, Julianne, who left DWTS to go country........... singer that is. Who said good God-fearing Mormons can't dance. HA!

Frankly, when they first announced the complete dance star roster for this season's show, I was slightly bummed, I dare say, majorly underwhelmed, since I only recognized maybe a third of the so-called 'stars' names. But honestly, i've been pleasantly surprised by this year's competitors, and for me it's been one of the better DWTS runs, on record.

Of course the Kate Gosselin year, back in 2009(?), was basically a major pain in the tush
for most of us DWTS aficionados. (Ugh!) But, as you may recall, the ratings that season went sky-high through the roof, so Disney/ ABC were very pleased, even though it was sheer torture for most fans until talentless Kate finally got the boot. Oh the humanity!

But, Dahlink, let's not give the Wernerville Wacko any more free publicity. She's still essentially a runaway train wreck, and those poor kids of hers remain caught up in her egomaniacal web of insanity, and exploitation. Very, very sad, indeed.

Back to Idol.---- I doubt the likable Steve Tyler and the ever-glowing J. Lo really need much more of a career boost, but no need to quibble over that one. As the veteran, former Borscht Belt standup comic, Jackie Mason, would say, "I'm just sayin', it couldn't 'hoit' " Oy veh!

Have a wonderful Mum's Day, Dahlink.......... and all you other great moms out there in the greater blogosphere.

Ta! Ta!

ALEX

Your flag is very smart, Alex, and whoever designed it has every reason to be proud. But I think Mr Pearson has more to his name than that.

Didn't he substantially develop the welfare system (wake up, America)? And Nobel prizes don't come with the corn flakes.


Picky,

Oui, notre drapeau Maple Leaf is, indeed, striking in its iconic simplicity and immediate, powerful graphic appeal, almost instantly recognizable as Canada's symbolic image around the globe for now going on five decades. I still get goose bumps when I see our flag wafting in the breeze, even though i've been aboding in Southern California for the past thirty one years.

As to my earlier perhaps minimizing former Canadian P.M. Lester B. Pearson's multiple major achievements in office while leading his minority Liberals, from a purely Canadian chauvinistic angle, I would argue old Lester was likely just as tickled, and proud to have had a large hand in marshaling through the adoption of our own distinctive new flag, as he was in years earlier receiving the esteemed Nobel Peace Prize in 1957, a number of years prior to his gaining the P.M. post. (He garnered the 'Prize' while serving as a Canadian ambassador to the U.N., where he was the major diplomatic player in defusing the then escalating Suez Canal crisis. Very tense times, indeed.)

But I grant you, Picky, Mr. Pearson's accomplishments while in office along w/ his minority Liberal cohorts were many during his tenure in office in the volatile '60s, from fostering universal health care, a Canadian Pension Plan, the Order of Canada (comparable to an OBE in the U.K.), plus the first comprehensive federal government student loan program, (Canada Student Loans). Under Pearson stewardship the Canadian feds legislated a 40-hour work week, and established a new minimum wage benchmark. Quite a stellar record of achievement in the burgeoning social welfare arena.

Picky, I can't quibble with you re/ your statement that,"...... Nobel prizes don't come with the corn flakes", clearly implying that to have received this grand honor is no mere fluke---- a trifling novelty, or trinket plucked from a cereal package, or a box of Cracker Jacks. (Do you folks in Britain have Cracker Jacks?)

Pinky, i truly appreciate you always keeping me on my toes. You really don't miss much. HA!

ALEX

P.S.: Lester Pearson has a close connection w/ England, where he attended your Oxford University for a few years in the '30s on a scholarship, and played on the fledgling Oxford University Hockey Club, and apparently excelled. (That's ice hockey, not field hockey, of course.)

As well, young Lester was said to have had an early penchant for rugby union football, baseball, lacrosse, basketball, golf and tennis------ obviously an all-round athlete, of sorts. So my early labeling of him as a bit of a wimpy sort, based on mere outward appearances (and the slight lisp), was clearly off the mark, and likely a tad unfair.

Moreover, one's sporting a bow-tie doesn't necessarily translate to a milksop, weakling type inner character. Why we know a certain erudite individual in our midst, (who shall remain nameless), who is very partial to wearing bow-ties, yet whose character is both upstanding, confident, and dare I say, persuasive. Just sayin'.

"But I grew up hearing racist remarks and racist attitudes, and when I see complaints that President Obama uses I excessively, what I hear is 'That boy is getting uppity.'"

Is your premise that these criticisms would be non-existent if Obama wasn't black, or that growing up hearing racist remarks and attitudes isn't coloring what you're hearing now?

The criticisms of Obama don't reference his race. They're reminiscent of criticisms of previous left-of-center presidents--just the usual anti-liberal, anti-Democrat sentiment that would exist regardless of Obama's race. Pulling accusations of racism out of thin air is essentially adopting a smug psychoanalysis--"I'm just enlightened enough to see that you're racist and that you won't admit it"--in order to dismiss the criticism by attacking the messenger.

I wouldn't watch "American Idol" (what a pretentious name) at gunpoint. Why is anyone wasting time discussing it?

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at john.mcintyre@baltsun.com.
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