Archive for Humor

What a tangled web they weave

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Thoroughly earthy

Because I like the Chinese term tǔ 土 ("earth; soil; dirt; ground; earthy; rustic; colloquial") so much, I was going to add the substance of the remarks below as a comment to the "Fun bun pun" (4/9/17) post, in which we devoted a lot of attention to one of my favorite expressions, "tǔbāozi 土包子" ("earthy steamed stuffed bun", i.e., "country bumpkin, hick, rube, clodhopper, backwoodsman, boor, dolt, yokel").  But the ramifications grew to such large proportions that they merited their own post.

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The Language Log Experience

Recently this video, or a link to it, has been showing up on just about every web page I visit:

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For want of a flack

A competent PR counsel would have advised against this wardrobe choice:

The twitterverse immediately pounced, with captions like these:

Reinforcements from the 101st Fighting Ivies Have Arrived.
From the shores of Burberry, the 82nd heir-born has arrived.
Kush Body Armor by J.Crew. "When you don't know where you are or what you are doing."

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Siri and flatulence

An acquaintance of mine has a new iPhone, which he carries in a pocket that is (relevantly) below waist level. He has discovered something that dramatically illustrates the difference between (i) responding to speech and (ii) responding to speech as humans do, on the basis of knowing that it is speech.

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Patton Oswalt on Trump, Obama, David Lee Roth, and Rutgers linguistics

At the Writers Guild of America Awards on Sunday night, host Patton Oswalt predictably made some Trump jokes in his opening monologue. What wasn't so predictable was an extended analogy involving '80s hard rocker David Lee Roth and the linguistics department at Rutgers University. The key line: "Donald Trump taking Obama's job would be like if the head of linguistics at Rutgers made fun of David Lee Roth, and David Lee Roth was like, 'I'm gonna take his job.'" A shout-out to Bruce Tesar, chair of the Rutgers linguistics department?

Oswalt's bit starts around 5 minutes into the monologue, after some banter with James Woods, who was in the audience.

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Last night in Sweden

One of the most widely noted aspects of Donald Trump's campaign rally yesterday in Florida was his reference to a terrorist incident the night before in Sweden:

You look at what's happening in Germany,
you look at what's happening last night in Sweden —
Sweden!
Who would believe this? Sweden!
They took in large numbers, they're having problems like they never thought possible.
You look at what's happening in Brussels,
you look at what's happening all over the world, take a look at Nice,
take a look at Paris.

Since no plausibly relevant incident actually occurred the previous evening in Sweden, some people have suggested that the president's remark might refer to a documentary mentioned the night before on Fox. (See also here.) But most of the reaction took the form of jokes, many of them available on Twitter as #LastNightInSweden.

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Gambling Disturb Terrible

A friend of Anne Henochowicz spotted this T-shirt in an Akihabara, Tokyo shop:

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"Evidence, data and reasoning"

Now that a black man is no longer president, George Will has stopped obsessing about presidential overuse of first-person singular pronouns, and has turned his attention to other pressing matters, such as the role of liberal higher education in promoting the political ascension of Donald Trump ("Trump and academia actually have a lot in common", 1/27/2017):

Much attention has been given to the non-college-educated voters who rallied to President Trump. Insufficient attention is given to the role of the college miseducated. They, too, are complicit in our current condition because they emerged from their expensive “college experiences” neither disposed nor able to conduct civil, informed arguments. They are thus disarmed when confronted by political people who consider evidence, data and reasoning to be mere conveniences and optional.

"Evidence, data, and reasoning". Good to hear that Mr. Will remains committed in principle to the virtues that he routinely subverts in practice.

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Another country heard from

First it was "The Netherlands Second". Now it's Switzerland making a bid:

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Perineal agriculture?

Jack Maloney sent in a link to a talk at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute about "Plant Soil Microbiomes in Perineal Agriculture":

Switching from an annual agriculture system to a perineal agriculture system that most closely resembles natural prairies will include changes to the way we manage soil, the lifespan of the plants, and the diversity of the crops there. KU Assistant Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ben Sikes will talk about how each of these changes will influence diseases and the beneficial partners that live in the soil.

Presumably "perineal" in this context is a Cupertino for "perennial". Jack's comment:

'Perineal agriculture': not a subject I even want to think about, much less attend a lecture about!

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Yeah nah really?

For more, see #newyorkersbelike

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We've got the best wishes in the Netherlands

I'm in Groningen for the celebration of the 30-year anniversary of Alfa-Informatica.

So this is appropriate:

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