Archive for Language and politics

Winnie the Pooh in a bottle

Netizens in Taiwan are having fun sharing a photo of a beverage promotion that comes with a Winnie doll in a bottle.


(source of photo and article in Chinese)

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"Mirrors" composer rejects Richard Feelgood and Donald Trump

Jon Jackson, "Writer Behind Trump's Rally Music Wants to Distance Himself From QAnon", Newsweek 9/20/2022:

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday appeared at an Ohio rally for J.D. Vance, a Republican nominee for Senate. Afterward, Trump received much attention for what many people have claimed was a QAnon element to his appearance.

When Trump took to the stage, people in attendance felt they recognized his entrance music. Many in the crowd raised a one-finger salute as a reference to the QAnon conspiracy theory. They did so because the song they heard sounded nearly identical to QAnon's unofficial theme song, "Wwg1wga," which stands for the QAnon slogan, "Where we go one, we go all." (Although the index finger salute is used by QAnon, some people have claimed its use is also a reference to the "America First" slogan.)

Aides for Trump have denied to multiple media outlets that the song played last weekend was "Wwg1wga." Instead, they identified the tune that the former president used at the rally as a royalty-free track called "Mirrors," written by composer Will Van De Crommert.

However, Van De Crommert wrote to Newsweek that he did not authorize the use of "Mirrors" for Trump. He also emphasized he wasn't happy about his music being associated with QAnon.

"I do not support Donald Trump, and I do not support or espouse the beliefs of QAnon," Van De Crommert said.

That "Mirrors" was mistaken for "Wwg1wga" is understandable. When De Crommert's song is played to the music-identifying service Shazam, the result given back is "Wwg1wga," which is credited to an artist who goes by Richard Feelgood.

"Richard Feelgood's claim on the song 'Mirrors' (retitled 'Wwg1wga') is patently false. The recordings of 'Wwg1wga' and 'Mirrors' are identical, and the master was unlawfully retitled, repackaged, and redistributed to streaming platforms by Richard Feelgood," Van De Crommert said.

He added, "I am not Richard Feelgood, I do not represent Richard Feelgood, and Richard Feelgood is not a pseudonym that I have ever or will ever employ."

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"Semper Supra"

A performance of the new U.S. Space Force anthem:

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Zero-COVID: null with a difference

In Chinese, it is called "qīng líng 清零" (lit., "clear zero").  Because the concept never made sense to me as a practical means for coping with the pandemic coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, I wrote a post trying to understand what the Chinese authorities mean by it:  see "Dynamic zero" (5/19/22).  In that post, I discussed the problem from many different angles, including:

  1. "zero moment point" in robotics
  2. "zero-sum game" in mathematics
  3. "zero dynamics" in mathematics

If "Zero-COVID" genuinely interests / concerns you, I recommend that you spend some time on the "Dynamic zero" post.  Here I will cite only this brief passage from it:

…before it was rushed into use for the current "zero [Covid control]" policy, "qīng líng 清零" started out in literary texts as an adjective implying "lonely; lonesome; solitary; desolate".  More recently, it was employed in computing as a verb denoting "to reset; to clear the memory".  From there, it was adapted by Chinese epidemiologists in the sense of "to reduce to zero; to zero out".  That may be their goal, but it is not happening, despite their fiercest efforts at FTTIS ("Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support").

Not to mention mass prescription of mRNA and other medicines, plus masks.

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Banning Cantonese

Here is an Instagram link to a young Cantonese teacher, Zita Wong, talking about a restaurant in Guangzhou that banned Cantonese and describing the backlash that ensued.  She also goes into the efforts to downplay all topolects.

The situation with this particular establishment is especially ticklish because it is a Japanese restaurant operating in China, but the same holds true for many other restaurants, not only in Guangzhou, but in other cities as well.

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Conspiracy (theories)

This is a guest post by Breffni O'Rourke.


In the last couple of years I've noticed people using "conspiracy" where what makes more sense (to me anyway) is "conspiracy theory". Liz Cheney's concession speech had three instances of it:

1. "At the heart of the attack on January 6 is a willingness to embrace dangerous conspiracies that attack the very core premise of our nation."

2. "If we do not condemn the conspiracies and the lies, if we do not hold those responsible to account, we will be excusing this conduct, and it will become a feature of all elections."

3. "Donald Trump knows that voicing these conspiracies will provoke violence and threats of violence."

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Les raids du MAL

The FBI's search of Mar-a-Lago is featured in the news this morning,– and also of course on Twitter, with the difference that many tweets abbreviate "Mar-a-Lago" as "MAL" or "MaL", e.g.

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Free Tibet!/?

From Charles Belov:  seen on a street-sign pole in the Mission District of San Francisco:

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Ask Language Log: "He who plays with fire will get burned"

From Claudia Rosett:

I have a question about a phrase that China’s foreign ministry attributed to Xi in his call with Biden last week:

In English:  “Those who play with fire will perish by it.”

That phrase, in English translation, is exactly the same as threats Chinese officials issued against Hong Kong during the protests in 2019.

I am wondering if this is a standard threat in Chinese — much as it is a proverb in the West — or something that for effect in English they have swiped from us.

I’m not sure it’s of any great importance which way that goes, but in the cataloguing of PRC threats made in English, it stands out as memorable, a phrase the press latches onto. Perhaps because it is so familiar to us.

If you have any insights on this, I’d be grateful.

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Pronouns

Today's Dumbing of Age:

Mouseover title: "the pronouns are coming from INSIDE the sentence!!!"

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Half-vast ideas

A CNN interview with former National Security Adviser John Bolton about the January 6th hearings is getting lots of attention for his casual observation, "As somebody who has helped plan coups d'état — not here, but, you know, other places — it takes a lot of work."

Shortly before that (about 40 seconds into the above video clip), there was another notable line, in which Bolton dismissed the idea that Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election results constituted "a carefully planned coup d'état":

That's not the way Donald Trump does things. It's rambling from one half-vast idea to another. One plan that falls through and another comes up.

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"The P Word"

Josh Dickey, "Donald Trump Called Mike Pence ‘The P-Word’ and a ‘Wimp’ for Refusing to Block 2020 Election", 6/16/2020:

Donald Trump called Mike Pence “the P-word” and “a wimp” during a phone call in which the president was trying to convince the vice president to take the unprecedented – and almost certainly illegal – step of singlehandedly refusing to certify the 2020 election, according to testimony Thursday on Capitol Hill.

In a brief clip of video testimony at the Jan. 6 committee hearings, Julie Radford, Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff at the White House, said her boss told her “that her dad had just had an upsetting conversation with the VP.”

She was asked by the questioning attorney whether she remembered what name Trump called Pence.

“The P-word,” she said.

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Of chives and bandits

Tension over the prolonged pandemic lockdowns in Chinese cities is growing.  Thus violence has erupted even in Beijing, where we get scenes like this in the suburb of Yanjiao, 21 miles east of Tiananmen, where workers are demonstrating for the right to travel to their jobs in the city, with continuous cries of "jǐngchá dǎ rén 警察打人" ("the police are beating people").  But it is Shanghai where the citizens have suffered most grievously and for the longest period of time.  Although the government has announced the lifting of the lockdowns, many of the most obnoxious mandates (e.g., repeated, frequent nucleic acid testing) are still being enforced.  All of this has led to extreme cynicism and a greater willingness to confront the authorities.  Some of these sentiments are conveyed on this card where, naturally in the land of the most severe censorship in the world, they must employ clever indirection, which I shall try to explain below:

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