Coit Tower attacks a catalyst

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Geoff Nunberg sent around a link to C.W. Nevius, "Coit Tower attacks a catalyst for park crackdown",  San Francisco Chronicle 9/4/2010. The Landmark's Revenge?


  1. Maneki Nekko said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

    It's like those magic eye posters from the 90s: after somebody points it out you can see it.

  2. Sili said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

    It's like those magic eye posters from the 90s: after somebody points it out you can see it.

    I think the established response is: "What has been seen, cannot be unseen."

    Though admittedly that usually involves more overweight, bearded guys in Sailor Scout uniforms.

  3. Nancy Friedman said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

    And across the bay, mountain lions apparently possess the power of telecommunication:

    Who knew Berkeley had swamps? With their own constabularies?

  4. Mark P said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 2:34 pm

    I think I could understand why Coit Tower might attack after suffering through years of attempts at vulgar wordplay on the name.

  5. Catanea said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

    So I read the articles about the mountain lion, too; and I'm surprised to see the police going into the "rear yard" and using some people's "rear porch". I thought Americans had backyards and back porches??? ("…& last night, on the back porch, I loved her best of all" – charming old song…)

  6. Thomas Thurman said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

    I initially assumed that Coit Tower was the name of an organisation headquartered there.

    (Also, the article interestingly uses "latter" for the last of three items.)

  7. Rubrick said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

    Headlinese is so strange. I think headline writers must have long since forgotten the actual motivation behind excising words (make the headline fit), and now simply follow the commandment "Thou shalt not include any form of the verb 'is'". In the example above, they've removed the crucial verb, but left in an "a" which really isn't needed. "Coit Tower attacks are catalyst for park crackdown" would be just a smidge longer than the original but far clearer.

  8. a George said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 5:38 pm

    At times I doubt my sanity when I see headlines like these, because I always see the alternative first. The latest is from New Scientist, No. 2774, p. 17:
    "You don't need siblings to be social". No, indeed, why should my siblings be social.

    An older, but equally confusing (to me) statement was the theme of a conference "Zur Relevanz naturwissenschaflicher Methoden für die Frage des Musikerlebens"; in English: "The relevance of the methods of exact science to the question of musicians' lives".

    In both cases, a sound recording of a native speaker reading the text out loud would have removed any ambiguity.

  9. möngke said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 5:59 pm

    What continuously amazes me is the insistence on ellision of copulas in headlinese. Maybe journalists are paid inversely to the number of characters in the headline or something.

  10. dirk alan said,

    September 5, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    the headline is not coit clear.

  11. Jerry Friedman said,

    September 6, 2010 @ 1:00 am

    "Coit Tower attacks catalyze park crackdown"?

    Of course, in a different universe the headline writer could avoid the imprecise popularized technicality and write "prompt", that classic headline word, instead of "catalyze".

  12. Dan Lufkin said,

    September 6, 2010 @ 9:40 am

    @ a George
    I had to process that one for quite a while because the concept of a German conference on the cliometry of (z.B.) Mozart seemed eminently plausible. In fact, I'd be amazed if exactly such a conference hasn't already taken place. What an excuse for a week's academic boondoggle in Salzburg!

  13. a George said,

    September 6, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

    @ Dan Lufkin
    I was more worried that future cataloguers would direct the reader to the wrong kind of information.

    Permit me to quote Klinger (1997): "At first, the term ‘cliometry’ did not mean too much to me, a fact for which I hope you will pardon me." It is, however, a rare but googleable term.
    I do not know if my in-sane construction has given rise to a real conference, but the intended one had. In Baden bei Wien, rather than Salzburg.

  14. Richard said,

    September 7, 2010 @ 10:26 am

    I wouldn't mess with Coit Tower. It's big, strong, and moves fast. Think of it as a 20-ton linebacker. Personally, I'd rather wrangle with the Twin Peaks.

  15. richard howland-bolton said,

    September 7, 2010 @ 10:47 am

    They were going to call the tower "Coitus" but luckily they were interrupted.

  16. Richard said,

    September 8, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    I say we're having too much fun with a large, long, hard, oblong, cylindrical structure.

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