Open Forum

Where you can't be off topic because there IS no topic.

The floor is yours.

Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Bill says:
  2. sam says:
  3. Kit says:


    Epilepsy Foundation Was Targeted in Mass Strobe Cyberattack

    Anyone recall one of OTB’s right-wing commentators ever writing that he was sickened by some far-right act?

  4. Scott says:

    Scientific evidence for something I think people already know:

    The researchers found that a small region toward the front of the brain called the posterior medial prefrontal cortex, associated with judging performance and mistakes, was more active during the task. Specifically, it was active when individuals were processing someone’s agreement with their opinion, but not when they were dealing with an opposing view…Seeing that this brain region responds more strongly when our suspicions are confirmed helps explain the mechanism behind cognitive bias

    If agreement is so essential to behavior change that it’s reflected in brain activity, then maybe real-life debates would be more effective if people met their opposition by finding common ground first…For example, if you want to convince an anti-vaxxer that vaccines are necessary, it might be more effective to start with something everyone agrees on — like it’s important to protect kids from deadly disease

  5. MarkedMan says:

    I’ve been thinking about the word “degeneracy” lately. The dictionary definition doesn’t quite match my internal definition: A decline in ethics and morality. It’s this internal definition that has led me to label Trumpers and Federal and State level Republican officials as degenerates. Over two and a half centuries the US has gradually become a nation of laws and ethics, but Republicans are pulling us down into a more tribal based ethos, one where the only purpose of power is to benefit one’s own tribe. With that in mind, I think “degenerates” is the perfect description.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    @Kit: From the article:

    In that attack, John Rayne Rivello, a Marine Corps veteran from Maryland, was accused of using Twitter to send a GIF with a blinding strobe light to an epileptic author, Kurt Eichenwald, who had written critically about Donald J. Trump and his supporters during the 2016 presidential campaign.

    Like I said above, Trumpers are degenerates.

  7. Tyrell says:

    During this season, let us turn to some good news that you may have missed, news the main stream news probably didn’t report.
    “Man with cancer asks for Christmas cards” Three people respond by driving hours to deliver cards to him in person! (Fox 8, Cleveland)
    “Stunning Christmas Light Display Inspires 13 year old Girl With Autism to Speak For First Time!” A Christmas miracle! (Good News Network)
    “Veteran Goes From Janitor to Physicist After Teaching Himself Trig Using Only You Tube Videos!” (Good News Network)
    “Single Mom Receives Free Car in the Drive-thru After Being Nominated For a Christmas Wish” (Good News Network)
    “Deli Owner Has Received More Than 400 Letters To Santa, and He Has Responded To All of Them!” Another hero! (Good News Network)
    “IHOP Waitress Receives $1,200 Tip For the Holidays!” (USA Today)
    “Teens Charitable Organization Feeds Hundreds of Kids A Week!” (Stitch)
    “Friendship Over Business: Coffee Shop Owner Helps Competitor Stay Open!” (The Takeout) See Senator Warren, not all business owners are greedy!
    “Man Gives $12K In toys to Low Income Neighborhood Where He Once Lived!” (Washington Post) Thanks to the Post for this.
    “Anonymous Donor Drops $1500 Gold Coin In Salvation Army Kettle” (USA Today)
    “Veteran Now a Freshman At Yale With Help From His Service Dog” (CBS News) Yes, some of the main stream news gets into the spirit!

    This is just a small amount of the good news out there. Good news is always better than the negative news that we see so much of. Brighten up someone’s life today!

  8. Kathy says:

    Boeing has suspended production of the 737 MAX line.

    This is understandable as the model continues to be grounded, and Boeing right now has over 400 units stored in their factory field, awaiting the opportunity to be delivered.

    It is a temporary measure, and Boeing claims no workers will be laid off. I believe the first part, I’m not sure about the second.

    One thing, I don’t see Boeing doing yet another version of the 737.

    I hope Airbus learns from Boeing’s mistake. Right now they’re flaying high with the A320neo family, and the newly acquired A220. But they should begin looking at designs for a next generation narrow body, considering these will fly far longer routes and must be far more energy efficient. The A320 line has more room to expand, sure, but not infinite room.

  9. Kit says:


    Like I said above, Trumpers are degenerates.

    What constantly strikes me is that nothing on the Right, nothing!, can be so bad that they feel compelled to denounce it en masse. Granted, when things get really shocking, a few like to tut tut.

    We seem to be dealing with a long-standing pathology that only grows worse. Ever since I can remember, we have never gone wanting for the types shouting: My country, right or wrong! Why is that?

  10. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:


    See Senator Warren, not all business owners are greedy!

    Please provide a link to Sen. Warren saying that “all business owners are greedy”.
    You will spout this lie, then vote for Trump again…because, you know, he’s a straight shooter.
    From Warren’s website:

    Senator Warren believes that small businesses are the heart and soul of our economy. The idea that anyone with a great idea and the right skills can step up and have a shot at success is central to the American story. In Massachusetts alone, small businesses employ 1.4 million people – that’s almost 47 percent of all private sector workers in the Commonwealth. Senator Warren is focused on making sure Washington works better for small businesses and their employees.
    This starts with fixing policies that benefit only giant corporations and crush competition. Senator Warren knows that family cranberry growers on the Cape don’t have bank accounts in the Cayman Islands. A tech start-up in Boston or Worcester isn’t transferring its money to a foreign tax haven. Senator Warren believes that public policies from taxes to health care should help give small businesses a level playing field to compete and to succeed.

  11. Kit says:

    @Scott: Re: confirmation bias

    Oh how sweet it is to hear one’s own convictions from another’s lips!

  12. CSK says:

    Very interesting article in the NYT today: “We Are Republicans, and We Want Trump Defeated,” by George T. Conway III, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver, and Rick Wilson.

  13. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    The Lincoln Project…I saw this, and I’m intrigued.
    Frankly I don’t trust Conway; the thing with is wife is just too f’ing weird.
    But Schmidt and Wilson are two very credible guys and, importantly, they are great communicators.
    Let’s hope they are effective in convincing the people they claim to want to convince;”disaffected” Conservatives, Republicans, and Republican-leaning Independents, in swing states.

    Mr. Trump and his enablers have abandoned conservatism and longstanding Republican principles and replaced it with Trumpism, an empty faith led by a bogus prophet

  14. CSKs says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I don’t get it with the Conways. I don’t see how they can stand to be in the same zip code, let alone the same marriage.

    I believe George is more sincere in his beliefs than is Kellyanne in hers.

  15. Kathy says:


    I’m guessing the Grandma Simpson Principle: one of them is a demon in the sack.

    On other things, my office PC went from slow to ridiculous. It would literally freeze for minutes when commanded to do something like open an email or calculate a tax on Excel. The IT person said they could “depure” it, which might gain some marginal benefit for a week, maybe two. I insisted on either 1) more RAM, 2) a new PC.

    Well, IT decided to replace all our hard drives with solid state drives. Good. those are faster. But the message they sent about my PC read, “As we’re replacing the hard drives with ultraspeed drives, we deem this problem resolved.”

    I got a Space Balls flashback to “Ludicrous Speed!”

    I wonder if the PC will go plaid.

    I replied “We’ll see.”

  16. Gustopher says:

    @CSKs: I assume the Conways are playing out their weird sex games in public. The public abuse and humiliation gets them hot.

    This would explain everything, but it leaves me feeling a little queasy. And used.

  17. Tyrell says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Thanks for showing that. I was under the mistaken idea that she was against business owners as a whole. I will take a closer look at her ideas.
    My mistake and apologies to Warren and her supporters.

  18. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Kudops, if you do.

    I was under the mistaken idea that she was against business owners as a whole.

    At the very least stop repeating Fox News propaganda.

  19. gVOR08 says:

    Webster’s word of the year is “they”, both as a singular pronoun when gender is unknown and for a non-binary individual. Our culture is evolving nicely, Republicans not so much.

  20. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @CSK: Now if only there were more than 3. Even Carly Fiorina is on record today as saying that her vote for a Democrat depends on who the Democrats choose. (And she agrees that Trump should be impeached–unlike 92% of her party associates.)

    On the other hand, those three now qualify as being as rare as unicorns.

    Edit: How soon we forget. For some couples, politics is only a business (game?) and not related to their lives as a couple. James Carville and Mary Matalin come to mind.

  21. Sleeping Dog says:


    As I recall, Boeing got into the 737 Max mess because they wouldn’t develop a new plane for that market segment, due to cost, and attempted a band aid upgrade that involved a new generations of engines that are of a larger diameter. The bigger engine wouldn’t fit under the wing leaving them with the choice of taller landing gear, which would have required significant modifications to the air frame or placing the engines a bit further forward. That provided the necessary clearance but introduced aerodynamic issues that intern required sophisticated computer controls. Then they botched the documentation and training.

    I feel for the employees and the subcontractors, but Boeing’s execs deserve a special place in hell.

  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    Trump Is Forever

    Last is correct that Tiny has dynastic aspirations, which is a real conundrum to the Rethugs. Forget about the Rethug party that the writers at the Bulwark celebrate, a Tiny dynasty is a barrier for those Rethugs that have signed on to the Nationalist Conservative band wagon.

    For the next 10 years or so, small C conservatives and main street republicans will find themselves without a party, at least at the national level. The silver lining is that Tiny is 74, not living a healthy life style and is showing signs of dementia. Add to that Don Jr, is dumber than a rock and has shown no indication that he has the hedgehog smarts that his father.

    Ivanka? I have difficulty seeing a Trumpist party following a woman.

  23. CSK says:

    @just nutha ignint cracker: It’s actually four, but I see your point

    @Sleeping Dog: I was going to cite that article, but you beat me to it. It’s good. Depressing, but good.

    Ivanka would be Trump’s preference, I think, but the alt-right would have a real problem with her Jewish husband.

  24. Gustopher says:

    @gVOR08: singular, personal “they” always sounds like the anonymous overlord “they” to me.

    “Jeremy changed pronouns after they started doing drag again” (actual statement someone said to me yesterday), and even with the full context, I momentarily thought that this was the same “they” that says you shouldn’t swim within an hour of eating.

    I’m old, it takes me a while to get used to things. I expect I eventually will get used to it.

    I just wish they (the drag queens who dispense advice about swimming, and who are always listening…) found a better pronoun. Enby is a cute word for non-binary folks, and singular, personal they just feels like a letdown. Maybe a new pronoun borrowing from that — nee, nib, nibs or something.

  25. Gustopher says:

    @Kathy: Is the job market in Mexico City really awful or something? Or is there something great about your job you don’t mention?

  26. Kit says:


    Webster’s word of the year is “they”

    Buckle up: here’s me at my least pissed off.

    I never understood what was wrong with ‘one’, or even ‘he’, to be honest. That said, ‘they’ is an improvement compared to indiscriminately switching between ‘he’ and ‘she’ at random. Countless times, I was ripped out of some text just so some writer could show… something, instead of making the point he had been leading up to.

    I guess my only real complaint is that I grew up speaking this way, learned to speak a more proper English (and I’m not putting any scare quotes anywhere), and then this change came along. Well, here’s me shaking my fist at the sky. You don’t want to take my advice on English usage? Fine! See where it gets you.

  27. Kylopod says:

    @CSKs: @Kathy: The Conway marriage is not some standard example of spouses with opposite political views, such as Carville/Matalin, or Schwarzenegger/Shriver. Those couples knew from the start that they differed politically, and they obviously found a way early on to handle those differences without blowing up their relationship. In contrast, the Conways were both always Republicans, and for decades they probably viewed each other as more or less on the same page. And their differences now are worse than the usual Republican-Democrat divide. Kellyanne has made herself the lying propagandist for an authoritarian strongman, and George damn well knows it. That’s way beyond the differences between whether you support, say, George H.W. Bush or Bill Clinton (who themselves, let’s remember, eventually became personal friends), where there’s at least some room for shared values and basic integrity, and no serious threat to the future of American democracy.

  28. Kathy says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    That’s right, but the problem goes back further.

    The 737 was designed as a regional jet, capable of operating at airports with minimal infrastructure. It was built low to the ground, so baggage could be handled at airports without proper equipment, for example.

    The MAX is the 4th iteration. The first and second are understandable, most jets go through that. The third was a stretch, partly in response to the A320 and partly on demand by Southwest, then the largest operator of the 737. The MAX was plain overreaching.

    Consider the original design was for short hops with few passengers. The MAX 8 can carry around 150 people across the Atlantic.

    Boeing developed cost-shyness after the overruns and problems with the 787. they were in no mood to launch another new clean slate design.

  29. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08: I mentioned it already, but a couple of months ago Ben Shapiro went on a rant against transgender pronouns, and in the course of it he claimed that no language in history had ever used a plural pronoun with a singular antecedent. Progressive Twitter then dug up numerous examples of when Shapiro himself had used singular they (as all English speakers do colloquially, and have for centuries).

  30. Kathy says:


    Oh, there’s plenty I don’t mention about my job. Some of it is confidential, most of it is so boring it makes baseball look like a real sport.

  31. Sleeping Dog says:


    I chose 10 years, because as Last points out, whether Tiny is beaten in the fall or serves to 2024, he is not going quietly into the gentle night. He’s going to be a larger tweet monster than he currently is, punishing his perceived enemies and praising his fawning supplicants. Trump owns the Rethug party and won’t give it up till it is pried from his cold dead fingers or the dementia gets to the point where he forgets how to use a smart phone.

  32. CSK says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I agree. Trump will deride whoever his successor may be, R or D. We’ll be subject to a constant barrage of Twitter rants and diatribes about how he, Trump, could have done things so much better.

    Unless his successor is Ivanka.

  33. Kit says:

    This just from The Guardian:

    While speaking to reporters in the Oval Office moments ago, Trump slammed the impeachment inquiry as a “disgrace” and a “mark on our country.”

    Other presidents, in the future, unless they do something about this, other presidents are going to have to live with this,” Trump said, echoing an argument fro his Republican allies in Congress.

    If you read that in a story, your eyes would roll. No idea what’s supposed to happen next…

  34. Gustopher says:

    @Kylopod: The previous common colloquial usage of singular they was for a person whose gender was unknown or unimportant to the story — you can find a few instances where it is used otherwise, but it’s rare.

    “Someone cut me off today. Then they blew through a red light. I think they were drunk.”

    “I’m worried about my friend Pat.” “What’s wrong with them?”

    The person the pronoun refers to hasn’t been identified, or their gender hasn’t been identified.

    The new usage is quite different, because the person has been identified. “Bob set their house on fire for the insurance money.”

    You can tell it’s new, because without context on Bob and Bob’s pronouns, you not only don’t know whose house, but Bob’s house isn’t on your mind as a possibility.

    The Ben Shapiro gotchas tend to fall into the first category.

    I’m not saying he’s not a bigoted dickwad who should be mocked and ridiculed, but he’s not wrong that it’s a new usage.

    He’s just wrong that this new usage is an affront to all decent, respectable people.

  35. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    A profound lack of understanding about how our Government works, anger management issues, and the behavior of a guilty person.
    If you were on the fence about if Trump is fit for office, you will not be after reading this letter.

  36. Gustopher says:

    @Gustopher: also, my main dislike with a personal singular they is that it muddles the difference between “I don’t know this person’s gender” and “this person’s gender is foo.”

    I don’t see it as better than referring to people of unknown gender as “he”.

    As a software engineer, I think there is a value in an explicit “we don’t know this yet”

    It’s like the Rumsfeld known-unknowns vs unknown-unknowns. It’s useful information we should just be throwing away willy-nilly, damn it!

    Ahem. I’ll cope.

  37. DrDaveT says:


    The previous common colloquial usage of singular they was for a person whose gender was unknown or unimportant to the story — you can find a few instances where it is used otherwise, but it’s rare.

    If Shakespeare counts as ‘rare’, I suppose.

    Amusingly, we have already been through this whole use-the-wrong-numbered-pronoun thing before. Once upon a time, the second person singular pronoun was you and the second person plural was ye. The complete loss of ye from the language, using you as both singular and plural, did exactly zero harm to intelligibility.

    Even more amusingly, we know exactly who to blame for this whole “don’t use they, use he” nonsense. It was a 17th century pontificator named Lindley Murray who wrote (with no apparent qualifications) a grammar and usage guide that became popular. Sort of like Strunk and White, only even more arbitrary.

  38. DrDaveT says:


    I don’t see it as better than referring to people of unknown gender as “he”.

    Do you see it as better than referring to people as “Brian”, even when you don’t know their name? If not, how is that different?

    Use of ‘they’ as a singular pronoun is widespread among the most revered writers, all the way back to Middle English. Use of ‘he’ as a generic was invented by a (male, of course) self-published grammar writer in the 1600s. I know which I prefer.

  39. Slugger says:

    I use a plural pronoun for a single person all the time. I address people as “You” and hardly ever say “thou.”

  40. DrDaveT says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I wonder who at FNC wrote that. (There’s no way Trump knows the word ‘disingenuous’, and the scrambled timeline of alternative Biden history is pure faux news…)

  41. CSK says:

    @Kylopod: Indeed. I hadn’t considered that, but you’re correct.

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: You can tell the parts that Trump dictated and those a more literate person wrote for him.

  42. Guarneri says:

    Is this the place where you go to point out this thing is unraveling? Comey is a stooge.

  43. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Is anybody really on the fence about Trump’s fitness for office? From what I can see, there are three positions available, knows he’s not fit, knows he’s not fit but DGAF (Guarneri et al.) doesn’t pay any attention either way (and probably DGAF, either).

  44. just nutha ignint cracker says:

    Note to moderator: Apparently I submitted a completely different email address by mishap on the post above. The post is me, but the address is wrong.

  45. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    You link to zerohedge to prove someone is a stooge?

  46. Kathy says:

    What if we suppose economic and tax policies are like environmental pressures on businesses of all sizes?

    Naturally they will all try to adapt, with varying success, to the new conditions. But one policy which may serve as stimulus for, say, job creation under condition X, may not do the same under condition Y once that policy has been in place for some time.

    As an analogy, suppose you have a tank with algae and dump some nutrients in it. the algae will increase in population until they consume all the nutrients. Next you dump some more nutrients, but now they can’t increase their population as much because they’ve taken up much of the space in the tank, which now also contains algae waste.

    so, same “policy” different results.

    A tax cut, for example, might be used for investment by a rapidly growing business, or overall by many businesses when there are under-served markets or other expansion opportunities. Later a tax cut might not cause that much investment, as opportunities for expansion are lacking, and most markets are well-served. So instead a company might pay dividends, or buy shares back, or just sit on the money.

  47. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: Shakespeare and Middle English were quite some time ago. They aren’t close to current colloquial English.

    @Slugger: And, in modern English “you” can be singular or plural. “Thou” would be weird archaic language.

    Singular “they” for an identified person is a not in 20th century colloquial English. It’s a change people have been adding in the last few years. Possibly a backwards looking change, but a change.

    The language changes. I get that. I’m ok with that, even if I think it’s a really mediocre change. I just don’t want to be lied to about it.

    If I want lies, I can click on Guanoberry’s zerohedge link.

  48. Kylopod says:


    I’m not saying he’s not a bigoted dickwad who should be mocked and ridiculed, but he’s not wrong that it’s a new usage.

    But that wasn’t the argument Shapiro made. He stated, plainly, that “a plural noun used as a singular noun to refer to a singular gender” is a “made-up definition…that has never been used this way in all of human history.” He wasn’t saying certain forms of singular they are new, he was saying it’s never happened, period, in any context or any language, ever. And he said it was due to “woke-scolds” who were “destroying” the English language. It was an amazingly stupid and ignorant statement that no one with a modicum of understanding of the history of English would defend.

    Language changes can be roughly classed into two categories. First, there are the natural changes that happen in every generation, like the decline of whom or the phrase “I was like…” Then there are the changes imposed on the language as part of conscious social reform: Ms. instead of Mrs. or Miss, salesperson instead of salesman, Latinx instead of Latino.

    People who complain about the second category are, I’ve noticed, a lot likelier to be conservatives.

    What’s interesting about singular they is that it crosses both categories. The hard-nosed grammar purists don’t like it, but neither does the anti-SJW brigade. And it’s a rare example of when social reformers are reaching for colloquial usage instead of inventing something new. But it’s a reflection of the fact that pronouns are very hard to change. They’re too much of a basic building block that you could plausibly get people to adopt some neologism like dhe or something.

  49. Mikey says:

    @Guarneri: Zerohedge is a Russian propaganda outlet.

    But I’m sure for you that’s a feature, not a bug.

  50. An Interested Party says:

    Yet another country in the world where a bigoted autocratic leader is causing all sorts of problems…this kind of thing is really turning into a global epidemic…

  51. DrDaveT says:


    Singular “they” for an identified person is a not in 20th century colloquial English. It’s a change people have been adding in the last few years.

    Why are you so sure of this? We know it has been common in the past, for a long time. Do you have actual evidence that it fell out of use, but has lately been revived for nefarious purposes?

  52. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: I don’t know about nefarious purposes, but ask and ye shall receive:

    This is a different use than the traditional singular they, which is used to refer to a person whose gender isn’t known or isn’t important in the context, as in the example above. The new use of they is direct, and it is for a person whose gender is known

    There are examples in Shakespeare and earlier. I’m not going to guess how common the usage was, but I would note that the amount of literature before Shakespeare that was lost is likely quite large — we might not be looking at a representative sample.

    All that said, although I cannot find an example, I am positive that singular-they has been used in 19th century American folk music where the gender is known but the specific identity is not.

    Made up example, just for clarity: “after the policeman knocks on your door, they will knock on your head.”

    I want to say that it continued into Woody Guthrie, but all the spots where I thought this happened don’t seem to, so I reckon that I done hill-billied it up.

    Now, I don’t think that it’s nefarious to change a language to destroy western civilization — I mean, to provide options that include more people. I don’t like this usage of “they” because it is 1970s-incorrect, and because it adds greater ambiguity to the language. It’s like using “eight” to mean “many” — when someone says “eight” you wouldn’t know what they meant.

    But, it could be worse. It could be “it”. I am utterly unwilling to refer to someone as “it” even if it is their preferred pronoun. (And, yes, there are a few people whose preferred pronoun is “it” — these people are idiots, who dehumanize themselves, and make the world a more dangerous place for anyone remotely like them)

    I’ll struggle with “them”. I don’t like “them” because they always lose out in “us” vs. “them”, but I can sort of accept it and I’m old and my feelings on the subject will be dead before too long. But I’ll use “them”. Or try to.

    I’m reminded of my feelings for transgender folks — they make me a little skittish, but I try to keep that my problem, rather than theirs. I support transfolks’ rights, and am aware of my discomfort enough to avoid accidentally discriminating (I hope), and I want them to have access to the best medical care available (currently modifying the body to match the brain, at some point they may have a choice)… I’m a little transphobic but not a bigot.

    On the other hand, if someone asks me if trans-women are real women… I don’t know. They’re real people, and I’ll do my best to treat them with respect, which includes referring to them as they want to be referred, but… I’m not sure it matters what I think of them, not enough to figure out how I think of them.

    I’m old. I’m set in my ways, the next generation may be better at this than I am. And singular, personal “they” is a new thing that I have to grudgingly accept, even if I think it’s dumb. I think a whole lot of shit is dumb. But it’s also kind, so that offsets the dumb.

    A while back, when I was having severe anxiety attacks, I enrolled in a MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) class, and it was a whole lot of meditation. Now, I thought meditation was just bullshit, but I also recognized that being judgmental hadn’t really been helping me, so I decided that I could be judgmental but that I wasn’t going to let myself act on my judgementalness. It turns out, that’s mindfulness. Go figure.

    Why, yes, I was drinking a beer while thumbing this in on my iPad, why do you ask?

  53. DrDaveT says:


    I don’t know about nefarious purposes, but ask and ye shall receive

    Much appreciated — sincerely. And I hope it was good beer.

  54. Kit says:


    I’m old. I’m set in my ways, the next generation may be better at this than I am. And singular, personal “they” is a new thing that I have to grudgingly accept, even if I think it’s dumb. I think a whole lot of shit is dumb. But it’s also kind, so that offsets the dumb

    All of this was sincere and well said. Who doesn’t find language endlessly fascinating? Still, much of what we think really comes down to what we feel. Has anyone ever changed his mind on some point of usage just because some example to the contrary can be dug out of the English corpus? Apart from those few annoying asshats on the extremes, the vast bulk of us find it distasteful to accept change too soon or too late. Just when you do says a lot about who you are.

    Of course there’s always a political aspect to linguistic change. The Right loves conformity: go to church, wear your little flag pin, and follow the accepted grammar rules. You can be a crypto-atheist and hate your country, just as long as you always remember to toe the line in public, and keep your true thoughts and feelings to yourself. The Left is naturally more comfortable with diversity, but at the extremes it dreams of policing language such that bad thoughts become impossible and one simply lacks the words to think otherwise. Scare quotes have grown so common around normative words that at times an author absolutely renders meaningless the point he has been driving at. You know, like if I’m trying to tell you the “correct” way to reboot your phone. Huh? Wait, are you telling me something that’s incorrect? Are you being ironic about your instructions? Are you a bot?

    There’s a social (snob) aspect, too. As Ben Jonson had it: Language most shows a man, speak that I may see thee. Who didn’t sneer at the woman from Vermont whose ALL CAPS style leapt from the page and pre-announced what her actually words would say?

    At the risk of rambling, I’ll end by saying that what really drives me mad about them as singular is that too many people hop indiscriminately between singular and plural conjugations within the same paragraph. It’s jarring. It’s confusing, and it often forces me to figure out if the usage was intentional and that there are multiple subjects to keep track of, or was simply sloppy.

  55. Tyrell says:

    @Sleeping Dog: There is a lot of expense involved in maintaining those planes that are grounded. And then if they ever get back in service I would be wary about flying on a plane that has been sitting on the ground for a year or more.

  56. DrDaveT says:


    I’ll end by saying that what really drives me mad about them as singular is that too many people hop indiscriminately between singular and plural conjugations within the same paragraph.

    We can certainly agree about that. On a related note, I want to force documentary makers who use the “continuing present” tense* to watch their own products, with me applying a cattle prod to their tender parts every time they screw it up, or intercut their narration with interviews in which people use actual past tenses.

    *”It is 1944. The Japanese are preparing for a last defense of the homeland. In Russia, Stalin orders the Army to…” Etc. It only works if everything you are talking about happened at roughly the same time, or in sequence.

  57. Kathy says:

    With two tons of work at the office, my major concerns for this week are:

    1) Finding time to see Star Wars IX on the weekend

    2) Finding additional time on the weekend to do a rather elaborate recipe. Either cornbread with black mole and chicken, or shredded beef in onion sauce (brand new!). If I don’t find time, I’ll have to go with a simple recipe like baked chicken milanesas, or beans and sausage in tomato sauce.

  58. DrDaveT says:


    The Right loves conformity

    To be fair, the Left loves conformity too. The big difference is that the Right loves symbolic conformity, while the Left loves behavioral conformity. The Left really does insist that people all stop assaulting women, discriminating against gays and people of color, and trashing the environment. The Right insists that people not burn American flags, or say mean things about Christians, or wear their hair in whatever style is deemed inappropriate this week, or notice that society is still structurally racist and sexist.

  59. Teve says:


    Be sure to own the libs today and respond “MERRY CHRISTMAS” to all of the little lib snowflakes ❄️
    It’s small, but wonderful, triggering mechanisms such as this which will make the world a better place. MERRY CHRISTMAS libs! Now go back to the basement and cry it out.

  60. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Keith Richards, the man who will never die, is 76 today.
    Rock on…

  61. Kit says:


    To be fair, the Left loves conformity too. The big difference is that the Right loves symbolic conformity, while the Left loves behavioral conformity

    I’m not sure I can explain it, probably because the idea is too fuzzy in my mind, but each side’s relation to language and behavior is different. Hypocrisy doesn’t sting for some people. You spent the stolen ministry money on whores and blow? Well, you’re just one sobbing apology away from forgiveness if you can mention Jesus often enough. Toe that line, sonny, and make your symbolic atonement.

    On the Left, no apology is ever sufficient without some promise to go to behavior-reassignment camp. Not many second chances given out by the Left.

  62. Mister Bluster says:

    I get “Merry Christmas” from random citizens all the time.
    My response is always “Happy New Year!”

  63. Mikey says:

    @Teve: Because Jewish people just don’t matter, apparently. Or any other non-Christian who might be celebrating a holiday this time of year.

    The American right couldn’t exist without bigotry and exclusion.

  64. Kathy says:

    I bet the people who are upset at being wished “Merry Xmas” are far, far, far, fewer than those who fly into a rage when wished “Happy Holidays.”

  65. wr says:

    @Gustopher: ““Thou” would be weird archaic language.”

    Which is why we’ve got “y’all.” One of the few positive contributions the south has made to this country, along with fried chicken, William Faulkner and Jason Isbell…

  66. Mister Bluster says:

    One of the few positive contributions the south has made to this country,..

    …and Janis Joplin.

  67. wr says:

    @Mister Bluster: “…and Janis Joplin.”

    All right… all right… but apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order… what have the Romans done for us?

  68. Kathy says:


    Why, they left us the roots for the term “indelible.” is that not a gift beyond price?

  69. Jax says:

    Oh, this is lovely. My Facebook feed is exploding with people promising civil war.

    It’s really, really simple. Don’t elect a criminal. Their first clue should’ve been the bankruptcies, misusing charity funds, his sham university, and money laundering he’s already paid fines for.

  70. Teve says:

    @Jax: when they all decide to storm the Capitol, we get our boys at google maps to trigger a hidden Android function called _TardRedirect(); which slowly, imperceptibly alters their GPS readings until they all converge on the fabled Dead Letter Office in Nebraska.

  71. Jax says:

    @Teve: And they’re all from Wyoming, so they’re like “I will not vote for a Democrat, no matter what!” Ummm….derrr….you weren’t gonna, anyways, sooooooo….. (eyeroll)

    I suspect most of them don’t understand he’s not actually going to be removed. They’ll be sig heiling Pence in the morning, until someone explains the process. Someone with more patience than myself. I’m staying radio silent, there’s a new episode of Vikings to watch. 😉