Sign Language in Comic Strips

Here’s an old Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  Notice the speech balloon rising from the signing fingers:


In this comic, a thought balloon rises from signing fingers:

thought balloon

I suppose a cartoonist could also gloss sign language with a note in the caption space, but my lunch break wasn’t long enough to find an example of that approach.

I make another attempt to engage in controversy

time for jibber jabber

Yesterday, I tried to join a controversy on Language Log.  The controversy was a lively one and comments I’ve posted there in the past have usually drawn some kind of response.  So I was surprised that my offering was completely ignored.  Today, I tried again. 


USA: CRAZYWORLD! — Episode 2

aI guess you have to make at least two of something before it can be technically called a “series.” I’m not entirely comfortable with the flippant, satirical usage of Jesus Christ here … but as one can plainly see, the humor is never at Jesus’ expense. (How have they been able to make the “Blondie” strip all these years without even once bringing in Christ to help set up a joke?)


A Blast From The Past

I’m trying to figure out when the heck this thing was made. It’s definitely old. And seems, incidentally, to have worn well with the passage of time.



I try, but fail, to enter a controversy

The other day, I posted a comment at Language Log which I was certain would draw some response.  It did not. 

The chief author of Language Log, University of Pennsylvania linguist Mark Liberman, had put up three posts (first, second, third) about the question of whether management types use “At the end of the day” as jargon.  Professor Liberman searched various databases, found non-managers using the phrase, and declared the question settled.  Various commenters were unconvinced.  It seemed to me that several of them were trying to say that Professor Liberman was missing the point of the question.  I agreed with them, and wrote this comment:


Will the Manhattan Project Always Exist?

3quarksdaily is mostly a filter blog, but they do run some original material. For example, here is an intriguing piece about the nature of historical memory.

The Funny Times, October 2009

funny times october 2009Two items in this one I wanted to note.  The first is from John Walsh, a column about his former sister-in-law Jo.  When Jo divorced Walsh’s brother, she wanted to drop the name Walsh, but did not want to go back to her maiden name.  So she sat down with her teenaged sons and thought up a new name.  What she settled on was “Jo Sohneronne,” pronounced “Jo’s on her own.”  When Jo went to get new ID forms, each clerk she approached told her she’d have to change her name legally before they could issue her identification.  When she asked to see the regulation that said she could not put the name “Jo Sohneronne” on her bank account, Social Security card, or driver’s license without a court order, the clerks were unable to produce any such regulation.  So, she made the change successfully. 

I wish I’d read Walsh’s piece several months ago.  When Mrs Acilius and I got married this spring, she was excited about adding my last name to her name.  She was going to keep the three names her parents gave her, but use my last name as her new last name and her old middle and last names as two middle names.  So, if her given name had been Michelle LaVaughan Robinson, she would have become  Michelle LaVaughan Robinson Acilius, and would have signed herself Michelle L. R. Acilius.  The clerk at the Social Security office told her she couldn’t do that.  She could hyphenate, the clerk said, but she couldn’t  have two middle names.  Why not, asked the missus.  “A lot of brides weren’t using their names the way they were supposed to,” the clerk replied.  Mrs Acilius asked me what she should do.  I said what I always say, which is that I don’t tell her what to do.  She decided to keep her middle name and drop her maiden name.  That satisfied the clerk, but Mrs Acilius has been regretting it bitterly ever since. 

The second item was from the 26 July edition of Chuck Shepherd’s “News of the Weird.”

Until Mayor Sharon McShurley changed the protocol this year, fire stations in Muncie, Ind., had been delivering reports to department headquarters downtown by dropping them off in fire engines. McShurley ordered the department to learn how to send reports by e-mail. [Star Press (Muncie), 6-25-09]

I called someone I know who lives in Muncie, Indiana and mentioned this item to him.  He was not only unsurprised that his hometown featured something called “News of the Weird,” but was surprised that a digest under that title could appear week after week and mention Muncie only occasionally.   The town has come up since then; the digest for the week of 2 August reported on a Muncie brawler who started his fights by stealing his opponent’s false teeth out of their mouths.


I swore that I would create a comic strip called USA:  CRAZYWORLD! and come out with — if not hundreds of installments; God knows the subject matter is rich enough — at least one.  Hmm.  During the Bush administration, withdrawal from Iraq was said to be UTTERLY IMPOSSIBLE.  (Iraq will become a safe haven for terrorists!!!)  Now a gradual “standing down” in Iraq is taken for granted.  So what changed?  Wait, don’t tell me!  THE SURGE WORKED.  Yeah, that’s it.  So let’s “surge” Afghanistan … and then we will be able to withdraw from there, too!  God, it all makes so much sense.  Anyhow, in conclusion:  “GO, USA!!!”usa crazyworld! 1 of 2

usa crazyworld! 2 of 2

What you see depends on what you look for

the findHere are two reports on the same archaeological find.  From Reuters:

ANKARA (Reuters) – Archaeologists in the ancient city of Troy in Turkey have found the remains of a man and a woman believed to have died in 1,200 B.C., the time of the legendary war chronicled by Homer, a leading German professor said on Tuesday.

Ernst Pernicka, a University of Tubingen professor of archaeometry who is leading excavations on the site in northwestern Turkey, said the bodies were found near a defense line within the city built in the late Bronze age.

The discovery could add to evidence that Troy’s lower area was bigger in the late Bronze Age than previously thought, changing scholars’ perceptions about the city of the “Iliad.”

“If the remains are confirmed to be from 1,200 B.C. it would coincide with the Trojan war period. These people were buried near a moat. We are conducting radiocarbon testing, but the finding is electrifying,” Pernicka told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Ancient Troy, located in the northwest of modern-day Turkey at the mouth of the Dardanelles not far south of Istanbul, was unearthed in the 1870s by Heinrich Schliemann, the German entrepreneur and pioneering archaeologist who discovered the steep and windy city described by Homer.

Pernicka said pottery found near the bodies, which had their lower parts missing, was confirmed to be from 1,200 BC, but added the couple could have been buried 400 years later in a burial site in what archaeologists call Troy VI or Troy VII, different layers of ruins at Troy.

Tens of thousands of visitors flock every year to the ruins of Troy, where a huge replica of the famous wooden horse stands along with an array of excavated ruins.

(Writing by Ibon Villelabeitia; Editing by Ralph Boulton)

From Digital Journal, under the headline “Remains of Ancient Trojan Warriors Found”:

Archaeologists in Turkey have found the remains of a man and a woman who died fighting in the legendary Siege of Troy, some 3,000 years ago.
According toReuters, the bones of the two were discovered in the layers VI and VII. Troy VII is believed to be the site of the legendary war brought about by the abduction of the beautiful Helen, Queen of Sparta, by Paris, prince of Troy. The siege of Troy by Greek heroes is the subject of theIlliadby the great poet of antiquity, Homer. Ernst Pernicka, an archaeologist from the University of Tübingen, said:

We were able to calculate their approximate times of death and their ages. If our estimates are correct, we can confirm that we have found the first dead of the Trojan War.

The report said archaeologists could also increase their estimates of the size of the ancient city, as the recent excavations show a larger Bronze Age settlement than was previously believed. Pernicka told Reuters:

If the remains are confirmed to be from 1,200 B.C. it would coincide with the Trojan war period. These people were buried near a moat. We are conducting radiocarbon testing, but the finding is electrifying,

The German amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the remains of the city in 1871. The ruins of Troy near the Dardanelles Straight remain one of Turkey’s key tourist attractions.

Digital Journal illustrates its piece, not with the photo of the find above, but with an image of a warrior’s helmet.

The American Conservative, November 2009

american conservative november 2009In this issue, former FBI employee Sibel Edmonds names some prominent US officials whom she believes to have accepted bribes from foreign governments.   

Eve Tushnet visits a Washington, DC locale known to the federal government as Meridian Hill Park, though she has “only seen its maiden name in two places: District government plaques and local girl Florence King’s autobiography, Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady.”  Everyone else calls it Malcolm X Park.  Tushnet compares the design of the place to a ziggurat, a Sicilian village, a complex borad game, and the world’s largest Slinky.  I can see why; there are also some views which remind me of M. C. Escher.  Whatever the park’s designers were thinking, they don’t seem to have been thinking of crime prevention.  “It’s an array of alcoves linked by narrow paths and staircases… The high walls and ample foliage make it a haven for people whose professions or hobbies require a talent for lurking.”  No one seems to be committing any crimes during Tushnet’s visit, though she does have her suspicions about a man who introduces himself as a podiatrist.  

A humor piece is written as if it were a diary entry by classicist-cum-neoconservative madman Victor Davis Hanson.  The locution “No American wishes to contemplate the idea of war, but” occurs three times, the locution “No Namibian mercenary wishes to contemplate the idea of war, but” occurs once.  A truly Hansonian piece, I’d say.