Playing the Race Card

I couldn’t let the current events at the DT pass by without a comment or two, and a chance for us to have a somewhat more sane discussion if at all possible.

For those who haven’t seen it, James Delingpole over at the UK Telegraph posted this thread, having a go at the U.S. president’s rather silly and fawning predisposition to appear “one of us”, no matter who he’s among. A habit pretty common among politicians anyway, just in this particular guy it’s more pronounced.

Everyone else is having a go at Obama, so no big deal really. James manages to pull out just about every stereotype of the Irish in a single sentence. I’m of Irish heritage, as I know many of you are too. Am I racially outraged? Of course not.

He also has a crack at every tent-dwelling, camel-riding arab stereotype about. But that too seems to have passed unnoticed. No, it’s this paragraph which has drawn trolls like dung draws flies:

Except, when he’s in Africa, of course, when he disappears into the dry ice and re-emerges with a grass skirt and a bone through his nose and declares himself to be Mandingo, Prince of the Bloodline of the Bonga People, Drinker of Cattle Urine, Father of A Thousand Warrior Sons, Keeper of King Solomon’s Mines, Barehanded Slayer of Lions, Undaunted Victim of the Evil Colonial British Empire.

Ahh, now he’s having a crack at someone of a different skin colour! As if that’s any different. Anyway, the rent-a-trolls have converged from near and far.

I particularly liked the outburst from one of the trolls, along the lines that you can tell the real racists, they’re the ones who deny they are racists; when I enquired whether he was a racist, suggesting that, by his own logic, his answer would be illuminating, there was naught but the sound of crickets chirping. A bit like this, really:

I’m laid up somewhat from an injury, but will leave the thread open for a more sensible discussion on this forum. I know it’s an emotionally-charged subject for some people, and those of you who’ve been here for a while will know I’ve been on the receiving end of this sort of abuse in the past. You all know where I stand on this (I put my own two cents’ worth on James’ blog as well). But no sane discussion’s possible over at the DT, so you’re welcome to have one here.



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135 Responses to Playing the Race Card

  1. Kitler says:

    Well it has been fun baiting the trolls over on the DT and upping the racism anti inch by inch, it’s like pouring gasoline on a fire fun to watch as they all explode into a frenzy.

    We all know why Obama is doing this he is trying to be seen to be mending fences and this may be a result of an unknown power struggle in the Whiteyhouse. It looks like the POTUS was taking his instructions from Valerie Jarrett she seems to have lost the power struggle and saner heads may be trying to remold him along more centrist less divisive lines until at least the election is passed. It was Bill Daly and Hilary Clinton on the winning side and they were the ones that gave the go ahead to take out OBL.
    When you know this it all makes sense as the man is just a muppet controlled by other people.

    Sorry Kitler, but the image of Hillary’s arm jammed up POTUS’s arse is a disturbing one that clearly identifies you as a racist – Oz :mrgreen:

  2. Kitler says:

    Ozboy if the rumours from Chicago are true?

  3. fenbeagle says:

    JD’s blog has been interesting. Some of the more serious new commentators were even agreeing with sevenDobbs, who was on top form, and playing it for all it was worth.

    Well, ‘Watermelons’ is not going to be ignored. Although strangely, only contains one ethnic dig, and that’s aimed at ‘Fenlanders’…..(B*****d!)

    If you think your exposure in the DT was something, you ain’t seen nothing yet – Oz 😉

  4. meltemian says:

    Yes, I only caught up with JD’s blog last night and couldn’t believe the number of comments!! Only managed to plough through some of them but it was very entertaining.
    Going out with guests now, comment properly later.
    I won’t ask what you’ve injured Oz’ presumably you’d have told us if it was anything vital?

    G’day Mel – chainsaw got stuck in a tree trunk that started to fall the wrong way; all the muscles down my front, from chest to groin, hurt like hell… in the end I had to get out the axe and bring the tree down by hand – not an easy task when you’re crippled 😡 I’ll be OK in a day or two, but thanks for your concern – Oz

  5. Amanda says:

    G’day Oz. Not ignoring your post, but sorry to hear about your injury, which sounds bloody awful. Sounds like some rest is in order, and possibly some physical therapy. Also, nice cups of tea. They won’t help your muscles, but tea IS an elixir of comfort, is it not? Men wielding axes and chainsaws. Get into trouble :^)

  6. meltemian says:

    God I hope Greece doesn’t ban Marmite!! I’m addicted and (sorry Oz’) Vegemite just isn’t the same.

    I agree completely, Mel: it isn’t – Oz

  7. Dr. Dave says:


    One of these days I need to pick your brain about olives. Lately I’ve developed a taste for jumbo green, pitted olives stuffed with feta cheese. I discovered that there are very few places in the US where you can grow olives (California, Arizona and southern Texas) because they’re so fussy about not having their feet wet and not getting too cold. But, damn! This green olives stuffed with feta thing is becoming an addiction. Next thing you know I’ll be eating fresh bread with olive oil instead of butter like God intended.

  8. Kitler says:

    DrDave lots of Olive trees grow in Sicily saw lots around Mt Etna they do not taste nice straight off the trees. The prickly cactus did though. I recommend Olive oil for cooking especially the extra virgin it’s a very healthy alternative although admittedly butter tastes better.

  9. Luton Ian says:

    On the marmite and vegemite ban. I thought stuff with added folic acid was already banned in the US?

    I don’t know how people ever discovered how to make olives edible. They have to be soaked in salt water for weeks or months to take the bitterness out of them.

    The oil extraction is easy enough, pulp the fruit and its stone and press the pulp. They’ll certainly fruit in the valleys around the southern and western foot hills of the alps (I think some cultivars are more tolerant of cooler climates – the wild ones grow pretty much the whole length of Africa).

    The plant itself will live ok outdoors in Ireland, it just won’t fruit. Figs and apricots will though, on a south facing wall. All you’ll need will be a bunch of licences from the USDA to grow something as deadly as food.

  10. Dr. Dave says:

    Luton Ian,

    I don’t know if Vegemite and Marmite are banned in the US. But we do have a ridiculous law regarding folic acid. One can purchase OTC prenatal vitamins with 0.8 mg of folic acid in them, but 1 mg folic acid tablets require a prescription. This is a great trivia question. The reason for this is that exogenous folic acid supplementation could theoretically mask certain forms of megaloblasic anemia. Anyone could, of course, drink all the orange juice they want or take two tablets of the OTC prenatal vitamins. This is just one example of many ludicrous US drug laws.

    I love ripe, black olives and lately have developed a taste for the more bitter, green olives…and feta cheese. I’ve been a big fan of seasoned feta for quite some time. You couldn’t get my GF to eat it with a $100 bill. Lately I’ve become interested in where some commons foods come from. Pineapples can only be grown in Hawaii (in the US). Coconuts only grow in Hawaii and the extreme southern part of Florida. Artichokes can only be grown in few areas. As far as I know, the only commercial production of olives in the US is in Napa Valley.

    When the weather warms up I develop a burning lust for fresh fruits and vegetables and my taste for legumes diminishes. Sadly, none of this has anything to do with the “race card”.

  11. Dr. Dave says:


    We have prickly pear cactus all over the place here. It grows like a weed. A single, nearly microscopic “hair” from a prickly pear cactus can drive you insane. I’ve heard they’re tasty but I have no idea how one would go about peeling one except with articulated tongs and a long filet knife.

  12. Dr. Dave says:

    In fact, I believe that the prickly pear cactus was a non-native species introduced to Australia and they subsequently imported a non-native moth to control them. They are obnoxious to be near but rather pleasing in appearance.

    Indeed we did; got rid of the prickly pear too. The little critter’s name was “cactoblastis”, hence my earlier thread title – Oz

  13. Amanda says:

    Dr Dave: In Napa Valley, it’s worth selling olive oil because the wineries can sell it (along with their wines) at a premium price as an artisanal product. I bought olive oil from Whitehall Lane winery in Napa Valley. Don’t remember buying any wine from them.

    Kitler: Extra virgin olive oil has more ‘bits’ in it, which can burn if you use it for frying or over high heat (we are told). So plain virgin oil may be better for cooking, with extra virgin being better for salads etc.

  14. Kitler says:

    Amanda I use the olive oil to cook my Indian curries in place of heart attack inducing Ghee (rancid butter), this is why Indians all die of hear attacks. I find the extra virgin has more taste to it but probably not for salads. Tonight I had bifteck cooked on an iron skillet on pain français with chipotle salsa and pommes de terre frites on the side.
    Or a steak butty and chips always sounds better in French.

  15. Amanda says:

    Well, there’s your mistake, Crown: it’s not supposed to be *rancid*, it’s supposed to be *clarified*. There IS a difference, my friend. It does indeed sound better in French even though I personally think that Italian as a language is far more ‘romantic’. Don’t know what’s ‘romantic’ about a drawl that sounds like someone with a bad cold who badly needs to blow his nose — oh dear have I said something wrong? Even the term ‘French kiss’ is an affront: as if they invented it! Just goes to show you what you can get away with when you puff out your shirt and boast. Anyway, anyone that knows about clothes knows that England in the late middle ages had the best wool, and thereafter had the world’s best tailors…. But as usual, the French claimed all the credit for haute couture and claimed that they were best in everything. That’s why California wine got their knickers so much in a twist. Used to be that wine was French or else it wasn’t snobby enough. Now we’d just as soon drink Italian or Chilean or Spanish or Oregonian, and the bottom has fallen out for the French…..

    Try some Aussie wine sometime – it wins lots of international awards and is pretty good value for money – Oz

  16. Amanda says:

    Leurs fonds sont ci-dessous. :^)

  17. Kitler says:

    Amanda the modern french grapes are Californian, they are grafts, I’m a luddite when it comes to wines more choice boils down to is it like battery acid which is bad, does it smell of socks or burpy bottoms which is bad if it does neither of those is the alcohol content somewhat illegal if so then it’s a winner. I also like my wine fizzy.

  18. Kitler says:

    Oz yes Aussie wine actually rates as some of the best these days, even English wine is finally becoming World class back to the days when it was a major wine exporter to France during the medieval warm period and was preferred over the local plonk. Most French wine is over rated, the Germans make better wines, Spanish and Italian wine is very hit and miss.

  19. Dr. Dave says:

    I’m not a big wine fan. I prefer the slightly sweeter German white wines. But excellent wines can be found from many countries. My GF is quite fond of some Aussie wines. Excellent wines are produced all over the US, they just never received the acclaim that Napa Valley did. There are probably 3 or 4 wineries in the area where I grew up in Michigan. In the early days they produced grocery store jug wine. One of them, Tabor Hill, started producing fine wine several decades ago. Tabor Hill is now owned by the Upton family (as in Whirlpool Corporation and Rep. Fred Upton, Chairman of the House Energy Committee). They make a Vidal Blanc Demi-Sec that you can still find in local grocery stores for about $8/bottle. It is heavenly although a bit too sweet and a bit too fruity for snooty palates more accustomed to drier vinegar wines. I believe Tabor Hill wines are still distributed mostly locally but are available via the internet. They are wonderful.

    Upstate NY produces some fine wines as does Missouri. There is a winery in Deming, NM called Blue Teal that produces some excellent wines. They have one called a “white merlot”. It is neither “white” nor a “merlot”, but it is delightfully flavorful.

    I love sampling local beers and wines. We have a Pale Ale brewed here in Santa Fe that is exquisite. Little local breweries in Wisconsin have been putting out great local beers with a 50 mile radius distribution area for many years before the microbrew fad hit. Except for a few specific wines there’s nothing particularly special about California. I actually wish I liked whiskey as there quite a few micro distilleries here in the Rockies that are said to produce a wonderful product. I poisoned myself with whiskey once in college and haven’t been able to tolerate it since. Oddly, I can drink scotch…as long as it’s the single malt “good stuff”. As I have grown older I have even lost my fondness for cognac.

  20. Kitler says:

    DrDave having poisoned myself with multiple alcohol products in my life with the room spinning and praying to god on the great white porcelain telephone and the obligatory curled up for the next day sweating out the toxins etc the only thing that I avoid is vodka.
    I believe my record is 8 pints of beer followed by a pint of gin one birthday but I come from a hard drinking culture so our tolerance levels are way up. I can’t do it these days it’s a young mans sport.
    I avoid most wines as the sulphites disagree with me even though I loved the stuff and I avoid hard liquor and stick to beer. If you can ever get it try Theakstons Old Peculiar a fine ale but strong or Newcastle Brown ale. Most English southern beers suck with a few exceptions. It’s the water they draw it from is softer (calcium).

  21. farmerbraun says:

    It is peculiar that a single bad experience can produce a life long aversion which cannot be shaken off; apparently a function of the primitive animal brain. Farmer Braun is reminded of a budding(sic) Religious Studies / Philosophy student zealously investigating the religious ceremonial uses of various mind altering substances, who, happening to stumble (sic) across a traditional recipe for majoon, felt impelled to carry out the three day rendering of the appropriate weed, as prescribed in the recipe.
    A delicious muesli type preparation was ultimately produced. Unfortunately the young student was unaware that drug proving is best carried out with minute quantities at first, until the appropriate dosage is determined.
    Farmer Braun is this evening enjoying a Bos 2008 Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo).

  22. Ozboy says:

    I must say I like the fact that a thread that started as an alternative place to discuss the well-worn topic of race (what’s more to discuss?) has morphed into a far more down-to-earth and closer-to-home topic of preferred alcohol consumption.

    For the record, I no longer purchase beer, only ingredients. As I speak, I am supping a pint of Ozboy’s Teabag Ale (a fairly close clone of Coopers’ Sparkling Ale if you’re familiar with South Australian beers). With tonight’s dinner (a Thai-style stir-fry) we’ll have a glass of Yellowtail Semillon Sauvignon Blanc . As the good book says, for what is life without wine?

  23. meltemian says:

    Yes Oz’ I was wondering what happened to the ‘Race Card’ topic too….
    I guess we are all on the same wavelength there.
    We have tried making wine with one of our (American) neighbours, the whole bit from picking the grapes through to treading (pink wellies – more hygenic apparently) fermenting and finally drinking. That’s why we have decided not to bother growing wine varieties and stick to eating grapes!
    We do make our own olive oil though, pick the olives, sort them and take them to the village press. We only have a few trees so, again, we join forces with neighbours to get enough olives together for a dedicated pressing. We get a better quality oil that way as the Greeks can be a bit less fussy about taking out the twigs and leaves and leaving the old dried-up olives in as well. We get enough oil to see us through for a couple of years as there seems to be a ‘good year’ followed by a ‘bad year’ from the trees.
    I also tried to bottle some of the better olives last autumn, they are edible but I think I need more practice. All that slicing, soaking in brine, changing it weekly etc. doesn’t seem to have come up with a quality result. I’m waiting for my Kalamata Olive tree to start producing but we only planted it a couple of years ago so I may have to wait a bit. Stuffing them with feta sounds good but fiddly…..perhaps I need to find an olive-stoner.

  24. Luton Ian says:

    Dr Dave,
    I gather a blow torch is the cure for prickly pear prickles, I guess a grilling on charcoal will do it nicely too.

    There was something about prickly pear having an unusual ratio between calcium and phosphorus, which made it dodgy for animals (and us) to eat the stuff in any quantity, even after it had been de-prickled. Can’t remember which one was the higher, though I’d guess calcium, as it is the more widely available.

  25. Amanda says:

    Oz, but of course. I’ve been drinking Australian wine for so long that I forgot to mention it. It’s ‘one of the family’, if you like. Only, I had to keep my list short because, if it’s a wine-making country, chances are I’ve sampled the wine. And enjoyed it!

  26. Amanda says:

    Farmer Braun: Tempranillo, one of my favourite grapes!

  27. Ozboy says:

    Oh and Dave, you were right: first it was Marmite, now it’s Vegemite. Europe really has gone abso-bloody-lutely, stark-staring mad!

  28. Dr. Dave says:


    I’d really like to learn more about home brewing beer. I don’t have a basement or an otherwise consistently cool place to brew beer. When I was right out of school I lived in Aurora, Illinois which is a distant suburb of the Chicago area. There was a liquor store on the corner. The owner knew me by my first name but largely because we used to stand around and chat. He didn’t make all that much money from my patronage. In college I had developed a taste for Coors and until about 20 years ago you couldn’t buy Coors east of the Mississippi river (JFK used to have it flown into the White House). So Gary was always turning me on to new beers (back in those days we could stand around and quaff a beer in his store with relative impunity). He introduced me to a Canadian import called Yukon Gold Lager from British Columbia. I swear it was perhaps the best tasting lager I’ve ever had. I guess they must have gone out of business. I found a sole 6-pack of it once in a large specialty liquor store in Amarillo in the mid-80s…beyond that I fear it has vanished. I would love to be able to duplicate that fine brew…or at least come close.

    I’m looking forward to Planet Ozboy. You have readers from all the world who probably have some great food ideas. About 20 years ago, when I was married, my wife and I visited some old friends of hers back in Michigan. Theresa broke out a jar of pickled asparagus she had made. I was hesitant to try it. Once I tried it I discovered it was absolutely addictive. I’ve since refined a recipe for my own taste. I’ve also discovered you can make hot, spicy pickles out of green beans, cauliflower, brussels sprouts or almost any veggie. Making pickles is a pain in the ass but the end result is better than anything you can buy. I imagine the same is true for beer.

    I’d like to hear some more about organic gardening. Me, I don’t hesitate to employ pesticides when necessary. I view it as species competition for food…and I’m gonna win. I’m not shy about employing high nitrogen commercial fertilizer. My GF is more the compost and manure type. For her stuff that’s fine. I grow food and I’ll exploit any advantage I can get.

  29. Dr. Dave says:


    What’s with these Danes? Can one purchase vitamin supplements without a prescription in Denmark? Theoretically one can “overdose” on certain fat soluble vitamins (A, D and E) but you really have to try. Consumption of polar bear liver can cause Vitamin A toxicity. That’s why I never touch the stuff. For the most part the human body simply excretes any vitamins in excess of those needed. It’s far healthier to consume a little too much in terms of vitamins and minerals than too little. You can dope up on vitamin C and the B vitamins with no worries. You’ll just pee out whatever your body doesn’t assimilate. Probably most of the human population gets too little vitamin D. You almost can’t get too much vitamin E from food (even “fortified foods”). Abuse of supplemental vitamin A can cause problems but for the most part foods won’t present a problem. My question is, what’s the rationale?

  30. Amanda says:

    Dave: Because tackling real, actually urgent problems is too difficult?

  31. Amanda says:

    Oh, and here’s a tiny question: Why did Americans start writing ‘any more’ as one word, and why? Was it someone at Microsoft monkeying with the language again? Microsoft has a bunch of ignoramuses dictating to the rest of us how to write and spell the language, and as someone that knows English better than they do, I can tell you that they’re too often wrong. The trouble is that they have undue influence because everyone assumes they must be right, having little formal grounding in English and not having given it any thought.

  32. Amanda says:

    P. S. My question was prompted by the article that Oz linked to on the yeast extract ban.

    Fortunately I have a stockpile of both Marmite and Vegemite — thanks, Ozboy :^) — and anyway we still believe in freedom here in America.

  33. rogercuul says:

    I started home brew when my wife was pregnant 33 years ago and was told to drink stout for the iron. I made a batch from a kit , she didn’t like it and it was down to me to finish it.
    I then started on wine and made different types from fruits to oak leaf and nettle. One of the best was brown rice and raisin.
    I always wanted to have a still but never got round to it.

  34. Dr. Dave says:


    Check out the Merriam Webster definition of anymore. I had never thought about it before. I guess I’m more bugged by the improper use of I and me, your, you’re and yore, to, too and two and there, they’re and their to have noticed.

  35. Amanda says:

    Dr Dave: I wouldn’t trust M-W on newfangled spellings. Webster’s accepts ‘dove’ as past of ‘dive’, etc. (Traditionally it was ‘dived’.) Fit and knit are accepted as the past of fit and knit (should be fitted and knitted).

    Basically, most American dictionaries blow with the wind: the moment someone gets it wrong (lay instead of lie is another example) — bang, it’s in the dictionary as current usage. Any mistaken understanding (or non-understanding) is taken as not just a legitimate expression but more than that, as more legitimate than the previously accepted practice!*

    Well, that’s a great way to let the uninformed and the sloppy steer us ever farther from the language of Trollope and Larkin, and I don’t agree with it. It gives the most power over changes in our language to those that care the least about it.

    It’s reverse snobbery: If Billy Bob Jones likes to say XYZ, that usage has more weight than what Christopher Hitchens or Thomas Sowell say, even though Hitchens and Sowell are educated and literate, while Jones barely is.

    I don’t like talking about this subject really because people like me always come off sounding like cranks, and petty, even though I don’t think it’s petty at all. But because you’re talking about little units of speech, you sound petty. So generally I don’t go there any more (two words!).

    *There’s another example: American usage has recently decided that the noun/verb distinction between practice and practise is invalid, and now we must spell it always as a noun. I have a theory as to why — not that it’s important — but still, it’s not really rational and it just makes English that much harder for a learner to master (another unjustified inscrutable exception to learn.) It also serves to make the gap between British and American English ever wider, unless the English decide to go on aping Americans (as they already do to a large extent).

    Funny about that Amanda, down here we’re somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic, while stuck in the South Pacific. We take the lift, not the elevator, turn on a tap, not a faucet, and walk on the footpath, not the sidewalk. Yet we drive trucks, not lorries, on freeways not motorways. But although we’re in transition, we probably care less about it than either Americans or Englishmen. I’ve all but given up trying to stop Oz Jr. saying “zee” instead of “zed” – Oz

  36. Amanda says:

    Roger: It’s easier just buying it at the shop, isn’t it?

    Which reminds me: I’ve got a gin and tonic waiting for me in the freezer (Beefeater gin: well it looks pretty: don’t know that it will taste any different from the rest; and Fentiman’s tonic, which is much lower-cal than others and has lemon oil, which really boosts the flavour).

  37. Luton Ian says:

    Did someone mention bevereges?

    Hat tip to Firehand for that one

  38. Dr. Dave says:


    What do you propose? Should we go back to the spellings and pronunciations of the 18th century when English was “pure”? I daresay you would understand it no better than I would. Language, any language, is always in flux. It is always changing and evolving. We all have our pet peeves. I hate when the word dissect is pronounced “DIE-Sect” as opposed to “DIS-Sect”. When did harassment become “HARRIS-ment” as opposed to “Hs-RAS-ment”. Impact is all too frequently employed as a verb rather a noun. A bowel can become impacted, an event can have an impact, but towns are not impacted by tornadoes.

    Why do the English expect a pay rise rather than a raise? What’s with all the superfluous “u”s in words like color and labor? And for crying out loud! Start using “z”s instead of all those “s”s. How do you get “Lef-tennent” out of Lieutenant?

    Actually I rather enjoy listening do different dialects, word usage, pronunciation and colloquialisms. I can speak either flawless Midwestern “newscaster” English or fluent Texan. Believe it or not, the latter comes in handy from time to time.

    I always liked William Safire’s Rules for Writers: he breaks each one in stating it.

    You might also like Safire’s NYT Column On Language; he was a Libertarian through and through; sorely missed – Oz

  39. Amanda says:

    Dave: Ah, ‘raise’ and ‘rise’. You noticed.

    In America, one can buy flour that is “self-rising.” But if one’s wages go up, that is a “raise.” In Britain, the same flour is “self-raising,” and the employee gets a “rise.” Why is this?

    The answer is that Amglish is being insouciant here, paying no attention to the division of verbs into doers and couch-potatoes (transitive and intransitive, in the ungainly formal parlance). “Rise” of course is a verb, but the sun only rises – it can’t “rise” anything, even itself. If a doing verb is needed, it has to be “raise.” Thus the sun rises, and raises the heat, which rises ever more in the sun. Or as Francis Bacon, the British philosopher, said: “All rising to a great place is by a winding stair.”

    As for the “raise” of our other example, perhaps Amglish has done something useful in making it a noun for this occasion. An American can say, “I tried to get a rise out of her, and then I asked for a raise,” and it makes sense. A Briton can only say, “I tried to get a rise out of her,” and then you have to ask what kind of “rise” is meant.

    I would say that the foregoing was from my unpublished book, about British English (which I call ‘Bringlish’) and American (which I call ‘Amglish’) and how they reflect and express culture. But you might all say ‘yes, and now we know why’.

  40. Amanda says:

    Oz: I think of Australian English as being a bit like Canadian only more on the English side of things. (Canadian in the sense of borrowing heavily from America.) However, Aussies of course have their own special idioms and I mention a few in my book; but as I am no expert on them and had to focus on what I know (and even that entailed a great deal of research), I couldn’t say much. I love Australian English, though: I love the sound (nothing is sexier than an Australian accent, in my opinion) and I love the imaginative vocabulary.

  41. Amanda says:

    P. S. My own pronunciation, Oz, is all over the place. I am something of a chameleon: I have my own preferred pronunciations, spellings, and locutions, but I adjust them according to who is listening. I am neither fully English nor fully American but ‘haff’ and ‘hahf’, having moved back and forth across the ocean all my life. That’s one of the reasons I was so well placed to write my book. I developed a particular ear for usage — and what it signifies because I was an outsider and an insider at the same time. Unfortunately, I don’t have a Ph.D. in language studies to go with it, and I’m not a journalist who knows the right people, and I’m conservative and publishing is not, and I’m not a thigh-slapping humourist. So there goes that.

  42. Amanda says:

    By the way, Dave, you might be interested to know that an authority on English, the great H. W. Fowler (compiler of the Pocket Oxford English dictionary and other editions, as well as Fowler’s Modern English Usage) agrees that verbs should be spelled with Z rather than S. I can’t recall his reason — he always had a reason, and it usually involved logic and/or common sense or etymological soundness* — but there IS one.

    *For instance, he prefers the original spelling of ‘silvan’ (referring to a forest) to the later ‘sylvan’ because ‘silva’ is Latin for a wood, while ‘sylvan’ is simply a more ‘romantic-looking’ spelling. Also he prefers (as I do) ‘Gypsy’ to ‘Gipsy’, since the first (and again, original) spelling preserves the old surmise that Gypsies were Egyptians. Gypsy then is really a nickname for Egyptian as these people were understood to be in their mysterious origins. The surmise is wrong, of course, but so what? It’s a tiny window onto the past. And that’s what all words are. Windows on the past and the present. That’s why I wrote my book.

  43. Amanda says:

    And now, not to be the pub bore, I’ll shut up!

  44. Ozboy says:

    When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided who, being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutibility, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay…

    Dr Samuel Johnson, from his preface to A Dictionary of the English Language, 1755

  45. Kitler says:

    Well DrDave and Amanda you are both wrong on language as I have pointed out before my neck of the woods preserves best aulde English as we have preserved the correct pronunciation and most English words of any place on the planet. The local accent is still 2/3rds English with only 1/3rd from other sources especially Scandinavia.
    So you have both been told and you had better want to use more vowels than normal and be prepared to soften those R’s.
    Here is why I miss the women back home….

  46. Kitler says:

    Translation chain from Glasgae to Geordie to English.

  47. Kitler says:

    Well to throw the cat among the pigeons are we not all intrinsically racist is it not hard coded within us to hate the different? I mean do we not all hate those that are too different from us are we not repulsed by the crippled or those that suffer from serious genetic illness that is obvious externally or mentally?
    I’m guilty of this being honest to myself are you? We are human and can overcome these feelings of revulsion but what if it’s genetic and the drive to maintain purity within your own race to make sure your genes survive and not other, Corvids will mob albino animals to death because they are not like them.

  48. Luton Ian says:


    It was on the BBC headlines feed last night, that waa Cheryl has been dropped from the US show, because her accent is too difficult to understand.

  49. Dr. Dave says:

    Some car company is using this song in a commercial. I had completely forgotten about it but I liked it when it was “new”. It’s a prime example of English punk rockers performing Irish sounding music. The video also presents an excellent example of British dentition. No wonder y’all talk funny.

  50. Kitler says:

    DrDave the Pogues short for pogue mahone(?) or kiss my arse are actually what would be called London Irish for the most part.
    I was reading that some of the original inhabitants of Ireland and the UK may actually have been from the South East USA…..
    How true it really is who knows?

  51. Dr. Dave says:


    I once took a camping trip to southeast Kentucky back in about ’82. I think you may have a point!

    I was born and raised in the civilized Midwest, professional school in Omaha, Nebraska and was living in a suburb outside Chicago when I went on my “Deliverance” camping trip. Hell, I may as well have been in France! I couldn’t understand the locals to save my life. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that they have been interbreeding for hundreds and hundreds of years.

    For me a thick Cockney accent is as difficult to decipher as a Jamaican patois. You can travel all over the US and usually find the inhabitants intelligible if you speak English. But there are a few areas in the deep South where you would swear they’re speaking a different language. I have a very old friend who I used to meet up with once a year when our families vacationed together in northern Michigan. One summer they brought their cousins, Roger and Niall from Belfast with them. They were easy enough to understand until they spoke to each other. Then it was like they were using a “secret language”.

  52. Ozboy says:

    Guys, try deciphering this:

  53. Kitler says:

    DrDave the hardest accent I could never understand was a guy from County Kerry he used a mix of a half Gaelic half English I was working behind a bar at the time and I was buggered if I could understand what he wanted to drink. So from my lack of understanding he probably went on to study home made chemistry and nitrogen fertilizer because of the bloody English.
    As for me currently you would be able to understand me however if I was back home you might have a problem see the Cheryl Cole video about half way through this young Geordie lass exhibits the typically local pragmatic solution to ghost hunting as they are dragging out the hunting a lot by rather a forth right “can we get fookin on wi it and dae somethin now” at which point the ghost somewhat taken aback does. The women back home are not ones to take any crap from anyone. Woe betide the man who mistakenly shows his softer gentler side for you shall get called a poof.
    Going back to ghosts there is actually an etiquette for welcoming ghosts should they decide to pass through which is why people are not as frightened of them for by greeting them and saying welcome you disarm them.
    Of course no one here believes in Ghosts do they?

  54. Kitler says:

    Ozboy what’s the problem I can understand Billy Connolly.
    However here is something about bad accents for some reason I had to show it just look at the state of that room…

    I love listening to Billy, there’s something about his accent that just makes you smile; it’s just when he gets into the more full-on Glaswegian (as he does briefly in my clip above) that he becomes a bit incomprehensible. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched Billy Connolly’s World Tour of Scotland, but there’s a scene where he’s playing to a small room of scots only and doesn’t have to moderate his language. He’s going at a “thoosand” miles an hour and I can’t catch a word of it (beyond the occasional “fuck”), but the audience are roaring, and rolling about on the ground – Oz

  55. Dr. Dave says:


    I’ve met and known quite a few Aussies over the years. To my ear they all sound the same. I asked Ozboy about this once. He said that Aussies do indeed all speak the same dialect. I find this astounding. Imagine that! An entire country on an entire continent and there are no significant differences in dialect. Canada has different dialects (aside from the French babblers in Quebec) but these are more subtle. You hear more of the “oot and aboot” from folks in Ontario than say, from Alberta. Ireland and the UK amaze me in terms of the wide variety of dialects found within a relatively small geographical distribution. I can detect a difference between James Delingpole and Lord Monckton. Compare Cheryl Cole to Daniel Hannan. Very thick dialects from Ireland, Scotland and Wales sound like a different language to most Americans.

    The USA is rife with distinct dialects. Upper New England has their own dialects. A Boston accent is hard to miss. Although similar, New York and New Jersey accents are distinct and upper New York differs from NYC. Chicago is distinct and easy to spot. The southern states are all unique. Some positively drip with that old southern aristocracy while others reek of hillbilly or sharecropper. Because I was born and raised in Michigan I can easily tell the difference between Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Chicago, downstate Illinois and southern Indiana. Even southern Ohio starts to sound a little like Kentucky. As you get into the western states the dialects become more difficult to parse…until you hit California.

    I listen for subtle differences. It’s sort of a hobby of mine. Dialects and accents are really quite complex. They vary in subtle ways. Often it’s where the emphasis is placed on a syllable. Sometimes it’s pronunciation. Of course then there are idioms and colloquialisms. Only in West Texas will you hear somebody exclaim “Goodnight” when they mean “Gosh”, “Golly” or “For Heaven’s Sake”.

    Walter Williams once published a paragraph in one of his columns and asked his readers to identify the dialect. Most immediately identified it as “Ebonics”. In fact the paragraph was lifted from a book describing Cockney English from mid-19th century London. His point was that education made all the difference.

    Actually there are three discernable Australian accents, but their distribution is cultural, not geographic. They’re referred to as Broad, General and Cultivated. Think Paul Hogan, Nicole Kidman and Geoffery Rush respectively. I grew up speaking Broad, but as a voice-over I’ve had to do all three – Oz

  56. Dr. Dave says:


    Lest I forget… I want to assure you , my Dear, that I have a well worn copy of Fowler’s Modern English Usage from the Oxford Press on my bookshelf. I refer to it quite frequently. Also, I use Merriam Webster as a resource because they reflect modern American English. Seeing as there are more English speaking people in the US than in all the Queen’s realm combined, I guess we get to set the standards from now on. Now that you live in this country I can’t understand why you should care…anymore.


    The use of “zed” grew out of the days of Morse code (another American invention). It was used to distinguish the letter Z from phonetically similar letters like C or D which are spoken without closing one’s lips. My Dad always said zed.

  57. Kitler says:

    Dr Dave as for accents my mother and father were born 5 miles apart with no great geographical barriers in place they have different accents. The American accent is based on on how 16th century English was pronounced at the time it has a had a long time to change and be modified by immigrant groups. Australia’s accent is based on late 18th and early 19th century English and how it was pronounced then but it has had not had enough time to change into different dialects. The advent of TV has made this more difficult.

  58. Amanda says:

    Oz, you mean this could just as well have been you? —

    By the way, I can confirm that sunblock cream actually works, which is why I look merely freckled on my arms but my shoulders — which I forgot — looked lobsterish after a splash in the Gulf of Mexico. (They’re not quite so glow-in-the-dark today, though: not a disaster.) My chest looks normal (where I remembered): my back looks like the flag of England without the blue. Considering how scorching it was, I’m amazed I’m not sore. That will be it for beach cavorting until at least some time in October (too hot). Anyway, next week, I’m in the mountains! Two months of high living — literally :^)

  59. Amanda says:

    Correction: Not the flag of England, that’s a red cross. I meant the Union Jack, the diagonal bars courtesy of crossing straps.

  60. Kitler says:

    Well tomorrow we honour the fallen war dead here in the USA as it’s Memorial Day so to salute the fallen that have given so much in the name of freedom and here is a song proving that even under extreme stress they are still people.

  61. Dr. Dave says:

    The Royal Dragoon Guards:

  62. Dr. Dave says:

    And now, on a more serious note…

    It’s more than just blood and treasure.

  63. Kitler says:

    DrDave what I find appalling about these mostly young kids fighting and dying and getting maimed is who they fight for and why and a lot times you find out afterwards it’s all politics, money, greed or resources. Would you fight for our POTUS now I know I wouldn’t because he despises the military.

  64. Dr. Dave says:


    I am a member of about the most fortunate demographic in American history. I was born and grew up in a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity. I was just a little too young for Vietnam. I had to register for the draft and somewhere I actually have a draft card, but they eliminated the draft just a few months after I turned 18. I do, however, remember the older neighborhood kids who came home in a box. Today I regret not serving. I’m sure I wouldn’t do well with the military. They’re big on getting up real early and telling you what to do. That stuff doesn’t set well with me. But I have the utmost admiration and respect for everyone I have ever known who has served.

    Would I serve this POTUS? No. But if they wanted me, I would still serve my country…if they wanted me. I would be extremely formidable in the role of “civilian resistance”. I am sick to death of the role that has been foisted on my country of being the world’s police force and protector of effete, wealthy nations that should take care of themselves. Today I shall put all my political ideas aside and simply honor all the brave men and women who have served in the interests of this country and for the rest of a mostly ungrateful world.

  65. Kitler says:

    DrDave the difference between you and myself ironically is I’m British and you are American and by that I mean you still trust your government to only send your soldiers in a just cause. We no longer do after WWI when millions were sacrificed for pure politics and power, ask the ANZACS about Gallipoli which was Churchill’s grand adventure. When we ran an empire our soldiers fought and died for a clearly understood cause the empire and mostly it was done through a professional army with no conscription they did it for the money and the chance for plunder. It was a job.
    The USA is different to some degree it had at it’s roots the cause for freedom although the revolutionary soldiers did not get what they had been promised in land grants and pay. These days young kids are sent on missions to do the wealthy peoples bidding not for any just cause unfortunately just look at Iraq and Afghanistan really to be honest why are we there?
    As for Vietnam my own wife is here because JFK had my wife’s families President Diem assassinated and she would be dead if it was not US military personnel getting her and a few other kids smuggled into the USA in the confusion afterwards, unbeknownst to the Kennedy clan to be raised by American families.
    So I respect the US military but I think a lot of the leadership are vile people who will burn in hell.
    Never under any circumstances trust your leaders because none of them in the last 50 years have been willing to send their kids to war.

  66. Kitler says:

    DrDave as for being the worlds policeman unfortunately your rich and powerful have wanted that since 1900 and had their goal destroying the British empire the worlds policemen for 100 years. They achieved that goal unfortunately the USA has learned it costs lots of wealth and treasure ie your taxes and national debt. No asked the people but it is what happens when the money men actually usurp a country.

  67. Luton Ian says:

    Part of the story of Woodrow Wilson and his Wall Street cronies getting the US into WWi:

  68. Luton Ian says:

    The one blog comment on that piece raises an interesting question.

    Was there a now forgotten, post war public awareness of the role of the bankers? and was that in a very perverse way, one of the feeders of anti Jewish sentiments?

  69. Luton Ian says:

    there’s an interesting be-littling of gold and silver currency in the NYT today:

  70. Amanda says:

    Hello all.
    Just thought I’d add that when I was at the beach yesterday, I saw a huge number of tattooed people. Men and women, young and middle aged. Men had tattoos on their calves and arms, and occasionally upper backs; women had them mainly beneath the dimples on either side of the spine — those dimples that only women have. One woman had a garland, the other just a butterfly.

    I walked along the strand exclaiming to my amigo ‘there’s another one!’ I would have kept quieter if I’d pointed out the bathers without tattoos.

    Have recently been to the beach — this beach, and several others in Florida — none of which are Southend at pub-closing time — but have never seen this before. It’s a Phenomenon, apparently.

  71. Dr. Dave says:


    I have no delusions about the wars in which we deploy our troops nor the reason we are the de facto world’s cop. I’m a Libertarian. If it were up to me we would be out of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya tomorrow. Further we would bring all our troops home from Europe, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc. I would agree to leave missile installations but only if those countries want to pay us for them.

    Prior the entry of the US into WWII we provided tons of materiel to Britain all the while the Germans were sinking our merchant fleet. Then Japan directly attacked us and we went to war to defend ourselves and our allies. To the best of my knowledge, this is the last time the US openly declared war with another sovereign nation. WWII was an existential challenge and this whole country went to war in a way it hadn’t since the Revolutionary War and hasn’t since.

    The years following WWII are troubling. The ruling elite and the central planners decided we needed to protect Japan and Europe from threats from the USSR and China. Following WWII we no longer declared war with states. We declared war with ideology (e.g. the war against communism). We had no good reason to go into Korea or Vietnam. Little adventures like Grenada and Panama hardly count because these were like limited SWAT team incursions. Kuwait may have been justified as there were significant national interests at stake. Still, Kuwait should have reimbursed us for their liberation. Then we had bullshit missions into Kosovo and Somalia. Finally we have 9/11 happen. Going into Afghanistan to unseat the Taliban and hunt for the bad guys was justified, but we should only have been there a few months. It’s the damn “world’s cop” role that dragged us into Iraq. It’s not just the CIA who believed Saddam had WMDs, so did the UK, Israel and most of Europe. We knew for certain the SOB had chemical weapons because he had used them on the Kurds. Everybody (else) wanted the US to go into Iraq. I disagreed with the decision at the time. In my opinion Saddam should have had to have shown more provocation than denying the UN the right to come in and peek up Iraq’s skirt. But, alas, we committed and every piece of shit Muslim holy warrior from the Middle East poured into Iraq only to eventually be dispatched to their 72 virgins.

    So Obama comes in and claims credit for victory in Iraq, escalates the war in Afghanistan and now commits us to another undeclared war in Libya. Why? Qaddafi didn’t attack us and we don’t even buy oil from Libya – EUROPE DOES!! Why get involved? Let the mighty coalition of EU nations take on this little third world dictator to protect their own interests. Hell, Qaddafi never even attacked the UK or France! How does Obama sell this bullshit to the American public? He claims it is to keep Qaddafi from killing his own people…like the UN says. Then he calmly ignores the mass killings in other African nations and Syria. If you ask me, BP is calling in their markers.

    At the center of all this feckless foreign policy is the “one world” United Nations. Effective foreign policy and certainly military action cannot be formulated by committee. Name for me even one war that the UN has prevented. This was their founding charter! I think the US should leave the UN and the new UN headquarters should be in Uganda. Believe me…the world would change overnight. Send the Swedes with the blue helmets into Libya and see how they fare. Hell no! Europe wants American airstrikes, cruise missiles and helicopter gunships.

  72. Dr. Dave says:


    You bring up an interesting observation. I think tattoos and most body piercings are disgusting. My peer group of friends when I was kid pretty much all had long hair and dressed just slightly better than the homeless. I don’t think a one of them today has a tattoo and none of the men wear earrings. We’re just a little too old to be hip enough to permanently disfigure our bodies.

    Most body piercings will heal up without much disfigurement if the foreign object is removed and they’re allowed to heal. I think the real growth industry opportunity for physicians will be tattoo removal. Ophthalmologists who do laser corrective surgery which is not covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid are doing very well. The same can be said for plastic surgeons who perform cosmetic surgery. Of course this is my cultural bias. For all I know I may have just offended Farmer Braun who might have his face tattooed like a native.

    The other growth opportunity will be treating early hearing loss secondary to 400 watt amplified subwoofers installed in small cars and played at high volume.

  73. Dr. Dave says:

    Luton Ian,

    That was an excellent link to the article. I never knew just how deep it went. I knew that America in 1916 had no interest in war and Wilson was elected on the promise of keeping us out of war. I was also aware that the reason Wilson pushed us into war was largely financial. The details are mind boggling.

    Thanks again. I’m afraid you have gotten me addicted to that site. There are excellent 150 page books you can download in PDF format free of charge. Great site! Have you ever gone browsing at the site? Wonderful for very topical issues.

  74. farmerbraun says:

    ” For all I know I may have just offended Farmer Braun who might have his face tattooed like a native.”

    Right! That does it!

    For the record, Farmer Braun’s partner and children are all Maori, but not a tat between them; a tattoo is not a decoration.

    I remember a test match some years ago (or was it World Cup?) where the English players decided to disrespect the haka and walk up into the All Blacks’ faces while they were performing it. Bad move. I’ve never seen a sporting team, anywhere, so fired up as the All Blacks were after that. FB, can you remember the match I’m talking about and the final score? – Oz

  75. Ozboy says:

    Exactamundo, Ian. Bankers lurking in the shadows behind every insane government venture for the last 100 years. If you ran a government in 1913 and Dr Who stepped out of the Tardis to inform you that your monkeying with the currency had earth-shattering consequences, but that they wouldn’t come home to roost for one hundred years, would you go ahead and do it anyway? Unfortunately, we are the adults of one hundred years later. Buy gold, ammo and tinned food, and start preparing to curse a few ghosts…

    I’ve been a bit tied up lately but I hope to have another thread out in 48 hours or so. One of you has given me a mighty good idea.

    Cheers everyone


  76. Amanda says:

    Dr Dave:
    Well, I think we agree. When I was growing up, tattoos were for riff-raff, the mark of an unsavoury person or difficult beginnings that had to be overcome. People that wanted a more respectable life often underwent the painful process of tattoo removal. It was something that a middle-class person just didn’t think of. And that was for men. For women it was simply inconceivable. I’d just as soon get a bone through the nose.

    If I said to these apparently happy normal people on the beach: ‘Are you aware that killer gangs in L. A. and elsewhere are immensely glad of their tattoos?’, they might reply: ‘I bet they’re glad of their hair, as well: what’s that to do with me?’ Good point, except that most gangsters don’t have a lot of hair and also, more importantly, hair is natural. There is nothing in common between L. A. gangs and the people on the beach. However, if tattoos weren’t in some way primitive, I don’t think the gangsters would have them. Which ought to tell us something. Beau Brummel never had one, and I think it’s safe to guess he wouldn’t have wanted one.

    I have pierced earlobes, the only possible self-mutilation I could go in for. It hurt briefly and mildly — a second — and is completely hygienic. When I don’t wear earrings, no one can tell. When I do, I look like a lady, not Tarzan’s next conquest.

    I don’t know why the girls don’t wear bindis, if they want a bit of unusual body ornament. (Farmer Braun: the girl in the Jai Ho video was wearing a bindi, if you saw it.) You stick ’em on with skin-friendly adhesive and then you wash ’em off. A bit of sparkle and no commitment. A passing fashion statement, not something you’ve made a part of yourself.

    What struck me on the beach is that tattoos aren’t distinguishing when everybody has one. And it’s only on the beach that you can see just how common they are now. Now it’s a thing you do when go on Spring Break. Never mind collecting shells or bringing home a souvenir:

    Girls Gone Wild (Travis Tritt):

    Callin’ all girlfriends
    Springbreak weekend
    Meetin’ at the Texaco-
    Wine coolers six pack
    Cigarettes and Tic Tacs
    Fill it up and hit the road-
    Passin’ ’round the Cosmo
    Wearin’ out the cell phone
    Make it to the beach by ten-
    Flip-flops and lip gloss
    Bikini-tops and cut-offs
    Baby let the game begin…

    Girls gone wild, reality TV style
    Just a miles and miles of those girls gone wild-
    Breakin’ hearts, usin’ daddy’s credit card
    Momma hollers, “Stop that child!”
    Don’t you know the girl’s gone wild

    They’re lookin’ real pretty down in Panama City
    They’re dancin’ down in New Orleans-
    Cancun, Cozumel, gettin’ down and raisin’ hell
    Livin’ every bad boy’s dream-
    Viva Las Vegas, gettin’ outrageous
    Cruisin’ down the L.A. strip-
    They’re loaded in a limo, hangin’ out the window
    Wind it up and let it rip!


    Girls, girls, girls gone wild![girls, girls, girls gone wild]
    Girls, girls, girls gone wild…

    Sally, Sue and Tamra, smilin’ for the camera
    Dolly met a doctor from L.S.U.
    Ally, Ann, and Amy, went a little crazy
    Ridin’ home, sittin’ on a new tattoo

  77. Dr. Dave says:

    Farmer Braun,

    Thanks to you I was able to answer a trivia question. I was waiting for dinner and watching a few minutes of some insipid game show. The question was, “what country has a championship level Rugby teamed named the Allblacks?” Nobody knew. They asked people on the streets on NY for the answer. Nobody knew. All the while I’m shouting NEW ZEALAND! at the TV.

    I know next to nothing about the Maori other than y’all have done better by them than we have by Native Americans. I am also aware that their tattoos have much more cultural significance than the ink injected under the skin of idiot Americans because it’s “fashionable”.

  78. Luton Ian says:

    I’m guessing that the body art craze will be self limiting.

    There are women my age with tatoos, so there are probably already teenagers saying;

    “Urrrrr! it looks just like me Gran’s.”

    There’s something a little unsavoury about fading tatoos on wrinkled cellulite.

    A friend gave me what is probably a good proxy for the social history of tatoos in the west. According to the story, Sailors had tatoos and wore gold rings or earings, so that if there bodies were washed up on a strange shore, their faith could be identified, and there was sufficeint gold to pay for the appropriate Christian burial.

    My doubts are based on the risk to an exhausted sailor crawling up a Cornish beach into range of some rock weilding wrecker’s hag, with her eyes set on his earings.

    There was a bumper sticker doing the rounds in Cornwall in the late ’90s that read:

    “Mining’s skat. Farming’s skat. Fishing’s skat: It’s back to the Wrecking my hansoms!”

  79. Luton Ian says:

    Dr Dave,

    I can’t remember how I first stumbled onto the Mises site. I think I’ll have to blame John Lott for it, completely unforgivable! there’s just far too much good stuff there.

    Have you tried Ralph Raico’s Great Wars; Great Leaders? ?

    The conservative part of me is curious about military service, while the anarchist part of me is attracted to the British WWi trench traditions, of only exchanging fire with the opposing trenches at pre arranged times, and of shooting our Ruperts in their backs before they get anyone killed. Heller’s Catch 22 is also a great source book of ideas.

    Both my sets of grandparents had prisoners living with them and working for them in WWii, one lot’s prisoner was sent back to the camp after the neighbour’s wife took a bit too much of a liking to him, and his replacement was a kool aide drinker who’d slipped through the vetting, so he was sent back to the camp too. The other grandparent’s prisoners stayed on after the war and into the 1950s, their families came to join them, and there are also a few locals now in their 60s, with Italian fathers.

    An uncle tells of one day when my grandparents had hired a working party of officer prisoners, complete with STEN toting guards (it is an officer’s duty to escape). Part of the deal was they had to be fed, so my grandmother had cooked for them and they all sat down at the table for lunch. Conversation turned to how they had been captured. One of my Grandparent’s prisoners (a little guy who was a chef before being drafted) told of a big Aussie, with a big bayonet capturing him, when he answered the question of “where?” the officer spat in his face and shouted “Collaborator!”.

    He was captured at Tobruk.

    There is reputedly a man in a near by town who was conceived through the wire at one of the local camps (Italian prisoners…).


  80. Amanda says:

    Mio amico just told me: ‘I can see a WWII Navy guy having an anchor on his arm….’

    As Ian says, military service or rough trades and tattoos go somewhat honourably together. But why does an accountant need one?

  81. Amanda says:

    Of course, as blogging types, we don’t need tattoos — we have avatars. And they are changeable!

  82. Luton Ian says:

    There are very strong allegations in northern Italy that Benni was murdered to silence him, on the orders of his good “friend” Win.

    Somewhere I have a holiday photo of me stood in the driveway where the bodies were dumped. The Commies later took the bodies to Milan and strung them up.

    What is the quote from “The Godfather”? “Three men can keep a secret–

    — if two of them are dead.”

    I wonder what juicy morsels Benni could have given us about his fine “friends” Win, ‘Dolf and FDR? progressives all.

    If you are ever in that village, the local priest is an Italian version of Father Jack, he’s one hell of a character.

    To my eternal disgrace I don’t know the Italian for:

    Arse! Girlzzz! or Feck!

    Although my wife did once go for a pint with the actor who played Fr Jack

    Today’s language lesson proudly brought to you by the Gambino Family – Oz

  83. Luton Ian says:

    Hi Amanda!

    Yeah, I really dislike tattoos.

    I used to be friends with a plastic surgery nurse back in the 80s. Only one of their surgeons would remove tattoos on the NHS, and he wouldn’t waste time talking to the ones he let through, so at least once, he took the wrong one off.

    He left an ugly lesbian wearing the name of her ex

  84. Amanda says:

    Hi Ian! Oh dear about that. Yes, I cannot see the appeal myself. Also you mentioned that they age badly. I wonder whether anyone is thinking of that (e.g. ‘how will this look ten years from now?’). I assumed in a naive way at first that some of the tattoos I’d glimpsed (esp. on women) were temporary. But I don’t think they are.

  85. Amanda says:

    Oz and Farmer Braun: In a way, I’m surprised that the haka is allowed. I mean, it’s almost like allowing the Dallas Cheerleaders to do their thing before anyone’s even touched the ball. In fact, the value of the haka must be twice that of the cheerleaders. So why is it permitted?

    Possibly the English, Irish, Canadian chaps could do their own thing in return. What would it be? (Not Morris dancing!) And who would go first? There could very well be a battle of cultural and team assertiveness, even before the battle of the ball began. In fact, THAT battle could be even more interesting, in the end.

    I don’t think the haka should be allowed.

    It’s impressive. It’s traditional. It’s time-honoured. And it’s effective. Hence, it shouldn’t be allowed. Let ’em duke it out on the playing field, all socks and balls as it were. No haka.

  86. Luton Ian says:


    Do you remember the names Big Daddy, Giant Haystacks and Mick McManus?

    Overweight middle aged men in leotards, although I don’t remember any having tattoos, that image is bad enough, without thinking of what northern hemisphere rugby player’s answer to the Haka might involve.

  87. Amanda says:

    Three Cheerleaders showing off:

  88. Amanda says:

    By the way, you can’t be a cheerleader unless you can do the splits. Urccchhh….

  89. Amanda says:

    Ian, are they likely to be on YouTube? I’m afraid to look! :^)

  90. Amanda says:

    The cheerleaders are in an odd position. Fit, athletic, supple… beautiful… sexy, and able to learn choreography. But can you call what they do — art? Is it akin to say, figure skating at the Olympics? Or is it something less? (Well, I think we’d all say ‘yes’, right?) There’s something in common with belly dance, or raks sharqi as it’s called in Arabic. There’s something low about it. But belly dance is more than cheerleading, isn’t it? Belly dance is meant to entertain, as cheerleading is, but cheerleading is inherently the side dish, whereas belly dance is meant to be the main event. Belly dance claims, with justice, to be an art form, even though it’s an art form that uses the body (lowering), and the more ‘natural’ those movements are, the more provocative the dance (for women as well as men, incidentally). Whereas ballet isn’t ‘provocative’. But then again, ask most people what they would rather look at for enjoyment, and what would they answer: ballet or belly dance? Ballet is more ‘ascetic’, while the danse du ventre is more ‘sensual’: but they are both ‘aesthetic’. And belly dance is both an easy and a difficult style or vocabulary of dance. (There are many styles, based on the snaky or staccato movement of all parts of the body: in many ways, ‘belly’ is much too limited.) I’m just trying to say that belly dance occupies an interesting niche between that which is meant to make mouths water — cheerleading — and that which is meant to engage the higher modes of appreciation — ballet. I see belly dance at its best as being somewhere between the two — and where it is at any given time is dependent on the particular dancer. And that’s part of why I like it.

  91. Amanda says:

    One last thing before I join mio amico outside for a cigar (he smokes it: I enjoy the aroma): a tongue-in-cheek term I like for a belly dancer is ‘bellyrina’.

  92. Luton Ian says:

    Don’t know.

    I saw Giant Haystacks in real life when I was about 9 years old. he was huge, but I think I’ll save my screen for the torture of looking for them.

    A guy we went to college with was pals with (?one of) Big Daddy’s son, the lad had his dad’s profile, but hadn’t grown the belly by that age, perhaps he has now that he’s well into his fifth decade (if he hasn’t had a fatal heart attack or stroke yet!).

  93. Amanda says:

    Ian, Big Daddy sounds a natural for belly dance.

    You’ve had a lot of me this evening but I wanted to add something else, this being Memorial Day in the United States.

    These are faces of men that have died to defend us, in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere (one of them was shot in a German airport by a terrorist). They were e-mailed to me by my husband, who commented: ‘Each one gives Memorial Day its real meaning. Look at them all, if you can, but I was particularly moved by the last one, Doug Zembiec. He looks like a survivor, a tough man that should have emerged from it all with living glory’.

  94. Amanda says:

    And finally — because it’s disturbing to see these young decent faces and the states they came from — places where you know they could have grown happily old — places like Naperville, Illinois, where I have ‘done lunch’ of an afternoon — how about this article by one of our best American scholars, an expert on Western warfare, the ancient Greek people, and politics of any time, Victor Davis Hanson*:

    *We have a few of his books: I’d recommend them all.

  95. Luton Ian says:


    Big Daddy doing a belly dance

    not a pretty sight

  96. Amanda says:

    In fact, what he wrote is so bang-on and uplifting (at the same time!) that I’m going to post the text here.

    Victor Davis Hanson
    May 30, 2011 4:00 A.M.
    What We Might Remember This Memorial Day
    Our willingness to intervene overseas has made the world a better place.

    The world is a better place because Adolf Hitler did not preserve his conquest of the European continent, and because the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere of Hideki Tojo and his militarists imploded at Midway, Guadalcanal, and Okinawa. Italy and the Mediterranean were far better off without Benito Mussolini and his mad plans for a renewed but debased Roman Empire, which ended on his own Italian soil at exotic-named places like Anzio and Monte Cassino.

    The dream of Soviet rulers from Stalin to Brezhnev was a global gulag overseen from the blood-stained Communist Kremlin. It ended only through the 50-year deterrence of the American military. South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan are somehow still free and independent — and would not be without American carriers, jets, and submarines.

    Our generation’s own rogues’ gallery of killers — Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Manuel Noriega, and the Taliban — have lost their tyrannies. If South America chooses to become Communist, it will be by its own volition and not because of an unfettered cross-border invasion from Cuba, Nicaragua, or Venezuela. Even our enemies can export or import oil freely from the Middle East without worries of armed intervention or piracy — as long as an American carrier is nearby in the Gulf.
    It seems as if the more Europe disarms and gnashes at the United States, the more we are there when it needs us. If an ascendant China decides to bully Japan or Taiwan in earnest, only one country can thwart it. No one will call the European Union or Russia should North Korea tomorrow cross the 38th parallel or Iran decide to launch a missile. If Turkey rearranges the border in Cyprus or claims airspace over the mid-Aegean, anti-American Greece will turn pro-American. There will be no second Holocaust, in part because of American military support for Israel.

    The list of American wars, interventions, and campaigns, past and present, is endless — a source of serial political acrimony here at home over the human and financial cost and wisdom of spending American lives to better others. Sometimes we feel we are not good when we are not perfect, whether trying to stop a Stalinist North Vietnamese takeover of the south, or failing to secure Iraq before 2008. But the common story remains the same: For nearly a century, the American soldier has often been the last, indeed the only, impediment to butchery, enslavement, and autocracy.

    It was the custom of great leaders from Pericles to Napoleon to declare that the graves of their soldiers in far-off foreign soils were testaments to their nations’ grandeur, power, and reach; yet our white crosses in American cemeteries from Epinal, St.-Mihiel, and Normandy to Manila, Tunisia, and Sicily are tributes to American military courage and competency — and a willingness to see an end to wars that brutal men started and might have won had our youth not crossed the seas.

    We should remember all that in the present age of cynicism and nihilism, recalling that nothing has really changed, as some Americans this Memorial Day seek to foster something better than Saddam Hussein, the Taliban, and Moammar Qaddafi. Behind every American soldier, dozens of their countrymen tonight sleep soundly — and hundreds more in their shadow abroad will wake up alive and safe.

    —Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of
    The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern. © 2011 Tribune Media Services, Inc

  97. Amanda says:

    Ian, I have seen Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, and let me say: I would never come between them. Haystacks is the more convincing caveman; Big Daddy would never have made it on Broadway, despite the sequins (or paillettes, as bellyrinas prefer to call them). Obviously, when God was giving out body parts he forgot to give these chaps a waistline. Oh dear.

  98. Dr. Dave says:


    I read your comment about belly dancing vs. cheerleading and I could not help but recall an old story about the rivalry between California and Florida as to who grows the best tasting oranges. They decided to settle it once and for all so each side met in St. Louis with their finest oranges. They each prepared a screwdriver (i.e. orange juice and vodka) and called in a man off the street to sample them. He tasted both…several times. He then decided that he couldn’t tell, but said if they removed the damn orange juice they’d have a mighty fine drink. Take the clothes off of belly dancers and cheerleaders and I would imagine most men couldn’t tell the difference.

    Not me, of course. I’m a pervert. I find women closer to my own age to be MUCH sexier than girls young enough to be my offspring.

  99. Amanda says:

    Ah well, Dave, that’s where belly dance has the advantage. Grandmothers can dance it — and they do. Very well. Also you are allowed to have some fat in b. d. Cheerleading, focussing on body form rather than on what the body does, would never allow it.

    Also, taking away the clothes and props would be like taking away the proscenium arch and insisting that actors perform in a wheat field. You would not have the same performance without them. Belly dancers like to create mystery to go with the accessibility. I don’t know that cheerleaders are mysterious, but I’m sure they would agree that they need their boots.

  100. Amanda says:

    As for the best oranges: it has to be Florida (tangelos); and Georgia has the best peaches. Cheers!

  101. Kitler says:

    Amanda…I married one of them Georgia peaches they may taste sweet at first but by the end they will leave a sour taste in your mouth.

  102. Kitler says:

    Amanda here is what cheerleaders actually looked like, you have to be built like a horse to be the base of the pyramid, slender elfin creatures don’t cut it.

  103. Dr. Dave says:


    Georgia does not grow the best peaches. Obviously Florida grows the best Oranges. The best peaches I have ever had have come from more northerly states. The Newhaven Peaches from SW Michigan are incredible. The “white” peaches of southern Indiana are pretty impressive, too. My GF tells me that Florida avocados are much larger than California avocados but they don’t transport well so they’re rather limited to local distribution. California grows the best red, seedless table grapes I’ve ever tasted. Washington state grows my very favorite kind of cherry (Ranier), but I swear Michigan grows better apples. States become rather proud of crops they produce in huge volume for wide distribution, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the “best”. Thankfully we’re only a few weeks away from fresh strawberries and these grow well anywhere with sufficient water and sunshine.

  104. Kitler says:

    DrDave the best strawberry’s to eat are the wild ones, they are very small but the taste is exquisite as are wild raspberry’s and blackberry’s.

  105. Amanda says:

    Dr Dave: There is going to be a gunfight at the OK Corral. Because I have had Georgia peaches, in season, as against say Carolina peaches, and there is simply no comparison. I cannot imagine a peach better than a juicy, sweet-tangy, perfect Georgia peach. It’s on their licence plate, for heaven’s sake!

    By the way, Meyer lemons don’t live long (even if they transport well, who knows?), so instead of getting mine from California I grew them in my garden in Texas. Perfect for gin & tonic.

  106. Amanda says:

    Oh, and just to be a real leather-slapper, let me add that the best apples in the world are English. County of Kent especially. You will find none finer!

  107. Amanda says:

    And don’t even get me started on pears.

  108. Ozboy says:


    Riverina (NSW) for citrus

    Tasmania for apples, berries and stone fruit

    Queensland for bananas, mangoes and pineapples

    God, I love it here!

  109. Dr. Dave says:


    You’re right! We had wild berries growing all over the place when I was a kid in SW Michigan. Asparagus grew in the highway ditches. My Mom used to go out to these “U Pick” places and task me with picking raspberries (which are actually unpleasant to pick) while she cut a half bushel of asparagus. I grew up pickin’ fruit. Some years the peach crop would be so heavy that locals were asked to come in and pick all they wanted to prevent damage to the trees and the rest of the crop. I hated picking strawberries because you’re essentially squatting the whole time. Picking blueberries (the size of grapes) was a blast because they fruited at about chest level.

    Before I moved away for college I always used to stop at little roadside fruit and vegetable stands and pick something up for dinner. It only cost a few bucks and you could get enough fresh green beans, melons and fruit for 3 or 4 people for several days. Those days are mostly over now. I remember this one farm where I used to buy honey & pearl sweet corn for about 10 cents an ear. Best corn I’ve ever tasted!

  110. Dr. Dave says:


    My very favorite pear (American new standard spelling for “favorite”) is a nice, ripe Bartlett. In fact, this may be my very favorite fruit (surpassing even raspberries and melons). There are a lot of lousy pears grown and sold in the US. Finding a perfectly ripe Bartlett is a triumph. My former mother-in-law was a Saint. How a cloven hooved harpy sprang from her loins remains a mystery. She spoiled me rotten. When visiting I would sleep in and then be greeted with freshly brewed coffee and a big bowl of sliced up cantaloupe, fresh, peeled peaches and blueberries…and she always had pears in the refrigerator. She and her husband (a fine man) had wonderful sons and demon-spawn daughters.

    I grow some Williams Bon Chretien pears, but I may plant a few Bartletts next year – I love ’em – Oz


    It’s amazing (and perhaps unique) that you live in a country that can grow both apples and dropes as well as bananas and pineapples. You can’t even grow pineapples in Florida. Can you grow coffee too?

    It’s possible, up in the Top End, but generally it’s not economic to do so. A few niche beans are grown here but not a lot – Oz

  111. Kitler says:

    Ozboy and you have some of the finest Merino sheep do you not?

    Yep. Who wants to move to Australia and become a farmer? – Oz 🙂

  112. Kitler says:

    DrDave I’m sure you could grow coffee in Australia as it was originally from the Yemen I’m not sure they do though. The best tasting fruits and vegetables are usually local because after gassing them and nuking them kills any flavour they may have had if you transport them any distance.

  113. Kitler says:

    As for bread it’s best to find a local baker who makes theirs from scratch we use a local french bakery for ours. Nothing like a strong cup of coffee and a few rolls and butter for breakfast.

  114. fenbeagle says:

    Luton Ian
    If it’s possible yo answer you on Oz’s site? You left a comment on my site, regarding the thick atmosphere theory, by David Esker….

    Hi Fen,
    a thick soupy atmosphere?

    That’s even easy to falsify than a hockey stick graph, just show us the deposits of wind blown cobbles from the Mesozoic.
    fenbeagleblog says:
    May 5, 2011 at 7:09 am
    hi Ian
    David Esker can be contacted from his website….. Can you ask him about cobbles directly?
    David Esker says:
    May 30, 2011 at 11:58 pm
    Hi Fen,

    – An extremely thick atmosphere does not imply that the wind will be so strong that can pick up a cobbler; that is your claim, not mine.

    The ability of the wind to pick up sand or other small particles actually decreases with the thickness of a planet’s atmosphere. For example Venus has an extremely thick atmosphere and yet there is almost no wind or dust at all at the surface, while at the other extreme, the atmosphere of Mars is about a thousand times thinner than that of the Earth’s and yet the thin atmosphere of Mars often produces dense dust storms that can last for months.

    Perhaps you might persuade your Mr Huhne to put his windmills on Mars then? And personally oversee their construction? – Oz 😆

  115. farmerbraun says:

    Amanda, re. banning the haka.
    Anywhere in Polynesia, the All Blacks or the Maori All Blacks, are going to get one straight back. Normally the “home’ team will challenge, and the visitors will reply.
    But seriously, what are the Poms going to do by way of reply; ‘ave a nice cuppa tea, and some cucumber sammies?

  116. Luton Ian says:

    There’s a big scare on with organic cucumbers in Europe.

    Somehow, some have got E. coli on them, and a big bunch of folk have renal failure following a dose of the runs.

    The E. coli is interesting, To the best of my knowledge, no livestock farm worker or slaughter house worker has fallen seriously in any of these outbreaks. continuous exposure must have its benefits.

    I’ve just heard Oxfam’s new fund raising scare story; a doubling of food prices in 30 years: Standby for a socialist power grab as currencies are overinflated to fulfil the prophecy.

  117. Luton Ian says:

    Thanks Fen,
    I’ll take a look across.

  118. Kitler says:

    farmerbraun you are lucky the Scottish team does not wear kilts, or you would face your answer.

  119. farmerbraun says:

    Well Kitler. I’m sure that a stirring pipes and drums response would be just the ticket. Bagpipes can be absolutely chilling. How about a slow march from the goal line up to halfway? Give it time to sink in.
    Those Dallas cheerleaders don’t cut it at all; I mean where is the intent ( or what is the intent?) ?
    These girls mean business , and they do the business. The expression on the English girl’s face at the end reveals why England lost.

    Nick Farr-Jones (Australia’s rugby captain in the 90s) once said in an interview the most terrifying experience of his life was standing in the centre of Cardiff Arms Park before a test match and have the crowd – a 20,000-strong massed choir – sing Land Of Our Fathers down at him in four-part harmony – Oz

  120. fenbeagle says:

    Luton Ian
    He has entered into the style of my blog, in answering you….Perhaps a little too enthusiastically. (I feel a bit guilty.)

  121. fenbeagle says:

    It might be simpler to send rising star mr Huhne to Martian exile. If allegations turn out to be true. ……Napoleon Huhne-apart.

  122. Dr. Dave says:


    I was expecting the Irish lads to break into Riverdance in response to the haka…but then…they’d probably have to change their shoes.

  123. Dr. Dave says:

    Kitler makes a good point. I’m sure fruits and vegetables are just like bread. Most often the best you ever had are grown locally and picked fresh at the peak of ripeness. The quality of sweetcorn starts to deteriorate within hours of being picked. Apples store well, pears usually do not. I’ve picked a perfectly ripe Golden Delicious apple right off the tree on a cool September morning and the taste and texture is incomparable. You can’t buy that in a grocery store. Peaches don’t store well. They have to be eaten or processed soon after harvest and are best at their freshest and peak ripeness. But locally grown produce is not always the best. You can grow apricots and peaches where I live but the fruit tends to be small. The apples are OK but they’re not even close to the quality of Michigan fruit. I could grow better tomatoes in the Midwest than I could in Texas or even here in NM.

    We can grow almost anything except cocaine in the US, but you have to include Hawaii in this to make it really remarkable. The agricultural output of California is astounding. Florida is amazing. They can grow almost anything other than cooler weather drupes, apples and pears, but they have mangoes, guava and papaya…and coconuts. What’s really incredible is the sheer volume of foods the US can produce. What’s tragic is that 40% of our corn crop is diverted into ethanol production.

  124. rogercuul says:

    Luton Ian mentioned cucumbers.
    I went to water my greenhouse this morning, I have grown lots of bedding plants and tomatoes. I had only one cucumber plant about three feet tall with small cucumbers and it was gone. The plant, pot and cane- gone.
    Shears, saws and fork were still there but no cucumber. I talked to it each morning but perhaps it has become bored of me and left home.
    I think I will organise a street party and see if anyone turns up with cucumber sandwiches.
    I just thought that I should warn you in case this is part of an international plot.

  125. Dr. Dave says:

    Cucumbers are known to be fickle…or is that pickles?

  126. Ozboy says:

    June’s started already here, and with it winter. May was the coldest we’ve had here for many years:

    So global warming’s set to arrive when, exactly?

  127. Dr. Dave says:


    This is the coldest May I have ever encountered in the 16 years I’ve lived here. Only in the last couple of days have we finally had some daytime highs in the 80s but these were accompanied with high winds. Normally we have the two small window A/C units in the two south facing bedrooms by the middle of May. Last year I didn’t even bother putting an A/C unit in my home office window and so far it looks like I can skip this year, too.

  128. Ozboy says:

    New post here folks – something a bit different.

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