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EU bureaucrats are a perpetual target for humor. Here's the latest one. Supposedly they decided to remove the word 'pertannually' from the EU constitution, having decided that it was incomprehensible and meaningless. And what did they replace it with? The much clearer term 'insubdurience'. One source for this story is John Humphrys, a political journalist who's just written a book Lost for Words, about "the demise of the language." The tale also pops up in this Guardian article. The story could very well be true, but it also sounds suspiciously like one of those Euromyths that have become so popular. For instance, there's the Euromyth about the supposed new EU law that forbids bananas from being "too excessively curved." Or the one about how the EU has classified kilts as 'womenswear'. To fact check the 'pertannually insubdurient' story I tried to check the EU constitution itself. It's available online, but having looked at it, I'm now not sure how to find "clause 82, paragraph 17, subsection (b)".
Categories: Literature/Language, Places, Politics
Posted by Alex on Wed Dec 01, 2004
Comments (10)
image In 1945 did Charles De Gaulle really say to Winston Churchill, in reference to the military aid that the Allies provided to France to defeat Germany, that "We shall stun you with our ingratitude"? Monday, November 22 was the birthday of De Gaulle, and a number of right-leaning blogs marked the occasion by posting this quotation (they seem to have picked it up from an article in the Belfast Telegraph). So did De Gaulle really say this?

Even though the tense verbal exchanges between De Gaulle and Churchill are well known, this particular remark sounded hoaxy to me. A quick google search didn't turn up any source that could verify the remark, though it did pull up an essay noting that Churchill once quoted to De Gaulle a passage from Plutarch: "ingratitude towards great men is the mark of a strong people." So it's possible that De Gaulle responded to this comment by saying that the French would stun Churchill with their ingratitude (in which context, the remark would be a compliment).

However, a second, more thorough google search revealed that the 'stunning ingratitude' quotation has been attributed to a number of other people besides De Gaulle. This 2003 article in theage.com.au attributes it to the prime minister of the Hapsburg Empire: When, in 1848, Tsarist Russia intervened to put down an insurrection in Hungary, thus saving the Hapsburg Empire which was then in deep trouble, the Hapsburg prime minister commented that: "We shall astonish the world with our ingratitude."

But quite a few other people (including the conservative columnists Pat Buchanan and George Will) credit the remark to the Italian statesman Camillo Benso Cavour: The Sardinian minister who guided his country to the unification of Italy in the mid-1800, Cavour, did so with French help in a war with Austria. Without the French Army the Austrians would probably still have been ruling Northern Italy in 1914. Cavour's comment was that someday the Italians would astonish the world with their ingratitude to France.


I suspect that Cavour is the true source of the saying. In which case, it's ironic that a remark originally referring to ingratitude towards France has now come full circle and is being used to demonstrate (supposedly) the ingratitude of France.
Categories: History, Military, Politics
Posted by Alex on Sat Nov 27, 2004
Comments (7)
image I believe that this picture might give me nightmares. Is it fake? Apparently not. It was taken by Dale Guldan, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel photographer. It ran in the Journal Sentinel on Sept. 11, accompanying this article. The editors claim that they never noticed that strange bulge in Cheney's pants... until readers began pointing it out. So if the picture isn't fake, what could that bulge be? I refuse to believe, as many have jokingly suggested, that Dick is 'superendowed'. So if it's not that, could it be something in his pocket or attached to his leg? My theory is that it's either a security device, or an incontinence device. Whatever it is, I don't think they can blame this on poor tailoring. For more info see here. (click on the image for a larger version) (via blue lemur)
Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Thu Nov 18, 2004
Comments (18)
Here's another political spoof photo that's going around. At least, I'm assuming it's a spoof. Kerry's head looks pasted on, and the words on the t-shirt also look photoshopped... not to mention that it's hard to imagine Kerry really wearing a t-shirt like that. (via J-Walk) image
Categories: Photos/Videos, Politics
Posted by Alex on Sun Nov 14, 2004
Comments (5)
Defamer reports (via A Fly on the Wall) that George Clooney has his own weblog, titled A Chronicle of Bush's Failures. It's purely political, focusing (as you might guess from the title) on all of Bush's shortcomings. The question is, is this really Clooney's blog? I'm not convinced, mainly because whoever is writing the blog doesn't seem to claim anywhere that he or she is Clooney. And I'm not sure why we should believe A Fly on the Wall's anonymous source. More likely it's some blogger trying to attract traffic by spreading a rumor that he's George Clooney.
Categories: Celebrities, Politics, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 03, 2004
Comments (5)
image I'm a Democrat, but I've got to hand it to the Goths for Bush. I like their reasoning: "We are forming this Goth Republican Band to help elect George Bush to continue the sadness. His actions facilitate our morbid fascination and the beauty of enduring pain. Many people lead unhappy lives and that is sad. Bush will continue the sadness. He knows that gentle people are excellent for spanking. His foreign policy is the best, he spanks the world and the unseen one knows it deserves it, so beautifully dirty, grimy and perverse." I'm assuming this is satire, but it's subtle enough that you can't really be sure.
Categories: Politics, Websites
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 27, 2004
Comments (12)
Cindy Brady is running for office. Cindy was born in Milton, Florida on November 10, 1960. She is the daughter of Bob and Mary Melton. Although not born in Alamance County, both of Cindy’s parents were raised here. After her father retired from the Navy in 1974, the Melton family relocated permanently to Alamance County... Wait a second, wasn't her dad supposed to be an architect? And what about her five siblings?
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Fri Oct 22, 2004
Comments (2)
Are you tired of "namby-pamby politicians with their bean-counting, child-smooching sweaty handshakes?" A few Australians are, so they've taken politics into their own hands and formed the Enslave New Zealand Party. If elected, members of this party promise one thing: to invade New Zealand and enslave its entire population. Their plan sounds foolproof. After all, as they point out, "New Zealand bases her defence policy on one simple fact: no one can attack New Zealand without going through Australia first. This is generally true but there is, of course, one exception…Australia." But has the Enslave New Zealand party forgotten about Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn? Surely they'd save New Zealand.
Categories: Politics, Websites
Posted by Alex on Mon Oct 18, 2004
Comments (14)
If you're one of those undecided voters who can't make up their mind whether to vote for Bush, Kerry, Nader, or HRM Caesar St. Augustine de Buonaparte, then here's a fifth candidate you might want to consider: Gay Penguin. As Gay Penguin's website explains, "Gay Penguin is a homosexual penguin. He is incapable of speaking, of signing laws and bills, and perhaps even incapable of abstract thought." His site then goes on to ask you to "Imagine a world where America has been ruled by a Gay Penguin since 2000." Gay Penguin also has a blog, though it doesn't seem to be updated very often (probably because of his inability to read or write).
Categories: Politics, Websites
Posted by Alex on Thu Oct 07, 2004
Comments (8)
image A picture purporting to show a scanned copy of the Michigan Absentee Ballot has been spreading around. Look at it carefully. It would definitely put the Florida Butterfly Ballot to shame. There appears to be no way to vote for Bush/Cheney, but if you decide to vote for Kerry/Edwards, you're really voting for Bush/Cheney. Is the ballot real? Apparently so. It was a ballot printing error, but was confined to one precinct and mailed out to only 69 people. Brad Wittman, from the Michigan Secretary of State's Office, was contacted by someone at Metafilter, and this was his comment:

The ballot printing error is confined to a single precinct in the City of Alma. Approximately 69 ballots containing the error were released to voters on Monday, September 27. On Tuesday, September 28, a voter called the clerk to alert her to the error. Arrangements have been made to send the 69 voters replacement ballots. The clerk expects to receive corrected ballots on Monday, October 4. In the meantime, a voter who received one of the misprinted ballots posted a scan of the ballot on the web. This has created far more interest (an outrage) than what is warranted.
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Tue Oct 05, 2004
Comments (5)
image As the presidential candidates gear up for their first debate tonight, the focus of the world is not on what the two men are going to say about the War in Iraq, the rising costs of healthcare, or the erosion of civil liberties, but instead on the real burning issue: did John Kerry get a fake tan? His face definitely does look a little on the over-ripe side, but then I'm sure that Bush also uses tanning aides. Of course, maybe judging candidates by the quality of their tans isn't that illogical since, as this article points out, these debates are little more than carefully scripted pseudo-events anyway, carefully rehearsed to be completely free of surprises. So the candidates' tans are no more or less real than anything else you get to see about them. Which is why reporters are able to write analyses of the debate before the debate even occurs, as demonstrated by a post-debate analysis written in the past tense that appeared on ABC's site earlier today (i.e. hours before the debate). ABC has since pulled the analysis, but luckily screen captures of it were made, one of which can be viewed here.
Categories: Politics
Posted by Alex on Thu Sep 30, 2004
Comments (5)
Since I fall into the demographic group of cynical, urban, over-educated, non-church-goers, when I saw this site urging people to 'Fast for George W' I chuckled and assumed it had to be some kind of joke. But no. It doesn't seem to be a joke. The aim of the site is to organize people "to fast and pray for the holiness of President George W. Bush." Okey Dokey. It even urges people to "please take this seriously" (they must get a lot of people like me snickering at them). As weird as the idea seems to be, I suppose it can't hurt. Maybe it could even be expanded to include 'Wear a Hairshirt for George W' or 'Self-Flagellation for Bipartisanship'. (via J-Walk)
Categories: Politics, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed Sep 29, 2004
Comments (8)
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