Tongue Tide!

Purgatory Pie Press, “Volumptuous: Hanging Tower of Babble” (2017) (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic).

Hyperallergic has a write-up on what sounds like a very grand show indeed, Tongue Tides, in Long Island City. I would so love to see this in person.

Are you ready for volumptuous? This hilarious sign by Purgatory Pie Press dangling from Flux Factory’s ceiling, part of “Volumptuous: Hanging Tower of Babble,” a large installation of hanging signage, is a fitting mascot for this playful summer show. Tongue Tide invites us all to play a little more with language, and to ponder other languages besides English. It’s a must-see for writers and wordsmiths and is well worth the trip to Long Island City.

Queens is the most linguistically diverse area on the planet. No other place boasts so many languages in such close proximity, something Rashedul Hasan and Dan Silverman illustrate in “We Are the Queens of New York” (2017), a map piece where dots of different colors represent these many varied languages. It’s really powerful to dwell on just how unique the borough — and New York City as a whole — is from this perspective.

[…]

It’s also good to ponder this map because, with all due to respect to Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker, English does not own a monopoly on wit. Many turns of phrase and poetic expressions in other languages pack a punch, even in translation. Some of the best work in this show plays with other languages to give us glimpses of their clever bons mots.

An intriguing artist book by Magali Duzant, A Light Blue Desire (2017), complies blue bromides from across the globe, and blue postcards featuring some of the selections are available for visitors to take home. Blue, in word and concept, can be stretched in so many semiotic directions. The blues are great, but they cast a sad shadow on the color as a metaphor in today’s English, which is further exacerbated by the minority status of the so-called blue states in the US’s broken political system. But blue is not so sad in other languages. One vivid example is the Polish expression for what we might call daydreaming: to think about blue almonds. It captures the futility of idle fantasy so well.

You can see the map, and much more, and there’s more to read at Hyperallergic.

Collocation and Pejoration.

‘I am a gentil womman and no wenche’: from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Merchant’s Tale, c1386. Photograph: Alamy.

Linguists call it collocation: the likelihood of two words occurring together. If I say “pop”, your mental rolodex will begin whirring away, coming up with candidates for what might follow. “Music”, “song” or “star”, are highly likely. “Sensation” or “diva” a little less so. “Snorkel” very unlikely indeed.

What do you think of when I say the word “rabid”? One option, according to the dictionary publisher Oxford Dictionaries, is “feminist”. The publisher has been criticised for a sexist bias in its illustrations of how certain words are used. “Nagging” is followed by “wife”. “Grating” and “shrill” appear in sentences describing women’s voices, not men’s.

[…]

Perhaps “rabid” is collocated with “feminist” more often than with those other words (if the data the OUP uses includes online discussions, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case). Sexist assumptions find their way into speech and writing for the simple reason that society is still sexist.

Language, as the medium through which we conduct almost all relationships, public and private, bears the precise imprint of our cultural attitudes. The history of language, then, is like a fossil record of how those attitudes have evolved, or how stubbornly they have stayed the same.

When it comes to women, the message is a depressing one. The denigration of half of the population has embedded itself in the language in ways you may not even be aware of. Often this takes the form of “pejoration”: when the meaning of the word “gets worse” over time. Linguists have long observed that words referring to women undergo this process more often than those referring to men. Here are eight examples:

Those examples are Mistress, Hussy, Madam, Governess, Spinster, Courtesan, Wench, and Tart. I’ll just include Hussy here:

Hussy.

This once neutral term meant the female head of a household. Hussy is a contraction of 13th-century husewif – a word cognate with modern “housewife”. From the 17th century onwards, however, it began to mean “a disreputable woman of improper behaviour”. That’s now its only meaning.

My whole lifetime, hussy has carried a negative meaning only. I had no idea it actually meant head of a household, much like my surprise over the primary definition of paraphernaliaClick on over for the full article and to see the rest of the words, and how they have changed over the years! (I got to this article from another interesting one, on how American is taking over English all over the world. I get teased a lot for using English spelling rather than American, but that was how I was taught, and I’ll keep using it.)

Tiny Tyrant: Poor People Need Not Apply.

Screen capture.

Politics tends to be a game for the wealthy, although every now and then, someone without significant monies gets in. A short while ago, the Tiny Tyrant, looking at crushing disapproval and clouds of scandals coming home to roost, decided to get back on the ol’ campaign rally trail, because by gosh, some people just love him. I’m getting the distinct feeling this “strategy” isn’t going to work out all that great for Donny. He seems to forget that he’s not a candidate now, so just saying whatever pops into that pea brain of his isn’t the brightest of plans. In Iowa, he explained how poor people just weren’t wanted, and how they are just, um, icky.

Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his decision to appoint cabinet members with significant personal wealth, arguing he doesn’t “want a poor person” in charge of the economy.

Trump was speaking about Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs banker the president appointed as his chief economic advisor—despite promising to “drain the swamp” during his presidency.

“I love all people,” Trump said during a campaign-style rally in Cedar Rapids, IA. “Rich or poor. But in those particular positions I just don’t want a poor person. Does that make sense?”

No, it doesn’t make sense. Not one little fuckin’ bit, Donny. I’d like to know how Donny defines poor. What constitutes a poor person in TrumpWorld? I imagine a two income household that manages to scrape past the $100,000 mark each year would be considered pitifully poor to those on billionaire’s row. As for all of us well below that mark? I’m not altogether sure we’re even visible.

Trump has received significant criticism for his appointment of Cohn, as well as Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Although he ran on a populist platform, Trump’s cabinet has a combined net worth of $6 billion.

Six billion. There’s a figure which is little more than a nebulous abstract to this person. How does anyone in the rarefied, atrophic atmosphere of billions and billions define poor? And how does that definition relate, in any way, to those of us on planet earth?

Via Raw Story, where there’s video. Turns out, this post is hand and glove with one of Marcus’s, on Propaganda.

DAPL Approval Illegal, Judge Finds.

Trump on DAPL. © Marty Two Bulls.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law in its fast-tracked approval of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), a U.S. District Court Judge in Washington D.C. has ruled. Judge James Boasberg said the Corps did not consider key components of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in granting the Lake Oahe easement under the Missouri River when directed to do so by President Donald Trump shortly after his swearing-in.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, with the Cheyenne River Sioux as interveners, had challenged the approval on the grounds that adequate environmental study had not been conducted. Boasberg agreed on many points, though he did not rule on whether the pipeline should remain operational. It has been carrying oil since June 1.

“Although the Corps substantially complied with NEPA in many areas, the Court agrees that it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial,” Boasberg said in his 91-page decision. “To remedy those violations, the Corps will have to reconsider those sections of its environmental analysis upon remand by the Court. Whether Dakota Access must cease pipeline operations during that remand presents a separate question of the appropriate remedy, which will be the subject of further briefing.”

A status conference will be held next week, according to the environmental law firm EarthJustice, which is representing the tribes in this case. Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline’s builders, did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

“This is a major victory for the Tribe and we commend the courts for upholding the law and doing the right thing,” said Standing Rock Sioux Chairman Dave Archambault II in a statement. “The previous administration painstakingly considered the impacts of this pipeline and President Trump hastily dismissed these careful environmental considerations in favor of political and personal interests. We applaud the courts for protecting our laws and regulations from undue political influence, and will ask the Court to shut down pipeline operations immediately. ”

Indian Country Today has the full story.

Where there’s the smallest good news, there’s always bad news, and in this case, it comes in the form of Zinke:

“I think, talking to tribes, they’re very happy,” Zinke said of his proposal, adding that he “talked to all parties, and they’re pretty happy and willing to work with us.”

But this is not so, according to tribal representatives. In a June 12 press call hosted by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), the vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch said the tribe’s leaders have “maintained a consistent position that they support the monument designation.

“If there is any happiness,” Branch said,” it’s probably that the monument remains intact as of now.

“I think [the ‘happy’ characterization] is probably just a characterization coming from Trump,” Branch added.

Natalie Landreth, a lawyer with the Native American Rights Fund who represents the Hopi, Zuni and Ute Mountain Ute Tribes on Bears Ears issues, said during the Udall call that the proclamation that set up Bears Ears as a national monument had already formed a structure in which five tribes, known as the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition, work together to co-manage the monument.

“It’s unclear exactly what the secretary is suggesting, so until we know more details about what he’s talking about, it’s difficult to have a view on it,” Landreth said. “Our initial reaction on behalf of the three tribes we represent is that this was really a cynical effort to distract Indian country from the devastating blow of reducing the size of the monument.”

Landreth said that some of her impacted tribal clients told her as of June 12 that Zinke had not been in touch with them on this matter.

“We don’t know who he’s talking to and what they may have said,” Landreth said.

Full story here.

Facebook’s Internal Rulebook.

Facebook’s policy on threats of violence. A tick means something can stay on the site; a cross means it should be deleted. Photograph: Guardian.

The Guardian has an in-depth look at the ongoing problems of Facebook.  If you’re on FB, you’re no doubt already familiar with all these problems and inconsistencies, but you might want to still take the time to do the reading, it’s very interesting, to say the least. As I remarked on this post, the big problem with FB is that they are well aware of the fact that no matter how much people get upset, they won’t kill their account and walk.

As for the above graphic, one of many, “To snap a bitch’s neck, make sure to apply all your pressure to the middle of the throat.” is allowed because it’s not considered to be a credible threat, too generic. Given the sheer amount of women murdered every single. damn. day., I have a whole lot of problems with that, to say the least. Someone, somewhere, will appreciate that information, and put it to use. All I have here is WTF FB?

I had been considering going back to FB, for an Affinity feed, but have been very hesitant to do so. This made up my mind. No. My personal principles won’t stand for it.

*Ob. Disclaimer: Yes, I know most of the effing world is on FB, and that’s fine. I’m making a judgment call for myself, no one else.

Full story at The Guardian.

Trump: Insulting to Children.

President Trump in Washington on Monday. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times.

Earlier, PZ had a post up about the latest shite from David Brooks, and now, two child psychologists have written to reprimand him for insulting children.  I agree, comparing most children to Trump is doing them one hell of a disservice, there’s no need to malign them. If you must go with such comparisons, at least go with childish behaviours, such as being a brat. More apt. I also agree with making the point that he is not only an adult, whether or not he chooses to act like one, and he is highly dangerous to us all, no matter where we reside. The current move by global leaders to make sure he doesn’t have a tantrum is awful, not only because no one is treating him like an adult, apparently, no one feels they can afford to expect him to behave in an adult manner.

Re “When a Child Is Leading the World” (column, May 16):

Can we all please stop using “child” and “adolescent” as epithets? David Brooks laid out the ways that President Trump is still a child, and therefore deficient.

The three reasons Mr. Brooks gives are that he: 1) can’t sit still; 2) “needs perpetual approval to stabilize his sense of self”; and 3) is unable to “perceive how others are thinking.” Yet none of these flaws are true of children, certainly not the way they apply to Mr. Trump.

Most children have no trouble sitting still by the time they reach first grade. Nor do children need “perpetual approval.” If they did, they would find it wanting. Children are also quite adept at understanding the thoughts of others. Most feel sympathy for the suffering of others and are quick to help someone in need, even as toddlers.

Donald Trump is a dangerous person, and he occupies a position of unparalleled power. That is the reality that faces the country and the world. Stop insulting children and adolescents by comparing him to them, and hold him accountable for his own offenses.

JEFFREY JENSEN ARNETT
LENE ARNETT JENSEN
WORCESTER, MASS.

Via The NYT.

A Trump Tantrum and Government Shutdown.

Toddler Trump, by Sham.

Despite the Tiny Tyrant’s recent reversal on the importance of the first 100 days, he’s absolutely desperate for a “win” of some kind. For the most part, this involves another attempt at repealing the ACA, or failing that, trying to force congress to hand over forty billion dollars for the Grate Wall of Stupidity™.  More and more Americans are standing fast on not wanting the wall at all, and it’s not a remotely realistic “win” to push for, but Mulvaney is dangling an ACA concession, but only if all the money is handed over for the wall. Things were working, more or less, before Trump had to toss a late night wrench into the works, making everything all about his “wins” and nothing more. He has said “yeah, we want to keep government open”, but his actions don’t match that sentiment in any way. As usual, government in this case doesn’t mean jack shit if it doesn’t translate to “wins and approval” for the monstrous ego of Trump.

Trump’s instability has already caused a great deal of damage and irreparable harm; that harm keeps being extended with every rollback, all in the service of making the Tiny Tyrant feel like a big man. Now, he’s looking to toss anything into the cavernous maw of his always hungry ego, and if government shuts down, well who cares? I have no doubt that Trump would see that only as a bully tactic he could use, as that’s the current tactic, and the only one he possesses.

As the deadline for a spending bill looms, the Trump administration is reportedly throwing a monkey wrench into negotiations. The Trump administration is fighting for border wall funding or a crackdown on sanctuary cities, according to Politico, to give the president a victory during his first 100 days in office.

Desperate for a win, the administration is risking a government shutdown by insisting on funding the border wall. Congress has until April 28 to clear a spending bill — but negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate stalled over the last 24 hours after White House officials showed they wouldn’t move on funding the wall, Politico reported on Thursday evening.

A victory! The Tiny Tyrant must have a victory! Once again, language choice reveals a very nasty, unstable mindset. Think Progress has the full story, as does Politico.

Let’s [Not] Talk Gibberish.

gibberish-meaningful-blabber

Seeing as it’s Word Wednesday here at Affinity, what better day to review the atrocious mangling of language Trump indulges in? Todd Gitlin has an excellent article and review up of the Tiny Tyrant’s Art of the Non Sequitur, along with his working vocabulary, which is more suited to a toddler.

Once upon a time, there were presidents for whom English seemed their native language. Barack Obama most recently. He deliberated. At a press conference or in an interview — just about whenever he wasn’t speaking from a text — his pauses were as common as other people’s “uh’s.” He was not pausing because his vocabulary was impoverished. He was pausing to put words into sequence. He was putting phrases together with care, word by word, trying out words before uttering them, checking to feel out what they would sound like once uttered. It was important to him because he did not want to be misunderstood. President Obama valued precision, in no small part because he knew he lived in a world where every last presidential word was a speech act, a declaration with consequence, so that the very statement that the sky was blue, say, would be scoured for evidence that the president was declaring a policy on the nature of nature.

That was then. Now we have a president who, when he speaks, spatters the air with unfinished chunks, many of which do not qualify as sentences, and which do not follow from previous chunks. He does not release words into a stream of consciousness but into a heap. He heaps words on top of words, to overwhelm meaning with vague gestures. He does not think, he lurches.

Here are some examples from TIME’s transcript of their cover story made out of their phone interview with the president of the United States. I have italicized the non sequiturs, incomplete propositions, indefinite pronouns and other obscurities that amount to verbal mud.

I used to have sequential eyerolls over Bush Jr’s mangling of language: uninalienable, subliminabable, resignates, disregardered, impedent, misunderestimated, and so forth. Well, at least Bush tried for the big words. That’s better than a basic vocabulary of “bad, sad, bigly!”

Click on over for the full gibberish analysis!

And here’s a fine example of the Gibberish Takeover:

“I think the president is very well steeped in world affairs, especially Europe, NATO, all of the issues,” Spicer declared. “He was a leader in the effort to call Brexit, as you know.”

Spicer, however, did not explain how Trump led the “effort to call Brexit.”

“So, I think both on the EU and that, that’s that,” Spicer concluded.

How, exactly, does any of that answer the charge that the Tiny Tyrant is ignorant when it comes to world affairs? We are talking about the fucking idiot who presented Ms. Merkel with a bill, for fuck’s sake. He also didn’t have the slightest idea of what NATO is, or how it works. He was not a leader in the effort to call Brexit, although he did plenty of cheerleading for it. And what we get is: “So, I think both on the EU and that, that’s that.” WHAT IN THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN? Is everyone getting so damn stupid that such shite gets a pass, or worse, knowing nods?

The Intolerance of Liberals.

Rob Tornoe.

Rob Tornoe.

PZ has a post up about yet another person who found it terribly necessary to do the rounds of the Trumpholes, to discover their “reasoning.” Why anyone does this is a mystery to me, unlike the so-called reasoning of those who support the Regime. I’ve heard it all, from those who have one pet issue, such as being rabidly anti-choice, and who sided with the Tiny Tyrant over that, in spite of possibly disliking other aspects, because it’s worth it, those who think anything is worth it to get back at those filthy liberals, those who actually think Trump is anti-establishment, those who quiver in fear over every shadow, and those who simply agree with all the racist, bigoted, sexist shit which makes up most of Donnie’s mind, and so on.

One of the most common plaints of the Trumphole is just how intolerant those awful lefty liberals are, calling racists racist, and so forth. As a lefty liberal, and worse, a dyed-in-the-wool hippie, I take issue with being called intolerant. I don’t like it, because it isn’t accurate. To tolerate something means you display forbearance, you put up with something, with either good or sour grace. You permit, or allow something, doesn’t mean you like it at all. I wouldn’t say I’m so much intolerant of Trumpholes and their never-ending whines of justification for horrible views, as I am non-accepting. Nonacceptance is much more accurate when it comes to describing my attitude and feelings. Acceptance involves favourability and approval. There’s a big difference between “Oh, I tolerate Jane” and “Oh, I accept Jane.

I do not accept bigotry, sexism, or hate. I do not want any of those to have a place in my life, heart, or brain. I reject such ugliness outright, and I will reject it no matter how many justifications someone tries to wrap them in. There’s simply no excuse to hold onto such hate, and tying yourself into knots in an attempt to make it sound reasonable isn’t going to work. I simply will not accept it. If you’re busy trying to make bigotry sound somehow palatable, yes, I’ll point out that you are being a bigot, because that’s the truth. If you somehow think you have the key to making sexism right and proper, I’ll point out that no, you’re wrong, and you’re still being sexist. And so on.

Every single day, I read many many lots of articles, in order to be informed, and to be able to blog, and much of what I read is not to my taste, to say the least, but I tolerate it, in order to be informed. Every day, I manage to tolerate Trumpholes enough to be aware of their always full font of hateful froth. So, y’see, it’s not accurate to say I’m intolerant. It is accurate to say I’m non-accepting.

Indigenous Activism Roundup.

Protesters gather outside of the White House. CREDIT: Natasha Geiling.

Protesters gather outside of the White House. CREDIT: Natasha Geiling.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Mni wiconi—”water is life”—appear to be empty words to the federal government, but they now constitute a battle cry for Native nations as they rise together in the U.S. capital today to voice their discontent with the Trump administration’s policies regarding indigenous rights and power.

[…]

Organizers also want the public to know that this gathering is not just about the Dakota Access Pipeline, even though it now serves as the symbol of all that’s wrong with the government-to-government relationship that tribes and the federal government are supposedly involved in. Tribes point to the Trump administration’s fast-track actions on the pipeline sans meaningful consultation and environmental review serving as the tipping point for Indian country by making a mockery of free, prior and informed consent—the right of every other sovereign nation in the world. They hope to make the point that the federal government, in going forward with the pipeline against the tribes’ wishes, abdicated its role as trustee to protect the tribes’ rights and resources, and violated their sovereignty and self-determination.

Full Story at ICMN. Think Progress also covers this story.

Tipis on the National Mall, near the White House, as water protectors gather for a march advocating for indigenous rights and a halt to environmental destruction. Kandi Mossett/Facebook.

Tipis on the National Mall, near the White House, as water protectors gather for a march advocating for indigenous rights and a halt to environmental destruction. Kandi Mossett/Facebook.

“The Standing Rock movement is bigger than one tribe,” the Standing Rock Sioux said. “It has evolved into a powerful global phenomenon highlighting the necessity to respect Indigenous Nations and their right to protect their homelands, environment and future generations. We are asking our Native relatives from across Turtle Island to rise with us.”

Full story at ICMN.

There is No O’odham Word for Wall.

TUCSON, ARIZONA—The Tohono O’odham Nation Executive Branch is firm on their stance against a border wall being built.

“[It’s] not going to happen,” said Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Edward Manual. “It is not feasible to put a wall on the Tohono O’odham Nation…it is going to cost way too much money, way more than they are projecting.”

TON Chairman Manuel went on to say, “It is going to cut off our people, our members that come [from Mexico] and use our services. Not only that we have ceremonies in Mexico that many of our members attend. Members also make pilgrimages to Mexico and a border wall would cut that off as well.”

ICMN has the full story.

This Is My Body.

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This Is My Body. A figure stands in the middle of the image with arms outstretched. A red headband covers the forehead and long, loosely braided dark hair, parted in the middle. White streams down the face, and the eyes are red and swollen. The body has a bleeding wound on its side, a hole in each palm, and three rubber bullet wounds. Dark figures with riot gear border the figure to the right, while water from a vehicle cannon shoots down at the figure. (Art done by Joann Lee Kim).

Joann Lee Kim has a stunning body of work, do yourself a favour and wander over for a long look. I came across Ms. Kim’s work at The Establishment, specifically an article by Dae Shik Kim Hawkins Jr., about the days when 500 ministers descended on the NoDapl camp. I was there for that, and talked to several of the ministers. The ones I spoke with all seemed rather dazed and overcome by everything happening at the camps. The particular perspective of the article is an interesting one, and quite important, I think: Christianity Is Co-opting The Justice Movement. It’s an excellent article. Solidarity is more important than ever, as is making sure that solidarity is intersectional and inclusive. When it comes to christian involvement in major social justice fights, particularly indigenous ones, it is very important that attention is seriously paid to the colonial roots and colonial mindset which still rules most peoples’ thinking and actions, especially those of churches.

Have a read, highly recommended. And when you’re done, have a look around at the rest of The Establishment, a lot of good writing going on there.

Gabriel García Márquez.

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He would have been 90 years old today. In reading a remembrance, there was this particular quote:

“The more power you have, the harder it is to know who is lying to you and who is not. When you reach absolute power, there is no contact with reality, and that’s the worst kind of solitude there can be. A very powerful person, a dictator, is surrounded by interests and people whose final aim is to isolate him from reality; everything is in concert to isolate him.”

— From The Paris Review Interviews, Gabriel García Márquez, The Art of Fiction No. 69

How very apt.

Not Quite A Babelfish…

A science-fiction staple has inched closer to reality with the reveal of a prototype in-ear wearable that translates languages almost instantly.

Acting in a similar manner to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’s babelfish or Star Trek’s Universal Translator, startup company Waverly Labs‘ Pilot earpiece sits in the ear to translate spoken foreign languages to the wearer.

This is pretty exciting! You can read much more at Dezeen.