Archive for April, 2013

What’s in a name?

My apologies to The Bard but I have no idea what the best answer to his query is.

What I do have at my disposal is a ceditra entry from two years ago. My random process for selecting subjects to write about (which still smells as sweet as a rose despite whatever it is called) landed me on page 203 of the book Boyd’s Curiosity Shop which states…


Hells Canyon” originally was “Hellers Canyon” – in memory of an early Idaho miner.

First question…Was the canyon named for the miner Heller because this eponymous gentleman dies in said geographical feature?

Second question…Was this chap Heller related in any way to the only other famous Heller I can think of – the author of Catch-22, Joseph Heller?

Third question…How did the name morph from its original designation to the appellation we have today?

Why do names change?

Throughout history, people have altered what places have been called for one reason or another.

I’m not even going to dive into the “euphemism” phenomenon expertly articulated by George Carlin where the horrors of certain conditions are softened via linguistic obfuscation (i.e., “shell shock” become “post-traumatic stress disorder”).

One obvious reason why names change is for political reasons, also known as “winner’s prerogative”. After the Russian Revolution, St. Petersburg was renamed Leningrad. After the Soviet Union broke up (but continues to remain good friends despite the fact that Tajikistan still has Russia’s albums and Ayn Rand books), the name was changed back.

Another reason is for cultural sensitivity. Aboriginal names are starting to make a comeback and replace the names imposed upon them by Western explorers. Ayers Rock in Australia is being known again as Uluru. Alaska’s Mount McKinley becomes Denali and India is now referring to Bombay as Mumbai.


Of course Constantinople is now called Istanbul. Why? It’s nobody’s business but the Turks.

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Boston Tidbits

Random thoughts about the news coverage regarding the bombings at the Boston Marathon

Lawbreakers Lawbreaking?

I have written before about my desire for journalists to delete the anonymous source from their reporting.

This article from the Los Angeles Times has following three paragraphs:

The CIA shared all the information provided by the foreign government including two possible dates of birth, his name and a possible name variant as well, an official said

FBI and Russian security services have been conducting interviews separately in the Dagestan area since the Tsarnaev brothers became suspects in the bombings last week, according to a federal law enforcement official.

The officials asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation.

Read those paragraphs again and you will learn that these unnamed officials are providing information to outside sources when they have not been authorized to disseminate such data.

What other federal officials have provided information to outsiders when they weren’t authorized to do it?

Bradley Manning who currently sits in jail…
John Kiriakou who was sentenced to thirty months…
Thomas Drake who had charges against him dropped…

Notice that the above troika were all charged with crimes.

Why is it that none of the unnamed officials in the Times story have to worry about being hauled in front of a judicial proceedings? Why is it okay for an anonymous federal official to blab to Times staff about what the CIA, FBI, and Russian security services knows but it was not okay for PFC Manning to give his material to WikiLeaks?

Is Dick Van Dyke His Role Model?

On a lighter note…

This article from The New York Times has this sentence (on page 2 of the online article)…

Mike Doucette, 27, a chimney sweep who lives on the street, described seeing one brother shot and fall to the ground.

What the Dickens?!? In the second decade of the 21st Century, there are still chimney sweeps? Not only that, but there are  chimney sweeps in the United States of America?

Who knew?

And does Mr. Doucette sing “Chim Chim Chir-ee“?

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Here’s a question for you.

What’s the difference between the FBI and reddit?

When reddit accuses a person of a heinous crime and gets it wrong, an apology follows.

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The news continues to be full of stories about rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula with the regime in North Korea issuing dire threats and the United States requesting dialogue with conditions Commentators wonder when war will break out.

However, I will offer up the following indicator that shows that the folks over in Pyongyang will not purposefully start a military conflict.

As long as this event – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Amateur Golf Open – is still being advertised as up and running, then one can be assured that the new leader of the DPRK will not let slip the dogs of war.

Because nothing cools the enthusiasm of an amateur duffer (or thier hosts) than rockets falling on the back nine.

In case you have no plans for May 25 – 27 of this year, this is how you can enter.

This tournament will be held at North Korea’s only golf course, Pyongyang Golf Complex, which was opened in 1987.

Present at the grand opening was the then-leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il, who baptized the course by scoring a blistering 38-under par including a mind-boggling eleven (there’s your number for the day) holes-in-one.

(Please note that the TIME article that I linked to says that the Dear Leader only hit five holes-in-one, but that’s only because it’s a magazine that prints all the imperial pig lies.)

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A pair of years ago, I postulated the creation of Loss and Remembrance Week – a time set aside to reflect “…on the harm, loss, and tragedy that anger has done to our country and its citizens.”

I chose the time period of April 16 through 22 because of a collection of events that happened during that time frame in various years. My initial quartet of events for Loss and Remembrance Week were…

…the shootings at Virginia Tech (April 16, 2007);
…the siege at Waco (April 19, 1993);
…the bombing in Oklahoma City (April 19, 1995), and;
…the shootings at Columbine High School (April 20, 1999)

To this foursome, I would now like to add the following event that also transpired during this seven-day period.

On April 18, 1983, the United States Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, was attacked by a suicide bomber. The explosion killed 63 people including 17 Americans.

As I wrote two years ago, “We can’t bring them back, but we can remember.”

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Marquee Recycling

Just because I can, I decided to imagine what would happen if an owner of a movie theater wanted to show a certain trio of films for a festival but the marquee only had a limited amount of space. Obviously, the owner would have to be creative and double up on words.

Here is what I came up with…

Gone Baby Gone With The Wind In The Willows

The Once and Future King and I Was a Teenage Werewolf

Plan 9 From Outer Spaceballs of Fury

Raise the Red Green Mile Lantern

Just Rango With It Came From Outer Space

Raising Arizona Dreamscape

Penn & Teller Get Who Killed the Electric Car 54, Where Are You?

The Pope Must Die(t) Another Day of the Living Dead

When a Batman Loves a Woman in Berlin

The Pineapple Midnight in Paris Express

Moscow on the Hudson Ladyhawke

…and as a special treat, here is a recycled marquee with four titles…

Dirty Harry Potter and the Sword in the Sorcerer’s Apprentince Stone

If you have any other suggestions, please go ahead and drop them off in the Comments section.

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Tripping through the Web is one of my fun activities. Poking through the nooks and crannies of the Internet turns up some interesting items, especially when I turn my electronic spotlight on the halls of American government.

Case in point today is the White House.

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue puts out press releases and other announcements on a daily basis. On March 28, the Office of the Press Secretary put out this communication which creates the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

“Yeah,” he writes with sarcasm, “another commission created by the White House.”

Part of the release states that the mission of the Commission – whose acronym is PCEA – is to…

…identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections in order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots without undue delay…

Further down in the announcement, it states that PCEA can consider…

…the number, location, management, operation, and design of polling places;
…the training, recruitment, and number of poll workers;
…the efficient management of voter rolls and poll books;
…voting machine capacity and technology;

Now, please correct me if I am wrong (feel free to leave your pleasant feedback in the Comments section), but aren’t all elections the responsibility of the states or local authorities? Heck, even a Presidential election is actually fifty-one separate elections run by the fifty states and the District of Columbia.

So, doesn’t it seem like an intrusion of the federal government into the state’s sphere by coming up with recommendations about elections? A story from POLITICO ends with that same thought as Jennifer Epstein writes, “Most election laws are determined by states and local jurisdictions, and even where the federal government does have oversight…”

The release from the White House says that the Commission will be advisory in nature so there is nothing mandatory about PCEA’s ideas. What that means is that the end result here is that (at most) nine people will get together, hold meetings, chat, debate, and create a document that would become a weighty doorstop if people still used doorstops.

However, there is one person who expressed his support for PCEA. Perhaps President Obama can name him to the commission.

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