Wednesday, July 11, 2012


The other day my friends on Facebook started one of those conversations about how awful are the negative political ads these days.  In order to refute this (as far as I know, American political discourse has always been pretty rough, starting with the first election after George Washington), I Googled "political insults" and came up with Rosemarie Ostler's new book, Slinging Mud:  Rude Nicknames, Scurrilous Slogans, and Insulting Slang from Two Centuries of American Politics.  I may have to get that, or at least borrow from the library.

I also found an article by Ms. Ostler on HuffPo entitled 12 Classic Political Insults, from which I absolutely must share a neologism from the 1890s:  snollygostersA "snollygoster" is "a fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principles, and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnancy."

I have to confess, I thought of Mitt Romney. 

But my real point is:  politics today isn't any nastier than it ever was.  It's just louder because of 24-hour cable news and the Internet.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Our Sympathies to Colorado Springs

I live in the Oakland Hills.  I lived in the Oakland Hills in 1991.  I saw the smoke cover the sky.  I heard the explosions as cars and transformers blew, up the hill.  I remember packing the car, and wondering if the fire would come down the canyon to us.  (It didn't. The wind shifted.  We were lucky.)  I remember unpacking the car and realizing I'd forgotten to pack all the family photo albums; that was a queasy feeling.

Speaking entirely unofficially from all of us in Oakland who lived through that fire (and on behalf of those who died), I express our deep sympathies to the people of Colorado Springs.  We have been there.  We feel your pain.  We hope they get your fire under control soon.