f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 28, 2006

we’ve got questions

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 2:17 pm

 In a couple months, millions of Americans will ask the question:

When is the 4th of July?“. The week, in Mexico and across the

United States, I wonder who’s asking “When is Cinco de Mayo?


[Last year, f/k/a celebrated on May fourth.]

tiny check Why do so many news broadcasters — from PBS‘s Jim Lehrer

to ABC‘s Elizabeth Vargas — end their show by saying “we’ll see

you here tomorrow”? Yes, the transitive verb “see” does have many

meanings, but not one of them is “be watched by you.” Giving

the broadcasters the benefit of the doubt, I suppose they might

mean “we’ll perceive or visualize you being in our audience.” But,

that’s stretching it.



– Prof. Yabut Language Rule of Thumb: If you are in the

business of communicating with words, try really hard

not to take a common word and use it in a way that is

the exact opposite of its most common meaning.


– The f/k/a Gang swears never to use the phrase “we’ll

see you here tomorrow.” We might say: “Come back

and let our StatCounter perceive your presence.”


– Maybe Mark Liberman at Language Log can explain (or,

more likely, explain away) this language problem for us.


updates (May 1, 2006): Scroll down to the little microphone at our

sunday buffet post (April 30, 2006) for our response to Prof. Mark

Liberman’s heroic attempt at Language Log to answer our plaintive

question about “see you here tomorrow.”


And, see Mark Kay’s supplemental post at Language Log (May 1, 2006),

which focuses on the “here” rather than the “now.” and explains that the

broadcasters are trying to maintain “the pretense of a face-to-face encounter.

Prof. Kay (who is an expert in the fascinating field of color naming) concludes:

“It seems like a pretty harmless fiction: “I’m right there in your living

room, so I’m entitled to refer to your living room as ‘here’.”

Your Humble Editor must be overplaying the humilty pretense around here.

I sure hope that readers, including the Language Log professors, didn’t

come away from my original question above thinking that I wasn’t aware of

the pretense and manipulation that were the purpose behind the “harmless

fiction” of saying “see you here tomorrow.” My concern is with the resultant

deterioration in what I believe should be the primary purpose of non-fictional

and non-literary language: the accurate representation of reality. (Perhaps,

my legal and consumer-advocacy background makes me particularly sensitive

to manipulation of words aimed at the public. Haiku’s dedication to what is

actually being perceived by our senses surely increases that sensitivity.) Enter-

tainers, such as Mark’s example of Hank Williams, are expected to use pretense

in creating their product and enticing return customers. Are journalists?


microphoneN  Why would we want to make excuses for people who pride themselves on being

real journalists and presenting facts, when they are twisting the customary meaning

of words, merely to get the viewer to have warm fuzzies and return the next night?

It is not as if there are no easy, accurate alternative phrases that would also create

a feeling of intimacy or immediacy. Even if there weren’t, this member of the news-

broadcast audience just wants the facts — and wants words (especially those that

are used frequently) to have reliable meanings. As we stated at the top of this blurb:

None of the dictionary meanings of the phrase “see you” is “to be seen by you.” At

least, not yet.


questionDudeSN After all our preaching, why oh why, would anyone name

their weblog The Blogs Blog, and compound the error with the tagline –

“Blogging the Blogs of the web” ? Talk about needing to go hug a toilet


tiny check Despite that quibble, we want to thank the editor at TheBB

for pointing to this humble weblog yesterday. However, and

despite not wanting to look a gift link in the mouth, it was

sort of strange for this weblogiverse old-timer to read this


Ethics Blog Surfaces

ethicalESQ is a new blog by David Giacalone,

who promises a blog with practical treatment of

ethics issues.

We’ve had so many birthdays by weblog standards, that

the Gang plans to let our 3rd pass by unmentioned in about

four weeks.


fedupski Are the participants in today Bloggership Conference (via TaxProf)

at Harvard Law School following the ABA’s very useful guidelines for

Participating in a Dialogue? [Aside: 3L Epiphany has an interesting

interview with Judge Richard G. Kopf (U.S. District Judge, Nebraska) on

legal weblogs as secondary sources of legal authority. via Inside Opinion)




tiny check Why did someone Google Elle Woods and cinematic role of women

lawyers>? And, was the first result — our post discussing the article

Court TV’s 15 Most Memorable Movie Lawyers” (Hollywood Heat, by

Daniel Green, May 12, 2005), at all helpful?

tiny check When will we get a movie with a female law professor

protagonist? How about a female law professor-weblogger?


“questionDudeS” How much clout does Blawg Review have in the world of legal

weblogs? So many people link to each new edition of Blawg Review, that it

appears The Blawg Republic had to reverse its policy of ignoring f/k/a links,

as of the day we hosted Blawg Review #52. Here are the facts:

As explained on May, 24, 2005, in “free speech in the Blawg Republic,”
BR had stopped listing new f/k/a posts on Feb. 11, 2005, the day after
I left a Comment at Bob Ambrogi’s website questioning the usefulness
of their service. Then, shortly after I wrote the “free speech” piece, all
of the links to f/k/a postings were removed from the Blawg Republic
Legal Ethics page, and only the actual name of the weblog and its tagline
remained. However, I hosted Blawg Review #52 on April 10, 2006, and
dozens of weblogs pointed to #52 and f/k/a. The next day, the Blawg
Review editor wrote me to say he noticed that the Blawg Republic started
picking up my posts again on April 11, 2006.

[Yes, it is very hard to write about BR and BR and not get the
names mixed up. In this post, I have only used the initials “BR”
to refer to Blawg Republic — I think.]

I hope mature heads at BR decided a little constructive criticism is a
fairly stupid reason to ostracize a weblog. We’ll see. Meanwhile f/k/a
is the only weblog listed on Blawg Republic‘s Legal Ethics page that
has posted in many weeks. And, it’s nice to see that we can still pretty
much fill up its Top Blawg Posts page just by pointing other weblogs.



 Last question: Why have we waited so long to thank everyone

who said such nice things about BR#52 and f/k/a in general? We have

no good excuse — not even a note from our doctor (and believe me, Mama

Giacalone raised us all to be more polite). Here’s an official Very Big Hug

and Thankyou to all those who pointed to Blawg Review #52! Special thanks

go out to JD Hull at What About Clients? On days when making a weblog

seems too much of an effort, I shall click on this post from WAC? and keep

on typing, with a smile.

update question (April 29, 2006): Why are so many people so upset about

a Spanish version of our National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner? Eric

Bakovic at Language Log has a very interesting discussion of the “value” of

singing the new Spanish version, “Nuestro Himno” (“Our Anthem”). Eric

presents translations, and analyses of quotes from dissenters like G.W. Bush

and Francis Scott Key’s great-great-grandson George Key.


more: Ben Zimmer at Language Log adds an interesting twist

to this story. Using a better source than Washington Post‘s

David Montgomery, Ben says:

“I don’t know which ‘musicologists’ Montgomery consulted,

but Wikipedians have had better luck finding other foreign-

language versions of the anthem. So far contributors to the

Wikipedia page for Nuestro Himno” have turned up examples

in German, Yiddish, Samoan, French, and Latin. Not only that,

they discovered a number of other Spanish versions reproduced

on the website of the U.S. State Department. (Will this page be

removed now that President Bush has declared that the anthem

“ought to be sung in English”?)


tiny check (5 PM): As promised, poetry from our ever-questioning,

always-insightful Honored Guest Pamela Miller Ness:

Beach picnic
sharing our bread
with the one-eyed gull







Landing on the lintel

a pigeon and its shadow

become one

after her death

composing roses

instead of words



Mother’s library
I tuck
the ribbon I gave her
into a new book.

– from unrolling the awning, (Grand Central Station Tanka Cafe, 2003)


Alzheimer’s ward
again father counts
the afghan squares

Pamela Miller Ness

“beach picnic” & “landing” from her sequence “A Flutter of Wings

“after her death from “where the lily was,” a haiku sequence (2003)

“alzheimer’s ward” – bottle rockets II:1; A New Resonance 2
“packing” – tanka from Simply Haiku (Vol. 2: 3)




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