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Blame the Good Sisters.


Let me preface my remarks about how they ruined the English language by saying I love nuns. Especially the Sisters of the Holy Child Jesus who taught me in grammar school. Smart, smiling, interested in you, dedicated. Every World Series, they lugged in TVs from God-knows-where and we watched every inning. That was when the game was played under the sun, the way God wants it. The nuns knew how to swing a bat … in the case of the classroom, a yard-stick that would crush the knuckles of us, the many, the happy class clowns (most everybody because most everybody was Irish). Contrary to disinformation spread by a few bitter old men, we weren’t traumatized by the Sisters’ corporal calls to order. It was the cost of doing business, the entertainment business. Anyways, those smacks didn’t smart half as much as dear old dad’s belt bashing one’s buttocks.  Those were the days!

Now, to the point. Why do the likes of The Washington Post, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal write things like: The deal was closed between he and they?

Jamie Trickett would say: No, Sistah, we weren’t fighting–me and him are cousins.  Sister Mary Francis would say: He and I are cousins. Repeat after me: He and I are cousins. He and I are cousins. He and I are cousins. He and I are cousins.

Richie Meelia would say: Motha, Danny and me went to Russo’s and got this candy because my motha’s sick and I didn’t have any lunch. Mother Mary Cabrini would say: Danny and I went to Russo’s. Richie would say: Did you get some Flavah-Pops, Mothah? Step, step, step and WHACK! Repeat after me: Danny and I went to Russo’s. Danny and I went to Russo’s. And you, Mr. Meelia, write it on the blackboard until your arm falls off. Richie thought it was worth it and all the boys just knew she thought it was funny.

All across the country, nuns drilled the troops: He and I, he and I, you and I, we and they were tied in the ninth, she and you should stop fighting, we and she, we and you, you and they, they and I, she and I, your sister and we!! I and they!!! The nominative case was burned into the very synapses of our hypothalamus. Goodbye, accusative or objective case. Hello, Washington Post: … [it] was between he and she. Hello, New York Times: …  the facts contradict he and they alike. Hello, bloggers … you’re unspeakable!

Half the nuns were French Canadian and half were Irish, so they all must have hated the English. They struck back at the oppressors by undermining their language through a secret, subtle, clever strategy. A lousy writer is only a pawn in the Good Sisters’ game. Don’t blame anybody but they.

News You May Have Missed in 2005


At a new theme park in El Alberto,
Mexico (near Mexico City), wannabe migrants to the United States can
test their survival skills at an obstacle course that replicates the
rigors migrants must endure while sneaking across the border. Admission
price: about $13.50.
–Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Feb. 20

Yamaha Corp. introduced the MyRoom, a customizable, soundproof,
shed-like structure with 27 square feet of floor space, to install
inside notoriously crowded Japanese homes, for privacy (or to be exiled
to). The company expects a sales surge in 2006, when Japan’s first wave
of baby-boom salarymen retire and begin annoying their spouses at home.
–Times (London), May 27

Thirty-five Greenpeace activists rushed onto the floor of the
International Petroleum Exchange in London intending to paralyze oil
trading on the day the Kyoto environmental initiative took effect, but
several traders turned on them, punching and kicking the protesters
until they ran for their lives. (One activist was hospitalized with a
suspected broken jaw, another with a concussion.) Said one understated
Greenpeacer, “I’ve never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our
point of view.”
–Associated Press, Feb. 16; Times (London), Feb. 17

Bush Sells Louisiana Back to French


BATON ROUGE, LA. – The White House announced today that President Bush
has successfully sold the state of Louisiana back to the French at more
than double its original selling price of $11,250,000. “This is a bold
step forward for America,” said Bush. “And America will be stronger and
better as a result. I stand here today in unity with French Prime
Minister Jack Sharaq, who was so kind to accept my offer of Louisiana
in exchange for 25 million dollars cash.”The state, ravaged by
Hurricane Katrina, will cost hundreds of billions of dollars to

“Jack understands full well that this one’s a ‘fixer upper,'” said
Bush. “He and the French people are quite prepared to pump out all that
water, and make Louisiana a decent place to live again. And they’ve got
a lot of work to do. But Jack’s assured me, if it’s not right, they’re
going to fix it.”The move has been met with incredulity from the
beleaguered residents of Louisiana.However, President Bush’s decision
has been widely lauded by Republicans. “This is an unexpected but
brilliant move by the President,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill
Frist. “Instead of spending billions and billions, and billions of
dollars rebuilding the state of Louisiana, we’ve just made 25 million
dollars in pure profit.”

“This is indeed a smart move,” commented Fox News analyst Brit Hume.
“Not only have we stopped the flooding in our own budget, we’ve made
money on the deal. Plus, when the god-awful French are done fixing it
up, we can easily invade and take it back again.”The money gained from
‘T’he Louisiana Refund’ is expected to be immediately pumped into the
rebuilding of Iraq.

(Fill in the Blanks) at Tiffany’s


(from the table of contents of the March Newsletter of the Kenan Institute)

  • Tiffany & Co. To Continue Moratorium on Purchase of Gemstones Mined in Burma
  • Tiffany’s Says No to Burma’s Blood Gems
  • Tiffany Resumes Buying Gems Mined in Myanmar

I should hope so. They have to make up for losing those blood gems from Burma.

Warfare and development: The long-run impact of bombing Vietnam


Massachusetts Avenue Development Seminar (MADS)

With Edward Miguel, Dept. of Economics, University of California at Berkeley
And Discussant Frederick Brown, Southeast Asia Studies Program, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies

1776 Massachusetts Ave. NW , Third Floor, Washington , D.C.
Thursday, April 7, 2005, 12:00 noon–1:30 p.m. (Lunch will be served)

ABSTRACT: We investigate the impact of U.S. bombing on later economic development in Vietnam. The Vietnam War featured the most intense bombing campaign in military history. We use a unique U.S. military dataset containing bombing intensity at the district level (N=585). We compare the heavily bombed districts to other districts, controlling for baseline demographic characteristics and district geographic factors. U.S. bombing does not have a statistically significant impact on long-run population density, poverty rates, infrastructure, or literacy in the 1990s. This finding suggests that recovery from war damage can be rapid, under certain conditions, although further work is needed to establish the generality of the finding in other settings.
May we suggest Troy?



… In 2001, President Vladimir V. Putin signed into law a bill making it
illegal to employ “electromagnetic, infrasound … radiators” and other
weapons of “psychotronic influence” with intent to cause harm. An
official note attached to the bill said Russian scientists were trying
to create “effective methods of influence of humans at a distance.”

Evidently,  they’ve perfected their close-range methods, and they use them in spite of their illegality.
Remember what President Bush said about his
meeting with Putin.
“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straight forward and trustworthy … I was able to get a sense of his soul.”

The first excerpt, above, is from the L.A. Times: Giving Until It Hurts: Many
Russians are opening their wallets against their will, saying they’re
victims of ‘street hypnosis.’ The problem has deep roots.
We found the article to be … well, fascinating. Click on our title to reach it.

(Compiled by our Dept. of Cheap Shots)

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