The Library Basement
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Tag humor

I pledge allegiance to the metonym and to its referent

I was contemplating the US Pledge of Allegiance today and was struck by something odd. The beginning:

I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America . . .

It is silly to pledge allegiance to a flag, so this is an obvious metonymy for the United States government. But then it continues:

. . . and to the Republic for which it stands . . .

Wait, what? I'm pledging allegiance to the metonym, and to its referent? This makes no sense. I checked the revision history of the pledge, and this twofold distinction has been present since the beginning. Why doesn't this redundancy sound strange to the hundreds of millions who have recited the pledge? Or is there really a distinction in meaning between the flag and the republic for which it stands that I am missing?

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Category: language Tags: humor

Metaphorical Hygiene

From a recent Language Log post:

If someone tells you that one or more languages have no word for X, or if you find yourself using this figure of speech to make a social or cultural point, you should seek metaphysical treatment immediately.

Share your favorite language's word for diarrhea there.

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Category: language Tags: humor

The Green Bible

Branded Bibles are the epitome of American capitalism in the modern age. The phenomenon has already gone from tragedy to farce. You cannot really blame the publishers. What better partner for a cross product promotion than God?

So allow me to coin this rule: whenever a concept gets its own branded Bible, that concept is officially mainstream in the American market.

The other night I saw that there is a now a "Green" Bible. It is an edition of the NRSV (of course) which is manufactured in an environmentally friendly way. A new notation system arrives in the form of the green letter edition ("verses and passages that speak to God’s care for creation highlighted in green").

Yes, "green" as a consumer philosophy has made it big time in America.

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Category: κτλ Tags: humor

Huck Finn: Python edition

Someone proposed a Kickstarter project to replace the "n-word" with "robot" in Huck Finn. The project is in the vein of other recent humorous edits of literature in the public domain, though they claim to have an altruistic goal - to get the redacted version of the story back into the hands of kids everywhere. You can even get your name added as a minor character to the book if you donate enough to the project! Let's call it "benevolent censorship". Or maybe "the rape of the public domain." Actually, best not to describe it at all.

The scope of the project includes comissioning an introduction, altering illustrations, and editing the text. Well, I can help with one part of that. The full text of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is available on Project Gutenberg. I've written [a short Python script to replace every instance of the n-word with "robot."][]

Just run it and then you'll have a nice txt file of the robot edition. There, now the editing part is done. Can I get my name added as a townsperson?

[a short Python script to replace every instance of the n-word with "robot."]: http://thelibrarybasement.com/images/2011/02/robot_huck_finn.py_.txt

God is in love with America

My wife and I spotted this Valentine's Day decoration on a neighborhood walk:

[![Banner saying "God bless America" with heart shapes an an American flag Motif][]][]Yes, it is the unholy alliance of religion, nationalism, and consumeristic romance.

[Banner saying "God bless America" with heart shapes an an American flag Motif]: http://thelibrarybasement.com/images/2011/02/P1010637-212x300.jpg "Banner saying "God bless America" with heart shapes an an American flag Motif" [![Banner saying "God bless America" with heart shapes an an American flag Motif][]]: http://thelibrarybasement.com/images/2011/02/P1010637.jpg

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Category: κτλ Tags: humor

Language cliché

The Chinese word for "crisis" is composed of elements that signify "cliché" and "etymological fallacy."

The Big Business of the Bible

The Bible is a consumer product. Publishers want you to buy one or more, and they have just the product for you:

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