Kate’s Joke

It’s St. Patrick’s Day. or near enough. Here’s a joke Kate’s been telling (giving credit where she feels it’s due, she heard it on Garrison Keillor’s show):

An Irishman is driving to a meeting. He’s late and can’t find a parking place anywhere. In desperation, he cries, “Lord, if you find me a place to park, I’ll go to church every Sunday and give up drinking whiskey for the rest of my life.”

He turns the corner, and — miracle of miracles — he sees a parking space.

“Never mind, Lord,” the Irishman says, “I just found a spot.”

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On the Hustings

In that little reading list item on the left side of the page — “Daily Kos: 36 Months of Desperately Deadly Delusions” — I found myself using the expression “on the hustings.” Whence does it come?

Brief online researches disclose (for instance, at Word Detective; see the very bottom item of this August 11, 2000 post) that its origins lie in Old Norse (as do those of the House of Brekke, but that’s a longer story). The Oxford English Dictionary has this to say, in an entry that all told runs to more than 1,400 words:

“Old English. hústing, a. Old Norse. hús-thing, house-assembly, a council held by a king, earl, or other leader, and attended by his immediate followers, retainers, etc., in distinction from the ordinary thing or general assembly of the people.”

The OED entry explains that the word evolved over the centuries in English (and England), with meanings including a court of appeals and London’s supreme court; the area in London’s Guildhall inwhich the court was held; the platform in the Guildhall in which London’s mayor and aldermen met; and finally, getting us to the modern political campaign meeting, a platform upon which candidates for Parliament would appear before voters.

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‘Lend Me Your Ears’

This being the day it is, I started to think about Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” and the line, “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” I looked it up to make sure I had it right (I didn’t). I read the scene, which I saw performed once, about 10 years ago, during the late, lamented Berkeley Shakespeare Festival. Unfamiliar with it then, I found it thrilling. And it still is: the purity of the calculation in Antony’s speech, the thoroughness of his triumph as a demagogue, his mastery over the mob.

“Julius Caesar,” Act III, Scene II:


“…Hear me for my cause; and be silent, that you may hear: believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and awake your senses, that you may the better judge. If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Cæsar’s, to him I say, that Brutus’ love to Cæsar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Cæsar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Cæsar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Cæsar were living, and die all slaves, than that Cæsar were dead, to live all free men? As Cæsar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition. Who is here so base that would be a bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so vile that will not love his country? If any, speak; for him have I offended. I pause for a reply. … ”

[Enter Antony and others, with Caesar’s body.]

“…Here comes his body, mourned by Mark Antony: who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the common wealth; as which of you shall not? With this I depart: that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.”


“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

I come to bury Cæsar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them,

The good is oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with Cæsar. The noble Brutus

Hath told you Cæsar was ambitious;

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath Cæsar answer’d it.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,—

For Brutus is an honourable man;

So are they all, all honourable men,—

Come I to speak in Cæsar’s funeral.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me:

But Brutus says he was ambitious;

And Brutus is an honourable man.

He hath brought many captives home to Rome,

Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:

Did this in Cæsar seem ambitious?

When that the poor have cried, Cæsar hath wept;

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;

And Brutus is an honourable man.

You all did see that on the Lupercal

I thrice presented him a kingly crown,

Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;

And, sure, he is an honourable man.

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know.

You all did love him once, not without cause:

What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?

“… They that have done this deed are honourable:

What private griefs they have, alas! I know not,

That made them do it; they are wise and honourable,

And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.

I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:

I am no orator, as Brutus is;

But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,

That love my friend; and that they know full well

That gave me public leave to speak of him.

For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,

Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,

To stir men’s blood: I only speak right on;

I tell you that which you yourselves do know,

Show you sweet Cæsar’s wounds, poor poor dumb mouths,

And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,

And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony

Would ruffle up your spirits, and put a tongue

In every wound of Cæsar, that should move

The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.”

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Newscast Gone Bad, Again

A reader writes, regarding Leslie Griffith of KTVU’s “The 10 O’Clock News” :

“Tonight there was a broadcast item about a developer who was going to preserve the cultural elements of what they were buying — in ‘Chinatown,’ according to Leslie.

“Then the pictures come on the screen — of Japantown. Oy, Leslie. Has it come to this? You can’t even recognize iconic cultural elements? The Peace Tower in Japantown, and you still call it Chinatown. Multiple times??”

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My friend and fellow cyclist Bruce Berg and I took a long driving trip to reconnoiter a route for a 24-hour ride we’re planning for mid-April. Our route takes us across the Sacramento Valley on back roads between the towns of Colusa and Yuba City. Here’s part of the route — Pass Road, about 10 miles west of the little town of Sutter. The suggestion of a mountain rising into the clouds on the left is one of the Sutter Buttes, a pocket mountain range that rises up from the table-flat valley. Needless to say, I hope, we took a look at the road here and decide that even though it didn’t look too deep for the 400 or 500 yards that the pavement was covered, we probably didn’t want to venture in.

Just to be clear: This isn’t the river proper, but the Sutter Bypass, one of a number of engineered channels that divert water from the main stream when the Sacramento is near flood stage. It’s a reminder of the natural state of the valley before settlers arrived and went to work improving it: In the wintertime, all the water running into it from the upland rivers would collect and turn it into a giant shallow sea — hundreds of miles long and as much as 120 miles wide.

An example: We noticed a historical marker yesterday for Johnson’s Ranch, renowned as one of the earliest American settlements in the valley and as the place to which the Donner Party survivors were first brought after their rescue. In looking up some details about that story, I found an account that talked about the flooding in the valley in the late winter and early spring of 1847:

“At Johnson’s Ranch there were only three or four families of poor emigrants. Nothing could be done toward relieving those at Donner Lake until help could arrive from Sutter’s Fort. A rainy winter had flooded Bear River, and rendered the Sacramento plains a vast quagmire. Yet one man volunteered to go to Sacramento with the tale of horror, and get men and provisions. This man was John Rhodes. Lashing two pine logs together with rawhides, and forming a raft, John Rhodes was ferried over Bear River. Taking his shoes in his hands, and rolling his pants up above his knees, he started on foot through water that frequently was from one to three feet deep. Some time during the night he reached the Fort.”

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ACLU Pizza

AdCritic Interactive.

Worth checking out: A nice little piece of 1984, by way of the ACLU and AdCritic.org. What happens when — through a combination of public acquiescence and very aggressive government and industry initiatives — nearly everything about us winds up in databases that nearly anyone can access for a price?

Snow: Profoundly Shocking

I’ve occasionally wondered what would happen out here on the roads if it snowed. Really snowed, I mean, with snow on the streets down by the bayside and not just up on a distant peak where it’s striking but not quite real. Travel? Impossible in an area with hilly terrain and drivers who generally have no experience driving in truly wintry conditions.

So Friday night/early Saturday morning, it was cold here. In the mid-30s, say. Not so cold you’d expect a snowstorm, but cold enough that the forecast brought the possibility of snow down to the 500-foot level. The road that runs near the top of the Berkeley Hills, Grizzly Peak Boulevard, tops out at about 1,700 feet, and sure enough, when our neighbors Piero and Jill drove up there, they saw a little snow-like material along the road. But nothing dramatic. No, the dramatic stuff was over on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

If you haven’t been there, the bridge on its north side is built at the foot of a mountain. The highway, U.S. 101, climbs up a grade to go through a tunnel blasted through the ridge. On the north side, the road descends very sharply — from just over 600 feet down to sea level in about a mile and three-quarters — close to a 7 percent grade. Last night, that’s where the snow happened, apparently very suddenly just before 2:30 in the morning. And here, as narrated by the Chronicle, is what occurred when traffic was added to the weather:

“San Francisco cabbie Mort Weinstein had picked up a fare at Fisherman’s Wharf and was headed to Marin City early Saturday when he emerged from the Waldo Tunnel on Highway 101 to find himself in a freak blizzard.

“Slushy snow coated a hillside illuminated by the taillights of panicked drivers careering out of control. Weinstein hit the brakes, but there was nothing he could do.

” ‘There were four to five cars already colliding with each other,’ Weinstein, 51, recalled. ‘My car wheels locked. I started to slide. The front of the car careened off the rear of another car. It was such a profoundly shocking event. Nothing like this has ever happened here.’ ”

Twenty-eight cars piled up. Two people were killed and a dozen injured. The road was closed for 11 hours while the wreckage was cleared.

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Snow in Eugene

Thom called this morning to report that he woke up to a snowy landscape outside his dorm in Eugene, Tingle Hall (one of the best dorm names ever). The proof:

Snow in Eugene

Eugene’s pretty far north; something like 44 or 45 degrees, so well above the latitude of Chicago. But it’s low, only about 400 to 500 feet above sea level. And like the rest of the climate west of the big western mountain ranges (up there the Cascades, down here the Sierra), the proximity to the Pacific is a dominant factor. So: Snow is unusual up there. Not an extraordinary rarity, as it is in the Bay Area (though it does snow up in the hills here, and the same storm that’s making winter up in Oregon is supposed to drop snow here at elevations above 1,000 feet today and tonight).

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The Day So Far

Inquiring minds want to know (a phrase that originated with the National Enquirer, unauthoritatively speaking). And in their quest, sometimes they show up here. Just because I’ve been thinking about it lately, here are the keywords in searches that led people to Infospigot today. Based on these, I’m guessing that Pekin (Illinois) High School is having a good season in basketball.

What I also note is the implied question mark in so many of these searches; I often wish I could answer the queries. For instance, today’s best pseudo inquiry: “info about james k polk Did he win the Nobel Peace Prize.”


Maybe I’ll do the Q and A thing at a later date.

picturegate film

pekin chinks

map of hurricane wilmas movements longitude and latitude

tom hanks oscars angry

does this make my ass look big

info about james k polk Did he win the Nobel Peace Prize

look pedals failure

cubs mug 24

double-ought buck shot

video of lawrence taylor ending joe theisman s career

wrigley field clothespins

theisman broken leg picture

inside St. peter s Basilica

dollars to donuts origins

james mcgreevy hernia

jack bauer and tony almeida layouts

presidents week 2006

the president had chestnut hair and the first lady was radiant in a pink

leslie griffith news anchor

nick berg video kodak


whatever it is I m against it

tom hanks cursing at jon stewart

152 anniversary of battle of antietam music feature audio

comet sighting 2006

rhapsody phone number

tom hanks angry at 2006 oscars

southern indiana jeffersonville retreat louisville monastery abbey

joe Theisman broken leg

walter anderson and jail

carlos bernard interview 2006

Pekin Chinks Basketball

joe theisman s broken leg

Pekin Chinks in 1967 state playoffs

24 drinking game