Aussterity Measures

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Brett McS sent me this news from Oz, where the prime minister flies budget and takes out his own garbage.
Since he became prime minister, Mr Abbott and his family have continued to live ordinary family lives as much as possible. He has been photographed taking out the rubbish outside his suburban Sydney house; his wife, Margie, has been photographed lugging armfuls of shopping bags from the local supermarket.
Mr Abbott's thrifty approach is in line with his political pledges to reduce public spending and cut the civil service. He has reined in travel costs and introduced a rule that ministers must sign off on all civil servants' expenses above £11,000. Any expenses more than £28,000 must be signed off by the prime minister himself.

I'd be impressed, except Brett long ago informed me that that Simpsons Australia episode was pretty much spot-on (see the final minute here).

Can't Take Any Ayn Anymore

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Does Ayn Rand have any actual disciples today?

I'm aware that Alan Greenspan was once in her thrall and her literal circle of admirers and I know that people like Clarence Thomas & Paul Ryan confess Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged had an impact on them in their youth, but they say it in precisely the way other people say they loved Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It's understood they've moved on, and it would be backwards not to have moved on.

When people denounce Conservatives because they like Ayn Rand, isn't that a straw man? Who actually does like Ayn Rand?

Apropos of having seen the umpteenth blog post on Ayn Rand, I have to say I immediately assume anyone who writes such a post does not follow or understand a thing about politics. Am I wrong?

WaPo Editors Don't Know What an Idiom Is

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Surely the stupidest thing WaPo has ever published is this bit of old tosh on the Maryland state motto. Some dude who proclaims himself a translator says it is "sexist in any language." The motto in English is "Strong deeds, gentle words," but the author has himself in a snit because the Italian original is "“Fatti maschii, parole femine."

“Fatti maschii, parole femine” (the second word is pronounced with a hard K sound, “mask-ee”) is an old Italian proverb. According to the state of Maryland, the phrase translates to “strong deeds, gentle words.” Yet this is willfully misleading. The direct translation is hardly gentle: “Manly deeds, womanly words.” I’m a professional literary translator of Italian, but don’t just take it from me.
Giuseppe Patota, the director of the Garzanti Italian Dictionary in Milan, says that the phrase “has distinctly sexist connotations, and the translation proposed by the state of Maryland misses its literal meaning.”
The first comment on the piece gets the only possible reaction just right: "Oh fer crissakes."

Misses the literal meaning? Or accurately translates the meaning of an expression? Have we fallen so far that a linguist, a professional translator and whatever editors might exist at WaPo online can't recognize an idiom when they see it?

Next installments from this guy:
  • Midwesterners are backwards and don't understand biology: elbows don't really have grease. 
  • "To be caught red-handed" is an anti-Native American slur.
The author is said to be working on a book on translation. Oy!

The Pope & The Potus: Protocol Fail?

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Photo credit: CTV, shamelessly pinched from here

How today's encounter between Francis & Obama went depends on who you're reading. "My" side thinks this photo says it all, and reads the Vatican statement on the meeting and, knowing Vatican diplomacy, is pretty sure Francis -- and later his Sec. of State-- was pretty insistent on religious liberty.  

The President said the topic hardly came up (I don't believe him, but since the meeting was private who can disprove it?) and in candor there were plenty of pictures of the Pope smiling with the President. 

Watch the ABC footage provided here though (I'm having trouble embedding.) I call your attention to something else. Two something elses, actually.

First, in the opening seconds, Obama BOWS to the Pope. So this is clearly just what he does, it's not really a bow, it's kind of a head bop, probably a tic he developed because he's tall.

I don't actually think it's in Pope Francis' character to rebuke via grimace -- if that were his intent, the other laughing photos make no sense -- but he does seem oddly subdued with Obama here. What I find odd is that Obama chats and chats and chats sort of nervously and it's obvious the Pope is trying to follow but doesn't really know what he is saying. Finally the interpreter intervenes and Obama laughs at himself and then repeats his pleasantries to her, "Tell him I said....."

Did Obama not know the Pope doesn't speak English?  I am not certain that's what we are witnessing here, but it seems like yet another massive White House protocol fail.  

Update: Shoot. ABC edited the footage so you can't see what I'm talking about. 

Ew, Ew, Ew, Ew & Ew.

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It is the Solemnity of the Annunciation and Eldest Weed is on Spring Break, so we are searching for a movie to watch together and I am reading IMDB parental guidance messages.

Are there any movies anymore where people don't have sex in toilets?

And could there be any more perfect metaphor for the culture than that the highest form of longing anyone can imagine to depict is sex in a toilet?

So gross. The ladies' magazines are always helpfully publishing tests to prove that women's purses are crawling with e.coli from just being set down on sink shelves when we wash our hands. Yet we're supposed to find it "hot" to expose our most intimate selves on the places not good enough for our handbags?

If I can possibly help it, I try not to use a public toilet even for its intended purpose. Bleech.

Behold the Finest in Passive-Aggressive Parenting

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Girl Weed is off to dinner and a movie with some girlfriends.  I just heard myself say to her, "Have fun! Don't let your conscience be destroyed!"

Nope, she's not gonna have any complexes. 

It's Not That Easy Being Green (Any More)

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"Taz," shamelessly pinched from Wiki
After 16 years of Labor or Labor/Green governments, Tasmania just kicked the bums out and elected Conservatives in a landslide. So says special correspondent Brett McS:
It has been a mendicant state for some time. The new government’s platform is to free up the forestry and mining industries that had been shutting down under Green policies. So hopefully they will stop being a drain on the national purse. It’s a beautiful place, but people have to leave to find work.
I'd like to find that heartening: people waking up to common sense and all. But 16 years it took 'em? Argh.

I was amused by Brett's ancillary comment about telling an American he has a sister in Tasmania:
“Tasmania! That’s like … the end of the earth!”. I gather that “Tasmania” is a byword for “remote.”
I had to confess that to me, Tasmania conjures up only this fellow, who doesn't really seem like a Labor man.