Friday, October 23, 2009


I am driving a l-o-n-g w-a-y (Chicago to Phoenix) with my daughter and father, so we have the sky to talk about. As my dad and daughter were talking about some episodes of Cops, I was thinking those shows about people being arrested or getting traffic tickets are forms of epicaricacy, or for the Germans, Schadenfreude. Why would people watch those shows if they didn't enjoy them? They are getting enjoyment out of others' misfortunes. How sad.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Schadenfreude isn't understood?

Rick Morrissey writes on the Sports pages of the Tribune and today wrote about 2 football players who were traded to other teams and now are doing well. He said, "Going into the season, the situation was ripe for schadenfreude - the enjoyment of other people's misfortune - but Orton and Favre have gone and spoiled it by succeeding." First of all, you have to explain its definition??? I can see it for epicaricacy, but not for Schadenfreude. Secondly, is there a word for when you expect to enjoy others' misfortune, but it's foiled? There should be! We've all felt it (or most of us). Some arrogant jerk is about to lose at something...and you're ready to be so happy...then BAM! He wins! Ugh! [I've also been using "ugh" a lot lately!]

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Limericks and Poetry

Oh why do those lim'ricks affect me?
They bullyrag, plague and dissect me.
When writing for fun,
I can't be outdone!
Oh please don't you say they reflect me!

Oh, well.

Here's a nice link from WC on a poem, "The Death of a Toad." The author's description of why he wrote it, and what was on his mind, is really elucidating. I like the poem much better now. Here it is:

The Death of a Toad
Richard Wilbur

A toad the power mower caught,
Chewed and clipped of a leg, with a hobbling hop has got
To the garden verge, and sanctuaried him
Under the cineraria leaves, in the shade
Of the ashen and heartshaped leaves, in a dim,
Low, and a final glade.

The rare original heartsbleed goes,
Spends in the earthen hide, in the folds and wizenings, flows
In the gutters of the banked and staring eyes. He lies
As still as if he would return to stone,
And soundlessly attending, dies
Toward some deep monotone,

Toward misted and ebullient seas
And cooling shores, toward lost Amphibia's emperies.
Day dwindles, drowning and at length is gone
In the wide and antique eyes, which still appear
To watch, across the castrate lawn,
The haggard daylight steer.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Internet Anonymity

There has been a case in Illinois about a local (very local!) politician who was involved in a particularly vicious campaign. In the heat of the moment, someone posted a "deeply disturbing" comment about this politician's 15-year-old son. The culprit (the court described the poster as "he") has remained anonymous and is sending his attorney to the courts. So far the judge knows the identity of the poster, and on November 9th will decide whether to give it to the complainant.

Clearly I don't support that kind of thing, nor do I support or even care about the poster. However, should people be able to be anonymous on the Internet? I think so. Yes, there are kooks. We all know that. So, who cares? One can choose to, or not to, read those kinds of discussion boards. Besides, there are idiots every walk of life. You show me a discipline or occupation where jerks don't exist. I have always said there are fairly equal percentages of miscreants in every walk of life. Lawyers are not more crooked than nurses, for example. Nor are teachers any more or less trustworthy than car salespeople. And so on. We're all created equal when it comes to professions and jobs.

The problem with people identifying themselves online is that the kooks can take advantage of them. They can find out contact information and harrass...or stalk...or worse. That would limit the good (but scared) people from participating on good discussion boards or Web sites. For example, it would compromise our Wordcraft, OEDILF, and other good online sites.

Yet, I think, eventually, there will be no anonymity on the Internet, and then things will change. A lot, I fear. Why is it that the few ruin it for the rest of us?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Presidential Derangement Syndrome

Eric Zorn is becoming one of my favorite columnists. He used to be a light-weight in the Tribune, posting about things like where to buy the best sno-cones. However, he has been promoted to the Op Ed page of the Tribune, and always writes an interesting, factual, and thoughtful column. In today's column he was wrote about "Presidential Derangement Syndrome."

In 2003 one of my least favorite columnists, Charles Krauthammer, wrote about "Bush Derangement Syndrome." The problem with Krauthhammer is that he has conservative blinders on. Whatever Bush did was wonderful, and whatever Obama does is awful. Never mind if they each do the same thing; Bush is right, and Obama is wrong. Talk about knee jerk...

Zorn says he first found the phrase "Presidential Derangement Syndrome" in 2005. I suspect it was coined well before that time, but with 165,000 Google hits, I am not about to go through each one. The Obama Derangement Syndrome was first mentioned by Managing Editor, Jason Arvak, in June of 2008.

So what is it? Krauthhammer defined Bush Derangement Syndrome as "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency -- nay -- the very existence of George W. Bush." One can extrapolate from there the general definition and the Obama definition.

Surely one can see the Republicans now doing just what they had accused the Democrats of. When Bush was president, the Republicans complained that the Democrats weren't "patriotic." Ahhh, it's different now, though. Suddenly all over the place they're criticizing Obama, saying he shouldn't have won the Nobel Peace Prize and that he doesn't have a legitimate birth certificate, etc.

I am not letting the Dems off the hook. They also ranted against war, ranted against nominees, just because the Republicans were supportive. Come on, people. We have to change our political nature in the U.S. or all will be lost. When one side gets it right, support it. When they don't, collaborate with them to make things better. The way we're going, we'll only have bickering and nothing will improve.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Epicaricacy and the Chicago Olympics

Well, as I suspected, Chicago is settling down and accepting the IOC decision. Of course there have been a lot of articles about it in our newspapers, from being really angry to saying it's for the best. I like Mary Schmich, but sometimes she can be a little too schmaltzy, as I thought she was about the Olympics. Generally, Chicago is miffed, but moving on.

Still, there are those who didn't want the Olympics. They are pretending to feel bad for us who did want them. However, I suspect what they really are feeling is epicaricacy. I told my daughter that today (and she was an anti-Olympics person), and she said, "I hate it when you use words like that!" Funny!

Friday, October 2, 2009

It's a sad day in Chicago

Chicagoans are so disappointed about not only being eliminated from the 2016 Olympics, but being eliminated first. I'd not feel as bad if I thought the decision had been based on Chicago not being able to deliver. However, all evidence seems to indicate it was a political decision, partly because Europe has so many more people on the Olympics Committee than other areas in the world; indeed close to half are from Europe! Further, there have been reports that a "deal" was made between Rio and Madrid voters. Perhaps. Makes sense. Moreover, there are indications that Chicago wasn't supported because the American delegation isn't "liked" (sounds a bit sophomoric, doesn't it?). Another problem seemed to be the extended security that Obama needed, and the "brevity" of his appearance. [Puleeze! There are more important things in this world. Just ask the family of a dying child.]

This is an interesting take on the Olympics. I am not that jaded, but then again I don't know that I'll ever watch the Olympics again.

But we Chicagoans are resilient. We know bad weather, political corruption, lousy sports teams, horrible traffic, etc., and yet we smile and go on with our days, always trying to make things better. That is surely more important than some bid for the Olympics.