Saturday, November 04, 2006

It started out...

It started out when I was wondering where sayings come from. Who coined the phrase, ‘to coin a phrase’, for example. The well-known comedian, author, actor, radio personality and weisenheimer, Al Franken, coined a phrase in his book ‘Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them’. It was ‘kidding on the square’ and it means when you are kidding, but you sort of mean it too. It’s a cool little phrase and there is definitely a place in society for it but I sort of figured that since a left-wing liberal nut like Al Franken came up with it, it would never catch on (I like Al’s books but in his own partisan little way he is just as bad as the right-wing conservative nuts are. The difference is that Al means to be funny.) Al’s saying has been used by the alt-history sci-fi writer Harry Turtledove in a couple of his books so I suppose if for nothing else, Al has made his mark.

Twenty years or so back I had a phrase of my own that I used frequently. When asked how I was feeling I would say, “I feel like a hundred dollar bill in a five dollar wallet” by which I meant that I felt pretty good. It hasn’t caught on, oddly enough, but I’m okay with that. I got the idea for the phrase from a book where one of the characters described another as ‘fifty pounds of manure in a ten pound bag.’ I think that was from the sequel to MASH by Richard Hooker (called MASH Goes To Maine, I believe) and is one of the three MASH books worth reading. MASH, MASH Goes To Maine and MASH Mania, all by Richard Hooker are all pretty good. Back in the last millennium there were several other MASH books written by Richard Hooker and this other guy (MASH Goes To Morocco, MASH Goes To England, etc.) which were not very good. If you were looking for a quick read that you could forget about right away, they were okay, but that was about it. I suspect that they weren’t actually written by Richard Hooker, but by his “co-author”.

I always sort of had the feeling that Richard Hooker (which is a pseudonym) is a right-wing nut in a Tom Clanceyesque sort of way (Tom Clancy writes huge books in the techno-military porn vein. The author photos in these books generally show Tom wearing something like a fighter-pilot’s flight-suit and standing on the flight-deck of an aircraft carrier without having actually earned the right to do so. I don’t know if he’s a chickenhawk or not and for all I know he’s a really nice guy. It just doesn’t seem right to me.) The two (Tom and Dick, but not Harry) are the same in that they both appear to believe that if right-wingers ran everything then everything would be wonderful. The poor and the homeless would be taken care of, everybody who needed medical attention would have access to it, everyone would get the education they were capable of, etc. It all seems a little far-fetched to me, but I’m no king of economic theory. Or should that be I am a king of economic theory but along with everybody else on the planet I don’t know about economic practicability? That’s the sort of statement that is just loaded with opportunity for debate but my point is this: if somebody really knew of an economic model that actually worked for everybody, where all citizens had the opportunity to be all they could be without undue hardship and where no child was actually ever left behind, wouldn’t you think that it would have been shown up somewhere by now?

Caveat emptore as the Romans used to say when they bothered to say anything at all instead of just hacking at it with a sword, which is pretty much how our friends to the south have decided to treat with the rest of the world, which sort of shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Anyway… Humouroceros

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