You are currently browsing the daily archive for October 4, 2011.

Sistah emailed me a while ago to ask my opinion on the Amanda Knox acquittal that’s all over the intertoobs today.   I had to confess that I really haven’t paid any attention to the story, so couldn’t offer any kind of legal opinion.  I did note, however, that in the pictures I’ve seen of Mizz Knox, there’s something ever so slightly odd about the look in her eyes that would make me think twice about turning my back on her in a dark place.  Just saying.

I note that Rich Lowry has a piece up today comparing and contrasting the Occupy Wall Street mob with the Tea Party.  I also note with some complacency that I said the same thing yesterday.  Evidently, Rich is a friend of the decanter.  As far as the OWS biznay itself goes, I am eagerly awaiting the arrival on YouTube of the inevitable Downfall parody version.  Hitler sputtering in fury over “horizontal, autonomous, leaderless, modified-consensus-based system with roots in anarchist thought”  is gold, Jerry.  Gold!

Via the Puppy-blender comes an article discussing the impact contact with space aliens might have on Earthly religion in general and Christianity in particular.  The speakers quoted in the piece, who argue that the appearance of E.T. would cause cause belief in Jesus Christ to pop like a balloon, evidently haven’t the faintest idea what they’re talking about.  Amateur theology is a dangerous thing.

In celebration of the news that “Arrested Development” is coming back to teevee for a short season:

Funniest. TeeVee. Show. Evah.

I still have reservations about turning the thing into a movie, but if it means getting an extra ten to twelve episodes, I’m willing to go along.

I thought it might be useful to pass on a bit of wisdom to all those friends of the decanter who are or may become fathers to teen and tween gels.  If you happen to notice a copy of a book put out by the American Girl folks entitled The Care and Keeping of You – The Body Book for Girls lying about the house, do not, repeat, DO NOT open it at random.  Instead, quickly and quietly walk away and go reread the sports section from today’s paper.

Failure to adhere to this advice may result in TMI-induced blindness, seizure, intestinal bleeding and/or premature aging.

Thank you.

I see that some crackpot school administrator in G.B. has decided to ban hand-raising in the classroom and mandate instead that the kiddies raise their thumbs Fonzie-like when they wish to be recognized.  All this, apparently, on the theory that such change will produce a more relaxed classroom atmosphere.


Now I don’t flag this article in order to mock exercises in ludicrous behavioral modification, but instead to rant about a pet linguistic tic of mine.  Says the administrator in defense of her project:

“Staff have noticed a positive difference in the amount of people answering questions.”

This particular grammatical mistake – which seems to be in widespread currency nowadays – awakes the sleeping fiend in ol’ Robbo.  It’s number, Madam, NUMBER of people!  You’re a bloody school administrator and you don’t know the proper usage of amount and number?  Cor lumme, stone the crows!

Look, it’s very, very simple.

We say amount when we’re talking about a whole:  Amount of time.  Amount of money.  Amount of energy wasted on exercises in ludicrous behavioral modification.

We say number when we’re talking about units: Number of hours.  Number of dollars.  Number of children subjected to exercises in ludicrous behavioral modification.

I know, I know.  Too much excitement and distraction in the classroom for you to concentrate on speaking the Queen’s English properly.  Hopefully, once you have achieved an acceptable level of relaxation you’ll have, ha, ha, a sufficient amount of time to brush up.

Greetings, my fellow port-swillers!

Afithionados of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will, of course, be familiar with the Babel fish.  For the Mothe those of you who may not sass this hoopy book, I quote:

  • “The Babel fish” said The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy quietly, “is small, yellow and leech-like, and probably the oddest thing in the Universe. It feeds on brainwave energy received not from its own carrier but from those around it. It absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brainwave energy to nourish itself with. It then excretes into the mind of its carrier a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them. The practical upshot of all this is that if you stick a Babel fish in your ear you can instantly understand anything in any form of language. The speech patterns you actually hear decode the brainwave matrix which has been fed into your mind by your Babel fish.

Well, I am increasingly of the opinion that the Babel fish has a counterpart, a Bearded-Spock Universe mirror image.  Call it the Babble fish.  The practical upshot of sticking one of these in your ear is that you instantly cease understanding anything in any form of language.  I am also of the opinion that somehow or other the gels have managed to get hold of Babble fishes and are currently sporting them in their auditory canals.   Thus, anything I say – Brush your teeth; Do your homework; Clean up your room; Stop shouting – is automatically translated into the “Whah, whuh, whah, whah, whuh,” of Charlie Brown’s teacher.

Mrs. Robbo tries to console me in my frustration by pointing out that this is perfectly normal behavior and that lots of tweens and teens have such hearing problems.   It’s not much help, first because I don’t really believe her and second because I’m not responsible for fitting out anyone else to face the big, bad world.


Actually, my main consolation is the anticipation that some day, God willing, they are going to have childs of their own and will find themselves equally exasperated.  I savor the idea of them calling me up to complain because when they do, I’m going to stick a Babble fish in my ear and just laugh and laugh.


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October 2011