« Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work's in vain... | Main | A thing of beauty, in its way »

When you don't have anything new to say...

By Michael J. Smith on Saturday January 9, 2010 09:02 PM

... you can always make fun of Daily Kos.

Owen recently mentioned that he'd like an update on the state of the Kos cult, but he wasn't willing to do the legwork himself. Smart boy, that Owen. It's dreary.

Every so often you find something written by somebody interested in something that matters -- war and peace, death and life, that sort of thing. This is a rare experience, though, and daily more rare. The site is increasingly obsessed with microscopic technical electoral minutiae -- weighing a gnat's eyelash against a red cunt hair, if I may be pardoned a coarse old phrase from my engineering days.

And polling! Boy do they love polling! Every other post seems to be about a poll. The most recent one I saw had the wonderful headline, "2010 Opens With Relative Quiet." (This sounds pretty good to me, since I never had a quiet relative, and two different sets of in-laws have both proven highly voluble as well.)

Trolling the site for something that might amuse Owen, though, I do believe I may have hit pay dirt.

This needs a little setup: "Netroots Nation" is the grandiose new name for what used to be the Daily Kos national convention, held in a downscale Las Vegas hotel which no doubt finds ways to help line Harry Reid's pocket. It's a sad spectacle, all these schlubby Internet shut-ins assembling to pat each others' suety backs. Here's a bit of burble from the chap in charge of organizing the festivities this year:

Netroots Nation: What I Love About This Job
by Adam B

"Adam," I've been asked (by the voices in my head), "What do you enjoy most about serving as chairman of the board of directors of Netroots Nation? Is it being backstage with folks like Bill Clinton? Is it the site selection process?...

And the answer is no. My favorite part of all of this is what's just started -- our proposal submission and evaluation process....

When you're brainstorming, here are a few things to think about:

  • How does my idea help the broader progressive movement?
  • How will it empower activists to take what they've learned and use it for the greater good?
  • Do my proposed panelists represent diversity — of ethnicity, gender, geography, age and viewpoint?
Click here to read the full list of guidelines and submit your idea. (We take these guidelines seriously -- there are numerical grades, spreadsheets, conference calls, the works.)
*Begin senile irrelevant personal reminiscence*

Guidelines! I can never hear this word without thinking of an ex-boss of mine, back when I had a well-paid and undemanding corporate job. This guy loved the word "guidelines" and used it in just about every sentence that came out of his mouth, but he had the strange tic of pronouncing the 'd' as a 't': "ghitelines".

He was a man of modest origins, I think, who had risen to an exalted corner office by virtue of affirmative action. Not a bad guy -- as a boss he was generous, indolent and inexigeant, a real King Log, apart from a mad devotion to staff meetings -- but this verbal peculiarity was strangely grating. Or not so strangely, perhaps; there's just nothing worse than hypercorrection. "Whom shall I say is calling?"

Curiously, "ghitelines" echoed for me another such hypercorrection, from a rather posh Southern white guy I knew years before, who really had no excuse at all. He did the same d-to-t thing with the word "body" -- it came out as "botty".

*End irrelevant senile personal reminiscence*

It was certainly fun for me, and I hope Owen likes it too, to see Daily Kos acting like a big corporation. "Guidelines, numerical grades, spreadsheets, conference calls, the works!" Wow, have these wankers arrived!

Comments (17)

If Daily Kos and Sara Robinson ever breed, we'll have an epidemic of yuppie berserkers, not something I'd want young people to witness.


""body" -- it came out as "botty"."

I think what he's trying to there is pronounce an "O" but he ends up mangling the "D" in the process. I've noticed that Americans in many areas (pretty much anywhere 100 miles from the coast) have real difficulty pronouncing O's or U's in a lot of words.

I always wondered where Americans got the idea that Canadians say "aboot", which I've never heard in my life, despite growing up in a rural area that was so Canadian it hurts. After spending a bit of time in the US I realized what was going on: hot sauce is pronounced "hat sass", body is pronounced "badie", about is pronounced "abat", so when they hear someone actually pronounce "about" correctly, it sounds like "aboot" to them, and "body" sounds like "botty".


thank u father S

i recall a close personal grad school" mate "of yours

a comical chap
of lean dimension
complete with ichabodish nose and gate

he was applying
his kant
to the corporate flow chart
of some sub galactic limited liability enterprise
and with great relish

Save the Oocytes:

bob, it sounds closer to us to "a boat." (Also, "sorry" often sounds like "sore e.")

This is a genuine difference.




we don't all speak buffalo english
or michiganish either
though i'd like us better if we did
err all except me of course
i want to be as annoying as the late bill buckley

liking as i do
to appear
as if
a lord it over the monkeys guy

Al Schumann:

The late Bill Buckley was an exemplar of the Locust Valley Lockjaw style of communication. I'm familiar with the claim that his peculiar, extremely irritating affect was the result of learning English as a second language, but I don't buy it. That would denigrate the hard work he put into being a compleat creep.


Thanks for the link op. Pretty interesting.

This is what I mean:

"Despite its name, the phenomenon is not restricted to Canada. It is quite common in New England (including in the traditional accent of Martha's Vineyard) and also occurs in parts of the upper Midwest. Southern Atlantic varieties of English and the accents of the Fens in England feature it as well. ... The American raising of /aɪ/ can be found in the northern United States, the Mid-Atlantic Dialect region, California, and probably in many other parts of the country, as it appears to be spreading."

I can't hear any difference between a Canadian saying "about" and American friends from SF and Brookline, Ma. or american newscasters, actors, profs, etc. saying about. In most of flyover country I notice a pretty distinct difference, obv. with a lot of strong regional variations.
It seems like those on the coasts, most younger or more educated people and those in the media tend to use the Canadian raising. I think that's why "Individuals who speak with Canadian raising will frequently be baffled by reports that they are being perceived as saying "aboot"".

When you hear Seth Rogen or Michael Cera speaking does it actually sound like "aboot" or "aboat" to you? It sounds like "about" to me.

The cot-caught merger seems to follow a similar pattern:

"It is very widespread across Canada, the Boston, Massachusetts area (see Boston accent) and northeastern New England, the Pittsburgh area (see Pittsburghese), and is also heard throughout the western U.S. The latter seems to be the source of its introduction into the Midwest as it appears to be spreading eastward. A recent survey directed by William Labov of the University of Pennsylvania has shown that the merger can be found today among younger generations (roughly people under 40) in Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. It is also heard across much of Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. Similarly, the merger affects central portions of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, though its appearance in these areas may represent a westward expansion of the change from Pennsylvania."



'—it shews what little knowledge is got by mere words—' -- Sterne

From the Preface to the 1912 edition of Hardy's 'Mayor of Casterbridge':

'Objections have been raised to the Scotch language of Mr. Farfrae, the second character; and one of his fellow-countrymen went so far as to declare that men beyond the Tweed did not and never could say "warrld," "cannet," "advairrtisment," and so on. As this gentleman's pronunciation in correcting me seemed to my Southron ear an exact repetition of what my spelling implied, I was not struck with the truth of his remark, and somehow we did not get any forwarder in the matter. It must be remembered that the Scotchman of the tale is represented not as he would appear to other Scotchmen, but as he would appear to people of outer regions.'

Personally, I have a lot of trouble with the Washingtonian accent. Mostly in the way they pronounce the word "war" so that it sounds like "peace."

In only partial jest I say the phonic conundrum posed by "dd" or "tt" in American regional vernacular can be traced to the shanty Irish...

...wherein the word "bottle" is pronounced as


oops. Say, where'd those central consonants go?

I had a college roommate who pronounced "button" as "bud-in" but for some reason was hypervigilant on a central "t" in the word "mountain" where the central "t" was pronounced as if it were king of the whole alphabet.

As to Daily Kos... they were all aiming at useless corporate middle management anyway.


Over many years and through many locales I've gotten the impression that thirtysomethings and younger, regardless of class and region, increasingly speak one or another variation of (Moon Unit Zappa) "valleyspeak"... especially middle-class American-born Asian-Americans, most notably! Just another noxious cultural trend that is making this country an ever more unbearable shithole... although I haven't much love lost for most other places in their late capitalist glory, either.


lol @ the notion that affirmative action actually exists in the workplace and is not just a myth that rightwing demagogues perpetuate to keep poor and middle-class whites agitated and distracted.

aa is so 1990s, anyway! the only people still bitching abt this phantom are the same ARE COUNTRY reactionaries who insist with a straight-face that sarah palin is every bit as capable as obama.

oh, and jonah goldberg - he bitches abt affirmative action alot, mostly because he is incapable of recognizing irony.


Save the Oocytes:

The "t" in "butter" or "bottle" usually isn't an actual [t] or a [d], as I realized a while ago from listening to a non-native speaker who learned to speak it that way and trying to figure out what he was doing "wrong," but an alveolar tap [ɾ] like single "r" (not trilled) in Spanish. I remember being surprised to learn this because I hadn't realized I knew how to make that sound at all.

The "!" you describe is a glottal stop [ʔ]. The most prominent example of it in the General American accent is in "uh-oh," but I hear it in how some people say e.g. "Newton" too.



He just never saw Mike Myers' Scottish dad impression:


StO -- The glottal stop for sure in "Newton." And in "kitten."

Great point about the single, non-rolling "r" in Spanish.


"thirtysomethings and younger, regardless of class and region, increasingly speak one or another variation of (Moon Unit Zappa) "valleyspeak"... especially middle-class American-born Asian-Americans, most notably!"

very true... it is especially noticeable in younger second generation Asians who try really hard to lose any "fobish" accent. In general, it seems like all over the world there is a convergence towards hollywood/sitcom english. While older people that went through the education system in say Dubai or Hong Kong speak with a strong British accent, the younger generation seems to take their accent from American films and TV.

The annoying part is that they do tend to pick up some vapid valspeak in the process. My own pet peeve is the use of "random" as an all-purpose adjective. sometimes its approving: "I love that outfit, It's so random" sometimes its ambivalent [when made aware of any fact about the world that you wouldn't learn from MTV, say, that Africa isn't a country] "That's so random", sometimes its negative [when someone says something that is perceived to be gauche] "that's so random". Basically anything that isn't "normal" is "random" with no further inquiry or elaboration ever contemplated. I can just imagine one of them looking out the window and seeing an asteroid hurtling towards their home, upon which they would disinterestedly remark "that's random" then shrug their shoulders and shuffle off to check Facebook.


This comment stream should be moved to:


Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Saturday January 9, 2010 09:02 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work's in vain....

The next post in this blog is A thing of beauty, in its way.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31