Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Adventures with adverbs (2nd of 3): hopefully

It’s been a while since I posted part 1 of the Adventures with Adverbs series. Real life kept intervening. Besides, I kept on not going to the library to check out Edwin Newman’s A Civil Tongue (1976).

I was just a youthful amoeba, barely out of my teens, when Newman’s Strictly Speaking (1974) was published. My parents got it for me, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I was a full-fledged recruit into the language police. And then I read  its sequel, A Civil Tongue.

As many of you know, one of Newman’s big complaints was the usage of hopefully to mean “I hope” or “one might hope” or “it is to be hoped” or the like. It means, claimed Newman, “in a hopeful manner,” and that’s all it means; i.e., “in a manner characterized by hope.” Newman drove the point home in the footnote on page 41 of A Civil Tongue:
Hopefully has its academic supporters, who say that it is the equivalent of the German hoffentlich. However, Nicholas Christy, a professor of medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, wrote to me that hoffentlich means it is to be hoped. The German for hopefully, he wrote, is hoffnungsvoll.
Before we go any further, let’s make up and define some notation:
hopefully(1) = in a hopeful manner,
hopefully(2) = it is to be hoped,
with the understanding that not everybody accepts hopefully(2). And of course we still have the unmarked hopefully.

I’m not as familiar with the scholarly literature on hopefully as I ought to be [rolling my eyes]. I hadn’t known that people had defended hopefully(2) by claiming that it means the same thing as hoffentlich (which it in fact does). The obvious question that arises is “So what? Who cares?” I guess the point is that there is an unchallenged word in some language--and one closely related to English at that--that means hopefully(2). Cool. And I guess Newman’s point is that one English word cannot carry the meanings of two nonsynonymous German words. And why not? I don’t know.

Let’s sort out the uses of hopefully in the quotation and delete the extraneous stuff (and add either some quotation marks or italics to improve its readability).

Hopefully(2) has its academic supporters, who say that it is the equivalent of the German hoffentlich. However, hoffentlich means it is to be hoped. The German for hopefully(1) is hoffnungsvoll.
There are a few problems here. First, this is convincing only if we assume, as Newman seems to, that one English word can’t mean both hoffnungsvoll and hoffentlich. No reason in the world to assume that, as far as I can tell. More importantly, this doesn’t prove that hopefully(2) is incorrect unless you already assume that hopefully(2) is incorrect. To paraphrase, “Some say that hopefully is equivalent to hoffentlich. But hoffentlich doesn’t mean hopefully; it means it is to be hoped.” In other words, the argument assumes that hopefully doesn’t mean it is to be hoped. But that’s what the argument is supposed to prove.

But that's not quite what I'm trying to say either, or maybe it is. What we really need here is video of me flapping my arms around. The point of these supporters of the hopefully(1) = hoffentlich hypothesis is, so I assume, that it's possible for a single word to mean it is to be hoped that. So Newman comes back with the argument that hoffentlich means it is to be hoped that. Which doesn't mean hopefully. Whatever.

Be all of this as it might, on reading this footnote I resigned from the language police.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Integrity and citations

Section 17.274 of The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., was quite excellent:
To cite a source from a secondary source (“quoted in...”) is generally to be discouraged, since authors are expected to have examined the works they cite. If an original source is unavailable, however, both the original and the secondary source must be listed. (ellipsis in original)
One imagines the composer of “authors are expected to have examined the works they cite” inwardly rolling her or his eyes at needing to point this out. And note the antepenultimate word of the quotation; that must is very non–Chicago Manual (imagine the post-non hyphen as an en dash). That part about “is generally to be discouraged” is more in keeping with the manual’s usual tone. But the must is called for; it’s a matter of integrity. I’ll keep this anecdote as vague and boring as possible for the sake of confidentiality. I chose masculine pronouns with the help of a flipped coin.

The author of a book I worked on cited a few dozen sources written in some language other than English. Fine and dandy; happens all the time. I edited the book, and he sent back his emendations. One of them changed the correct spelling of the word for “Proceedings” in a journal title in that other language to an incorrect spelling. My employing university’s library catalogue lists over a hundred journals whose titles begin with the correctly spelled word; nothing in the library has as a keyword (author, title, or subject) the incorrectly spelled version. The misspelled version doesn’t appear in the dictionary of that language that my department owns, and it gets zero Google hits in that language. I may or may not know that language, but I either know or suspect that the incorrect spelling clusters more consonants than that language can bear.

We all misspell things in languages we know, and we mistype words we know how to spell. But this guy took a correctly spelled word and actively changed it into a misspelled version. And it isn’t an obscure word, certainly not to any scholar who reads in the language. This suggests to me that he doesn’t know the language he was citing works in. If he “examined” them, as the manual expected him to do, his examination was meaningless.

What did I do about this? Not a heck of a lot I could do. I asked him to confirm the correction, suggesting that he may have been right the first time. Did I ask him whether he did in fact examine all the materials he cited? Of course not. Nor did I ask him to remove all citations in that language. All I could do was get annoyed and write this post.

Why did I cite the fifteenth edition of the manual when the sixteenth is now available? Because that section got seriously muushed in section 15.52 of the sixteenth:
If an original source is unavailable, and “quoted in” must be resorted to, mention the original author and date in the text, and cite the secondary source in the reference list entry. The text citation would include the words “quoted in.”
The use of imperatives instead of passives is good (no, that wasn’t sarcasm), although some might find the eye rolling and the must of the older version preferable (although I did try using a Chicago tone after the comma).

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Useful anonymous quotation, suitable for frame or T-shirt

As a general rule, I agree with all statements whose verbal peachpit is “it might be suggested.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Class consciousness and The Chicago Manual of Style

When I send proofs to an author for proofreading, my cover letter says something along the lines of “No changes should be introduced at this point other than the actual correction of actual errors. This is not the time for rewriting or for mere improvements; it can get expensive and time consuming. (I understand that there is nothing ‘mere’ about an improvement, but the time for them has passed.)” Or words to that effect. Nevertheless, most authors improve (in their opinion) the wording at the proofs stage. When assigning responsibility for errors in proofs, my employer uses the abbreviations that appear in The Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.), section 2.131:
PE (printer’s error--the customary term for what is generally a typesetter’s error), AA (author’s alteration), EA (editor’s alteration), and DA (designer’s alteration).
Is there some sort of class distinction here? The tradespeople (unlike improvements, they can be considered “mere”) engage in errors; we professionals make alterations.

A recommendation, if I may. Let’s let our abbreviations acknowledge that even intelligent professionals, such as the authors we serve and even we our very good selves, commit errors. (The manual does acknowledge this, describing AAs and EAs in 2.131 and 2.132 as errors that need correction.) It would be an honest thing to do. It might even make the authors a little bit more shy about introducing changes in the proofs stage if they were asked to label them as errors. Not likely, but possible.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Miss Froy and the OED

I'm recommending that you do three things, preferably in this order.
1. If you're unfortunate enough to never have seen Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938), do so at your earliest convenience. If you don't have any convenience, see it at your earliest inconvenience. You'll thank me later. (It's my favorite movie!) (Don't worry, it isn't scary.)
2. Do you subscribe to the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the day? If not, why not?
3. Read the rest of this post.
I now realize that I've quoted shamelessly from the OED in the past, and I may not have met the legal requirements for doing so, in which case I apologize. I'm not going to just copy and paste the whole thing this time. And all quotes from the OED in this post are Copyright © Oxford University Press 2011.

Today's word of the day is McGuffin, also spelled MacGuffin, Maguffin, and maguffin. Although OED uses McGuffin as its main entry, I'll be using MacGuffin because that's the spelling in the two exemplary quotations that I think are most authoritative. The OED defines MacGuffin as an item in a film or other narrative fiction that is "initially presented as being of great significance to the story, but often having little actual importance for the plot as it develops."

It's hard to define words; if I were a lexicographer in the definitions department in the digital age, the definitions would mostly be videos of me waving my arms around and saying, "Well, you see, a MacGuffin is when, like, for example, you've got your...." So it's without any claim of superiority that I say I think this definition is flawed.

Let's talk about The Lady Vanishes. I'm not going to ask if you enjoyed it, since if you didn't, I don't want to know that about you. If you haven't seen it yet (yet! understand?), what follows won't spoil it, because it involves MacGuffins (the word is usually associated with Hitchcock), and we don't really care about them. Many, including Hitchcock, believe that The Lady Vanishes has the best MacGuffin of them all: the tune sung by the local minstrel near the beginning of the film. But this tune isn't "initially presented as being of great significance"; we don't realize it's important until near the end. On the other hand, this may be the exception that proves the rule (I use the cliché intentionally; "proves" here means "tests," not "proves" in its usual modern sense). Maybe it's such a great MacGuffin because it we don't realize it's a MacGuffin until the end--it violates the norm of MacGuffins. It's a meta-MacGuffin. In hindsight, the audience identifies the MacGuffin. We realize that until the importance of the tune becomes clear, we had thought of Miss Froy (the lady who vanishes, played by Dame May Whitty) as the MacGuffin. Of course, she doesn't make a very good MacGuffin--she is lovable and eccentric, so we actually do care whether she turns up.

In one of the OED's illustrative quotations, Hitchcock says,
In regard to the tune, we have a name in the studio, and we call it the 'MacGuffin'. It is the mechanical element that usually crops up in any story. In crook stories it is always the necklace and in spy stories it is always the papers. We just try to be a little more original. (Alfred Hitchcock, Lect. at Univ. Columbia 30 Mar. 1939 [typescript, N.Y. Mus. Mod. Art: Dept. Film & Video])
Indeed. Given that he mentions "the tune" and that the lecture was the year after the release of The Lady Vanishes, I conjecture that this is what he's referring to.

Anyhow, never mind. Just thinking out loud. I mean, I guess the point is that definitions are hard to do, and I love The Lady Vanishes, and I write about the OED a lot in this blog, and the word of the day was MacGuffin. [flapping arms uncontrollably]

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Adventures with adverbs (1st of 3): literally

I almost never agree with the language police (hereinafter referenced as the "LP"), but I have to admit that literally in a nonliteral sense usually makes my left knee go numb. (I also have to admit that I used reference as a verb hoping that any LP reading this would get annoyed.)

Although I usually dislike nonliteral literally--and note that I haven't called it incorrect or made fun of those who use it, which should establish my non-LP bona fides--I'm not sure it's always inappropriate. I realized this when I read "Literally the most misused word" by Christopher Muther of the Boston Globe. Muther quotes Ben Zimmer, executive producer of the Visual Thesaurus and
Zimmer points to a recent quote by Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who said, "This is literally a dream come true, just like it is for everyone on this team."

"Thomas and his teammates didn't all 'literally' dream about winning the Stanley Cup and then wake up to find themselves acting out their dreams," Zimmer says. "He could have used another intensifier ('absolutely,' 'definitely,' 'unquestionably') to make the same point."

"Thomas and his teammates didn't all 'literally' dream about winning the Stanley Cup and then wake up to find themselves acting out their dreams"? And how does Zimmer know this? To me, it sounds utterly plausible. Zimmer throws in some nonsense about "acting out their dreams." But a dream of winning the cup, not necessarily predicting every play, sounds reasonable.

But let's assume for a moment that Thomas and the rest of the guys didn't literally (in the literal sense) dream of winning the cup. Even then, I think it's not implausible to think that in their waking hours they fantasized about it, or thought about how it would feel. If that's the case, what would be wrong with using literally here, even if it's nonliteral? We all know that words can be used figuratively--Muther uses ubiquitous nonliterally. Does literally have some special status that requires that it always be literal? For me, literally may require a higher standard than other words for its nonliteral use to annoy me, but Zimmer has chosen as his example a usage that is not only OK, but probably the best possible word in the context.

Here is Muther's statement about the literal truth of literally:
What the word means is "in a literal or strict sense." Such as: "The novel was translated literally from the Russian."
Taken together, the definition and the example make no sense. The combo suggests that "The novel was translated nonliterally from the Russian" means that it was translated neither in a literal nor in a strict sense. Is Muther saying that a nonverbatim translation (I assume that in the example literally means verbatim) is not a translation in a strict sense?

I'm not interested in trying to fix this. But I do find it much more troubling than the displeasing use of literally.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Virtual ellipsis

This is revolting. It speaks for itself. Not that this blog has any opinions on revoltingness.

For purposes of this blog, the message is that you (and more importantly authors) need to be both ethical and careful about ellipses and other truncations.

Thank you to Havah Hope for this link.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Virtual Bloomsday, and claiming the dead

June 16 this year was Bloomsday--in point of fact, June 16 is Bloomsday every year--the day in which the action in James Joyce's Ulysses took place. It's a tradition of Joyce admirers to hold readings of the book on Bloomsday, and this year, according to an NPR report, a newly fangled version of the tradition was introduced--the entire text was tweeted.

My favorite part of the report was at the end. The reporter asked Stephen Cole, the organizer of the tweeting project, whether he thought Joyce would like the idea. As summarized online,

Cole admits that if he were alive today, Joyce might not like the idea that his book was being broken up into tweets.

"I think he really, really really liked what he put in Ulysses, on the page," Cole says. "And an adaptation of that, which is what we're doing — he probably couldn't see any reason to do. Because it was perfect on the page as he did it."

This honesty is refreshing. Usually when people talk about what the dead would have thought or wanted, by an astonishing coincidence it almost always coincides (as it were) with their own opinions or wants. Amazing! I admire Cole for admitting that he doesn't know (indeed he can't know), but that his guess is that Joyce would probably disapprove.

Some years ago, a young boy was killed early in an interethnic war overseas. I got an e-mail saying that he had been brought up in a family active in his country's peace movement, and that he wouldn't want people to avenge his blood. I got another e-mail saying that his blood cries out for vengeance, and that he himself would want vengeance. Regardless of my own position of this, both e-mails disgusted me, but especially the one calling for vengeance. Neither writer had any way of knowing what the little boy would have thought. If all that's left of the dead is their good name, these two e-mailers were engaging in the last available form of child abuse.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What is the difference between a preposition and a word used as if it were a preposition?

Recently two commenters on an online article got into a disagreement about whether “more [adj.] than him” or “more [adj.] than he” is correct to the exclusion of the other. I weighed in with “Both Egg Regis and Squid Viscous [not their real pseudonyms] are mistaken; than can be either a conj. (‘more [adj.] than he’) or a prep. (‘more [adj] than him’).”

To me this is intuitive, but who cares about my intuition? But fear not--Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th ed., agrees with me. Here is MW’s usage note for 2than (prep.) Material in square brackets appears in the first hard-copy printing (FHCP) (2003) and not in the online dictionary (OD) as of June 16, 2011; material in curly brackets appears in the OD and not in the FHCP, and yes, I already know that I need to get a life. Anyhow, here’s that usage note.

After [about] 200 years of innocent if occasional use, the preposition than was called into question by 18th century grammarians. Some 200 years of elaborate [and sometimes tortuous] reasoning have led to these present-day inconsistent conclusions: than whom is standard but clumsy [<Beelzebub...than whom, Satan except, none higher sat — John Milton>] <T. S. Eliot, than whom nobody could have been more insularly English — Anthony Burgess>; than me may be acceptable in speech <a man no mightier than thyself or me — {Shakespeare} [Shak.]> <why should a man be better than me because he's richer than me — William Faulkner, in a talk to students>; than followed by a third-person objective pronoun (her, him, them) is {usually} [usu.] frowned upon. Surveyed opinion tends to agree with these conclusions. Our evidence shows that than {is used as a conjunction more commonly than as a} [is more common than the] preposition, that than whom is chiefly limited to writing, and that me is more common after the preposition than the third-person objective pronouns. {In short,} [You have the same choice Shakespeare had;] you can use than either as a conjunction or as a preposition.

Hear hear!

But that’s not the point of this post. The point is the very strange treatment of this question in The Oxford English Dictionary. (As I’ve mentioned in the past, I refer to the OED without italics, based on The Chicago Manual of Style, which I also refer to without italics: “Names of scriptures and other highly revered works are capitalized but not usually italicized” [CMS, 16th ed., 8.102].) The OED doesn’t recognize than as a preposition, but this is its definition 1b of than (conj.).

With a personal or relative pronoun in the objective case instead of the nominative (as if than were a preposition). This is app. the invariable construction in the case of than whom, which is universally accepted instead of than who. With the personal pronouns it is now considered incorrect.

This strikes me as very odd. “As if than were a preposition”? From a lexicographer’s point of view, what is the difference between a preposition and a word used as if it were a preposition?

That’s the question that all this hoohah was leading up to. And here are a few loose ends.

Why did the exemplary quotation from Milton disappear from the online version of MW’s usage note? The answer is suggested by the OED, which also employs that quotation when discussing than when it’s used as if it were a preposition.

1667 Milton Paradise Lost ii. 299 Bëëlzebub...then whom, Satan except, none higher sat.

From Middle English through the seventeenth century, than was sometimes spelled then. I’m guessing that MW deleted the quotation because using the correct (viz., Milton's) spelling would have just confused the issue. And I like the look of the two consecutive diaereses, but that's beside the point, and I don't do digressions.

It’s worth mentioning, in my possibly worthless opinion, that the OED also lists an obsolete pronoun than.

After a prep.: That; as in for þan for that (reason), therefore; for al þan, for all that (FOR prep. 23b); not (na) for than, notwithstanding that. See also for þan.

I find this stuff interesting, but there's another oddity, probably a computer glitch. "See also for þan" is a link, but it goes to the entry for than as an obsolete pronoun--the entry in which the link itself appears.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A word that should make our eyebrow hairs go boioioing

Like "veritable tsunami" and "much ink has been spilled," "raise a red flag" annoys the broccoli out of me. I hope to popularize "make your eyebrow hairs go boioioing" as an alternative cliché.

This article is downright tolerable, except for one thing:

So it didn't necessarily come as a surprise when I read that researchers have now proved that listening to your favorite melodies and harmonies can trigger the brain to release large amounts of dopamine.
"Proved"? Indeed not, and in fact the linked-to study doesn't claim to have proved anything; the closest it comes is "indicate." When another study comes along indicating that music doesn't stimulate the release of dopamine, that also won't be definitive proof.

In our work as manuscript editors, our eyebrow hairs should go boioioing when we come across claims of proof. We will usually not be competent to evaluate how good a study is, but we should question talk of proof. Many of the scholars whose work we play with will appreciate it and tone down the language.

Friday, February 11, 2011


A former colleague of mine, Harold Henderson (whose permission to name him I'm going to get after I post this), used to answer "I'm tolerable" when people asked how he was. To which I used to reply "yeah, right, if you think so." I miss Harold, and conceivably one of the reasons for posting this--a reason I dare not speculate on even to myself--is that it gives me an excuse to contact him to get his permission to mention him here.

Lately--which means over the last few years, but since I'm old I have a long perspective, and anything a few years ago is recent to me--and where was I? Right. I remember now. Lately, I've been noticing that some people say "I'm awesome" or "I'm good" or the like when you ask how they are. Which used to sound weird to me. I mean, we're not asking their opinions of themselves or asking them to do a self-esteem exercise. It no longer sounds weird to me because I've heard it so often. (Actually, it still does. I'm still getting used to "into" meaning "interested in," which I first noticed around forty years ago.) But anyhow, nowadays "tolerable" seems like a suitable answer to the question, especially if, like me, you have terrific self-esteem but don't want to brag about your sheer (as opposed to opaque) awesomeness.

Point is, from now on I'm going to say that I'm tolerable when people ask how I am. If I remember. Thank you, Harold Henderson.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Venting my feelings

One of these days, if I get around to it, I may do a real post. In the meantime, may I vent my feelings? Thank you.

I hate "veritable tsunami." I hate "much ink has been spilled."

I don't feel any better now, but thank you for indulging me anyway.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sokal revisited

(Those who are visiting from Facebook should know that the previous post, the one on AhfPæk, is the one I was talking about on Facebook.)

Back in 1996, in an early part of my dotage, I loved the Lingua Franca article in which Alan Sokal exposed his own hoax; I got many a laugh from it. Now Michael Bérubé provides an interesting mixed review of that article. I think it's worth a read.

This blog has no opinion on Alan Sokal, Michael Bérubé, Social Text, science studies, science, Andrew Ross, E. O. Wilson, sociobiology, Steve Fuller (whom I don't think highly of--that's a statement of fact about me, not an opinion about him), intelligent design, or the objective reality, nonobjective reality, objective nonreality, and/or nonobjective nonreality of gravity.

The blog is unable to miss Lingua Franca, not having existed when LF was around.


Before I get into the main topic, let me tell you about my favorite source of white noise (it will tie in later). It's SBS Radio, an Australian network that broadcasts in some sixty-six languages (not counting English). I listen to languages that I have no clue in. It's pleasant background sound, and occasionally there's some very good music (and also some boring music). If you don't want to pay attention to it, you probably shouldn't listen to any languages that are closely related to languages you know. "Did they just say that four amoebae are playing hockey? It sounded just like 'four amoebae are playing hockey' in that cognate language I studied for a year in junior high." I listen to a bunch of the languages (nothing Romance or Germanic; too many words similar to English); sometimes I tend to gravitate to Amharic and Cook Island Maori. It's incredibly cool to me that Maori and Cook Island Maori are on SBS's list as two separate languages. The Cantonese broadcast is annoying. It includes a long feature in which a man and a woman are talking and laughing, with a recorded instrumental badoomp-clang every once in a while. Sounds like a lot of annoying American anglophone radio.

Anyhow, be that as it may.

It used to strike me as odd that some of us Midwesterners refer to Pakistan as "Pahkistahn"; odder still that they talk about "Pahkistahn" in the same breath as "Æfghænistæn." This never struck me as incorrect, just unusual; now it strikes me as both nonincorrect and nonunusual (languages change), but still odd.

Odder than the pronunciation is the reaction of some Republicans to it (President Obama appears to be the main popularizer of it), and odd and downright incorrect is the reaction of some Democrats to the Republican reaction. For example, here's Steve Benen of Washington Monthly, back in 2008, quoting some conservatives bellyaching about Obama's pronunciation:

The National Review's Mark Stein, for example, said that Obama prefers the "exotic pronunciation." He added, "[O]ne thing I like about Sarah Palin is the way she says 'Eye-raq'."

This came after the National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez posted an email that argued, "[N]o one in flyover country says Pock-i-stahn. It's annoying."

This is truly a stupid thing to make into a campaign issue. Here's Benen's response to this nonsense:
The inanity of what the right decides to whine about never ceases to amaze me. That Obama's pronunciation is accurate is irrelevant. Mispronunciation apparently makes some conservatives feel better about themselves, and raises doubts about candidates who care to get this right. "Elites" care about country names; real Americans don't.
So "Pækistæn" is incorrect? How so? If something is commonplace enough for people to complain that it's wrong, then it's idiomatic in some speech community; if you're going to be cheeky enough to claim that idiom is incorrect, you have a serious burden of proof. How do we know that "Pækistæn" is incorrect? The usual answer is that that's not how Pakistanis pronounce it.

This isn't a convincing argument. The problem is that we're speaking English. In my listening to SBS (I told you I'd come back to it), I've heard non-English radio reports in which the announcer refers to something that sounds to my non-IPA ears like "Ámrika." But English- and Spanish-speaking Americans accent the vowel between the em and the ar; French-speaking Americans have a long but unaccented vowel there. (Can't comment on Portuguese or indigenous languages.) In "Ámrika," that vowel completely disappears. Would anyone be brazen enough to say that those who say "Ámrika" in their native language are mispronouncing their own native language? No? But that's not how Americans pronounce it. If "Pækistæn" is incorrect English because that isn't the Pakistani pronunciation, then "Ámrika" should be incorrect in other languages because that's not how Americans pronounce it in their languages (as far as I know).

By the way, Steve Benen, the opponent of what he takes to be mispronunciation, misspelled the name of the National Review's Mark Steyn in the excerpt quoted above. I don't consider this a big deal in itself; this isn't one of those "nyah nyah nyah, I found a typo" blogs. But if you're going to complain about other people's errors, you should try to get stuff right.

More ridiculous, but this is a matter of opinion, and this blog avoids opinion, is Benen's use of "argued" when he said Lopez "argued, '[N]o one in flyover country says Pock-i-stahn. It's annoying.'"

It should go without saying that this blog has no opinion on President Obama, Steve Benen, Mark Steyn, Kathryn Jean Lopez, Pakistan, or Afghanistan.