Portrait minus face


Miss Vixen, mascot of USS Vixen, probably between 1899 and 1901. Detroit Publishing Company Collection, Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/det1994001025/PP/. Photoshopped.

Bibliographical note: the text in this link refers to Vixen as a funboat. In the MARC record, however, the word is gunboat. And I’d guess that the record’s stated terminus a quo for the photograph, 1890, should be something like 1899. According to Wikipedia, Vixen was built in 1896 as a private yacht and commissioned in 1898 for service in the Spanish-American War.

At last, a reply from a comment spammer

Yesterday I informed the cyberworld that I’d received a comment from a spambot that said its name was Plan Cul. That idiom meaning, oh, “booty call” literally translates as “Ass Plan,” but the French word cul is considerably dirtier than the English word ass. I illustrated my discussion with a pinup from the pre-computer era which incorporated in its rear regard some nonsense language including the anglicized term “Ooh la la.”

Say not the struggle naught availeth. Today a spambot replies specifically to that post:

“Thanks , I have recently been searching for information about this subject for a long time and yours is the greatest I have discovered till now.

“However, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?”

Important point, M. or Mme. or Mlle. Cul! In answer to your question, I’d recommend this source:

Update: the language of disruptive reform

On April 2, at http://theartpart.jonathanmorse.net/thesaurus-of-verbs-and-nouns/, I posted a note about the higher education section of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s website. I thought the corpus of management jargon displayed there might demonstrate that the Gates Foundation doesn’t have any sense of language as a way for people to communicate what they are to other people. To judge from their language, the people who speak for the foundation regard education as job training, only, and regard people as employees, only. The vocabulary of the Gates Foundation seems to have no words for what is merely human. And if that vocabulary becomes the administrative lingua franca of America’s universities, there sure won’t be a place in an American university for an English teacher like me. Already my counter-corpus — a 1949 advertisement which asks us to react in a human way to the one-syllable English word “men”–  reads like a chrestomathy in a dead language.

That was my contribution to the linguistics of corporate language as of April Fool’s Day, 2014. But here’s a new corpus of the language as it’s being spoken in July: a form letter that begins, “Hello there,” goes on after a very long introduction to deliver the news that the recipient has been fired, and then concludes with a bulletin about the employer’s plan for its future without the recipient. The employer — it is Microsoft, the founding source of the Gates Foundation — thinks of the recipients of its communication only as employees, even after the communication has unemployed them.

That is how autism — poor, emotionally maimed autism — talks in its heroic phase. With thanks to Kevin Roose for the analysis:



Today’s comment spammer

says his or her name is Plan Cul.


And when you notice the way the girl’s breasts are constrained to obey, though bare, the conical Bildung of a 1940s bra, please give thanks for the memory of Anne Hollander ז״ל, author of Seeing Through Clothes.