Usage note: the phrasal verb “get through to”

1. Get through to denotes communication, but its originating metaphor connotes forcing, piercing, penetrating. To get through to is one way of communicating; to be gotten through to is another. The difference is a bloody matter of the difference between prey and predator.

2. The communication channel of getting through to is fear. In fear of being gotten through to, some people calm their pounding hearts by remembering that they believe in their gun and their Bible. Others choose to mask their susceptibility to communication behind deflecting layers of irony. The warehouse full of Basquiats, check; the Russian passport, check.

3. Getting through to can also be thought of as a speech act like voting or naming: a way of doing things with words. Under the control of speech-act technologists like Frank Luntz and Roger Ailes, language is a symbol system used by the people with the Basquiats to get through to people whose symbols are at pre-ironic stages of development.

R. H. Beck, "Preparing for the trail," Galapagos Islands, 1903. Library of Congress, Photoshopped.
R. H. Beck, “Preparing for the trail,” Galapagos Islands, 1903. Library of Congress, Photoshopped.

Technical: speaking of the National Security Administration . . .

In the last week or so a new feature has been added to the ongoing cyberattack on computers running WordPress. When attackers probe a WordPress blog now, they don’t stop at its home page. Instead, they go on to open the computer’s WordPress settings. This screen shot shows the process at work.

The attacker began by opening the web page I maintain for my classes at Following a link from there, he proceeded to the blog and, eleven times in rapid succession, attempted to break in.


So (ostensibly, at least) this search originates from a Florida site called Based in Tallahassee, IIR is the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, a vaguely named organization with a vague mission statement on its website. It does, however, seem to have something to do with police forces.