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Wednesday, 24 August 2016


"he worked so hard he graduated in less than two years".

Shouldn't that read: he worked so hard he graduated in fewer than two years?

The whole less/fewer thing is definitely one I struggle remembering.


>> "The althletes who are coming home from Rio early."

Wait, aLthletes? That's your corrected version?


Hello Mike,

‘…coming home from Rio early." It greats every time!’ Oh dear – ‘grates’, is what you mean.

Greetings, Leslie.

I'm impressed that you can write so well and amusingly before breakfast - so eat heartily, then bring us some more!

TOP has been the center of my photographic universe (since 37th Frame days) and "Open Mike" provides me all the rest I need to know, a one-two "punch" before, during and after MY breakfast :-) It is also handy that Mike has a 3 hour head start!

Hello Mike,

Oh dear, I retract my comment of a couple of minutes ago.
Greats / grates – word play. I 'luvs' it.

Cheers, Leslie.

Here's 2 I just finished:

White Trash, the 400 year untold history of class in America, and Listen, Liberal, by Thomas Frank.

Want to know why the "real" working class is flocking to Donald Trump? That's your book! Frank shows how the fiscal policies of the Clinton and Obama administrations were just more of the same wall-streeters, and that even the Dems don't view "real" working class (i.e. high-school grad factory and warehouse workers), as their constituency: their constituency is the college educated liberal tech-meritocracy.

It was an eye-opener for me. Tells how the Dems philosophy about getting people paid in America is: "...you need to go to college...", and not: ...hey, all the money is still in the system to pay you a good wage, it's just taken by the management class who's now making 8000% of the normal workers pay instead of 200%, we've got to stop that..."

I found, picking up the habit of simply going through a writing and deleting about 70% of the use of the word "that" is one of the greatest steps toward improved writing. Aside from misuse, it is a horribly overused word.

Ugh. "That" for "who." Kills me. Just saw "pairs down" recently too.

My least favorite example of using speech words in place of writing words: that for who.

Oh, am I ever with you on this one! I was beginning to wonder if I was the last holdout - glad to know there's at least two of us ;)


I hear that Donald Trump is going to ban shredded cheese. He wants to make America grate again.

I heard him speak recently, and he was repeating the same mantra that Trump was the one and only "alternative" candidate out there who was listening to and speaking for the common, working man. And that is such an obvious and bogus crock writ large- as if Trump could care the slightest anything about the plight of any working class man alive, a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth who has made his entire career by stiffing working class stiffs.

There was an alternative candidate this year who was listening to and fighting for working class people, his name was Bernie Sanders. And J.D.'s people and many more like them refused to even acknowledge Sanders because (Egads!) he's a Democratic Socialist, or (most likely) because he's a... Jew.

So smart as he is, ain't buying J.D.'s rather tired, evasive and inaccurate explanation.

Althletes? Ouch. Use your spelling skills, T.O.P. :-p

[That's not spelling skills, that's typing skills. I'm an atrocious typist. --Mike]

...from whence they sprang.

Whence means from where, so saying from whence is like saying from from where.

Sorry Mike, it greats [sic] me when people misuse whence :-)

Myriad is another oft misused word that I get unreasonably upset about.

I thought the dog days were named as a reference to canicula (dog in Latin), when the sun is near Canis Major constellation, i.e. in summer...

Nothing you can possibly read will fill you with more righteous anger than David Cay Johnston's "Perfectly Legal," "Free Lunch" and "The Fine Print." Nothing. You have been warned.

"in the summer where it is so hot" - Actually it may not be entirely wrong to use "where" in this case. Some locations have summers where it doesn't get hot enough to cause dogs to feel uncomfortable, let alone go crazy.

What I find irritating is use of a modifier with unique as in "very unique" or "somewhat unique". If unique means one of a kind how can there be degrees of uniqueness?

White Trash is by Nancy Isenberg. A very informative book about the history of class (gasp!) in the good old US of A..

My favorites -- "Alternative" when "alternate" will do; "key issue": it's either "key" or an "issue".

For an interesting and broad look at Scots-Irish in America, look at this post on Slate Star Codex:


Warning: Like most of his posts, it's long.

[That's so interesting. The Johnstons were "Borderers," part D. And it's funny, as I was reading "Hillbilly Elegy," certain small things did sound familiar related to my family, going back. But then, my maternal grandmother's family were all Quakers. --Mike]

The writer you really need to read, Mike (and others who want to understand what goes on in the Appalachians and how the Republicans gull the poor whites into voting for them, against their own interests) is Joe Bageant. You can sample his work at http://joebageant.net/ and find really solid reads in his books: "Deer Hunting with Jesus, Dispatches from America's class war" and "Rainbow Pie, A Redneck Memoir". If you are in Australia, like I am, you can readily get your hands on "Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageant" but while published here, no American publisher has picked it up -- which should tell you something. Joe, who sadly died in 2011 leaving a great legacy in his books and writing on the internet, also "escaped" his redneck fate by joining the army, serving in Vietnam, then going to college on the back of that. He became a journalist. Later in life, he returned to his birthplace, Winchester, Virginia. His writing is entertaining, his observations are acute and devastating, presented in powerful word pictures of the reality of life at the bottom socio-economic level today -- the life he was living painted on an historical canvas.

Cheers, Geoff

Trump can't speak for the working class because he doesn't know anything about the working class, but he's become an avatar for the anger he senses out there -- like most good demagogues, you don't need to be it, to sense it. And IMHO, there is a good deal of righteous anger out there, that can be attributed to the failures of the political class. That doesn't excuse Trump's demagoguery, his racism, his foolishness, his lack of curiosity about the world, or his obvious and pathological narcissism, but it might help explain his success, such as it has been so far.

My pet peeve and the most common mistake I notice in writing is the use of loose instead of lose. In conversation it's also common for people to say I could of done that instead of I could have done that. Where for when, that for who, the list goes on, as does the increase in illiteracy!

Seeing that the subject is books, I thought this might be of interest: http://www.wsj.com/articles/ordinary-people-1446073433
It even has photographs!

"Pennsyltucky" derives from the 1960s TV cartoon "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle". You might also look at "Albion's Seed", by David Hackett Fischer. It's a detailed look at what kinds of people, from four separate regions of England, settled the colonies. The Scotch-Irish who became the 'hillbillies' are just one of those.

Hi Mike,
I noticed Ben's comment on 'that versus who'. It seems to be a common way these days.
Interesting article on that very point is found here:

cheers from Australia

The key to understanding the rise of Donald Trump is to simply understand the rise of Hillary Clinton. Most folks, educated or not, are very hard to move from their norm.....And for many Americans the norm is to stick with the "go along to get along" way of life: "Pap was a Democrat and so am I." Personally, I think Donald Trump might have been even more successful campaigning as a Democrat. Sure, he would have had to switch his position on many of the issues, but his style, e.g. "They want to kill your grandmother with dirty water and dirty air" is textbook Dem/Liberal.

It is possible Trump will close the gap and win this thing; if he does, it will be because the "hillbilly diaspora," something that normally works for Democrats, might pull to the Republican side.

So to understand Trump, Just look at the way the other side rants and raves against him. Two peas in a pod.

This short article describes the best study yet that I've seen on who are Trump supporters: https://psmag.com/a-clearer-portrait-emerges-of-trump-supporters
Hint: "Pennsyltucky" is never mentioned.

JD Vance was on the NYT podcast "The Run Up" for the recent episode, "Trump's America".

Frankly he lost a sale, he was too much Yale.

"Folks" may enjoy my photos from the most recent Trump rallies at the top of my website.

“When I am dead, I hope it may be said: "His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.”
― Hilaire Belloc

Two interesting topics: Appalachia and Trump. I'll try to keep it very short, as I could write forever

Being born and mostly raised in West Virginia, I am glad to see that recently some people have become interested in that area and the people (at least the white men) of the region. Perhaps it will finally kill the prejudiced and ignorant stereotypes we WV/Appalacian "hillbillies" have had to put up with.

Unfortunately, I am not so sure that will happen though. I was born to working class parents who came from working class parents, and for some odd reason they were not lazy, were not stupid, were not drunks, or drug addicts, or spouse abusers. We hunted, we had firearms, but somehow never shot anyone. Never even dreamed of it. I knew/know very few who matched the stereotype, but when I read newspaper reports or watch some TV reports about the area, the inevitable ignorant, uneducated stereotype always seems to get interviewed. And yeehaw, no matter what, we gotta have a photo someone holding his deer rifle even though it ain't deer season and has nothing to do with the story. (See the Aug 19 NYT "Alienated and Angry.")

Trump and the GOP aren't tricking anyone that I know there. They know Trump can't do half of what he says. He is popular among some for many reasons, but a big one is because he is the anti-politician. He is a middle finger to the elite DC crowd. And nobody there over the age of 40 is going to believe that either political party--esp the Democrats---is anything other than crooked. Literally so. Oughta hear my parents tell stories about the Democrats of old. Republicans fare little better, but they haven't the long history of the Democrats there. Neither actually give a flying flimflam about the working class and everyone knows it.

But isn't it odd today, that so many have to read a book to know anything about working class people.

As far as the David Johnston book, I am happy to see a serious reporter do that, even if it is rushed. Someone basing his reporting on facts not bizarre Putin conspiracies or absurd shouting about Second Amendment supporter assassination threats.

(And no, I do not support Trump.)

[The best appraisal of American politics I ever heard was offered many years ago by Robert Kennedy Jr. on "The Tonight Show," of all things. He said something to the effect that the Republicans are 95% corrupt, but the Democrats are 75% corrupt. --Mike]

I'm so glad I don't have to learn English as a second language.

Thanks for the book recommendations. I'm already on page 103 of Hillbilly Elegy and I'm enjoying using Google Street View to see the neighborhoods discussed in the book. Mamaw's house is located at 313 McKinley Street, Middletown, Ohio.

""Pennsyltucky" derives from the 1960s TV cartoon "The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle". And it is what the main character in Orange is the New Black calls the white trash character in this popular TV series. Might explain the recent rise in popularity of that and similar terms.

As someone who/that worked on Capitol Hill for 21 years and many years as a community activist I do not believe politicians are any more "crooked" than the people they serve. The American people are just "crooked" in different ways than politicians.

We can all argue about this election from so many points of view but I believe that until we get money out of politics discontent with the political system will continue.

I've recently been hearing "-tucky" appended as a suffix to various place-names where poor whites of Scots-Irish descent predominate.


All in Ulstertucky where the Scots-Irish originated.

The old school version of protestantism in Northern Ireland seems to match with all of traits that follow that sentence. Is there something cultural that links both groups? Authoritarian Scottish Protestantism, perhaps? That particular brand of hellfire Presbyterianism or Calvinism mixed with authoritarianism to make people conform so independent thought isn't valued? Is there self-selection involved too? Do the "non-hillbilly" Hillbillies move away and not be Hillbillies anymore?

Don't get me wrong. Every person I've met from NornIron I've really liked but they all had in common that they left the place (and none were interested in divisive politics).

e.g. https://youtu.be/THiV_Wa3Lz4?t=2m19s

BTW, that "sermon" (which one could imagine Ian Paisley delivering) is rooted in a wonderful archeological practical joke/fakery from the 1950s.


On the other hand the excellent Australian TV comedy "Upper Middle Bogan" (on Netflix) is being picked up for a US remake. Perhaps they'll call it "Upper Middle Hillbilly" as "Upper Middle Redneck" or "Upper Middle White Trash" just wouldn't work the same way.

It could extend the favorable representation of Hillbillies on TV ("The Beverly Hillbillies" running rings around the "smart folks" in LA) as the show looks favorably on the Bogan stereotype which has undergone a change from pejorative putdown to "authentic Australian" in the past decade or so.

I note (with some amusement) that the some are deprecating the term Hillbilly in favor of "American of Appalachian/Ozark heritage" but "Upper Middle American of Appalachian Heritage" doesn't really work either.

Apropos read (present) and read (past), I'm chafing about the increasing use of lead as the past tense. I will lead; I led is the way I've always known it. Illogical, but ... What say you?

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