Posted by: bkivey | 3 December 2010


Amtrak To Allow Guns on Trains

Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. When I saw this headline earlier this week I got a little excited thinking that Amtrak might allow holders of CCW (concealed carry weapon) permits to pack heat on the train, perhaps after a Federal background check. Alas, the national train service is only going to allow people to pack their unloaded guns in a checked hard case. Curiously enough, this is the same firearm policy that airlines have had for years.

Forty Year Flashback

While listening to the radio this week it occurred to me that the ‘Vulcan March’ theme from the episode ‘Amok Time’ is either sampled from or closely based on Ravel’s ‘Bolero‘. Gerald Fried, who scored the episode, is still alive, so I suppose someone could ask him about this.

Twenty Year Flashback

Whenever I hear co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform Erskine Bowles name mentioned I think of Claude Erskine-Brown, from the BBC series Rumpole of the Bailey.

Today In History

Over on the Today In History! site (link stage right) we learn that on this day:

  • 1621 – Galileo invents the telescope.
  • 1775 – The first official U.S. flag is hoisted aboard USS Alfred.

The Civil War

Tomorrow the Oregon State (Beavers) and Oregon (Ducks) football teams meet for the 114th edition of The Civil War in Corvallis. In recent years this game has often had conference and major bowl implications, with the winner in position to clinch first place in the Pac-10 and/or going to a ‘name’ bowl such as the Rose or Fiesta. The contest is no stranger to memorable games, including a spectacular 2007 Oregon State win in double overtime in Eugene.

As a card-carrying member of Beaver Nation I would like to believe that because this is a rivalry game we could ‘throw the record books out’ as the sports pundits like to say. Alas, this year only the most rabid fan can believe that Oregon State has any kind of realistic chance to score a victory. The Beavs have knocked off top-ranked teams in the past (cf. USC), but this year they just don’t have what it takes. These are two teams heading in opposite directions, with the Ducks playing for a shot at the national title and the Beavers sitting at home this bowl season. If Oregon State somehow pulls out a win, it would be the upset of the year, but I think the final score will be reminiscent of the 65 -38 evisceration the Ducks visited on the Beavers in 2008. I’ll be happy if Oregon State stays within 14.

Say What?

A local car dealership is running a radio ad that talks about battling traffic ” . . . like Mel Gibson in Gladiator.” As anyone who watched the movie knows, and as I pointed out in an email to the dealership, it was Russell Crowe starring in that movie. Makes one wonder about other oversights in that operation.

Word Watch

This year saw the neophrasism ‘walking back’ enter widespread use in the media to describe an individual’s partial or entire retreat from a previously articulated position. I’m still on the fence about this phrase. On the one hand, with 1 million+ words to choose from in the English language, I wonder why perfectly serviceable words like ‘retract’, ‘retreat’, ‘reconsider’, ‘withdraw’, ‘draw back’, etc. can’t be used. On the other hand, the phrase does seem to put more of an onus of responsibility on the speaker, and is preferable to the gross misuse of ‘clarify’ to describe what is often an obsfucation.

 Word Watch II

The Portland State University sports teams are nicknamed the Vikings, which most people might shorten to Vikes, and in fact that’s often how the name appeared in stories.  About three years ago local writers started using the contraction Viks. What, they’re named after a cough syrup? In a depressing display of English acumen local sportswriters seem to think that because a vowel is pronounced one way in a word, that pronunciation carries over to the shortened form of the word, ignoring basic rules of English most of us learned in the early years of primary school. Perhaps the revenue decline experienced by newpapers has led purchasing departments to reduce their vowel expenditures.

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