Weekend Wonk


Small World

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

“But it is what is left from little lives, well enough lived, that we can carry with us most easily when the lives have passed, lovely miniatures that ride lightly in the corner of a pocket and fit in the cup of our hand.” (Tom Teepen, syndicated columnist) I see by the paper that Guinness has given the palm to the world’s smallest cow, a bovine about the size of an ovine (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Shrink Rap

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

“Magic words of poof, poof piffles make me just as small as Sniffles.” (“Mary Jane and [her mouse friend] Sniffles,” a comic book series from my long lost childhood) We are all drawn to the miniature. Ships (in or out of bottles), toy poodles (and then teacup poodles!), doll houses, model airplanes that can actually fly, Matchbook cars, toy soldiers. Our folklore is rife with tiny human-like creatures: pixies, fairies, elves, leprechauns.

Shining Heroes and Dastardly Villains

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

Can you stand one more wonk on argumentum ad populum? That’s the spirit. After this one I will put my hobby horse in the stable and bar the door. What interests me especially about ad populum is that there is no one strategy to associate it with, as for example with ad vericundiam, where you try to impress the audience with so-called expert testimony, or ad ignorantiam, where you hold that a proposition is true—Obama was born in Kenya—because no one has proven it false to your satisfaction.

Rollin' on the River(s) and Other Doings of the Summertime Sheas

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

The old wonker is back, after a very busy summer of traveling. I think the Long-suffering Diana and I—or at least I—were gone more than we were home, and I appreciate Matt’s having suggested that I take the summer off.* It was a good break, but I look forward now to banging out more wonks, teaching my classical tropes course, and, since Albuquerque persists in turning into Phoenix, getting a break from the summer heat.

Power to the People

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

The heavyweight of all the argumentums, it seems to me, is the argumentum ad populum, the appeal to the crowd, to their passions and biases. If you need your rabble roused and you are an accomplished word man, ad populum will do the trick. What makes it so versatile, as we shall see, is that it often drags in other argumentums, especially ad misericordiam and ad hominem. Long before sociologists began to study crowd psychology, orators knew well how to exploit it.

Patience

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

Patience is a virtue / Have it if you can / Never in a woman / And seldom in a man. Well, whoever said that was a misogynist of the first water. Seems to me that women are much more patient than men. But I digress—without even having established a point to digress from. What got me thinking about patience was watching my goldfish under the ice the other morning. We just had a cold snap here in the Duke City, making for about three inches of ice on the little goldfish pond in the back yard.

Oops!

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

So the trope babies and I were having a grand time analyzing Mark Antony’s famous speech in Julius Caesar (Power to the People). Such a grand time, in fact, that I decided that we should have a whack at Brutus’s speech that precedes it. So we did and, caught up in the spirit, I decided to read the whole play. I hope that’s not quite as derelict as it sounds. I had read the play once, but in high school, and one forgets much in half a century.

Once More to the Lake. And the River. And the Oceans.

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

Time to give summer a nudge. Or maybe, since it’s close to triple digits most afternoons, a shove. Fall won’t be here until late September, but I’m already ready for it. I’m also ready for the routine of fall. Twenty students have signed up for my classical tropes course, and this old hambone can’t wait to get back behind the lectern. Still, summer was good even though Albuquerque is slowly turning into Phoenix (climate change, anyone?

Notes on the Hereafter

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

The Sweet—or not so sweet—Bye and Bye has been in the news lately. There was of course Harold Camping’s prediction that the Rapture would happen on the 21st of May. Obviously it didn’t, but now he predicts that the Rapture, and the Destruction, will occur on the 21st of next October. Sort of a package deal. We’ll see. At my age, I don’t sign up for extended warranties or magazine subscriptions, so I’m set.

No Pain, No Gain

  Jerome Shea       November 25, 2011

Anyone who ever turned out for high school sports has heard the old adage “No pain, no gain.” Having heard it, a person seldom forgets it, mainly because “No pain, no gain” expresses the Spartan ideal so neatly. As a memorable example of locker-room philosophy, it is right up there with “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and “If you can’t bear up, bear down.” But if we take a hard look at it, I think we will find that this hoary adage is true only in a very limited way.



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