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ALARMS AND DIVERSIONS FOR THE THINKING PERSON

Forum File

Saturday, March 9, 2013 - 12:01 am

The reading list

“I am appalled by 'Bridezillas.' I should make it clear that I have never seen an episode of the reality show. I hate 'Bridezillas' for one simple reason: Bride does not rhyme with god. Ergo, Bridezillas is not a functioning pun.

“The point is significant because bridezilla appears to be symptomatic of a wider malaise: the death of the American pun, replaced by something grosser, dumber, uglier. Examples abound: Take one of the most read websites in the world, Wikipedia, a 'pun' on encyclopedia that shares nothing but its suffix. Or techpreneur, the loathsome fusion of technology and entrepreneur. Likewise mansplain, a coinage popular with Internet feminists that adroitly glosses a man addressing a woman in a condescending fashion (e.g., 'Akam mansplains that mansplain is not a functioning pun.') but is still not a functioning pun. Manscaping, the removal of all or part of male body hair, is better – there is at least assonance between the vowel sounds in man and land – but as a pun it remains perilously borderline.

“So if recessionista and fembot are not really puns, what are they? They're neolexic portmanteaus, in which root words are brutally slammed together with cavalier lack of wit. 'Neolexic portmanteau' is a mouthful, so instead we shall choose a simpler handle … Therefore, I christen these neolexic portmanteaus adjoinages – a functioning portmanteau pun, in case you failed to see, on adjoin and coinage.”

From “Please do not chillax” at slate.com

A quiz

What's the single most popular fast food in America?

Wisdom of the ages

“Higher taxes never reduce the deficit. Governments spend whatever they take in and then whatever they can get away with.” – Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman

Current wisdom

“No president has the right to say he is judge, jury and executioner.” – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., whose 12-hour-plus filibuster temporarily blocked confirmation of President Obama's nominee to lead the CIA, John Brennan.

Quiz answer

French fries.

Snob words

bibelot (BIB-loh), n – a small object of curiosity, beauty or rarity, as in: “The editorial writer turned down the bibelots that were offered by the politician in exchange for a favorable editorial.” From the Old French beubelet, “trinket” or “jewel.”

Today in history

On this date in 1839, the Prussian government limited the work week for children to 51 hours; yikes wonder what it was for adults?

Now you know

According to RandomHistory.com, Abraham Lincoln was the first president to be photographed at his inauguration. In the photo, he is standing near John Wilkes Booth, his future assassin.