WORD: Old Man Edition

January 8, 2007

from the New Republic’s politics blog:

“It isn’t just that McCain will be 72 if/when he is elected president; it’s also that his health isn’t good, he has a seeming inability to control his cantankerousness, and his statements on Iraq are increasingly disconnected from reality.”

i’ve always loved the word “cantankerous” because is seems to be just another way society has of making fun of the elderly. I can’t adnumber a single time when I’ve  heard “cantankerous” used to describe anyone bellow the age of 60. In fact, I readily expected that the dictionary definition contained old age.

Not so.

The OED gives: ” Showing an ill-natured disposition; ill-conditioned and quarrelsome, perverse, cross-grained,” and the AHD provides the same. AHD also adds the following: “Difficult to handle: “had to use liquid helium, which is supercold, costly and cantankerous” (Boston Globe).” It’s not hard to see the connection between the two definitions, which is most apparent in the adverbial form.

So how does the world come to almost exclusively describe old people? The first series of OED quotes use the word as a general adjective until “1865 LIVINGSTONE Zambesi ix. 195 A crusty old bachelor or..a cantankerous husband.,” from which the current usage seems to stem.

The OED also gives the nonce-wd “Cantaker” which they say is equivalent to cantankerousness, and the verb cantankerate, to provoke, also a nonce-word. Cantanker seems like a useless word, but I’m fine with cantankerate. Cantanker should have been a noun equivalent to the middle English “conteckour one who raises strife”; at least that would have given it something to do.

so the good news is anybody can be cantankerous; the word is not limited to the stodgy, indigent, and incontinent. just don’t take any guff from cantankers.

Responding to a post of mine, my colleague and known towel-thief Dr. Hammerskjold jealously remarkedalankeyes.jpg that “there probably isn’t a single easier target in all of politics” than Joe Biden. I can assure you, dear reader, that there are definitely lower hanging fruit on the great tree of political humor. So let it never be said that L.P. Mandrake is above beating a dead horse, kicking a man when he is down, or simply lowering his sights to feast on the oldest and sickest gazelle from the herd. Therefore, may I present to you: Alan Keyes, the first inductee into the prestigious Presidential Long Shot Hall of Fame.

Ambassador Keyes is a gifted fist-pounding demagogue (in the Dwight Schrute tradition) who is zealously committed to a tax-free and homosexual-free society. Unlike most politicians, he walks the walk and proved it by disowning his own daughter when it was revealed she was a “selfish hedonist” (damn those selfish non-breeders). Can you imagine John Edwards doing the same to his daughter, Cate, if he found out that she was, say, a billionaire CEO exploiting America’s working poor and shipping manufacturing jobs overseas? I didn’t think so.

Alan Keyes has also demonstrated that never-say-die attitude that is so essential for any presidential long shot. He ran for the US Senate in Maryland in 1988 and won a mere 38% of the vote. But did that get him down? Hell no, he decided to run again in 1992. And for most people, getting subsequently crushed 71%-29%, would be the end of their political careers. But that is why most people are not in this hall of fame. He knew Jesus was on his side (or at least voting for him) and did the only intelligent thing to do in that situation: run for President of the United States. After a lackluster showing in the 1996 Republican primary, Keyes roared back to capture 14% of the vote in the Iowa caucus in 2000 after taking orders from Michael Moore. Hopefully his 2004 suicide race against Barack Obama was a mere prelude to his triumphant return to national politics as the fourth place finisher in the 2008 Iowa caucus.

Here now, a final unedited quote from the man himself:

“There are a lot of folks going around, and they say, ‘I believe everything that Alan believes. He stands for everything that is in my heart. He articulates it more effectively than anybody who is out there. But . . . But he can’t win. But this. But that.’ Our goal in the months ahead is to do what we have already started to do here in Iowa. We’re gonna turn all those ‘buts’ into ‘Keyesters.'”

Ambassador Keyes, we here at Yesterday’s Salad salute you. Shine on you crazy diamond.

2008 Watch: Biden Update

January 8, 2007

joebiden2.jpgAs outlined previously, Joe Biden will not be president. That hasn’t stopped him, however, from recently announcing his candidacy for what is at least the third time. While a few more people have noticed this time, expect him to re-announce his candidacy several more times until Clinton and Obama (and Gore?) enter at which point we will likely never have to see Biden’s name in print ever again (except, of course, here at Yesterday’s Salad, home of the Semi-Annual Joe Biden Cake Mix Bake-off).

I do award serious style points for working in a defense of Saddam into his announcement appearance, though.

once again, brett myers

January 8, 2007

I don’t do many baseball posts ’round here because the few that I did were amateurish and usually about Brett Myers. And, since my posts 1) precipitated his decline, and 2) precipitated the ugly mess in Boston, I determined that Yesterday’s Salad was nothing more than a drag on Mr. Myers budding star.

But after reading this article, I couldn’t resist not posting a few thoughts.

Mr. Myers finds himself in some pretty elite company. As you can see, Myers has the third highest strikeout rate of anyone with a reasonably high groundball percentage.

Francisco Liriano       55.33%  30.44%
Carlos Zambrano         46.88%  22.90%
Brett Myers             45.55%  22.69%

Both are strong indicators of further success, and looking at this graph suggests Mr. Myers is much closer to being an elite pitcher than I’d previously thought.