From Derb's Email Bag: Errata, Amendments, Fingers, Handmade Poetry, Mimis, Etc.
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Just a few. 

 Brainteaser:  The worked solution to the Math Corner brainteaser in my June Diary is here.   

 Errata:  A couple of major ones in the June 24th podcast.

In the matter of Juneteenth I committed this one.  

It is therefore mildly distressful to find, combing through my cerebellum, that I don't have any strong feelings about this holiday.

If you have any feelings about some public holiday they probably aren't located in your cerebellum, which mostly regulates movement. Healthline does allow that the cerebellum may play some role in the processing of emotions; but I probably should have said "cerebrum."

The Czech lady singing the sign-out song is named Jana Vondru. I identified her as Marný Vokouzleni, but that's the song title. I am so embarrassed by this one I've corrected it in both the post and my archived version


 Erratum(?):  When speaking about gun laws I attributed to John Wayne the saying: "You can have my handguns when you prise them from my cold dead fingers." Several readers said no, it was Charlton Heston who said that.

Well, Heston did famously say it at an event in May 2000   It goes back way before that, though—at least to 1976. It must have been in general circulation among gun lovers by 2000; Heston just made it famous. I bet John Wayne said it at some point, but I can't find a record.  Okay, okay, Heston would have been a better source, but he wasn't the source.  


 Amendments:  In regard to our no longer bothering with Constitutional amendments, a friend offers this. 

Derb: Your point about the amendments is reinforced by the fact that the most recent amendment, the 27th, was actually sent to the states by Congress in *1789*. The most recent time Congress sent an amendment that passed was the 26th, *fifty-one* years ago. Congress sent two more amendments in the 1970s that thankfully failed. The last time Congress even passed an amendment was 1978.

To be honest, I'm not sure any amendment passed since the 15th (in 1870) really did much help. (The 14th has done a lot of harm, but that's mostly due to activist courts of the 1960s on.) Some are harmless, some harmful. One professor of mine claimed that the 16th (income tax) and 17th (direct election of senators) are the cause of all the problems the country has had in the last century, and I'm not sure he's wrong. But I can think of two or three that would do some good.


 Poetry Corner:  In the July 1st podcast I tossed and gored a tweet by our first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.  I had particular sport with the line: "To the tale of a handmade."

That's "tale," t-a-l-e, and "handmade," h-a-n-d-m-a-d-e. So the line means: "To the story of a handmade."

But wait: "handmade" is an adjective. You can't have "a handmade" any more than you can have "a gorgeous" or "a corrugated" or "a microscopic."

Just to make sure, I checked with Webster's Third. Whoa: they do allow it as a noun, quote: "something that is handmade; esp. a handmade fabric or dress."

So some unspecified entity that is handmade has a tale, a story. May we not know what the entity is?

Listeners have emailed in to tell me that "handmade" is a mis-spelling of "handmaid," as in the book and TV drama The Handmaid's Tale, a great favorite with the wokerati.

That was my first thought on reading the line, too. When the tweet was still fresh it had several thousand replies; most of them agreed that "handmade" was a misspelling of "handmaid." Not only is Ms. Gorman a fake poet, she can't even spell.

This was such a common reaction I took it for granted, and assumed Radio Derb listeners would share it. I therefore tried to be sly by just taking "handmade" at its face value. As sometimes happens, I was too sly.

So far so good; but then I got this from a listener.

Derb: She seems to like words that rhyme with "aid." Here are my favorite lines from the poem recited at Biden's inauguration:

If we're to live up to our own time
Then victory won't lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we've made.
That is the promise to glade,
The hill we climb 

Look at the word she chose to rhyme with "blade" and "made."  She took this word, a noun with a single and simple meaning, and used it as a verb, a verb with no meaning whatsoever.  But it has a long "a" and ends with a voiced alveolar consonant, her specialty.

That raises the interesting possibility (to the degree there can be anything at all interesting about pompous drivel) that perhaps "handmade" was not a misspelling of "handmaid" but rather another attempt by Ms. Gorman to do clever things with words.

Hearing me recite Ms Gorman's tweet reminded a different listener of a similar "poem" recited by Kathleen Howard in the W. C. Fields' movie Man on the Flying Trapeze, about two minutes in here.  Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.


 Famous Mimis:  In my June Diary I lamented my failure to recall any people named Mimi.  That, one reader noted, was seriously forgetful from a declared opera lover.

Well, yes it was, a real Biden moment. I'm not just an opera lover, I've actually written a novel about an opera singer, from which:

"Oh, it's all right, dearie. It's a rare piece. They always do these odd bits at Wexford. That's the fun of it. Gives us a break from Mimi and Tosca ..."  [Chapter 45.]

So shame on me. In fact things are even worse than that. A relative has reminded me that Muriel, our favorite aunt, was occasionally addressed by her husband as "Mimi." 

And another reader has reminded me that Beatle John Lennon was mostly raised by his Aunt Mimi. She was interviewed for British TV in 1981

So, a lot of Mimis I've forgotten. Sorry about my decaying memory. But hey, at least I'm not running the USA.


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