Friday, November 24, 2006

Would somebody PLEASE come up with a candidate that can lead as a Commander-in-Chief!

So, come on, come on, doooo the locomotion with me

    Me: Joe Lieberman is an interesting candidate.
    Sibling: Do you like him because he's Jewish?

Everybody's doin' the brand new dance now!

I cast an early ballot this year and it took me about 3.5 hours to read through all of the propositions some of which had me scratching my head and wondering how the heck they ever got on the ballot. I cast the ballot on October 17th to be exact and it's so grand to be able to tell the surveyors I have already voted.

It's easier than learnin' your ABC's.

Arizona's political system has some interesting characteristics. One is that any proposition can be put on the ballot if enough signatures are gathered. Most of the time I come across folks with petitions in front of the library and grocery stores and unless I know what the issue is I don't sign them. This leads to a number of quirky issues on the ballot and can be more confusing than enlightening, still, it's an interesting way to get people involved in the political process from a grassroots kinda thing.

The two silliest ones were requiring people to vote by mail with back up polls on Election Day and a voting lottery. If someone voted then their name would be automatically entered into a lottery to win money.

Come on baby, jump up, jump back!

Did you know that President William Howard Taft vetoed the admission of Arizona as a state because of the way we can recall our judges? So on December 12, 1911, voters in Arizona exempted judges from recall and elected a slate of officials then on February 14th the following year, "President Taft signed the proclamation making Arizona the 48th state... Shortly after officially becoming a state, the voters of Arizona showed their independence by amending their constitution to once again make judges subject to recall." (source)

Another unique attribute of voting in this state is that we can look at how lawyers grade the judges on the various aspects of judicial process i.e. "legal ability" and "integrity" being a couple that comes to mind. It's called a "Judicial Performance Review" I'm guessing that Taft didn't like the idea that the judicial branch was subjected to a political ballot but all in all I think it's a fair measure. One judge had received a 62% in "legal ability" it looks like she might have withdrawn herself from the ballot. Now see all the Gee whiz! stuff you woulda learned from me as your 5th grade teacher? You shoulda gone to school in Arizona!

A chugga, chugga, motion like a railway train now.

Sing it to us Little Eva and would somebody PLEASE come up with a candidate that can lead as a Commander-in-Chief!

Both parties are running campaign ads using pictures of the flagged draped coffins of soldiers; this has left me with very a bitter taste in my mouth. How could anyone begin to even justify that. Our political system is a train wreck. It's so bad it's hard to look away. No one is seeking common ground. No one is calling for us to stand united anywhere on anything, well maybe with the exception of John Kerry's recent remarks about "getting stuck in Iraq." What a buffoon. It makes me want to join the Democratic Party just so I would have the chance of voting against him in the primaries for 2008. And the Republican Party isn't any better with their unmitigated glee over the whole debacle.

Do it nice and easy now don't lose control.

The robocalls make me cringe and want to withdraw as a registered voter. As much as I disdain it all, this is my right and duty to vote as a woman. I take it very seriously. Dad's election experience has been interesting too. A retired general called to promote some personal political agenda. His response was to explain that even though they are both retired, they are still subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Weird and no idea what the good general was stumping for.

Do it holdin' hands like you got the notion.

One of the more interesting assignments that I tutored a student on last week, is one with a list of the following quotes and questions that purportedly came out following Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. The reason I say purportedly is because the quote from the Chicago Times has never been attributed to them and finding out when the Chicago Times started into business has been a very elusive fact. It appears to be shortly after the American Civil War, but then maybe the Times doesn't want to take credit for the editorial. Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989) notes that it was:

    Attributed to The Chicago Times, following President Abraham Lincoln's address at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863.—Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, vol. 2, p. 472 (1939); no date of issue for the Times is given.

    This quotation also appears in Robert S. Harper, Lincoln and the Press, chapter 33, p. 287 (1951), but he also gives no specific date for the Times, citing only Sandburg. This same quotation and attribution is used in Gore Vidal, Lincoln, part 3, chapter 2, p. 494 (1984, reprinted 1985). This quotation could not be found in The Chicago Times, November 20–25, 1863.

Either way after explaining to the student that the Times article was questionable we proceeded with the assignment as the teacher presented it :

    From The Providence Journal (Rhode Island)
    "We know not where to look for a more admirable speech than the brief one which the President made at the close of Mr. Everett's oration ... Could the most elaborate and splendid be more beautiful, more touching, more inspiring, than those thrilling words of the President? They had in our humble judgment the charm and power of the very highest eloquence."

    From The Chicago Times (A Democrat newspaper)
    "Readers will not have failed to observe the exceeding bad taste which characterized the remarks of the President ... The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly, flat, and dish-watery utterances of the man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States."

    From Harrisburg's Patriot and Union (Pennsylvania - Gettysburg is in this state)
    "We pass over the silly remarks of the President; ... the veil of oblivion shall be dropped over them and ... they shall no more be repeated or thought of."

    From The Richmond Examiner (Richmond, Virginia)
    "Kings are usually made to speak in the magniloquent language supposed to be suited to their elevated position. On the present occasion, Lincoln acted the clown."

Here are the questions from the teacher:

  1. There were two main political parties in Lincoln's time: the Democrats and the Republicans. Lincoln was a Republican. Why do you think the Chicago Times might not be a Republican newspaper?
  2. Was the Patriot and Union correct in its prediction? Why or why not? Go back and review the Gettysburg Address. What did Lincoln have to say about his words? Was he correct in his own prediction? Why or why not?
  3. Explain the tone of the Richmond Examiner and Providence Journal editorials. Remember that tone is the attitude conveyed by the writing.
I've been thinking about this since I taught this session and have come to the conclusion that the main difference between today's political leaders and Lincoln is that he really sought to unite the US while today's political seek to divide. I don't know if that was the objective of the lesson and can say that this was an international student who was able to understand the purpose of this assignment once it was explained to him that most of the states require students to learn about the Gettysburg Address as a part of US history.

A chugga, chugga, motion like a railway train now.

It was depressing. It was frustrating; it took a lot to overcome the rattle and clatter of the steam engine politic. My brain was fuzzy when I finished voting. It was hard work and am glad I took the time to do it with informed consideration because I know that not only does it impact the US, the power of my choice to vote, or not vote, ripples across the world.

The Locomotion lyrics by Little Eva

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Accessed November 4,2006.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Iconoclast

Iconoclast is a noun and is pronounced I-'kahn-ê-klæst. The etymology stems from Medieval Greek eikonoklasts based on eikon, meaning image or picture, and -klasts, breaker from klan to break. An iconoclast is a person who seeks to destroy religious images or opposes their veneration, or an iconoclast may be one who attacks settled beliefs or institutions.

Probably the the first iconoclast on the record was Moses, who came down from the mountain with the Ten Commandments and found the Israelites worshiping a statue, broke the tablets and destroyed the idol. Plato wanted to ban figurative art because he believed it was deceptive.

It is around sometime in 1641 that iconoclast is first recorded in English in reference to the Byzantine iconoclasts. Later in the 19th century iconoclast took on the extended sense of "one who attacks orthodox beliefs or institutions" is first attested 1842. For example; iconoclasm of one generation tends to become the traditional of the next. Ten years ago body art was considered iconoclastic; today body piercing and tattoos have become a fad.

As one who destroys religious images, not long ago in the news were the iconoclastic actions of the Taliban when they destroyed the largest ones of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in March of 2001. Their prohibition on TV and motion pictures is also iconoclastic behavior.

While most modern iconoclasts only attack such things as ideas and institutions, the original iconoclasts destroyed countless works of art. The very first iconoclast was Byzantine Emperor Leo III during the 8th and 9th centuries. He issued a decree forbidding the veneration of images. This decision was condemned by the pope, however, the iconoclastic doctrine was rigorously enforced at Constantinople by Leo and even more so by his son and successor Constantine V (718-775), who declared the worship of images idolatry. In addition to destroying many sculptures and paintings, those opposed to images attempted to have them barred from display and veneration.

The most serious argument presented against iconoclasts was formulated by the Syrian theologian and Father of the Church John of Damascus was that it prevented one of the basic tenets of the Christian faith termed the doctrine of incarnation. According to the defenders of images, the fact of Christ's human birth made it possible that his representations share some identity in their prototype. The rejection of these images he argued was an automatic repudiation of their cause.

Understandably these conflicting doctrines greatly affected Byzantine art. The movement became weaker as it fostered a division between the empire and papacy who sought allegiance with the Franks. Both the Council of Nicea in 787 and the Council of Othodoxy in 843 condemned the iconoclasts and their ideals but they were unsuccessful with their challenges to the imperial authority. Because the condemnation was ecceliastical and the councils met under imperial orders. Even with the assertions of John of Damascus that the emperor had no right to interfere in matters of faith. The result of this conflict about the authority of the emperor in both secular and spiritual areas along with his control over the church emerged from the controversy perceptively stronger.

During the Protestant Reformation images in churches were again felt to be idolatrous and were once more banned and destroyed. Throughout history humanity has struggled between the catalysts of idolatry and iconoclasm. Both of which share the common belief that images have the power to bring about the divine, or to mislead into the worship of false gods.

Sources

Bram, Robert Philips, Norma H. Dicky, "Iconoclasm," Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia , 1988.

Xrefer
Accessed
Jan 18 2002.

yourdictionary.com

Accessed Jan 18 2002.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Womyn

    (There) lived a family of bears ... together anthropomorphically in a little cottage as a nuclear family. They were very sorry about this, of course, since the nuclear family has traditionally served to enslave womyn, instill a self-righteous moralism in its members, and imprint rigid notions of heterosexualist roles onto the next generation. (They named) their offspring the non-gender-specific "Baby."
    James Finn Garner,
    "Goldilocks ," Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, (1994).

When I first saw this word womyn there was lots of confusion, then a deep sigh of realization. Gone were my guilt-free days of eating Cool-Whip out of the tub in a chocolate induced bliss. Now they had reshuffled semantics to demonstrate compassion toward people who can't spell.

I was wrong. This isn't about spelling in the strictest sense, but more about how people view themselves in terms of societal values. Several studies by linguists have discovered that a good deal of the time many people think that using the word "men" refers to both genders. Since the idea of women as men's possession is becoming more and more antiquated in first world countries a significant number of womym would like to change grammar that reflects a more modern image of their gender in today's society by replacing the letter 'a' in the singular sense and 'e'for plural usage with the letter 'y.'

The word man evolved from Old English which was used to describe a man, mann, human being, or person. Sometime around the latter part of 1000 AD it gained the sense of "adult male." Later on people began to use wer and wif to distinguish the sexes, but wer began to disappear by the end of the 13th century and was replaced by man. Many think that woman means "of man." arieh explains where the suggestion of this comes from, "People may think that woman means 'of man' because of Genesis 2. Of course, the words in question there are the Hebrew Ish and Ishah, not the English. And Ishah doesn't even mean 'from Ish.'" A little research into the etymology reveals that woman comes from Old English in the form of wimman and the plural wimmen. It began replacing the older Old English term wif sometime during the 17th century. Before that the archaic word quean was used to describe a "female human being."

Since America had no authoritative source that determined what vocabulary was acceptable Noah Webster published his first of dictionary in 1806. Many editions followed and were considered the authorities, prescribing the "correct" spelling and the "correct" meaning of words. By middle of the 20th century the unabridged Webster's Third International Dictionary was published and this particular kind of prescription came to an end as being the primary reason for a dictionary. Rather than telling readers what was "correct" and "incorrect" about language, dictionary editors "described" how the language was being used. By the early 1990s the Random House dictionary listed gender-neutral words like chairperson as well as gender specific ones such as herstory, and spellings like "womyn." This is what lexicographers call "word choice." As words begin to appear in the media they note down citations in the popular press like the example above. Political cartoons and advertisements are another source for citations. When a particular word appears in "reputable" papers dictionary editors will finally accept it.

The debate over this word is a lively one. Many camps claim it as their own and several think it quite clever to eliminate the male association and promote feminism or lesbianism in one fell swoop. Others say it's mind-bogglingly childish and it makes their head hurt to think about it. Yet at the same time a number of people point out that this is another form of sexism. No matter what anyone's preference is, only time will tell whether or not this word becomes a linguistic preference in the English language and the best way to find out is keep checking those dictionaries.

Sources:

Online Etymological Dictionary
Accessed
Jan 12 2004.

UrbanDictionary.com
Accessed Jan 12 2004.

Word Use and Abuse
Accessed Jan 12 2004.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dogfight

Scan courtesy of the Jeff MacNelly web site. You may remember him as the creator of the comic strip Shoe.There are a lot of terrific prints there, Go see!


Dogfight
      A violent fight between dogs.
      A close fight between warring fighter planes.
      Any rough-and-tumble physical battle.
      To engage in a dogfight with.
      To engage in a dogfight.

    The aeroplanes are wonderfully fascinating. One would like to watch them all day - theirs and ours, darting about the sky amid storms of shrapnel. They spot for the big guns, you know, and each side makes frantic efforts to drive hostile craft away when they come over. The sky is pitted with the little black and white shrapnel shells when any come in range of enemy guns. The shells are coming from all directions by the thousand, ours and theirs, but I'm resting in quite a comfy little machine gun emplacement. We hope to be out of it in a few days, thank goodness. Our losses have been heavy.

Pilot from the Australian Corps, John Raws, letter to a friend (20th July 1916)

The etymology of this word originated in the 1880s meaning a "riotous brawl." During World War I it came to be used as slang for an "aerial combat" among the air forces. Essential to aerobatic technique is the ability to fly an aircraft inverted or upside down. Frenchman Adolphe Pégoud a test pilot for aviator Louis Blériot was the first to demonstrate this ability on September 1, 1913. The war to end all wars broke out soon after the invention of the airplane. The first planes built had machine guns mounted on the wings of the plane.

Dogfights took some real maneuverings in the two-seater aircraft; the gunman in the rear would shout directions as to how he wanted to sight his line of fire to the pilot while the pilot dived and dodged the enemy aircraft. Lieutenant Norman Spratt, flying a Sopwith Tabloid is credited with the first dogfight of the war. A real feat since his aircraft was unarmed.

The British pilots were the first to come up with a system of safety straps so that the gunman could stand up; therefore increasing the range of fire to 360 º. By October 1915 all British aircraft were outfitted so. In addition to using machine guns many times grenades were dropped on aircraft below. That same year a French pilot by the name of Roland Garros mounted deflector plates to the propeller blades making it possible for the first time for a pilot to fire a machine gun since the steel wedges diverted any bullets, protecting the propellers. Later that fall a Dutchman Anthony Fokker who ran an aircraft factory developed a machine gun that could fire through the blades of a propeller and soon was putting in his interrupter gear, a synchronizing gear linked to the shaft of the trigger and propellers skipping the release of a bullet when they were lined up, manufacturing the first real fighter aircraft.

The following year Germany developed the same technology and began to shoot down large numbers of the British air force. Max Immelmann was shot down and killed in June 15th, but not before he had destroyed seventeen Allied aircraft in his Eindecker. Oswald Boelcke another infamous German pilot claimed forty victims before he too was killed later that fall. About this time any pilot who had more than eight 'kills', became known as a Flying Ace.

During the spring of 1916 France and Britain joined the Dutch and began adding synchronized machine-guns systems to their aircraft and pilots such as René Paul Fonck and William Bishop gained notoriety as flying aces. In addition they began mounting the aircraft engines behind the pilot and placed a forward-firing Lewis machine-gun. The absence of an engine in front gave the pilot an uninterrupted view of his target.

In July with the new innovation of tracer ammunition added to the arsenal, a pilot of Royal Flying Corps could now see his line of fire and make adjustments for more accuracy. Spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/ explains how the tactics of dogfighting evolved:

    Organisation and tactics changed with the introduction of the synchronized machine-gun. At first flying aces adopted "lone wolf" tactics. However, by 1917 British pilots tended to seek out enemy aircraft in groups of six. The flight commander would be in front, with an aircraft on either side forming a V shape. To the rear and above were two other planes and at the back was the sub-leader. However, when in combat, the pilots operated in pairs, one to attack, and the other to defend. German pilots preferred larger formations and these were later known as circuses.

    One of the most important figures in the development of dogfight tactics was Major Mick Mannock. Between May 1917 and his death in July 1918, Mannock became Britain's leading flying ace with seventy-three victories. When attacking, the best tactic was to dive upon the target out of the sun. This strategy reduced the time that the pilot being attacked could bank or dive and avoid being hit. Later in the war some observers fixed mirrors in line with their gun, which could them be used to reflect the rays of the sun back into the eyes of the attacking pilot.

    Fighter pilots also made good use of cloud-cover. This enabled a pilot to attack the enemy and quickly return to the safety of the cloud. Pilots did not have long to destroy their target. Fighter aircraft at that time only carried enough ammunition to fire at the enemy for about fifty seconds. Therefore pilots had to make sure they used their machine-guns wisely. René Paul Fonck, the French flying ace, usually took no more than five or six rounds to down an enemy aircraft.


"There are certain rules about a war and rule number one is young men die."
-Henry Blake, *M*A*SH*

The more experienced pilots would train and send young men into combat after only 30 hours of instruction. Unfortunately most of them were between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. The death rate was very high because hands on training had to take place at the battlefronts.

    I can't write much these days. I'm too nervous. I can hardly hold a pen. I'm all right in the air, as calm as a cucumber, but on the ground I'm a wreck and I get panicky. Nobody in the squadron can get a glass to his mouth with one hand after one of these decoy patrols except Cal and he's got no nerve - he's made of cheese. But some nights we both have nightmares at the same time and Mac has to get up and find his teeth and quiet us. We don't sleep much at night. But we get tired and sleep all afternoon when there's nothing to do.

From the journal of a pilot based on the Western Front dated July 28th 1918.

Mick Mannock, probably the most talented, adept and famous flying ace in the Royal Air Crops began as a corporal in the Royal Scots. He was a quick study mastering the aircraft and its maneuverings in a matter of hours and went on to become a mentor and hero to many. Friend and student H. G. Clements wrote an account of Major Mick Mannock in 1981.

    The fact that I am still alive is due to Mick's high standard of leadership and the strict discipline on which he insisted. We were all expected to follow and cover him as far as possible during an engagement and then to rejoin the formation as soon as that engagement was over. None of Mick's pilots would have dreamed of chasing off alone after the retreating enemy or any other such foolhardy act. He moulded us into a team, and because of his skilled leadership we became a highly efficient team. Our squadron leader said that Mannock was the most skillful patrol leader in World War I, which would account for the relatively few casualties in his flight team compared with the high number of enemy aircraft destroyed.

A second testimony by Lieutenant Dolan in a letter that he wrote just before his death in May 1917, describes dogfight tactics used by Major Mannock:

    Mick goes down on his prey like a hawk. The Huns don't know what's hit them until it's too late to do anything but go down in bits. He goes down vertically at a frightening speed and pulls out at the last moment. He opens fire when only yards away and zooms up over the Huns and turns back for another crack at the target if necessary.

The Germans were not to be outdone by any tactics and had their own ideas and set of rules. A transcript of Germany's leading flying ace Oswald Boelcke wrote these instructions in 1916 on how to attack enemy aircraft.

  1. Always try to secure an advantageous position before attacking. Climb before and during approach in order to surprise the enemy from above, and dive on him swiftly from the rear when the moment to attack is at hand.
  2. Try to place yourself between the sun and the enemy. This puts the glare of the sun in the enemy's eyes and makes it difficult to see you and impossible for him to shoot with any accuracy.
  3. Do not fire the machine guns until the enemy is within range and you have him squarely within your sights.
  4. Attack when the enemy least expects it or when he is preoccupied with other duties such as observation, photography or bombing.
  5. Never turn your back and try to run away from an enemy fighter. If you are surprised by an attack on your tail, turn and face the enemy with your guns.
  6. Keep your eyes on the enemy and do not let him deceive you with tricks. If your opponent appears damaged, follow him down until he crashes to be sure he is not faking.

Manfred von Richthofen gives a compelling and gripping description of a dogfight with Lanoe George Hawker in the book Red Air Fighter:

    In view of the character of our fight it was clear to me that I had been tackling a flying champion. One day I was blithely flying to give chase when I noticed three Englishmen who also had apparently gone a-hunting. I noticed that they were watching me and as I felt much inclination to have a fight I did not want to disappoint them.

    I was flying at a lower altitude. Consequently I had to wait until one of my English friends tried to drop on me. After a short while one of the three came sailing along and attempted to tackle me in the rear. After firing five shots he had to stop for I had swerved in a sharp curve.

    The Englishman tried to catch me up in the rear while I tried to get behind him. So we circled round and round like madmen after one another at an altitude of about 10,000 feet.

    First we circled twenty times to the left, and then thirty times to the right. Each tried to get behind and above the other. Soon I discovered that I was not meeting a beginner. He had not the slightest intention of breaking off the fight. He was traveling in a machine which turned beautifully. However, my own was better at rising than his, and I succeeded at last in getting above and beyond my English waltzing partner.

    When we had got down to about 6,000 feet without having achieved anything in particular, my opponent ought to have discovered that it was time for him to take his leave. The wind was favorable to me for it drove us more and more towards the German position. At last we were above Bapaume, about half a mile behind the German front. The impertinent fellow was full of cheek and when we had got down to about 3,000 feet he merrily waved to me as if he would say, "Well, how do you do?"

    The circles which we made around one another were so narrow that their diameter was probably no more than 250 or 300 feet. I had time to take a good look at my opponent. I looked down into his carriage and could see every movement of his head. If he had not had his cap on I would have noticed what kind of a face he was making.

    My Englishmen was a good sportsman, but by and by the thing became a little too hot for him. He had to decide whether he would land on German ground or whether he would fly back to the English lines. Of course he tried the latter, after having endeavored in vain to escape me by loopings and such like tricks. At that time his first bullets were flying around me, for hitherto neither of us had been able to do any shooting.

    When he had come down to about three hundred feet he tried to escape by flying in a zig-zag course during which, as is well known, it is difficult for an observer to shoot. That was my most favorable moment. I followed him at an altitude of from two hundred and fifty feet to one hundred and fifty feet, firing all the time. The Englishman could not help falling. But the jamming of my gun nearly robbed me of my success.

    My opponent fell, shot through the head, one hundred and fifty feet behind our line.

With over 80 kills one can understand how Manfred von Richthofen, The Red Baron gained his notariety. For modern wars, missiles account for practically all of the air- to- air kills and there is not much call for air-to-air combat especially in the form of dogfights. But many pilots and aircraft are still trained and manufactured today.

Sources

Dogfights

Accessed
Feb 26 2000

etymology
Accessed Feb 26 2000


Friday, September 08, 2006

The Bee Box

In this small box, my love,
you'll not find a ring,
but instead, a brave, little bee.
He'll be dead by morn, having given his life
defending his flowers against me.
I felt his sting
while picking the small, purple pansies
growing wild along the roadside,
in hopes of an afternoon bouquet for you.
And I grieved the sting,
more for him than me,
knowing full well the price he paid
for my small pain.
And I allowed him his victory,
leaving his flowers as a memory,
and brought you instead
this brave, little bee,
who proves there is love
even in the smallest
of things.

-- Lowell Parker

This heartrending little poem is by a netizen whose only comment about can be found at Electra's Fire's blogspot (external link) where he comments, "It's sort've gained a life and reputation of it's own. I google it every three months or so to see what websites it pops up on."

Mr. Parker was responding to a remark by the blogger. Electra observes, "I stopped by the vendors who like to entice me to spend more money at my University than I need to only because I heard Mercy trying to talk herself out of large earrings.

I promptly talked her back into them. "Mercy" and "downsizing" are not words that belong in the same sentence.

I saw one of those giant plastic pseudo-mod/semi-rave rings with a bee inside it.

I was immediately lovestruck. And it was $3.

It is peach, with sparkles, a mummified bee inside it, and it is in the shape of a heart. It reminded me of a poem I read once, "The Bee Box," in which a male lover wants to get flowers for his beloved, but finds that he gets stung by a bee in the process. Noticing how the bee bravely chose to give up his life to protect the thing he loved (in his bee way), the man decides instead to give his beloved "this brave little bee, who proves there is love even in the smallest of things."

The Bee Box was featured in an edition of The Wondering Minstrels Yahoo poetry group and I can see why Electra found it such striking prose. Prateek Sharma, the one who brought the poem to the attention of the group to enjoy notes:

    "Form vs Freedom of Expression has been an age old question for art creators and critics. When I posed this question to our poetry teacher, she came up with this poem. This poem does not score too well on the metre/rhyme front. There are some grammatical errors and inconsistency in style as well.

    Yet, the poem just soars. The imagery is transforming. It touches us on a very human level. It says so much about love and courage. And about sensitivity. How much can we learn from this world and its creatures!"

What is form and the freedom of expression?

American poetic form, like America itself, is jam-packed with delectable paradoxes and irresolvable points of view. A quality observable in the four quintessential American poets--Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, William Carlos Williams, and Allen Ginsberg--is that every one of them use form and structure to generate meaning from words that are not limited to lexicon. Meaning here springs out of the unstated, the gesture,--it is a connection between poet and reader that is by definition empathic, in that the poet's feelings resists explanation and yet is utterly understood.

"Dickinson's brilliant reworking," says Rafael Campo from What's American about American Poetry "of received forms (borrowed from church hymnals as much as from William Shakespeare) stretched space iambs and quatrains into infinite spaces of reflection on themes of mortality, human suffering, and desire--her dashes are the beginning of the empathetic imagination, inviting the reader to be present at the moment of revelation, a participant in the process of creation, as is only possible in America, a country ever in search of its beginnings. Whitman, whose imagining of form more explicitly enacts that same impulse to reach out, in lines long enough to stretch across the same vast and expanding nation, into the consciousness of his far-flung readers, was similarly engaged in the question of empathy--though his poems take shape so differently on the page. Williams, another great innovator in the use of form, laid bare the mysteriousness of perception itself, at a moment when American technological know-how seemed capable of explaining everything about us, reducing empathy almost to the level of its physiologic foundations--of seeing, of sensing, of tasting, of feeling. Just when it seemed American form had been pushed to its limits," continues Campo, "Ginsberg set it all on fire and left the old building screaming at the top of his lungs."

Lowell took the opportunity for amplifying what can be said with mere words and layered his language with possibility, for compassion. A sweet expression of human love and a path toward empathy. It's interesting to note that the poem is now being used in the classroom. Here's hoping that Mr. Parker will pop in and let us know what inspired the vignette of a sacheted creature and who he wrote it for.

Sources:

Electra's Fire, The Bee Box
Accessed September 7, 2006

Poem #1927: Lowell Parker
Accessed September 7, 2006.

Rafael Campo, What's American about American poetry
Accessed September 7, 2006.


Friday, September 01, 2006

Nephelococcygia


I WANDERED lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
William Wordsworth




Nephelococcygia pronounced ne-fê-lê-kak-'si-jee-yê is a term used when people find familiar objects within the shape of a cloud. At one time or another, humans have looked up to the clouds and imagined shapes resembling familiar objects. The earth's atmosphere and the system of the weather are complex and self-organizing, the system itself is transient, permanent and fleeting, and transfixed all at the same time. Maybe an imagined letter of the alphabet. Or, it might be an animal or a person's face. This is called nephelococcygia and the word was first coined in the play The Birds written in 414 B.C. by the Greek comic poet Aristophanes. He wrote in the style known as Old Comedy, a farcical and free style form that permitted him to ridicule the public figures and institutions of his time. In spite of difficulties with translations, his sharp wit still comes through today and The Birds is widely considered Aristophanes' best work.

The comedy takes place around two Athenians, Pisthetaerus and Eulpides. Fed up with the corruption that seems to govern their city, they find a solution in leaving for a better future in a better place by turning into birds and immediately begin planning a city they decide to call "Nephelococcygia." In their quest for a perfect city they join forces with their once human friend Tereus, the Epops, `who is a bird, without being born of one'. Terus is convinced by Pisthetaerus and Eulpides and other birds of their right to reign the skies, and together they create an ideal, flawless city nestled in the clouds: Nephelococcygia. Rebelling against humankind and the gods alike: they fight and are the victors. Eventually Pisthetaerus marries Zeus' lover. The menu of their wedding banquet includes roasted birds, to wit, those who opposed the new rulers.

While their city never really comes into being, by capitalizing the word it refers to their imaginary city. One of the characters tells them they are crazy for seeing shapes in the clouds. So literally speaking the term nephelococcygia means cloud cuckooland or "Cloudcuckoosville." By today's usage the essence of the word has come to mean nonsensical cloud watching; to look for changing shapes and transformation in the cloud forms.

yourDictionary.com observes that the etymology stems from:

    Greek nephelekokkygia from nephele "cloud" + kokkyx "cuckoo." "Nephele" derives from *nebh- found with the same suffix, -l, in Latin nebula "cloud" and German Nebel "mist, fog." Russian nebo "sky" derives from the same source. Nasalized, this root emerges in Latin nimbus "rain, cloud." "Cuckoo" and Greek "kokkyx" are onomatopoetic (imitative) creations unrelated except through the fact that all cuckoos sing the same song.
While some speculate that the Cydonia Mensae Face on Mars may be an artificial sculpture suffering from nephelococcygia, T. H. Huxley, friend and colleague of Charles Darwin wrote in a letter to William Bateson in 1894 after Bateson sent a copy of his data-laden book, Materials for the Study of Variation, to Huxley. They were caught up in trying to understand Darwin's Origin of Species; Huxley replied:
    My dear Mr. Bateson.

    I have put off thanking you for the volume On Variation which you have been so good as to send me in the hope that I should be able to look into it before doing so.

    But I find that impossible, beyond a hasty glance, at present. I must content myself with saying how glad I am to see from that glance that we are getting back from the region of speculation into that of fact again.

    There have been threatenings of late that the field of battle of Evolution was being transferred to Nephelococcygia.

    I see you are inclined to advocate the possibility of considerable "saltus" on the part of Dame Nature in her variations. I always took the same view, much to Mr. Darwin's disgust, and we used often to debate it.

James Clerk Maxwell's crowning achievement was the summation of all electromagnetic phenomena in four differential equations, aptly named Maxwell's Equations in his honor. It's fairly common knowledge that Maxwell never tired of a good joke, and his humor was most sophisticated at Cambridge. To his colleagues at the university he would sign his postcards dp/dt, which translates in the language of mathematical physics, to his initials, "JCM." Sometimes he would write backwards, or pose puzzles or riddles for his friends. His writing is sprinkled with Latin, Greek, French, and German quotes. It would take a scholar in Greek mythology and Sophocles' plays to understand this whimsical line from a postcard to his friend Peter G.Tait: It is rare sport to see those learned Germans contending for the priority in the discovery that the Second law is deduced from Hamilton's principle ... Hamilton's principle soars along in a region unvexed by statistical considerations, while the German Icari flap their waxen wings in nephelococcygia'

The word continues to evolve. On the Internet, says one web site, nephelococcygia has become representative as a symbolic use of the cloud. "As such, we use the term `nephelococcygia' when diagramming models that visually depict data flow from system to system."

It doesn't cost anything to visit the dreamy world of Nephelococcygia. Maybe you would like to go there on a warm summer's day.

How To Look For Shapes In The Clouds

  1. Find a safe spot to lay on the grass. Freshly mown is recommended.
  2. Lay on your back on the grass.
  3. Please don't ever look at the sun or towards the sun.
  4. Relax.
  5. Look at the clouds that are away from the sun.
  6. Watch the moving clouds and see if you can figure out any of the shapes. Can you see animals? people? objects?
  7. If you have a camera, you might want to take some pictures.
  8. If you do not have a camera, you might want to keep a cloud journal and draw the clouds that you see.

Sources:

Looking for Shapes in the Clouds?
Accessed
Apr 02 2002.

Nephelococcygia
Accessed Apr 02 2002.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

The coast is clear





    In the "good old times" they were noted smugglers, and one day, seeing the coastguard on the watch, they sunk in the sea some smuggled whisky. When they supposed the coast was clear they employed rakes to get their goods in hand again, when lo! the coastguard reappeared and demanded of them what they were doing. Pointing to the reflection of the moon in the water, they replied,"We are trying to rake out that cream-cheese yonder."

The gentle folk of Wiltshire England are called moonrakers today probably based on the tale in E. Cobham Brewer's 1898 Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. In spite of the humorous dodge of the nocturnal buccaneers who did not do all that of a good job of assuring that the coast was clear, the phrase still means pretty much the same thing today as it did at the turn of the 19th century. At its very heart it means that there is no danger of being spotted or that there is no one about or that there are no obstacles or dangers in the way. Formerly it was a military expression dating back to the 1500's having to do with literally clearing away an adversary from a coastline one example would be to use it as a tactic for laying groundwork for a safe invasion.

Before that the idiom enjoyed a completely different meaning. In 1485 Le Morte d'Arthur Malory wrote that, "Syr Beaumayns smote hym thorou the cost of the body." In this case cost means the side of the body because as Georgia from the Maven's Word of the Day writes, "Coast comes from the Latin word costa, which means 'rib, flank, or side' and also gives us such words as intercostal and cutlet (through French cotelette 'little rib')." She also adds that," The Indo-European root is kost which means 'bone'. Until about 1800, coast could be used for the side of the body of a person or of an animal ("a coast of mutton") or of anything at all," like perhaps a shoreline or the water's edge.

So maybe this is how the word coast in Middle English made its way into modern speech. It means, 'the side of the land' or 'the seashore.' Thomas Harman wrote in Caveat 30 (1567coaste about them cleare." By 1531 the phrase appears in print in recounting a vessel that had safely cleared the coast, then later Shakespeare used it in Henry VI as an allusion to visibility. The play was probably written in 1592 and concerns the events subsequent to the death of Henry V. The play includes the beginnings of the War of the Roses, the loss of Britain's territories in France and drew upon popular sentiments of the time. The portrayal of 15th-century noblemen attacking the city of Rouen would definitely have called to mind Essex's 1592 attempts at Rouen to aid the French in overturning a Protestant uprising.

In the play Winchester the Head of the church accuses Gloucester, Named Protector of the English Realm of wanting to control Henry. There is a betrayal for power and fighting between their serving men erupts into a street brawl leaving the Mayor with his hands full. King Henry VI's biggest threats are his advisors and nobles, many of whom are involved in arguments with each other. Although young and inexperienced, he realizes what damage may be reaped by such dissention among the lords. In an attempt to quell the brawling in the streets the Mayor meets with Winchester and Gloucester in this scene from Act I, Scene iv:

    MAYOR.:

    Nought rests for me in this tumultuous strife

    But to make open proclamation:

    Come, officer; as loud as e'er thou canst:

    Cry.


    OFFICER.:

    All manner of men assembled here in arms

    this day against God's peace and the king's, we charge

    and command you, in his highness' name, to repair to

    your several dwelling-places; and not to wear, handle, or

    use any sword, weapon, or dagger, henceforward, upon

    pain of death.


    GLOUCESTER.:

    Cardinal, I'll be no breaker of the law;

    But we shall meet, and break our minds at large.


    WINCHESTER.:

    Gloucester, we will meet; to thy cost, be sure;

    Thy heart-blood I will have for this day's work.


    MAYOR.:

    I 'll call for clubs, if you will not away.

    This Cardinal's more haughty than the devil.


    GLOUCESTER.:

    Mayor, farewell: thou dost but what thou mayst.


    WINCHESTER.:

    Abominable Gloucester, guard thy head;

    For I intend to have it ere long.


    [Exeunt, severally, Gloucester and Winchester with their Serving-men.]


    MAYOR.:

    See the coast clear'd, and then we will depart.

    Good God, these nobles should such stomachs bear!

    I myself fight not once in forty year.
    Henry VI Part I
    Act I, Scene iv




Strangely though neither Harmon nor Shakespeare connect the term with the idea of the coast is clear with smuggling. It wouldn't be until 1868 when Edward A. Freeman penned The history of the Norman Conquest wrote that," The coast was now clear for Godwine's return," which is remarkable because Godwine spent the early part of his youth running ill gotten goods as a pirate along the southern coast of England. And Swap adds that, "The Spanish version of this saying is "no hay moros en la costa," there are no Moors on the coast, presumably something that would have been important to know at the Strait of Gibraltar."

Sources:

coast, The Maven's Word of the Day
Accessed August 29, 2005

coast, Oxford English Dictionary
Accessed August 29, 2005.

Moon-rakers
Accessed August 29, 2005.

Re: The coast is clear
Accessed August 29, 2005.

Henry VI, Part I , Sparknotes
Accessed August 29, 2005.

Public domain text from Henry VI by William Shakespeare
Accessed October 23, 2005.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

An Opinion on the Question of Pornography

There's nothing more debauched than thinking.
This sort of wantonness runs wild like a wind-borne weed
on a plot laid out for daisies.

Nothing's sacred for those who think.
Calling things brazenly by name,
risque analyses, salacious syntheses,
frenzied, rakish chases after the bare facts,
the filthy fingering of touchy subjects,
discussion in heat--it's music to their ears.

In broad daylight or under cover of the night
they form circles, triangles, or pairs.
The partners' age and sex are unimportant.
Their eyes glitter, their cheeks are flushed.
Friend leads friend astray.
Degenerate daughters corrupt their fathers.
A brother pimps for his little sister.

They prefer the fruits
from the forbidden tree of knowledge
to the pink buttocks found in glossy magazines--
all the ultimately simple-hearted smut.
The books they relish have no pictures.
What variety they have lies in certain phrases
marked with a thumbnail or a crayon.

It's shocking, the positions,
the unchecked simplicity with which
one mind contrives to fertilize another!
Such positions the Kamasutra itself doesn't know.

During these trysts of theirs the only thing that's steamy is the tea.
People sit on their chairs and move their lips.
Everyone crosses only his own legs
so that one foot is resting on the floor,
while the other dangles freely in midair.
Only now and then does somebody get up,
go to the window
and through a crack in curtains
take a peep out at the street.

-Wislawa Szymborska


When most readers finish reading the poem they are sure that it's about pornography. Their guesses have been assured by the many metaphors of sexuality and sensuality that provokes one to instantly attach them to the lustfulness of the topic, like "degenerate daughters corrupt their fathers" or "the filthy fingering of touchy subjects". Perhaps there is an aha! moment by the sixth stanza when Kama Sutra is mentioned acting as proof of the reader's predictions. But by the time one hits the last stanza the topic has been derailed with a sharp turn. "Generally speaking, life is so rich and full of variety; explains Wislawa Szymborska, you have to remember all the time that there is a comical side to everything," Irony comes in "countless shades of the color gray" causing reservations with its explicit forms and levels of passion. In this instance it serves as a weapon to secure the individual's right to individuality, distrust, and opposition. On one hand the poem appears to condemn these attitudes however the poet employs a dramatic speaker with a point of view that is directly opposite to the author's and the aim is to make the speaker discredit himself and the beliefs he represents. In the course of the monologue the speaker maintains with deadly importance that "there's nothing more debauched than thinking." He has become the enemy of art and in his opinion; art subverts the order of the world.

Wislawa Szymborska's take on the role of the artist in society is one of "stopping time" and manifesting humanity's helplessness beside unending resistance. Her brilliance lies in how it averts the intricacy and cunning of its revelations, the way it nonchalantly breaks down modern apprehensions under the pretext of debonair banter and occasionally Szymborska will avail herself of pointed parody, "(H)er customary method," says David Barber in his essay Poland's Blithe Spirit , "is to let the freighted import of those touchy subjects insinuate itself through her expert shadings and siftings of subtext."

Born in 1923, Szymborska moved to Krakow,Poland when she was eight years old. Living under the Communist regime for most of her life Szymborska published her first collection of poems based around socialist realism in 1952 titled That's What We Live For. Two decades later, in the early spring of 1977, The Black Book of Polish Censorship comprised of nearly 700 pages of confidential papers dated from 1974 to 1977 was smuggled out of People's Poland to Sweden. The documents had a deep impact upon the Polish intelligentsia, predominantly writers, who were astonished by the draconian measures. Underground publishers and publications had already begun to emerge from the mid-1970s and expanded enormously with the rise of Solidarity. "Following the declaration of Martial Law," notes Censorship: A World Encyclopedia, "the state authorities imposed a severe clampdown, which however didn't eradicate underground publishing entirely."

By the 1980s Poland politics were in turmoil. The worker's strikes in Gdansk was well on its way to the formation of the Solidarity movement and Lech Walesa was elected chairman of the reform movement. Accountability and transparency of censorship were one of the demands made by Solidarity in the Gdansk Agreement of August 1980. The following year the Polish government declared marital law and established a military rule. Trade unions were outlawed; Walesa and other leader were imprisoned. "Strict rules were set in the city." said one eye-witness, "No one could leave town and everyone must be in their house by six o'clock." Solidarity went underground, and persisted in pressing for reform.

It was during the eighties when Poland's censored publications ran commentaries on whether to make pornography legal. During this period Wislawa Szymborska appeared as one of the country's foremost poets and composed this poem, putting "an opinion on the question of pornography" into the mouth of a fictional regime supporter of law and order who views pornography less subversive than thinking. She struck at the heart of what was wrong in Poland during its years of communist rule.

After Poland's terrible century, Szymborska's verse about "Nothing's sacred for those who think" addressed the Poles of the 1980s with a dry wit encouraging them with comparisons about the kinds of people who "prefer the fruits/from the forbidden tree of knowledge/to the pink buttocks found in glossy magazines." By zeroing in on the uses of such words as "positions," "fertilize" and "trysts"; words with sexual connotations, she aimed her pointed parody at the politics of the era. She offers contextual clues about what has gone before, who are these people with "positions" and hints at what these "positions" are about noting that it is a mind that is doing the fertilizing. The poem seems to end off-kilter, but her audience of the 1980s Poland would know exactly why someone would "go to the window/and through a crack in curtains/take a peep out at the street."

Then arrives the question, "What really is pornography?" Maybe the true pornography is not the dialogue on the forbidden theme or the staging of sexually explicit materials, but the within the eye of the reader and their ideas. Imagination is the spout of the shocking and the sensational. No one can censor the risky or dangerous thoughts inside humanity's mind. Szymborska telegraphs her message from behind the mask of a masterful verse successfully trapping readers in their own imaginations. Dig deep and the reader can reveal the power of imagination and the multiple meanings of pornography.

Since this is a translation, Western readers can never be fully aware of what is missing in poems that are this sidelong and covert, but one can come away with the indisputable feeling that even in her own language Szymborska is a will o' the wisp, markedly skilled at evading everyday sentiment and explicit statement, constantly dancing just beyond the reach of understanding.

The poet who survived the Nazi and Soviet regimes in Poland continues to tell of war and dislocation with a feather touch that lingers. Called the Greta Garbo of the poetry world, Szymborska shuns the spotlight in a superstar-sodden era. Today the octogenarian still lives in Krakow where the age of communism allowed her to indirectly observe the oddities and ironies of subsistence without bringing out official repression. Billy Collins writes in a foreword to her recent collection of poetry, "Szymborska's first book was blocked from publication by the authorities, not because it was counterrevolutionary, but because it was deemed to be obscure."

Sources:

Alone with the Greta Garbo of verse
Accessed July 30, 2006.

Cross Currents, Selected Poems (Volume 7(1988), pp. 211-216) Szymborska, Wislawa:
Accessed July 30, 2006.

"Imagination" in poetry of Wallace Stevens and Wislawa Szymborska
Accessed July 30, 2006.

Shapiro, Alan. THE POWER OF NONVIOLENT ACTION: South Africa & Poland
http://www.teachablemoment.org/high/nonviolence.html
Accessed July 30, 2006.

View with a Grain of Sand by Wislawa Szymborska, Translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh ,"A Harvest Original" Harcourt & Brace & Co. New York 1993.

Wisława Szymborska
Accessed July 30, 2006.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lipstick indicator


According to a news report, a certain private school in the northwestern US lately was faced with an exceptional problem. A number of 12-year-old girls were beginning to use lipstick and would put it on in the bathroom. That was fine, but after they put on their lipstick they would press their lips to the mirror leaving dozens of colorful little lip prints.

Every night, the maintenance man would remove them and the next day, the girls would put them back. Finally the principal decided that something had to be done. Inviting the girls to the bathroom she met them there with the maintenance man. She explained that all these lip prints were causing a major problem for the custodian who had to clean the mirrors every night.

To show how complicated it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror.

They say there are teachers, and then there are educators. Well now there are indicators. Did you know that there is a "lipstick indicator"? Indeed, I've seen this more than once. I don't think my lipstick buying habits would lead to this conclusion. Lipstick is expensive L'Oreal lipstick costs $6.99 a tube. Admittedly, it's a lot cheaper than a that strappy little tropical purse at Stein Market and cheaper than buying a new outfit at J.C.Penny's. I try to keep my lipstick buying habits under control-- but this week, I had to buy some. There was a sale, don't you see they tempted me and I fell for it. It was L'Oreal buy one get one free on the "Endless" line. It is supposed to be an 8-hour lipstick, but I have my doubts. The good news is it goes on very smoothly, smells good, tastes great and leaves richly vivid imprint. As a matter of fact it was my recommended purchase of the week to the neighbors. It's right up there with last week's hot pink lava lamp.

Ok, not really. A leading indicator is a term related to economic trends. It's a measurable factor that changes ahead of economy as it establishes a particular pattern or trend. Used sometimes to predict changes in the economy most leading indicators are not always accurate. For example one economic expert says, "Bond yields are typically a good leading indicator of the market because traders anticipate and speculate trends in the economy."

In the early 70's the Stock Trader's Almanac developed the January Barometer as a leading economic indicator, which states as goes January, so goes the rest of the year. Whether the market is up in the first five days of January is the "early warning system." Researchers relate that this particular barometer has had four major errors -- in 1966 and 1968 during the Vietnam War, in 1982 at the start of the big bull market, and in 2001 with the 9/ 11 terrorist attacks. Bill Modlin with A.G. Edwards & Sons in Decatur, Illinois explains why:" January tends to be a strong month. There's a flow of pension fund money into the market, and bonuses that have been paid in December have found their way into the market," adding that the third year of a president's term more often than not turns into an up market. In fact, since 1939 there's not been a down year in the third year of a presidency and Modlin believes, "The reason is that the administration will be doing everything it can to make the economy look good in preparation for re-election efforts." Sometimes the indicators work because they become self-fulfilling, said another investment planner in Decatur reasoning, "If everyone thinks it's going to go up because it's the third year of a presidential year, and they invest, it can be a self-fulfilling thing"

When indicators are discovered to be inaccurate they lose meaning in contemporary times some may even disappear. Hemlines, whether they went up or down, used to be regarded as an on the right trend predictor. Wanting to show off their silk stockings women would raise their hemlines as the story goes. But when things were bad, the skirts came down to hide they weren't wearing any. These days, there are so many types and styles of clothing, that theory has become less significant.

Another speculation was that the business cycle goes up and down as sunspots get smaller and larger was eclipsed when the cycles went out of sync. There are a several hypothetical markers of economic times. One is called the "Aspirin Count Theory." The idea behind this one is that "stock prices and aspirin production are inversely related. "As stock prices go down, more and more people need pain relievers to get through the day.

A different one that is surprisingly accurate about 85 % so far is the Super Bowl Indicator. The theory states that "a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) means there will be a stock market decline during the coming year. Vice versa, if a team from the old NFL (NFC division) wins, the stock market will be up for the year.

The lipstick indicator is the tendency for lipstick sales to increase prior to and during a recession. One of the earliest citations of how the term is used in context was used by Christian Millman in an article titled Retailers gather to look to future published in January 2002 in The Morning Call of Allentown, Pennsylvania:

And even though Lauder thinks a recovery can't take hold without business leading the way, he too is not hopeful that it will be soon. That view, he explained, comes right from the mouths of women.

Or more appropriately, right on the mouths of women.

That's because his company developed what it calls a "leading lipstick indicator." A while ago, Estee Lauder noticed that whenever lipsticks sales went up, consumer confidence and spending went down. That happens, said Lauder, because women still want to feel good about themselves in tough times, but they can't always afford higher-priced items.

The compromise is lipstick.

Leonard Lauder the chairman of Estee Lauder Cosmetics is credited with coining the phrase, reasoning that when consumers are "less than confident about the future, she (or he) turns to less expensive indulgences such as lipsticks. Therefore, lipstick sales tend to increase during times of economic uncertainty or a recession. "

Believe it or not many economists have been surprised at the reliability of this theory as a signal of consumer attitudes over the years. Lauder points out that, "Over the years, the company has noted that the sale of lipstick indicates the mood of the American consumer - more sales signifies a pessimistic outlook" For six months following the September 11th terrorist attacks he noticed. "a huge imbalance of what stores are selling and what consumers are buying." Retailers were extremely cautious and reluctant to restock their inventory during such an uncertain time in his opinion, adding to the slowdown.

Why does the lipstick indicator work? Economic experts say most likely because of a so-called lipstick effect: the trend during rough times for customers to buy small, cheaper indulgences such as lipstick rather than putting money into large extravagances. Generally speaking as retail sales of this cosmetic go up, consumer confidence goes down. Estee Lauder keeps an eye on their lipstick indicator reporting than makeup sales rose 11 percent during one quarter. "It seems like lipstick is something that always sells," said one salesperson that works at a midwestern mall department store, "Women will go without perfume and moisturizer before lipstick."

Sources:

Leading Lipstick Indicator
Accessed
May 06 2003.

Herald & Review Newspaper Website - Decatur, Illinois
Accessed May 06 2003.

Trends In An Uncertain Economy
Accessed May 06 2003.

The Word Spy - lipstick indicator
Accessed May 06 2003.