Every Saturday, instead of a lengthy editorial, the St. Louis Post Dispatch runs what it calls Short Takes: brief, unrelated news pieces accompanied by a thumb’s up or thumb’s down, depending on whether the content of the piece comports with the Post’s editorial policy. I thought I’d try short takes in this week’s commentary. You can supply your own thumb’s up or thumb’s down.
- In polls taken during the 2016 presidential campaign the best predictor of Trump support was agreement with the statement: “People living in the U.S. should follow American customs and traditions.” Compare this to the best predictor of George Bush support in 2004: Frequency of church attendance.
- Germans have great long words that don’t translate directly into English. The best known is schadenfreude, “taking delight in the misfortune of others.” My new favorite is vergangenheitsbewaeltigung, which translates as “wrestling the past into submission.” Germans have a lot of experience with
- The military has many pseudo-technical phrases that describe mundane events. They’d be called jargon if they weren’t slightly humorous. My new favorite is “rapid unplanned disassembly,” or RUD. Most of us know this phenomenon as an explosion. About the Mueller Report conservatives are having an indignation RUD and liberals are having a frustration RUD.
- Do you know what the connection is between a taxidermist and a veterinarian? Either way you get your dog back. I tried to connect this to politics but failed.
- The Democratic Party is ironically the Marine Corps. Today’s Democratic Party is concentrated on America’s littoral, the region along the shore. The great majority of Democrats live near Big Water – the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, West Coast, Chicago, Cleveland – a marine corps.
- The famous Kalashnikov sub-machine gun, the AK-47, has three firing settings: single shot, three-shot burst and full automatic. You would think that that would be the trigger-pull sequence: single, three-burst and full auto when pulled all the way back. But they learned the hard way that many AK-47 users had little gun experience and even less combat experience and when under duress reflexively pulled the trigger all the way back and shot up the entire magazine in a few seconds. They redesigned it so all the way back was the three-shot burst and full auto was the middle, and most sensitive setting. This made the AK a much more effective and lethal weapon. When writing the U.S. Constitution the Founding Fathers considered full auto for the new government – a popularly-elected national legislature and a popularly-elected president. They decided this was too risky, so they added a second legislative chamber whose members were chosen by state legislatures, not directly by the people, and they dropped the Electoral College in between the voters and the presidency. Unfortunately the Electoral College has had two misfires in the last five presidential elections.