January 29, 2018

Why Can’t You Get My Name Right?

My last name is not a common one. I guess you could call it unusual, but, as surnames go, I don’t think it’s weird. It sounds like it looks, as long as you know that in German ie and ei combinations are always pronounced as though the first letter isn’t there. (Think diesel, for instance, or leitmotif.)

I often have to spell my name for someone, either—think about that word and its pronunciatory variations for a moment—in person or over the telephone. I will say “D-E-I-M-E-L,” or, to prevent mishearing, “D-E-I-M, as in Mary-E-L.” The latter form is to prevent may name from coming out Deinel, which sometimes happens.

However carefully I spell my name, people write it down or type it as Diemel as often as not. Apparently, many people have so internalized the i-before-e rule that they write (hear?) ie even when what was said was ei. Meticulous pronunciation is incapable of preventing people from making this error. Sigh!

I was buying light bulbs today at an electrical supply house that stocks a particularly wide variety of lamps. (I’ve been swapping out compact fluorescent bulbs for LED ones.) I don’t have or need an account there, but, for some reason, the company needs a name to put on an invoice. I spelled my name in the usual way. What got typed into the computer was Dimeling.(See below.) I have no idea what combination of aural perception, cognitive processing, and neural communication produced this mangling of my name. The counter man set a new record for faulty transcription!

Light bulb invoice

January 15, 2018

Martin Luther King Day 2018

I heard a report on the radio today that referred to the Civil Rights Era in a way that made it clear that it was viewed as a historical period that ended some time ago. When did it end and why? Surely the Civil Rights Era did not end because all the goals of the civil rights movement were attained. War, poverty, discrimination, and unequal justice are still with us. Moreover, civil discourse no longer is about ending poverty. Instead, we talk about helping the middle class while in fact working only to further enrich the wealthy and sanction discrimination on bogus “religious” grounds.

Such thoughts on this Martin Luther King day inspired the graphic below. Feel free to use it elsewhere as is, except possibly for size.

Today is a good day to think about where we are as a nation and the direction in which we are headed.

January 14, 2018

Make America Democratic Again

Many Americans are asking themselves how we can return to a pre-Trump America, a time when the United States had challenges but did not seem destined to become a fascist plutocracy. It is clear that if the country does not change course by the time of the 2020 presidential election, the American experiment may be finished.

The answer, of course, is that Americans must take back their government, which means that we must throw out Republicans and elect Democrats to Congress in 2018. Given Republican gerrymandering and voter-suppression efforts, this will not be an easy task, but the preservation of our Republic demands it.

To remind us all of what we must do, I offer the graphic below. Readers are free to reproduce it elsewhere without alteration (except for size). Click on the image to see a larger version of it.

Make America Democratic Again

January 12, 2018

Posting Here, There, and Everywhere

When I created this blog, I described the intended content as “Random quick takes by Lionel Deimel.” I expected to be posting brief comments or essays that didn’t seem to justify being added to my Web site, Lionel Deimel’s Farrago. As it happens, many of my “takes” have not been quick at all, that is, they have been anything but brief.

Over the years—I began this blog in 2002—the World Wide Web has undergone many changes. Blogs—and even conventional Web sites—are not as prominent as they once were, having been eclipsed somewhat by social media. The older formats remain important, but visits to them are often mediated by tweets, Facebook posts, or Google searches.

I find myself expressing many of my current “random quick takes” on Facebook, on my own page and, sometimes, on pages of groups of which I am a member or visitor. This guarantees a modest audience, though the reach of such posts usually does not extend beyond the group of people I know. Facebook friends seldom share my posts, however clever. No post has ever gone viral.

Less frequently, I comment on Twitter. My likely audience there is smaller, though I occasionally do get responses from people I don’t know. The tagging system on Twitter makes it marginally more likely that a tweet will be seen by someone I’ve never heard of.

On Facebook, I post items from elsewhere, mostly news items. I also post brief commentaries, either as pure text or as graphics. I also post links to essays on this blog or, less frequently, to essays on my Web site. I tweet similar items, though news items are usually retweets.

Social media are best at communicating that which is of immediate interest. Twitter, for example, has been a boon to journalists, who can track unexpected events as they happen. On the downside,  information quickly dissolves into the fog. On Facebook, for example, I sometimes see two stories in my news feed that I want to pursue, but, after checking out the first, the second has seemingly disappeared. Social media are bad about letting you find something that has not been placed online recently.

Ideas that seem to deserve a half-life of more than a few hours tend to find their way to this blog. To make people aware of my posts, I write about them on Facebook and Twitter. It is easy to find a post here after the fact using Google, the search box at the top of the page, or—few blogs have this—my table of contents. (There are various ways of following what is going on here, which you can explore in the column at the right.)

Material of greater or longer-term interest usually shows up on my Web site. If it is of immediate interest, I may use my blog or social media to call attention to it. Lionel Deimel’s Farrago has its own table of contents.

Actually, all of the foregoing is just prologue to what I really wanted to say here, namely that I intend to be posting more brief comments here, either as text or embedded in graphics, the sort of think I have mostly placed on Facebook or Twitter.

Stay tuned.