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f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 25, 2006

spitzer & the sitzfleisher

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 6:20 pm

spitzerG Today, I learned a great new-to-me Yiddish word: “sitzfleish.” The Ariga Glossary of Yiddish Expressions gives this definition:

Sitzfleish – Patience that can endure sitting

(Lit., sitting flesh).

Please let me use it in a sentence:

“If New Yorkers do not display heroic amounts of sitzfleish, the State may be empty long before Election Day, November, 7, 2006.”

vote small Why do my fellow residents of New York State need great infusions of sitzfleish? Think (a) Spitzer; (b) TV ads; and (c) “New York Is Losing People at Fastest Pace in America, New York Sun, by Daniela Gerson, April 20, 2006.

Eliot Spitzer — for whom I will almost certainly vote, should he receive the gubernatorial nomination for the Democratic Party, as now seems nearly inevitable — has been flooding our airwaves and cable lines with election ads for well over a month. The ads are so self-congratulatory, self-righteous, and self-consciously serio-heroic, that I appear to have only two options to salvage my sanity [and supper]: 1) watch no commercial television until after Election Day, or 2) move far beyond the reach of Spitzer’s campaign ads.


spitzerG . . . spitzerG . . . spitzerG

Frankly, I don’t think I have the sitzfleish necessary to subject myself to more Spitzer2006 television ads. Luckily, I listen to virtually no commercial radio, so radio-induced nausea has not been a problem.

As we pointed out last December (reacting to Prof. Bainbridge’s question: Spitzer = Thug?), in German:

– the noun spitzer is a sharpener;

spitze is acuteness, the pinnacle, a sting or a prick;

– the verb spitzen is to nib or sharpen.

Candidate Spitzer is indeed way ahead in all the polls, But, his ads are nibbling away at the enthusiasm of a growing number of his supporters. Already seen as ” a sting or a prick” by his opponents, Spitzer may soon be seen as His Nibs by television viewers across the State, most of whom can never hope to have enough sitzfleish to sit through Spitzer2006 camgaign ads for the next 5+ months.

vote neg Mark Gilbert has pondered The unintended economic consequences” of Eliot Spitzer’s actions as NYS Attorney General. I worry about the demographic consequences, as we all head for the nearest State line. Blitzfleishers heading for the exits.

tiny check One of my fellow New York State haijin, who might just hit the highway, is Ithaca’s Tom Clausen.

the load tied down —
her painted toe nails
on the dashboard

always takes his time
the custodian watches
the floor dry

railroad crossing
an old man
waves at the rain

straight out
of a dream
another day

zoo safari trail…
ant caravans travel
the railing


……………. by Tom Clausen Upstate Dim Sum (2003/II)







sick of being sicced?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 1:11 am


If you’re volunteering for the Battle of the Blang, you should check out

tonight’s lengthy update to Sunday’s post “that blankety-blank new word

‘blang’. ” The update was inspired by an interesting post at Language Log,

on Monday, by Mark Liberman, titled “Battling Blang” (April 24, 2006).


This post is “inspired” by the same piece.  Mark starts “Battling Blang” with

a lengthy exerpt from from f/k/a, which is always nice.   But, he spotted

a typo that I had missed in my piece and decided to “[sic]” it.  To wit:

“the Old Gray Lady becomes an accesory [sic] to languicide.”



This got me wondering about implicit and explicit, rigid and loose, policies

for when to use the adverb “sic,” which you surely already know stands for 

“Thus; so” and is (per the American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Ed., 2000):

“Used to indicate that a quoted passage, especially one containing

an error or unconventional spelling, has been retained in its original

form or written intentionally.”

Coincidentally, “Sic.” happens to be the abbreviation for (my ancestral home

of) “Sicily,” and for “Sicilian.”  Ironically (or is it?) sic is also a transitive verb


1. To set upon; attack. 2. To urge or incite to hostile action.


                                                                                           dog black

Mark, being a scientist, certainly had no ill-intent when he sicced me.  He

merely wants his readers to know that the error/quirk was in the original.

For most webloggers, however, I’m afraid that “siccing” is meant to attack

or embarrass the quoted author or to incite the reader to ridicule him or her.

tiny check Frankly, there might have been a time when I would use “sic”

offensively to embarrass an author who was in disfavor.  However,

I hope that I’ve grown out of that stage — even if a bit late in life.

Indeed, your Humble Editor is quite often humbled by his many typos (and

grateful to a certain Anonymous Editor who often spots them and alerts me). 

Besides not being a trained typist, I have always been terrible at proof-reading my

own writing — even when others counted on me to review their work and catch

their errors.  Things have gotten much worse the past decade, as a number

of my aging fingers are often rather numb (due to numerous medical problems),

while my old eyes have a hard time with screen glare and trifocal interstices.



her divorce lawyer

listed under “Martial Law” 




Perhaps for those reasons, and perhaps due to the sentimentality that comes

with finding out that one is no longer invincible or anywhere near perfect, I de-

cided shortly after I started this weblog that I would not use “sic” with a quote

when I am quite certain that I know which word was actually meant by the author 

and there is no good reason to embarrass the author by having the misspellation,

typo or mindo pointed out to my readers.  Instead of “siccing” the word, I simply

correct it in the quote.  If there is a doubt as to what the author intended, I have

at times first contacted him or her to see if the odd spelling or odd word was in

fact intended.


In the example above, if quoting the phrase “an accesory to languicide,” from the

f/k/a blang post, I would have noted the context of felony and crime and concluded 

that the poor old author surely meant “accessory.”   Then, even at the risk of appear-

ing condescending, I would have edited the misspelled word and had no need for a





Am I just an old, myopic and decrepit softee, with lax standards?  Am I making

excuses for my own sloppiness? (yes, of course)  What do you do at your weblog,

or what do you expect as a weblog visitor?  Peridemented minds want to know.


update (11 AM, April 25):  A wise weblogging patroon, who is surely too

humble to seek attribution, has pointed out a particularly good reason to

avoid using “sic” in a weblog quotation: a correction — if not already made

by the original author — is very likely to be quickly made once spotted in the

original post or spotlighted elsewhere.  Suddenly, it is the “siccer” who is in

error, with no apparent benefit to any of the parties involved.


an old man’s ways–
my backside warmed
by the wood fire








the old dog
looks as if he’s listening…
earthworms sing






exposing my spine
to the spring sun…
old age



Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue






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