I’ll get to the regularly scheduled links in a bit, but I wanted to lead off with some recommendations from my 2019 media diet (a term I’ve borrowed from Jason Kottke, whose blog always makes for tasty consumption).
Halloween is over, but echoes of boo are still reverberating throughout the land, most notably when the current occupant of the White House ventures out of his safe spaces and into the unfiltered public domain. He was greeted with loud boos and chants of “lock him up” at Nationals Park in Washington during Game 5 of the World Series on October 27.
Meanwhile chants of “boos” & “lock him up” rang out when Trump was shown on the Jumbotron at tonight’s World Series game. Signs that read “Veterans for Impeachment” and “Impeach Trump” were also hung around the stadium by fans pic.twitter.com/Pzjjs4AI4t
As historian Kevin Kruse pointed out on Twitter, there is robust precedent for president-booing at sporting events.
And other presidents have been booed at baseball games, in case everyone suddenly forgot.
If I'm remembering correctly, Obama was booed at the All-Star Game in 2009, GWBush was booed at a Nationals game in 2008, and GHWBush was famously booed at the 1992 All-Star Game: pic.twitter.com/spZjEj1vqh
If you’re members of the U.S. House of Representatives, all you need are four: Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
On March 15, a gunman killed at least 50 people and injured another 50 as they gathered in two Christchurch mosques. Minutes before the attacks, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had been emailed a 74-page document, variously called a “manifesto” and a “screed,” purported to have been written by the gunman. In it, the man – a 28-year-old Australian living in New Zealand – denounced immigrants as “invaders.”
Hours later, Donald Trump held a ceremony at the White House to mark the first veto of his presidential term, overriding the congressional block of the “national emergency” he had declared on the southern border of the U.S. During the event, he explained why he felt the veto was necessary, using language strikingly similar to that of the Christchurch assassin: “People hate the word ‘invasion,’ but that’s what it is,” he said, referring to migrants from Central America and Mexico seeking to come to the United States.
I still can't get over the fact that the Christchurch killer's manifesto plainly used the term "invaders" and hours later the President of the United States said "people hate the word ‘invasion,’ but that’s what it is" when talking about the US border.
It’s been six years since Ben Yagoda first noticed a spike in the U.S. usage of backbencher, a term with a specific meaning in British parliamentary politics – MPs who hold no ministerial or shadow-ministerial offices and therefore are consigned to the back benches of their respective houses – and none in U.S. government, where representatives and senators sit wherever they please on their party-defined sides of the aisle. In December 2015, Ben’s UK counterpart, Lynne Murphy, anointed backbencherthe UK-to-US import of the year; one of the nominators said she’d noticed that backbencher was being used in print (and some TV) “to refer to the members of a certain congressional caucus who were first elected in the elections of 2010/2012/2014, and so at this point can't all be referred to as ‘freshmen’, the usual term for first termers.”
Backbenches in Canada’s Parliament, via the very lively Parli, the Dictionary of Canadian Politics. which includes the category “Scandals, Crises, and Bon Mots”
I usually wait for at least three sightings of a phenomenon to declare a trend. But in the case of gambit, I decided that two big, unrelated occurrences within a single week were sufficient. They were certainly enough to start me scurrying down multiple rabbit holes, etymological and cultural.
It’s time to say good riddance to 2018 and to play #WOTY, the word-nerd’s favorite game. The score so far: Dictionary.com has chosen misinformation as its word of the year, with representation, self-made, and backlash) as runners-up; Oxford Dictionaries chose toxic (from a shortlist that included eight other words, one of them a former Fritinancy word of the week, gammon); Collins Dictionary selected single-use (runners-up: VAR, floss, and plogging); and Fresh Air language maven Geoff Nunberg picked nationalist. The Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum, an anonymous internet-based project, has been counting down the month of December with a daily WOTY; contenders so far have included thoughts and prayers, amorality, and, yes, flossing. (It’s a dance, in case you hadn’t known.) UPDATE: Mike Pope has posted his own very comprehensive list, which includes donugs, testilying, and TEDsplaining.
Here are my own candidates for #WOTY18, in alphabetical order.