January 30th, 2008


Lest We Forget

From Arts & Letters Daily:

Piecing Together the Dark Legacy of East Germany's Secret Police
She chooses a black binder and sets it down on the glass coffee table in her living room. After lighting a Virginia Slim, she flips to a page-long list of snitches who spied on her. She was able to match codenames like Carlos, Heinz, and Rita to friends, coworkers, and even colleagues in the peace movement. She even tracked down the Stasi officer who managed her case, and after she set up a sort of ambush for him at a bar — he thought he was there for a job interview — they continued to get together. Over the course of half a dozen meetings, they talked about what she found in her files, why the Stasi was watching her, what they thought she was doing. For months, it turned out, an agent was assigned to steal her baby stroller and covertly let the air out of her bicycle tires when she went grocery shopping with her two toddlers. "If I had told anyone at the time that the Stasi was giving me flat tires, they would have laughed at me," she says. "It was a way to discredit people, make them seem crazy. I doubted my own sanity sometimes." Eventually, the officer broke off contact, but continued to telephone Poppe — often drunk, often late at night, sometimes complaining about his failing marriage. He eventually committed suicide.

This is why the current administration's policy of "It's only evil when THEY do it!" is so troubling. It happened there, there is no reason why it can't happen here. Germany and the U.S. are not that different.

-The Gneech
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Party Guy

Belated Birthdays!

Happy birthday to demiurgent, exatron, partiallyclips, and montecook, all of whom either had birthdays while I was away, or had a birthday yesterday when I was still recovering. Hope you don't mind sharing today's Forgotten English (© Jeffrey Kacirk)!

three outs
When three persons go into a public-house, call for liquor generally considered sufficient for two, and have a glass which will divide it into three equal portions, they are said to "drink three outs."
--James Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, 1855

Last Quarter
Feast Day of St. Adelemn,

a twelfth-century French patron of waiters and manservants. A more treacherous form of freeloading in pubs, known as "shooting the crow," was described in Albert Barrére's Dictionary of Slang, Jargon, and Cant (1889): "An ancient sinner was recently charged with 'shooting the crow' -- obtaining alcoholic stimulant at public-houses and making an artful retreat without paying for the cool, refreshing moisture. His method was charmingly simple. After strolling into a coffee-room, he would order a 'six' of whisky. On the liquor being brought, he usually remarked, 'The water in the bottle looks rather cloudy, waiter. Fetch some fresh, if you please.' Then, while the gentleman garçon retired, the [customer] invariably drank the spirit with rapidity, and made tracks as speedily as possible. Fifteen days hard [labor]."

So that's a "lower-case 'c' with cedilla," eh? Learn something new every day.

-The Gneech