Innumerable as the Starrs of Night,
Or Starrs of Morning,
Dew-drops, which the Sun
on every leaf and every flouer
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,
— that is all
Ye know on earth, and all
ye need to know.
E = M
Energy is eternal delight.
Impearls: 2004-03-07 Archive
What a Quagmire!
The anti-liberation left continues to talk out its Vietnam War redux fantasies, insisting against all evidence and reason that the current situation in Iraq is a “quagmire” like Vietnam. Early on after the coalition's conquest of Iraq, it was arguable perhaps that even if coalition casualties at that time were relatively low, by Vietnam War and most other historic standards, the Iraqi “resistance” (as the fascist-loving left insists on calling it) hadn't yet gotten going good — rather like early days in the Vietnam War — and just you wait!
Eleven months after the collapse of the Baathist regime, that case is getting very much harder to make. According to reports, the Saddamite remnants were pretty much wiped out last December — including the capture of Saddam Hussein himself — and the opposition currently in Iraq appears to be mainly foreign Jihadists acting with little support and refuge among the Iraqi people. The new Iraqi police and army continue to ramp up in numbers and experience, while massacres of Shi'ites successfully perpetrated by the terrorists were accomplished by a few suicide bombers walking through the midst of a vast throng, together with an accomplice who threw grenades out a hotel window — i.e., not terribly demanding as an organizational job. This “success” shows the weakness in the terrorist opposition rather than its strength. As Iraqi forces grow, eventually the infiltrators will be cut off. Iraq could even construct something like the Israeli “fence” along its frontiers if need be to supervise its trans-border traffic, but I think the situation will come under control short of that.
A good measure of just how much the current situation in Iraq actually resembles the Vietnam War “quagmire” may be constructed by simply considering the question of how long it would take at (e.g.) last month's (February's) coalition casualty rate to produce the U.S. death toll in Vietnam.
Any objection that February's casualties were “unnaturally” low merely emphasizes the fact that the rate has been declining dramatically and nearly uniformly since the high of last November (2003-11). See the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count site for details on how the trend has progressed. So far, this month is doing slightly better than the last, while last month (February) the coalition suffered — from both action and mischance — a total of 23 fatalities.
Each of these deaths is a tragedy for the person concerned and their families as well as nation, but compare with Vietnam: from the moment American troops increased into the tens of thousands in what was then South Vietnam and were authorized by President Kennedy to shoot back when fired upon (i.e., by the end of 1962), up to the time that Congress forbade further U.S. military activity in Indochina (August of 1973), is an interval — including the final August — of 10 years, 8 months (i.e., 128 months, or 3,896 days). During this lengthy period, the U.S. lost more than 47,000 killed in action and nearly 11,000 as a result of other causes, in toto some 58,000 fatalities. That is nearly 15 American fatal casualties per day, day after day throughout the more than decade-long war.
Taking last month's total of 23 casualties, and using the actual number of days in February (29), so nobody can object that it was a short month, gives an average of 0.793 fatalities per day during February. The number of days necessary to reach a Vietnam War toll at that rate would then be 58,000 ÷ 0.793, or 73,130 days. Dividing further by 365.249 days per year, we find that the interval required to reach a Vietnam War-sized death toll in Iraq is thus over two hundred (200.22) years!
In my view, any “quicksand” that takes more than two centuries to sink into — an interval nearly as long as the whole time the United States of America has existed — ought better be called terra firma.
Impearls: 2004-03-07 Archive
In praise of the C-word II – Dictionary Cuntroversies
This is about the C-word! You have been warned.
With regard to Impearls' earlier article on the subject of the C-word, Lynn Sislo at Reflections in d minor posted a link to it. Dean Esmay at Dean's World also linked back to the piece (forming a perfect ring, or perhaps properly it would be a spiral through Blogosphere space-time!). Some of the comments to Esmay's piece are hilarious. I have to disagree gently, however, with one of Rosemary's admonitions. As was mentioned in Impearls' earlier article, there is, I believe, a place for men as well as women to judiciously use the C-word — in my view, however, primarily as lovers speaking erotically to their mates (or as a writer writing about same), not as a term of opprobrium labeling people as individuals, by gender or class.
Dean Esmay goes on to dispute the C-word's etymology that Impearls' earlier piece alluded to, saying: “I'm pretty sure its ultimate roots are from the Latin word cunnus, although etymologists are doubtful about that from what I understand.”
Dean's suggestion of the Latin word cunnus (meaning a woman's sexual genitalia, as well as prostitute1) as the origin for the English word cunt is a fascinating one. After looking into the issue, however, I must reluctantly conclude it appears not to be backed up by linguistic scholarship. Dean doesn't explain why he feels so strongly that this is the case, but lacking academic support, the idea, interesting though it seems, ends up in pretty much the same locale as those other urban legends (such as the one whereby the popular “F-word” is supposed to be an acronym) — i.e., wrong! I should note, however, in this context that, according to Webster's Third New International Dictionary2, the word cunnus (plural cunni), meaning female external genitalia, is also an English word — which certainly complicates the situation with regard to the similar C-word and its associated variants.
Here's how several different English-language dictionaries describe the C-word's etymology:
All which is fully consistent with a Germanic, not Romance, origin for the C-word in English.
While here, let's consider usages over time as shown in the OED, which are fascinating.
One ought also consider that close variant on the C-word, “Quaint”: 7
Then there's the diminutive variant of the C-word, “Cunny.” As the OED puts it: 8
I'm afraid it gets even more complicated than that. As the above quote notes, one must also see the (Modern) English word Cony, meaning rabbit — memorably heard most recently in the phrase “a brace of conies” in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. In earlier times, “cony” was often spelt “conny,” sometimes even “cunny,” and pronounced identically with the above word “cunny” — which is to say, so as to rhyme with honey and money. Given this, associations between “connies” and “cunnies” were inevitable, just as (with less linguistic cause) the term “pussy” is sometimes applied today for the female genitalia. As a result, according to the OED, certain meanings of cony have aligned with those of the C-word: 9
Conies (rabbits) are mentioned in the Bible, so one can imagine the tittering in church centuries ago when those scriptural passages were recited — the result being that cony began to be pronounced (at first only in church) using the long-o vowel sound.
Thus, the pronunciation seen today.
1 Cassell's Latin Dictionary (Latin-English and English-Latin), revised by J. R. V. Marchant (Scholar of Wadham College, Oxford) and Joseph F. Charles (Assistant Master at the City of London School), Funk & Wagnalls Company, New York and London; p. 146.
3 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, edited by William Morris, 1969, American Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., and Houghton Mifflin Company, New York; pp. 322, 1524. See also the online American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
6 The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume III: Supplement, 1987, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, New York (Library of Congress catalog no. PE1625.C58 1987 423 87-1592, ISBN 0-19-861211-7 (v.3)); pp. 176-177. See also OED Online (subscription only).
7 The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume II: P-Z, 1971, Oxford University Press, New York (Library of Congress Catalogue Card No. 76-188038); p. 2382. See also OED Online (subscription only).
8 The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume III: Supplement, 1987, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, New York (Library of Congress catalog no. PE1625.C58 1987 423 87-1592, ISBN 0-19-861211-7 (v.3)); p. 176. See also OED Online (subscription only).
9 The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Volume I: A-O, 1971, Oxford University Press, New York (Library of Congress Catalogue Card No. 76-188038); p. 549. See also OED Online (subscription only).
Impearls: 2004-03-07 Archive
C. S. Lewis' Expostulation (against too many writers of science fiction)
In belated appreciation of the 40th anniversary of the death of author C. S. Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis, 1898-1963), which occurred this last November 22 (2003-11-22), Impearls presents Lewis' pithy poetic critique of much of science fiction literature, as he then, and we today (per Sturgeon's Revelation†), must see it. Whether Lewis' own work fully lives up to these expectations is another matter, that some, no doubt, would argue for or against. It's the principle we at Impearls cherish!
(†Science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon once stood before a science fiction convention and proclaimed, “Ninety percent of science fiction is crap!” Then, before outraged fans could lynch him [joke!], Sturgeon added: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.” This has since become known as “Sturgeon's revelation,” and presumed to have general relevance.)
On to C. S. Lewis' poem.
(Copied as a boy from the frontspiece of an old F&SF collection, onto a tiny slip of paper that somehow never got lost….)
An Expostulation (Against too many writers of science fiction)
by C. S. Lewis
2002-11-03 2002-11-10 2002-11-17 2002-11-24 2002-12-01 2002-12-08 2002-12-15 2002-12-22 2002-12-29 2003-01-05 2003-01-12 2003-01-19 2003-01-26 2003-02-02 2003-02-16 2003-04-20 2003-04-27 2003-05-04 2003-05-11 2003-06-01 2003-06-15 2003-06-22 2003-06-29 2003-07-13 2003-07-20 2003-08-03 2003-08-10 2003-08-24 2003-08-31 2003-09-07 2003-09-28 2003-10-05 2003-10-26 2003-11-02 2003-11-16 2003-11-23 2003-11-30 2003-12-07 2003-12-14 2003-12-21 2003-12-28 2004-01-04 2004-01-11 2004-01-25 2004-02-01 2004-02-08 2004-02-29 2004-03-07 2004-03-14 2004-03-21 2004-03-28 2004-04-04 2004-04-11 2004-04-18 2004-04-25 2004-05-02 2004-05-16 2004-05-23 2004-05-30 2004-06-06 2004-06-13 2004-06-20 2004-07-11 2004-07-18 2004-07-25 2004-08-22 2004-09-05 2004-10-10 2005-06-12 2005-06-19 2005-06-26 2005-07-03 2005-07-10 2005-07-24 2005-08-07 2005-08-21 2005-08-28 2005-09-04 2005-09-11 2005-09-18 2005-10-02 2005-10-09 2005-10-16 2005-10-30 2005-11-06 2005-11-27 2006-04-02 2006-04-09 2006-07-02 2006-07-23 2006-07-30 2007-01-21 2007-02-04 2007-04-22 2007-05-13 2007-06-17 2007-09-09 2007-09-16 2007-09-23 2007-10-07 2007-10-21 2007-11-04 2009-06-28 2009-07-19 2009-08-23 2009-09-06 2009-09-20 2009-12-13 2011-03-27 2012-01-01 2012-02-05 2012-02-12