Because of Dorothy…
This for our Hebrew readers! About 2 weeks ago, Ruth Caleron – a new MK for Yesh Atid – gave her first speech in the Knesset. She’s a secular Talmud scholar. and a firm believer that the study of Jewish texts belongs to all israelis. to prove her point, she taught a page of talmud in the Plenary, in an air of gentleness and openess. This is one of the analysis of the many ripples this talk produced
ייתכן שהשבועיים שעברו מאז שנשאה ח”כ ד”ר רות קלדרון את נאומה הראשון מעל במת הכנסת הם זמן סביר בכדי לעמוד על משמעותו התרבותית – והיא רבה. הנאום, שסך צופיו ביו-טיוב בלבד מתקרב למאתיים אלף, כלל כידוע סיפור מהתלמוד אותו פירשה קלדרון בצורה אקטואלית, ואף דברי שבח על לימוד התלמוד עצמו, שלדבריה של קלדרון שינה את חייה. התגובות לנאום התלמודי נעו בין שתי קצוות: היו שאהבו מאוד את שילוב היסודות המסורתיים-דתיים בנאום, והיו שסלדו מכך. הסולדים גם הם התחלקו לשתי קבוצות: דוברים חרדים מימין, שראו במעשיה של קלדרון הפקעה של הקודש וחילונו, וחילונים-אתאיסטים משמאל, שראו בנאום הפקעה של במת הפרלמנט החילוני למען דרשה דתית.
במובן זה נאומה של קלדרון הוא מקרה מבחן מצויין לגבולות השיח הדתי במרחב הציבורי. בהיותו נישא מעל במת הכנסת הוא ייצוגי בעל כורחו, וכאמן שיאצו לוחץ במדויק על נקודות המתח שבגוף הפוליטי. מה שיוצא מהלחיצות האלה הן אנחות ונהמות, כל איבר ומצוקתו הוא. כך, בעוד עפרי אילני
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I love words. This should be pretty clear by now as the Gates is in its third quater of online existence (Vera and I have been saying “that should totally be a blog post!” for years when coming across things that, well, ought to be shared with the world). I had the great fun of studying rhetoric at university back i the Old Country, and often come across something that makes me wish I could kick back just sit and read all day.
For example this essay: From Cacemphaton to Cher: Foul Language and Evidence in the Rhetorical Tradition (Relevant Rhetoric Vol. 3 2012 – click here) by Jonathan Hunt, Associate Director of the Program in Writing & Rhetoric Stanford University. (warning – long quote ahead. For the bad words, jump to the end of the post)
Surprisingly, though, there has not been much attention to swearing on the part of rhetoricians. This is the object of the present essay: not swearing itself, but rather its neglect by rhetoricians, and what this neglect reveals about our field of study. Scholars in nearly every field of human inquiry have investigated swearing, foul language, obscene and profane speech: they have studied it in the past and present and in languages and cultures across the globe; they have discovered it to be a rich and varied practice that is not only expressive, but involves persuasive intent and persuasive impact. They have examined swearing in politics, in courts of law, and in ceremonial discourse. In short, they have demonstrated to us that swearing is rhetorical.Why has everyone else noticed this while crickets chirp in the fields of rhetoric? I’ll argue that we are kept from the juicy topic of swearing by our pedagogical heritage, what David Fleming calls “rhetoric as the study of speaking and writing well, a historically prominent and remarkably consistent program of instruction involving both theory and practice and aimed at the moral and intellectual development of the student.”From classical Greece to first-year composition, our disciplinary purpose has been defined in normative and pedagogical terms—in other words, we study not “writing” but “writing well,” and “well” is understood at least partly in a moral sense. This is not to suggest that we should abandon our pedagogical heritage, but rather to claim that it limits unnecessarily our field of study.
The rest of the essay explores this in a swift, precise and engaging manner. When politicians and celebreties today swear, in a world where words run amock and everything can go viral (including a man taking a sip of water before answering a question about another man’s speech…) can it be argued that they are in fact swearing with rhetorical intent?
Below an example of some seriously excessive swearing that functions as a style unto itself in the piece. the content is very heavy on facts and could be rather dry: it is a biographic account of Elizabeth ‘Nellie Bly’ Cochrane. The author is interjecting, rather forcefully a feminist reading of Cochrane’s life, stressing the issues on which she broke with conformity and challenged the ruling patriarchy But the the auther does it while using some foul expressions and it makes the whole thing highly amusing. I was at least laughing out loud! There is something so irreverent and rebellious about this “kicking and yelling”-type of writing that clashes deliciously with the subject matter. Add to that the sense of ‘not being a good girl’ which is exactly what the author argues Nellie wasn’t, and we have at least one of the explanations that swearing with rhetorical intent works so well here.
I don’t know who the original author is, but it seems to be posted on this Tumblr as one of the first places.
So, without further ado: Ladies, and Gentlemen
Why you should be in passionate horny love with Elizabeth ‘Nellie Bly’ Cochrane
- Born in 1864/65, Elizabeth, one of 15 children, was always ‘the rebellious one’. Fierce as fuck from an early age, she testified against her abusive stepfather in her mother’s divorce trial.
- In 1880 she enrolled in a teacher-training college but had to leave after her first semester due to lack of funding – then moved to Pittsburgh to help run a goddamn boarding school.
- This is where we get to the good shit. Age 18, she wrote a letter-to-the-editor of the Pittsburgh Dispatch bitchslapping the everloving fuck out of a sexist ballsack of an article entitled ‘What Girls Are Good For’.
- The editor was so goddamn wooed by her razor-sharp tongue that he RAN AN AD asking her to identify herself. Elizabeth owned up, and was hired instantaneously, her badassery radiating from her pores and intoxicating all within a twenty mile radius.
- Working under the pen-name Nellie Bly, Elizabeth kicked the butts of morons everywhere, writing articles aimed at social justice, particularly labour laws to protect working ‘girls’ and reform of Pennsylvania’s divorce law, which greatly favoured men.
- Not content with changing the world from behind her desk, Elizabeth became a founding mother of investigative journalism. She was expelled from Mexico for exposing political corruption, and henceforth wrapped in cotton wool by her editors. Infuriated by their mollycoddling, Lizzie left them a note essentially telling them to fuck themselves and hot footed it to NYC. She was still only 23.
- Within six months she was hired by Joseph fucking Pulitzer himself, and continued her batshit crazy investigations uninhibited. Her very first assingment had her feigning mental illness to expose repulsive conditions in Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum. Her cutting report was so fucking horrifying, compelling and persuasive that it triggered public and political action, leading to reform of the institution.
- In the next couple of years she had herself thrown in jail and hired by a sweatshop, all for shits and giggles. Oh, and to uncover incomprehensible injustice, cruelty, poverty, and the concealed, heinous treatment of the vulnerable and voiceless.
- But was pioneering journalism, social revolution and batshit badassery enough for our Liz? Like fuck it was. On a whim Nellie did what any self-respecting 25 year old woman in the 1800s would do – she emulated Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, and did it in 72.
- Millions followed her journey, and its appeal to a semi-literate populace resulted in greatly increased newspaper readership. So while travelling the entire globe (IN THE 1800s, AS A WOMAN) by ship, train, burro and balloon, she helped the world to read.
- Having essentially conquered the entire goddamn universe before hitting 30, Nellie retired, and wed 72 year old industrialist Robert Seaman. Their marriage was a happy one, and after his death she took over Iron Clad Manufacturing Co.
- But Lizzie was a writer, what would she know about the metal industry? Well, she INVENTED the steel barrel that became the model for the widely used 55-gallon drum and turned her inherited businesses into multimillion-dollar companies, so apparently a fuck ton.
- Furthermore, she set a precedent for working conditions, ensuring her workers had good pay, gymnasiums, staffed libraries, and health care, all completely unheard of at the time, while still writing to further the plight of the Suffragette movement.
- Nellie may have died age 58 of pneumonia, but HBICs live on forever.
*) HBIC = Head bitch in charge
(Photo: Josh Pincus is crying-blog)
We haven’t done one of these in awhile, but we figured new year, new goals – let’s get these side projects (Political Operative Wednesday, Woman of the Week; HillWatch; CondiWatch; for Vera to post regularly) up and going again.
With that in mind, I bring you Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts’ first female Senator. Senator Warren made waves this week when she went after answers at her first Banking Committee hearing last Thursday, February 14th. Let’s go to the video:
Warren began her political life as an advocate. She’s worked to protect consumer rights, was one of the minds behind the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and ran a campaign to unseat incumbent Republican Scott Brown highlighting protections for the middle class and women’s rights. She boosted her campaign with the release of a video that went viral in the beginning weeks of the 2012 election.
It looks like she’s actually going to hold to those campaign promises. It’s possible the US Congress is going to be an interesting and fun little show to watch as these 90 new members of Congress spread their wings and work for change.
In 2009, Hillary Clinton established a new portfolio in the State Department: ambassador at large for global women’s issues.
I’ve blogged elsewhere on the issue of women and smart power, soft power and why this all is a really big deal.
The first one to take on the responsibility was Melanne Verveer. Read about some of her achievements in this Forbes piece from last year (Ambassador Melanne Verveer: Do Women Hinder Their Own Advancement?)
“Women’s political empowerment is, perhaps, the toughest nut to crack anywhere in the world,” admitted Ambassador Verveer. Yet as her past accomplishments and her current role reflect, barriers, whatever they may be, are never permanent.
So Obama has to appoint a new ambassador. The Daily Beast has some speculations/suggestions (read them here). As you can see, as much as I adore meryl Streep I don’t think it should be a celeb, no matter how smart she is. It needs to be a political mover and shaker:
Under Clinton’s tenure at State, Verveer’s post became central to America’s foreign-policy mission and a critical point of contact on such hot-button issues as post–Arab Spring elections, Burma’s democratic transition, and anti-human trafficking efforts. During her time in office, the ambassador traveled to more than 60 countries, including Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to press the idea that the advancement of women and girls is a key component of more stable and prosperous societies. Verveer also exerted significant influence in D.C.’s power scene—as one observer wrote, her “tiny office wielded an extraordinary amount of power throughout the U.S. government, and even within the business community … [where] corporations and foundations practically lined up to form public-private partnerships.”
Stay tuned …
There was a recent Gallup poll carried out in Iran which among other things it aimed to measure Iranian attitudes towards sanctions and the nuclear program.
Among other things it found that 63% of Iranian believe that the nuclear program should continue despite the sanctions.
Gallup is a very credible organization. I am sure they did a professional job.
At the same time I think it’s a credible question to ask whether those questioned in Iran could say what they really thought.
Imagine that you are live in what is fast becoming a totalitarian state. A blogger (Sattar Beheshti) gets tortured to death because he makes a facebook page criticizing government help for Lebanon. 15 reporters recently got arrested on trumped-up charges. Thousands of people were tortured in Tehran’s dreaded Kahrizak detention center after the 2009 elections. The regime even arrested some young people for staging a water…
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Although quantity is not quality, and any good rhetorian will tell you that you cannot just count words to find out what a given speech was about, you can look at clusters and context. And quickly get a sense of where the ‘heart’ of a public declaration lies.
After this 3 second crash course in speech analysis – let’s use Barack Obama’s speech as an example. Also because I reckon you might want to be updated on that…
New York Times has made a pretty graph. Kudos for including past years’ speeches! See it here
“job” is the winner with over 45 mentions. More than twice as many as the 2nd and 3rd most frequent words (“energy” and ‘economy”) which gives you a cluster of domestic issues. Which is what the State of the Union is supposed to be about. So can the “oh, he only mentioned Israel once” people please stop? (Obama said the US will “stand steadfast” with Israel)
Iran got a bit of attention. Nothing worth a fanfare: Obama called on tehran to “recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution” over its nuclear programme, and added “we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon” (this might include taking Iran to the UN Security Council in march for a new round of sanctions, if tehran keeps obstructing the diplomatic talks with the IAEA – there is a meeting today in tehran that nothing will come of, for example. and possible a meeting in the end of the month with the P5+1 that..well..also looks like a dead-end and another victory for the Iranians who are essentially dragging their feet because it’s in their interest. that way they can create as many facts on the ground and hope to enter negotiations from a stronger position than they are in now. and also letting the sanctions bite so they look weak (looking weak being an old diplomatic tactic, invented by the Europeans Look weak, and you actually become the strong in the diplomatic game as the other side cannot demand so much from you. Interestingly both the Palestinians and the Iranians are currently using that tactic with the West. Talk about turning the tables! (in Arab diplomacy, looking weak IS being weak. hence Israel banging war drums in order not to have to actually bang them and start a war). Okay, that was me going out on a tangent! )
Full text available many places. here’s Politco’s (there is a video too)
I don’t think it’s a great speech, even if he opened by quoting JFK — his writing staff is becoming overly fond of using the “Brian-trope” (in this speech it’s a Brian. it’s not the technical name of what he’s doing. Obama uses the anecdotal in practically *every* speech – of how he’s met someone and asked them a question, and” here’s the answer and that ladies an gentlemen is what i am talking about”-section. (see his 2012 victory speech for another recent example — there it’s the dad with horrifically ill child). You can’t tell a story instead of making an argument (when you do, it’s the logical fallacy known as the “anecdote”).
Having thus pulled a face over the not-making-me-excited rhetoric, what is left is just to wish America good luck with the project of steering the economy back, and making the everyday life better for its citizens. Hmm… pretty much what Israel’s next government ought to be focusing on too!
Recent reports have made it clear that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid,whose party won more seats than anyone expected in the January 22nd election, has been playing a bit of hardball with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Today, Netanyahu, charged with forming the next government, sat with Lapid a second time in order to discuss forming a coalition. Lapid’s been going back and forth as to whether he will join the coalition with Netanyahu’s Likud party, or whether he’ll lead the opposition. An insinuation that he’ll head the opposition bloc, however, is that he’ll work to bring the current government down in a year and change’s time so he can then attempt to receive more votes and take the position of Prime Minister. Lapid keeps pushing that he ran to create change, to be a champion for Israel’s middle class, end the double standard for religious and secular communities by drafting the ultra-Orthodox into the military or some sort of national service and creating parity in Israel’s education system, changing the tax system, and other such promising centrist positions that have been sorely missing from the Knesset.
I’d like to take this space to appeal to Lapid, to please work to implement the changes he wants to work for, not to work to become prime minister. As the second largest party (with 19 of 120 seats) elected to the Knesset, he already has a strong foothold to create change. Votes come to those who are effective, not to those who simply work to make the government look bad. Tzipi Livni, of the Tzipi Livni party (officially, the party is called HaTnua, but JPost, at least, appears to have given up on even pretending the party isn’t just one big ego trip), is a prime example of how Israeli voters respond to ineffective politicians. In her last three years in the opposition, instead of using that time to grill the government on its choices of policies or introducing counter arguments or bills, Livni often resorted to ad hominem attacks on Netanyahu’s government. Though the Israeli public is obviously not enamored with the way Netanyahu ran the country, it definitely did not reward Livni. Livni formerly ran Kadima (which tellingly only now has a facebook page and no official website), the party which received JUST enough of the vote to break the threshold and receive 2 seats this election. HaTnuah received six seats, or 4.99% of the vote. This is contrasted with the 22.47%, or 28 seats, she received in the last election in 2009.
If Lapid refuses to join, the next government will likely be a coalition composed of Likud-Beitenu, HaBayit HaYehudi, HaTnuah, Kadima, United Torah Judaism, and Shas, a coalition of 67 seats. Among other things, this set-up would pit HaBayit HaYehudi, openly calling for conscription of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel, and its 12 party members against UTJ and Shas’ 18, two parties opposed to conscription. By refusing to join, Lapid then puts into power parties which will make it difficult, if not impossible, to accomplish one of his main goals, and he will have only himself to blame, as a Likud-Beitenu, Yesh Atid, and HaBayit HaYehudi coalition would already be at 62, more than half of the Knesset’s 120 seats. The parties which would join such a coalition have different and, often, opposing views on education, housing, and economic issues, which Lapid campaigned aggressively on. By creating a political situation in which Netanyahu has to turn to these other parties in order to form a government, Lapid becomes at least partially culpable for putting them into the government. The Israeli public is, if only one thing, politically savvy. Well, maybe stubborn.. But also politically savvy. I don’t think Lapid would be able to wash his hands of the responsibility of allowing Shas into the coalition.
The people of Israel voted Lapid in. Politics is ugly and makes interesting bedmates. However, to be effective, you have to be in control of something. Lapid, swallow the bitter pill that Yesh Atid didn’t get enough votes to become the largest party outright – though, interestingly, since Likud and Yisrael Beitenu combined their lists, the real breakdown is 20 Likud ministers and 11 Yisrael Beitenu ministers, so the election was MUCH closer than the straight numbers reveal – and implement those promises you made. I think it’s clear that the Israeli public will respond to that much better than if you fall into the trap of politicking.
Oh, and one last thing – your English website is full of spelling and grammar errors. I’m a Content Manager. Have your people call my people. Let’s clean that up, since educated Anglos, both secular and religious, make up a goodly portion of your constituents.
IN the sub-category of “Life imitating Art” we have Art imitating Art (like a previous Parking Lot post about Star Trek and the West Wing).
I saw Steven Spielberg’s LINCOLN today and loved almost every moment of it. Yes, it is romanticising the past and deifying Lincoln. And too long. But it is also beautiful and moving and insiting on telling us that good people can better the world. And the actors are superb!
I noticed – in a pivotal scene where the dramatic crescendo is about to top – that Tony Kushner (playwright) has written out the details of the roll call, listing the votes of the House as Lincoln’s 14th Ammendement to abolish slavery is being debated (and ultimately adopted to be ratified by law). I don’t know American history paticularly well (that is Vera’s department) but I am going to assume that the actual historical records have been used, so the name of the person and the vote cast is correct. One of the Republicans voting YES to abolish slavery (since it was the Republicans by and large who favored outlawing the practice of treating humans like property, and Democracts who wanted slavery to continue to exist) is a Mr. Willis from Ohio.
Mr. Willis from Ohio. Sound familiar?
(this is not from that episode. I just love the line. excellent writing… Gif not mine)
It reminded me of the West Wing episode, where a certain Mr. Willis from Ohio – a Black widower who has to go to Washington to vote on a bill to change the way the census is done, and bartlet’s merry men wants it passed, and the Republics oppose. Mr Willis is going to say NO and vote with the Republican party his wife had represented. That is, until he meets Toby and this dialogue happens:
Mandy, would you read please from Article 1 Section 2?
This is silly!
Still, in all it is the owner’s manual and we should read what it has to say!
[reading] ‘Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the
states, which may be included within this union according to their respective
Which shall be determined by adding the whole number of persons including
to service for a term of years.’
Well you said it right there. It says which shall be determined by the whole
of persons. The whole number of persons! Not the end of an equation that some
statistician got off a computer. It says so right there!
Actually that’s not what it says.
What do you mean?
Mandy left out a few words. Didn’t she Mr. Willis?
Mr. Willis teaches 8th grade social studies, and Mr. Willis knows very well
article says. It says which shall be determined by adding the whole number
persons. And three fifths of all other persons. Three fifths of all other
They meant you Mr. Willis. Didn’t they?
Mr. Willis, you are asking to enact a law, which will limit the ability of
people who need to be counted the most, to be counted as people at all. And
only refuge is the argument that Article 1, Section 2 is not arcane.
and the episode ends:
Come on, Toby. Sit down.
I just want to watch this.
We won it 40 votes ago.
I just want to hear this one.
ROLL CALL [on T.V.]
Mr. Widen. Mr. Widen of Pennsylvania votes yea… Mr. Wilder. Mr. Wilder of
Carolina votes yea… Mr. Willis. Mr. Willis of Ohio votes yea.
Coincidence? Of all the states, Sorkin made this character from Ohio. And of ALL the names he could have chosen, he chose one similar to a man who votes YEA at the roll call back in the day and made all citizens equal before the law.
A random thing of beauty.
Now, i’d love to see a film the size and scope and quality of Lincon deal with how actual democracy came to be and women got the right to vote….