Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries from August 2003

Ethnic insults for — the Dutch?

August 29th, 2003 · 1 Comment

Some American “patriot”  insulted everyone’s favorite Netherlander by calling him a “German pig,” and Niek understandably feels–well–insulted.

One problem is, we don’t have any rude epithets for the Dutch.  I’ve heard people abuse the English as snobby, the Irish as drinkers, the Polish as stupid.

My mother was French-Canadian, and we lived close enough to Canada so that lots of our townspeople were too. When somebody drove in a way she didn’t like, she’d yell, “Look at that frog-eating Frenchman!”

But the Dutch?

Okay, guys, I lived near Amsterdam for three months once, so here are some stereotyped remarks about the Dutch. They are funny, healthy, and tall compared to me. They ride huge battered bikes at scary speeds. They shake hands a lot. They kiss three times instead of two. They are kind but not tactful, or perhaps it would be better to say they are very direct and clear about what they want and what they think. On patriotic and soccer-related occasions, you can see kids wearing orange in some very remarkable ways.

I must say these stereotypes of “the Dutch” don’t seem to suggest any useful ethnic insults…

Anyway, people who insult other people’s origins are jerks. Of course, I don’t include my mom in that category, because everyone knows moms get to make their own rules. Hey, that includes me!

Good. I hereby rule that nobody on earth gets to do any more patriotic insulting of anybody else. And if they do… “I’m made of rubber, you’re made of glue–What you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”

Tags: Good versus Evil

“Nasty” word Dean didn’t deserve

August 28th, 2003 · 10 Comments

Dave Winer’s email is busted again, so I guess he didn’t get my request for a correction to his blast at Dean:

The first candidate that helps voters publish their own stories and ideas and drive the campaign is the one who really captures the energy of the Web. So far Dean has used the Web to raise money to spend on big rallies and TV ads. That’s using the Web in kind of a nasty way. But he also helps people find what’s good inside themselves. That’s why people give him the money. I want a candidate to use the Web to listen. It doesn’t take much money to do that.

Howard Dean’s campaign has been deeply involved in using the web to listen since before I ever heard of Howard Dean. Dean staffers and enthusiasts share ideas in a bunch of Yahoo Groups–by now there are <a href = “”>525 Yahoo groups</a> where supporters get together, address issues, share ideas, etc. The Dean team has an official campaign blog and an unofficial one too. Howard Dean also spent time as a guest-blogger on Larry Lessig’s blog.

Dave, Dean is listening to voters. I hope you will retract your claim that he isn’t. A lot of people read your blog, and I hope you read mine, since my email is lost in the mist.

Tags: Invisible primary

The optometrist’s honeymoon, and similar conundra…

August 25th, 2003 · 4 Comments

Q. What does the optometrist say on his honeymoon?
A. “Do you like it like this–or like this? Good. Now, like this–or like this?”

I adore traveling, and part of what I love is finding out just how wrong I am about things I once imagined were always true.

Take kissing, for example. In the chilly parts of New England I grew up in, public kisses involve one warm peck on the cheek, given by parent to child, or by child to parent. Imagine my deer-in-the-headlights surprise when friendly strangers from Paris or New York* assumed I understood the “kiss kiss” hello.

Okay, I got to enjoy the “kiss kiss” hello. Then (wouldn’t you know!) I end up in the Netherlands where they do “kiss kiss kiss!” Until I caught on, I was the Queen of Kissus Interruptus.

Do you think I know how to buy a newspaper? Sure. In the US, the dialogue goes like this:

Me: Hi–just this paper, please.
Nick: Okay, it’s a dollar.
Me: Thanks, okay, here you are. (giving him a dollar).
Nick: Thanks–have a good day.
Me: Yeah, you too–bye!

Now, in Holland, my normal behavior is downright rude. Instead of a mere “hi”, I ought to say “Good afternoon.” Then, only after Niek** has responded with “Good afternoon,” can we begin to talk money and newspapers.

Suppose I’m in Sweden, and buying a paper from Nils. Well, my normal method is wrong, for the opposite reason. Here’s how you buy a newpaper in Stockholm:

Me: This paper.
Nils: 10 kronor.
Me: Here. (giving him 10 kronor.)
Nils: Here (giving me the paper.)

In Sweden, doing it my way–or the Dutch way–makes me sound like that amorous optometrist–so well-meaning, and so totally wrong.

* To NH kids, Manhattan is just as foreign as Paris.
** No, not that Niek!–some other Dutch Niek who is not a famous babe magnet and sells newspapers.

p.s. Speaking of eye doctors, congratulations to Halley! Check out her blissful awakening after her cataract operation.

Tags: Pilgrimages

Swedish language emergency kit

August 22nd, 2003 · 1 Comment

“Language Emergency Kit”–ten rock-bottom minimum sentences for any trip:

  1. Where’s the bathroom? (vahr air too-a-lett’-en?)
  2. Thank you very much. (tuck saw mewcket)
  3. Please. (var so good)
  4. Yes. (yah.)
  5. No. (nay.)
  6. No, thank you. (nay, tuck)
  7. I’m sorry. (fur-lawt’ may).
  8. My husband is vegetarian. (min man air vegetaree-ansk’.)
  9. Without meat? (eutan churt?)
  10. Where can I access the Internet? (vahr kun yahg komma in paw internet?)

Two bonus sentences, in case you don’t have a vegetarian husband:

“Can we sit in a non-smoking area?” (kun vee sitta veed boord fur ickeh-rurkareh?)
“That’s beautiful.” (den air vack’-er)

Tags: language · Stories · Travel · Useful

On beyond “Ya, youbetcha” and “Bork bork bork?”

August 22nd, 2003 · 11 Comments

I’ve long been a fan of the Swedish chef school of linguistics, but since I leave for Sweden on Tuesday it may just be time to gather my Swedish language emergency kit.

Those who remember my
quest for instant Czech won’t be surprise to hear that–thanks to the LCS Hockey Association’s website–I now can say things in Swedish that would surprise you:

Han finns de action? – Where is the action?

Har du sedd min kaslonger? – Have you seen my pants?

Langa de vin. – Pass the wine.

Jag var i Cleveland den vecka, officer. – I was in Cleveland that week, officer.

Du ar a illa skona kvinnor. – You are a very beautiful woman.

Skulle du lik att se de hem av a ensam, ensam man? – Would you like to see the home of a lonely, lonely man?

Nej, nej, ej de paprika sprej! – No, no, not the pepper spray!

At least I don’t have to learn Viking-coping phrases like “What a big ax!” and “I have no gold coins, but may I offer you this fine Timex watch?”

Tags: funny · language · Pilgrimages · Travel

Halley’s Comment on a roll

August 22nd, 2003 · Comments Off on Halley’s Comment on a roll

Employers who fired people for blogging include “a Washington DC-based non-profit“,
the Houston Chronicle,, and probably many more!

Tags: Learn to write good

Never mind flowers, let’s get rid of the Bushes!

August 22nd, 2003 · Comments Off on Never mind flowers, let’s get rid of the Bushes!

“Memorials in her honor can be made to any organization working for the removal of President Bush.”

Sally Baron’s kids wanted to honor their mother’s feisty life and opinions–
by supporting a cause she really cared about.
Sally Baron married a miner and raised six kids in northern Wisconsin. She worked as a factory assembly worker, a waitress, a cook and a dietician. And that’s not all:

“She was the den mother. She was the 4-H leader. She is the lady that taught all of us how to swim, how to play softball, how to camp,” said her son, Joe Baron, who owns a plumbing business in Prairie du Sac.

Sally is the kind of person the DLC Democrats hope to woo back to voting for Democrats by explaining that not *all* Democrats hate soldiers and babies, and only a *few* Democrats love drugs and crime.
Sally was just a lot smarter than they figured. Most people are. Sally watched CNN and C-SPAN and hollered and swore and called Bush a “whistle ass.”

“She thought he was a liar,” Baron’s daughter, Maureen Bettilyon, said. “I think his personality, just standing there with that smirk on his face, and acting like he’s this holy Christian, that’s what really got her.”

Her son Joe Baron agreed. “She just didn’t trust that a big corporate guy was going to be doing what was best for her. She just really didn’t trust him,” he said.

Amen, Sally Baron! Your kids are proud of you, and you should be proud of your kids!

Joe Lieberman, any chance you’re listening?

Tags: Invisible primary

More Dean in NH pictures…

August 21st, 2003 · 1 Comment

BigDeanGuys: Deaner Mike, Deaner Aaron, blogger Dave, and Deaner Chace wait for Dean.
Left to right: Dean’s dynamite staffer Mike Weissman, Dean database guru Aaron, mega-blogger Dave Winer, NH Dean volunteer Chace Vanderwolk, looking forward to casting his first vote for Howard Dean.

BigDeanArrives: Howard Dean talks to TV cameras en route to NH house party.
Dean came strolling down the street with TV cameras and pundits following him. He seemed to be having fun, and to like them all.

Tags: Stories

Waiting for Dean in the NH twilight…

August 21st, 2003 · Comments Off on Waiting for Dean in the NH twilight…

WaitingForDean: Betsy Devine (picture by Dave); Dean Team-ers Mike Weissman and Aaron with Dave Winer (picture by Betsy)
Talk about “Metablogging”! Dave Winner* took a picture of me taking a picture of him….

Dave has a page of huge wonderful images. I have just a couple more (one of Deaner Mike, Deaner Aaron, Blogger Dave, and Deaner Chace–the other showing Dean’s actual arrival) on this page.

*Aw shucks, folks. If Dave wants to call me “Besty” on his website, don’t you think I ought to return the compliment, by misspelling his name in a flattering way?

Tags: Invisible primary · New Hampshire!

Tonight I met Howard Dean: Stars in my eyes…

August 20th, 2003 · 5 Comments

…hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Tonight I met Howard Dean and heard him speak. About 250 of us showed up at a NH house party, including a bunch of cool Dean volunteers I’d met before and primary-blogging guru Dave Winer.

Okay, I want to blog this event for you so you picture being there with me.

First, you and I took our garbage to the town dump, because Wednesday the dump is open and after that it’s closed until Saturday. You carried the stinky bags to the garbage crusher–how nice of you! I had the fun of throwing cardboard and paper into the recycling box with a mighty THWOKK.

Then, we drove to Johnson’s Dairy Bar on Route 4 in Northwood, where I had a lobster roll and diet coke. What did you get? If you were hungry, a fat cheeseburger or maybe belly clams. (If you eat dessert there, watch out for their “small” dish of ice cream–it’s 3 big scoops.)

Then we drove back to my house to get my dog, who would rather sleep in my car than be left alone, and drove down to Manchester–NH’s biggest city. Once we got close to the party, Dean volunteers at almost every corner waved us toward Allied Avenue.

So if you were with me, we parked our VW and rushed off toward the party. We got stick-on Dean tags, and if you took my advice we stood in the street until Dean arrived so that you and I could really, really see him.

Lots of people were there. People I knew were there. Probably, people you know were also there. TV cameras were there. And suddenly Dean was there, walking down the street, smiling, being interviewed, being photographed, enjoying himself and the people talking with him.

If you were as bold as I was, you shook his hand once those TV cameras stepped back. Then we followed him into the Kelleys’ back yard to hear him speak. Dean spoke without notes, and covered a lot of topics. I also took no notes, but here are a few of the things I remember him saying:

  • “I’ll have some fun talking about the President, but a person running for office should also say what he’s for.
  • “The two things a candidate has to get right are foreign relations and the economy. Bush has both of these completely wrong.”
  • “Fifty per cent of Americans no longer vote. We’ll win by giving them a reason to vote.”

The crowd loved it. I loved it. My feet are covered with mosquito bites–I hope you weren’t wearing sandals! Boy, I’m tired–aren’t you?

After the talk, we walked my dog, but it was no use. She still went wee-wee-wee all the way home. Oh well, it was worth it. Don’t you think so? Okay, good night.

Tags: Invisible primary