ComPost Live with Alexandra Petri

Apr 17, 2018

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! How is your week? Will spring ever come?

A locally owned movie theater hosted a special showing of Isle of Dogs, for people with dogs. Dogs got in free. No more than one dog per human. Unlike in movie, dog barks in the theater were not translated into English—but we dog people didn't need them to be. We understood.

At one point in the movie, everyone in the theater rose as one to let the dogs onscreen go out. 

...when you turn to the article "Flesh-eating ulcer ‘epidemic’ hits parts of Australia; scientists don’t have answers" to read something more uplifting than the front page stories.

Was it uplifting? Why is 'epidemic' in quotes?

Last week former CIA Director John Brennan sent countless individuals to their dictionary when he tweeted, “Your kakistocracy is collapsing after its lamentable journey.” Merriam-Webster says that it is "government by the worst people" from the Greek word for "worst." (Not wurst, you Teutonic deli fans!)

It's funny, because prior to this era I have only seen the term "kakistocracy" on lists of "various -ocracies you can choose from" and it's really never the one you pick. 



callistocracy, which I think is government by the beautiful

democracy (government by the people) 


aristocracy (which is theoretically government by the best and thus the opposite of kakistocracy) 

gymnocracy (i think this is government by the nude, but feel free to correct me) 

everything else could at least theoretically be government by a group of people who would turn out to be pretty okay, but kakistocracy specifies in the name that they are THE WORST PEOPLE. 

More like an ataxíacracy, government by disorder.

I want to hear about every cracy you know about! Let's go cracy!

My favorite thing about this, other than poor lonesome Catiline sitting all alone is that the wikipedia page for Catiline includes a link to a piece by Julie Zauzmer from just before the election! 

What is the difference between a feline and a catiline? A feline won't come when you call. A Catiline will BETRAY THE REPUBLIC! 

Finally something I can use my Irish for ! mór = great/big, adjective follows the noun, so it is a big bookbag, or a big bag for books (as opposed to a bag for great books). FWIW, the Irish Famine is referred as Gorta Mór (so... unlike English, do not mistake "great" for 'wonderful'... which would be "iontach".) Tá fáilte romhaibh!

Hey, thanks for this update! Good to know about the difference between "great" and "great!" That could be quite confusing, especially with regards to Fires of London and Depressions. 

Did you help Aaron with this?

Ha, I love it! He needs no help from me. 

I studiously avoided that story for the reason I knew it would likely upset me. I wanted to finish my first cup of coffee in serene obliviousness... Maybe later.

not a question but an answer to yours: my sweeks going fine, ish. Had work bad dream last night like unto school bad dream of forgetting to go and then discovering i'ts exam time, only in the work version, its 4:50 pm and I forgot to call in sick and now they don't want me to come back, which is ok but maybe I wont get unemployment cause they'll say its for cause..and its only at the alarm that I know I've been dreaming. So that's my week so far.

Oh no! That is a very alarming dream! I don't know if this is better or worse, but I had a dream that I had disappointed Oprah and she made some very cutting remarks. Really less a dream than a nightmare. Dream-Oprah didn't hold back. 

Government by gigantic insects

I like it! 

What with all the looting of the taxpayers' money to fly on private jets and buy $31,000 dining room tables.

I knew I was forgetting one! As good a time as any to remember the definition of Kleptomaniac: one who helps himself because he can't help himself. 

When I saw Brennan's comment, I read it somehow as 'khakistocracy' and thought he was critical of all the generals in the administration. No joke.

Get Agrippa yourself.

That sort of thing will Turnus off. 

Government by open spaces. Look at the results of the 2016 electoral map. Probably a lot of the -phobias could be repurposed to -cracies. Arachnocracy, anyone?

Oh boy, a spider government! 

and Ivan the Terrible was actually Ivan the Awe-inspiring. (It didn't help that he was actually terrible, too.)

Like Oz, The Great and Terrible! (Not to be confused with Oz, The Gritty Prison Drama.) 

I know the correct spelling is kakocracy, but the way this regime is going, I somehow think CACAcracy is more apt!

It also saves letters! But I like starting off with a K. Words with K always look misspelled, even when they aren't. 

How's my week? Well, it's snowing here again. Please make it stop.

If I could control the weather, I would first bring actual spring here but right afterwards removing your snow would be at the top of my list. Ugh. At least it's not May yet? 

I see what you did there...

speaking of alarming, have a soothing alarm, which I realize is both an oxymoron and also not an effective characteristic for an alarm to have. 

I thought that was those Alt-righters in Charlottesville, wearing khaki pants and white polo shirts. (Same ensemble as Trump on a golf course).

The "h" is optional. 

Why kleptomaniacs don't get puns: because they take everything literally.

I love that one!

It is very different than the words on the "same" bag but in English. That read "Books are my Bag." isn't really that large a bag. But given the width of the roads that are considered both two way and wide enough to allow cars to park along the side, perhaps the Irish have a slightly different perception of a "big book bag" than I do. Actually, maybe all of Europe does. I was talking to a nice young couple from the Oxford area and they said they heard that DC and NYC were pretty close. I replied that the train trip was about four hours if everything went well and you didn't pay the huge mark up for a faster train, in which case it might take 20 minutes less than that. They seemed appalled that a four hour train trip was considered close.

I hope you stared them in the eyes and shouted "IN AMERICA, FOUR HOURS *IS* CLOSE! OUR COUNTRY IS IMMENSE!" although also I hope you did not. 

No question, but want to say that I have much respect for those running in the wind, rain, and cold. Would you do a marathon?

I would gladly do a marathon OF something that wasn't running. For instance, Golden Girls episodes, or classic Twilight Zones. 

In all seriousness, I would like to do one someday. As far as bucket list items go, it seems safer than sky-diving. 

You're making me Furius.


*the sound of a goose protecting Rome* 

Apparently there's the same problem with Ivan the Terrible. I took some Russian in college and was told that the Russian phrase for "Ivan the Terrible" actually translates more closely to "Ivan the Awesome", in the original sense of "awesome" meaning "fear-inspiring". I bet ol' Ivan would be happy to know people are calling him awesome, though.

"In my day, the word 'awesome' was for Ivans, not movies and TV shows." -Neil De Grasse Tyson soon, probably. 

Depending on the translation, it means either government by property owners, government by the honorable, or government by the junior senators from Virginia and South Carolina.

Tim! Well, there's one in there for everyone to like, at least!

are making me Sulla-en.

I'll take that as Tacitus approval. 

I got a Kick out of that. From beginning to end.

You know, if you imagine that today is February 17, the weather is quite promising.

Spring is going to be amazing, whenever it comes! Hopefully by July? 

That is literally what kakistocracy, or kakocracy, means. It's spelled with K in the original Greek. And it's the source of "khaki" -- mud-colored. Human mud.

I didn't know about khaki, but I can back you up on kaka! Kaka is poop. Kakon is EVIL. Kaka Kakon is -- well, you see. 

"Summer is so close! Can't you taste it in the air?" You should see the derisive comments.

Was this content scheduled in advance?

I, too, have a soothing alarm. My days are often scary enough without having to start it with a blaring siren.

As long as yours motivates you to start the day instead of lulling you back into the arms of Morpheus. 

published an article about a moron wearing a kilt and shirt that he apparently tyhought read "Blue Lives Matter." but it was more like "Blue Resides Subject" -- plus the added irony that in Irish, "blue people" is how black people are described.

I remember reading this. It was delicious! Is this the link?

The Girl Scouts have given their blessing to a company that makes Thin Mint flavored chickpea nugget snack thingees. This is a bad development. Next could be Tagalong-scented custom comfort insoles.

I want a Tagalong-scented custom comfort insole!

Many years ago I moved from Georgetown to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A friend kindly told me that her grandmother was getting on in years and couldn't always use her Green Bay Packers tickets, and I should go up because it was only a two hour drive. "Only" a two hour drive? Of course, this was back before getting from Georgetown to Shirlington was a two hour drive.

Which reminds me, is the Red Line still on fire? 

Our British friends were always saying that when they came over to visit us once we moved home to Maryland, they'd pop over to see the Grand Canyon and college classmate in Winnipeg....

that's not what the nickname means: It's Ill-advised or rash. One who would not take advice.


Next you're going to tell me that William the Conqueror was a type of horse chestnut. 

Routine mistranslation bandied about in our Great Books program for something in Greek that actually meant "a long book is a very bad thing"

Ha! I like the mistranslation better!

In medieval times, this was a respectful way of addressing rulers, as in "my very dread and sovereign lord the king."

government by tweets

Supposedly, words with K are supposed to be the funniest-sounding words.


You know, you gotta lotta Nerva.

Be as Nisus you can. 

how many people in the US live more than a reasonable one day drive from the boarder of another country. Maybe 10 hours or so taking into account a few stretch your legs breaks and lunch. So, how many people are more than 500 miles from Canada or Mexico. I think in DC you can make it to the Peace Bridge in Buffalo in less than 10 hours, so the whole Boston to Washington Megalopolis is in range. It would be an interesting stat. Then add on how many in those areas are a one day drive away from another country, but have never bothered to go (or can't because of financial constraints).

I bet there's a way of turning Google Maps on this problem, at least for the first half. 

After too many years of getting only five or six hours of sleep and zombieing through my days, I went to bed early last night -- and woke up five hours later. I couldn't fall asleep again, and now I'm tired and zombieing through my day again. Do I just have to keep trying this going-to-bed early thing until my body realizes it's ok to sleep longer?

I think so, unfortunately. Any sounder sleep suggestions?

I've used a clock radio since I was 12 years old, and my parents gave me my first one for my birthday. Ironically, nowadays you can go to all the trouble of programming some computerized gizmo to do the same thing, but for a lot more money.

Or just use the cell phone that you travel around with on your person at all times...

had crepe soled shoes in high school, worked at a mcdonalds. Would hear pepepole say as I passed in the hall, hey, suddenly I feel like a big mac!

I had no idea crepe was so absorbent!

The only way this would be better would be if you had worked at a crepe shop. 

The Red Line will always be on fire. It's like death and taxes.

After 20 hours of driving, we were in Chicago. When he pulled out the map and saw how far was left to California (especially after a sidetrip to Wisconsin and Minnesota), the stunned look on his face was unforgettable. The irony never struck me before today--his field was astrophysics, where distances truly are immense compared to a little cross-continental jaunt.

I hope he went back to his field with a new appreciation for distances. 

Also frustrating are distances where you know if you were only traveling by another mode of transit you could be in a more exciting place. "If I were on a plane now, I could have gotten to Las Vegas twice!" 

"Uh, I left my other purse at home. I'll make it up to you next time I come in."

Cut out most sugar and exercise in the AM.

There's a suggestion! (Is the PM less efficient for sleep-exercising?)

My cell phone gets met up every morning with "Let us go then, you and I..." Incentive to get up and turn it off, I guess, since it will recite the whole poem if I let it. I've never gotten to the mermaids.

I love this!

Then again, as someone whose alarm was supposed to play the Imperial March and then stop, but instead went all the way through the entire soundtrack of The Empire Strikes Back, Disc Two, I feel relatively confident I would have gotten to the mermaids. 

Yet another reason to eschew Facebook!

Bless you! Facebook?


Government by those who are asleep.

there was a very brief snow flurry on May first in Hanover, New Hampshire. In 1984 through 1987, there was always some (nasty, dirty) snow piled up in certain corners of stone buildings that never got direct sunlight (the corners, not the buildings) in early June. Y'all are wimps.

Yes, we are! 

As a young woman I had to take a 2-hour drive back home once a week from an offsite job, in the dark. I kept almost falling asleep until someone said I should play music I dislike to keep awake. The trick was finding something annoying that I could still manage to listen to without changing the station.

This is a really good idea! Did you find a station? What did it play?

OP here. My point was that the technology for gentle wake-ups has existed at least as far back as the 1950s.

Yes, sorry! Your point is well taken! 

I already exercise in the morning!

When I was attending college in California, I had a classmate from the "Big Island" of Hawaii, who'd never ridden more than 2 hours in a car in her life -- the circumference road of her island. Some of us did a road-trip between LA and SF (no big deal to the rest of us), but she suffered terribly from being in a car for so long. She needed for us to stop every hour for a few minutes so she could get out, walk around and breathe fresh air.

This does sound likely to make a long trip longer, but getting out to walk around and breathe fresh air (even if that air does not yet smell like summer) seems like a good idea. Have a magnificent Tuesday, everyone! 

Let us go now, you and I/While the ion cannon blasts into the sky/Like a tauntaun eviscerated on the ice/Also, I just happen to be your father.

And on that note, farewell!

See you on twitter (@petridishes) and the blog (! Enjoy the.... weather?

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