How to Be Polite

the good boy - how to be polite

The Good Boy, 1837.

For Medium, Paul Ford writes: Most people don’t notice I’m polite, which is sort of the point. I don’t look polite. I am big and droopy and need a haircut. No soul would associate me with watercress sandwiches. Still, every year or so someone takes me aside and says, you actually are weirdly polite, aren’t you? And I always thrill. They noticed.

 “What I found most appealing was the way that the practice of etiquette let you draw a protective circle around yourself and your emotions.”

The complimenters don’t always formulate it so gently. For example, after two years ago at the end of an arduous corporate project, slowly turning a thousand red squares in a spreadsheet to yellow, then green, my officemate turned to me and said: “I thought you were a terrible ass-kisser when we started working together.”

“By following the strictures in the book, you could drag yourself through a terrible situation and when it was all over, you could throw your white gloves in the dirty laundry hamper and move on with your life.”

She paused and frowned. “But it actually helped get things done. It was a strategy.” (That is how an impolite person gives a compliment. Which I gladly accepted.)

“I figured there was a big world out there and etiquette was going to come in handy along the way.”

She was surprised to see the stubborn power of politeness over time. Over time. That’s the thing. Mostly we talk about politeness in the moment. Please, thank you, no go ahead, I like your hat, cool shoes, you look nice today, please take my seat, sir, ma’am, etc. All good, but fleeting. Read the rest of this entry »

Analysis: Could Bowe Bergdahl Really Forget How to Speak English?

Monika Schmid is a professor of linguistics at University of Essex.

For The ConversationMonika Schmid writes: When U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl was released after being held captive by the Afghan Taliban for five years, his father said his son was “having trouble speaking English.” Many will find this statement incredible: Is it really possible to forget your native language?


The answer depends on many factors. The first is what we mean by “forgetting.” Would it, for example, be possible for a mother tongue to be completely forgotten, so that a person cannot understand, or even recognize it anymore? The answer is yes, but only if she or he lost contact with that language before puberty.

Studies of international adoptees show that they very rapidly and completely forget their mother tongue, even if they are as old as 8 at the time that they are adopted. As adults, they may no longer be able to recognize the simplest words of the language they had first learned, and if they try to learn it again, they have few, if any, advantages over novice learners. Read the rest of this entry »

WA State: 98% of UFCW Union Vote to Strike Because of Obamacare


The Washington State United Food and Commercial Workers Union has voted to authorize a strike because of Obamacare regulations. Approximately 30,000 workers could walk picket lines as early as next week and the vote to strike was approved by 98% of the membership.

One of the new proposals in the current contract negotiations is to provide health insurance only to those employees working a 30+ hour work week.  “As with all employers, the Affordable Care Act will impact how we deliver health benefits to our employees,” said Allied chief negotiator Scott Powers. The previous contract provided healthcare for workers with 16+ hour work weeks.

Union officials say the President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act is being used as a convenient excuse to cut benefits.”The reason why the employers are doing this is it’s a big money grab,” said Tom Geiger of UFCW Local 21.

This could be the beginning of strikes around the country as the consequences of Obamacare become apparent.

The Conversation

Shutdown optics become a funhouse mirror of ruling-class contempt

In response to Service Academy Football Games Cancelled For The ‘Optics’:

John Hayward writes: The “optics” of this little donnybrook have been astonishing.  The Democrats will stoop to any depth to make people hurt, and they’re not doing a very good job of covering their tracks – perhaps having overestimated the willingness and ability of the media to wipe their fingerprints off the thumbscrews.  It didn’t take long to firmly establish that the goon squads dispatched to the World War II memorial were sent by White House orders, or for Harry Reid to blurt that children dying of cancer aren’t as much of a concern for him as furloughed federal workers.

Obama’s been shutting down attractions that don’t receive any federal funding, and even events that generate huge profits, such as military athletics and the Miramar Air Show.  No price is too high to punish unruly citizens… especially when the citizens pay for their own discipline.  It’s the sequel to “Fifty Shades of Grey” nobody asked for, starring Barack Obama and submissive Americans as his S&M playmate. Read the rest of this entry »

Poll: Mental Health Failures Blamed for Most Gun Violence, not Access to Guns

Elizabeth Sheild writes: In a rebuke to the gun-obsessed main stream media, Gallup released a new poll showing that most Americans blame a failing mental health system for mass shootings in the United States. What is notable is that there is a drop of 6% among adults who blame “easy access to weapons.”

Almost half (48%) say the “failure of the mental health system to identify individuals who are are a danger to others” is a “great deal” to blame for mass shootings. Forty percent say it is “easy access to guns.” This is a drop from 2011, when the survey was taken after the shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Read the rest of this entry »