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January 6 Is Unknowable

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Dunbar’s number is a term that describes a presumed cognitive limit to the number of people with whom an individual can maintain social relationships. It’s a way of thinking about limits to our ability to understand a network. People argue about what the actual number is, though 150 is a good standard.

Using that figure, the number of people arrested in the January 6 attack is, thus far, 4 2/3 Dunbar numbers, with two more Dunbar numbers of assault suspects identified in FBI wanted photos. By my count, one Dunbar number of suspects are charged with assault. There were one Dunbar number of police victims from that day. There have been, Attorney General Garland revealed last night, one Dunbar number of prosecutors working on the investigation. One Dunbar number of Congresspeople backed challenges to the vote certification last year, and a significant subset of those people further enabled the insurrectionists in more substantive ways. The January 6 Select Committee has interviewed two Dunbar number of witnesses about the event, a group that barely overlaps with the suspects already charged.

I think about Dunbar’s number a lot, particularly as I review the DC court calendar each morning to review which court hearings I should call into on a given day. I can rattle off the names of the January 6 defendants in all the major conspiracy cases and some less obvious key defendants about whom I’ve got real questions. But for other hearings with a 2021 docket number (the January 6 defendants make up the majority of defendants in DC last year), I need to refer back to my master list to see whether those are January 6 defendants, and if so, whether the hearing might be of import. There are five January 6 defendants with the last name Brown, five with some version of the last name Kelly (all quite interesting), three Martins, and seven Williamses, so it’s not just recognizing the name, but trying to remember whether a particular Brown is one of the really interesting ones.

Court filings are the way I go about understanding January 6. Sedition Hunters, by contrast, have worked via faces in photos, from which they effectively create dossiers on suspects of interest.

From their home offices, couches, kitchen tables, bedrooms and garages, these independent investigators have played a remarkable role in archiving and preserving digital evidence. Often operating under the “Sedition Hunters” moniker, they’ve archived more than 2,000 Facebook accounts, over 1,125 YouTube channels, 500-plus Instagram accounts, nearly 1,000 Twitter feeds, more than 100 Rumble profiles and over 250 TikTok accounts. They’ve gathered more than 4.1 terabytes ― 4,100 gigabytes ― of data, enough to fill dozens of new iPhones with standard-issue storage.

Both approaches have come to a similar understanding of the attack: that the Proud Boys led a multi-pronged assault on the building, one that is most easily seen on the coordinated assault from the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, America Firsters, and Alex Jones on the East door. That assault on the East door appears after 22:30 on NYT’s Day of Rage on the riot, which remains the most accessible way for people to try to understand the riot. That assault on the East door, because of Pied Piper Alex Jones’ role in providing bodies, leads directly back to Trump’s request that Jones lead rally attendees from the Ellipse to the Capitol. And there are militia and localized networks that are also critical to understanding how all those bodies worked in concert on January 6. Here’s a summary of the Sedition Hunters’ understanding, which is well worth reviewing in depth.

But even though what we’re seeing is quite similar, there are gaps. Because I’m working from dockets, I’m aware of only the most important people who have yet to be arrested, whereas the Sedition Hunters have a long list, including assault suspects, prominent participants, and militia members, who remain at large. Meanwhile, I’ve identified a handful of defendants whose accomplices on January 6 are obviously of great interest to DOJ, but the Sedition Hunters aren’t always able to reverse engineer who those accomplices are based off their work.

And dockets are only useful for certain kinds of information. I track each arrest affidavit and statement of offense closely. I try to keep a close eye on changes in legal teams and developments (like continuances) that deviate from the norm, which are often the first sign that a case is getting interesting. You learn the most from detention hearings and sentencing memos. But for defendants charged by indictment and released pre-trial, the government can hide most of what it knows. And that’s assuming DOJ makes an arrest or unseals it, which it might not do if someone cooperates from the start.

The government has announced nine cooperation deals (one four months after it happened), and the subject of cooperation for two of them — Jon Schaffer and Klete Keller (whom I often get confused with the five Kellys) — is not known. It wasn’t clear that Jacob Hiles was the defendant who had gotten Capitol Police cop Michael Riley indicted until Hiles’ sentencing memo. And Hiles is not the only one being charged with a misdemeanor who cooperated to end up that way. It’s often not clear whether a delayed misdemeanor charge reflects really good lawyering or cooperation (and in the case of Brandon Straka, it seems to have been really good lawyer that nevertheless resulted in some key disclosures to DOJ).

There is a growing list of Person Ones described in court filings, Stewart Rhodes, Enrique Tarrio, Aaron Whallon-Wolkind, Alex Jones, and Morton Irvine Smith, all of whom were clearly involved in January 6 but haven’t been charged yet. Roger Stone never got referred to as Person One, but he is all over the Oath Keepers’ court filings. DOJ hasn’t named people like Mo Brooks and Rudy Giuliani when they include them in Statements of Offense, but they’re in there. So are other people who spoke on January 5.

It turns out that one means of accessing the January 6 is my forté, documents, and that of citizen researchers, collaborative research. But partly because Merrick Garland referred Michael Sherwin for an Office of Professional Responsibility investigation for publicly commenting on the investigation improperly, the normal way things get reported — by quoting sources — largely isn’t yet accessible for the criminal side of the investigation. That leads to misleading reporting like the famous Reuters article that didn’t understand the role of crimes of terrorism or a WaPo piece yesterday that unbelievably quoted Jonathan Turley claiming, “There’s no grand conspiracy that the FBI found, despite arresting hundreds of people, investigating thousands,” without labeling him as the former President’s impeachment lawyer, which is the only way Turley would be marginally competent to make such a claim. There are defense attorneys talking to the press — but the chattiest defense lawyers are the ones setting new standards for bullshit claims. The ones I’ve heard from are themselves drowning in their attempts to understand the larger investigation, both because of the sheer amount of discovery and because that discovery doesn’t tell them what is going on legally with one of the other Dunbar numbers of defendants. But in general, the ordinary sources for typical reporting aren’t talking, leading to a lot more mystery about the event.

One thing I find most striking from those who were present is their blindness. I’m haunted by something Daniel Hodges said in his testimony to the January 6 Committee: that the men and women who fought insurrectionists for hours in the Tunnel through which Joe Biden would walk to take the Oath of Office two weeks later had no idea, during that fight, that the Capitol had already been breached, and then cleared, as they continued to fight a battle of inches.

It was a battle of inches, with one side pushing the other a few and then the other side regaining their ground. At the time I (and I suspect many others in the hallway) did not know that the terrorists had gained entry to the building by breaking in doors and windows elsewhere, so we believed ours to be the last line of defense before the terrorists had true access to the building, and potentially our elected representatives.

There are similar accounts from other direct witnesses — like this chilling piece from Matt Fuller — who huddled feet away from where Ashli Babbitt was killed without knowing what was happening. Grace Segers, in her second telling of surviving that day, describes how there was no way to tell maintenance workers (there must be ten Dunbar numbers of support staff who were there that day) to take cover from the mobsters.

I have spent the better part of the year working full time, with few days off, trying to understand (and help others understand) January 6. I’ve got a clear (though undoubtedly partial) vision of how it all works — how the tactical developments in the assault on the Capitol connect directly back to actions Donald Trump took. Zoe Tillman, one of a handful of other journalists who is attempting to track all these cases (while parenting a toddler and covering other major judicial developments) has a piece attempting to do so with a summary of the numbers. But both those methods are inadequate to the task.

But thus far, that clear vision remains largely unknowable via the normal ways the general public learns. That’s why, I think, people like Lawrence Tribe are so panicked: because even beginning to understand this thing is, quite literally, a full time job, even for those of us with the luxury of living an ocean away. In Tribe’s case, he has manufactured neglect out of what he hasn’t done the work to know. To have something that poses such an obvious risk to American democracy remain so unknowable, so mysterious — to not be able to make sense of the mob that threatens democracy — makes it far more terrifying.

I know a whole lot about what is knowable about the January 6 investigation. But one thing I keep realizing is that it remains unknowable.

The post January 6 Is Unknowable appeared first on emptywheel.

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15 days ago
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Sir This Is The Whole Internet

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You might think the headline “90 Day Fiance star who made £38,000 a week selling farts in a jar hospitalised: ‘I thought it was a stroke’” doesn’t leave much room for surprise in the article, but if you survive that headline, and the fact that “at one point, demand was so high for Stephanie’s wind that she was producing up to 50 jars worth of farts a week,” and the paragraph about protein shakes and bean soup, you will eventually make it to the Aristotelian “surprising, yet inevitable1” ending:

Her clients will no longer be able to own the physical jar of Stephanie’s gas, but they will be able to purchase them as digital artworks on the blockchain. 

Of course. And speaking of farts on the blockchain, courtesy of Molly White (who is not to blame for any of this) here is the pitch video for Cryptoland, a Fiji-based “physical crypto island” project that answers the question “what if the Fyre Festival never had to end?” Also there’s a talking animated Bitcoin. And a musical number. Horrible rumors in the Tabs Discord speak of the Macarena but I didn’t make it that far.

Here’s the white paper. Roll 6d10 psychic damage.

In other upsetting demo video news, BuzzFeed’s Richard Nieva reports that “One Of The Creators Of Google Glass Is Experimenting With A Smart Retainer For Texting With Your Tongue.” And you won’t believe how comfortable and natural it looks!

Meanwhile, in the metaverse (or, “Second Life”):

St Francois County, Missouri adopted a new county seal, and I think it’s very clear what St. Francois County, Missouri’s passion is.

The seal of St. Francois County. I don’t know, man, I’ve never been so fully defeated trying to write alt text. It’s a circle, with red text that says “The Great Seal of St. Francois County” around it, but not really centered on the circle’s center? And there’s a flag and an eagle, and like… a cross over a bible? And a pick and shovel? And a green map? It’s fully crazy, this description doesn’t, and I think couldn’t ever, do it justice.
It’s graphic design.

Important Pizza News:

Domino’s Taiwan introduced a “‘Buddha Jumps Over the Wall’ pizza. It includes abalone, scallops, sea cucumbers, garlic short-ribs, fish skin, quail eggs, taro, dried bamboo shoots, and cabbage.” I’d eat it. After the Cryptoland video I’d eat anything. I’d drink lead paint just to forget the things I’ve seen today.

Anatomy of a Cancel Culture Hustle

Yesterday we were left with the puzzle of why, other than being a world-class messy bitch, Michael Wolff would try to whip up a cancel culture controversy about Norman Mailer, who was permanently cancelled by death back in 2007. The New Republic’s Alex Shephard reported that Mailer’s sales have been weak, even compared to his cohort of overrated 20th century white American dick-lit authors. The AP’s Hillel Italie added the information that “the family, along with Mailer biographer J. Michael Lennon, ‘put together a proposal for a collection of political essays on democracy which they liked,’” presumably to squeeze a little more cash from their ancestor’s literary corpus, and that the project was picked up by publisher of last resort Skyhorse. Both the AP and the New York Times also mentioned that the literary agent for Mailer’s estate is Andrew Wylie, who happens to be Michael Wolff’s agent, which Wolff confirmed in a tweet that led to this already-classic exchange:

Replying to Brian Stelter, Michael Wolff tweets “He is. And I just spoke to him and he denies disputing the report. That is off the record from me. But call him.” Matt (@FraijNT) replies: “Sir this is the whole internet.”

So, in summary: wily Wylie wooed Wolff with Michael Mailer at Michael’s to create cancel culture controversy and seduce Skyhorse into salvaging a sinking submission. That’s just Hollywoo, baby.

What have we learned about the Smiths Dot News? Not much! in The New Yorker, Clare Malone gave Ben Smith the space to demonstrate his world class talent at refusing to answer questions. New York Magazine’s Shawn McCreesh got this perfectly shady Timesian quote from Carolyn Ryan:

“Ben has been a phenomenal columnist, and we’re proud of the fact that the Times is a place where people can come and elevate their careers, and I congratulate him on returning to his passion of working at a start-up.”

In Axios, reliable stenographer Sara Fischer reported that the Smiths’ media startup has 37 million newsletter subscribers and has been profitable for the last 5 quarters, and also posted Justin Smith’s two page project memo, which says “we have no idea what we’re going to do but I sure love Michael Bloomberg a lot. Like… a lot a lot.” And in Puck, which is what happens when the jerk-off hand motion raises a $7 million Series A, “the dumbest media reporter alive2Dylan Byers had a premature liquidity event.

In summary, we don’t know anything we didn’t know yesterday, but at least everyone had a lot of fun.

Hero Dog Tinsley Saves Two Lives. “Volger Semen Center, We’re Pretty Handy.” Farhad Says: Relax.

Today’s Song: Wet Leg, “Too Late Now”

~ sir this is tabs ~

Yesterday I forgot to credit Senior Contributing Editor for Graphics Alison Headley for the WIRED “Technology is great?” graphic and now I think the Tabs graphics department is unionizing. It’ll be Today in Scabs around here pretty soon. Find me in cyberspace @fka_tabs and @TodayinTabs.


Look, it’s Grub Street! Who’s the Bad Fart Friend?


© Tom Scocca, 2015.

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16 days ago
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Happy Public Domain Day 2022!

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Each January 1st is Public Domain Day, where a new crop of works have their copyrights expire and become free to enjoy, share, and reuse for any purpose.

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20 days ago
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When You're Here, You're Scamily

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They’ve got Olive Garden on the blockchain now. Do you remember Olive Garden? Do you remember how it sounds in there? The breadsticks, somehow both dry and unsettlingly greasy, but most of all: unlimited. Breadsticks that know no boundaries, breadsticks that are not subject to the laws of time and space. Truly unlimited breadsticks. A horror.

TikTok video screenshot of a girl smiling slightly, below the caption “I spent an hour last night perfecting what the inside of an Olive Garden sounds like:” Please click for the TikTok, it’s an audio masterpiece.

Do you remember sitting in a too-warm dining room waiting for a meal you don’t really want, but you also know will be far too big, surrounded by people you wouldn’t normally have chosen to eat with? Well they have NFTs of that now. You can mint unlimited breadsticks too, but the 880 Olive Garden franchises are sold out.

What is the rarest Olive Garden? By last sale price it’s “Olive Garden store number 1717 located at 401 Oxford Exchange Blvd in beautiful Oxford, AL,” at about $871. Someone thinks Times Square is worth $2 million, but no one’s buying yet. To me the rarest Olive Garden is Michigan City, IN. Ambitious tech reporters: who is she?

A mole inside Bloomberg sent me a clandestine camera phone video of a distraught Matt Levine being dragged out of the Bloombunker by Security B-Units, screaming “LET ME GO! I’M GONNA MINT A FUCKING ORANGE JULIUS! I LEFT GOLDMAN SACHS FOR THIS YOU BASTARDS! I’M GONNA MINT A BOB’S BIG BOY AND GET RICH! ARGH…” The rest was unintelligible. Best wishes to Matt, get better soon buddy!

Anyway here’s a crypto guy who got hacked by his dildo:

Patricia Lockwood reviewed Karl Ove Knausgaard for 6000 words in the London Review of Books and I don’t want to read Knausgaard but I would happily read six volumes of Patricia Lockwood writing about Knausgaard.

Karl​ Ove Knausgaard was born – just kidding. His life has been obsessively documented in the six books of the My Struggle series, published in Norway between 2009 and 2011 and respectively titled Death, Please Linda (Don’t Make Me Go To Rhythm Time), I Am a Child, Boner in Class, Didn’t Read This One and Hitler.

There is a delight in every sentence and I don’t care if all of it is made up (but it’s not).

David Roth names Mark Zuckerberg The New Republic’s Scoundrel of the Year.

It is embarrassing and not a little enraging to realize that you are subject to the whims of an amoral and incurious capitalist posing as a visionary optimist. It is especially humiliating when the all-bestriding and inevitable figure in question is such a dim, dull nullity.

The Yankee Candle Index is popping:

Eagle confused. Cartoon Italian guy from “Bob’s Burgers” tried to do a coup and three retired generals were in the Washington Post warning that the military should practice for the next one. Seems normal. Spicy pepper Jack. Renowned film director Steven Perlberg reports that some of Facebook’s handpicked stable of already-famous Bulletin newsletter writers have attracted as many as one thousand free readers. Is that a lot? Who knows. Vox spent all its extra cash on a website about doggos, so for their Christmas bonus this year employees got a $75 voucher for merch. What if they made your vaccine passport into an implantable microchip? Sounds very convenient, I can’t imagine anyone would have a problem with that.

Tweet from Jordan Singer that reads “the web: a visual history,” and includes an image with a plain blue underlined old-style link “Web 1,” a pill-shaped skeumorphic gradient blue button that says “Web 2.0,” and a rainbow gradient background behind white sans-serif “Web 3.”

Today’s Song: Modest Mouse, “Breakthrough” (for everyone at NY’s hottest club)

~ Unlimited breadsticks in the hands of limited people always lead to tabs. ~

I might manage to cobble together a 2021 retrospective post tomorrow but right now I am leaning toward not doing that and waiting till Season 5 is over in February instead? It just seems too grim to face right now, in the unendliche Dunkelheit of late December. So if I don’t see you tomorrow, I’ll see you January 3rd! And whatever else 2021 has been, it has been the best working year of my life. I am unbelievably lucky to be able to do this for a living, and it’s only because you’re reading and subscribing. So hey: thanks. ❤️

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30 days ago
incredible yankee candle sleuthing
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Two Iron Laws of College Reading

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Someone (my daughter) preparing to teach her first Sociology college class (Sociology of Education, yes, that is funny) asked me how much reading to assign. Here are what I think of as the two iron laws of college reading.

Law One: The more reading you assign, the less the students will read.

Law Two: The more you talk in class, the less the students will read.

I suppose there must be a limit to Law One: if you assign no reading at all, they don’t do any, whereas if you assign 3 pages some of them will do it. If you assign 300 pages they won’t do less than if you assign 200 pages. So it only applies within a range. And Law Two can be broken by not talking about the reading at all, but then basing assessments on the reading alone.

My advice was: assign about 60 pages/week, given the conceptual complexity of the material I know she’s assigning (Philosophy the limit would be less than 60 pages, in English Literature or History it would be more). And talk no more than 50% of the time in class. (She’ll have about 30 students; if it were one hundred I’d go up to 2/3rds. Also, she’s a former secondary teacher, and I know she has pretty good skills; the less skilled a teacher is the more they have to talk).

This advice is grounded in the assumption that doing the reading contributes a great deal to student learning; as does spending a lot of time thinking in the classroom. If you don’t think that, then go ahead and assign as much reading as you want them not to bother doing!

One of my Ice Breakers: “Name a book that you think you ought to have read, but haven’t.”
Best answer: “Well, that would be all the novels that I was assigned in my English Literature class last semester”. She got an A.

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30 days ago
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A little birdie told us that it’s time for the OED December 2021 update

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If there’s a new quarterly update from OED, there must be new entries and new senses to explore. And there are: around 750 of them, and almost as many fully revised entries.

Revision of words beginning archaeo-means that all things ancient are well represented, including archaeobotany, archaeogenetics, and archaeolatry—worship of or reverence for antiquity.

When revising bird and related entries, our researchers and editors found clear use of the phrase the birds and the bees, referring euphemistically to basic facts about human sexuality and reproduction, from the early 1940s (in the Washington Post), though these early uses imply a certain knowing familiarity which suggests that it had already been around for a while by that time. Watch the birdie has been used as an injunction to photographer’s subjects to stay still and look at the camera since 1911 (when the person behind the lens still often held up an object for sitters to focus on). Moving on to the world of the moving image, it’s from only five years later that we found our first evidence for lights, camera, action! in a description of work on a film set from Motion Picture Classic magazine.

The light and the dark

Revision of words beginning light and dark make for some interesting phrases and compounds. Lightning never strikes twice has been used at least since the 1840s, when an American lottery winner resolved not to buy another ticket again on the basis of this scientifically inaccurate axiom. References to the dark side, used figuratively to refer to an aspect or way of life viewed as shadowy, sinister, or nefarious, now often allude to one of the two competing aspects of the Force in the Star Wars universe, but the earliest piece of evidence in our new entry is more general, predating the release of Star Wars by two years, and is from a 1975 short story by Canadian writer and translator Joyce Marshall.

The darkest hour is just before the dawn says the old proverb, the history and variants of which are illustrated in OED for the first time in this update. While it dates back to Thomas Fuller’s memorably titled 1650 Pisgah-sight of Palestine, therking, a name for the period between daylight and darkness (either in the morning or the evening) is one of the oldest items in this update, and first occurs in an Old English–Latin glossary from the first half of the eleventh century.

The original and the obsolete

As usual for an OED update, the revision of existing entries has turned up some unexpected earlier, obsolete uses of more-or-less familiar terms. The word birdwatcher was first used to refer, not to an ornithologist who watches birds for pleasure, but to a Roman augur who divined the future by means of the flight and cries of birds, in the notes to an early eighteenth-century edition of Horace’s Odes. The word dipstick originally referred not to an object, but a person, especially an excise officer, who checked the capacity of casks or barrels using a gauging rod (or, as we might now call it, a dipstick); this sense is first recorded in 1804 as a nickname for such a person. Conversely, the phrase leading light, now usually a way of referring to a person prominent in a particular field or sphere, was in the seventeenth century used to refer to a light by which a person was guided through darkness.

The pandemic and the new normal

Lateral flow has been used to designate devices which use capillary flow in order to screen fluids for a given substance since 1989, although most of us will only have encountered the term in the context of rapid testing for Covid-19 in the past twelve months. Hybrid working and hybrid learning are two other expressions which have become increasingly prominent during the pandemic and the gradual return to offices and other workplaces, and this quarter sees the addition of a new sense of the adjective hybrid to designate flexible models for working or learning. Although now primarily associated with the use of communication and collaboration software, our first quotation, from China Business Review in 1996, refers to ‘hybrid teaching approach’ involving ‘both on-site classroom lectures by professors and real-time, interactive televised lectures.’

The non-fungible and the corporate

The adjective non-fungible, which barely registered in our corpora a few years ago, has seen a huge uptick in use over the past two or three years thanks to non-fungible token, a unit of data that certifies a digital asset, such as a piece of digital art, as unique and provides proof of ownership, which is stored using blockchain technology and traded online using cryptocurrency. This update includes a new entry for non-fungible, meaning ‘that is not interchangeable or replaceable’, especially in commercial and contractual terms, apparently first used in a legal textbook published in 1882—in which, chillingly, ‘horses, slaves, and so forth’ are offered as examples of non-fungible commodities. Our first evidence for non-fungible token (and for its initialism NFT) comes from 2017. If the reference to ‘blockchain technology’ in the above definition left you scratching your head, you’ll find answers in a new entry for blockchain, a sequence of verifiable and virtually unalterable digital records linked using cryptography, distributed and managed in a peer-to-peer network, and used especially as a secure record of transactions by cryptocurrencies, apparently first referred to by this name in 2011.

With any luck this digital data overload hasn’t prompted you to experience a minor techlash, although this is a term now usually reserved for a reaction against the influence of big technology and social media companies rather than a reaction against computers and digital technology per se. And it’s not just tech companies: revision of corporation and related words has revealed increasingly negative connotations in use of the words corporate and corporatism, partly in relation to the notion that corporate entities tend to pursue profit above all else, and partly through association with bland commercialism and lack of individuality and creativity.

The political and the personal

Moving away from the commercial to more obviously political aspects of twenty-first century life, this update also includes new entries for white privilege, our current earliest evidence for which comes from the pages of the British Daily Telegraph, in a 1921 discussion of racial tensions in the southern states of the U.S.; cultural Marxism, a term first used in the quarterly magazine of Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists in 1938 to denounce the ‘toleration-psychosis of liberalism’ and ‘the bolshevisation of the mind’ which the writer believed to be inherent in, and leading to the downfall of, social democracy; and police brutality, first referred to by that name in the London True Sun in 1833.

Contemporary interactions with questions of gender and sexuality are represented by new entries for the adjectives transfeminine, first found in TV–TS Tapestry magazine in 1985, and transmasculine, recorded earliest in Village Voice in 1999. Elsewhere we have new entries for conversion therapy, used in its familiar sense since 1973; and detransition, apparently not recorded before 2004, when it appeared in the regular Transmissions column of San Francisco LGBT newspaper the Bay Area Reporter.

Eating for comfort and drinking too much

Fittingly for an update which also includes the full revision of the various homonyms of chip and related words, this quarter’s additions include comfort eating and comfort eater, both from the few years around 1970, and the verb comfort eat, first seen in the mid 1980s. Among the light bites on offer in this update are crunchy, salted corn chips (not as often kettle-cooked as their potato counterparts), while sweeter and more substantial fare is on offer in the form of bird’s nest pudding, a baked pie or pudding containing whole apples or other fruit arranged to resemble eggs in a nest, particularly associated with New England, and first recorded in a book of recipes and household economy from 1829. Whatever you’re eating, resist the temptation to dine-and-dash—leaving a restaurant without paying. Originally an American expression, it’s a phenomenon familiar to many law-abiding internet users thanks footage of the arrest of an eloquent dine-and-dasher trying to make away after enjoying ‘a succulent Chinese meal’ in Brisbane in the 1990s, which became one of Australia’s most viral videos when it resurfaced in 2009.

This update includes two colourful expressions for being or becoming (very) drunk: the Australian phrase to write oneself off relies on earlier use of to write off in British and Australian English (it was originally First World War air force slang) to mean to irreparably damage something. More enigmatic is (to get) trousered, apparently popularized by Glaswegian comedian Billy Connolly, and a feature of mainly British and Irish English since the 1970s.

Lit and over it

Slang use of the adjective lit to mean intoxicated by drink or drugs has been covered in OED for some time, and our revised entry includes a new first quotation from 1912, as well as a new sense meaning ‘amazing, impressive, exciting’. We’ve traced this more recent sense back to 2009, in a twitter quotation referring to an obviously marvellous party, but have reason to believe earlier evidence is out there—and we are always happy to receive earlier examples of items we’ve covered via our antedatings form, or on Twitter using the hashtag #OEDAntedatings.  Another slang item added this quarter is somewhat earlier than you might expect: our first quotation for a new sense of the preposition over, meaning to be weary of or no longer wanting to deal with something, especially an ongoing situation, comes from American magazine Newsweek in 1974.

Right, not that we’re over it—we’re definitely not—it’s just time for us to go dark for a few months, at least on the updates front. But we’ll be back in March with more fully revised entries and more newly added entries and senses. You can take a look at the full list of newly added material here—you’ll find that quite a lot that had to end up on the cutting room floor in writing this—and an update on our recent work on the Historical Thesaurus here.

The post A little birdie told us that it’s time for the OED December 2021 update appeared first on Oxford English Dictionary.

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36 days ago
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