Department Of How Did I Not Know Until Now About This Song !?!?
Dateline: Monday am, 7:30 ish. Morning walk/podcast listen: Clear + Vivid: Bette Midler: How She Became Divine.
The Divine Miss M herself was regaling host C+V host Alan Alda with tales of her first European tour, and how the following ditty Midler performed on stage “…went down really well” in Germany.
(sung to the tune of the theme song of the movie, The Bridge Over The River Kwai) :
had only one big ball
had two but they were small
Had something similar
And poor old Goebbels
had no balls
at all. ♫ 
I’d vaguely known about Hitler’s goofy gonads (he suffered from right-side cryptorchidism – an undescended testicle). But the fact that this detail was woven into an anti-Nazi ditty delighted the spirit of the 11-year-old Girl Scout who still resides in me – the girl who wanted to sit in the back during the boring troop meetings and exchange bawdy jokes with the other so-inclined scouts instead of listening to yet another boring lecture on how we were supposed to be working on our camping merit badges.
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Department Of Yet Another Podcast Citation
The most recent episode of the People I (Mostly) Admire podcast – website description: “Steven Levitt, the unorthodox University of Chicago economist and co-author of the Freakonomics book series….tracks down other high achievers and asks questions that only he would think to ask….” – had me hooked with the opening:
“My guest today, John McWhorter, likes to stir things up….
He’s a linguistics professor at Columbia university, author of over a dozen books, and has emerged as one of America’s most prominent public intellectuals. He’s an opinionated centrist, and chances are, whatever your politics, you’ll love his views on some issues, and despise his stance on others.”
(intro to People I Mostly Admire, episode 72: “Leaving Black People in the Lurch” )
I was immediately intrigued by the host’s description of his guest: “an opinionated centrist.” Not being fond of political labels (at least for moiself ), I don’t consider moiself to be a centrist. Rather, I approach issues as a “Does this make sense?-trist.” When some folks on The Far Left ® find out my liberal/religion-free/ flaming feminist viewpoints, they assume that I’ll tick off all their boxes on particular issues. And when they find out that I do not, *they* get ticked off.
My intrigue-ears perked up for other reasons as well, including the fact that McWhorter is a linguistics professor. Being a linguist, as in studying the cultural and cognitive development and application of languages, is one of my “if-I-were-to-do-it-all-over-again” professions.  Now, just because I maintain an interest in that area of study doesn’t mean that I have any current and/or particular skill in or aptitude for languages – far from it, as anyone who has heard me mangle the French language could attest to. And while moiself is on the subject I’d like to offer a shout-out to all you Parisian shopkeepers and restauranters who, despite the stereotype of the snooty French, were most patient and gracious with me when I was visiting your merveilluse ville and tried to order a pain au chocolat in every venue possible.
Once again, I digress.
Back to the podcast opening.
“In your day job, you (McWhorter) are a linguist at Columbia University and you also moonlight as a commentator on American society, especially around issues of race. But I’d like to talk first about linguistics, because I suspect if we start on race, we’ll never make our way back to linguistics.”
Linguistics/ race – I wanted to hear it all. Any author of a book called “Nine Nasty Words: English in the Gutter,” is all right by me. Then, after the first 15 minutes of linguistics talk, I was surprised by McWhorter’s choice in an answer to a certain question.
So, English is obviously emerging as something of a world language, and that’s mostly for accidental, historical, social, political reasons. And in my very first episode of this podcast, I had Steve Pinker, the Harvard linguist, on. And I tried to get him to make a vote for what the best world language would be. I had no luck. He would not bite on that at all. Is that a question you’ll bite on?”
” Hell yeah.
….If all of the world were going to use a single language, it should be not English….
Really, the language of the world should be Indonesian.”
Really. He chose Indonesian.
“…Not the way it’s written, but the way it’s typically spoken, where you have almost no suffixes, almost no prefixes. (Indonesian is) not a tonal language. It’s very low on throwing you with things like, what does ‘pick up’ mean? You can pick up a disease; you can pick somebody up from school; speed is about picking up speed. Why deal with that? There’s very little of that. …. even though most people who don’t speak Indonesian would find it hard to learn just the words themselves….if you could pick up 500 of them, say 600 of them…the grammar would be very, very easy. You could make yourself understood. I would say it’s better. It’s easier for everybody — colloquial Indonesian would be the one.”
McWhorter’s quotes about the reasons why a language like Indonesian would be a better “world” language  made me think about Turkish, which I studied for a few days in an online course (until Putin’s aggressive assholery changed my travel plans  ).
Here are nine encouraging and refreshing observations I made during my brief foray into the Turkish language:
- Turkish is phonetic; thus, pronunciation is easy!
- Every letter in a word is pronounced! 
- Each letter has only one sound!
- Two or more letters are never combined to make a new or different sound!
- Turkish contains no articles at all!
- It is also not a gendered language; nor is it tonal!
- There is no 7th observation!
- There are standard rules for making plurals!
- Word Order is set: Subject-Object-Verb. The verb is always at the end in written Turkish! 
After twenty-five or so minutes of Fun With Words®, podcast host Levitt ventured into topics where McWhorter’s opinions have made people who are prone to look for divergent poles line up into their default defensive positions…such as McWhorter’s book, Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America.
“I was talking to a white friend of mine, someone who is deeply sympathetic to the anti-racist cause. And she said to me recently, ‘My daughter is friends with a Black girl in her nursery school class….and I’d like to invite that Black girl over to my house for a play date, but I’m afraid to because I don’t know the appropriate way to acknowledge my white privilege to the girl’s parents. And I don’t want to insult them by not acknowledging it.’
To me, what a disaster – when kids can’t build friendships because parents are so paralyzed by fear of not doing the right thing.”
“You know what? That woman is who I wrote Woke Racism for.
That is exactly what I mean. That is somebody whose heart is very much in the right place, but she’s so afraid of being called the dirtiest-name-other-than-pedophile in our current cultural vocabulary that she’s basically hamstrung.
After a while, it might be that you end up avoiding Black people because you don’t want to take a wrong step. And then you get accused of being a racist. And where does that get us? To actually say, ‘What is the result of all this?’ is seen as somehow beside the point.
Rather, what’s considered important is smart people stating that racism still exists; racism is systemic. Now, what’s actually happening out on the ground, whether we’re improving Black lives by stating that, is considered subsidiary…..
And yet, that’s the situation that I saw us slipping into starting after the hideous murder of George Floyd. I saw us dealing with a kind of semaphore, where we say things and we say things and we say things, and what we’re really doing is fostering a kind of general guilt and engaging in a kind of passion play…. But the result is not anything that any civil rights leaders of the past would have recognized as meaningful. We need to get back to doing the real thing.”
“I always ask my guests to give advice to my listeners. And I’m curious what advice you would give to young people trying to build a good life for themselves.
And would you give the same advice to a young white person and a young Black person?”
MCWHORTER (my emphases):
“… at this point, in the way our national dialogue goes, I would say this to kids of any race: Distrust your impulse to suppose that people who don’t think like you are either naive or evil.
It’s very easy to think that if they don’t think like you. It’s either they don’t have the facts that you have, or if they do have the facts that you have, there’s something sinister about them. They’ve got motives that they’re not quite letting onto.
And the sad thing is that these days, young people are being taught to think that way by an awful lot of grown-ups.
It’s an easy misimpression to fall into because we tend to be binary thinkers. But with any debate that’s uniquely challenging or frankly, interesting, about which you might argue, that’s different from decreeing that people are either stupid or bad. And that’s what a diverse and large society is all about. That’s what diversity of opinion is.”
Moiself highly recommends that y’all’s selves listen to the entire interview, and pay attention to McWhorter’s insightful analysis re how “3rd wave anti-racism” (a term he borrows from the feminist movement) “is a religion.” It’s guaranteed to offend at least a few third wave anti-racists and religionists. Now, that’s my kind of a podcast guest.
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Punz For The Day
Woke Politics Edition
Why were environmental activists protesting outside the elementary school?
That heard a rumor that the kids were singing, “Rain, rain, go away.”
What do you call a woke Star Wars droid?
Did you hear about the laundromat manager who had her Facebook account cancelled?
FB monitors read that she told her customers to separate the whites from the colors.
One night I dreamt that I was a muffler…
I woke up exhausted.
* * *
May you choose meaningful action over virtue-signalling;
May you have fond memories of your bawdy joke-telling, scout-meeting (or the equivalent) ignoring days;
May you enjoy singing the song about Hitler’s balls; 
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Yes, this is the first footnote of this blog.
 Which would also include neurobiologist and astronaut.
 Better than, say, English, with its jumble of grammar, spelling, and pronunciation variants.
 We (MH and I) had planned a trip to Turkey in late May-early June. Maybe…next year?
 With one exception – ğ, lengthens the sound of the vowel preceding it.
 Spoken Turkish allows for some flexibility.
 You know you’re going to hum it, at least once, if only to yourself.