Posted October 28, 2015on:
Friedrich Wilhelm Christian Karl Ferdinand von Humboldt was an 18th century Prussian philosopher and name trier-outer. If there had been Angie’s List back then he would have been very busy since he was also a government functionary, a diplomat, and along with his brother the naturalist (meaning tree loving non-churcher) was the founder of Humboldt University of Berlin. They were exceedingly “humble Humboldts” because the university wasn’t named after them until 1949 – go figure.
Wilhelm von Humboldt was also a noted linguist of his time. He’s known for the postulate that language is a system which “makes infinite use of finite means”, meaning that an infinite number of sentences can be created using a finite number of grammatical rules.
Contemporary linguist Noam Chomsky drew heavily upon Humboldt’s work and is credited with the theory that we can potentially produce an infinite number of sentences. With the advent of supercomputers we have discovered that is not strictly true. For instance, in a language such as English with about 500,000 words, there are about 10570 possible sentences – a number greater than the atoms in the observable universe — while considerably more than a grocery cart full, not technically infinite.
By way of an example, here’s a sentence I never thought I’d utter in my lifetime: Without waterboarding as an incentive, I eagerly quote from the ultra-conservative The Weekly Standard.
Republicans are in trouble. A significant bloc regards their congressional leaders as enemies. A quarter or more of grassroots Republicans think Donald Trump should be president. And to make things worse, Hillary Clinton has a glide path to the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016.
Let’s examine the problems of Republicans one by one, starting with the rebellious faction in the House. It was dismissed as a band of “chuckleheads”…now there are roughly 40 members of the Freedom Caucus, and they have important allies in the conservative media.
The second problem is Donald Trump. He has thrilled many rank and file Republicans…the blue-collar, non-college wing of the Republican primary electorate has “consolidated” around him…meaning Trump, with a solid base, could win the Republican nomination—not likely, but possible.
The third problem was caused by Joe Biden. By declining to run, he left the Democratic race firmly in Hillary’s control. Biden leaves behind an abnormal primary campaign, with a Teflon frontrunner.
This quote comes from none other than Fred Barnes, one of the conservative pundit/activist/snake-oilers who went ashore in Alaska during a conservopaloosa cruise. While shopping for moose turd jewelry, instead of finding les repères de poopie they found Caribou Barbie, became enthralled, and ultimately gave an unbelievable boost to Tina Fey’s career. Mr. Barnes was quoted as saying, “I was struck with how smart Palin was.” For the record, that’s another sentence I never thought I would see in print.
The pachyderm peanut crews are already pissed at Progressives over their electoral woes. The RNC and Prince Priebus promised these problems were under control with an abbreviated debate schedule. Oopsie they say — best laid plans of micey men or something like that.
Proving the recurring STD nature of the RNC folly, there’s another Republican debate tonight, so it’s a perfect time to play a game of “Who said?” matching up some of the craziest, “I never thought I’d hear that” quotes with the candidates who mouth-farted them.
- Liberals are to blame for California’s drought.
- To an African-American legislator upset that his cabinet appointments lacked diversity: “I don’t need your people.”
- I will unilaterally execute any American who I believe is “thinking about joining al-Qaeda or ISIL”.
- Every United States senator should be just like notorious racist Jesse Helms.
- Women should not be allowed to serve in combat because of “the emotions that are involved”.
- We have to “phase out” Medicare.
- Someone should “take a bat out” on a 76-year-old widow.
- Homosexuality is a choice because people go into prison straight and come out gay.
- I don’t buy into the dystopian scenarios of self-aware robots enslaving mankind, but you don’t have to be a sci-fi conspiracy theorist to acknowledge that plenty of good, well-paying jobs are being taken over by machines.
- This president’s foreign policy would trust the Iranians. By doing so, he will take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven.
- Some of the candidates, they went in and didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work and sweated like dogs, and they didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there. How are they going to beat Isis?
- There is a secret plot to merge the United States with Mexico and Canada.
- Carly Fiorina
- John Kasich
- Lady Lindsey
- Ted Cruz
- Rick Santorum
- Jeb! Bush
- Chris Christie
- Ben Carson
- Marco Rubio
- Mike Huckabee
- Donald Trump
- Rand Paul
In anticipation of new examples of the vastness of the English language from these candidates, we will be live blogging tonight’s Republican debate. Come join us at 8:00 P.M. Eastern. Here’s all you need to know about tonight’s debate.
Enjoy your Wednesday – take the conversation in any direction you might like.
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