Compleat Idler, Education, Technology, Writing and diction


(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Back when I could still afford MAD magazine there was a parody of product placement in films. And the one that entered my mind and lodged there to exit my mouth at inappropriate times was a battle field where the Cavalry had gotten the short end of the stick (I used to love those) and a scout rides up and says, “Over there is General Custer with a VanHeusen through his chest.”

Certain trademarks have entered the language as generic terms. Who says, “Hand me a soft tissue?” No, the term used is Kleenex, a registered term of Kimberly-Clarke or whoever currently owns the trademark.

I made the mistake of referring to a restored 1943 Ford utility vehicle as a jeep in front of a Chrysler salesman and was informed that the term as registered. “So, my uncle’s Willys is not a Jeep? Jeep was not a generic term back in 1943? There were never Jeeps before 1987?”

Also during the second world war, they began using an adhesive tape with strong cotton duck backing and after the war, Manco trademarked the name Duck Tape. Similarly, 3-M has guarded the Scotch Tape Brand.

In my favorite local Mexican restaurant I will order Mexican Coke with my meal. They provide the product made by Coca-Cola in Mexico with sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup (a product of farm subsidies). I have yet to hear the waiter respond the way the order phone responded when my buddy, then a vice-cop, asked for a coke at a drive-in. “Will that be wet or fluffy?” So far the Coca-Cola corporation has not sued any of the major cartels for copyright infringement on “Mexican coke” or the advertising slogan “things go better with coke.”

In the old Soviet Union there were a number of companies making counterfeit Leica cameras. There are a number of finely crafted ones and there are a number of collectors, including (so I am told) some employees of Leitz Optical. Cameras and optics became Leica some time in the nineties leaving the Leitz corporation to some fairly complicated electronic products. Also, at one point all 35mm double frame rangefinder cameras were called Leicas—then other companies began to push their own branding.

The Soviet Union also marketed (to avoid trademark problems—patents are another matter) a camera very similar to a Pentax K1000 with a Nikon bayonet mount. They also had what looked like a Nikon FM with a Pentax K mount. The real temptation was a Kiev 6×6 which was more or less (mostly less) compatible with Hasselblad.

China—what can you say about a country that has looser point of origin labeling than Germany—built an M-14 clone. Looks right, magazines and ammo compatible, good price point. Parts were not interchangeable.

So be aware that branding and trademark are tools of restricting competition.

Education, Writing and diction

Neo-libs anyone?

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

In the study of journalism, English literature and law I came across a common thread, the ideal of precision in the use of language. One of my favorite scenes in Ulysses involves Dubliners in a pub arguing Shakespeare’s meanings as if the Bard were their writer—the truth is that the language is as much theirs as it is the language of London, New York or Kansas City. So I have a vested interest (as a labor relations manager I wore a three-piece suit) in the integrity of the language. And I tend to lecture people such as Bob Livingston on use of the term “liberal.”

The following comment made to Fox was “moderated” by disqus, the censor used by numerous sites including Fox. Since the Wall Street Journal is the jewel in Murdoch’s Crown, there is no need to subscribe to Fox for anything but entertainment news and Stossel

I am going to say something here that may upset a lot of people.  But I am educated in the classical liberal arts which include rhetoric, grammar, logic, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music.  I have studied Latin extensively.  The root of the term liberal is the same as the root of the term liberty.  Until we, as a people–not we as a State–stop using the term liberal interchangeably with the terms progressive and statist, we are allowing them to misuse the word they have appropriated.  FDR was not a liberal.  Harry Truman had some liberal tendencies as did JFK.  On the Supreme Court, Hugo Black had liberal tendencies and actually knew the Reconstruction Amendments were about individual rights.  William O Douglas and William J Brennan both believed in the power of government apart from limitations–that the Commerce Clause was that grant and that it superseded all amendments.  Both of the authors of the commerce clause (Hamilton and Madison) held the view that it was not a license to expand federal power, but a preventive of arbitrary and intrusive  state interference in the peaceful conduct of crossing state lines with goods.  


The word liber means free.  Anyone advocating that the constitution grants authoritarian or absolute power to the central government has no claim to that title.

The liberals of the late 18th Century were referred to as anti-federalists. We often refer to big government populists as “neo-conservatives.” Does this make post FDR statists “neo-liberals” or neolibs for short?


Compleat Idler

Some Comic Relief

Back in the fifties I read Boys Life regularly. I remember Heinlein and project articles. Most of all I developed a keen sense of jokes.

Any magazine worth reading has a joke page or cartoons.

So, since I am not within range of anyone’s hat, I feel free.

Q. What is the difference between grapes and elephants?

A. Grapes are purple.

Q. What did Tarzan say when he saw the elephants coming?

A. “Here come the grapes.” He was color blind.

Q. How do you get six elephants in a Volkswagon?

A. Three in front. Three in back.

Q. What’s red and green and travels quickly?

A. A frog in a blender.

Q. Why does Prince Charles not wear Fruit-of-the-Loom briefs?

A. Gentlemen prefer Hanes,

You can tell the ad men were involved in the film production when Maj Reno says, “and there lies General Custer with a Van Heusen through his chest,” (I also read Mad Magazine.)

SWIFTIE: “This seems to happen every seven days,” Tom said weakly.

Q. How many road construction workers does it take to change a lightbulb?

A. Three. One to change the bulb, two to lean on their shovels and kibbitz.

William Jennings Bryan would be perplexed. The only place you find “Free Silver” placards is when the animal rights activists boycott the Lone Ranger set.

After Mozart’s death, his ghost would go into music halls and erase the notes from sheet music. It was called de-composing.

The Normans always did executions behind a white sheet so the splattered blood would frighten onlookers—sort of like that 20th Century Norman in Psycho.

Q. Why did the chicken cross the road?

A. She didn’t get hit.

Stranger: Is there a criminal lawyer in this town?

Resident: Ain’t that redundant?

SHAGGY DOG — Robin Hood Rocks

The following story is copyrighted.  (c) 2011 by Earl Haehl.  I prepared it to be educational but I think I should avoid reading Asimov under the influence of energy drinks and tequila.

The term “murder” comes from the murdrum, a tax levied by the Normans on all residents of a shire when there is an unsolved homicide. This was to encourage the residents to cooperate with the Normans to avoid the tax.

It happened that the Reeve (or Administrator) of the shire—from which came shire reeve which evolved into sheriff—and the King’s deputy, Sir Alfred Down were investigating such an occurrence to determine that the victim was a Norman so the tax could be levied. If the corpse were English, it did not count as a person.

On Wednesday the bodies of both Reeve Lacey and Sir Alfred were found flat on their back with arrows through their throats. William, Baron of Barrenshire, a trusted assistant of the King, went to investigate. No one would talk so tax would be double except that the King wanted a neck to be stretched.

They stopped at the Silver Unicorn Pub for what was on draft and as he and his crew walked in, he noticed Robert Locksley (Robin Hood himself) bragging to the barmaid, Maid Marian (late of the Comedia di’l Arte) and her co actor, Tuck the Mendicant about his skill with the Welsh long bow. This was curious as a Norman like Locksley would carry a sword.

William walked up to Locksley and demanded to know if Robert had used his bow on the two victims.

“Yes,” Locksley answered, “and no.”

“The answer is yes or no?”

“But the answer is yes and no.”

“Howso Robert?”

“Simple, Will. I shot the Shire Reeve but I did not shoot Deputy Down.”