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LOGS OF LANGUAGE

Mark Steyn reviews The Da Vinci Code:

In the beginning was the word, and Mr. Brown’s very first one seems to have gone missing:

“Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.”

And after that I found it hard to stagger on myself. Shouldn’t it be “The renowned curator”? What happened to the definite article? Did Mr. Brown choose to leave it off in order to affect an urgent investigative journalistic style? No, it’s just the way he writes. Here’s the first sentence of Angels &Demons:

“Physicist Leonardo Vetra smelled burning flesh, and he knew it was his own.”

The linguist Geoffrey Pullum—or linguist Geoffrey Pullum, as novelist Dan Brown would say—identifies this as the anarthrous occupational nominal premodifier, to which renowned novelist Dan Brown is unusually partial. In Deception Point, in what must count as a wild experiment in form for him, he holds off on the AONP until the second sentence:

“Death, in this forsaken place, could come in countless forms. Geologist Charles Brophy had endured the savage splendor of this terrain for years ...”

You’ll notice the credit to Geoffrey Pullum, a contributor to the blog Language Log. That acknowledgement wasn’t good enough for Pullum, however, who—as Language Log leader Mark Liberman writes—contacted Steyn requesting additional credit for his early awareness of Brown’s AONP issues (the Telegraph’s Sam Leith noticed Brown’s curious style as well: “Seldom do books manage to grate from before the first word of the opening sentence ... The first word - ‘the’ - isn’t there.” Obviously another Language Log reader). Liberman and Pullum are also worked up over this in-passing joke:

Novelist Dan Brown staggered through the formulaic splendour of his opening sentence.

Which, it’s true, is very similar to the title of a Pullum post:

Renowned author Dan Brown staggered through his formulaic opening sentence

Liberman, rather overdoing things, devotes 248 words and a four-column, multi-coloured table to analysis of this alleged joke theft. Or, more accurately, alleged parody theft; we’re at least a few steps down from, say, Molly Ivins’ lifting of a wholly original Clive James line. Truth be told, Pullum’s gag isn’t so brilliant that it’s unlikely another writer might independently compose something resembling it ... such as in this unbylined piece from The Scotsman:

Given that he’s the most formulaic novelist since Enid Blyton, you really don’t have to be Dan Brown to write your very own Dan Brown novel ... It’s also vital that the character’s name be preceded by his profession, much in the manner of a clunkily written obituary. For example: “Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery”; or “Novelist Dan Brown stumbled through his clumsy prose, the walls of St Peter’s Basilica echoing his screams”.

Yet another Language Log reader! Popular site. Either that, or people (commenter Nabakov, for example: “I picked up TdVC at a friend’s holiday house and read the first sentence ... I immediately put it right down again”) are capable of noticing weak blockbuster openings without Language Log’s prompting.

Anyway. Here’s Steyn’s piece, and here are Pullum’s two posts. Read them all, then Stand In Judgment. Steynophobic local academics John Quiggin and Tim Lambert have already rushed to condemnation, as is their style (Quiggin previously accused Steyn of plagiarising Oscar Wilde; he now admits the plagiarism call was incorrect). The pair of them teamed up last year to play Columnist Cops in an investigation of Miranda Devine, rapidly convicting the Fairfax writer of quote fabrication:

Lambert: “It looks like Devine is the one that fabricated the quote.”

Quiggin: “Devine has actually taken the critical step in the fabrication herself. ... This obviously bogus quote is worse than anything I can recall seeing.

Emphasis mine. But Devine didn’t fabricate anything; the disputed quote had emerged from Devine’s search of the internal, online Fairfax library. Cue another backdown from Quiggin: “It was a mistake on my part to draw the conclusion that Miranda Devine was responsible for adding the quote marks ... I apologise for this.” You’d think Quiggin might have learned to consider possibilities for a beat or two before reaching a conclusion. Not so. He’s still issuing tabloid-like smears, and still getting things wrong:

The point is that Steyn is someone who has a reputation as a witty writer that is built, to a significant extent on lifting other people’s lines, while giving little or no attribution.

This is simply untrue, as every blogger ever cited by Steyn (me among them) would be aware. Cranky old Quiggy again takes one step too far (at least), and again sets himself up for a humiliating retraction. At the same link, Quiggin notes that, in regard to the Great Pullum Burglary:

Plagiarism is not really the right category here ...

Hmm. Lambert—an unlikely arbiter, considering he’s a thief and all—disagrees with Quiggles, bluntly headlining his post:

Mark Steyn, plagiarist

The Quiggin/Lambert schism may even widen once the Lambot notices striking yet uncredited similarities between Quiggin’s Steyn post and a Patterico headline written only a couple of months previously. Quiggin:

Mark Steyn has a way with words. Particularly other people’s.

Patterico:

Domenech Has a Way with Other People’s Words

Man. Language Log will go nuts.

UPDATE. Scandal! Lambert (“Gore Derangement Sydrome”) plagiarises Krauthammer (“Bush Derangement Syndrome”)!

Posted by Tim B. on 05/24/2006 at 11:54 AM
  1. Looks like these tools are stealing an entire plotline from Jonathan Swift. You know, where Gulliver is attacked by Lilliputians.

    Posted by Dave S. on 2006 05 24 at 12:19 PM • permalink

  2. Another plastic turkey.

    Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 05 24 at 12:28 PM • permalink

  3. Next week they’ll have video of an interview with Jesse Macbeth in which he tells how he used to go house to house searching for lines for Steyn.

    Posted by Rob Crawford on 2006 05 24 at 12:40 PM • permalink

  4. Hmmmmm. M’yes. M’y-e-e-s. Here are my thoughts dons tweed jacket with intellectual-looking elbow patches, lights pipe, gags, switches to the customary cigarette. I believe this whole literary dispute could best be resolved through a series of wrestling matches, two throws out of three, tag team optional in the event any of these scribblers actually agrees with another one.

    Here is my own attempt at plagiarism, or pseudo-plagiarism, or faux plagiarism:

    “Best-selling author Dan Brown staggered up to the door of the first-class coach of the Gravy Train, exhausted by the effort of popularizing a stale 2nd century heresy and turning the literary result into sacks full of cash.”

    Posted by paco on 2006 05 24 at 01:13 PM • permalink

  5. I guess it isn’t really plagiarism if you attribute it.  In that case, Lambert seems to be merely echoing an attack on Steyn rather than substantially examining anything Steyn had to say:

    From John Quiggin and PZ Myers, who got it from Bitch, Phd, who got it from Unfogged.

    Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 05 24 at 01:14 PM • permalink

  6. Holy crap, that makes me dizzy.

    Posted by tiggy on 2006 05 24 at 01:48 PM • permalink

  7. Amateur imitates, pro steals.

    Posted by chinesearithmetic on 2006 05 24 at 02:04 PM • permalink

  8. #7: Very good, C/A! Er, are you imitating somebody, or did you steal it, fair and square?

    Posted by paco on 2006 05 24 at 02:10 PM • permalink

  9. 8. Paco, T.S. Eliot by way of Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band!

    Posted by chinesearithmetic on 2006 05 24 at 02:22 PM • permalink

  10. If it’s from two or more sources, it’s not plagarism, it’s research.

    Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 05 24 at 02:40 PM • permalink

  11. By the way, I wouldn’t label Lambert as a thief, that takes some modicum of having a clue.  Quiggins, eh, he’s just clueless.

    Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 05 24 at 02:41 PM • permalink

  12. #9: Plagiarism twice-removed! Or, “research”, as Real Jeff says. Brilliant!

    Posted by paco on 2006 05 24 at 02:51 PM • permalink

  13. Hey, leave my Steyn alone, huh?

    Posted by El Cid on 2006 05 24 at 02:51 PM • permalink

  14. Quiggin’s no theif: He’s the guy who cluelessly sets off the alarm and gets jumped by security because he forgot to pay for the pack of Oreos he thoughtlessly stuck in his coat pocket while he was trying to get a better grip on a large item on the top shelf.

    Posted by Aaron - Freewill on 2006 05 24 at 02:57 PM • permalink

  15. Maybe we need a Quiggy backdown counter, to keep track of the fun each time Quiggy has to back down from his perch of righteousness.

    Posted by JerryS on 2006 05 24 at 03:03 PM • permalink

  16. Let us not forget the secret to creativity: Disguising your sources.

    And let us not get away from the main point here: The Da Vinci Code is a piece of crap and to hell with it.

    Posted by SoberHT on 2006 05 24 at 03:14 PM • permalink

  17. I’m curious as to what Mr. Steyn might have done to forestall Mr. Pullum’s wrath?  Perhaps he ought to have created some graphics around Mr. Pullum’s name, blinking arrows or something pointing directly to a four-color processed name, and added a soundtrack.  I’m computer ignorant, so I don’t know how these things are done, but I’m sure Mr. Steyn would have done everything in his power to stay in the prissy precious famous linguist’s good graces. 

    (Suggestions for the soundtrack appreciated.)

    Posted by saltydog on 2006 05 24 at 03:15 PM • permalink

  18. Tim, Quiggy backtracks on his backtrack on Crooked Timber:

    “When you’re lifting material to the extent that Steyn does, you need to say so. But of course, if he had made it clear how much was being lifted, the stylistic part of the article would have been pointless.”

    So basically, he’s still accusing Steyn of “lifting material”. He doesn’t mention what material has been lifted other than an idea. I wonder if Quiggy credits someone else for every idea he has or does he think all of his ideas are original?

    One honest poster makes the point that we don’t know that the “idea” was original to Pullum, go watch Quiggy stumble around trying to respond to that one.

    Posted by JerryS on 2006 05 24 at 03:23 PM • permalink

  19. the most formulaic novelist since Enid Blyton - whoa!! That rings a bell from my childhood.  Is Brown really as good as her though??

    Posted by -keith in mtn. view on 2006 05 24 at 03:37 PM • permalink

  20. I used to read Language Log regularly until maybe a year ago (didn’t stop because of anything they did; I just lost interest). They’re all very competent in their field, but they’re mostly center-left to far-left, with Pullum the one who always came across as the one guy who really had to strain himself not to bring politics into the site, while the others mostly managed to keep their political opinions to themselves. Pullum also always seemed to be the most humourless contributor to me.

    So, I’m not surprised that Pullum would be whining to a conservative columnist about not being sufficiently basked in creditous (creditory?) glory by him, but I’m a bit disappointed to see the normally level-headed Liberman get in on the act.

    Posted by PW on 2006 05 24 at 03:43 PM • permalink

  21. Barking moonbat Tim Lambert batted furiously at his PC’s keyboard.  “I have him now,” he cackled, “Mark Steyn is toast!”  With a fluorish, he whacked the ENTER key, uploading his text to Blogger.  “Ha ha!  Eat ones and zeroes, you filthy Zionazi right-wing deathbeast!”

    Posted by Baby M on 2006 05 24 at 03:48 PM • permalink

  22. Oh, fer Chrissake, Brown lifted the whole fuckin’ story from a couple of X-Files and Millenium shows that featured Scully finding cherubim and Frank’s wife helping to protect the female descendent of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.

    Tell those pipsqueaks to knock it off about Steyn, or I sue the whole lot of them, because I THOUGHT the exact same things they wrote, but I thought them way earlier.

    Posted by ushie on 2006 05 24 at 04:00 PM • permalink

  23. Grant Morrison did the comic-book version in the 1990s, during his run on “Preacher,” from Vertigo.  It was hilarious!

    Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 05 24 at 04:37 PM • permalink

  24. It was the best of Steyns’, it was the worst of Steyns’...

    Posted by chinesearithmetic on 2006 05 24 at 04:50 PM • permalink

  25. In the old Batman TV series, they never referred to plain ol’ Bruce Wayne. It was always millionaire Bruce Wayne. That always struck me as odd. Now I know that it’s an anarthrous occupational nominal premodifier.

    Posted by ErnieG on 2006 05 24 at 04:53 PM • permalink

  26. English language is dying a slow death.

    Oh, sorry. The…

    Posted by rinardman on 2006 05 24 at 05:06 PM • permalink

  27. Steyn doesn’t take other people’s words.  He takes what other people are thinking, and says it the way they wished they’d said it.

    By the way, if there’s any P.G. Wodehouse fans around, I wrote a little Dan Brown/Wodehouse parody called The DaVinci Code of the Woosters.  Feel free to waste several minutes of your life reading it.

    Posted by Mike G on 2006 05 24 at 05:09 PM • permalink

  28. HA!  Now Steyn will never be able to blog at the Washington Post!!!

    YEEEEEEEAAAARGH!!

    Posted by Hoodlumman on 2006 05 24 at 05:12 PM • permalink

  29. In the old Batman TV series, they never referred to plain ol’ Bruce Wayne. It was always millionaire Bruce Wayne.

    That was an adaptation of Timespeak, the old Time magazine way of reducing everyone to a descriptor and speaking in a sort of telegraphese, parodied in Citizen Kane, Spy magazine (“short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump”), and most memorably and deliriously by Wolcott Gibbs (“Backwards ran the sentences until reeled the mind”).

    Posted by Mike G on 2006 05 24 at 05:14 PM • permalink

  30. Much ado about nothing (attr. Shakespeare). The definitive Da Vinci Code review is to be found here.

    Posted by quillpen on 2006 05 24 at 05:17 PM • permalink

  31. Has no noticed Quiggin’s incompetence with commas? For example:

    >The point is that Steyn is someone who has a reputation as a witty writer that is built, to a significant extent on lifting other people’s lines, while giving little or no attribution.

    Either you have a comma after “extent”, or you ditch the one after “built”. Sheesh. That should be a resigning matter for an academic, but I suppose he’ll just soldier on, staring down the jeers from his colleagues and students. I hope that at least he cries himself to sleep for a few weeks.

    Posted by Blithering Bunny on 2006 05 24 at 05:43 PM • permalink

  32. It was a dark and stormy Steyn!

    Posted by yojimbo on 2006 05 24 at 05:44 PM • permalink

  33. Gosh, I just don’t know.  Who should I believe?  On one side we have the incomparable and brilliant Mark Steyn.  On the other, Professors Quiggins and Lambert.

    Who? 

    I said PROFESSORS QUIGGINS AND LAMBERT. 

    Who? 

    PROFESSORS QUIGGINS AND LAMBERT !. 

    Who the hell are they? 

    Dang if I know.

    (Andrea, my butt still stings where you paddled it.  Someday you’ll put that paddle down and when you do, you just might find it missing)

    Posted by wronwright on 2006 05 24 at 06:03 PM • permalink

  34. 23 chinesearithmetic

    It was the best of Steyns’, it was the worst of Steyns’...

    Worst groaner I’ve heard in a long while…but I love it…:).

    Posted by El Cid on 2006 05 24 at 06:53 PM • permalink

  35. It’s not that good a line, so I have trouble following the complaint.

    It calls to mind the Bob and Ray Presidential Impersonator.  He could do Washington (no change in voice), Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, saying things they probably did in fact say at some time or other in life, like ``Please pass the salt.’’  These were attributed, and that was the joke.

    On top of that, I have to confess, the construction sounds okay to me.

    I blame Bush, however, for whatever the problem is.

    Posted by rhhardin on 2006 05 24 at 07:00 PM • permalink

  36. It is tremedous fun to watch leftish bloggers humiliate themselves… again.

    Posted by Ross on 2006 05 24 at 07:15 PM • permalink

  37. That reminds me, did Media Watch ever take up Steyn’s offer of an unedited live interview, over his supposedly ‘bogus’ Mohamed Atta story?  No, I didn’t think so.

    Posted by cuckoo on 2006 05 24 at 07:31 PM • permalink

  38. TIM BLAIR, PLAGIARIST!!!!

    When Tim wrote:

    The point is that Steyn is someone who has a reputation as a witty writer that is built, to a significant extent on lifting other people’s lines, while giving little or no attribution.

    It was actually something that had been written by John Quiggin. Yes sure he mentioned John Quiggin immediately before the quote but er um PLAGIARIST!!!!

    Posted by Ross on 2006 05 24 at 07:31 PM • permalink

  39. If you haven’t read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the book Brown stole his plot from, you should. It’s quite an interesting book, not so much as to whether JC had kids or not (a matter of complete indifference to me), but for the light it sheds on how the history we recieve is the official version of events.

    Posted by phil_b on 2006 05 24 at 07:48 PM • permalink

  40. #27 Mike G, your parody is absolutely top-hole.

    Now, in keeping with the spirit of this thread, I shall email it to my multitudinous friends and associates, first carefully removing all traces of authorship data ;-)

    Posted by Old Grouch on 2006 05 24 at 08:02 PM • permalink

  41. A.) Wodeshouse fans, please read Mike G’s spoof. Bravo!


    B.) In Junior High, (circa 12 years old) some friends and I thought it would be funny if people watching a person vomit began to vomit themselves.

    In college, I saw Rob Reiner’s film of a Steven King story where that scenario is played out.

    Which means that my ‘original’ funny idea was so friggin’ obvious and pedestrian that it’s a wonder that no one else had done earlier.

    Posted by JDB on 2006 05 24 at 08:08 PM • permalink

  42. Yojimbo, shouldn’t it be It was a dark and steyny norm? Or <i>It was a stark and neymy dork? Ah, forget it.

    And what’s the Scotsman got against Enid Blyton? She wasn’t formulaic. Noddy was nothing like Uncle Quentin. Big Ears was nothing like Timmy. George was a latent lesbian and the golliwogs ran Toytown because Mr Plod was hopeless.

    Where’s the formula in that?

    Posted by ilibcc on 2006 05 24 at 08:12 PM • permalink

  43. #27 & 40, What ho, quite agree.  One would have a bit of a giggle at Wodehouse’s retelling.  At any rate, it was far above the original, or what we shall call the original, plagiarized as it was, so some here say, from other books and the X-Files.

    Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 05 24 at 08:13 PM • permalink

  44. Let me say this about celibacy in Judaism, remembering that Jesus was a Jew and stated “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled”.

    If G-d wanted that we should be spiritual beings, if He wanted creations that secluded themselves in a monastery and divorced themselves from the mundane world, then He would have sufficed with angels.

    Only Moses, who had to be ready 24/7 hours a day (he didn’t need a pager, by the way, G-d can shout pretty loud) to relay G-d’s commands to the Jews, was allowed to remain celibate. None of the other prophets, much less ordinary folk, had such dispensation.

    If you want supporting evidence of this, the Talmud (Shabbat 87a) derives this from G-d’s words to Moses: “Go say to the [Israelites], ‘Return to your tents.’ But as for you, stand here with Me…” (Deuteronomy 5:27-28).

    Moses’ celibacy lasted for the 40-year period which the Jews spent in the desert.

    We all know (don’t we?) what happened to Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s two sons, who chose a life of celibacy. They immersed themselves in the secrets of Torah, and disconnected themselves from the trivial pursuits of this World. G-d was displeased, (in fact, G-d was mightily pissed off) and they were punished.

    Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 24 at 08:30 PM • permalink

  45. Oh, and the above is brought to you by someone who still thinks failed pop-singer Dan Brown is a plagiarist, a lousy author and so full of shit it’s coming out his nose.

    Just saying it is more likely Jesus WAS married than celibate.

    Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 24 at 08:34 PM • permalink

  46. Is that Lambert the thiefish liar?

    Posted by Nic on 2006 05 24 at 08:35 PM • permalink

  47. i notice the great demographer’s insolence in fine fettle….most gratifying indeed when i consider his outright purloining of MY deathless phrase ‘the romanian moment’ from one of my more memorable ‘franksters’ screeds….when i remonstrated his cutpurse ways i remember him addressing me as ‘groinstrain’.....which i thought VERY unsportsmanlike…AND pathetically ad hominem…rather reminded me of Dr Johnson’s comment about chaps like him…...
    ...which is all in the way of pointing out Journalist Steyn is a fine one with HIS overarching undervaultings to be pointing the finger at Dan Brown…..physician, heal THYSELF.

    Posted by groinpuller on 2006 05 24 at 09:02 PM • permalink

  48. Nag Hammadi code

    null

    Today’s ad is sponsored by HillsongIslam, Islamtolgy, manboob Habub,UnitingIslam, Islambaptist, 8thdayislamist, TammyBakerIslam…...and O’salad bin luncheon.

    Posted by 1.618 on 2006 05 24 at 09:12 PM • permalink

  49. Actually, mentalfloss, there were a number of ascetic Jewish groups in ancient times who did practice celibacy, such as the Essenes. It is not inconceivable that Jesus belonged to one of these groups. Just as conceivable, at least, as him having been married and to Mary Magdalene too.

    Phil_b, Holy Blood, Holy Grail is as just a load of codswallop as DVC, on par with those books you can see in the average New Age crystal-and-bullshit shop where tomes on the great lost civilization of Atlantis (which was, of course, ruled peacefully by Great Mother-worshipping matriarchs) share shelf space with horoscope charts and Wicca “magick” books.

    Posted by Andrea Harris, Administrator on 2006 05 24 at 09:33 PM • permalink

  50. Goddess Sophia is a favourite

    Posted by 1.618 on 2006 05 24 at 09:47 PM • permalink

  51. Journalist Andrew Bolt has slagged off the Da Vinci Code movie here.

    Posted by Dan Lewis on 2006 05 24 at 10:09 PM • permalink

  52. You are quite correct, Andrea: the Essenes practised celibacy; marriage must necessarily dissolve the fellowship characterising such an order—much as it does one’s plans to play golf of a weekend.

    The Rabbinic records give no hint of the duty of celibacy. On the contrary, marriage was held to promote a far higher sanctity than celibacy. But the Rabbis tolerated some exceptional cases of celibacy; so that it is difficult to speak categorically.

    I stand corrected…barely.

    Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 24 at 10:22 PM • permalink

  53. 47 groin

    i notice the great demographer’s insolence in fine fettle….most gratifying indeed when i consider his outright purloining of MY deathless phrase ‘the romanian moment’ from one of my more memorable ‘franksters’ screeds….when i remonstrated his cutpurse ways i remember him addressing me as ‘groinstrain’.....which i thought VERY unsportsmanlike…AND pathetically ad hominem…rather reminded me of Dr Johnson’s comment about chaps like him…...
    ...which is all in the way of pointing out Journalist Steyn is a fine one with HIS overarching undervaultings to be pointing the finger at Dan Brown….

    Er, ah, well, I hope whoever has stolen your sentence-building skills will reconsider, and return them.

    Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 05 24 at 10:27 PM • permalink

  54. If you thought The Da Vinci Code was controversial, you’re going to find Dan Brown’s next book even more so.  From the hints he’s mentioned, it appears that he’s basing it on one of several books that examines the true origin of the Freemasons.  Basically, it claims that the organization goes back not just to 18th century England, but much a much earlier time.  To a time well before Jesus and it argues that he actually followed ancient rituals established by the original Freemasons.  (I’ll leave out the even more controversial theories and allegations that raises strong questions to the idea that Jesus was devine).

    Funny thing that.  I don’t recall anything mentioned about it when I received my 3rd degree apron.  Probably that lesson comes with the “super secret” 33rd degree that only a select few obtain.

    Posted by wronwright on 2006 05 24 at 10:32 PM • permalink

  55. yes shtup davey boy…your comments as ever au point….the point being what a discerning stylist is our davey ?...but was there ever as anally nit picking unnuanced a noddy as himself ?

    i think not.

    Posted by groinpuller on 2006 05 24 at 10:58 PM • permalink

  56. That tortured output makes me think there’s a slight misspelling in this guy’s username, and he’s actually a groinpullee. I probably couldn’t write clearly under those particular circumstances, either.

    Posted by PW on 2006 05 24 at 11:02 PM • permalink

  57. Didn’t you guys kill all those late Victorian, London prostitutes, wronwright? Hey, that’s a good idea for a book/film but what would I use for the hook? Maybe have Sherlock Holmes solve the case and it involve the Royal Family? But the darn Jewes would probably steal the idea from me.

    And #30, why quote Shakespeare? All he did was string together a bunch of famous quotes—talk about plagiarism!

    Posted by andycanuck on 2006 05 24 at 11:03 PM • permalink

  58. And humble, too, don’t leave out that part!  Lots of folks do, you know, but they’re just unperspicacious.  Seen in the right light, I’m humbler than Mother Teresa and Mohandas Ghandi rolled into one!  Not like that vainglorious Paco, me, nuh-uh.

    Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 05 24 at 11:05 PM • permalink

  59. An ellipsis can be used to indicate a pause in speech, an unfinished thought or, at the end of a sentence, a trailing off into silence.

    In the case of groinpuller, one can only pray that it is the lattermost of these.

    Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 24 at 11:07 PM • permalink

  60. Also and furthermore, PW and Andycanuck, y’all are both accursed interlopers, for interposing your prose between the puller’s retort and my re-retort.  I just hope you both feel bad about it, is all.

    Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 05 24 at 11:08 PM • permalink

  61. If the Stoop’n'paco story got turned into a video game, would it come with a special Humble Pack?

    Posted by PW on 2006 05 24 at 11:09 PM • permalink

  62. At it again. Hubris, I say, hubris!
    hubris!

    Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 24 at 11:13 PM • permalink

  63. Actually, Stoop, you (and PW) interposed on me commenting to wronwright about Masonry. Uh, I just used a form of “interpose”, does that mean that I just plagiarised Stoop from #60? If only there were a Web site or blog that would cover these sorts of issues.

    Posted by andycanuck on 2006 05 24 at 11:29 PM • permalink

  64. 63 AC

    If only there were a Web site or blog that would cover these sorts of issues.

    Boy howdy!  If there’s one thing we lack around here, it’s well-covered issues.

    Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 05 24 at 11:38 PM • permalink

  65. Oh, please, enough with the Da Vinci Code crap!  Everybody who’s anybody knows Christianity is just a front for an Isis cult, and the Magdalene was the REAL Messiah…

    Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 05 24 at 11:41 PM • permalink

  66. 61 PW Please!  That’s the “Paco’n'stoop” story.  I ostentatiously humbly defer to Mr Paco in all things, after all.

    Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 05 24 at 11:42 PM • permalink

  67. Holy Blood and the Holy Grail - I read it years (and years and years) ago and thought it was an interesting idea.

    Why would I bother to read Dan Brown’s novel? (Or see the movie…)

    Posted by kae on 2006 05 24 at 11:57 PM • permalink

  68. Interestingly, Tim Lamberts “Mark Steyn, Plagiarist” post states:

    Quoting Myself: One of the less pleasant parts of my job is talking to students that I have caught plagiarizing assignments. All too often, rather than admit to copying they will tell me clumsy lies and blame somebody else.


    However the Language Log post he references says:

    When an undergraduate in one of my classes turns in a paper with a similar amount of uncredited copying, I ask him or her to come see me….After laying out the facts, I’d ask for a response, which at first is usually a denial or an excuse.

    I guess if you change the words just enough, then it isn’t plagiarism, it’s “the vibe, Your Honour”, right?

    Posted by Zoidberg on 2006 05 25 at 01:55 AM • permalink

  69. #57 Didn’t you guys kill all those late Victorian, London prostitutes, wronwright?—Posted by andycanuck

    The theory is that one Mason did it, either as a sick deed covered up by other Masons (who also levied punishment on the evil doer a la Karl) or was done for internal reasons.  But also keep in mind that the Masons have been accused of being the successor to the Knights Templar and in possession of vast stores of treasure and knowledge.  And other wild ideas.

    It’s all hooey of course.  Except for the Pillar of Knowledge found by the Masons that was chiseled by Thoth in a time prior to the Great Flood.  That’s accurate.  I use the incantations from time to time to carry out the Grand Master’s Karl’s instructions.

    Posted by wronwright on 2006 05 25 at 03:06 AM • permalink

  70. Zoidberg, good catch!

    Posted by Ross on 2006 05 25 at 03:40 AM • permalink

  71. #46 Nic - I got that.

    Great cartoon - haven’t seen it for years.

    Posted by graboy on 2006 05 25 at 04:52 AM • permalink

  72. I really enjoy posts like this, it’s so satisfying to chase a phrase down to its origins like Tim does here.

    Posted by TimT on 2006 05 25 at 04:53 AM • permalink

  73. Holy Blood and the Holy Grail - I read it years (and years and years) ago and thought it was an interesting idea.

    Pfff…the only good fictional retelling of the same idea is the computer game Gabriel Knight III.

    Same theory, but the story was no better - no evil Catholic Church (there was a priest, but as I recall, he didn’t kill anyone in the story), and the villains were vampires!

    ...and French winemakers… :)

    Posted by Quentin George on 2006 05 25 at 07:34 AM • permalink

  74. #66” Gad! Stoop Davy, look at what it says here: “And the meek shall inherit the earth.” Even with interest rates going up and the recent softening of the real estate market, that’s still got to be worth a fortune! There’s enough for both of us! I can see it all now: “Amalgamated Humility, Inc. - Landlord to the World”.

    Posted by paco on 2006 05 25 at 08:59 AM • permalink

  75. I’m quite fond of Robert Heinlein’s take on the matter (paraphrased as I’m too lazy to look it up), “the meek shall inherit the earth, but usually in 6 by 3 foot plots.” 

    And I’ve read DVC.  The question I would like to pose to all these people hotly debating whether it’s “true” or not:  WHAT PART OF “A NOVEL” ON THE FRONT COVER DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?  It’s a %!#$ NOVEL, people, it’s not true. 

    Like my favorite author was Andre Norton (may she rest in peace), but I never believed for one second that her science fiction was real. 

    Sheesh. 

    Elizabeth
    Imperial Keeper

    Posted by Elizabeth Imperial Keeper on 2006 05 25 at 11:58 AM • permalink

  76. Elizabeth, The point is that, yes, the DVC is SAID to be a novel, but the impression is plainly and intentionally given that it is not REALLY a novel, but truth pretending to be a novel.

    It’s a whole new way of lying, and a particularly venomous one in an age that can’t tell truth from trash - surveys show a lot of people actually believe the DVC despite what are, to a decently educated person, its obvious lies.

    And last I heard, Andre Norton was alive.

    Posted by Susan Norton on 2006 05 25 at 12:17 PM • permalink

  77. I still think DVC debate is overrated. 

    And no, Andre (Alice) died last year (1912-2005) at the age of 93 of congestive heart failure. 

    I found “Star Gate” in an old box last week, so when I get the grandsons out the door tonight, I’m going to indulge in a little nostalgia. 

    Elizabeth
    Imperial Keeper

    Posted by Elizabeth Imperial Keeper on 2006 05 25 at 12:38 PM • permalink

  78. He STOOPS to conquer…

    Posted by crash on 2006 05 26 at 10:54 AM • permalink

  79. 63 Andy

    Actually, Stoop, you (and PW) interposed on me commenting to wronwright about Masonry.

    Nuh-UH!  You were interrupting PW’s interruption of my retort, is what that was.  My “modest” retort, I mean.

    Uh, I just used a form of “interpose”, does that mean that I just plagiarised Stoop from #60?

    We can only await the Big Quig’s ruling on that matter, with the appropriate level of trepidation.

    Posted by Stoop Davy Dave on 2006 05 26 at 12:28 PM • permalink

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