Category Archives: Satire and Comedy
Everything in this section has been measured as having at least 7,5 dHE (deutsche Humoreinheiten, or German Units of Humour, which is the EU industrial standard), so don’t you go telling me it’s not funny. Like, what the heck do you know?
“The only two certain things” Franklin may have said, possibly referencing a line by Defoe “are death and taxes”.
However, those who are “in the know” are aware that these things are far from certain, either. The very poor are unaware of taxes, and not really experiencing them, and often not even the benefit of other people paying them. The very rich are also capable of making their tax burdens rather uncertain as to the absolute quantum, and God alone knows what percentage of any particular man or woman’s real efforts have been taken from him in one form of taxation or another and of those which percentage actually used to good effect.
Death also is not certain for the Christian, it is written that some “will not taste of death”, which is generally taken to mean that they will be raptured and changed into their resurrection states in the “twinkling of an eye” (I Cor 15:52). We are also shown in the Bible how Enoch and Elijah are taken bodily to heaven, without dying (Genesis 5:24, 2 Kings 2:11), possibly in order to be the two witnesses we read about in Revelation 11:3-12.
So is anything certain, then? Yes. The certainty is change. The only certainty is that given enough time nothing is certain. Everything must change. And nowhere more is the effect of change seen than when one generation hands over to the next generation. We have another Pharaoh in Exodus who “knew not Joseph” and so the position of the Hebrews in the Egyptian kingdom starts to deteriorate, leading eventually to the Exodus in the parted waters of the Red Sea. But also we see throughout human history how what was decided by one generation in a dynasty is often overturned in the next.
The Nazis wanted to destroy the intellectuals of Poland, and so they executed officers, teachers, theatre directors, librarians, poets, anyone who could lead the people intellectually, along with their families. The children of ordinary farmers and factory workers, they thought, would not be in any state to replace the ones they took. But each time meiosis happens, it is the shuffling and redealing of a much bigger pack of cards than we might think, and genius which was not at all evident in the parents starts to come to the fore in the children. Now Poland is full of clever managers, inventors, thinkers whose parents drove trams or cleaned around in hospitals. I have met such people again and again, and also the opposite, which is a humbling thing, really. We all hope our children will be as clever or cleverer than we are, but this is not always the case either. Some of my readers may even be discovering this at the moment and having to come to terms with it.
A good rule to follow in business succession planning, by the way, is to consider that if you want one of your kids to take over your business from you, you’d better have four, as only 50% of them will have the intelligence needed to do it and only 50% will have the inclination and wish to do it. Both of these are needed and they are not dependent variables. Yes, I know people will turn around and say, “there you go again, GoldList Method Boy, stating things which are not science as if they were when genetics puts all of this differently and goes into detail and contradicts some of what you say”. Well, OK. Nevertheless, this actually works and is a pretty effective way of expressing how you need to prepare if you would like to have a business dynasty.
In the light of all the above, I had a meditation today on one popular story, well known to the kids of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
They say that “they all lived happily ever after”, but as far as the seven dwarfs was concerned, the next generation was were it started to go pear-shaped. Grumpy’s kids were all sweetness and light, Sleepy’s kids were workaholics, Sneezy’s kids didn’t have any allergoes to anything and rarely caught colds, Doc’s kids on the other hand were hopelessly unhealthy and also far too thick to be candidates for the medical profession, which was headed by Dopey’s son, the Surgeon general, Happy’s kids were all chronic depressives and Bashful’s lot were never off the television screen unless they were coming sozzled out of nighclubs singing at the tops of their voices with a retinue of fans in tow. This could be the premise for a nice screenplay or telenovella, in which case I am bagging it now and anyone else who does it has to pay me copyright fees? Why? Because my parents were very nice and wouldn’t have asked for copyright fees off annyone.
Original YT playout date: 4 May 2008
This time we talk about respect, and an appropriate approach to ourselves, other people in society, the animal kingdom and growing things also.
We deal with the offence of vegetarianism and the correct way to conduct cannibalism and food-hoarding in times of incumbent famine.
Read the rest of this entry
Original playout date: 22 December 2007
Following his 2007 connversion to Roman Catholicism, Bliar had a serie of meetings to become the first Pope to have been converted into the faith only days previously, and to be beatified while still alive and serving as EU President as St Antonius Bliarius, patron saint of war criminals.
Read the rest of this entry
Original playout date: 22 December 2007
One of the most watched videos on the channel with more than half a million views, this is not by me, this is an example of some dozen or so occasions where I just took a clip that was not available to an international audience, added subtitles and internationalised it. There have been no complaints or claims by the actual owners, who are shown in the clip, a famous cabaret (sketch show as we would put it) from Poland.
Read the rest of this entry
Original playout date: 18 November 2007
The attempt on Benazir Bhutto’s life prompts a rant from Huliganov which you could get away with in 2007 but could never get away with in 2017, in this era of political correctness and special pleading for the religion of peace. Thankfully in 2007 we have complete freedom to express opionions, but there are still some opponents better left untouched. Therefore, on legal adice, Huli’s enthusiastic endorsement of pulling lawyers’ hair has been removed.
Read the rest of this entry
Original playout date: 21 September 2007
Peter Pączek gives us a second lesson on English homophobes, which is a major stumbling block for those struggling to “leorn wor English langwidge”.
Read the rest of this entry
Original playout date: 18 June 2007
Ths was someone else’s video in Russia, all I did was subtitle it. There are a few vids on the channel where all I was doing was making Russian or Polish or other content available to a wider audience in this way.
Read the rest of this entry
Playout date: 9 May 2007
This was done still in the early days with still less than 200 films and under 300 subbers, asking for more, but being utterly perplexed by a letter addressing me as “my gentleman”.
Read the rest of this entry
Big news in the atheist community. A new species of ape has been discovered. A phylogenetic study has just concluded that this kind of orang-utan speciated 700,000 years ago whereas the other two species of orang-utan separated from each other 400,000 years ago. Modern humans at that time were all one big happy family, and still pretty much in Africa, it is supposed.
Welcome to this new species, congratulations on being discovered, and what a wonderful thing evolution is that we see it going on around us all the time, with whole new species appearing again and again despite what these religious nutjobs tell us.
Happily thanks to this discovery, science has once again allowed us to pat ourselves on the backs and reassure ourselves that we can explain fully how this world came into being and even if there are loads of unanswered questions and uncertaintoes, one thing we can be absolutely sure of, God and the Bible had nothing whatsoever to do with it!
(I speak as a fool, of course).
Today’s post is not the first in taking the form of a brief epistollary.
Regular commentator and reader, though not in that order, of this blog, Mr A… B… , wrote to me a few days ago saying the following:
Dear Mr James,
Please forgive my writing directly but I’m not certain how I can post a general message on Huliganov TV.
I thought that perhaps you could put me out of my grammatical misery. I have a grammar query that is driving me nuts for want of an answer. The question concerns the case system in German (I hesitate to call it a system as it seems half-baked to me but that could be my misunderstanding).
I appreciate that in German (as in many languages) the nominative / accusative case endings (I am not concerning myself here with the other cases) applied to masculine words will enable me to identify the subject and object of a sentence. All well and good. So, for example, if I use the classic biting / bitten scenario we would have something like:-
Der Hund beisst den Mann. And if I reverse the word order (Den Mann beisst der Hund) the meaning remains the same, namely “the dog bites the man”. Directly comparable to the Latin usage of the case system – “Canus virum mordet” with the same versatility of word order.
BUT, it seems to me that where the Latin uses it’s nominative and accusative endings consistently (in that there are ending for masculine, feminine and neuter nouns) this is not carried through to German as the different noun endings apply to the masculine nouns ONLY where the accusative is concerned.
So, if I now use a feminine object in my example, Der Hund beisst die Frau the word order would now have to be rigid as reversing it could mean that the woman is biting the dog (not impossible of course, but rather eccentric behaviour for woman or a man to have! ). Same applies to a neuter object. It seems to me there is little or no point in applying a different ending for accusative noun unless it is applied equally to ALL genders.
German ACC endings are : (maculine) ‘der’ becoming ‘den’ ; (feminine) ‘die’ unchanged ; (neuter) ‘das’ unchanged. Had there been something like :- Der/den ; die / det ; das / dax (the feminine and neuter accusative endings being my inventions), then I would see the point of it and it would be a very useful feature. As it is, it is confusing and pointless.
If we take a Latin feminine object example, “Canus matronam mordet” we can still have any word order without changing the meaning. This is not the case (no pun intended !) with German accusative usage as we are unable to distinguish the nominative ‘die’ from the accusative ‘die’. Hence there is uncertainty about the feminine noun being subject or object.
Allowing for my poor Latin and looking at the principle involved, am I missing some important point in the German case system or is it (as I believe it to be) poorly implemented and inconsistent ?
I do hope you can throw some light on this as nothing that I can find on an Internet trawl can offer any guidence. I even asked a German native speaker about it on a Skype session, but he seemed to miss the point of my confusion.
If my suspicion about this German case usage is correct I shall abandon any further study of the language and spend the time saved reading Mark Twain’s “The Awful German Language” section of his book of 1880, “A Tramp Abroad” .
Sincerely and with best wishes to you.
So I wrote back with the following information:
even if the person being bitten is die Frau or das Kind, they are still in the accusative. The fact that in Germanic (the same applies incidentally in Icelandic, others have lost three genders and have two or only a default gender for all but personal pronouns) the feminine and neuter have the same endings and have had for more than a thousand years in feminine and neuter genders for the masculine and accusative cases doesn’t mean they don’t exist.
Look again at it with personal pronouns.
She bites the dog – Sie beisst den Hund
The dog bites her – Der hund beisst sie.
He bites the dog – Er beisst den Hund
The dog bites him – Der Hund beisst ihn.
So, you have more diversity for gender in English, arguably, than in German, alhough the fact is we took the DATIVE case pronouns and mae them good for both the dative and the accusative.
Der Hund gibt IHM / IHR viel Vergnuegen
The dog gives him/her much pleasure. When it is not biting them, presumably. You can see the same m and r endings carrying over.
In Slavic Neuter has identical nominative and accusative, also vocative for that matter, where it exists, but differentiates in masculine and feminine. German just goes one little bit further. It is on the way to ending up with the Dutch or Scandinavian system of having two genders only.
Hope this helps.
Can I put the Q & A back onto HTV?
And then A… replies as follows:
Many thanks, David, for your fast reply to my question and your interesting explanation. This certainly helps in addition to providing extra insights to the case system in general.
I’m still a little confused though. Am I correct in saying that if we have a simple German sentence containing a feminine subject and a feminine object (neither being a pronoun) we could not distinguish subject from object merely by looking at the articles. Only perhaps by context or word order ?
I can see that no problem arises where there is a masculine noun in the sentence because the change made to its ending would determine its function in the sentence and the remaining noun would automatically be determined by default. So if the masculine noun has den or einen as its article, it is an object in the sentence so the remaining noun (of any gender) has to be the subject in the sentence.
However,if the sentence contains only feminine or neuter nouns, their appears to be no way of knowing which is intended to be the subject and which the object by inspection of the articles used. From what you have said, it seems that only the use of pronouns would resolve the uncertainty (context and word order perhaps also being of value).
Is my understanding faulty here or am I near the mark ?
[yes please, would you put the content onto HTV for the benefit of others that are perhaps as confused by cases as I am ! ]
Very best wishes,
And since I did not manage to answer this second letter yet, I will answer it now, especially as I have the kind agreement of A… to let everyone see our linguistic discussion.
Basically, when it comes to masculine nouns in German, they retain a fuller set of differentiation in the case endings than the feminine or neuter do, and nevertheless the word order remains flexible.
You can say “Der Hund beisst den Mann” and “Den Hund beisst der Mann” and the direction of the bite is precisely opposite, but what is not the same is the syntax.
This is what is usually left unsaid by people who use this sentence, and others like it, as an illustration of how cases work and allow more flexibility in word order. It is effectively a very good example of why syntax is one thing and grammar another. Syntax is the place at which grammar means style.
The sentence “Den Mann beisst der Hund” actualy does not have the same semantic loading as the sentence “Der Hund beisst den Mann”. True, the bite is being carrying out by the same canine agent in both sentences, but the meaning has changed. In the sentence “Der Hund beisst den Mann” you have a simple form. The dog is biting the man. There is no doubt about which dog it is or the man, as we are simply following the default SVO of German.
When I invert that and say “Den Mann beisst der Hund” then I am making a new emphasis. I am showing that there was uncertainty about which man was being bitten by the dog. Therefore I bring it to the beginning of the sentence. German sentences can be very long and if in cases of urgency I don’t bring the key information about which man it is to the start of the sentence, by the time I get to the close, he could have already bled out, und das wollen wir nicht.
This means the intonation also changes, when you say the inverted OVS sentences. You won’t hear them in the same tone of voice as the SVO simple forms. So, bearing in mind that spoken language precedes written language by centuries if not millennia, this is why there seems no need to worry that the Feminine form seems to maintain the mystery of who is biting whom. The tone of voice would have made it clear. In writing, you generally have context, and that ought to make it clear. If you make a piece of writing in which a feminine nouns is object and subject in an OVS sentence without any context, then for sure you have an ambiguity. Language speakers are usually quite good at exploiting ambiguities like this for jokes so it would be a pity if it weren’t there.
You can imagine how in German this could work and in English not:
– Eine Schlange biss meine Schwiegermutter.
– Autsch, ist sie giftig?
– Naja, aber nicht so schlimm wie der Schwiegervater.
“A snake bit my mother-in-law”
“Ouch, is it toxic?”
“Well, yes, but not as bad as my father-in-law”
There are two grammatical reasons why the joke sounds very confusing in English.
The joke is possibly confusing in German also, but only because Naja, in addition for being a common colloquial German affirmative, is the Latin name for a very poisonous snake.
No wonder the Germans come across as a little verbissen at times…
(I don’t really mean this, it’s just a humorous poem, which I wrote ten years ago, and just came across it going through old papers…)
If you were a daphnia,
A hydra or a snail,
You’d be more scared of a clown loach
Than of a killer whale.
Small things bother the little ones
Great things bother the great
So don’t come at me with your issues
Trying to upwardly delegate.
I was asked today in a private message how to measure sarcasm.
The idea of sarcasm is that what a person says in plain text is different to what they actually mean, and certain parts of the audience are supposed to understand it, possibly find a humourous twist in the juxtaposition of what you said and what you meant, while the person or people who is the butt of the sarcasm ideally should remain confused by it and publicly shown up as stupid.
There are two ways of measuring sarcasm in a remark, one is the effectiveness of the sarcasm in doing the above job, while the other measurement refers to the pithiness, as sarcasm is particularly appreciated by connoisseurs if it has a “pithy” quality. The thing is, sarcasm is seen as “the lowest form of wit”, while brevity is called “the soul of wit”, and souls like to rise up, so therefore sarcasm which is both pithy and also very sarcastic sarcasm has forces in it moving up and down at the same time creating internal circulating flows like a storm cloud or a galaxy and draws into itself the energy and attention of the audience. A much-appreciated sarcastic comment then needs to have two measurements, a pithiness score and a score for sarcasm effectiveness.
As explained above, effective sarcasm is all about the intended listeners understanding the hidden meaning or it being lost on them, depending on the intention of the remark issuer (RI). Therefore, the formula for sarcasm effectiveness (FSE) is (n/e)+(u/i)*100%, where n = number of those not understanding the comment from those who were not supposed (by the RI) to understand it, e = number of those who were not supposed to understand it, u = number of those who were supposed to understand it and did understand it and i = number of those who were supposed to understand it.
I hope you understood that.
This is separate to the measure of sarcasm pithiness. An ideally pithy sarcastic remark is supposed to have five words in it. The pithiness score is therefore 5 minus the actual variance from 5 words, plus or minus. So a one word sarcastic remark as well as a nine word answer achieves a pithiness score of 1. This only applies to the final sentence if we are referring to multi-sentence pieces of sarcasm.
Hope that answers your question.