Sunday, February 15, 2015

237. Idioms

 Oh dear. I can always tell when C.W. is in what he calls his “thoughtful in character or manner mode,” i.e. his serious one. He takes on the form of a monk of the Dark Ages, complete with robe and hood. That is how I found him today. He also had what he says is his Galactic Universal Translator manual spread out before him.

Of course I couldn’t read it as it was in a form only understandable by Falloonians, but I was glad to see him at work. His GUT has been volatile of late.

“What’s up?” I said.

“Idioms, my child.”

“Idioms are up?”

“Please, Big Dope, don’t be showing a lack of common sense or judgment; absurd and foolish.”

“I’m not being silly,” I said. “Besides, I’m glad you have been listening to your GUT and helping it to digest our language.” I giggled.

“For your information, I’m adding idioms to the language base,” he said, “and the flow through my GUT is fine. There are no blockages.”

I giggled again and he frowned at me most seriously. I decided to play along. “So, can I help you?”

“These are informal terms,” he said, “that seem to be related.”

“Such as?”

He looked at a note. “Cherry picking. What does that mean?”

“That is the practice,” I said, “of selectively choosing the most beneficial items from what is easily available.”

“What about those remaining items.”

“Tough sh…,” I started, but his robe caught my eye, “too bad about them.”

“I see,” he said, making a note.


“Yes,” he said, and checked his notes again. “Low hanging fruit.”

“Hmm,” I said. “that is a thing that can be obtained with little effort, that is to say you don’t have to reach very high or strain yourself to collect it.”

“Fascinating,” he said, and I’ll swear one eyebrow raised independently. He made another note.

“Is that all?” I said. “Mrs Big Do…, uh, my wife and I are going to rake leaves and I want to beat her to the places where there isn’t any junk to sweep around.”

“Two more,” he said.

“Give me the easy one first,” I said.

“Pretty bolling.”

“Ah,” I said, “you are in luck. That is an old, rural term and might be unknown to anyone who didn’t grow up in cotton country.”

“Cotton country?”

“Areas where they grow cotton, or used to. Back in the day, they picked it by hand and it was a serious offense—a beatable one during slavery—to quickly pick the largest and easiest bolls of cotton, the pretty ones in other words. This increased your daily production but left money in the field, i.e. the bolls of poorer quality or smaller size, problem ones of one sort or another.”

“Really?” he said. “That is interesting.” He made notes for several minutes.

“You said you had another.”

Fascinating. Unlike Latin, in English the
terms "rat pack" and "pack rat" don't mean
the same thing. Hmm. I wonder about the
term "house cat." C.W.
“Yes,” he said, turning over a sheet. “Ah, here it is.” He looked up at me. “Charter schools.”

That stumped me for a second or two. Then it dawned on me. “Well sir,“ I said. “Charter schools are private schools operated with public funds but permitted to cherry pick, pretty boll, or otherwise select students that are statistically likely to succeed without much effort, in other words,  the low hanging fruit of the student population.”

“Get out of the city,” he said.

“No, really,” I said.

“What about the other students, the ones that present difficulties?”

Xin Loi,” I said. That’s a Vietnamese term roughly meaning tough sh…”

“I know what it means,” he said. Then, believe it or not, a tear fell from his eye. “So the good kids get educated and the others get lost?” He said.

“Pretty much so.”
Another tear fell. “Are your people really that cruel, my son?

Please click an ad. I need to educate Big Dope.
And see also:
- C.W.

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