May I Compare Thee to a Snowclone?

A look at the perennial blizzard of Mad Lib-like clichés\rRecently, on my blog Wordlustitude, I recalled an old roommate with extreme eating habits: "I lived with a meatorexic once," I wrote with a shudder. "He used to eat slices of salami like they were potato chips. My name is Mark Peters, and I approved..\n

A look at the perennial blizzard of Mad Lib-like clichés

Recently, on my blog Wordlustitude, I recalled an old roommate with extreme eating habits: "I lived with a meatorexic once," I wrote with a shudder. "He used to eat slices of salami like they were potato chips. My name is Mark Peters, and I approved this disturbing college memory."I don't know if that last sentence made my readers groan, chuckle, or rethink their own diets, but I'm not alone in screwing around with this approving template. People everywhere are putting their good names behind articles, blogs, captions, emails, paragraphs, posts, sentences, status updates, and, of course, messages. It's a handy way to impersonate Presidential candidates ("I'm John McCain and I approved this recession"), show off your ninja-happy persona ("I'm Dan Johnson and I approved this merciless strike from the shadows"), or share a sentiment we can all get behind ("I'm Sarah Gates and I approved this ice cream!")Recessions, ninjas, and ice cream aside, the "My name is X and I approved this Y"-construct is a snowclone-one of those fill-in-the-blank, mega-repeated expressions that linguists, especially those on Language Log, have been collecting since 2003. (There's even a database full of them.)The word snowclone has its origin in the formula, "If Eskimos have N words for snow, then X have Y words for Z." That idea--which is based on total crapola, not actual research--appeared in bazillions of news stories over the years, raising the collective blood pressure of linguists to frightening levels. In 2004, the ever-present snow-words myth was cited as a perfect example of the maddening, Mad-Libs-like memes that the Language Loggers were collecting, which included gems like "To X or not to X?" Economist Glen Whitman cleverly put these overlapping examples together by coining the name snowclone for such adaptable idioms. It quickly caught on.Geoffrey Pullum, a professor of linguistics at the University of Edinburgh, pithily defines snowclones as "some-assembly-required adaptable cliché frames for lazy journalists." But there's more going on than mindless repetition. A snowclone can be a secret handshake of sorts: take the many variations of the Obi-wan-ism "These aren't the droids you're looking for." Versions seen in blog posts ("These are not the WMDs you're looking for") and on t-shirts ("These aren't the breasts you're looking for") mark Star Wars fandom as plainly as a life-size Yoda doll.Snowclones come from every conceivable source. Apocalypse Now, Alien, and Jerry Maguire gave us "I love the smell of X in the morning," "In space, no one can hear you X," and "You had me at X," respectively, while Letterman, Star Trek, and Seinfeld added "stupid X tricks," "Set phasers on X," and "X about nothing." Shakespeare inadvertently offered up "Much ado about X" and "My kingdom for a X" as future snowclones, but lowbrow sources-like the Oldsmobile commercial that spawned "Not your father's X"-are just as prolific. Even an illness can become a snowclone, as sufferers of post-traumatic duds-doffing disorder and post-traumatic sea monkey syndrome will attest.The most popular snowclone is probably "X is the new Y", which breeds new variations at a rate that puts rabbits to shame. The blogosphere is especially rife with this snowclone, with blogs titled Pink is the New Blog, Red is the New Green, Old is the New New, and Pie is the New Toast. In fact, in just one day (Nov 17, 2008), it coughed up the following examples, among many others:Hope is the new change60 is the new 40Barack is the new DenzelBigfoot is the new blackMark Cuban is the new Martha StewartNatural vanilla is the new orangePomegranate is the new pinkTwitter is the new BlackberryMike Huckabee is the new Ryan SeacrestTransparency is the new accountabilityAmish is the new coolUnprotected sex is the new marriageZeus knows I strive to be a generous, bemused welcomer of all language developments. However, if I had the Greek god's power, I would punish use of that snowclone with the immediate dropping of a flower pot from a high building. Enough!Some snowclones are as fun as clone-clones, though they're harder to mobilize into a terrifying army. I enjoy "Moment of X Zen," which was born in 1996 when the "Moment of Zen" feature debuted on The Daily Show. Though a long way from actual Buddhism, folks who write about moments of "pumpkin Zen," "orangutan janitor Zen," or "hideous couch Zen" are at least pausing to notice and savor what's in front of their eyes. Most days I'm lucky enough to enjoy several moments of "whacko-rat-terrier Zen" and "extra large Dunkin' Donuts coffee Zen," and I'm all the better for it.What snowclones do you-oh blog-inhalers-use, like, love, or loathe?(My name is Batman, and I approved this shameless plea for comments.)(Photo from Flickr user kirinqueen)
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

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via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

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"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

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Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.


In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

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Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

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