Back to previous post: The Onion scores again—

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: BRAMA bull session

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

April 3, 2003

Pushing the limits of patriotic religious tat
Posted by Teresa at 01:05 AM *

This started with the statuette referenced in Religious tat triumphant. I regret to say that I’ve done some more looking. Ebay turns out to be a rich source of patriotic/religious tat.

1. Start with some pure idolatry: the Support Our Troops Bush T-shirt[!!!!], which shows the ghostly figures of Lincoln and Washington kneeling in supportive prayer on either side of Georgie-boy. As it says in the sales copy:
You are bidding on a BRAND NEW t-shirt to commemorate Bush and the efforts made to support freedom, democracy and the American way.

The shirt features George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in spirit at our President’s side as he makes serious decisions regarding our country!

This shirt is available for a limited time only and exhibits support to the soldiers who have been sent overseas to engage in war. Wearing this shirt is also a way to support the victims and the families affected by the Sept. 11th tragedy against the U.S.A.
The seller doesn’t explain how the shirt supports any of those things, aside from its expression of sentiment, so it might be more effective support to donate the money directly to one of the 9/11 charitable funds. 2. Next we contemplate two Holy Beanie Bears, starting with the Spirit of America bear, which is of course red, white, and blue. It appears to be holding one of Captain America’s alternate shields, but on examination the object turns out, very disappointingly, to be a paper tag with a verse from Isaiah on its back. The Smurfy-blue Air Force Holy Beanie Bear has been tattooed with the Air Force emblem, and sports a truly unfortunate slogan:
America’s Air Force
No One Comes Close

3. Another t-shirt: America with God—The Unbeatable Team. The “America with God” symbol is a rippling American flag seen at a cropped angle, so the undulating stripes look like stylized water. Through them swims the little IXOYE-fish, heading for the field of stars like a salmon going home to spawn.

4. A genuine piece of folk art in the form of an embroidered denim shirt:
The Cap Shop is proud to offer a light blue denim long-sleeve shirt, size xlg, with custom embroidery on front and back. The back is a giant 10.38 high X 12.49 wide 24-color-change 69,082-stitch custom pattern. The guardian angel holds the eternal light in one hand while welcoming the American Eagle with her other hand. The verse is Job 11:20, The Eyes of the Wicked Will Fail and They Shall Not Escape. The large right front is a 6.65 high X 6.89 wide 49-color-change 38279-stitch custom pattern. The United American, British, and Spanish soldiers holding their flags are covered by Heaven’s protective light. The verse is Job 12:13, With Him Are Wisdom and Strength.

5. Some small stuff: An American Christian Fish Pin. (“The fish symbol represents being a Christian and the flag represents being an American. The 10 stars represent the 10 commandments. They are nickel plated. This would make a Great gift. Show your Christianity and your spirit for America.”) Some Patriotic greeting cards with embedded scriptures. A Swarovski crystal Rosary Bracelet made of red, white, and blue crystal beads. (“Please Pray for our Troops!!! As you wear this bracelet, everytime you look at it please say a Hail Mary for our troops and for Peace!!!”) And finally, Patriotic Hero Candy Bar Wrappers. (“If you have a friend or loved one serving in the armed forces, show your support by surprising them with our personalized chocolate HERO BARS. It is a ‘sweet’ way to let them know that you care! Specially priced at only $15.75 for 1 dozen 1.55 oz. Hershey or Nestle Crunch chocolate bars. We invite you to personalize the back wrapper with your own special message. Bars arrive bagged and tied with a patriotic ribbon.”)

6. One more t-shirt: Show your “Christian American” pride. (Here’s a larger view.)
Beautiful 100% Hanes heavyweight, white “Christian American” T-Shirts. This double-sided t-shirt is a great gift idea and witnessing tool bringing a message of repentance and hope to all.

Front panel has a picture of the cross with an American flag draped over it; life-like blood dripping from the flag and cross, representing the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for us, and the shedding of blood of innocent people. Back panel has the scripture IIChronicles 7:14. Available in sizes S-XXL

Dare to be a bold witness for Christ! Also a great witnessing tool for street ministries.
Personally, I wouldn’t go near a guy wearing that shirt if he were preaching punch and cookies for eveybody and giving away free hamsters.
Comments on Pushing the limits of patriotic religious tat:
#1 ::: Ter ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 01:43 AM:

Regarding the American Christian Fish pin: Show your Christianity and your spirit for America.

And prove your knowledge of Greek!

I've never encountered anyone displaying the fish symbol who knew from where it derived. Yes, I ask them. I don't think I cold wear a symbol if I didn't know exactly what it meant.

#2 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 01:49 AM:

>The 10 stars represent the 10 commandments. They
>are nickel plated.

I had lost track of the third, nickel-plated set of Commandments, given after the stone and clay ones went to eBay.

And the t-shirt with the "blood of innocent people" dripping from the American flag seems to me to send an astoundingly confused signal, even for this sort of thing.

#3 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 02:11 AM:

I think I'll go read Twain's "The War Prayer" until I feel clean again.

RE item #1: If Abe and George aren't about to slam the Shrub's head into the microphone, I'll be very disappointed.

#4 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 02:39 AM:

I suspect Washington is saying that's not what he meant about avoiding entangling foreign alliances and I rather think Lincoln is suggesting Bush ought to take in a play as soon as he can get away from the office.

#5 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 02:44 AM:

I'm thinking they're calling in lightning strikes on Shrub's position.

#6 ::: Antony ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 05:12 AM:

Holy Shit!
I'm not sure which is more frightening, that people make this stuff or the thought that some people out there might seriously buy this stuff!

#7 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 07:35 AM:

I think that if the guys who do the embroidered denim shirts would lose the wings off that angel, give her a phrygian cap, and replace the quote from Job with PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT THE LAND, they'd really have something.

They ought to get rid of the three soldiers with national flags, too. It's beautifully rendered, but the Spanish have sent exactly zero troops into the fight.

The America with God shirt bothers me because they've differenced their heraldry. Also because every time I look at it, I imagine the fish is going to swim over and start eating the stars. Meanwhile, the Air Force Holy Beanie Bear's slogan just makes me feel like the Air Force needs a lot more target practice to improve their accuracy.

Ter: icthys. Not that I wear one.

#8 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 08:26 AM:

Er, isn't that ichthys? Standing for, if memory serves me right (transliterated from the Greek), Iesos Christos, theos yiou, sotor. ("ch" and "th" of course being single letters in the Greek alphabet.)

#9 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 09:18 AM:


T was trying to do Greek letters in a roman font, and IXOYE is about as close to ΙΧΘΥΣ as you'll get. Ichthos or Ichthus is a good transliteration.

#10 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 09:44 AM:

David: Soter.

Erik: Ichthys or ichthus are both valid transliterations (the Y being upsilon, which kinda sounds like the German u-with-umlaut). Ichthos, though, is just wrong.

#11 ::: Emmet ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 10:08 AM:

The more I see of the religious tat you find, the more tempted I am to put together a t-shirt or something based on Colossians 2:18, which in the KJV reads

"Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind."

And with regard to pins, as a working molecular biologist of sorts, I want a Lysenko fish.

#12 ::: Karin ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 10:15 AM:

You know, even after all those years of Catholic school and Sunday catechism classes, I never actually knew the origins of the Jesus fish until reading the comments today. Heh.

The Air Force bear scares me. Mainly because, having grown up in an Air Force family, I actually knew people who would think it was positively darling.

#13 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 10:43 AM:

Christine: Sure, if you posit that vowels never change over time -- or oddbal accents. :)

#14 ::: --k. ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 11:19 AM:

Time once again for those T-shirts and bumperstickers that just say Matthew 6:5-6.

Although I'm also fond of the "Preying on" pisstake on those "Praying for Greater Portland" (or Cleveland, or Northampton, or etc.) homilies.

But: best such bumpersticker seen in a dog's age: "My carpenter is a bossy Jew."

#15 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 11:25 AM:

I have less Latin and no Greek. I should have transliterated the second letter as "ch" -- I know it's chi, as in chi rho as in Book of Kells carpet page, not to mention as in ichthyology which I know perfectly well how to spell -- but I tripped over my own English, automatically using "c" rather than "ch" because the pronunciation's closer to "ick this" than "itch this.

Emmet, I like the shirt idea. What does a Lysenko fish look like?

Mike, I sat there with my mouth hanging open when I found that thing. AYKB the conflation of "Christian" and "American" is theologically dubious to start with. And maybe it's just me, but I just can't think the image of an American flag dripping with innocent blood makes a very positive statement.

#16 ::: Kate Nepveu ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 11:27 AM:

I really hope that Air Force bear slogan is missing an "else."

As far as the last T-shirt: I'd be wondering what he wanted us to *do* with the hamsters...

#17 ::: Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 11:30 AM:

I was originally going to ask if most folks here found this to be in incredibly bad taste but otherwise harmless, but Teresa's comment on the conflation of Christianity with jingoism (although that's not exactly what she said) got me thinking.

I can't get Nehemiah Scudder out of my mind, for some reason.

Thoughts? I'd love for somebody to tell me I'm scared for no reason. But I don't think that anybody can honestly say that.

#18 ::: Ter ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 11:40 AM:

I am concerned that should the Coalition forces win, this will somehow be perceived as the victory of a particular religion.

This bothers me a lot. I have to confirm a quote I glaced at quickly in the news....but I think it bothers the Pope, too.

#19 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 11:57 AM:

Chuck: be afraid. Be very very afraid.

Now stop being afraid, and get angry.

#20 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 12:02 PM:

"I am concerned that should the Coalition forces win, this will somehow be perceived as the victory of a particular religion."

Even more icky: Lots and lots of folks will *happily embrace* that perception, and take it as a sign of a new Great Awakening that gives them leave to (stealing a line from Sinclair Lewis) try to make the rest of the world look like Kansas.

#21 ::: Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 12:16 PM:

"try to make the rest of the world look like Kansas."

Flat and covered with cornfields?

Seriously, if that's all that happened, we'd be OK. But I fear much worse.

Are we "riding for a fall"? If there is a God, will he punish us for hubris?

#22 ::: Emmet ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 12:22 PM:

Teresa: I'm not 100% sure what a Lysenko fish should look like; the best I've yet come up with is something like a Darwin fish, but saying Lysenko, and with a little Stalinist commissar with his teeth sunk into one of the legs pulling it longer a la the crocodile with the elephant's nose in Just So Stories. That feels almost right, but I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any better ideas.

#23 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 12:27 PM:

How many Cyrillic letters does it take to spell "Lysenko"? You could arrange them inside the fish like the Christians do with ΙΧΘΥΣ.

#24 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 12:45 PM:

Chuck: "Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight, and the rough places plain." I always thought this was a particularly horrifying image.

No mention of cornfields, though.

Emmet, that's absolutely hilarious! Do it, do it!

Teresa, seven (same as Roman, since in this case there are no mismatches like 'ch' for chi in the Greek). That's assuming it should be pronounced lee-S'EN-ko. If it's more like lai-S'EN-ko, results may vary. I couldn't find a Cyrillic representation of his name on the net.

#25 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 12:51 PM:

Seven, same as in Roman lettering. Though if memory serves, "-enko" names are Ukrainian in origin, and the Ukrainian spelling may be different from the Russian. I welcome correction on this point.

#26 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 01:10 PM:

We do get people, with family connections, wearing tshirts with the unit badges, but I've never seen this sort of religious support of the soldiery.

Well, I have heard of variations on the 23rd Psalm joke, on the lines of "...but I will fear no evil, because 2 Para is with me."

And there will, I expect, be new variations on the World Tour tshirt.

I think we are inoculated against blatant religion in England, and prone to certain darkness of humour on the subject of war.

#27 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 02:06 PM:

Kip -- See Prentiss Riddle's blog for ideas on bumper sticker hacking:

I'd grab a few of the "praying for" bumper stickers and do a cut-up.

#28 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 02:37 PM:

I'm giving this a shot because I saw that Greek letters showed up in here:
It would probably be Лайценко, though it might be Лайсенко. The first would have the "s" sound sounding more like the first syllable of "tsar," while the second would have it sounding more like the word "since." Unless it's "lee-sen-ko" per Xopher's comment, wherein it would be Лиценко.

The ending doesn't sound particularly Russian, though the first part of the word does. It might be Ukranian--the scientist himself was Ukranian--or some other language from that language family, but I don't know enough to tell. In Russian, the "lai" root means "bark," like a dog.

#29 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 03:01 PM:

In Russian, the "lai" root means "bark", like a dog.

I've always wondered whether Lysenko was playing for position, or just barking mad....

#30 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 03:40 PM:

Cassandra: My search turned up several people of that name, but not the one in question. Some were spelled with и, others with ы. All, however, used с, not ц...I think if that sound were intended, the transliteration would be Laitsenko or Lytsenko.

I think the fact that we say Lai for the first syllable is just our misinterpretation of the 'y' - often used to distinguish the Russian high-back-unrounded vowel (ы) from the high-front-unrounded vowel (и), usually written 'i'. (The initial 'L' is "hard" (unpalatalized) or "soft" (palatalized), respectively, depending (actually the phonological conditioning goes the other way, but who's counting).)

However, I have not seen this man's actual name in Cyrillic, and could be completely wrong.

#31 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 03:45 PM:

Emmet: You could make a Lysenko plaque with the do-it-yourself footed fish plaques from (I've given away several gefilte fish plaques, myself.)

#32 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 04:11 PM:

The Library of Congress transliteration of the man's name is the standard "Lysenko", without any diacritics, and checking out LC's romanization tables reveals that what that would look like depends on whether the name came from Russian or Ukrainian.

In Russian, I back-transliterate this to Лысенко, and in Ukrainian it would be Лисенко. Seven letters either way (I presume ы counts as one letter). If there were a ц instead of с it would transliterate as "Lytsenko" with a ligature over the "ts".

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 04:11 PM:

Finally found it! Лысенко Трофим Денисович, so that's seven characters in the surname, just as we thought.

#34 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 04:12 PM:

Argh. Simultaneous 411s on 4:11.

#35 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 04:56 PM:

All this kitsch... and I was initially just glad that the baby soldier in the hands wasn't a bobble-head!

So how do you represent cyrillic letters in HTML? I've got a reference for the regular ASCII but can't find a reference listing the codes for cyrillic.

#36 ::: David J. Greenbaum ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 05:09 PM:

A depiction of a Lysenko fish would properly be a gasping, dying fish in the middle of the desert. Lysenkoism was weird Lamarckianism (among other Lysenkonian idiocies, collective farmers outside Arkhangel strewed rye on the fields in late March "to harden it up". Predictable result - rye rotted.)

So, um, a Lysenko fish would be really, really offensive in a way that the Darwin Fish isn't.

#37 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 05:22 PM:

OT: Woah, MT does a great job of handling non-ascii character sets. I'm impressed.

#38 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 05:26 PM:

So an example application of the Lysenko fish would be on the bumper of a Porchse driven by someone who wants to parent an Olympic champion sprinter?

#39 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 05:43 PM:

Rachel, I cut and pasted each Cyr. letter from a Russian language website. This is how I managed to search Google for the guy's name, too. Really tedious. If anyone knows a better way, let me know.

#40 ::: Stephanie ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 06:07 PM:

Clicking around a bit on the baby soldier site led me to this little darling, who appears to be on the boat from the mother country. Love the lederhosen. Wish the copywriter had caught on to the irony.

#41 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 06:26 PM:

How about something a little less offensive - a Lamarck fish?

#42 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 06:30 PM:

Using Unicode, a fair selection of humanity's characters are available here, along with the HTML entity needed to produce them. So, ə, ש and even ⋘ may be there for the taking. Of course, this depends on the user's browser groking Unicode, and how much of it they grok.

Rather than trying to remember Unicode values, there is a HTML subset of named entities, they can be found here. It's not ∞ but it does give you most of the other roman characters, the greek letters, and a nice set of mathmatical and other symbols, in a much easier to remember form -- just use "&NAME;" -- thus, "¥" gets you ¥, "þ" gets you þ, and, in case your wondering how I did this, "&" gets you the &. The trailing semicolon is required.

#43 ::: David J. Greenbaum ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 07:40 PM:

Bill Humphries - more like a Lysenko fish on a leash attached to the rear bumper being dragged on the pavement behind the car. Grow legs- or die!

#44 ::: Berni ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 08:44 PM:

These items would go over very well in my church -- and this is in the San Francisco Bay Area. Our priest is very patriotic -- a result, I suspect, of his being a missionary in Korea for so many years. His license plate is "USA HOME."

I was going to say that the older white folks in our parish tend to be extremely patriotic -- many are vets -- then I remembered how, after September 11, one of the Asian ladies bought a bunch of scarves printed with the American flag and was giving them to some of the women at morning Mass, so it's not just the whites.

However, I can't see myself buying any of these items unless I want my husband to divorce me!

#45 ::: Kevin J. Maroney ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2003, 11:24 PM:

At the beginning of this comment thread, Ter said: I've never encountered anyone displaying the fish symbol who knew from where it derived.

I certainly knew whence it came when I sewed it onto my Confirmation stole, complete with Greek acronym. But that was another land, and besides, the Spirit is dead.

#46 ::: Rose Fox ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 12:58 AM:

Three new "figurines" for you:

Anti-war protestor

Civil & human rights activist

Conscientious objector

Signboard of your choice is available upon request.

--Rose (formerly of Tor and Tekserve)

#47 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 09:49 AM:

Back some months ago, I thought of a slogan that would appeal to the Christian Patriot crowd. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized I could make a million bucks with the slogan: t-shirts, bumperstickers, lapel pins, etc., etc.

But the slogan itself was so bizarre, ridiculous and wrong that actually promoting it like that would make me feel downright evil.

But it would STILL sell like hotcakes. It would still be wildly popular. It would still make me a million bucks.

I could use a million bucks.

I tell you, it was one of the few times where sheer greed has tempted me to do something I would know to be wrong. But moral integrity finally triumphed.

Oh, the slogan? Okay:


(Ummm, I don't suppose anyone would want to give me a million bucks to NOT promote the slogan?)

(And yes, sometimes I scare myself.)

#48 ::: Emmet ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 10:55 AM:

David: a Lamarck fish - which I have seen - merely makes fun of a provably wrong general model of the way the universe works [ I believe there are some very bizarre cases in which unusual mechanisms give the appearance that Lamarckian evolution is happening, I have read a paper on that within the last few years but the reference escapes me ]; a hypothesis which Lamarck put forth in good faith to explain his observations. A Lysenko fish makes the point that adherence to provably wrong general models of the universe on ideological grounds can have very unpleasant consequences, and does so in a sphere where I feel I have an informed right to say something. I'm not sure whether you meant that dangling-from-the-bumper comment in jest, but that feels so right to me that I almost wish I drove.

One could certainly make the same arguments about people who have committed various unpleasant acts while claiming to do so in the name of Christ. However, the appropriate appearance of a Savonarola fish or a Torquemada fish is not clear to me.

#49 ::: Seth Gordon ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 11:03 AM:

Re #4: Job 11:20 comes from Zophar's speech, where he says that Job's suffering must be punishment for some sin that he has committed (and not, as those who read the whole book know, to settle a sort of bet between God and Satan). 12:13 comes from Job's response, which also includes the line "But you invent lies; / All of you are quacks. / If you would only keep quiet / It would be considered wisdom on your part." (13:4-5, NJPS translation)

Does the designer of this shirt have a wicked sense of irony, or is this just another specimen of how people quote the Bible without bothering to read it?

#50 ::: Kevin Andrew Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 03:07 PM:

Well, the "Jesus was an American" phrase might easily fly theologically for the Mormons. They thought he visited this continent long enough ago that he'd certainly qualify for having been naturalized as of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

#51 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 03:08 PM:

Erik -- thanks for the unicode link! I was actually looking for the latinic expanded SerboCroation characters (š, ć, etc.), so I'm giving them a try and hoping they work out in my journal. The "named entities" link was missing the URL, but I usually use the w3schools reference. (Hmm. I think that link goes to the ASCII codes; the names are on the previous page of the site.)

#52 ::: David J. Greenbaum ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 03:39 PM:
A Lysenko fish makes the point that adherence to provably wrong general models of the universe an ideological grounds can have very unpleasant consequences, and does so in a sphere where I feel I have an informed right to say something. I'm not sure whether you meant that dangling-from-the-bumper comment in jest, but that feels so right to me that I almost wish I drove.

The dangling bumper comment was not meant in jest.

And I'm not disputing your right to hold an informed view on the matter, it's just... regarding the offensiveness of Lysenko fish: Darwin fish and Lamarck fish are subtle modifications of the Christian fish - symbological modifications which require more than a moment to appreciate.

A Lysenko fish, as I think it should be constructed, would be offensive to Christians the same way that a Mogen David with planks hammered on to form a six-armed clockwise swastika would be offensive to Jews.

#53 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 03:45 PM:

How I got the Cyrillic onto here: I've got Russian character support installed in Windows, so I simply switched the language in the little toolbar icon and typed it directly into the window, and switched back and forth as needed. I'm amazed that Movable Type could handle it, too.

Xopher wrote:
Cassandra: My search turned up several people of that name, but not the one in question. Some were spelled with и, others with ы. All, however, used с, not ц...I think if that sound were intended, the transliteration would be Laitsenko or Lytsenko.

Yes--I just added that in as an option. Russian transliteration is quite odd. I know it's standard to substitute "i" for "и" and "y" for "ы"--but in my opinion, anything translated over from Cyrillic into English is always going to lose the different nuances of those two sounds, so whether you use "i" or "y", there's still going to be people who will say it wrong unless they know Russian. (My favorite example of this is the announcers for professional ice skating, who butcher the names of Russian competitors on a regular basis.)

Thanks for finding that it's ы (which is indeed one letter). That's really hard to transliterate...the "y" doesn't get the wonderful "back-of-the-throat" feel and sound that ы really has. Do you know where the accent is?

Useful links if you want your computer to be able to write in Russian:
Standard and Phonetic Russian Keyboard Layouts, and Configuring your omputer to write in Russian. NB: the last site only talks about PCs running various versions of Windows; sorry.

#54 ::: Emmet ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 04:06 PM:

David; I'm afraid I'm not seeing your point; I'm very clear that you feel the concept of a Lysenko fish is really offensive, but not why you see it should be that spectacularly so compared to other modifications of the Christian fish; I had been thinking of it more as a small way of tweaking my fellow biologists, by playing from an existing reference with which they are familiar, than as a direct reference to the original, and I think this value of two-steps-away need not be immediately recognisable save to someone familiar with and in reasonable tune with the original joke.

Gah. I'm tired and the words won't come. I want to say something about appreciating the civility of discourse on strongly felt issues here, by comparison with the standard to which much recent discussion in avrious parts of the net has devolved, but am having difficulty finding a formulation that might not read as patronising or as having a rudely low default expectation of civil conversation. The nervous-verbose thing is happening, I should stop now.

#55 ::: David J. Greenbaum ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 05:00 PM:

Emmet - I don't find it personally offensive, but I can see how it would be really offensive. Simply put, part of the metaphor involves dragging a fish across the ground, or exposing a fish to dessicate.

Think of the way that the metaphors transfer?

#56 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 05:28 PM:

Cassandra, my Russian officemate says the stress is on the second syllable: ly-S'EN-ko, with the usual vowel reductions. He also says it's from a word that means 'bald'. Probably Ukranian; he says it's definitely not Russian.

#57 ::: Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 05:34 PM:

Emmet, I appreciate your attempted comments about civil discourse. Is it just me, or has the level of invective, not to mention outright spewing of hate, increased massively since the war has started?

Admittedly, most of the blogs I read are lefty, but it seems most have had outbreaks of especially nasty and semi-literate freeper infestation.

Have others experienced this, or is it just my imagination?

#58 ::: Rachel Heslin ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 05:43 PM:

I thought that the Ukrainian alphabet substituted the letter "i" for the Russian "ы" -- or was it for "и"?

Of course, the name could have been transliterated into Russian as well.

Cassandra -- thanks for the links!

#59 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 06:04 PM:

"I appreciate your attempted comments about civil discourse. Is it just me, or has the level of invective, not to mention outright spewing of hate, increased massively since the war has started?"

No, it isn't just you. Human behaviour being multiply based as it is, there are number of reasons for this. I think some of them include: increased anxiety and the general all round bad temper this encourages, heightened emotional involvement on whichever side you embrace, the less than stellar examples of our alledged leaders and their press lackeys, and general all round exhaustion in my case.


#60 ::: Chuck Nolan ::: (view all by) ::: April 04, 2003, 08:39 PM:

Mary Kay, as far as I can tell, it's thoughtful, intelligent personages such as yourself who are least likely to hurl invective. For that I am grateful. I have come to think of Teresa's blog as a place where reasonably intelligent people meet to talk intelligently and trade ideas. I'd like to become a reasonably intelligent person when I grow up, and I appreciate the role models.

#61 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2003, 12:04 AM:

Chuck: Thanks.

Teresa: Don't tell him I threatened to tell someone else to FOAD in another thread, ok?


#62 ::: Cassandra Phillips-Sears ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2003, 12:34 AM:

The root I gave of "bark" was probably because when I originally looked it up I was using the wrong spelling, this was before it had been pointed out that it was a ы. Thank you!

Hm. Now I want to translate the rest of the name. Russian names are generally quite fun, they're often suprisingly literal.

#63 ::: janice morningstar ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2003, 02:50 AM:

From my two years of college Russian, I would guess that Lysenko is pronounced, roughly, luhy-SYEN(G)-kuh. The "y" character designates an "i" (sounds like "ee") vowel preceded by a non-palatilized, or "hard", L, and the vowel itself is a sort of "uhy" sound made in the back of the throat. The "e" vowel ("e" as in "pet") is the form that makes the consonant before it, the "s", a "soft" consonant, and the best way to transliterate it into English is by putting a "y" before it, making it "ye". The "n" I'm not sure of; if it's unadorned, it's like our "n", but if there's a soft sign after it, that palatilizes it, and renders it more like the English "ng", with the back of the tongue touching the palate. The vowel in "ko" is actually pronounced as a schwa, since it is an unaccented syllable.

The suffix "-enko" often denotes a Ukrainian name, but there are Russian last names of that form, too. BTW, there is a Ukrainian vowel "i" that corresponds to the Russian vowel for "yee" ( printed backwards-N, cursive u), but I think they use the same vowel for the "y" sound in Lysenko (kind of looks like an 6 with an open loop connected to a l).

Now that you know more than you wanted to about the Russian-Ukrainian pronunciation, I wanted to comment on something that no one has mentioned 97 the "hero" chocolate bars. People who are sending care packages to the troops are specifically asked NOT to send chocolate, as it melts too readily in the Iraqi heat!

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2003, 07:29 AM:

janice: The first syllable vowel is a high back unrounded tense vowel, like our ee in 'feet' but articulated in the back of the mouth, rather than the front. It sounds like "uhy" to English speakers because we try to process it through our English decoding system.

The orthographic symbol for the 'e' as in 'pet' does indeed indicate the palatalization of the prior consonant, but in fact phonologically it's the presence of the "soft" consonant that conditions the quality of the vowel, not the other way around. I chose to render it with an apostrophe (and sometimes a j), because the 'y' was in use as a vowel.

If you look at the Russian spelling I gave upthread, you'll see that the n is hard, with no mn'akiznak. However, it is somewhat backed (like 'ng'); this is because it's followed by k (a back consonant), not because of palatalization. In fact if it were soft, it would be less backed!

And that final vowel is indeed reduced, but not quite all the way to shwa; my Russian officemate gave it a sound halfway between 'o' like English 'bought' and shwa.

#65 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2003, 08:09 AM:

Hi, Rose! Thanks for the pictures. Good impulse. And by the way, where are you now?

Bruce, I know that feeling. Someone I used to work with went through the same gyrations about ten years ago over the idea of packaging and selling "anti-AIDS soap". She knew it would sell like crazy. She'd just have to live with herself afterward. And when Jim Macdonald and I are hunting scam agents, we periodically observe that we could do a much better job than they're doing, and make more money than either of us is making now.

But it would be wrong.

Emmett, Torquemada and Savonarola fish look just like the standard ΙΧΘΥΣ model, only they've got huge sharp fangs.

Kevin Murphy, Mormons know perfectly well that Jesus wasn't an American.

David, I don't think a Lysenko fish would bother most Christians; first because they wouldn't have any idea what it meant, and second because their fish is an emblem of Christian-ness, not of the man himself.

Chuck, the public discourse has been getting more brutal for some time now. Political hate radio has been the chief polluter, but the nastiness has spread outward from there.

I believe that groups can't have interesting conversations if the incidence of rudeness gets too high, which is why incivility is sternly discouraged here. I'll note that since Patrick reopened his comment threads on a moderated basis, he's been getting a lot more posts to them, and they're not as aggravating.

The Daily Kos, which has enormous message threads, is moderated and kept in line somehow, though I haven't yet figured out what its rules are. I saw that issue come up at one point, when one poster misread another's post as potentially being far more offensive than it was. He didn't immediately flame him for it, but rather asked whether it was meant to be read that way -- good man -- and was reassured by others there that it wasn't, and furthermore that if it had been that offensive, Kos would have dealt with the guy.

Janice, I don't have much to say about Russian and Ukrainian pronunciation, so I'm sitting back and watching with interest. (I swear, I found the BRAMA forum while looking for some other thing entirely.)

I had the same reaction you did to the idea of sending chocolate to troops in the Middle East. For added effect, tuck a nice fresh fish into the package -- they can't get it over there, you know. It's an expression of kindness they'll never forget.

#66 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2003, 06:21 PM:

Whoops, forgot; I do too know The Daily Kos's rules. Here's a statement of them he posted some while back:

This is an open thread, but I want to explain something.

The trolls have been out in force the past few days and I have been forced to ban several people from the message boards. I want to make clear that the integrity of these message boards is paramount to me. This is a site by a liberal, for liberals, to discuss issues.

I have always welcomed rational, respectful conservatives to the boards, but I have no patience for dittoheads and their ilk. If people on the left get irrational or even lose their temper, I happily look away. If conservatives do, I ban them -- they can take their act to the Free Republic.

I think the quality of the boards speaks for itself. They are the best part of this site. But they are not a bastion of great debate by accident. It takes vigilance, and I will continue to exercise it. I don't apologize for banning anyone.

Does his policy keep out the conservatives? Hell, no. Lots of them hang out there, say interesting things, and in general are an integral part of the conversation. Does it encourage liberals to misbehave? Not that I've ever noticed. What it does is keep out the dittoheads and other vandals. It's amazing how much that raises the intelligence level.

#67 ::: Tuxedo Slack ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2003, 07:12 PM:

Chuck skrev:

I can't get Nehemiah Scudder out of my mind, for some reason.

You and me both.

Xopher adds:

Now stop being afraid, and get angry.

All that's necessary for that is to pay attention. (The next step, I'm guessing, is to get organized.)

#68 ::: Feòrag ::: (view all by) ::: April 08, 2003, 09:25 AM:

Someone else is also fed up with all the 'patriotic' tat doing the rounds:

#69 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2003, 01:24 AM:

The other night even Jay Leno thought it was going too far. He showed "this courageous Marine ... in his dress uniform ... with his saber raised in salute" and somehow did not seem to believe that it represents "defenders of our freedom."

#70 ::: Darkhawk ::: (view all by) ::: April 11, 2003, 06:32 PM:

In case Rose doesn't drop by again to answer the question -- I believe she's in the San Francisco area most of the time these days.

#71 ::: John Isbell ::: (view all by) ::: April 14, 2003, 06:21 PM:

"The United American, British, and Spanish soldier". That is truly weird. The Spanish sent no troops at all. On the other hand, the Australians did. What does this designer have against the Australians? Freaky. Not as freaky as that last t-shirt, though.
The only Christian I've ever discussed ixthus with actually corrected my Greek spelling, so kudos to him. He was the most obnoxious student I've ever had, publicly convinced that all non-Christians were going to Hell. He was also learning Hebrew. Quite bright, and a converted Jew. I hate to think what his family gatherings were like.

#72 ::: Green Baron ::: (view all by) ::: April 15, 2003, 05:24 AM:

I've laways had the impression Protestantism is nationalistic, and it seems that is true in America moreso.

I'm curiou sto imagine Ayn Rand's reaction if she were alive. She was a brilliant capitalist and would be undoubtedly amused, but disturbed by the religious element as she had a large contempt for religion.

Theresa> Interesting youmention the Daily Kos. Little Green Footballs had soem troll problems a while back, mainly someone sending e-mails trying to crash the site. I wish there was more civility between the political spectrums.

Spekaing of policies, a right-wing humor web-site Scrapple Face has a no-profanity policy on its comments and there is a mix of views there, and one poster called Frenchman strikes me as a possible joke poster :)

#73 ::: Velma deSelby Bowen ::: (view all by) ::: June 07, 2003, 08:26 PM:

Late, but I just was steered to this.

It's the fluttering wings that do it, I think.

#74 ::: Lois Fundis ::: (view all by) ::: June 12, 2003, 04:57 PM:

T., I just found this for your "collection".

And after "enjoying" the "poll" -- which turned out to be not at all about the war -- take a peak at the bottom of the page too. The goodies there don't qualify as "religious" or "patriotic" but are funny examples of strange advertising or labeling. The glue gun company could use a proofreader.

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.