Monday, February 1, 2016

I tried...

I tried ... to get interested in tonight's caucuses (caucusi? see note below.) in Iowa.  I tried to even care.  But I failed.  Tonight's events are doubly irrelevant for me.  First of all, there isn't a single candidate running that I'm sure I'd like to elect as President.  Worse, there's not even anyone who stands out as someone I don't want – so there's not even anyone in particular to vote against.  Hell, I'm not even very curious about who wins this thing, in either party – they're all schmucks!  Then secondly there's the very limited meaning and impact of the Iowa caucuses, and it seems to be getting even less relevant with each passing election.

So I'm paying no attention at all.

Note: on a much more important matter, I looked up “caucus” in the OED to see what the usual form of the plural is.  I assumed, from the form of the word, that it was derived from Latin.  I got a surprise:
[Arose in New England: origin obscure.
   Alleged to have been used in Boston U.S. before 1724; quotations go back to 1763. Already in 1774 Gordon (Hist. Amer. Rev.) could obtain no ‘satisfactory account of the origin of the name’. Mr. Pickering, in 1816, as a mere guess, thought it ‘not improbable that caucus might be a corruption of caulkers', the word “meetings” being understood’. For this, and the more detailed statement quoted in Webster, there is absolutely no evidence beyond the similarity of sound; and the word was actually in use before the date (1770) of the event mentioned in Webster. Dr. J. H. Trumbull (Proc. Amer. Philol. Assoc. 1872) has suggested possible derivation from an Algonkin word cau′-cau-as′u, which occurs in Capt. Smith's Virginia 23, as Caw-cawaassough ‘one who advises, urges, encourages’, from a vb. meaning primarily ‘to talk to’, hence ‘to give counsel, advise, encourage’, and ‘to urge, promote, incite to action’. For such a derivation there is claimed the general suitability of the form and sense, and it is stated that Indian names were commonly taken by clubs and secret associations in New England; but there appears to be no direct evidence.] 
Such outright uncertainty is fairly rare in the OED, but this sort of discussion is one of the big reasons why I love that tool.  Way more than I love the Iowa primary process, whatever one calls it...

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