The competition taking place in Dunbar, Scotland is one of Europe’s largest championships for stone stacking and balancing artists
Andy Buchanan/ AFP/ Getty Images
According to contemporary Gramophone Company publicity material, the dog, a terrier named Nipper, had originally belonged to Barraud's brother, Mark. When Mark Barraud died, Francis inherited Nipper, with a cylinder phonograph and recordings of Mark's voice. Francis noted the peculiar interest that the dog took in the recorded voice of his late master emanating from the horn, and conceived the idea of committing the scene to canvas.
Here are the winners:
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid and an asshole.
3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid
7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease.
(This one got extra credit.)
11. Karmageddon: It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.
And the winners are:
1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.
6. Negligent, adj. Absent mindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.
7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
Robert Kennedy’s moral transformation was a model of personal change, his assassination a sign of something gone permanently wrong in American culture. Photograph by George Freston / Getty
Generational memories belong to a generation, and fade as they do. Still, some of us can recall that night and day, fifty years ago, as though it had just happened. We went to sleep having watched Robert Kennedy’s victory speech after the California primary. (“Now it’s on to Chicago and let’s win there.”) And then we woke up to find him shot, and dying. There has rarely been a sadder moment in American life—not just shocking in the way that John Kennedy’s and Martin Luther King, Jr.,’s deaths had been, but tragic in a way that confirmed that something absolutely and permanently was going wrong, an act that italicized the fact that violence, particularly gun violence, would inescapably go on shaping American life and history. (That his assassination was, in effect, a kind of early instance of Palestinian terrorism was, curiously, not much taken in at the time )
What people tend to forget is that the antiwar wing of the Democratic Party was locked that June in a bitter fight, in which most of the liberals and progressives were as likely—more likely, actually—to be on the side of the other senator, Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota, than on the side of the late-leaping Bobby. It was McCarthy who had had the courage to run against President Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primary, and though the clichés of history now have McCarthy as a mere placeholder and door-opener, with Kennedy likely to take the nomination in Chicago, that was far from how it was seen at the time. (And Johnson was then seen as a simple and uncomplicated villain, not as the fatefully divided man—a leader on civil rights and economic equality but mired in Vietnam—who is now more often in sight.) Devotion to McCarthy—another and more devout Catholic—was as real at that moment as devotion to Bobby, and among the younger set was even more so. I can recall going to a Simon & Garfunkel benefit concert for McCarthy in 1968, Simon and Garfunkel then being the essence of (Gene) McCarthyism, with a note of wounded virtue and sensitivity rather than Kennedy-era brashness.
Nonetheless, what is being remembered today is not the nominating fight that Kennedy opportunistically leapt into, but the Presidency that didn’t happen. When it comes to Bobby, those of us old enough to remember him know that, as in any fantasy of semi-messianic redemption, you were bound to be disappointed by the reality. Bobby’s early history, as people now don’t always choose to recall, was tied to the other, evil Senator McCarthy, Joseph, a family friend for whom he worked early in his career. And people also tend not to recall how even the late Democratic Presidential adviser Clark Clifford, in his autobiography, characterized Bobby’s appointment as Attorney General after his brother was elected President. Clifford’s book can seem like the memoirs of a serial sycophant—in fact, he was merely a very good courtier—but even he was shocked when J.F.K. gave him the task of going to the patriarch, Joe Kennedy, to try to convince him that his idea to make Bobby Attorney General was a bad one. (Joe Kennedy insisted, and his boys obeyed.)
Nonetheless, the notion that Bobby Kennedy was there only to protect his brother is false. He did act as an intermediary between his brother and J. Edgar Hoover’s perpetual paranoia. But he mostly used the position to do what was once quaintly called “crime fighting.” He led a full-court press against Jimmy Hoffa and the corruption of the Teamsters Union—something that Richard Nixon later reversed. One of the things that we don’t sufficiently brood on when thinking about why America’s welfare state came to split off so badly from that of the other rich countries is the unique way that some of the most powerful American unions became corrupted—not through any fault of the workers, but through the dealings of criminals and mobsters. Bobby Kennedy fought that, and fought it hard. He was only marginally successful, but he was clear-eyed and rightly indignant in the pursuit. That’s what he used the Attorney General’s office for.
And to the degree that he did play consigliere to his brother, he did it for the best. His role in the Cuban missile crisis—using a back channel to the Russians—was, by all accounts, not only helpful but probably essential in saving the world from the nuclear holocaust that we now know was literally minutes away in October of 1962. But he was also involved, in the aftermath of that crisis—historians still argue about exactly how deeply—in the plots to assassinate Castro. Certainly, he seemed, by his behavior after John Kennedy’s assassination, to be at a minimum acutely aware of those plots and hyperconscious of the possibility that they had rebounded and were a proximate cause of his brother’s death.
It’s clear from all the literature that he never recovered from his brother’s murder—that it altered his life in the most profound ways. And there we come to the core, the beating heart, of why Bobby Kennedy still matters. People who knew him before and people who knew him then agree that he grew morally through his grief. His capacity for compassion vastly expanded; his understanding of the plight of the poor and of African-American and Latino people, particularly, vastly increased; even his understanding of the tragedy in Vietnam, which his brother had extended, grew as well.
It will forever be an unanswered question as to what Bobby, if he could have been elected President, would have done in Vietnam. The military circumstance was already plain, or should have been: this was an unwinnable war. Just as obvious was the truth that it was a completely unnecessary war for the United States, that the huge suffering we inflicted on the Vietnamese, and on ourselves, made no difference to the long-term fight against totalitarianism, except to damage that struggle by tying it to a bad war. But, even though Bobby Kennedy had come out against the war, had he accepted the inevitability of a North Vietnamese victory in 1968, as Gerald Ford eventually did, in 1975, he would not only have been politically “vulnerable” but quite possibly politically doomed. Republicans then would not have said that it was bound to happen in any case. They would have said—they might still be saying—that R.F.K. surrendered to the Commies.
Nonetheless, the model of moral transformation and the possibility of personal change is the lesson that this particular Kennedy supplies for us. It is impossible to listen to Bobby’s great and eloquent words against “polarization” to a mostly black audience in Indianapolis, on the night of Dr. King’s assassination, or to think of his rhetoric that same year on poverty in America, without being aware that it is possible for people, even those caught on a hugely public stage, to change and learn and grow. We live in a another time of crisis, when that possibility is every day mocked. All we can hope to discover right now is that the possibility of that kind of public transformation is still available to at least some.
Meanwhile, we can put Bobby Kennedy in the pantheon of American semi-saints. He was a man who enabled some wrong, and tried to do much good. Half tints are the colors in which the story of democracy is necessarily painted, and semi-saints the only kind we get.
Adam Gopnik, a staff writer, has been contributing to The New Yorker since 1986. He is the author of “The Table Comes First.”
Jessie Peck loves to feed bald eagles on the deck of his fishing boat in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Watch until the end and you will realize that there are many more eagles just perched on the side of the boat! You have probably never seen such a large gathering of these majestic birds at such a close up distance.