KEEPING UP WITH THE __________________?
What with the trend for people to buy houses way too large for their needs that would put their grand-folk to shame and with these overlarge houses being overpriced and overvalued by as much as 30% in some American neighborhoods, modest and sensible people who want modest and sensible dwellings can no longer keep up with the Joneses; they're forced to keep up with the Dunces.
VAGUENESS: ITS USES IN DIPLOMACY
Steven Pinker always uses humor to illustrate his points and often delves into literature too. Here's an old joke, included in his recent book, The Stuff of Thought (p.396), from a section discussing bribes and how to get away with them by employing the language of implicature, rather than the outright offer itself:
When a lady says “no,” she means “maybe.”
When she says “maybe,” she means “yes.”
If she says “yes,” she's no lady.
When a diplomat says “yes,” he means “maybe.”
When he says “maybe,” he means “no.”
If he says “no,” he's no diplomat.
This prompted a feminist revision:
When a woman says “yes,” she means “yes.”
When a woman says “maybe,” she means “maybe.”
When a woman says “no,” she means “no.”
If the man persists, he's a rapist.