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The Biggest Bedroom Is No Longer a ‘Master’The term’s racist and sexist undertones lead New York’s real estate community and others to rethink outdated industry jargon.

The Real Estate Board of New York plans to vote soon on removing the phrase from its residential listings service,…
The Houston Association of Realtors was the first industry group to decide to stop using “master bedroom” in late June, after some members expressed concerns that it could be perceived as racist or sexist.

I wonder what other eras in history are comparable to ours in utter foolishness. Revolutionary Paris, perhaps. I think of Witch Hunt Salem, but that’s a small town and just for a short time. Maybe America in WW I with the anti-German fever. Maybe the South 1890-1960 with Jim Crow fever. To be fair, we should keep it to educated people, though, who, in any case, rise to heights that the uneducated can’t hope to attain with their more limited tools for coming up with stupid ideas. The realtors remind me very much of the story of the Victorians covering their table legs to prevent indecency, except that the “master bedroom” story is true and the Victorian table legs one is a joke that people took seriously in England because it was anti-American and played to their stereotype of Americans as puritans, in itself a precursor of the Twitter rumor. See The Victorians Didn’t Cover Their Table Legs

The story of Victorians and their horror of unexposed piano legs keeps cropping up, presented as fact in books and television shows. The origin can be traced to Frederick Marryat, author of numerous popular sea adventures and other works. His travelogue, Diary in America; With Remarks On Its Institutions, published in 1839, was written during a tour of the U.S. While there, Marryat visited a girls’ seminary where he discovered the piano’s legs were shrouded in little ruffled pantaloons. The headmistress told him she’d covered the legs to “preserve in their utmost purity the ideas of the young ladies under her charge.”

Either the headmistress was something of a kook or Marryat got punked. There’s no evidence in the historic record that this supposed custom was widespread. In fact, the pretty pantaloons were most likely dust covers, concealing damage, or mere decoration.

The British press at the time picked up Marryat’s story and ran with it, since American society and its straight-laced, puritanical, overly fastidious, ludicrous manners were considered gauche and far inferior to their cousins across the Pond.