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Conundrums

First off, is it "conundrums" or "conundra?" Second, Ed Kilgore and Suzanne Nossel offer diametrically opposed advice on what Democrats should be saying about why they don't like John Bolton. Third, where does this fall on the spectrum between funny and repugnant? And then there's an NBA age limit. This would reduce the overall quality of play (bad), but improve competitive balance (good). What to think?

April 14, 2005 | Permalink

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"And then there's an NBA age limit. This would reduce the overall quality of play (bad), but improve competitive balance (good). What to think?"

I'll tell you what to think:

Dwayne Wade is amazingly good, but Allen Iverson is god. (And as Princess Superstar might say, you know he got panache.)

Plus that Michael Lewis piece is pretty damn funny.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 14, 2005 11:09:21 PM

Iverson is not only a god, but he's funny, too. In post-game interview gets asked about the steal. "Well, he passed it, and I just had to use one of my sneaky veteran tricks. Can't give away the secret."Why would you put Dallas-Portland on national TV? Maybe if they only let Dallas put four men on the court that would be a close game.

Posted by: Matthew Yglesias | Apr 14, 2005 11:18:58 PM

conundra

Posted by: alex | Apr 14, 2005 11:30:39 PM

It's "conundrums", btw. The etymology of the word is lost, but it's assumed to be a parody of some Oxford Latin term. If it were real Latin, yes, it would have been conundra, but the plural conundrums is attested as early as Ben Jonson in 1605 and seems to be the "proper" form.

Gotta love the OED online...

Posted by: Jersey Exile | Apr 14, 2005 11:31:02 PM

Latin pet peeve:

People who think they're being clever by referring to more than one agenda as "agendae".

Agenda is already plural!

Posted by: Jersey Exile | Apr 14, 2005 11:33:53 PM

Conundra. Memoranda. Encomia. Bacteria. Millenia.

How much uglier could you get than
Conundrums. Memorandums. Encomiums. Bacteriums. Milleniums. (Or milenniums, while you're at it.) Datums.

Posted by: Allen K. | Apr 14, 2005 11:34:47 PM

The Times article? Laugh out loud funny. The repugnance gives it flavor...

Posted by: Lancaster | Apr 14, 2005 11:38:25 PM

Agenda is already plural!

Yeah, but nobody refers to a "hidden agendum." That's retarded. Same with "discussion fora," "sports colisea," etc.

Look, regularization of foreign loan-words is a fact of language. Deal with it. "Conundra" is just too twee for words. It puts you in the same category as classical music dilettantes who refer to "concerti," "celli," "violini," etc, because they think it makes them sound cultured. On the contrary, it's a clear sign you don't keep up and don't have a clue what the fuck you're talking about.

Posted by: Thad | Apr 14, 2005 11:52:54 PM

The times article was pretty funny. I believe the cool kids call it irony.

As for the age limit in the NBA, I suspect it would do little to limit the overall level of play it just means the likes of Jermaine O'Neal would go through their growing pains in college. Now I lke watching talented youngsters struggle to adapt to the NBA (it certainly beats seeing them crush East Wyoming Tech) but I could live without it. But how would you justify it legally. It would be one thing if the NBA required a Bachelor's degree to play in the league (fat chance of that happening though) but how is barring an otherwise qualified 18 year old anything but age discrimination?

Posted by: WillieStyle | Apr 14, 2005 11:55:29 PM

Conundri, like octopi.

The LAT article was quite humorous. Although I thought that the high-status move these days was to marry a high-earning, high-power woman and then YOU go out of business, while she supports the family. I could be wrong about that, though.

Also, I'm not sure this: "reduce the overall quality of play (bad)" is correct. Matthew is assuming that the 18 and 19-year olds who are kept out of the league would be better than the older players that replace them. True? Dunno. There are plenty of 18 and 19-year old draftees who are NOT good; they are drafted for their future talent, not for their present ability. And, of course, once they turn 20, they would be permitted in the league anyway, so we are only talking about how good they play when they are 18 or 19, not how good they are at 20+. Accordingly, it may very well be true that an age limit IMPROVES the over-all level of play.

And as a Nets fan, let me just say f*^&# AI.

Posted by: Al | Apr 14, 2005 11:59:41 PM

like octopi

"Octopi" is wrong, too. "Octopus" is fucking Greek. If you want to go with the authentic, original plural, it's "Octopodes." But in modern English, the plural "Octopuses." "Octopi" is illiterate.

Posted by: Thad | Apr 15, 2005 12:05:06 AM

Is there a more pointless team in all of pro sports than the Nets? They belong in the same category as the Brewers, the football Cardinals, and the Hawks. If they suddenly disappeared from the league one off-season, would anyone notice?

Posted by: JP | Apr 15, 2005 12:06:48 AM

'Octopi' is perfectly acceptable. Although I meant the comment as a joke.

Oh, and JP, me and the other 43 Nets fans in existence would notice!

Posted by: Al | Apr 15, 2005 12:16:24 AM

'Octopi' is perfectly acceptable.

Not from biologists, it ain't.

Posted by: Thad | Apr 15, 2005 12:22:21 AM

Octopi is alright by me.

Posted by: mk | Apr 15, 2005 12:27:04 AM

I really like Liars Poker, think Moneyball is a reasonable intro to the concepts it's addressing, and found the LATimes piece totally unfunny. Not offensive, but the jokes just fall flat.

Posted by: washerdreyer | Apr 15, 2005 12:37:54 AM

With 5 years of Latin several years ago I vote for conundra.

Posted by: Publius Rex | Apr 15, 2005 12:40:15 AM

The LA Times piece is fairly humorous, but that fact that it's in the LA Times after all the recent commotion makes it hilarious.

Posted by: Ricky Barnhart | Apr 15, 2005 1:09:35 AM

Dear Thad, The reason one would never say "agendum" is not that language regularizes loan words (of course it does) but that an "agenda" is plural because it is a list of things (plural) to do -- each of which is an agendum, the collection being an agenda.

By the way, "celli" and "violini" are certainly precious, but isn't "concerti grossi" at least standard usage? Speaking Latin well and Italian to some extent my ear may not be the most reliable for English usage, but "concerti" and "fora" don't strike me as unpleasant.

Posted by: Gene O'Grady | Apr 15, 2005 1:44:38 AM

"Why would you put Dallas-Portland on national TV? Maybe if they only let Dallas put four men on the court that would be a close game."

Only if Nowitzki is not one of the four.

It's not a particularly original thought, but Dallas is the dark horse pick for the title outside of the Big Four. The Mavs are absolutely loaded.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 15, 2005 1:57:18 AM

"Second, Ed Kilgore and Suzanne Nossel offer diametrically opposed advice on what Democrats should be saying about why they don't like John Bolton."

I'd probably come down on Nossel's side of the aisle. If Bolton seemed like a nice guy who held insane ideas, his nomination would sail right through.

But at the end of the day, this doesn't matter too much politically. This is a battle for the junkies, not the general public. And for all the junkies out there, it's turning into a pretty interesting battle. If you want to watch, Steve Clemmons blog is Bolton-central.

The basic storyline is Being Lincoln Chafee. You go up to the 7 1/2th floor, and crawl through a portal into the mind of Lincoln Chafee. Odd stuff.

Posted by: Petey | Apr 15, 2005 2:03:55 AM

Dear Thad, The reason one would never say "agendum" is not that language regularizes loan words (of course it does) but that an "agenda" is plural because it is a list of things (plural) to do -- each of which is an agendum, the collection being an agenda.

"An agenda" is grammatically singular in English. Sure, it refers to a set containing multiple items, but so does, for instance, "collection." But the word "collection" is still singular ("one collection"), and can be pluralized -- "collections." The word "agendum" doesn't exist in standard English. The word "agenda" is singular, e.g., "He has a hidden agenda" (instead of just "He has hidden agenda"). The English plural of "agenda" is "agendas" -- for instance, "competing agendas." (Try Googling "competing agendas" versus "competing agenda" or, god forfend, "competing agendae".)

By the way, "celli" and "violini" are certainly precious, but isn't "concerti grossi" at least standard usage?

Well, that's because "concerto" and "concerto grosso" refer to completely different musical forms. Nobody's writing a concerto grosso any more, but lots of people wrote a concerto last year. Early music enthusiasts are, necessarily, more enamored of anachronism than the rest of us, so referring to Corelli's concerti grossi is acceptable -- athough "concerto grossos" is also widely used. Whereas people who refer to "Mozart piano concerti" (let alone "Feldman piano concerti") are widely mocked.

Posted by: Thad | Apr 15, 2005 2:30:29 AM

Matt, I'm a little perplexed how an age limit will improve competitive balance. I presume you're thinking forcing high schoolers to play a couple years in either the NBA's crack-pot developmental league or college will allow pro teams to glean more information on their game/development/character, and so teams in the lottery will make wiser picks. But the effect would seem marginal at best. It's unclear whether a couple of years playing college ball will truly reveal that much more information on a player. And teams are still going to take some flyers on 20-year olds with physical or skill upsides. And it's not as if basketball has serious competitive balance problems in the first place--the NBA has a loose but effective salary cap and the most vigorous luxury tax of any of the three sports.

Posted by: jackiet | Apr 15, 2005 6:09:13 AM

The L.A. Times article is funny, but as far as I can tell, in a completely inaccurate way--unless, of course, this is supposed to be read as a lament about wives joining the ranks the retired about 30 years early.

In any case, I've heard no bragging by men about putting wives 'out of business' but have heard men complain about lack of success in getting their wives to go back to work after the kids had gotten older--the wives had gotten quite accustomed to young early retirement with perhaps, a low-or-no-paying, pleasant, low-stress, part-time, mory-hobby-than-a-job sort of 'job'. The 'second career' as a fine-art-photographer is, at least, dead-on in this regard (which suggests the lament disguised as braggadio is the correct interpretation).

I've been careful never to make that mistake with my wife--on those occasions where work was being a pain and she's hinted that maybe she'd just give up the rat race and go to work at a plant nursery, I always countered with the idea that maybe I'd do the same and devote myself to guitar and digital photography. It's been a couple of years since she last mentioned it, but next time the old work thing starts seeming like too much work, I can add a new counterproposal--she'll work at a nursery and I'll quit my job and start a blog...

Posted by: mw | Apr 15, 2005 7:49:28 AM

'Conundrums'? 'Conundra'? I guess 'conundra' is the right form, but the wrong one to use. It just sounds too damn elitist.

Posted by: Gray | Apr 15, 2005 8:37:31 AM

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