A Mind is a Terrible Thing

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Flying Mail

Once again, our own Jonah Goldberg, the greatest living writer of all time, has presented us with a column of striking insight concerning the urgent need for privatizing our public schools.

He makes one profound point after another, but most people reading it would never know.  Most people reading this column would be dumbfounded by Jonah’s second paragraph describing all the ills of public education.

 “[…]OK, cue the marching music. We need public schools because blah blah blah and yada yada yada. We could say blah is common culture and yada is the government’s interest in promoting the general welfare. Or that children are the future. And a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Because we can’t leave any child behind.[…]”

 At this point the average reader, with merely a public education in say, quantum physics or marine bioengineering, would get glassy-eyed and go read the comics.  But I, not the average public schooled American, looked up the words yada and blah and arrived at the essence of Jonah’s column.  I presented the results of my research in a personal letter to Jonah.

 Dear Jonah,

I’ve just finished reading your June 12 column in the LA Times titled Do away with public schools, a seemingly thoughtful essay concerning public vs. private education.

Once again, your insight and ability to cut to the core of any issue leaves me speechless.  I think the real heart of your argument is summed up neatly in the second paragraph.

OK, cue the marching music. We need public schools because blah blah blah and yada yada yada. We could say blah is common culture and yada is the government’s interest in promoting the general welfare. Or that children are the future. And a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Because we can’t leave any child behind.

I think putting the heart of your argument right up front is a clever ploy.  Way too many people with a public school education simply would not be able to read more than a few words of your column before their eyes glazed over.  Putting the essence of your thought right up front gets to the readers before they’re ready to move on to the comics section.

But don’t you think using erudite words such as “Yada” and “Blah” on readers with merely a public school education is too obtuse?  After all, just how many people do you expect would actually know the meaning of these words?  I’m sorry to admit, I didn’t.  But unlike the average public school-educated American, I looked up the definitions of these words.

And I am so proud to tell you, I found the definitions!  From

The Mavens’ Word of the Day:

Yadda yadda yadda has in fact made it into a dictionary–the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, [..snip…] The definition, you might be interested to know, is simply blah-blah-blah, a cross-reference.

“It’s hard to pinpoint an exact date for yadda-yadda-yadda, also spelled yada-yada-yada; yadayadayada; and other variants, in part because it’s hard to decide which variants should be considered the same word. In the late 1940s, for example, we find yaddega-yaddega and yatata-yatata-yatata–this is the same era, remember, that gave us the now-established yackety-yack. […snip…]

Versions of blah-blah-blah are found in the 1910s. Both expressions are onomatopoeic, meant to be imitative of speech.

I think it’s fortunate that Maven had the sense to explain what onomatopoeic meant, or else I would have had to look that word up also.  It’s obvious that Maven went to a private school, else how would he (too smart to be a girl) have been smart enough to know to do that?

So, knowing the definition of “Yada yada yada” and “blah, blah, blah” helps me understand the real meaning of your column.  You were attempting to let your readers know, in a clever way that only people with private school educations would understand, that you’re imitating a thoughtful essay.

You’re very clever.  I promise not to tell anyone.

Update, June 15:  I think I scored a hit!  Jonah has not responded to me on this letter.  On the previous occasions I’ve written to him he’s always replied with some snarky comment, other than when I invited him to visit us in Mississippi.  On that occasion he had written how much progress had been made in Mississippi cleaning up from Katrina vs. cleaning up in New Orleans, as proof that a republican-governed state was more efficient than democratic (Louisiana).  I invited him down to show him the coast, demonstrating just how wrong he was on the alleged progress being made in my area.  He never answered me on that occasion, not even to decline my offer.

Now again, no answer.  I’d like to think I hit a nerve, but have no illusions that Jonah will drop the “yada yada yada, blah blah blah” from his writing.  It serves too much of a purpose for him – filling up column space without the need to do any serious thinking.

I truly despise this man as a complete and utter coward.

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Letters to the Airlines : Having tired of writing to columnists and local newspaper editors, I now move to writing letters to airline CEOs.
Charest Answers James Simpson : In which I answer a smug, self-satisfied challenge from one of our local conservative newspaper columnists.

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