10 October, 2009 — Middle East Report Online
|For background on the Mitchell mission, see Mouin Rabbani and Chris Toensing, “The Continuity of Obama’s Change,” Middle East Report Online, January 27, 2009.
For more on the “trigger line” in northern Iraq, see Quil Lawrence, “A Precarious Peace in Northern Iraq,” Middle East Report Online, October 1, 2009.
A Minnesota farm boy gets accepted to Yale. On his first day on campus, ambling down the oak-shaded lanes, he meets a toothy young swell whose blood matches his navy blazer. The two exchange words of praise for the pleasant autumn afternoon, and then the Minnesotan ventures a query.
“So,” he says, with rounded vowel, “could you tell me where the library is, then?”
The Yankee’s smile fades. “Here at Yale,” he remarks, with clipped consonant, “we do not end our sentences with conjunctions.”
“Oh,” the Minnesotan replies, pausing briefly before continuing. “Well, let me rephrase that. So, could you tell me where the library is, then, asshole?”
In the great white north, such yarns are spun as commentary upon the noxious haughtiness of the Mayflower set, but also upon the knack of those of Scandinavian heritage for what might be called over-understatement. This delicate art, passed down from one generation of phlegmatic Norwegian and stoic Swede to the next, is employed to put the priggish in their place. Over-understatement is drawn from the sub-Arctic folk wisdom that revenge is best served, well, not cold, exactly, but chilled.
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