November 26, 2011

GQ list of "25 least Influential People Alive" includes Barack Obama.

Ha ha. It all depends on what the meaning of "influential" is.

This sends me not to GQ, but to the Online Etymology Dictionary:
influence (n.)
late 14c., an astrological term, "streaming ethereal power from the stars acting upon character or destiny of men," from O.Fr. influence "emanation from the stars that acts upon one's character and destiny" (13c.), also "a flow of water," from M.L. influentia "a flowing in" (also used in the astrological sense), from L. influentem (nom. influens), prp. of influere "to flow into," from in- "into, in, on, upon" (see in- (2)) + fluere "to flow" (see fluent). Meaning "exercise of personal power by human beings" is from mid-15c.; meaning "exertion of unseen influence by persons" is from 1580s (a sense already in M.L., e.g. Aquinas). Under the influence "drunk" first attested 1866.
Streaming ethereal power, eh? That sounds like something he's tried to do, oh, maybe years ago. Thank God — thank the stars — he couldn't.
fluent
1580s, "flowing freely" (of water, also of speech), from L. fluentem (nom. fluens) "lax, relaxed," figuratively "flowing, fluent," prp. of fluere "to flow, stream, run, melt," from PIE *bhleugw-, extended form of *bhleu- "to swell, well up, overflow" (cf. L. flumen "river;" Gk. phluein "to boil over, bubble up," phlein "to abound"), an extension of base *bhel- (2); see bole. Used interchangeably with fluid in Elizabethan times. Related: Fluently.
Flowing, streaming, melting, welling up, swelling, boiling over, bubbling up... but when we say "fluent" these days, we're usually speaking about speaking: fluent speech. But this idea of fluency began with a word about bubbling up, not streaming down from the stars, and that ground-up flowing concept takes us to the fascinating word "bole":
bole
early 14c., from O.N. bolr "tree trunk," from P.Gmc. *bulas (cf. M.Du. bolle "trunk of a tree"), from PIE *bhel- (2) "to blow, swell" (cf. Gk. phyllon "leaf," phallos "swollen penis;" L. flos "flower," florere "to blossom, flourish," folium "leaf;" O.Prus. balsinis "cushion;" O.N. belgr "bag, bellows;" O.E. bolla "pot, cup, bowl;" O.Ir. bolgaim "I swell," blath "blossom, flower," bolach "pimple," bolg "bag;" Bret. bolc'h "flax pod;" Serb. buljiti "to stare, be bug-eyed;" Serbo-Cr. blazina "pillow").
Swollen penis! Blossom! Pillow! Pimple! We've come to an odd spot on this etymological path. We begin with influence, which came from the stars, and we found our way to flowing water and then to a swelling tree trunk or phallus.  Keep in mind that we are talking about politics.

But this is a blog post, so I've got to stop now. Your turn to speak. Flow on, burst forth, see if you can influence anybody.

20 comments:

madAsHell said...

Ich glaube "influence" ist Deutsch.

einfluss - literally, a river

edwardroyce said...

Mmmmmm delicious chewy sugary donuts.

Bad for you but oh so good.

With coffee.

The bitterness of the coffee offsetting the sugary goodness of the donuts.

Mmmmmmm. Donuts.

...

Now you want donuts ... don't you.

edutcher said...

Nobody's listening to GodZero anymore.

That's why he's mad at all of us.

Even the Lefties.

AllenS said...

I wonder where obama would rank on the list of Lease Effective People?

EDH said...

Swollen penis! Blossom! Pillow! Pimple!

Geez, not another "Occupy" post.

James said...

Go Blue.

edutcher said...

Lease or least?

I don't think anybody's even renting rooms in the White House.

Tim said...

The Dali Obama's utterly mockable lack of influence is interesting, (more so for those who can observe the devaluing and cannibalizing of America's future in a dispassionate, objective manner, as if it were mere performance art writ large) and probably accurate.

This comes from his profound lack of experience, which was self-evident to at least 47% of the electorate. And, if we're playing the etymology game, the dictionary says:
experience (v.)
1530s, "to test, try;" see experience (n.). Sense of "feel, undergo" first recorded 1580s. Related: Experiences; experiencing.
experience (n.)
late 14c., "observation as the source of knowledge; actual observation; an event which has affected one," from O.Fr. esperience (13c.) "experiment, proof, experience," from L. experientia "knowledge gained by repeated trials," from experientem (nom. experiens), prp. of experiri "to try, test," from ex- "out of" (see ex-) + peritus "experienced, tested," from PIE base *per- "to lead, pass over" (see peril). Meaning "state of having done something and gotten handy at it" is from late 15c.

Despite the long use of the word, too American voters stupidly discounted or ignored its value in helping them decide, so now we're left a growing disaster of a presidency that was completely avoidable, had we only cared enough to think it through.

Oh well. Failure is a choice too.

Phil 3:14 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
AllenS said...

Least! I say least!

WV: defec

I do that quite often.

Ralph L said...

He shot his wad with Obamacare. Now all he has to do is keep it from being repealed in order to precipitate the Apocalypse.

Jay said...

If messing up the best health care system in the world and causing a 12% increase in insurance premiums affecting over 150 million people is "least influential," I'd hate to see what influential actually is...

Hagar said...

I do not know what this "experience" is that Obama is not alone in lacking according to the commentariat, and I do not think I care.

What bothers me is the lack of any achievement in any of the positions he or they have occupied. That ought to be more of an indication of what they might be like in office than "experience."

Psychedelic George said...

The article says of Obama: "He wields all the power of a substitute teacher at night school."

The significance of this item is that it appears in GQ, a preposterously liberal Conde Nast glossy.

Incidentally, the best thing in the issue is the Finlay MacKay spread photo of Oscar Pistorius, an Olympic-class sprinter. He has no legs below his knees.

Check out the video It will not be long before top athletes want body parts replaced with protheses like his.

Freeman Hunt said...

It is not possible to be President of the United States and not influential. I wish it were, but it is not.

Roger J. said...

And perhaps I should note, that this is GQ article--how is what GQ thinks influential? I would never wear any of their clothing looks, but I am an old fart anyway. Rather like Whoppie Goldberg commenting on the qualifications of a presidential candidate.

Ann Althouse said...

"It is not possible to be President of the United States and not influential. I wish it were, but it is not."

I assume the analysis takes into account the position the person holds. Given the position, the individual in question is exerting very little influence.

ken in sc said...

Edwardroyce, do you know why donuts are called donuts? Donuts, is a misspelling and mispronunciation of dough naughts, in other words zeros made out of dough—donuts.

ken in sc said...

Now that I think of it, someone who calls Obama GodZero, could call him Godnut.

Carnifex said...

So you're saying the angry sock monkey is a dick?

Hell, I knew that from the get go.