December 31, 2019

Do you remember the New Year's Tick?

It was December 31, 2008, when I wrote, "I'm quite serious about replacing the depressing Father Time/Baby New Year with the New Year's Tick." I was inspired by a BBC headline, "New Year to arrive a tick later" (about a "leap second" that had to be added to the atomic clock). I said:
I think I'll try to draw a picture of the New Year's Tick. Or see if I can get people to send pictures of the New Year's Tick. And I'm going to push for the adoption of the New Year's Tick as the new New Year's mascot, replacing that stupid — and frankly depressing — Old Man and Baby mascot. Or the Ball. What the hell kind of symbol is a Ball?
It's just by chance that I got reminded of the New Year's Tick on the day of New Year's Eve. I was reading a Jennifer Rubin column in The Washington Post, "Resolutions for the media and politicians." One of her resolutions is:
Presidential candidates should promise to cut out their rhetorical ticks. Former vice president Joe Biden needs to stop saying “I’m serious” and “No joke.” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) must not start sentences with “So … ” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) cannot say “billionaires” more than 10 times in a debate or speech.
Rhetorical ticks! I love the idea of ticks giving speeches! I'm tantalized by the prospect of using my favorite tag "insect politics" once again, but I've been down that road before across that grassy meadow before. A tick is not an insect!

The spelling should be "tic," but I'm thinking there's something perhaps a little politically incorrect about the figurative use of a word that denotes "severe facial neuralgia with twitching of the facial muscles" (OED).  I like this example in the OED:
1960 20th Cent. Apr. 361 This is an irritating tic of the British Left, this substitution of moral gestures for practical policies.
"Tic" is spelled like that because the medical condition is "tic douloureux" — French for "painful twitching." There is also a condition in horses, "The vice or morbid habit in horses called crib-biting or cribbing," and that has been spelled "tick" since the 18th century. Etymologically, it too comes from the French "tic," so it's easy to argue that "promise to cut out their rhetorical ticks" is just fine and nicely in English and un-French. The horse's crib-biting also has been used figuratively, and the meaning is the same as the figurative "tic": It means "whim."

I'm going to say that Rubin's "tick" is le mot juste if what you're picturing when you picture Elizabeth Warren saying "so" and Bernie Sanders saying "billionaire" looks something like this:

23 comments:

AllenS said...

A tick cannot give a speech when it's head is inside your skin, sucking your blood.

RobKleine said...

Celebrate the new year by binge watching The Tick! (Available via Amazon Prime Video).

David Begley said...

Just the other day China Joe told us that he was serious and not joking about jailing oil and gas executives. Because.

What type of sane person would make that comment?

Mr. Forward said...

Mules are the result of a male donkey breeding a female horse.
A male horse breeding a female donkey is a hinny.
Anybody can be a jackass.

David Begley said...

Biden, “Number two, holding them liable for what they have done,” he said of fossil fuel executives, “particularly in those cases where your underserved neighborhoods and – you know the deal, okay. And by the way, when they don’t want to deliver, put them in jail. I’m not joking about this.”

Annie C. said...

The worst thing about cribbing is that it can be weirdly contagious. Kind of like a mass hysteria. Horses are very social animals and tend to reflect each other's behavior.

When I was competing in cutting competitions, we had one lady who had a horse we were sure had ESP. That horse knew what a heifer was going to do before she did it. Lynn won almost every time she competed.

Then a horse in her barn started cribbing. The problem with cribbing is that the horse will suck in air and since their digestive systems are so dang sensitive, it can be dangerous as all heck.

Anyway, pretty soon more than half the horses in the barn were cribbing, including her Appaloosa. He got very, very sick. By the time she moved him over to our stable across town, he was pretty bad. He recovered and never cribbed again, but was never the same.

I hadn't thought of that episode of my life in ages.

gilbar said...

They should make a cartoon show, about the new year's tick!
Oh wait, have they already?
the new years tick

Meade said...

Horse cribbing = Teen vaping.

Amadeus 48 said...

How come no Insect Politic[k]s tag?

Amadeus 48 said...

Oh, I see. Asked and answered. I guess you'd have to do a new tag, maybe Tic[k] Politic[k]s or maybe Tic[k]s.

Darrell said...

The British tossers say "Crimbo," instead of Christmas, too.

Brian McKim and/or Traci Skene said...

30 or 40 seconds after reading "tic douloureaux," I was reminded of a song performed in 1964 or so, on the Lloyd Thaxton Show by the Newbeats (who had one hit with "Bread and Butter" that year.) It was called "Pink Daily Rue" and I believe the lyrics described the symptoms of tic douloureaux. Did I imagine this? Here for your enjoyment, is "Pink Daily Rue."
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=wwpXOw8d5nI

Josephbleau said...

Blogger AllenS said...
“A tick cannot give a speech when it's head is inside your skin, sucking your blood.”


But if it is a tick politician it can give the speech out of its ass.

rcocean said...

Hilarious. If Rubin said she had a facial tick, you'd wonder what she meant.

Wince said...

Now you're ticking us off.

Fernandistein said...

The one dog, the bad one, will only eat apples or carrots if he sees a horse eating them.

FWBuff said...

"Tick" is a deceptively cute word. "Spider", "scorpion", and "mosquito" are all unpleasant-sounding words that alert you about the nasty things they describe, but "tick" has no truth in advertising.

rhhardin said...

XKCD reminds us that this is no-off-by-one day. You can determine somebody's age just by subtracting their birth year from 2019 without being off by one. Everybody's had their birthday this year.

Ann Althouse said...

@Brian McKim and/or Traci Skene

Great comment! So obscure and so apt.

Ann Althouse said...

I couldn't hear the lyrics of "Pink Daily Rue" very well and couldn't find them written out.

As a way to write "tic douloureux" it's Joycean.

If I were just interpreting the English of the title (and adding my intuition about what pop songs are about), I'd take it to mean that the Newbeats were struggling with sexual desire.

I know from the Carrie Fisher novel "Surrender the Pink," that "pink" is slang for female genitalia. I think the Newbeats were expressing their daily sadness caused by sex or lack of sex with females.

Gunner said...

Rubin should resolve to stop lying that she was ever a Conservative or Republican She is just a war hungry, open borders lefty who is done pretending otherwise.

Bart Hall said...

Horses "crib" for a specific reason, and it is not that they are nervous. They are somewhat deficient in phosphorus, and can get it from wood more easily than from grass in areas where the soil is low in phosphorus.

The soils on my farm are naturally rich in P. The old horse barn was built in 1866 and used continuously for horses until almost a century later. There is not a trace of cribbing anywhere, because their hay was naturally rich in P.

Mr. Forward said...

I had a tick at the end of my foot. Tick attack toe.