The other day I realized I didn’t know what civilization was, which ordinarily would not give much pause, for I am resigned to incomprehension regarding humanity, but the thing was I had to teach “civilization” as a vocabulary word. So I looked it up.
As ever with the Shorter Oxford, I get easily distracted, and this time among my diversions was the word chuckler.
Golly, it doesn’t mean what I expected:
Naturally, my first thought was that The Chucklers would make an excellent band name, but Merciless Google says: too late.
The Greeks of the sixth century and earlier were intellectual pioneers. It was the first time that they or anybody else began, as one historian has put it, “to think of space, time, man, and the state in any clear and coherent manner.”
–David Fromkin, The Way of the World
I was at a party last night talking to a couple who mentioned some concerts they’d seen at a local arena. The man added that they’d also seen the Lipizzaner Stallions.
“Now that’s a name for a band,” I said, but they explained it was actually the horse show.
Anyway, when I got home, I picked up the New Yorker and started reading “The Risk of Nuclear War with North Korea.” Based on last night’s sleep, I probably should have read about dancing horses instead:
Brinkmanship, according to Thomas Schelling, the Nobel Prize-winning economist who pioneered the theory of nuclear deterrence, is the art of “manipulating the shared risk of war.” In 1966, he envisaged a nuclear standoff as a pair of mountain climbers, tied together, fighting at the edge of a cliff. Each will move ever closer to the edge, so that the other begins to fear that he might slip and take both of them down. It is a matter of creating the right amount of fear without losing control. Schelling wrote, “However rational the adversaries, they may compete to appear the more irrational, impetuous, and stubborn.” But what if the adversaries are irrational, impetuous, and stubborn?
Modest though my contribution may be, I owe it to the ancients to think about space, time, man, and the state in a clear and coherent manner. And so I ask:
How come you always hear about brinksmanship, but never a brinksman? Seems like The Brinksman should be a cool spy novel or a series about a Victorian rake or something. I could read it before bed.
(Google informs me that, alas, The Brinksmen has been taken for a band name.)
“Every other name is taken,” Mr. Jones explains. “Think of a great band name and Google it, and you’ll find a French-Canadian jam band with a MySpace page.”
Well, anyone who knows me knows that I am always ready to lend a helping hand, unless said loan would present the risk of even mild inconvenience to me. But it’s no trouble, really, to offer some band names I’ve come up with.
For, alas, I shall never use them. My dream of being the unassuming but overmuchly talented rhythm guitarist in an esteemed indie band, who on tour strolls cities anonymously by day, for he has none of the burdens of celebrity that befall the singer and lead guitarist, but who does have a devoted and distinctively female fanbase worldwide, who… uh, right, the names. Below.