hafoc: (Default)
Once upon a time, if you wanted something printed you'd have it hand-set, with movable type clamped into flat devices called forms. This took a lot of work, so it was expensive, especially for something as long as a book.

There was only a limited amount of type and a limited number of forms. You'd typeset your book (or just one section of it, I suspect) and print it, then knock it down and reuse the type for the next job. If your book was a hit you'd need to have the type hand-set all over again, maybe two or three times.

There was a way to "save" your hand-set type to avoid this. You would make a bed of wet clay and press the type into it, making a mold. You would then pour molten type metal over the mold, to make a page's worth of text in one solid block.

The only problem with this approach was that you could never change your page, once you'd set it. But if you wanted to print the same thing over and over again, without change, this was the way to do it.

The process was called stereotyping.

French printers had a word for one individual stereotype plate out of a set of them. My dictionaries differ on where the name comes from- might be a mangled version of the German for a mass of clay, such as you'd use to make the page mold, or it might be imitating the sound of the type form being pressed into the clay, or the type metal being poured onto the mold. In any case, they had a special word for that single plate. It was known as a cliche'.
hafoc: (Default)
“Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!”

--Stephen Decatur, US Navy Officer, c. 1816

He never quite said "My country, right or wrong," but I've heard the misquote far more often than the original.

I've heard self-appointed super-patriots use the misquote to say that you must blindly respect authority and support the actions of the government, right or wrong, good or evil. I have heard it used in a manner even worse, to say that anything the United States does is right, by definition, even if it's wrong; as in "If the United States does it, it isn't torture."

I have heard the misquote used sneeringly, by people who dismiss any respect for your own country as jingoism. I've heard the sneering reference more often than I've heard people seriously espouse the idea.

I take the misquote, or the quote itself, to mean that I can't abandon my country even when I know it's doing something wrong. That even when my country is in the wrong I owe it to us to do the best I can to make it a better place, and to direct it toward doing the right thing-- even though I feel powerless to help, I owe the country to at least TRY. And not threaten to abandon my country for some other, just because it does something I consider to be evil, or because somebody I don't like happens to win an election.

If you really love something, you try to take care of it, even if it hurts you.

It's hard to put up with the Greed and Stupidity sometimes, but I have to do it.

January 2015

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