Nielsen Hayden Isms

by Kieran Healy on April 25, 2004

In a bold commercial move, you “Patrick”: and “Teresa”: Nielsen Hayden now have a “Cafe Press Store”: where you can buy various Nielsen Hayden wit and wisdom on mugs, shirts and aprons. Weirdly, though, I remembered one of the reified sentiments — a superb phrase I will doubtless be using at a later date — backwards from the version for sale. The mugs and shirts say “Just because you’re on their side, doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” But my brain had transposed it to “Just because they’re on your side, doesn’t mean you’re on their side.” The first warns against the danger of _giving_ support to people who will betray you in the end or turn out to be driven by interests very different from those you imagine. The second warns against the danger of _accepting_ support from people you don’t know, whose views happen to overlap with yours one area but in fact are part of some bizarro ideology you want nothing to do with. Not so different, I suppose, but I clearly thought the second version was more compelling somehow.

Three points on this. First, it’s actually quite common for great quotations to be edited and rearranged in the process of becoming part of the culture. But I think we can safely say that this is a case of my wonky[1] memory rather than some general push from the _conscience collective_. Second, I think I’m going to buy the “Nutbar Conspiracy Theorist” jersey once I get back to the U.S. And third, I think we need some CT merchandise. Perhaps a version of the “full lineout”: Or just our banner. Or some of the pearls of wit that flow like, um, honey from our, uh, wellsprings of, erm, knowledge. (Any nominations for favorite CT quotes?)

fn1. In the English rather than the American sense.



Teresa Nielsen Hayden 04.25.04 at 11:20 pm

Just to make things more complicated, there’s another variant slogan on the matching mug: THE FACT THAT YOU’RE ON THEIR SIDE DOESN’T MEAN THAT THEY’RE ON YOUR SIDE. I’ve never been entirely satisfied with the grammar of any of my versions of that statement. The one on the shirt is how I’d say it in fast-moving casual conversation, but the mug looks better in written English.

I wouldn’t call the CafePress thing a bold commercial move. Patrick wanted the “their side/your side” slogan on a t-shirt, I thought of CafePress (I’d helped a friend with his own store), and once you’ve set the thing up for yourself, it’s not a lot more trouble to post a link to it for others.

Or so it seems. Later, you’ll realize it was the equivalent of starting a casual little weblog that won’t take up much of your time.


harry brighouse 04.25.04 at 11:24 pm

the truth is that just because they’re on your side it doesn’t mean that they’re on your side.

I’m all for some memorabilia. Mugs and T-shirts are my preference. IN fact I like commemorative plates, but that would be absurd. Lets do it.


john c. halasz 04.26.04 at 12:53 am

How about the “Crooked Timber” motto itself on a tee-shirt, with orthopedic corrective action for non-hunchbacks?


Dick Thompson 04.26.04 at 3:49 am

If you do tee shirts, stock some tall-man versions. Those usual VLs and XXLs just come down to my belly button.


billyfrombelfast 04.26.04 at 3:53 am

Ah yes Harry, more weblogs should be selling commemorative plates. I agree.


comgelo 04.26.04 at 10:21 am

Best regards from Portugal:-)


bryan 04.26.04 at 10:22 am

Deciding on your facts doesn’t mean the facts are on your side.


bryan 04.26.04 at 10:26 am

When I said you were attractive I meant attractive from the point of view of elegant
social mechanisms.


Alan 04.26.04 at 12:36 pm

How about “I’m very smart, but not at all precious about it. No, really.”


matt 04.26.04 at 1:00 pm

I’m in favor of seeing a line of crooked timber bobble-head dolls. Or maybe a lunch pail, for the kids.


eszter 04.26.04 at 3:00 pm

Bobbleheads! Great idea.;-) Perhaps at least the virtual version?:)

This would be a good time to announce that if anyone sees a car with a Crooked Timber bumper sticker, for now that’s likely me driving it.


Ted Barlow 04.26.04 at 4:43 pm

I have always thought that we should make a version of the Crooked Timber logo in No Limits-style platinum and diamonds font, but I don’t know anything about Photoshop.


eszter 04.26.04 at 5:12 pm

Ted, just a logo?! Why stop there, put in orders for jewelry of the sort while we’re at it! Just the necklace missing from my collection!


Brian Weatherson 04.26.04 at 6:38 pm

Well it doesn’t look too hard to pull off in Photoshop, but the font may be a little thin to really get the right effect. If it’s not a proprietary secret, what is the font that we’re using? The main distinctive features are the long tail on the R and the slopes on the M, which should probably be enough to figure it out by reverse engineering.


Kip Manley 04.26.04 at 7:52 pm

Nah. I got yer coffee mug, right here, buckos:

“You say you have a counterexample to my argument, but you must be misunderstanding me, because I did not intend for my argument to have any counterexamples.”


Arthur D. Hlavaty 04.26.04 at 8:11 pm

The logic of such statements is tricky. Two of the Gospels quote Jesus as saying “Those who are not against us are with us.” The other two have “Those who are not with us are against us.” The first sounds more reasonable, but the two are logically equivalent.


bryan 04.26.04 at 8:20 pm

arthur, yeah, especially if we add in a variable for undecided.
because in the first one the undecided are on jesus’ side and in the other one the undecided are against jesus. hmm, no maybe we don’t want to add in an undecided variable.


pepi 04.26.04 at 9:18 pm

arthur: er actually they’re not equivalent at all. The first implicitely accounts for a group of people who are indifferent or unaware of who that “us” is. The second overtly excludes that, and labels even the indifferent as enemies.

In other words: The first is socialist, the second is fascist :)

The way I always heard it was the first instance, of course. And with “I” instead of “us”. I didn’t even know the second phrasing was in the gospels. I just thought it was Bush’s own version.


john c. halasz 04.26.04 at 10:23 pm

OT, but the “paradox” of the Jesus citations is easily resolvable: the way is open to all, but straight and narrow is the way and few shall enter thereupon.


nick 04.26.04 at 10:40 pm

“Just because you’re on their side, doesn’t mean they’re on your side.”

Something that Christopher Hitchens really ought to bear in mind. Especially as he’s supposed to have read Homage to Catalonia.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden 05.01.04 at 1:44 pm

“There is, to judge from comments and a few emails, a teensy suspicion that I am pulling a Silver Surfer, herald of Galactus number, announcing philosophy on its way to eat defenseless literary studies (under cover of blogging).”

There’s your Crooked Timber t-shirt.

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