Isn’t there an ‘s’ missing somewhere?

by Henry Farrell on January 22, 2005

Spotted in “Whole Foods” while shopping this afternoon.




Dan Simon 01.22.05 at 9:24 pm

You mean because there was more than one on sale?


Kieran Healy 01.22.05 at 9:25 pm


tad brennan 01.22.05 at 9:29 pm

Related tho not the same:

Back in the ’80s I remember shopping in a health-food store in Southeast Portland Oregon–hippy central–and seeing a sign in the coffee section that read
“Our coffees are decaffeinated with 100% Organic Solvents”.
Great, I thought: methyl ethyl ketone? toluene with a benzene chaser? Hey, as long as it’s organic….


Kieran Healy 01.22.05 at 9:31 pm

There was a quiz in the Irish Times a few years ago testing how Irish you were, and one of the questions was something like this:

If you go into a pub in Dublin and ask for a “Black and Tan” you are likely to get

a) A toasted sandwich with black pudding inside.

b) A pint glass with a half-and-half mix of Guinness and Harp Lager.

c) A dirty look.

d) A vodka and coke.

This question was designed to separate Irish Americans from “FBIs”:


P O'Neill 01.22.05 at 9:31 pm

This could get us on to the topic of the frivolity with which bars tend to offer Black and Tan cocktails.


Chris Carter 01.22.05 at 9:42 pm

Though the sign is a bit peculiar, it references a real thing. “Batard” is a French style of bread. The black and tan thing probably has to do with making the loaf with two differently colored doughs.


Henry 01.22.05 at 10:12 pm

bq. This could get us on to the topic of the frivolity with which bars tend to offer Black and Tan cocktails.

Or the “I’m having a Michael Collins – two shots, and then I hit the road” as described on _Nighthawks_ many years ago.

Chris, Dan, this is a bit of an Irish in-joke. The Black and Tans were a notorious crowd of British paramilitaries imported to Ireland for the War of Independence. Although I do have a family story casting a good light on the Auxiliaries, another crowd of British soldiers who didn’t have a very much better reputation. During most of the War of Independence my great-grandfather was enjoying His Majesty’s hospitality in Dartmoor, which meant that his family (who stayed in Dublin) came in for a fair amount of attention from British forces. At one stage the Auxiliaries raided the house, and one of their officers found two of my granduncles (who would then have been in their mid-to-late teens) trying frantically to hide plans and communications. He told them to burn the papers – and stood over them while they did it – but then let them go. He could very easily have had the two of them shot instead.


JRoth 01.22.05 at 11:08 pm

I just want to mention that this particular loaf – thickly coated in poppy and sesame seeds that split apart where the raw dough was sliced – is absolutely delicious.

But I did get the joke, Irish [German/English/Polish/etc.]-American though I may be.


Anderson 01.23.05 at 1:48 am

I would love to read a good book about the Black & Tans, the Freikorps, and generally the young men who grew up killing in WW1 and found themselves unable to change careers, as it were, after 11/11/1918. If any sage commenter knows of one, please refer.


yabonn 01.23.05 at 1:55 am

From the useless knowledge dept : it’s called a bâtard because it’s a mix between a baguette and a pain.


dq 01.23.05 at 2:07 am

More deliciously semi-useless knowledge:

– the little hat on the “a” (a circumflex) is often, but not always, the last remanant of an obsolete “s” that used to follow the vowel.

– batrd (can’t figure out how to add the circumflex) refers more to the shape (vaguely babe-in-swaddling-clothes) than to the dough-type of bread, thus you will find sourdough batard, sweet batard, levain-and-nut (e.g., walnut) batard, etc.

So, yes, there is an “s” missing, but it went missing several centuries ago.


Ancarett 01.23.05 at 3:17 am

Anderson, I know that David Leeson at McMaster University in Canada has been researching on British recruits to the Royal Irish Constabulary in the post WWI period. He doesn’t have a book out yet, but he’d be your best bet for a start on the topic.


P O'Neill 01.23.05 at 3:43 am

Anderson — here’s one paper by a historian who seems to have a lot of data on the backgrounds of the security forces used in Ireland post WW I; he also had a more recent papers specifically looking at the Black and Tans, it came out in a journal called History Ireland but I can’t find a link anywhere.


paul 01.23.05 at 5:25 am

To make an a with a circumflex (â) you want to use ampersand (&), the letter (a), and the abbreviated diacritical mark (circ), followed by a semicolon.

Check out this correspondence from almost 12 years ago on why anyone would need to remember these obscure mnemonics and why software should do this for you. On the Mac, this was possible since even before that gripe: type option-i to get the circumflex and ‘a’ for the letter.


bad Jim 01.23.05 at 9:40 am

Alternatively, on a PC, just hold down Alt and press 131 on the numeric keypad: â. It’s worked the same way for a quarter of a century. (Without a previous example it would have been hard to think of anything less intuitive.)

At times I wish I had keyboard with a key for every letter in the Cyrillic alphabet. (Not that I’d actually have any use for it, I just have a thing for wide keyboards.)

Diacritical marks are disfunctional when they’re stripped off in translation. When Kostunica defeated Milosevic in Yugoslavia, only a glance at a photo of a Serbian paper’s headlines spared me from having to wait for the TV news announcers to learn how to pronounce these names: Koshtunitsa, Milosevich.


bad Jim 01.23.05 at 12:02 pm

Excellent photo, though. Did somebody get a new phone for Christmas?


Wren 01.23.05 at 12:57 pm


Henry 01.24.05 at 12:54 am

bq. Excellent photo, though. Did somebody get a new phone for Christmas?

Somebody got a new Treo a few months ago. It’s the communicator of choice among the CT crowd – at least three of us have them.


Matt Weiner 01.24.05 at 4:02 am

Kieran–What’s the answer? (My guess is (c), and I’ve always found it ironic when folks order Black & Tans made of Guinness.)


HP 01.24.05 at 8:27 pm

Well, Matt, your guess might be ©, but I’ve had my guess ®. Don’t even think about guessing the same as me.


Tom Doyle 01.27.05 at 12:30 am

Black and Tans

(Occupation Lore)

In the early 1900’s, the Royal Irish Constabulary, England’s police force in Ireland, was having a difficult time recruiting. Its barracks were the targets of repeated raids and ambushes by Irish rebels. By 1919, English authorities advertised for men who were willing to “face a rough and dangerous task.” That task was to supplement the dwindling ranks of the RIC in patrolling an increasingly hostile Ireland.


The Black and Tans, although they served in the constabulary, never acted as policemen. Their service experience had been in trench warfare on foreign soil. Absent in their background was the constable’s role as servant to the community in the protection of life and property. The Black and Tans acted as an occupation army. They had signed on for an indefinite period of service with no pension rights and ineffective discipline.

Eventually over 2000 Black and Tans were distributed over Ireland to strengthen police posts, to make Ireland “hell for rebels to live in.”

On June 17, 1920, Lt. Col. Smyth was appointed division commander of the RIC for Munster. Below is part of his speech to his constables:

“….If a police barracks is burned or if the barracks already occupied is not suitable, then the best house in the locality is to be commandeered, the occupants thrown into the gutter. Let them die there – the more the merrier. Police and military will patrol the country at least five nights a week. They are not to confine themselves to the main roads, but make across the country, lie in ambush and, when civilians are seen approaching, shout “Hands up!” Should the order be not immediately obeyed, shoot and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching carry their hands in their pockets, or are in any way suspicious-looking, shoot them down. You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties some time. The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man …”

Smyth’s orders sound like DoD/Rumsfeld’s ROE

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