- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Smell like a man

“In fact, there’s no evidence that the birth rate ever fell because people were too smelly for copulation. And, although modern people have a hard time accepting it, the relationship between sex and odorless cleanliness is neither constant nor predictable.

“Most ancient civilizations matter-of-factly acknowledged that, in the right circumstances, a gamey, earthy body odor can be a powerful aphrodisiac. Napoleon and Josephine were fastidious for their time in that they both took a long, hot, daily bath. But Napoleon wrote to Josephine from a campaign: ‘I will return to Paris tomorrow evening. Don’t wash.’ ”

Katherine Ashenburg, writing in her book “Clean: An Unsanitized History of Washing,” as excerpted Thursday in the Times of London

www

“If the iPod can have a Wikipedia entry that respects Apple’s quirky capitalization, why can’t Canadian chanteuse k.d. lang get the same consideration?

“ ’Proper English spelling takes precedence over stylistic interpretation,’ say the defenders of Wikipedia’s style rules. ‘It’s her name to capitalize as she sees fit,’ say her fans. ‘Her proper english name is spelled with capitals. I appreciate that you are great fans and all, but this is an Encyclopedia,’ answers someone else (who incidentally fails to capitalize ‘English’). …

“With all the energy expended on upper case vs. lower case, the debate over whether to prominently mention lang’s sexual orientation and animal-rights activism barely heats up at all. Some issues are just more important.”

Donna Bowman, Noel Murray and Keith Phipps, writing on “The scandal of Olivia Newton-John: 12 surprisingly controversial Wikipedia pages,” Monday at the Onion AVClub

Deep thoughts

“Keith Olbermann kicked off MSNBC’s election-returns coverage by unpacking a trunkload of figurative language suited to match the nasty weather in Ohio. He riffed on flood tides and sandbags and bridges. He self-consciously ventured that the storm constituted a form of divine gift, aid to ‘political reporters, desperate and weary, already out of analogies and imagery, and it’s only March.’

“And then, as is the habit of commentators on that most pop-savvy and merrily allusive of news networks, he plunged deeper into reference, speaking of ‘M.C. Escher-like perceptions,’ Groundhog Day, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, further attempting ‘a Cape Canaveral kind of analogy’ and some Jiffy Lube sort of imagery, and nodding to the Oregon Treaty of 1846 in a way that risked a neck sprain. It added up to a vision of anchoring as a free-form Dennis Miller routine.”

Troy Patterson, writing about “The Deep Thoughts of Keith Olbermann, on March 5 at Slate.com

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