The Thinker: Rich Galen


The definition of the word mull.
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Curating Nothingburgers

Rich Galen

Monday July 31, 2017

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  • Every so often a phrase that sounds catchy, catches on in Washington where imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery but, in many cases, the only form of communications.

  • Out of the ozone has come the word (or phrase, depending upon how you spell it) "Nothingburger" meaning two halves of a hamburger bun with zero between them. No all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, or onions.

  • As in, "That meeting at Trump Tower? Between Donald Trump, Jr., Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Rinat Akhmetshin, Ike Kaveladze, Rob Goldstone, and Anatoli Samochornov? That was a nothingburger."

  • What happens is, someone hears a word or a phrase or a theory on MSNBC's Morning Joe or CNN's New Day and thinks it sounds smart or clever, or at least amusing. Then they convince themselves they were the only person on the planet to have heard it and if they repeat it, people will think they are smart or clever or at least amusing not recognizing that if they heard it on Fox & Friends in the first place, the person to whom they are repeating it probably watches Fox & Friends, too.

  • While we're at it, another word that suddenly sprung out of nowhere is "curate." Not the noun "curate" that designates a member of the clergy (kyoor- ət),but the verb "curate" that means to select (kyoor-ate).


    While I'm in this mode, in Henry Higgins' laboratory and other places where phonetics is studied, the symbol, ə, is known as a "shwa," In English it represents a short "uh" sound.

    I know this because I majored in speech at Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio 45750.


  • In my building in downtown Washington, DC there is a pizza place that proudly proclaims they curate individual pies. As if selecting and displaying pepperoni is the same as selecting and displaying medieval grand masters at the Louvre.

  • Although, according to the origin of the noun "curator" originally referred to "those put in charge of minors, lunatics, or other incompetents," so maybe after last week, we ought to establish the position of "Curator of the Congress."

    New Topic:

  • On Friday afternoon, Donald J. Trump fired his chief of staff, Reince Priebus and replaced him with the Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly.

  • John Kelly is a retired 4-Star Marine Corps General. The Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, is also a retired 4-Star Marine Corps General. The National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, is an active 3-Star General in the U.S. Army.

  • Lotsa Stars.

  • Here's the thing about General Officers. The number that can be on active duty at any one time is set by law. According to Wikipedia:
    The total number of active-duty general or flag officers is capped at 231 for the Army, 162 for the Navy, 198 for the Air Force, 61 for the Marine Corps.

  • I wanted to bring your attention to that last number: 61 for the Marine Corps. The advancement pyramid in the Marines gets very narrow and very steep, very fast.

  • To have two men who have succeeded in reaching that 4-Star summit serving in the same administration at the same time is remarkable.

  • I hope Donald Trump appreciates that these two talented men have chosen to forego sky high salaries with multiple commas and stock options to continue to serve our nation for about $200,000 per year.

  • Not peanuts, but not gold nuggets, either.

  • My fear is that Trump will treat them like he does everyone not named (or married to someone named) Trump: The hired help.

  • Will John Kelly be able to impose order on the West Wing?

  • Nah.

  • Not because of any failure on his part, but because Trump will not be able to stop himself from calling Anthony Scaramucci at 10:30 on any given night to critique his performance on Hannity. Or to reach out to any other staffer, friend, confidant, relative, waiter or busboy to ask for and get advice.

  • That will lead to continued leaks (I just heard from A who ran into C who just talked to the President who said �) which will lead to continued sniping (first of all, that's false and second I know who leaked it to you and let me just tell you on background �)

  • The continued dysfunction in Trump's White House is a Somethingburger. A big Somethingburger.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the origins of "nothingburger," to the definition of "curator" and to a discussion of 4-Star Generals in the U.S. Military.

    The Mullfoto is one you might have seen before, but it struck me as representative of a mid-summer morning in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

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