Archive for November 8th, 2013

November 8, 2013

Cherchez la Femme

Cherchez la femme [sher-shey la-fam] is a French phrase which literally means ‘look for the woman.’ The implication is that a man behaves out of character or in an otherwise inexplicable manner because he is trying to cover up an affair with a woman, or trying to impress or gain favor with a woman. The expression comes from the 1854 novel ‘The Mohicans of Paris’ by Alexandre Dumas. In his 1864 theatrical adaptation the expression translates as: ‘There is a woman in every case; as soon as they bring me a report, I say, ‘Look for the woman!”

The phrase embodies a cliché of detective pulp fiction: no matter what the problem, a woman is often the root cause. It has come to refer to explanations that automatically find the same root cause, no matter the specifics of the problem.

November 8, 2013

Bar Bet

A bar bet is a wager between patrons at a drinking establishment. It is widely believed that the creation of Scientology was the result of a bar bet between science fiction authors L. Ron Hubbard and Robert A. Heinlein. One night over bridge (which they played regularly, with generous libations) Hubbard bet Heinlein $1 that he could create a better sci-fi religion.

Heinlein eventually conceded the bet, admitting the ‘Church of All Worlds’ from his 1961 novel ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ was inferior to Hubbard’s ‘Scientology’, which by then had a strong following. There is no supporting evidence for the story, but several of Heinlein’s autobiographical pieces, as well as biographical pieces written by his wife, claim repeatedly that the bet did indeed occur.

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