Archive for March 18th, 2011

March 18, 2011

Putting lipstick on pigs

Looking real cute with lipstick! Pic: erikjheels.com

This rather harmless and colorful little expression has gained some notoriety over the last few years for its use in political campaigns.  But before we go there, let’s first explain the meaning of the expression “putting lipstick on a pig”.

This is a way of saying that making superficial cosmetic changes to something will not change the fundamental nature of it.  If you put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig and not a lady (or something else that ranks higher in the hierarchy of things than a pig).  Therefore putting lipstick on a pig is a rather futile exercise one undertakes in the hopes to fool somebody into not seeing the pig for what it is.

In my experience that saying came up first when I was involved in getting a company ready for sale – there was a lot of figurative lipstick application involved.

But now to the recent notoriety:  it might have started earlier but the example that sticks in my mind is then presidential candidate Barak Obama referring to all the talk of the McCain campaign about change as “putting lipstick on a pig“.  Since Palin had – a short while before – defined the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull in one word: “lipstick” wild claims were made that Obama had called Palin a pig.  It all disintegrated quickly into ugly political maneuvering and the little expression came away bruises and looking ugly.

I still like it, it makes the concept really clear in an amusing, funny way.

March 18, 2011

Lucky in cards

I thought I had finally come up with an proverb that exists in German and for which there is no English equivalent.  But no such luck, it does exist, even though I had never heard of it before today when I searched online – hoping not to find it.

Lucky at cards, unlucky in love - certainly true for Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, pic: sassypriscilla.typepad.com

Anyway, the proverb is “lucky in cards, unlucky in love”.  The whole things doesn’t even make much sense.  I also did not find a satisfying explanation why it should be the case that one has to trade off love with card games (=money). One notion I read was that it is a well-known fact that some people seem to be very lucky in some respects but not in others.  So this would just state the obvious.

An interesting factoid is that in English the version “lucky in cards, unlucky in love” seems to be the one version used.  The opposite is sort of implied.  In the German version both variations exist equally, i.e. if you are playing cards and loosing badly a sympathetic person will say “unlucky in cards, lucky in love” to provide some comfort. Another difference, in German we don’t limit ourselves to cards – any kind of gambling is fair game, so to speak.