Iraq News Archive

Check out, if you haven't, the White House's Iraq News Archive. Go ahead; do it. Then come back. Doesn't seem to be a lot of news about the glorious progress of “Renewal in Iraq,” sure. But the big question is: What's with all the Latin? Why is the White House, in lieu of any good news from Iraq, instead educating us with quotes from Cicero on the philosophy of pleasure and pain? Well, Mr. Answer Man has the answer (courtesy of The Red Pencil Diaries). It appears that compositors historically (that is, for about 500 years) have used Cicero texts for mocking up typeset pages when the actual content isn't ready. Pagemaker and other typesetting programs still have the relevant passages from Cicero built right in. (The world is a strange and wonderful place.) In the case of the White House's Iraq News Archive, the “greeked” text was there to make sure that lines positioned properly. But there was a dearth of Iraq news that the White House wanted to print; the web designers apparently abandoned the page; and it went/stayed online with the “Greek” still there …

POSTSCRIPT: Yes, this is called “greeking.” Why is it called greeking, given that the text itself (natch) is in Latin, not Greek? I have no idea.

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6 Responses to Iraq News Archive

  1. Pingback: Ton's Interdependent Thoughts

  2. Actually, it’s all about slipstreaming the new message:

    “On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammelled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains.”


  3. Paul Gowder says:

    someone mirror it quick!!

  4. E-mart says:

    In fairness, the actual news archive page name was changed and is here:

    But humorous/embarassing nonetheless.

  5. Brian says:

    I don’t know if this is continuous with pre-electronic typsetting terminology, but in my experience “lorem ipsum …” was called “dummy text.” “Greeked” text has no letters — no text at all. It’s generally used when viewing a reduced version of a page. When the text is smaller than, e.g., 2 points it is represented by a gray block.

    Of course, with Google there’s no excuse for relying on one’s memory alone. According to this definition, both of the above are greeking.

  6. jan says:

    On ‘greeking’ I found someone else telling the world this:

    If Lorem Ipsum is Latin, why is it and similar passages of non-human readable text (or text approximations) called Greeking? Ever heard the phrase, “it’s all Greek to me”? Like the infamous “play it again, Sam” Casablanca line that was never actually spoken in Casablanca, “it’s all Greek to me” is a bastardization of a genuine literary line.
    In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II, Casca responds to Cassius: “Nay, an I tell you that, I’ll ne’er look you i’ the face again; but those that understood him smiled at one another and shook their heads; but for mine own part, it was Greek to me.” Another source credits the origin of the phrase to a Medieval Latin proverb “Graecum est; non potest legi,” which translates to: “it is Greek; it cannot be read.”


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