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photograph of a military parade with missles
figure 1  

 

woof ticket. A threat (either real or a bluff) which is “sold” to somebody. Selling a woof ticket is a strategy for getting another party to back out of a fight by making him or them believe that the seller has superior power.reference 1 It's a pretty good approach to avoiding violence. As Sun Tzu says, “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.” Thus is the nature of woof tickets.reference 2

Violence and conflict cannot always be avoided, and sometimes a bluff will lead to a disastrous game of chicken, to mix the animal metaphors here. The art of selling woof tickets is to avoid or limit conflict.

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photograph of Muhammad Ali in  a convertible car, turning backwards and pointing towards the camera spacer
figure 2

Nobody has ever sold woof tickets as well as Muhammad Ali did in his prime. Of course it helped that Ali was able to back up his threats in the ring. The most famous of his provocations, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee, the hand can't hit what the eye can't see,” was coined by Ali's friend, Bundini Brown, and delivered with bravura and freshness that only Ali could provide. Brown may have written it; Ali sold it.reference 3

1. Smitherman, Geneva. 1994. Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner. Boston: Houghton MIfflin. 140.

2. Sun-tzu, and Lionel Giles. 1964. Sun Tzæu on the Art of War: The Oldest Military Treatise in the World. Taipei, Taiwan, China: Literature House Ltd.

 

3. Kindred, Dave. 1999. Kindred's Five Favorite Athletes: No. 1, Muhammad Ali. Sporting News. Accessed 21 Oct 2002 from http:// www.sportingnews.com/ archives/ sports2000/ numbers/ 166125.html.
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About the illustrations: In the Figure 1, we see the “dress rehearsal” for a military parade in New Delhi India on January 26, 2002 . The parade took place as tensions were rising between India and Pakistan.reference 4 Such military parades, always attempts to sell woof tickets, were a common feature of the Cold War. In this case , the two sides each postured on the border for months and, while tensions have eased, both countries continue to bandy such visual and verbal threats.

Figure 2 is excerpted from a 1963 photograph of Muhammad Ali by Howard Bingham. The photograph most likely first appeared in the Los Angeles Sentinal, a black weekly for which Bingham was staff photographer.reference 5

Both of these images are copyrighted and unlicensed. I believe that the use of these scaled-down, low-resolution portions of images to illustrate the article “woof ticket” qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.

4. Aggarwal, Mukesh. 2002. The Agni-II Missile. The Tribune, Jan 24. Accessed Apr 22 2008 from http:// www.tribuneindia.com/ 2002/ 20020124

5. Bingham, Howard. 2001. Ali through the Lens of Howard Bingham. E [squared] Productions. Kodak. Accessed Jan 16 2006 from http:// www.kodak.com/ US/ plugins/ flash/ en/ corp/ features/ ali/ Howard_Bingham.swf.   
see also: woof
cf:
beware of the dog
Last updated: March 31, 2008
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