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dinkum has looked up 307 words, created 19 lists, listed 252 words, written 118 comments, added 66 tags, and loved 1 word.

Comments by dinkum

  • WORD blue Monday
       
    DEFINITION: ' People who had horrible jobs during the week used to call Monday "Blue Monday" sometimes, though, because they hated to return to work after a day of rest.' -- Kurt Vonnegut.
       
    EXAMPLES:
        
    (1) ' "Our company began as The Robo-Magic Corporation of America in 1934. It had three employees in the beginning and its mission was to design and manufacture the first fully automatic washing machine for use in the home. You will find the motto of that washing machine on the corporate emblem at the top of the stock certificate." 

        
    ' The emblem consisted of a Greek goddess on an ornate chaise longue. She held a flagstaff from which a long pennant streamed. Here is what the pennant said:
       
    ' "GOODBYE    BLUE     MONDAY"     
     
    ' The motto of the old Robo-Magic washing machine cleverly confused two separate ideas people had about Monday. One idea was that women traditionally did their laundry on Monday. Monday was simply washday, and not an especially depressing day on that account.

    ' People who had horrible jobs during the week used to call Monday "Blue Monday" sometimes, though, because they hated to return to work after a day of rest. When Fred T. Barry made up the Robo-Magic motto as a young man, he pretended that Monday was called "Blue Monday" because doing the laundry disgusted and exhausted women.
      
    ' The Robo-Magic was going to cheer them up. '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 21 (Pages 242 - 243).

    (2) ' Harry LeSabre was entitled to talk about combat. He had been in actual combat in a war. Dwayne hadn't been in combat. He was a civilian employee of the United States Army Air Corps during the Second World War. One time he got to paint a message on a five-hundred-pound bomb which was going to be dropped on Hamburg, Germany. This was it:

    ' "GOODBYE BLUE MONDAY"  '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 4 (Page 43).

    February 20, 2014

  • WORD: Skid Row

    DEFINITION: A de facto concentration camp where the down-and-out, the downtrodden, and the dispossessed are detained and confined, typically under harsh conditions. (As described by Kurt Vonnegut in his 1973 novel "Breakfast of Champions." An homage, perhaps, a grave yet gallant tipping of his hat to the American poet Emma Lazarus and her promise of a "New Colossus", a promise which remains sorrowfully elusive --- unfulfilled ---in these latter day, modern times).

    EXAMPLE, from Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions:

    ' The nickname for Bunny's neighborhood was Skid Row. Every American town of any size had a neighborhood with the same nickname: Skid Row. It was a place where people who didn't have any friends or relatives or property or usefulness or ambition were supposed to go.

    ' People like that would be treated with disgust in other neighborhoods, and policemen would keep them moving. They were as easy to move, usually, as toy balloons.

    ' And they would drift hither and yon, like balloons filled with some gas slightly heavier than air, until they came to rest in Skid Row, against the foundations of the old Fairchild Hotel.

    ' They could snooze and mumble to each other all day long. They could beg. They could get drunk. The basic scheme was this one: they were to stay there and not bother anybody anywhere else---until they were murdered for thrills, or until they were frozen to death by the wintertime.

    ' Kilgore Trout wrote a story one time about a town which decided to tell derelicts where they were and what was about to happen to them by putting up actual street signs like this:

    ' ==SKID ROW== '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 17 (Pages 183 - 184).

    February 20, 2014

  • WORD: parade rest

    DEFINITION: See also the Wikipedia definition.

    EXAMPLE: ' He clasped his hands behind his back and placed his feet apart. He assumed the position known as parade rest. This position was taught to soldiers and prisoners alike---as a way of demonstrating attentiveness, gullibility, respect, and voluntary defenselessness. '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 23 (Page 261).

    February 18, 2014

  • EXPRESSION: single combat
    DEFINITION: See also the Wikipedia article "Single combat."
    EXAMPLE: ' The forgotten term, left behind in the superstitious past, was single combat.

    ' Just as the Soviet success in putting Sputniks into orbit around the earth revived long-buried superstitions about the power of heavenly bodies and the fear of hostile control of the heavens, so did the creation of astronauts and a "manned space program" bring back to life one of the ancient superstitions of warfare. Single combat had been common throughout the world in the pre-Christian era and endured in some places through the Middle Ages. In single combat the mightiest soldier of one army would fight the mightiest soldier of the other army as a substitute for a pitched battle between the entire forces. In some cases the combat would pit small teams of warriors against one another. Single combat was not seen as a humanitarian substitute for wholesale slaughter until late in its history. That was a Christian reinterpretation of the practice. Originally it had a magical meaning. In ancient China, first the champion warriors would fight to the death as a "testing of fate," and then the entire armies would fight, emboldened or demoralized by the outcome of the single combat. Before Mohammed's first battle as the warrior-prophet, the Battle of Badr, three of Mohammed's men challenged the Meccans to pick out any three of their soldiers to fight in single combat, proceeded to destroy them with all due ceremony, whereupon Mohammed's entire force routed the entire Meccan force. In other cases, however, the single combat settled the affair, and there was no full-scale battle, as when the Vandal and Aleman Armies confronted each other in Spain in the fifth century A.D. They believed that the gods determined the outcome of single combat; therefore, it was useless for the losing side to engage in a full-scale battle. The Old Testament story of David and Goliath is precisely that: a story of single combat that demoralizes the losing side. The gigantic Goliath, with his brass helmet, coat of mail, and ornate greaves, is described as the Philistine "champion" who comes forth to challenge the Israelites to send forth a man to fight him; the proposition being that whoever loses, his people will become the slaves of the other side. Before going out to meet Goliath, David---an unknown volunteer commoner--- is given King Saul's own decorative armor, although he declines to wear it. When he kills Goliath, the Philistines regard this as such a terrible sign that they flee and are pursued and slaughtered.

    ' Naturally the brave lads chosen for single combat enjoyed a very special status in the army and among their people (David was installed in the royal household and eventually superseded Saul's own sons and became king). They were revered and extolled, songs and poems were written about them, every reasonable comfort and honor was given them, and women and children and even grown men were moved to tears in their presence. Part of this outpouring of emotion and attention was the simple response of a grateful people to men who were willing to risk their lives to protect them. But there was also a certain calculation behind it. The steady pressure of fame and honor tended to embolden the lads still further by constantly reminding them that the fate of the entire people was involved in their performance in battle. At the same time---and this was no small thing in such a high-risk occupation---the honor and glory were in many cases rewards before the fact; on account, as it were. Archaic cultures were quite willing to elevate their single-combat fighters to heroic status even before their blood was let, because it was such an effective incentive. Any young man who entered the corps would get his rewards here on earth, "up front," to use the current phrase, come what may.

    ' With the decline of archaic magic, the belief in single combat began to die out. The development of the modern, highly organized army and the concept of "total war" seemed to bury it forever. But then an extraordinary thing happened: the atomic bomb was invented, with the result that the concept of total war was nullified. The incalculable power of the A-bomb and the bombs that followed also encouraged the growth of a new form of superstition founded upon awe not of nature, as archaic magic had been, but of technology. During the Cold War period small-scale competitions once again took on the magical aura of a "testing of fate," of a fateful prediction of what inevitably would happen if total nuclear war did take place. This, of course, was precisely the impact of Sputnik I, launched around the earth by the Soviets' mighty and mysterious Integral in October of 1957. The "space race" became a fateful test and presage of the entire Cold War conflict between the "superpowers," the Soviet Union and the United States. Surveys showed that people throughout the world looked upon the competition in launching space vehicles in that fashion, i.e., as a preliminary contest proving final and irresistable power to destroy.* The ability to launch Sputniks dramatized the ability to launch nuclear warheads on ICBMs. But in these neo-superstitious times it came to dramatize much more than that. It dramatized the entire technological and intellectual capability of the two nations and the strength of the national wills and spirits. Hence . . . John McCormack's rising in the House of Representatives to say that the United States faced "national extinction" if she did not overtake the Soviet Union in the space race.

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 5 -- In Single Combat." (Pages 101 - 103). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    ** EDITORIAL NOTE: Emphasis added here. Original quote is neither italicized nor boldfaced. All instances of the expression"single combat" have also been boldfaced.

    February 6, 2014

  • Forever a "practical joker" of the most amiable sort," Bilby makes a comment below about 'NIKers that could be taken by a classic example of twisted 'NIKers. And whattaya say, Bil', should we all be a-calling a roll call of WORDNIK contributors "getting our 'NIKers in bunch?" Whattaya think?

    January 31, 2014

  • WORD practical joker

    DEFINITION: See the Wikipedia article "Practical Joke."

    EXAMPLES:

    (1)

     ' Wally Shirra . . . was quite popular. He was a stocky fellow with a big wide open face was given to pranks, cosmic winks, fast cars, and all other ways of "maintaining an even strain," to use a Schirraism. He was a practical joker of the amiable sort. He would call up and say, "Hey, you gotta come over here! You'll never guess what I caught in the woods . . . A mongoose! I'm not kidding---a mongoose! You gotta see this thing!' And it would sound so incredible, you'd go over and take a look. Up on a table Wally would have a box that looked as if it had been converted into a cage, and he'd say: "Here, I'll open the top a little, so you can see him. But don't put your hand in, because he'll take it off for you. This baby is vicious." You'd lean down to take a look and---bango!---the lid flies open and this huge gray streak springs toward your face---and, well, my God, veteran aviators would recoil in terror, dive for the deck---and only then realize that the gray streak was some sort of fox-tail rig and the whole thing was a jack-in-the-box, Schirra-style. It was a broad joke, strictly speaking, but the delight Wally took in such things came in a wave, a wave so big that it swept you along in spite of yourself. A smile about a foot wide would spread over his face and his cheekbones would well up into a pair of cherub bellies, St. Nicholas-style, and an incredible rocking-druid laugh would come shaking and rumbling from his rib cage, and he'd say "Gotcha!" Schirra's "gotchas" were famous. Wally was one of those people who didn't mind showing their emotions, happiness, rage, frustration, whatever. But in the air he was as cool as they made them. For all his cutting up, Wally was absolutely serious about his career. '
         
    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 4 -- The Lab Rat." (Page 68). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9). 
         
    (2)
    For another example of a Schirra-style practical joke, see the Wikipedia article "List of items smuggled into space."



    January 31, 2014

  • WORD: Rube Goldberg

    DEFINITION: See the Wikipedia article "Rube Goldberg machine."

    EXAMPLE: ' There were some obvious problems. One, Project Mercury was a civilian program; two, NASA had not yet developed the rockets or the capsule to carry it out; three, it involved no flying, at least not in the sense a pilot used that word. The Mercury capsule was not a ship but a can. Not only did it involve no flying, there wasn't even a window to look out of. There wasn't even a hatch you could egress from like a man; it would take a crew of swabbos* with lug wrenches to get out of the thing. It was a can. Suppose you volunteered and got tied up in the project for two or three years, and then the whole thing fizzled? That was entirely possible, because this rocket-and-capsule system was novel and had a lot of Rube Goldberg stuff in it. '

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 4 -- The Lab Rat." (Page 69). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    * EDITORIAL NOTE: Wordnik does not have a definition for swabbo. Nor does Wiktionary. Nor does the OED. OneLook wasn't any help either. Given the context, I would hazard that "swabbo" is a variant of "swabby." Possibly, a portmanteau word which combines "swabby" with "yabbo."

    January 31, 2014

  • WORD: parachute jump

    DEFINITION: ' v., To employ a parachute to leave an aircraft or elevated location. ' -- Wiktionary.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Ted Whelan lined the ship up to come across the field at 8,100 feet precisely and he punched out, ejected.

    ' Down on the field they all had their faces turned up to the sky. They saw Whelan pop out of the cockpit. With his Martin-Baker seat-parachute rig strapped on, he looked like a little black geometric lump a mile and a half up in the blue. They watched him as he started dropping. Everyone waited for the parachute to open. They waited a few more seconds, and then they waited some more. The little shape was getting bigger and bigger and picking up tremendous speed. Then there came an unspeakable instant at which everyone on the field who knew anything about parachute jumps knew what was going to happen. Yet even for them it was an unearthly feeling, for no one had ever seen any such thing happen so close up, from start to finish, from what amounted to a grandstand seat. Now the shape was going so fast and coming so close it began to play tricks on the eyes. It seemed to stretch out. It became much bigger and hurtled toward them a terrific speed, until they couldn't make out its actual outlines at all. Finally there was just a streaking black blur before their eyes, followed by what seemed like an explosion. Except that it was not an explosion; it was the tremendous crack of Ted Whelan, his helmet, his pressure suit, and his seat-parachute rig smashing into the center of the runway, precisely on target, right in front of the crowd; an absolute bull's eye. Ted Whelan had no doubt been alive until the instant of impact. He had had about thirty seconds to watch the Pax River base and the peninsula and Baltimore County and continental America and the entire comprehensible world rise up to smash him. When they lifted his body up off the concrete, it was like a sack of fertilizer. '

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 1 -- The Angels." (Page 14). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 30, 2014

  • WORD: the right stuff
         
    EXAMPLE: ' A young man might go into military flight training believing that he was entering some sort of technical school in which he was simply going to acquire a certain set of skills. Instead, he found himself all at once enclosed in a fraternity. And in this fraternity, even though it was military, men were not rated by their outward rank as ensigns, lieutenants, commanders, or whatever. No, herein the world was divided into those who had it and those who did not. This quality, this it, was never named, however, nor was it talked about in any way.

    ' As to just what this ineffable quality was . . . well, it obviously involved bravery. But it was not bravery in the simple sense of being willing to risk your life. The idea seemed to be that any fool could do that, if that was all that was required, just as any fool could throw away his life in the process. No, the idea here (in the all-enclosing fraternity) seemed to be that a man should have the quality to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and then have the moxie, the reflexes, the experience, the coolness, to pull it back in the last yawning moment---and then go up again the next day, and the next day, and every next day, even if the series should prove infinite---and, ultimately, in its best expression, do so in a cause that means something to thousands, to a people, a nation, to humanity, to God. Nor was there a test to show whether or not a pilot had this righteous quality. There was, instead, a seemingly infinite series of tests. A career in flying was like climbing one of those ancient Babylonian pyramids made up a dizzy progression of steps and ledges, a ziggurat, a pyramid extraordinarily high and steep; and the idea was to prove at every foot of the way up that pyramid that you were one of the elected and anointed ones who had the right stuff and could move higher and higher and ultimately, God willing, one day---that you might be able to join that special few at the very top, that elite who had the capacity to bring tears to men's eyes, the very Brotherhood of the Right Stuff itself.

    ' None of this was to be mentioned, and yet it was acted out in a way that a young man could not fail to understand. When a new flight (i.e., a class) of trainees arrived at Pensacola, they were brought into an auditorium for a little lecture. An officer would tell them: "Take a look at the man on either side of you." Quite a few actually swiveled their heads this way and that, in the interest of appearing diligent. Then the officer would say: "One of the three of you is not going to make it!"---meaning, not get his wings. That was the opening theme, the motif of primary training. We already know that one-third of you do not have the right stuff---it only remains to find out who.

    ' Furthermore, that was the way it turned out. At every level of one's progress up that staggeringly high pyramid, the world was once more divided into those men who had the right stuff to continue the climb and those who had to be left behind in the most obvious way. Some were eliminated in the course of the opening classroom work, as either not smart enough or not hardworking enough, and were left behind. Then came the basic flight instruction, in single-engine, propeller-driven trainers, and a few more---even though the military tried to make this stage easy---were washed out and left behind. Then came more demanding levels, one after the other, formation flying, instrument flying, jet training, all-weather flying, gunnery, and at each level more were washed out and left behind. By this point easily a third of the original candidates had been, indeed, eliminated . . . from the ranks of those who might prove to have the right stuff. '

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 2 -- The Right Stuff." (Pages 18 - 20). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 30, 2014

  • WORD: auger in

    DEFINITION: To die in a plane crash; to crash so catastrophically that the plane one is flying "augers" a hole in the ground. See also: buy the farm.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Jane had heard the young men, Pete among them, talk about other men who had "bought it" or "augered in" or "crunched," but it had never been anyone they knew, no one in the squadron. And in any event, the way they talked about it, with such breezy, slangy terminology, was the same way they talked about sports. It was if they were saying, "He was thrown out stealing second base." And that was all! Not one word, not in print, not in conversation---not in this amputated language!---about an incinerated corpse from which a young man's spirit has vanished in an instant, from which all smiles, gestures, moods, worries, laughter, wiles, shrugs, tenderness, and loving looks---you, my love!---have disappeared like a sigh, while the terror consumes a cottage in the woods, and a young woman, sizzling with the fever, awaits her confirmation as the new widow of the day. '

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 1 -- The Angels." (Page 3). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 29, 2014

  • WORD: 'NIK 

    DEFINITION: To define or comment upon a word for the WORDNIK dictionary.

    EXAMPLE: One 'NIKer to another: "I 'NIKked that word but good."

    January 29, 2014

  • WORD: 'NIKer 

        
    DEFINITION:  A person who defines or comments on words compiled in the WORDNIK dictionary.  Also, an avid reader of WORNIK and WORDNIK comments. The WORDNIK counterpart of a Wikipedian.

    January 29, 2014

  • WORD: NIKname DEFINITION: The username of a member of the WORDNIK comunity.

    January 29, 2014

  • WORD: dog-eat-dog

    EXAMPLE:

    ' In time, the Navy would compile statistics showing that for a career Navy pilot, i.e., one who intended to keep flying for twenty years as Conrad did, there was a 23 percent probability that he would die in an aircraft accident. This did not even include combat deaths, since the military did not classify death in combat as accidental.

    . . . Sometimes, when the young wife of a fighter pilot would have a little reunion with the girls she went to school with, an odd fact would dawn on her: they have not been going to funerals. And then Jane Conrad would look at Pete . . . Princeton, Class of 1953 . . . Pete had already worn his great dark sepulchral bridge coat more than most boys of the Class of '53 had worn their tuxedos. How many of those happy young men had buried more than a dozen friends, comrades, and co-workers? (Lost through violent death in the execution of everyday duties.) At the time, the 1950's, students from Princeton took great pride in going into what they considered highly competitive, aggressive pursuits, jobs on Wall, on Madison Avenue, and at magazines such as Time and Newsweek. There was much fashionably brutish talk of what "dog-eat-dog" and "cutthroat" competition they found there . . . How many would have gone to work, or stayed at work, on cutthroat Madison Avenue if there had been a 23 percent chance, nearly one chance in four, of dying from it? Gentlemen, we're having this little problem with chronic violent death . . . '

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 2 -- The Right Stuff." (Pages 17 - 18). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).   
       

    ETYMOLOGY: From the Latin expression"canis canem edit", dog eats dog.

    January 28, 2014

  • WORD: grand panjandrum

    DEFINITION: See "panjandrum." Compare "Grand Poobah", "Lord High Muckymuck."

    ETYMOLOGY: "The Grand Panjandrum" is a pseudo-lordly title which dramatist Samuel Foote coined in 1755, an expression he inserted -- on the fly -- into a paragraph of nonsense words he was composing to test the self-proclaimed memorization skills of the actor Charles Macklin.

    January 28, 2014

  • WORD: Mach 1

    DEFINITION: The speed of sound.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' The speed of sound, Mach 1, was known (thanks to the work of the physicist Ernest Mach) to vary at different altitudes, temperatures, and wind speeds. On a calm 60-degree day at sea level it was about 760 miles an hour, while at 40,000 feet, where the temperature would be at least sixty below, it was about 660 miles an hour. Evil and baffling things happened in the transonic zone, which began at about .7 Mach. Wind tunnels choked out at such velocities. Pilots who approached the speed of sound in dives reported that the controls would lock or "freeze" or even alter their normal functions. Pilots had crashed and died because they couldn't budge the stick. Just last year Geoffrey de Havilland, son of the famous British designer and builder, had tried to take one of his father's DH 108s to Mach 1. The ship started buffeting and then disintegrated, and he was killed. This led engineers to speculate that the shock waves became so severe and unpredictable at Mach 1, no aircraft could survive them. They started talking about "the sonic wall" and "the sound barrier." '

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 3 -- Yeager." (Pages 39 - 40). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 28, 2014

  • TERM: right stuff
    EXAMPLE

    ' That particular voice may sound vaguely Southern or Southwestern, but it is specifically Appalachian in origin. It originated in the mountains of West Virginia, in the coal country, in Lincoln County, so far up in the hollows that, as the saying went, "they had to pipe in daylight." In the late 1940's and early 1950's this up-hollow voice drifted down from on high, from over the high desert of California, down, down, down, from the upper reaches of the Brotherhood into all phases of American aviation. It was amazing. It was Pygmalion in reverse. Military pilots and then, soon, airline pilots, pilots from Maine and Massachusetts and the Dakotas and Oregon and everywhere else, began to talk in that poker-hollow West Virginia drawl, or as close to it as they could bend their native accents. It was the drawl of the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuff: Chuck Yeager. '

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 3 -- Yeager." (Page 37). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 27, 2014

  • WORD jockey shorts

    DEFINITION: briefs; underwear worn usually by men. More supportive than boxers. Neither of which THE JOCKEY is likely to wearing when he's a-riding his "see biscuits" hard, a-galloping down the home stretch onward towards the finish line, onward towards VIC-TOR-Y, and THE WINNER'S CIRCLE .. --- dinkum.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' My penis was three inches long and five inches in diameter. Its diameter was a world's record as far as I knew. It slumbered now in my Jockey Shorts. '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Epilogue (Page 284).

    January 24, 2014

  • WORD: soigné

    DEFINITION: fashionable and elegant.

    EXAMPLE: ' I had a paper tube in my mouth. It was stuffed with leaves. I set it on fire. It was a soigné thing to do . . .

    ' And I got out of the car to stretch my legs, which was another soigné thing to do. '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Epilogue (Page 284).

    January 23, 2014

  • WORD: impoliteness

    EXAMPLE: ' The person to whom this book is dedicated, Phoebe Hurty, is no longer among the living, as they say. She was an Indianapolis widow when I met her late in the Great Depression. I was sixteen or so. She was about forty . . .

    ' . . . She wrote a sane and funny advice-to-the-lovelorn column for the Indianapolis Times, a good paper which is now defunct . . .

    ' . . . She wrote ads for the William H. Block Company, a department store which still flourishes in a building my father designed. She wrote this ad for an end-of-the-summer sale on straw hats: "For prices like this, you can run them through your horse and put them on your roses."

    ' . . . I became friends with her two sons, who were my age. I was over at their house all the time.

    ' She would talk bawdily to me and her sons, and to our girlfriends when we brought them around. She was funny. She was liberating. She taught us to be impolite in conversation not only about sexual matters, but about American history and famous heroes, about the distribution of wealth, about school, about everything.

    ' I now make my living by being impolite. I am clumsy at it. I keep trying to imitate the impoliteness which was so graceful in Phoebe Hurty. I think now that grace was easier for her than it is for me because of the mood of the Great Depression. She believed what so many Americans believed then: that the nation would be happy and just and rational when prosperity came.

    ' I never hear that word anymore: Prosperity. It used to be a synonym for Paradise. And Phoebe Hurty was able to believe that the impoliteness she recommended would give shape to an American paradise.

    ' Now her sort of impoliteness is fashionable. But nobody believes anymore in a new American paradise. I sure miss Phoebe Hurty. '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Preface (Pages 1 - 2).

    January 23, 2014

  • WORD: body bag

    DEFINITIONS:

    (1) A zippered, leakproof bag used for the purpose of transporting human remains; a cadaver pouch. As defined by Kurt Vonnegut, "a large plastic envelope for a freshly killed American soldier."

    (2) As defined by Kurt Vonnegut's fictional character Kilgore Trout, a much to be desired isolation booth or sensory deprivation chamber.

    EXAMPLE of SENSE (1): ' A body bag was a large plastic envelope for a freshly killed American soldier. It was a new invention. '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 3 (Page 32).

    EXAMPLES of SENSE (2): Editorial note: To put Kilgore Trout's following statements into context, it may be helpful to point out that in Chapter 1 of his novel "Breakfast of Champions," Kurt Vonnegut states "Trout considered himself not only harmless but invisible. The world had paid so little attention to him that he supposed he was dead. He hoped he was dead." (Page 14). Perhaps Kilgore Trout is thinking of that famous line from Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress," you know, the one that starts out with "The grave is a fine and private place . . ."

    (1)
    ' The fan letter came much too late. It wasn't good news. It was perceived as an invasion of privacy by Kilgore Trout. The letter from Rosewater promised that he would make Trout famous. This is what Trout had to say about that, with only his parakeet listening: "Keep the hell out of my body bag." '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 3 (Page 32).

    (2)
    ' Trout laughed at the flattering invitation, but he felt fear after that. Once again, a stranger was tampering with the privacy of his body bag. He put this question to his parakeet haggardly, and he rolled his eyes: "Why all this sudden interest in Kilgore Trout?" '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 3 (Page 34).

    January 23, 2014

  • WORD: possessions

    EXAMPLE: ' He ate, nursed his coffee, and began to read. Mr. Thoreau announced immediately that he had lived by the labor of his hands for two years and two months, which convinced Duane immediately that he had the right book. He liked the part about people whose misfortune it was to inherit farms and cattle and houses and the like, responsibilities they didn't seek and didn't want. Though he had not inherited anything, he knew exactly how it felt to be oppressed by possessions he didn't want or need . . . When he came to the part about the mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation he closed the book and left the pancake house--the few pages that he had read expressed exactly what he had been feeling or suspecting about his own life: that most of his work had been meaningless, much of his labor pointless, and the majority of his possessions unnecessary. He felt like the very man Thoreau described, the man who went through life pushing a barn ahead of him, and all that went with the ownership of a barn as well. '

    --- 1999. Larry McMurtry. Duane's Depressed. "Book Two -- The Walker and His Doctor," Chapter 11, Page 274 - 275. Pocket Book edition, ISBN 0-671-02557-0.

    January 22, 2014

  • WORD: show up
        
    DEFINITION: to appear.
        
    EXAMPLE: ' "You look like a married man," she said, looking him over: "What do I tell your wife when she shows up?"

         
    ' "I doubt she'll show up, but if she does she can probably find me by smell," Duane said. "You don't have to get involved."
         
    ' "She'll show up, I expect," Marcie said. "Wives usually show up." '
       
    --- 1999. Larry McMurtry. Duane's Depressed. "Book Two -- The Walker and His Doctor," Chapter 6, Page 250. Pocket Book edition, ISBN 0-671-02557-0.

    January 22, 2014

  • WORD panjandrum

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Regardless of how much he thought of himself, no flight surgeon dared position himself above the pilots in his squadron in the way he conducted himself before them: i.e., it was hard for him to be a consummate panjandrum, the way the typical civilian doctor was. '

       
    --- 1979. TOM WOLFEThe Right Stuff. "Chapter 4 -- The Lab Rat." (Page 78). Bantam Book edition 
       
    ETYMOLOGY: "The Grand Panjandrum" is an expression which dramatist Samuel Foote coined in 1755, a pseudo-lordly title he inserted into a paragraph of nonsense words he had composed for the sole purpose of testing the self-proclaimed memorization skills of the actor Charles Macklin.


    January 17, 2014

  • WORD:  proctosigmoidoscope
        
    DEFINITIONS:    
    (1) A sigmoidoscope
            
    (2) ' Instrument used for examination of the sigmoid colon and rectum. '
       
    (3) See also the Wordnik definition of the phrase "up yours."
            
    EXAMPLE: ' The probings of the bowels seemed to be endless, full proctosigmoidoscope examinations, the works. These things were never pleasant; in fact they were a bit humiliating, involving, as they did, various things being shoved up your tail. The Lovelace Clinic specialty seemed to be the exacting of maximum indignity from each procedure. The pilots had never run into anything like this before. Not only that, before each ream-out you had to report to the clinic at seven o'clock in the morning and give yourself an enema. Up yours! seemed to be the motto of the Lovelace Clinic---and they even made you do it to yourself.
       
    --- 1979. TOM WOLFEThe Right Stuff. "Chapter 4 -- The Lab Rat." (Page 75 - 76). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 16, 2014

  • WORD: kung fu. Also spelled "kung-fu."

    ETYMOLOGY, as reported by Wall Street Journal "Word on the Street" columnist Ben Zimmer:

    ' When Hong Kong media magnate Run Run Shaw died earlier this week at age 106, his obituaries credited the Shaw studio with popularizing the "kung fu" film genre, sparking a Western fascination with Chinese martial arts beginning in the late 1960s.

    ' Such Shaw productions as the 1972 classic "Five Fingers of Death" were indeed instrumental in making the craze for kung fu an international phenomenon. But the term "kung fu" had already been percolating in martial-arts circles for more than a decade, especially among Chinese transplants in the U.S.

    ' The Chinese term "gong fu" has a centuries-long history meaning "workmanship" or "skill gained through committed effort." "Kung fu" is a different rendering of the same word, using a transcription system developed by British Sinologists in the 19th century. The term first shows up in English-language accounts of China to refer to Taoist bodily exercises that were intended to control one's "qi," or vital energy.

    ' In the 20th century, Cantonese speakers in southern China and Hong Kong began using "gongfu" in the more specialized meaning of "martial arts" (typically known in Mandarin as "wushu"). Some of those Cantonese speakers brought the word to California. One student at a San Francisco club was James Yimm Lee, an American-born welder and Army vet. He began publishing books on martial arts that he distributed through mail order, starting in 1958 with "Fighting Arts of the Orient: Elemental Karate and Kung Fu."

    ' In 1962, he met another American-born Chinese martial-arts enthusiast 20 years his junior: Bruce Lee. No relation, the younger Lee was impressed by the elder Lee's books on kung fu, and a year later, Bruce Lee had published his own manual on "Chinese Gung Fu."

    ' It was the "kung fu" spelling that won out, however, in the small but growing martial-arts community in the U.S. Beginning in 1963, the word began popping up in the magazine Black Belt, though sometimes it was conflated with the more popular Japanese art of karate. In January 1965, the magazine ran a long feature on "the ancient Chinese fighting art of kung-fu."

    ' Soon, Bruce Lee would make kung fu glamorous, first in his role as Kato on "The Green Hornet" and then in his all-too-brief movie career in Hong Kong, where he signed up with the Shaw studio's rival, Golden Harvest.

    ' The explosion of interest in kung fu movies brought the term into America's living rooms in 1972, when David Carradine was tapped to play a Shaolin monk in the Wild West for a television series called appropriately "Kung Fu." Americans might have thought of the term as authentically Chinese, but it was a cross-cultural hybrid all along. '

    --- 2014. BEN ZIMMER. Take Note, Grasshopper, of Kung Fu. The Wall Street Journal. Saturday/Sunday, January 11 - 12, 2014. (Page C4).

    January 16, 2014

  • WORD: prostate examination

    EXAMPLE:

    ' One of the tests at Lovelace was an examination of the prostate gland. There was nothing exotic about this, of course; it was a standard part of the complete physical for men. The doctor puts a rubber glove on a finger and slips the finger up the subject's rectum and presses the prostate, looking for signs of swelling, infection, and so on. But several men in Conrad's group had come back from the prostate examination gasping with pain and calling the doctor a sadistic little pervert and worse. He had prodded the prostate with such force a couple of them had passed blood.

    ' Conrad goes into the room, and sure enough, the man reams him so hard the pain brings him to his knees.

    ' "What the hell!---"

    ' Conrad comes up swinging, but an orderly, a huge monster, immediately grabs him, and Conrad can't move. The doctor looks at him blankly, as if he's a vet and Conrad's a barking dog. '

    1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 4 -- The Lab Rat." (Page 75 ). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 16, 2014

  • WORD: egest

    EXAMPLE: ' Each candidate was to deliver two stool specimens to the Lovelace laboratory in Dixie cups, and days were going by and Conrad had been unable to egest even one, and the staff kept getting after him about it. Finally he managed to produce a single bolus, a mean hard little ball no more than an inch in diameter and shot through with some kind of seeds, whole seeds, undigested. Then he remembered. The first night in Albuquerque he had gone to a Mexican restaurant and eaten a lot of jalapeño peppers. They were jalapeño seeds. Even in the turd world this was a pretty miserable-looking objet. So Conrad tied a red ribbon around the goddamned thing, with a bow and all, and put it in the Dixie cup and delivered it to the lab. Curious about the ribbons that flopped out over the lip of the cup, the technicians all peered in. Conrad broke into his full cackle of mirth, much the way Wally might have. No one was swept up in the joke, however. The Lovelace staffers looked at the beribboned bolus, and then they looked at Conrad . . . as if he were a bug on the windshield of the pace car of medical progress. '

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 4 -- The Lab Rat." (Page 75 ). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 16, 2014

  • WORD: bolus

    EXAMPLE: ' Each candidate was to deliver two stool specimens to the Lovelace laboratory in Dixie cups, and days were going by and Conrad had been unable to egest even one, and the staff kept getting after him about it. Finally he managed to produce a single bolus, a mean hard little ball no more than an inch in diameter and shot through with some kind of seeds, whole seeds, undigested. Then he remembered. The first night in Albuquerque he had gone to a Mexican restaurant and eaten a lot of jalapeño peppers. They were jalapeño seeds. Even in the turd world this was a pretty miserable-looking objet. So Conrad tied a red ribbon around the goddamned thing, with a bow and all, and put it in the Dixie cup and delivered it to the lab. Curious about the ribbons that flopped out over the lip of the cup, the technicians all peered in. Conrad broke into his full cackle of mirth, much the way Wally might have. No one was swept up in the joke, however. The Lovelace staffers looked at the beribboned bolus, and then they looked at Conrad . . . as if he were a bug on the windshield of the pace car of medical progress. '

    1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 4 -- The Lab Rat." (Page 75 ). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 15, 2014

  • WORD: lab rat

    DEFINITION: a rat used by researchers conducting medical experiments. And by extension, any animal or human made the test subject of a laboratory experiment.

    EXAMPLE: ' The White Smocks gave gave each of them a test tube and said they wanted a sperm count. What do you mean? Place your sperm in the tube. How? Through ejaculation. Just like that? Masturbation is the customary procedure. What! The best results seem to be obtained through fantasization, accompanied by masturbation, followed by ejaculation. Where, f'r chrissake? Use the bathroom. A couple of the boys said things such as, "Well, okay, I'll do it if you'll send a nurse in with me--to help me along if I get stuck." The White Smocks looked at them as if they were schoolboys making obscene noises. This got the pilots' back up, and a couple of them refused, flat out. But by and by they gave in, and so now you had the ennobling prospect of half a dozen test pilots padding off one by one to the head in their skivvies to jack off for the Lovelace Clinic, Project Mercury, and America's battle for the heavens. Sperm counts were supposed to determine the density and motility of the sperm. What this had to do with a man's fitness to fly on top of a rocket or anywhere else was incomprehensible. Conrad began to get the feeling that it wasn't just him and his brother lab rats who didn't know what was going on. He now had the suspicion that the Reflector heads didn't know either. They had somehow gotten carte blanche to try out any goddamned thing they could think up--and that was what they were doing, whether there was any logic to it or not. '

    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 4 -- The Lab Rat." (Page 74 - 75 ). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9).

    January 15, 2014

  • WORD dirty movie

    DEFINITION: Any motion picture the Average Joe considers to be obscenely pornographic.

    Admitting that he was unable to "intelligibly" define what hard-core pornography was, United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously went on to say, "But I know it when I see it." Jacobellis v. Ohio 378 U.S. 184 (1964). So it would appear that obscenity -- like beauty -- is in the eye of the beholder.

    In a landmark case previously before the Supreme Court, the Justices had established what has come to be known as the "Roth test" -- the high court's test for determining what constitutes obscene material unprotected by the First Amendment. According to the Court, obscenity is material whose "dominant theme taken as a whole appeals to the prurient interest," as decided by the "average person, applying contemporary community standards." Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476 (1957).

    Kurt Vonnegut quite possibly was satirizing the Supreme Court's "contemporary community standards" yardstick, when he created the following scene in his 1973 novel "Breakfast of Champions" :

    EXAMPLE: ' The movie theater where Trout sat . . . showed nothing but dirty movies . . . Trout made up a new novel while he sat there. It was about an Earthling astronaut who arrived on a planet where all the animal and plant life had been killed by pollution, except for humanoids. The humanoids ate food made from petroleum and coal.

    ' They gave a feast for the astronaut, whose name was Don. The food was terrible. The big topic of conversation was censorship. The cities were blighted with motion picture theaters which showed nothing but dirty movies. The humanoids wished they could put them out of business somehow, but without interfering with free speech.

    ' They asked Don if dirty movies were a problem on Earth, too, and Don said, “Yes.” They asked him if the movies were really dirty, and Don replied, “As dirty as movies could get.”

    This was a challenge to the humanoids, who were sure their dirty movies could beat anything on Earth. So everybody piled into air-cushion vehicles, and they floated to a dirty movie house downtown.

    ' It was intermission time when they got there, so Don had some time to think about what could possibly be dirtier than what he had already seen on Earth. He became sexually excited even before the house lights went down. The women in his party were all twittery and squirmy.

    ' So the theater went dark and the curtains opened. At first there wasn’t any picture. There were slurps and moans from loudspeakers. Then the picture itself appeared. It was a high quality film of a male humanoid eating what looked like a pear. The camera zoomed in on his lips and tongue and teeth, which glistened with saliva. He took his time about eating the pear. When the last of it had disappeared into his slurpy mouth, the camera focused on his Adam’s apple. His Adam’s apple bobbed obscenely. He belched contentedly, and then these words appeared on the screen, but in the language of the planet:

    ' THE END

    ' It was all faked, of course. There weren’t any pears anymore. And the eating of the pear wasn’t the main event of the evening anyway. It was a short subject, which gave the members of the audience time to settle down.

    ' Then the main feature began. It was about a male and a female and their two children, and their dog and their cat. They ate steadily for an hour and a half—soup, meat, biscuits, butter, vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy, fruit, candy, cake, pie. The camera rarely strayed more than a foot from their glistening lips and their bobbing Adam’s apples. And then the father put the cat and dog on the table, so they could take part in the orgy, too.

    ' After a while, the actors couldn’t eat any more. They were so stuffed that they were goggle-eyed. They could hardly move. They said they didn’t think they could eat again for a week, and so on. They cleared the table slowly. They went waddling out into the kitchen, and they dumped about thirty pounds of leftovers into a garbage can.

    ' The audience went wild. '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 5 (Page 59 – 60).

    January 13, 2014

  • EXPRESSION  screw the pooch

    DEFINITION: “to commit an egregious blunder.” Compare "snafu"; "fubar."
         

    EXAMPLE: ' But now--surely!--it was so obvious! Grissom had just screwed the pooch!
         
    ' In a flight test, if you did something that stupid, if you destroyed a major prototype through some lame-brain mistake such as hitting the wrong button--you were through! You'd be lucky to end up in Flight Engineering. Oh, it was obvious to everybody at Edwards that Grissom had just fucked it, screwed the pooch.
        
    --- 1979. TOM WOLFE. The Right Stuff. "Chapter 11 -- The Unscrewable Pooch." (Page 242 - 243). Bantam Book edition (ISBN 0-553-27556-9). 
         
    ETYMOLOGY, as reported by Wall Street Journal "Word on the Street" columnist Ben Zimmer:

    ' Last month, appearing on "Face the Nation," CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward used an expression that raised some eyebrows. Referring to the Obama administration's difficulty in identifying elements to support in Syria's civil war, Ms. Ward bluntly said, "We have royally screwed the pooch on that front." . . .

    ' Meaning “to commit an egregious blunder,” the phrasescrew the pooch” may not come up very often on news shows, but it has been piquant slang for several decades.

    ' Many Americans were introduced to the expression in The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe's 1979 account of the country's first astronauts in the Mercury Project. In the book, "screw the pooch" is linked with Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, pilot of the second Mercury flight. After a hatch accident on splashdown, Mr. Grissom insisted the error wasn't his fault. He didn't "screw the pooch."

    ' When Mr. Wolfe's book was turned into a popular film in 1983, this bit of astronaut lingo reached an even wider audience. But slang experts have thus far been unable to learn how the phrase might have developed among the NASA program's test pilots.

    ' But a prominent Nashville, Tenn., businessman has an idea. Joseph L. "Jack" May, retired president of May Hosiery Mill, saw the film when it came out and was immediately struck by the use of "screw the pooch," an expression he recalled coining as an undergraduate at Yale. He tells the story in a memoir that he published in 2010.

    ' In spring 1950, one of his roommates was an architecture student named John Rawlings, an artistically talented Indianapolis boy. Mr. May remembered chastising Rawlings for procrastinating on a final class project. "You're late, John, you're fouling up," he recalls saying, followed by an obscene reference to a dog. (The expression had often been used in the military to mean "to goof off.")

    ' After Mr. Rawlings complained about the vulgar language, Mr. May replied, "Is this better? You're screwing the pooch." Mr. Rawlings laughed uproariously.

    ' Mr. Rawlings . . . enlisted after graduation in the Air Force and was sent to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. There he helped design space suits for the chimpanzees eventually sent in advance of manned space missions.

    ' Mr. Rawlings died in 1980, so we may never know his true role in introducing "screw the pooch" to the space program. But Mr. May told me he has no doubt that a "straight line" can be traced all the way back to that night of procrastination in a Yale dorm room. '

    --- 2014. BEN ZIMMER. The Pedigree of a Naughty 'Pooch'. The Wall Street Journal. Saturday/Sunday, January 4 - 5, 2014. (Page C4)

    January 8, 2014

  • WORD: blue heeler

         
    DEFINITION:
    A breed of Australian cattle dog. Also called a Queensland blue heeler.
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queensland_Blue_Heeler >>
          
    EXAMPLE SENTENCE: ' A second later, though, he realized that the animal sniffing around his cabin wasn't a coon, it was a low-slung little dog. It was Shorty, a Queensland blue heeler, the sixth in a ragged and uncertain line of descent from the first Shorty--the first blue heeler that Duane had owned. Shorty, who had been Duane's constant companion for nearly ten years, not only had offspring all over Thalia; he had offspring all over the oil patch as well.
          
    ' Shorty the Sixth, as he was sometimes called, had been a very winning puppy, and they had kept him at home until he had begun to exhibit the same tendencies that Duane's blue heelers always exhibited, that is, a tendency to herd children in the same way they would have herded cattle or sheep: they nipped their heels. '
         
    --- 1999. Larry McMurtry. Duane's Depressed. Book One, Chapter 12 (Page 81).

    January 3, 2014

  • WORD baroque

             
    The Joe Sixpack DEFINITION, dumbed down for the rest of us: Baroque " kinda means 'too much.' " -- Larry McMurtry.
       
    EXAMPLE: ' Baroque, Duane--Baroque," Karla said. It always pleased her to learn a complicated new word that one else in Thalia knew the meaning of.
         
    ' "I heard you. What does it mean?" he asked.
        
    ' "Well it kinda means 'too much,' you know?" Karla said, thinking that was probably the simplest way to explain it to someone like Duane, who had never given ten seconds' thought to art of any kind, unless it was just pictures of cowboys loping around in the snow or something.
       
    ' "Okay, too much," Duane said. 'Too much' is like our family, he said. "Would it be fair to say our family is Baroque?"
        
    ' "Duane, of course not, our family is perfectly normal," Karla said. "They might have a few too many hormones or something but otherwise they're perfectly normal."
       
    ' "Nope, if 'Baroque' really means 'too much,' then our family is Baroque and I'm leaving," he informed her. '
       
    ---1999. Larry McMurtry. Duane's Depressed. Book One: The Walker and His Family. Chapter 2. (Pages 16 - 17).

    December 31, 2013

  • WORD: care
    EXAMPLE: ' Care, defined as a capacity for attention to such things as order and propriety, was not something most members of Duane's large family had proven to be capable of or interested in. '

    ---1999. Larry McMurtry. Duane's Depressed. Book One: The Walker and His Family. Chapter 1. (Page 3).

    December 31, 2013

  • WORD cooping

    DEFINITION: ' Police slang for sleeping on the job. '  See also definition of  "coop".

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 4 (Page 53).

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Dwayne zoomed down Old County Road and onto the Interstate, which he had all to himself. He swerved into Exit Ten at a high rate of speed, slammed into a guard-rail, spun around and around. He came out onto Union Avenue going backwards, jumped a curb, and came to a stop in a vacant lot. Dwayne owned the lot.

    ' Nobody saw or heard anything. Nobody lived in the area. A policeman was supposed to cruise by about once every hour or so, but he was cooping in an alley behind a Western Electric warehouse about two miles away. Cooping was police slang for sleeping on the job. '

    --- 1973. KURT VONNEGUT. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 4 (Page 53).

    December 18, 2013

  • WORD: Goldilocks economy

    RELATED WORDS: Goldilocks planet, Goldilocks zone, Goldilocks problem, Goldilocks principle, Goldilocks market.

    EXAMPLE: ' The Goldilocks story is "just right" for scientists explaining their findings of potentially life-sustaining worlds beyond our own, and the allusion has proved to be handy in other fields where some sort of "Goldilocks principle" is necessary to navigate between two extremes . . .

    ' Outside of astronomy, Goldilocks pops up in engineering, political science and especially economics. In December 1966, The Wall Street Journal quoted a Johnson-administration official as saying, "We're getting very close to a Goldilocks economy right now—not too hot, not too cold, but just right." President Johnson's Council of Economic Advisers tried to fine-tune the economy, but critics mocked its "Goldilocks theory."

    ' Still, many in today's financial world seek a "Goldilocks market": not too bearish or bullish. Even if outer space has billions of just-right planets, here on Earth that magical balancing act can be difficult to pull off. '

    --- BEN ZIMMER. " How Goldilocks Moved to Space and the World of Economists." The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 15, 2013 (Weekend print edition, 11/16-17/2013)
    << http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304243904579198083961140464 >>

    November 25, 2013

  • WORD: Goldilocks market

    RELATED WORDS: Goldilocks planet, Goldilocks zone, Goldilocks problem, Goldilocks principle, Goldilocks economy.

    EXAMPLE: ' The Goldilocks story is "just right" for scientists explaining their findings of potentially life-sustaining worlds beyond our own, and the allusion has proved to be handy in other fields where some sort of "Goldilocks principle" is necessary to navigate between two extremes . . .

    ' Outside of astronomy, Goldilocks pops up in engineering, political science and especially economics. In December 1966, The Wall Street Journal quoted a Johnson-administration official as saying, "We're getting very close to a Goldilocks economy right now—not too hot, not too cold, but just right." President Johnson's Council of Economic Advisers tried to fine-tune the economy, but critics mocked its "Goldilocks theory."

    ' Still, many in today's financial world seek a "Goldilocks market": not too bearish or bullish. Even if outer space has billions of just-right planets, here on Earth that magical balancing act can be difficult to pull off. '

    --- BEN ZIMMER. " How Goldilocks Moved to Space and the World of Economists." The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 15, 2013 (Weekend print edition, 11/16-17/2013)
    << http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304243904579198083961140464 >>

    November 25, 2013

  • WORD: Goldilocks planet

    RELATED WORDS: Goldilocks zone, Goldilocks problem, Goldilocks principle, Goldilocks economy, Goldilocks market.

    DEFINITION: ' A Goldilocks planet is a planet that falls within a star's habitable zone, and the name is often specifically used for planets close to the size of Earth. The name comes from the children's fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in which a little girl chooses from sets of three items, ignoring the ones that are too extreme (large or small, hot or cold, etc.), and settling on the one in the middle, which is "just right". Likewise, a planet following this Goldilocks Principle is one that is neither too close nor too far from a star to rule out liquid water on its surface and thus life (as humans understand it) on the planet. However, planets within a habitable zone that are unlikely to host life (e.g., gas giants) may also be called Goldilocks planets. The best example of a Goldilocks planet is the Earth itself. '
    --- Wikipedia << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldilocks_planet >>

    EXAMPLE: ' The Goldilocks story is "just right" for scientists explaining their findings of potentially life-sustaining worlds beyond our own, and the allusion has proved to be handy in other fields where some sort of "Goldilocks principle" is necessary to navigate between two extremes.

    ' The figure of Goldilocks made its way into extraterrestrial speculations as early as 1935. That year, the Los Angeles Times reported that astronomers at Mount Wilson Observatory had "turned Goldilocks" to determine how many planets might be habitable. "With identical curiosity and startlingly similar conclusions, the astronomer now is sampling the stars for conditions to support life."

    ' The "Goldilocks problem," as it would come to be known, considers why Mars, Venus and Earth, while formed at the same time and from similar raw materials, have such different climates—with only Earth being "just right."

    ' To support life, a "Goldilocks planet" must be in the habitable "Goldilocks zone" around its sun. The latest study, led by astronomy professor Geoffrey Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley, estimates as many as 40 billion Goldilocks planets. '

    ---- BEN ZIMMER. " How Goldilocks Moved to Space and the World of Economists." The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 15, 2013 (Weekend print edition, 11/16-17/2013)
    << http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304243904579198083961140464 >>

    November 25, 2013

  • WORD edifice complex

    DEFINITIONS: 

      
    (1) The complex of emotions aroused in an egotistically juvenile politician or bureaucrat by an irrational -- possibly sexual -- desire to erect "monuments to his own magnificence" (Yeats*), at the expense of the citizen taxpayers whom he supposedly serves.
      
    * See Yeats' poem "Sailing to Byzantium", lightly paraphrased here. The original lines are:
             ' Nor is there singing school but studying
              Monuments of its own magnificence '
      
    (2) ' The tendency of politicians to have large buildings and stadiums built as a concrete reminder of their "Legacy". ' -- Jargon Database.com
    <<  http://www.jargondatabase.com/Category/Political/General-Politics-Jargon/Edifice-Complex  >>
      
    (3) Urban Dictionary definition of 'edifice complex':
    <<  www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Edifice Complex  >>
        
    EXAMPLES: 
    (1) ' One other story caught my eye, about the new courthouse looming over downtown Durham at a cost of $119 million . . . Don’t even ask me about the new Department of Social Services palace. Perhaps a Greek analogy is more apt, for we seem to have an Edifice Complex in Durham right now.

    ' The responsibility of our elected officials job is to prudently raise and spend money for the benefit of the community, be it affordable housing, transit, school or other services and infrastructure. When politicians defend spending because citizens will forget about it, it’s because they have no valid rationale for the spending . . .

    ' We need to put an end to bread and circuses government, whether it’s printing $80 billion a month or fancy buildings for bureaucrats. '

    --- Theodore Hicks. "Politicians bring bread and circuses to Durham." Durham Herald-Sun, Oct. 31, 2013.
    << http://www.heraldsun.com/opinion/guestcolumnists/x2082477622/Politicians-bring-bread-and-circuses-to-Durham >>
       
    (2) Book title: The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World.  Author: Deyan Sudjic, 2005.
       
    ETYMOLOGY: A punning on the psychiatric term Oedipus complex.

    November 15, 2013

  • WORD Goldilocks zone
      
    DEFINITION: ' In astronomy and astrobiology, the circumstellar habitable zone (CHZ) (or simply the habitable zone), colloquially known as the Goldilocks zone, is the region around a star within which planetary-mass objects with sufficient atmospheric pressure can support liquid water at their surfaces. '
      
    -- Wikipedia << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumstellar_habitable_zone  >>
    See also: Goldilocks planet
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goldilocks_planet >>
      
    EXAMPLES: 

        
    (1) ' The figure of Goldilocks made its way into extraterrestrial speculations as early as 1935. That year, the Los Angeles Times reported that astronomers at Mount Wilson Observatory had "turned Goldilocks" to determine how many planets might be habitable. "With identical curiosity and startlingly similar conclusions, the astronomer now is sampling the stars for conditions to support life."

    ' The "Goldilocks problem," as it would come to be known, considers why Mars, Venus and Earth, while formed at the same time and from similar raw materials, have such different climates—with only Earth being "just right."

    ' To support life, a "Goldilocks planet" must be in the habitable "Goldilocks zone" around its sun. The latest study, led by astronomy professor Geoffrey Marcy of the University of California, Berkeley, estimates as many as 40 billion Goldilocks planets. '
      
    --- BEN ZIMMER. " How Goldilocks Moved to Space and the World of Economists."
    The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 15, 2013 (Weekend print edition, 11/16-17/2013)
    << http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304243904579198083961140464 >>

    (2) ' Using data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft, astronomers now estimate that there may be 40 billion - with a B - Earth-sized planets parked in the "Goldilocks zone" of solar systems in our galaxy.

    ' The area named for the girl in the fairy tale is neither too close nor too far from a sun, making liquid water possible and planets habitable. In our solar system, that's roughly the orbital band between Mars and Venus. '

    -- The Virginian-Pilot. "We might have distant neighbors." November 8, 2013.
    <<  http://hamptonroads.com/2013/11/we-might-have-distant-neighbors 
    >>




    November 12, 2013

  • WORD: spoiler alert

    DEFINITION: Wikipedia has a more comprehensive definition. See:
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoiler_(media) >>

    EXAMPLES: For six good examples from The New York Times, see:
    << http://afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/11/spoiler-alert-this-phrase-is-overused/?_r=0 >>

    November 6, 2013

  • Words related to typography.

    November 2, 2013

  • WORD pilcrow

    DEFINITION: the paragraph mark ( ¶ )

    EXAMPLES:

    (1) ' From the Times Literary Supplement, Sept. 30:

    ' This story comes from Shady Characters by Keith Houston, a paean to typographical curiosities old and new. Houston's "magnificent cast" includes the asterisk, with its origins in the star-like cuneiform symbol denoting heaven; the humble hyphen -- not to be confused with a bewildering variety of dashes; and a modern upstart, the interrobang, a conflation of the question mark and the exclamation mark, as in "how cool is that?!" Houston's book is filled with passion, whether its author is decrying the neglect of the noble pilcrow, or the sad fate of the percontation point, a reverse question mark invented by the sixteenth-century printer Henry Denham to indicate a rhetorical question.

    --- Reprinted in the Wall Street Journal. "Notable & Quotable." October 28, 2013. (Page A15).

    (2) For more about the pilcrow, its origin and etymology, see Keith Houston's two articles on Slate.com

        
    -1-  Keith Houston. "The Rise and Fall of the Pilcrow, Part I." Slate.com, September 25, 2013.
    << http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2013/09/25/the_pilcrow_how_the_paragraph_punctuation_mark_evolved_from_ancient_greece.html >>
        
    -2- Keith Houston. "The Rise and Fall of the Pilcrow, Part II." Slate.com, September 26, 2013.
    << http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2013/09/26/the_pilcrow_how_the_paragraph_mark_evolved_from_ancient_greece_and_rome.html >>
      

    November 2, 2013

  • WORD: interrobang

    DEFINITION: See the Wikipedia page for "interrobang"

                          << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interrobang >>

    EXAMPLE: ' From the Times Literary Supplement, Sept. 30:
        
    ' This story comes from Shady Characters by Keith Houston, a paean to typographical curiosities old and new. Houston's "magnificent cast" includes the asterisk, with its origins in the star-like cuneiform symbol denoting heaven; the humble hyphen -- not to be confused with a bewildering variety of dashes; and a modern upstart, the interrobang, a conflation of the question mark and the exclamation mark, as in "how cool is that ?! " '

    --- Reprinted in the Wall Street Journal. "Notable & Quotable." October 28, 2013. (Page A15).

    November 1, 2013

  • WORD: hashtag

    DEFINITION: Another name for the octothorpe. See also the Wikipedia page for hashtag:
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hashtag >>

    EXAMPLE: ' From the Times Literary Supplement, Sept. 30:

    ' Twitter users may not know it but they are likely to be addicts of the octothorpe , a symbol with a Latin provenance. Now more commonly known as the hashtag, the octothorpe first served as an abbreviation of "libra pondo" ("a pound by weight") in medieval England. The "lb" was written with a tilde just above the mid-height of the letters to signify a contraction, and was thence corrupted into "#" by rushing scribes. "Pound" later became "number" before evolving into a variety of different signifiers, including a copy-editor's space, a chess player's checkmate and a Tweeter's keyword. How it came to be known as the octothorpe is quite another matter. '

    --- Reprinted in the Wall Street Journal. "Notable & Quotable." October 28, 2013. (Page A15).

    November 1, 2013

  • WORD: percontation point

    DEFINITION: 'A reverse question mark invented by the sixteenth-century printer Henry Denham to indicate a rhetorical question.' --- Times Literary Supplement.

       
    Also called punctus percontativus 
    << http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/punctus_percontativus >>

    EXAMPLE (1): ' From the Times Literary Supplement, Sept. 30:

    ' Houston's book is filled with passion, whether its author is decrying the neglect of the noble pilcrow, or the sad fate of the percontation point, a reverse question mark invented by the sixteenth-century printer Henry Denham to indicate a rhetorical question. '

    --- Reprinted in the Wall Street Journal. "Notable & Quotable." October 28, 2013. (Page A15).

    EXAMPLE (2, 3, etc): For more examples, see main entry for "percontation"

    October 30, 2013

  • WORD octothorpe


    DEFINITION: See the Wiktionary page for "octothorpe."
    <<  http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/octothorpe  >>
       
    EXAMPLE: ' From the Times Literary Supplement, Sept. 30:

    ' Twitter users may not know it but they are likely to be addicts of the octothorpe , a symbol with a Latin provenance. Now more commonly known as the hashtag, the octothorpe first served as an abbreviation of "libra pondo" ("a pound by weight") in medieval England. The "lb" was written with a tilde just above the mid-height of the letters to signify a contraction, and was thence corrupted into "#" by rushing scribes. "Pound" later became "number" before evolving into a variety of different signifiers, including a copy-editor's space, a chess player's checkmate and a Tweeter's keyword. How it came to be known as the octothorpe is quite another matter.

    ' This story comes from Shady Characters by Keith Houston, a paean to typographical curiosities old and new. Houston's "magnificent cast" includes the asterisk, with its origins in the star-like cuneiform symbol denoting heaven; the humble hyphen -- not to be confused with a bewildering variety of dashes; and a modern upstart, the interrobang, a conflation of the question mark and the exclamation mark, as in "how cool is that?!" Houston's book is filled with passion, whether its author is decrying the neglect of the noble pilcrow, or the sad fate of the percontation point, a reverse question mark invented by the sixteenth-century printer Henry Denham to indicate a rhetorical question. '

    --- Reprinted in the Wall Street Journal. "Notable & Quotable." October 28, 2013. (Page A15).

    October 30, 2013

  • WORD buzz

    DEFINITION, specific to the example which follows: v., While speeding in a motor vehicle, to swerve maliciously so as to come within dangerous proximity of a pedestrian or cyclist. Related word: drive-by.

    Cf., buzz -- v., 'To fly at high speed and at a very low altitude over a location. ' -- Wiktionary The plane buzzed the control tower. Related word: fly-by.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' To lower the risk of injury, it's imperative cyclists remain visible and present in the roadways, though that feels counterintuitive each time a whip of wind alerts me to a car's malicious drive-by. (There's a term for this, by the way—"a buzz." A study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center found that while 1.2 percent of bicycle crashes involve a "buzz," 22 percent of those crashes result in serious injury or death.) '

    --- Tina Haver Currin. "Still wheels." INDYweek, October 9, 2013.
    << http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/still-wheels/Content?oid=3738573 >>

    October 12, 2013

  • WORD divalicious

    DEFINITION: Highly pleasing or agreeable to the senses of one who is an aficionado of divas and/or diva-like behavior. A portmanteau word which combines diva with delicious.

    -- diva. Any media star with the attributes and/or personality of a prima donna
    -- delicious. ' Highly pleasing or agreeable to the senses '

    EXAMPLE::

    ' As a consistently unfiltered comedian who's been known to alternate unpredictably between rants and vocal scats, all while exhibiting a coltish, divalicious persona that's as exaggerated as it is entrancing, she promises Sandyland will be just as multifaceted. "I always think my work has a sense of cabaret, burlesque, rock 'n' roll, theater and, you know, kind of contemporary performance," she says. '

    --- Craig Lindsey. "Sandra Bernhard on Sandyland, her latest one-woman show." INDYweek, October 9, 2013 (page 30).

    << http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/sandra-bernhard-on-sandyland-her-latest-one-woman-show/Content?oid=3738527 >>

    October 11, 2013

  • WORD: play

    DEFINITION, specific to the example which follows: n. ' A geological formation that contains an accumulation or prospect of hydrocarbons or other resources. ' -- Wiktionary.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' A newly formed, Texas-based drilling company is already planning seismic testing in Lee County . . . The tests will provide detailed data on "orientation, structure and depth" of shale deposits in the Triassic basin . . .

    ' "Seismic testing is one of the smartest things to understand where the shale play is, where the fault lines are, to be able to have within a very small margin of error what our subsurface looks like," Covington said. "I just think that's wise." '

    --- Billy Ball. "Before fracking, testing the waters: Texas energy company investigates shale gas deposits in Lee County." INDYweek, September 25, 2013 (page 13).
    << http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/before-fracking-begins-in-nc-texas-energy-company-investigates-shale-gas-deposits-in-lee-county/Content?oid=3727262 >>

    October 8, 2013

  • WORD: disaster pouch

    DEFINITION: Euphemism for a body bag.

    EXAMPLE:
    ' The body came to Hanes Funeral Home two days later. Blackwell helped roll it into the embalming room . . . Blackwell unzipped the bag, called a "disaster pouch," revealing the body. '

    --- John Tucker. "The Brief Life of Derek Walker." INDYweek, September 25, 2013.(page 10)
    <<  http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-brief-life-of-derek-walker/Content?oid=3727220  >>

    October 8, 2013

  • WORD: ASCII art

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Reminding us that obsolete technologies always retain some lasting value, Itkoff has typed 18 ASCII-art animals and flowers using a manual typewriter. A jellyfish with parenthetical tentacles and a cat with whiskers made from equal signs reference the creative flourish of simplified representational imagery made with the 1963 code for information interchange that drove our old dot-matrix printers before image formats emerged.

    ' If "ASCII art" doesn't mean anything to you, then these are the forerunners to emoticons, an idea that persists prominently within each new communication system. Itkoff isn't so much pointing out the tension between outmoded and cutting-edge technology as he is treating the space between them as a playground. '

    --- Chris Vitiello. "The endlessly cutting edge: Michael Itkoff's CtrlAltDel in Raleigh." INDYweek, September 25, 2013.
    << http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-endlessly-cutting-edge-michael-itkoffs-ctrlaltdel-in-raleigh/Content?oid=3727190 >>

    VISUALS:

    (1) An ASCII "kitty", by Michael Itkoff

    << http://www.indyweek.com/imager/b/magnum/3727191/8794/1379535988-kitty.jpg >>

    (2) An An ASCII fish, by Michael Itkoff

    << http://www.michaelitkoff.com/images/emoticons/menagerie_fish013a.jpeg >>

    (3) An An ASCII duck, by Michael Itkoff

    << http://www.michaelitkoff.com/images/emoticons/menagerie_duck014a.jpeg >>

    October 5, 2013

  • WORD runt of the litter

    DEFINITION: n.,The worst, or least valuable, person or item in a group. Antonym: pick of the litter.

    EXAMPLE from Charlotte's Web:

    Mr. Arable studied Wilbur carefully. "Yes, he's a wonderful pig," he said. "It's hard to believe that he was the runt of the litter. You'll get some extra good ham and bacon, Homer, when it comes time to kill that pig."

        
    VISUAL from Charlotte's Web
    (Garth Williams illustration of Fern bottlefeeding the runt Wilbur)
    <<   http://flavorwire.com/260278/garth-williams-gorgeous-original-illustrations-for-charlottes-web/11/  >>
       

    -- 1952 E.B. WHITE. Charlotte's Web. Chapter XVI -- Off to the Fair (pages 126).

    October 5, 2013

  • WORD: information glut

    EXAMPLE:

    Replacing an expert or a teacher with prerecorded media sounds great at first, but, if it doesn't oversimplify the content in its standardization, it renders it useless through sheer volume. Type "karate instruction" into YouTube and more than 65,000 results appear, likely including something like Itkoff's video piece.

    Although such an information glut served so quickly and globally is thrilling for its sheer scale, that scale isn't a human one. No one previews 65,000 videos to find the high-quality handful that address just what one's looking for. In fact those 65,000 might prevent access more than they facilitate it.

    But volume and speed are the game today. A reference work's value is in its format and accessibility, not its quality. A definition has been reduced from a piece of prose improved iteratively through generations to a bulleted list of key information minimized for storage and tagged for cross-reference.

    --- Chris Vitiello. "The endlessly cutting edge: Michael Itkoff's CtrlAltDel in Raleigh." INDYweek, September 25, 2013.
    << http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-endlessly-cutting-edge-michael-itkoffs-ctrlaltdel-in-raleigh/Content?oid=3727190 >>

    October 5, 2013

  • WORD: iteratively

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Volume and speed are the game today. A reference work's value is in its format and accessibility, not its quality. A definition has been reduced from a piece of prose improved iteratively through generations to a bulleted list of key information minimized for storage and tagged for cross-reference. '

    --- Chris Vitiello. "The endlessly cutting edge: Michael Itkoff's CtrlAltDel in Raleigh." INDYweek, September 25, 2013.
    << http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/the-endlessly-cutting-edge-michael-itkoffs-ctrlaltdel-in-raleigh/Content?oid=3727190 >>

    October 5, 2013

  • WORD: magnum opus

    EXAMPLE from Charlotte's Web:

    Next to her, attached to the ceiling, Wilbur saw a curious object. It was a sort of sac, or cocoon. It was peach-colored and looked as though it were made of cotton candy.

    "What is that nifty little thing? Did you make it? Is it a plaything?

    "Plaything? I should say not. It is my egg sac, my magnum opus."

    "I don't know what a magnum opus is," said Wilbur.

    "That's Latin," explained Charlotte. "It means 'great work.' This egg sac is my great work -- the finest thing I have ever made."

    "What's inside it? asked Wilbur. "Eggs?"

    "Five hundred and fourteen of them," she replied.

    -- 1952 E.B. WHITE. Charlotte's Web. Chapter XIX -- The Egg Sac (pages 144 - 145).

    September 28, 2013

  • WORD: fracketeer

    DEFINITIONS:

    (1) A fracker who engages in fracketeering, the shady, fly-by-night practice of extracting shale oil and shale oil gas from a property and -- after pocketing the profits -- disappearing into thin air before the extent of groundwater contamination on the property (and on the neighboring properties) becomes known and the extractor held liable.

    (2) All persons, corporations, or governmental agencies which aid and abet, or collude with, a fracker who engages in illegal practices inimical to the environment.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' I say we round up the gas companies, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and charge them all with racketeering.

    ' Or at least ... fracketeering.

    ' For the last several years, it’s been difficult for many Pennsylvania residents who live near fracking sites to understand the treatment they’ve received from the state DEP. Here’s the sequence: Gas companies set up a fracking site; residents’ drinking water suddenly, out of the blue, turns a smelly, cloudy brown; residents ask for help. DEP tests the water, then, months/years later says, “It’s fine. Drink it.” And the gas companies set up more sites . . .

    ' If racketeering charges can net various Gambinos and Latin Kings, and just the idea of it scare Michael Milken into pleading guilty to lesser offenses, then maybe a fracketeering threat could scare the governor of Pennsylvania and the Department of Environmental Protection into coughing up all the test results on water contamination, instead of merely a chosen few. Serial-polluting gas companies could be charged with “patterns of behavior” under FRICO (Fracketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) and residents harmed could file civil suitsand collect treble damages, which would be a heck of a lot better than what they’re getting now. '

    --- Suzie Gilbert. Shalereporter.com. "Guilty of fracketeering?"
    << http://www.shalereporter.com/blog/suzie_gilbert/article_37a09072-2f49-11e2-a9be-001a4bcf6878.html >>

    September 28, 2013

  • WORD: fracketeering

    DEFINITION: the shady, fly-by-night practice of extracting shale oil and shale oil gas from a property and -- after pocketing the profits -- disappearing into thin air before the extent of groundwater contamination on the property (and on the neighboring properties) becomes known and the extractor held liable. Also, as is the case under the RICO statutes -- at least, in a more perfect world -- fracketeering charges could be brought against government agencies which collude with a fracker, when that agency "knew or should have known" that the fracker's practices would produce a legacy of groundwater contamination.

    RELATED WORDS: frack, fracks, fracking, fracker, fracket, fracketeer, motherfracker

    EXAMPLE:

    ' I say we round up the gas companies, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and charge them all with racketeering.

    ' Or at least ... fracketeering.

    ' For the last several years, it’s been difficult for many Pennsylvania residents who live near fracking sites to understand the treatment they’ve received from the state DEP. Here’s the sequence: Gas companies set up a fracking site; residents’ drinking water suddenly, out of the blue, turns a smelly, cloudy brown; residents ask for help. DEP tests the water, then, months/years later says, “It’s fine. Drink it.” And the gas companies set up more sites . . . 

       
    ' If racketeering charges can net various Gambinos and Latin Kings, and just the idea of it scare Michael Milken into pleading guilty to lesser offenses, then maybe a fracketeering threat could scare the governor of Pennsylvania and the Department of Environmental Protection into coughing up all the test results on water contamination, instead of merely a chosen few. Serial-polluting gas companies could be charged with “patterns of behavior” under FRICO (Fracketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) and residents harmed could file civil suits and collect treble damages, which would be a heck of a lot better than what they’re getting now. '

    --- Suzie Gilbert, Shalereporter.com. "Guilty of fracketeering?"
    << http://www.shalereporter.com/blog/suzie_gilbert/article_37a09072-2f49-11e2-a9be-001a4bcf6878.html >>

    September 28, 2013

  • WORD: thumper

    DEFINITION: Any device that uses a weight-dropping technique, called "thumping", to generate the controlled seismic energy needed to perform both reflection and refraction seismic surveys. -- Wikipedia

    (For more information, see the Wikipedia article "Seismic Source", especially the section subtitled "Thumper Truck".

    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seismic_source >>
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seismic_source#Thumper_truck >>

    Now used by fracking operators when prospecting for shale gas.

    RELATED WORDS: thumping, thumper truck

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Several Lee County residents reported recently seeing "thumper" trucks in the area, so named for the sound made when they clap a steel plate against the ground, using the reverberations to pinpoint potentially gas-rich underground rock formations and faults.'
    -- Billy Ball. "Before fracking begins in N.C., Texas energy company investigates shale gas deposits in Lee County." INDYweek, September 25, 2013.

    << http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/before-fracking-begins-in-nc-texas-energy-company-investigates-shale-gas-deposits-in-lee-county/Content?oid=3727262 >>

    September 28, 2013

  • WORD: thumping

    DEFINITION: A technique used by geological surveyors and prospectors to locate subsurface deposits of oil, shale gas, minerals, etc., which consists of dropping a weight (the "thumper") from some height against the ground, followed by the recording and analysis of the pattern of seismic waves reflected and refracted by the impact. (For more information, see the Wikipedia article "Seismic Source", especially the section subtitled "Thumper Truck".

    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seismic_source >>
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seismic_source#Thumper_truck >>

    RELATED WORDS: thumper truck; thumper

    EXAMPLE:
    ' Several Lee County residents reported recently seeing "thumper" trucks in the area, so named for the sound made when they clap a steel plate against the ground, using the reverberations to pinpoint potentially gas-rich underground rock formations and faults.'
    -- Billy Ball. "Before fracking begins in N.C., Texas energy company investigates shale gas deposits in Lee County." INDYweek, September 25, 2013.

    September 27, 2013

  • WORD: thumper truck

    DEFINITION: A thumper truck (also called a "weight-drop" truck) is a vehicle equipped with a device for generating an artificial seismic source wave used in performing both reflection and refraction seismic surveys. Used by geological survey teams and prospectors seeking the location of subsurface deposits of oil, shale gas, etc. (For more, see the Wikipedia article "Seismic Source", especially the section subtitled "Thumper Truck". Now used by frackers.

    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seismic_source >>
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seismic_source#Thumper_truck >>

    RELATED WORDS: thumper, thumping

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Several Lee County residents reported recently seeing "thumper" trucks in the area, so named for the sound made when they clap a steel plate against the ground, using the reverberations to pinpoint potentially gas-rich underground rock formations and faults.'

    -- Billy Ball. "Before fracking begins in N.C., Texas energy company investigates shale gas deposits in Lee County." INDYweek, September 25, 2013.

    September 27, 2013

  • WORD: sedentary

    EXAMPLE from Charlotte's Web:

    CHARLOTTE: "Not many creatures can spin webs. Even men aren't as good at it as spiders, although they think they're pretty good, and they'll try anything. Did you ever hear of the Queensborough Bridge?"

    Wilbur shook his head. "Is it a web?"

    "Sort of," replied Charlotte. "But do you know how long it took men to build it? Eight whole years. My goodness, I would have starved to death waiting that long. I can make a web in a single evening."

    "What do people catch in the Queensborough Bridge -- bugs?" asked Wilbur.

    "No," said Charlotte. "They don't catch anything. They just keep trotting back and forth across the bridge thinking there is something better on the other side. If they'd hang head-down at the top of the thing and wait quietly, maybe something good would come along. But no -- with men it's rush, rush, rush, every minute. I'm glad I'm a sedentary spider."

    "What does sedentary mean?" asked Wilbur.

    "Means I sit still a good part of the time and don't go wandering all over creation. I know a good thing when I see it, and my web is a good thing. I stay put and wait for what comes. Gives me a chance to think."

    "Well, I'm sort of sedentary myself, I guess," said the pig. "I have to hang around here whether I want to or not . . ."

    -- 1952 E.B. WHITE. Charlotte's Web. Chapter XI -- Wilbur's Boast (pages 60 - 61).

    September 27, 2013

  • WORD: some

    One of the many DEFINITIONS for "some": (Adj., informal) Remarkable. -- American Heritage Dictionary; Wiktionary; Wordnet. (Cf., extraordinary, exceptional, unusual)

    EXAMPLE from Charlotte's Web:

    FARMER ZUCKERMAN: " . . . There is a large spider's web in the doorway of the barn cellar, right over the pigpen, and when Lurvy went to feed the pig this morning, he noticed the web because it was foggy, and you know how a spider's web looks very distinct in a fog. And spang in the middle of the web there were the words 'Some Pig.' The words were woven right into the web. They were actually part of the web, Edith. I know, because I have been down there and seen them. It says, 'Some Pig,' just as clear as can be. There can be no mistake about it. A miracle has happened and a sign has occurred here on earth, right on our farm, and we have no ordinary pig."

    "Well," said Mrs. Zuckerman, "it seems to me you're a little off. It seems to me we have no ordinary spider."

    "Oh, no," said Zuckerman. "It's the pig that's unusual. It says so, right there in the middle of the web."

    -- 1952 E.B. WHITE. Charlotte's Web. Chapter XI -- The Miracle (pages 80 - 81).
       
    VISUAL from Charlotte's Web:
    Garth Williams' illustration of Charlotte's spiderweb, on which she has written the phrase "Some pig":
    <<  http://flavorwire.com/260278/garth-williams-gorgeous-original-illustrations-for-charlottes-web/4/  >>
       

    September 26, 2013

  • WORD: gullible

    EXAMPLE from Charlotte's Web:

    "Why, how perfectly simple!" she said to herself. "The way to save Wilbur's life is to play a trick on Zuckerman. If I can fool a bug," thought Charlotte, "I can surely fool a man. People are not as smart as bugs."

    Wilbur walked into his yard at just that moment.

    "What are you thinking about, Charlotte?" he asked.

    "I was just thinking," said the spider, "that people are very gullible."

    "What does 'gullible' mean?"

    "Easy to fool," said Charlotte.

    -- 1952 E.B. WHITE. Charlotte's Web. Chapter X -- An Explosion (page 67).

    September 25, 2013

  • WORD: salutations

    EXAMPLE from Charlotte's Web:

    Just as Wilbur was settling down for his morning nap, he heard again the thin voice that had addressed him the night before.

    "Salutations!" said the voice.

    Wilbur jumped to his feet. "Salu-what?" he cried.

    "Salutations!" repeated the voice.

    "What are they, and where are you? screamed Wilbur. "Please, please, tell me where you are. And what are salutations ?

    "Salutations are greetings," said the voice. "When I say 'salutations,' it's just my fancy way of saying hello or good morning. Actually it's a silly expression, and I am surprised I used it at all. As for my whereabouts, that's easy. Look up here in the corner of the doorway! Here I am. Look, I'm waving!"

    -- 1952 E.B. WHITE. Charlotte's Web. Chapter V -- Charlotte (pages 35 - 36).

    September 25, 2013

  • WORD runt

    Two EXAMPLES from Charlotte's Web:

    (1) " Where's Papa going with that ax?" said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

    "Out to the hoghouse," replied Mrs. Arable. "Some pigs were born last night."

    "I don't see why he needs an ax," continued Fern, who was only eight.

    "Well," said her mother, "one of the pigs is a runt. It's very small and weak, and it will never amount to anything. So your father has decided to do away with it."

    "Do away with it?" shrieked Fern. "You mean kill it? Just because it's smaller than the others?"

    Mrs. Arable put a pitcher of cream on the table. "Don't yell, Fern!" she said. "Your father is right. The pig would probably die anyway."

    -- 1952 E.B. WHITE. Charlotte's Web. Chapter I -- Before Breakfast (page 1).

    (2) "But it's unfair," cried Fern. "The pig couldn't help being born small, could it?" If I had been very small at birth, would you you have killed me?"

    Mr. Arable smiled. "Certainly not," he said, looking down at his daughter with love. "But this is different. A little girl is one thing, a little runty pig is another."

    "I see no difference," replied Fern, still hanging on to the ax. "This is the most terrible case of injustice I ever heard of."

    A queer look came over John Arable's face. He seemed almost ready to cry himself.

    "All right," he said. "You go back to the house and I will bring the runt when I come in. I'll let you start it on a bottle, like a baby. Then you'll see what trouble a pig can be."

    -- 1952 E.B. WHITE. Charlotte's Web. Chapter I -- Before Breakfast (pages 2 - 3).

          
    VISUAL from Charlotte's Web
    (Garth Williams illustration of Fern bottlefeeding the runt Wilbur)
    <<   http://flavorwire.com/260278/garth-williams-gorgeous-original-illustrations-for-charlottes-web/11/  >>
        
    http://flavorwire.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/2107-520x697.jpg" alt="Fern bottlefeeding the runt Wilbur" >

    September 25, 2013

  • WORD: smack

    EXAMPLE of American Heritage Dictionary definition ' intransitive v. To give an indication; be suggestive. Often used with of: "an agenda that does not smack of compromise” ( Time). ' ---- >

    ' High-speed trading has made the financial world even more of a casino game, allowing traders to pick off minuscule price movements in just thousandths of a second . . . We live in an age when pigs really do fly . . . And it all smacks of manipulation. '

    --- Al Lewis. "Caught in a Web". The Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2013.

    September 24, 2013

  • WORD: edge

    EXAMPLE of American Heritage Dictionary definition "A margin of superiority; an advantage: a slight edge over the opposition"; Wiktionary definition "An advantage (as have the edge on)" ---->

    ' The Chicago Merc is part of CME Group, the biggest futures-exchange operator in the U.S., handling an average of 12.5 million contracts a day. Here some traders have an edge because they can get trading information anywhere from one to 10 milliseconds faster than others, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal last week.

    ' Not everyone has the computing power or the data-crunching prowess to stay milliseconds ahead of the rest. So, as the novelist George Orwell once wrote, some farm animals are more equal than others. '

    --- Al Lewis. "Caught in a Web". The Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2013.

    September 24, 2013

  • WORD: commoditize

    DEFINITIONS:

    (1) As defined by Wiktionary above.

    (2) To depersonalize ; to objectify -- ' to present or regard as an object. "Because we have objectified animals, we are able to treat them impersonally” ( Barry Lopez). ' -- American Heritage Dictionary

    (3) To reduce a living being to a fungible medium of exchange, such repackaging being for the purpose of trivializing all objections which might otherwise be raised by inconveniently squeamish champions of morality.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' In E.B. White's 1952 children's novel Charlotte's Web, Charlotte the spider explains to Wilbur the pig that life on the farm is not what it appears to be.

    ' Homer Zuckerman, the farmer, slaughters pigs, she warns.

    ' These days, Wilbur would have more to fear. He'd be squeezed against scores of other swine, hoofing a steel grate floor, while growing fatter and fatter on a factory farm. He'd be commoditized into a hog futures contract. Then some trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange could swap his lifeless body in a millisecond.

    ' If you could carve one second into a thousand slices, just one of those slices would be a millisecond and about how quickly you could trade dead Wilbur. The trader wouldn't have any interest in him as the more sumptuous part of a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, but merely as a medium of exchange. '

    --- Al Lewis. "Caught in a Web". 05 May 2013. From Al's Emporium, a column appearing in The Wall Street Journal.

    September 24, 2013

  • WORD: factory farm

    EXAMPLE:

    ' In E.B. White's 1952 children's novel Charlotte's Web, Charlotte the spider explains to Wilbur the pig that life on the farm is not what it appears to be.

    ' Homer Zuckerman, the farmer, slaughters pigs, she warns.

    ' These days, Wilbur would have more to fear. He'd be squeezed against scores of other swine, hoofing a steel grate floor, while growing fatter and fatter on a factory farm. He'd be commoditized into a hog futures contract. Then some trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange could swap his lifeless body in a millisecond. '

    --- Al Lewis. "Caught in a Web". 05 May 2013.
    From Al's Emporium, a column appearing in The Wall Street Journal.

    September 23, 2013

  • WORD: body-bag

    DEFINITION:

    (1) Same as the definition for body bag . All but one of the examples given on this 'body-bag' page illustrate the 'corpse envelope' meaning, not  the 'sleeping bag' meaning given above.

    (2) Only one example sentence here illustrates "n., A bag to sleep in." And that would be the sentence from Fat Is A Fantasist Issue: ' Mrs Cole could get her fourteen hours sleep in a seaweed body-bag . . . '

    September 18, 2013

  • WORD: tourist trap

    EXAMPLE:

    ' The cave was Sacred Miracle Cave, a tourist trap just south of Shepherdstown, which Dwayne owned in partnership with Lyle and Kyle. It was the sole source of income for Lyle and Kyle, who lived in identical yellow ranch houses on either side of the gift shop which sheltered the entrance to the cave.

    ' All over the State, nailed to trees and fence posts, were arrow-shaped signs, which pointed in the direction of the cave and said how far away it was . . . '

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday. Chapter 13 (page 113).

    September 18, 2013

  • WORD: confederacy of dunces

    DEFINITION:

    Confederacy of Dunces, A.. Title of the 1980 posthumously-published, 1981 Pulitzer Prize-winning, novel by John Kennedy Toole (1937 – 1969). The title echoes the novel's epigraph, a quote from Jonathan Swift's essay, Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting:"When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him".

    -- Wikipedia. << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederacy_of_Dunces >>

    EXAMPLE:

    ' A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel by American novelist John Kennedy Toole which appeared in 1980, eleven years after Toole's suicide. Published through the efforts of writer Walker Percy (who also contributed a foreword) and Toole's mother, the book became first a cult classic, then a mainstream success; it earned Toole a posthumous Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1981, and is now considered a canonical work of modern literature of the Southern United States. '

    -- Wikipedia. << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederacy_of_Dunces >>

    September 12, 2013

  • WORD: confederacy

    Two EXAMPLES from Jonathan Swift:

    (1) ' When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. '

    Jonathan Swift. The Battle of the Books and Other Short Pieces, the above quote appearing in his essay "Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting".
    CITE: Wikisource: << http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Thoughts_on_various_subjects >>

    (2) ' This evil fortune, which generally attends extraordinary men in the management of great affairs, has been imputed to divers causes, that need not be here set down, when so obvious a one occurs, if what a certain writer observes be true, that when a great genius appears in the world the dunces are all in confederacy against him. '

    1728 Jonathan Swift. Essay on the Fates of Clergymen.
    CITE: << http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jonathan_Swift#Quotes >>
    CITE: << http://www.online-literature.com/swift/religion-church-vol-one/13/ >>

    September 12, 2013

  • WORD: dunces

    Two EXAMPLES from Jonathan Swift:

    (1) ' When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign; that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. '

    Jonathan Swift. The Battle of the Books and Other Short Pieces, the above quote appearing in his essay "Thoughts on Various Subjects, Moral and Diverting".
    CITE: Wikisource: << http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Thoughts_on_various_subjects >>

    (2) ' This evil fortune, which generally attends extraordinary men in the management of great affairs, has been imputed to divers causes, that need not be here set down, when so obvious a one occurs, if what a certain writer observes be true, that when a great genius appears in the world the dunces are all in confederacy against him. '

    1728 Jonathan Swift. Essay on the Fates of Clergymen.
    CITE: << http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Jonathan_Swift#Quotes >>
    CITE: << http://www.online-literature.com/swift/religion-church-vol-one/13/ >>

    September 12, 2013

  • WORD: Wikignome

    A second EXAMPLE from the same source:

    ' Jake Orlowitz, who helped with the Philadelphia picnic, said although he did not know Thomsen's particular habits, many Wikignomes simply cannot stop making edits.

    ' "For people for whom Wikipedia consumes that kind of time, it is an absolutely addictive combination of a puzzle and a passion and a hobby, and, literally, in some cases, an addiction," Orlowitz said.

    ' A 2012 Wikipedia study of heavy editors found many of their edits were made due to a sense of compulsion, though more edits were motivated by self-fulfillment. '

    --- " Philadelphian is a king of Wikipedia editors "
    Theodore Schleifer, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, September 2, 2013
    << http://articles.philly.com/2013-09-03/news/41691958_1_south-philadelphia-march-13-david-thomsen >>

    September 11, 2013

  • WORD: gnomish

    EXAMPLE:

    ' With a tendency to ramble about the same historical trivia that finds its way into his entries, Thomsen several times avoided directly answering the fundamental question behind his compulsive editing:

    ' Why?

    ' He says he does not think he's addicted. Frequently using a computer program to accelerate editing and taking breaks during days that can involve up to 15 hours of edits, he says he finds the technical gnomish activities just plain fun. '

    --- " Philadelphian is a king of Wikipedia editors "
    Theodore Schleifer, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, September 2, 2013
    << http://articles.philly.com/2013-09-03/news/41691958_1_south-philadelphia-march-13-david-thomsen >>

    September 11, 2013

  • WORD: gnome

    DEFINITION:

    n. A helpful sprite. Cf., "The Elves and the Shoemaker" who appear in The Brothers Grimm.
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elves_and_the_Shoemaker >>

    EXAMPLE:

    ' "The gnomes are like the cleaners that come in at night and clean the office at the business," said Mary Mark Ockerbloom, who worked for the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia on a special Wikipedia project. "You don't necessarily see them, but, boy, if they weren't there, it'd be a different place."

    ' Thomsen agrees. But since he suffered a stroke in January, he has begun to question whether his legacy could be more than that of a Wikignome.

    --- " Philadelphian is a king of Wikipedia editors "
    Theodore Schleifer, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, September 2, 2013
    << http://articles.philly.com/2013-09-03/news/41691958_1_south-philadelphia-march-13-david-thomsen >>

    September 11, 2013

  • WORD: Wikignome

    DEFINITION:

    n. A Wikipedian whose efforts on behalf of the digital encyclopedia Wikipedia are largely limited to editing and similar tasks. Cf., "The Elves and the Shoemaker" who appear in The Brothers Grimm.
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elves_and_the_Shoemaker >>

    EXAMPLE:

    ' "The gnomes are like the cleaners that come in at night and clean the office at the business," said Mary Mark Ockerbloom, who worked for the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia on a special Wikipedia project. "You don't necessarily see them, but, boy, if they weren't there, it'd be a different place."

    ' Thomsen agrees. But since he suffered a stroke in January, he has begun to question whether his legacy could be more than that of a Wikignome.

    --- " Philadelphian is a king of Wikipedia editors "
    Theodore Schleifer, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, September 2, 2013
    << http://articles.philly.com/2013-09-03/news/41691958_1_south-philadelphia-march-13-david-thomsen >>

    September 11, 2013

  • WORD: Wikipedian

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Thomsen, 74, a retired computer programmer from Fairmount, is the king of the Philadelphia Wikipedia world. With more than 120,000 edits and an eagerness to dive deep into the details of the digital encyclopedia, Thomsen spends about 10 hours each weekday behind the scenes to make the site better.

    ' "You get caught up in this whole concept that this thing is not as well-organized as it should be, and I'm going to do better," he said.

    ' Thomsen's edits, which put him in the top 200 of Wikipedians, escape the spotlight reserved for prolific article creators, but are crucial for the success of the site, observers said.

    --- " Philadelphian is a king of Wikipedia editors "
    Theodore Schleifer, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, September 2, 2013
    << http://articles.philly.com/2013-09-03/news/41691958_1_south-philadelphia-march-13-david-thomsen >>

    September 11, 2013

  • WORD: fast-forward

    DEFINITION: As above, but with one addition:

    v. To scroll through history or one's memories as if one were using a fast-forward device.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Fast-forward five years, and on March 13, Thomsen spent the day editing discussion pages on the soccer players, pairs skaters, and other celebrities of Estonia while occasionally turning his attention to the neglected Wikipedia pages for some antebellum Maryland congressional elections and a Korean pop song. '

    --- " Philadelphian is a king of Wikipedia editors "
    Theodore Schleifer, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, September 2, 2013
    << http://articles.philly.com/2013-09-03/news/41691958_1_south-philadelphia-march-13-david-thomsen >>

    September 11, 2013

  • WORD: engrossed
    EXAMPLE:

    " Philadelphian is a king of Wikipedia editors "

    PHOTO CAPTION: ' 74-year-old David Thomsen, a Wikipedia editor who has spent the past 5 years totally engrossed in his hobby, spending as much as 10 hours a day at his computer editing Wikipedia copy, stories and photos. Thomsen, who lives in the Fairmount section of the city, often works wearing his Wikipedia hats, which he has made and gives to other editors. '

    --- " Philadelphian is a king of Wikipedia editors "
    Theodore Schleifer, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, September 2, 2013
    << http://articles.philly.com/2013-09-03/news/41691958_1_south-philadelphia-march-13-david-thomsen >>

    September 11, 2013

  • WORD: effective

    EXAMPLE:

    ' This rambling introduction is four times as long as the most efficient, effective piece of writing in the history of the English-speaking world, which was Abraham Lincoln's address on the battlefield at Gettysburg. '

    1999 KURT VONNEGUT. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian. "Introduction" (Page 16).

    September 9, 2013

  • WORD: efficient

    EXAMPLE:

    ' This rambling introduction is four times as long as the most efficient, effective piece of writing in the history of the English-speaking world, which was Abraham Lincoln's address on the battlefield at Gettysburg. '

    1999 KURT VONNEGUT. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian. "Introduction" (Page 16).

    September 9, 2013

  • WORD: rambling

    EXAMPLE:

    ' This rambling introduction is four times as long as the most efficient, effective piece of writing in the history of the English-speaking world, which was Abraham Lincoln's address on the battlefield at Gettysburg. '

    1999 KURT VONNEGUT. God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian. "Introduction" (Page 16).

    September 9, 2013

  • WORD: gynotician

    DEFINITION: ' Gynotician. n : A politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women's health care decisions. ' -- A neologism coined in 2013 by PlannedParenthoodAction.org, as part of that organization's campaign against patronizing, paternalizing politicians who feel THAT SINCE women are INCAPABLE of making their own healthcare decisions, THE government MUST take over what the SILLY girls shouldn't be worrying their pretty little heads about. This 2013 neologism is a portmanteau word which tuna-melds "gyno-" with "politician".

    SEE GRAPHIC depicting "Gynotician" definition:
    www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/files/cache/4df14a1454a0d095571ebcc24f800498_f625.png

    SEE another GRAPHIC depicting "Gynotician":
    www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/files/8613/6984/8218/5-29-13-Gynotician-Graphic-1200px.png

    EXAMPLE (1)
    ' THE GYNOTICIAN'S GLOSSARY

    ' Gynotician

    ' -n- : A politician who feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women's health care decisions.

    follows '> The Gynotician's "checklist" follows :
    ' 1. Abortion—Nope.
    ' 2. Birth Control—A form of abortion, i.e. never ok without prior Gynotician permission.
    ' 3. Gateway Sexual Activity—Unclear. Eye-contact, holding hands, hugging, kissing.
    ' 4. Legitimate Rape—When a woman is actually raped but doesn’t get pregnant because the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. '

    -- For checklist items 5 - 10, go to: "The Gynotician's Glossary" webpage ( PlannedParenthoodAction.org )
    SEE: www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/gynotician-glossary/
    +
    EXAMPLE (2)

    >> VIEW the Tamblyn/Cross "Gynotician" VIDEO -- Amber Tamblyn and David Cross - Gynotician
    SEE: www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRnYlQmR1eQ
    or SEE: www.on.aol.com/video/gynotician-517870411
    +
    EXAMPLE (3)

    >> ' I see that Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, is now a "gynotician." For those who wonder what that might be, it's a new term for politicians who enter into the medical field of women's health. ' -- Diane LaDuke, Iowa City Press-Citizen, Jun. 20, 2013

    SEE: www.press-citizen.com/article/20130624/OPINION05/306240003/Grassley-Iowa-s-new-gynotician

    September 6, 2013

  • WORD: fartspeak

    DEFINITION: A voluble, involuntary speech impairment that the political animal inflicts upon his hearing audience. When asked for the truth, he invariably responds with bullshit -- i.e., "fartspeak," which is usually not so elevated a form of discourse as to qualify either as "bullshit artistry" or as "spin doctoring."

    EXAMPLE:

    ' "This is a guy who does congressional hearings, said Cessy. "I'm surprised he's letting it get under his skin."

    ' "It's because he's lying," said Reuben.

    ' "Oh, come on. Like they the military brass don't lie to Congress."

    ' "They these Pentagon spokesmen spin to Congress."

    ' "Well, he's spinning this, too, isn't he? 'I'm sure it's just a misunderstanding.' That's fartspeak for 'I said it, you jerk, but you weren't supposed to tell.'"

    ' " 'Fartspeak'?"

    ' "That's what we called it on the hill Capitol Hill , said Cessy. '

    -- 2006 ORSON SCOTT CARD. Empire, Chapter 10 -- "Fair and Balanced", on page 140.
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_(2006_novel) >>






    September 4, 2013

  • WORD: Armistice Day

    DEFINITION: n., November 11, formerly observed in the United States in commemoration of the signing of the armistice ending World War I in 1918. Since 1954 it has been incorporated into the observances of Veterans Day.

    -- American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition.

    EXAMPLE:

    "So this book is a sidewalk strewn with junk, trash which I throw over my shoulders as I travel in time back to November eleventh, nineteen hundred and twenty-two.

    "I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy . . . all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    "It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

    "Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.

    "So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.

    "What else is sacred? Oh Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

    "And all music is."

    -- 1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday -- Preface (page 6).

    September 3, 2013

  • WORD: accordion

    DEFINITION: A musical instrument, the performance of which the Arch-fiend makes mandatory when you become an eternal inmate of Hell. Back among the living, the accordion is sometimes affectionately referred to as a "squeezebox", even though (or because) one slang meaning of squeezebox is "vagina".

    EXAMPLE:

    (1) ' “Welcome to heaven . . . Here's your harp." / "Welcome to hell . . . Here's your accordion.” '

    ― Caption of cartoon by Gary Larson, The Complete Far Side, 1980-1994.

    (2) " A squeezebox is heaven, an accordion, hell. "

    ― From Sayings of Dinkum

    IMAGES:

    A good copy of the Gary Larson Far Side cartoon "Welcome to Hell, here's your accordion" can be found at:

    << http://djbulls.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/cartoon_harp_n_accordion.jpg >>

    Another reasonably good copy can be found at:

    << http://www.flickr.com/photos/13773848@N02/2065578455/ >>

    September 3, 2013

  • WORD: syphilis

    DEFINITION:

    A chronic infectious disease caused by a spirochete (Treponema pallidum), either transmitted by direct contact, usually in sexual intercourse, or passed from mother to child in utero, and progressing through three stages characterized respectively by local formation of chancres, ulcerous skin eruptions, and systemic infection leading to general paresis paralysis . The chancre is known as primary syphilis, the diseases of the skin and mucous membranes as secondary syphilis, and the later disorders (diseases of the bones, muscles, arteries, and viscera) as tertiary syphilis.

    For a very gruesome depiction of the effects of syphilis, see the 2004 film The Libertine, starring Johnny Depp as the syphilitic John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, a notorious rake and libertine poet in the court of King Charles II of England.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' As for the suspicion I express in this book, that human beings are robots, are machines: It should be noted that people, mostly men, suffering from the last stages of syphilis, from locomotor ataxia, were common spectacles in downtown Indianapolis and in circus crowds when I was a boy.

    ' Those people were infested with carnivorous little corkscrews which could be seen only with a microscope. The victims' vertebrae were welded together after the corkscrews got through with the meat between. The syphilitics seemed tremendously dignified -- erect, eyes straight ahead.

    ' I saw one stand on a curb at the corner of Meridian and Washington Streets one time . . . The intersection was known locally as "The Crossroads of America".

    ' This syphilitic man was thinking hard there, at the Crossroads of America, about how to get his legs to step off the curb and carry him across Washington Street. He shuddered gently, as though he had a small motor which was idling inside. Here was his problem: his brains, where the instructions to his legs originated, were being eaten alive by corkscrews. The wires which had to carry the instructions weren't insulated anymore, or were eaten clear through. Switches along the way were welded open or shut.

    ' This man looked like an old, old man, although he might have been only thirty years old. He thought and thought. And then he kicked two times like a chorus girl.

    ' He certainly looked like a machine to me when I was a boy. '

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday -- Preface (page 3).

    September 3, 2013

  • WORD: failure to communicate

    DEFINITION: A failure to communicate occurs when the lines-of-communication are so broken down that you might as well be attempting to convey information, not by means of the spoken word, but rather by some obscure and arcane non-verbal dialect comprised solely of "farts and tap dancing". (See Vonnegut example below).

    EXAMPLES:

    (1) ' Luke is determined to escape. After an initial escape attempt . . . he is recaptured by local police and fitted with leg irons. Upon his return, the Captain played by the actor Strother Martin delivers a warning speech to the other inmates, beginning with the famous line, "What we've got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can't reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don't like it any more than you men." '

    -- Wikipedia article on the 1967 American prison drama film Cool Hand Luke.
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cool_Hand_Luke#Plot >>

    (2) ' Dragline enters the church and tells Luke that he made a deal with the bosses and that they won't hurt them if they surrender peacefully. Luke, knowing better, moves to an open window and mimics the Captain's famous line, "What we've got here is a failure to communicate." Luke is immediately shot in the neck by Boss Godfrey.

    -- Wikipedia article on the 1967 American prison drama film Cool Hand Luke. '
    << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cool_Hand_Luke#Plot >>

    (3) 'The story . . . was entitled "The Dancing Fool." Like so many Kilgore Trout stories, it was about a tragic failure to communicate.

    'Here was the plot: A flying saucer creature named Zog arrived on Earth to explain how wars could be prevented and how cancer could be cured. He brought the information from Margo, a planet where the natives conversed by means of farts and tap dancing.

    'Zog landed at night in Connecticut. He had no sooner touched down than he saw a house on fire. He rushed into the house, farting and tap dancing, warning the people about the terrible danger they were in. The head of the house brained Zog with a golfclub.'

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday -- Chapter 5 (page 58)..

    September 3, 2013

  • WORD: revolver

    DEFINITION:

    (1) " A handgun with a revolving chamber enabling several shots to be fired without reloading. " -- Wiktionary

    (2) " A tool whose only purpose is to make holes in human beings" -- Kurt Vonnegut. This machine is comprised of a handgrip, a revolving cyclinder containing chemically powered projectiles, a trigger mechanism, and a tube, which is used to direct the projectiles towards some hapless target -- which hopefully is not another human being.

    If you really want to know about America's sick addiction to the handgun, a real eye-opener is Robert Sherrill's 1973 exposé The Saturday night special -- And other guns with which Americans won the West, protected bootleg franchises, slew wildlife, robbed countless banks, ... with the debate over continuing same.



    EXAMPLE:

    ' Dwayne's bad chemicals made him take a loaded thirty-eight caliber revolver from under his pillow and stick it in his mouth. This was a tool whose only purpose was to make holes in human beings . . .

    ' In Dwayne's part of the planet, anybody who wanted one could get one down at his local hardware store. Policemen all had them. So did the criminals. So did the people caught in between.

    ' Criminals would point guns at people and say, "Give me all your money," and the people usually would. And policemen would point their guns at criminals and say, "Stop" or whatever the situation called for, and the criminals usually would. Sometimes they wouldn't. Sometimes a wife would get so mad at her husband that she would put a hole in him with a gun. Sometimes a husband would get so mad at his wife that he would put a hole in her. And so on.

    ' In the same week Dwayne Hoover ran amok, a fourteen-year-old Midland City boy put holes in his mother and father because he didn't want to show them the bad report card he had brought home. His lawyer planned to enter a plea of temporary insanity, which meant that at the time of the shooting, the boy was unable to distinguish the difference between right and wrong.

    ' Sometimes people would put holes in famous people so they could be at least fairly famous, too. Sometimes people would get on airplanes which were supposed to fly to someplace, and they would offer to put holes in the pilot and co-pilot unless they flew the airplane to someplace else.

    ' Dwayne held the muzzle of the gun in his mouth for a while. He tasted oil. The gun was loaded and cocked. There were neat little metal packages containing charcoal, potassium nitrate and sulphur only inches from his brains. He had only to trip a lever, and the powder would turn to gas. The gas would blow a chunk of lead down a tube and through Dwayne's brains.'

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 4 (pages 49 - 50).

    August 31, 2013

  • WORD: goiter

    DEFINITION: "Alternative spelling of goitre; n., an enlargement of the front and sides of the neck caused by inflammation of the thyroid gland." -- Wiktionary

    EXAMPLES:

    (1) " What's so surprising about goiter in the Alps. . .? "
    -- From Juvenal, The Satires -- Satire XIII.

    (2) " Under the title I intend placing as motto a verse from Juvenal: 'Who is surprised to see a goiter in the Alps? Quis tumidum guttur miratur in Alpibus?' I feel that this quotation strikes the keynote of the work. "

    -- Nathanael West, in his 1931 novel The Dream Life of Balso Snell (page 30).
    1931 NATHANAEL WEST The Dream Life of Balso Snell.

    (3) " I tend to think of human beings as huge, rubbery test tubes, . . . with chemical reactions seething inside. When I was a boy, I saw a lot of people with goiters. . . Those unhappy Earthlings had such swollen thyroid glands that they seemed to have zucchini squash growing from their throats.

    " All they had to do in order to have ordinary lives, it turned out, was to consume less than one-millionth of an ounce of iodine every day.

    " My own mother wrecked her brains with chemicals, which were supposed to make her sleep.

    " When I get depressed, I take a little pill, and I cheer up again.

    " And so on.

    " So it is a big temptation to me, when I create a character for a novel, to say that he is what he is because of faulty wiring, or because of microscopic amounts of chemicals which he ate or failed to eat on that particular day. "

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Preface (page 4).

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday.

    August 31, 2013

  • The current Wordnik entry for EXCELSIOR does not include any mention of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem "Excelsior", which inspired many people in diverse pursuits. Nor does the current entry include the following Kurt Vonnegut quote.

    WORD: excelsior
    DEFINITION:

    (1) ' adj. Loftier, yet higher; ever upward. ' -- Wiktionary
    (2) ' n. An originally trademarked name for stuffing material (as for furniture and mattresses) made of slender, curled wood shavings, as a substitute for hair. ' -- Wiktionary

    (3)' A brief poem written and published in 1841 by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Originally appeared in the 1841 edition of Ballads and Other Poems.

    ' The poem describes a young man passing through a town bearing the banner "Excelsior" (translated from Latin as "ever higher", also loosely but more widely as "onward and upward"), ignoring all warnings, climbing higher until inevitably, "lifeless, but beautiful" he is found by the "faithful hound" half-buried in the snow, "still clasping in his hands of ice that banner with the strange device, Excelsior!". . .

    FULL TEXT of Longfellow's poem Excelsior!: << en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excelsior_(Longfellow)#Text_of_poem >>

    ' The poem was a staple of American readers for many years, and A Plea for Old Cap Collier by Irvin S. Cobb, satirized it. The title of Excelsior was reportedly inspired by the state seal of New York, which bears the Latin motto Excelsior. James Thurber (1894–1961) illustrated the poem in The Thurber Carnival in 1945. There is a Lancashire version or parody, Uppards, written by Marriott Edgar one hundred years later in 1941. In Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, the entire action of the play happens in a fictitious New Jersey town with the name "Excelsior". The famous Sam Loyd chess problem, Excelsior, was named after this poem.

    "Excelsior" also became a trade name for wood shavings used as packing material or furniture stuffing. In Bullwinkle's Corner, Bullwinkle the Moose parodies the poem in Season 2 Episode 18 (1960–61) of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show:

    The answer came both quick and blunt:
    It's just a advertising stunt.
    I represent Smith, Jones, & Jakes,
    A lumber company that makes
    . . . Excelsior!


    -- Wikipedia << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Excelsior_(Longfellow) >>

    EXAMPLE of senses (1), (2), and (3):

    ' Trout saw that a simple fire extinguisher in the Galaxie had this brand name:

    ' = EXCELSIOR =

    ' As far as Trout knew, this word meant higher in a dead language. It was also a thing a fictitious mountain climber in a famous poem kept yelling as he disappeared into a blizzard up above. And it was also the trade name for wood shavings which were used to protect fragile objects inside packages.

    ' "Why would anybody name a fire extinguisher Excelsior? Trout asked the driver.

    ' The driver shrugged. "Somebody must have liked the sound of it," he said. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions (pages 171 - 172).

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday.

    August 29, 2013

  • WORD: Breakfast of Champions

    DEFINITION:

    (1) The trademarked slogan of the General Mills breakfast cereal Wheaties, a product that has been marketed since 1924.

    (2) The title of Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday.

    (3) A ironically humorous expression that is used to indicate a food or beverage that isn't very good for you.

    EXAMPLE of senses (1) and (2):

    ' The expression"Breakfast of Champions" is a registered trademark of General Mills, Inc., for use on a breakfast cereal product. The use of the identical expression as the title for this book is not intended to indicate an association with or sponsorship by General Mills, nor is it intended to disparage their fine products.'

    -- Kurt Vonnegut, being ironical on page 1 of the Preface to his 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions, a tongue-in-cheek admonition he repeats verbatim in Chapter 18 (on page 195).

    EXAMPLE of sense (3):

    'Like everybody else in the cocktail lounge, he was softening his brain with alcohol. This was a substance produced by a tiny creature called yeast. Yeast organisms ate sugar and excreted alcohol. They killed themselves by destroying their own environment with yeast shit.

    'Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne. . . .

    ' I now had Bonnie MacMahon, bring more yeast excrement to Beatrice Keedsler and Karabekian. Karabekian's drink was a Beefeater's dry martini with a twist of lemon peel, so Bonnie said to him, "Breakfast of Champions."

    ' "That's what you said when you brought me my first martini," said Karabekian.

    ' "I say that every time I give anybody a martini," said Bonnie.

    ' Doesn't that get tiresome?" said Karabekian. "Or maybe that's why people found cities in Godforsaken places like this -- so that they can make the same jokes over and over again, until the Bright Angel of Death stops their mouths with ashes."

    "I just try to cheer people up," said Bonnie. "If that's a crime, I never heard about it till now. I'll stop saying it from now on. I beg your pardon. I did not mean to give offense."

    . . . ' Her husband, meanwhile, was at home watching professional golfers on television, and getting smashed on yeast excrement.'

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions, Chapter 19 (pages 208 - 211).

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday.

    August 29, 2013

  • WORD: Star-Spangled Banner

    DEFINITION:

    (1) ' The national anthem of the United States, based on the poem, "Defence of Fort McHenry", written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, who witnessed the British Royal Navy's Chesapeake Bay bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The poem -- set to the tune of a popular British song, and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner" -- soon became a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today. "The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889, and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover. ' -- Wikipedia.

    (2) According to Kurt Vonnegut, the American national anthem is "pure balderdash", "gibberish sprinkled with question marks". (Which still doesn't prevent me from waxing sentimental over "Old Spangles", but then again I remain fond of Waltzing Matilda -- once called "the unofficial national anthem of Australia" -- the jolly swagman's song now axed by the newly prim-and-proper Ozzies). -- Dinkum.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Trout and Hoover were citizens of the United States of America, a country which was called America for short. This was their national anthem, which was pure balderdash, like so much they were expected to take seriously:

    ' "O, say can you see by the dawn's early light
    What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's
    last gleaming,
    Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
    thru the perilous fight
    O'er the ramparts we watched were so
    gallantly streaming?
    And the rockets' red glare, the bombs
    bursting in air,
    Gave proof through the night that our
    flag was still there.
    O, say does that star-spangled banner
    yet wave
    O'er the land of the free and the home
    of the brave?"

    ' There were one quadrillion nations in the Universe, but the nation Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout belonged to was the only one with a national anthem which was gibberish sprinkled with question marks. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel "Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 1 (pages 7 - 8).

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday.

    August 29, 2013

  • WORD: Ku Klux Klan

    ETYMOLOGIES:

    (1) ' The name is probably derived from the Greek word kuklos (κύκλος) which means circle, suggesting a circle or band of brothers. '
    -- Wikipedia. << http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan#Overview:_Three_Klans >>

    (2) In his 1891 story The Five Orange Pips Arthur Conan Doyle has Sherlock Holmes reading aloud to Dr. Watson from the "American Encyclopaedia". The encyclopedia article from which Holmes quotes, states that the name Ku Klux Klan has an onomatopoeiac origin: ' "Ku Klux Klan. A name derived from the fanciful resemblance to the sound produced by cocking a rifle. . ." '
    -- 1891 ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE. The Five Orange Pips. Chapter 15.

    EXAMPLE::

    < 13 >:

    HOLMES: ' "Now, for such a case as the one which has been submitted to us to-night, we need certainly to muster all our resources. Kindly hand me down the letter K of the American Encyclopaedia which stands upon the shelf beside you. . . "

    < 15 >:
    HOLMES: "In this way you see K. K. K. ceases to be the initials of an individual and becomes the badge of a society."

    WATSON: "But of what society?"

    "Have you never --" said Sherlock Holmes, bending forward and sinking his voice --"have you never heard of the Ku Klux Klan?"

    "I never have."

    Holmes turned over the leaves of the book upon his knee. "Here it is," said he presently:

    "Ku Klux Klan. A name derived from the fanciful resemblance to the sound produced by cocking a rifle . . ." '

    August 29, 2013

  • WORD: mineral rights

    DEFINITION:

    (1) ' Mineral rights are property rights that confer upon the holder the right to exploit an area for the minerals it harbors. Ownership of mineral rights is the right of the owner to exploit, mine, and/or produce any or all of the minerals lying below the surface of the property. The mineral estate of the land includes all organic and inorganic substances that form a part of the soil.' -- Wikipedia.

    (2) Selling a mining company the rights to whatever minerals might lie beneath your land is a "Shylock's bargain" because in selling your "mineral rights you agree that the mining company has the legal right to destroy all your property above the ground while the miners dig down to where the minerals supposedly are. If only William Shakespeare's Portia* were a real woman lawyer, she would get the miners' case thrown out of court lickety-split -- as is only right and proper, considering how idiotic and truly insane the notion of "mineral rights" really is. And yet, it unbelievably is the law of this great country of ours, where EVERYONE is said be equal, NOT just the billionaire owners of mining companies. -- Dinkum

    EXAMPLE:

    ' "Don't matter if you care," the old miner said, "if you don't own what you care about." He pointed out that the mineral rights to the entire county in which they sat were owned by the Rosewater Coal and Iron Company, which acquired these rights soon after the end of the Civil War. "The law says," he went on, "when a man owns something under the ground and he wants to get at it, you got to let him tear up anything between the surface and what he owns."

    ' The truth was that Rosewater . . . had been among the principal destroyers of the surface and the people of West Virginia. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 14 (page 125 - 126).

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday.

    * NOTE: Portia is a character in William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice.

    PLOT SUMMARY: ' Antonio agrees to guarantee the loan needed by his friend Bassanio. But Antonio has already made an enemy of Shylock, the moneylender, who will only agree to lend the sum to Antonio upon one condition: if Antonio is unable to repay the loan at the specified date, Shylock may take a pound of Antonio's flesh. When Antonio's friend is unable to pay off the loan by the agreed upon date, Shylock takes Antonio to court, asking the judges to enforce the terms of the loan. Shylock means to exact his pound of flesh, and he very cleverly intends to cut out enough of Antonio's heart as would satisfy the terms of the loan -- and kill Antonio in the process. In court, Antonio's lawyer is a woman in lawyerly disguise, who just happens to be Portia, lover of Bassanio and friend of Antonio. Portia deftly appropriates Shylock's argument for 'specific performance', and points out that the contract only allows Shylock to remove the flesh, not the "blood", of Antonio. Thus, if Shylock were to shed any drop of Antonio's blood, his "lands and goods" would be forfeited under Venetian laws. Further damning Shylock's case, she tells him that he must cut precisely one pound of flesh, no more, no less; she advises him that "if the scale do turn, But in the estimation of a hair, Thou diest and all thy goods are confiscate." ' -- Wikipedia.

    This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
    The words expressly are, a pound of flesh.
    Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh;
    But, in the cutting it, if thou dost shed
    One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
    Are by the laws of Venice confiscate
    Unto the state of Venice.

    -- Portia, (Act IV, scene i)

    August 29, 2013

  • What do you know, the "a href" tag works in Wordnik comments.

    But in the definition I provided below, I forgot to include the "www." prefix.

    Correcting for that now:

    (2) ' According to European folklore, the stork is responsible for bringing babies to new parents. The legend is very ancient, but was popularised by a 19th-century Hans Christian Andersen story called The Storks. ' -- Wikipedia -- www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Stork#Storks_and_childbirth

    August 28, 2013

  • WORD: stork

    DEFINITION:

    (1) ' n. A large wading bird with long legs and a long beak of the family Ciconiidae. ' -- Wiktionary

    (2) ' According to European folklore, the stork is responsible for bringing babies to new parents. The legend is very ancient, but was popularised by a 19th-century Hans Christian Andersen story called The Storks. ' -- Wikipedia en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Stork#Storks_and_childbirth

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Harry's wife, Grace, was stretched out on a chaise longue . . . She was smoking a small cigar in a long holder made from the legbone of a stork. A stork was a large European bird, about half the size of a Bermuda Ern. Children who wanted to know where babies came from were sometimes told that they were brought by storks. People who told their children such a thing felt that their children were too young to think intelligently about sex.

    ' And there were actually pictures of storks delivering babies on birth announcements and in cartoons and so on, for children to see . . .

    ' Dwayne Hoover and Harry LeSabre saw pictures like that when they were very little boys. They believed them, too. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 15 (pages 162 - 163).

    CITATION:

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday

    August 28, 2013

  • WORD: pi (π)

    DEFINITION:

    (1) In the grand tradition of the supermarket tabloid The National Enquirer, pi (π) is the mathematical constant which, to Kurt Vonnegut's way of thinking, exposes the "secret lives" of circles.

    (2) " The number π is a mathematical constant that is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, and is approximately equal to 3.14159. It has been represented by the Greek letter "π" since the mid-18th century, though it is also sometimes written as "pi" (/paɪ/). π is an irrational number, which means that it cannot be expressed exactly as a ratio of any two integers (fractions such as 22/7 are commonly used to approximate π; no fraction can be its exact value); consequently, its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanent repeating pattern. The digits appear to be randomly distributed, although no proof of this has yet been discovered. π is a transcendental number – a number that is not the root of any nonzero polynomial having rational coefficients. The transcendence of π implies that it is impossible to solve the ancient challenge of squaring the circle with a compass and straight-edge." -- Wikipedia

    EXAMPLE:

    ' And now I drew a symbol whose meaning *Dwayne had known for a few years in school, a meaning which had since eluded him. The symbol would have looked like the end of a table in a prison dining hall to *Wayne. It represented the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. This ratio could also could also be expressed as a number, and even as . . . all the rest of us went about our business, Earthling scientists were monotonously radioing that number into outer space. The idea was to show other inhabited planets, in case they were listening, how intelligent we were. We had tortured circles until they coughed up this symbol of their secret lives:

    ' pi π '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 19 (page 207).

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday.

    * NOTE: "Wayne" is not a typo here. "Dwayne" and "Wayne" are two entirely different characters in Vonnegut's novel. Dwayne, for instance, is white, and Wayne is black.

    August 28, 2013

  • WORD: yeast excrement

    DEFINITION:

    The only absolutely honest name for alcohol. Although "yeast piss" comes in a really close second. Calling alcohol "ardent spirits" might qualify the term as an honest name, since it seems to suggest that the drinkers of ardent spirits are subject to a kind of demonic possession.

    In simplest terms, alcohol is nothing more or less than what yeast excrete after digesting a meal. Call it yeast urine, call it a yeast bowel movement, it's still excrement.

    Among the many, many fanciful names that Madison Avenue has dreamed up to disguise the bald fact that alcohol is nothing more than yeast excrement are "Bacardi", "Captain Morgan", "Jack Daniels", "Absolut", "Southern Comfort", "Budweiser", "Coors", "Yuengling", "Schlitz", "Pabst", "Rolling Rock", and "Iron City". And that "high-toned" name "single malt whiskey" hides the real truth: "single malt" yeasts, like poor little veal calves, are locked up in a pitch-black room and force-fed a single kind of grain. The end product, of course, is single-malt excrement.

    The least honest name for alcohol is "aqua vitae", which means "water of life". (From the Latin words aqua "water" -- and vitae "of life").

    EXAMPLE:

    'Like everybody else in the cocktail lounge, he was softening his brain with alcohol. This was a substance produced by a tiny creature called yeast. Yeast organisms ate sugar and excreted alcohol. They killed themselves by destroying their own environment with yeast shit.

    'Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purposes of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne. . . .

    'Adapting to chaos there in the cocktail lounge, I now had Bonnie MacMahon, bring more yeast excrement to Beatrice Keedsler and Karabekian. Karabekian's drink was a Beefeater's dry martini with a twist of lemon peel, so Bonnie said to him, "Breakfast of Champions."

    ' "That's what you said when you brought me my first martini," said Karabekian.

    ' "I say that every time I give anybody a martini," said Bonnie. . . .

    . . . ' Her husband, meanwhile, was at home watching professional golfers on television, and getting smashed on yeast excrement.'

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions, Chapter 19 (pages 208 - 211).

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday.

    August 28, 2013

  • WORD: rattlesnake

    DEFINITION:

    (1) ' n. Any of various poisonous American snakes, of genera Crotalus and Sistrurus, having a rattle at the end of its tail. ' -- Wiktionary

    (2) According to Kurt Vonnegut, the rattlesnake is a creature so inimical to humankind that it makes you wonder about the vaunted benevolence of the Creator of the Universe. (E.g., serpent in the Garden of Eden).

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Dwayne mimicked her cruelly in a falsetto voice . . . He looked about as pleasant and relaxed as a coiled rattlesnake now. It was his bad chemicals, of course, which were compelling him to look like that . . .

    ' The Creator of the Universe had put a rattle on its the rattlesnake's tail. The Creator had also given it front teeth which were hypodermic syringes filled with deadly poison.

    ' Sometimes I wonder about the Creator of the Universe. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 15 (page 159 - 160).

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday

    August 28, 2013

  • WORD: Whuffo?

    DEFINITION: (Interrogative, colloq.) African-American English for "Why", or more emphatically, "What for?"

    NOTE: The expression"the right word" is the English equivalent of the French "mot juste" -- "n. The perfectly appropriate word or phrase for the situation." -- Wiktionary.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' "I guess that isn't the right word," she said. She was used to apologizing for her use of language. She had been encouraged to do a lot of that in school. Most white people in Midland City were insecure when they spoke, so they kept their sentences short and their words simple, in order to keep embarrassing mistakes to a minimum. Dwayne certainly did that. Patty certainly did that.

    ' This was because their English teachers would wince and cover their ears and give them flunking grades and so on whenever they failed to speak like English aristocrats before the First World War. Also: they were told that they were unworthy to speak or write their language if they couldn't love or understand incomprehensible novels and plays about people long ago and far away, such as "Ivanhoe".

    ' The black people would not put up with this. They went on talking English every which way. They refused to read books they couldn't understand -- on the grounds they couldn't understand them. They would ask such impudent questions as, "Whuffo I want to read no "Tale of Two Cities"? Whuffo?

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 15 (page 138).

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday

    August 28, 2013

  • TERM: 1492

    DEFINITION:

    (1) "In fourteen hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue
    And found this land, land of the Free, beloved by you, beloved by me."

    -- First verse of 1919 poem by self-styled wunderkind Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr., who plagiarized it from an earlier poem by Joel Barlow, who wrote the original in 1807.

    (2) According to Kurt Vonnegut, 1492 should not signify any great date of national remembrance, since it was merely "the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill" the indigenous inhabitants of North, Central, and South America. (NOTE: "Sea pirates" is the name Vonnegut applies to the rapacious, marauding white Europeans who displaced or enslaved or exterminated the native inhabitants of the "New World").

    EXAMPLE:

    ' A lot of the nonsense was the innocent result of playfulness on the part of the founding fathers of the nation of Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout.

    ' But some of the nonsense was evil, since it concealed great crimes. For example, teachers of children in the United States of America wrote this date on blackboards again and again, and asked the children to memorize it with pride and joy:

    ' = 1492 =

    ' The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 1 (page 10).


    CITATION:

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday (c) 1973 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Delacorte Press / Seymour Lawrence. Second Printing.

    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data:
    Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of champions. I. Title.
    PZ4.V948BR PS3572.05 813'.5'4 72-13086

    August 27, 2013

  • TERM: Founding Fathers

    DEFINITION:

    (1) According to Kurt Vonnegut, the Founding Fathers were rapacious, marauding "sea pirates" (read: white Europeans), who "founded" new nations in North, Central, and South America by displacing, exterminating, or enslaving the indigenous inhabitants.

    (2) ' The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, and establishing the United States Constitution. Within the large group known as the "Founding Fathers", there are two key subsets: the Signers of the Declaration of Independence (who signed the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776) and the Framers of the Constitution (who were delegates to the Constitutional Convention and took part in framing or drafting the proposed Constitution of the United States). A further subset is the group that signed the Articles of Confederation.

    ' Many of the Founding Fathers owned African American slaves, and the Constitution adopted in 1787 sanctioned the system of slavery. The Founding Fathers made successful efforts to contain or limit slavery throughout the United States and territories, including banning slavery in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, and abolishing the international slave trade in 1807.

    ' Some historians define the "Founding Fathers" to mean a larger group, including not only the Signers and the Framers but also all those who, whether as politicians, jurists, statesmen, soldiers, diplomats, or ordinary citizens, took part in winning American independence and creating the United States of America.

    ' Historian Richard B. Morris in 1973 identified the following seven figures as the key Founding Fathers: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.' -- Wikipedia




    EXAMPLE:

    ' A lot of the nonsense was the innocent result of playfulness on the part of the founding fathers of the nation of Dwayne Hoover and Kilgore Trout.

    ' But some of the nonsense was evil, since it concealed great crimes. For example, teachers of children in the United States of America wrote this date on blackboards again and again, and asked the children to memorize it with pride and joy:

    ' = 1492 =

    ' The teachers told the children that this was when their continent was discovered by human beings. Actually, millions of human beings were already living full and imaginative lives on the continent in 1492. That was simply the year in which sea pirates began to cheat and rob and kill them.

    ' Here was another piece of evil nonsense which children were taught: that the sea pirates eventually created a government which became a beacon of freedom to human beings everywhere else. There were pictures and statues of this supposed imaginary beacon for children to see. It was sort of an ice-cream cone on fire.

    ' Actually, the sea pirates who had the most to do with the creation of the new government owned human slaves. They used human beings for machinery, and, even after slavery was eliminated, they and their descendants continued to think of ordinary human beings as machines.

    ' The sea pirates were white. The people who were already on the continent when the pirates arrived were copper-colored. When slavery was introduced onto the continent, the slaves were black.

    ' Color was everything. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 1 (page 10 - 11).


    CITATION:

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday (c) 1973 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Delacorte Press / Seymour Lawrence. Second Printing.

    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data:
    Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of champions. I. Title.
    PZ4.V948BR PS3572.05 813'.5'4 72-13086

    August 27, 2013

  • TERM: code word

    DEFINITION: A secret word or phrase a group uses to hide meaning or intention from anyone not in the group, so as to prevent outsiders from knowing what the "in-group" is talking about.

    EXAMPLES:

    (1) ' A wide-open beaver was a photograph of a woman not wearing underpants, and with her legs far apart, so that the mouth of her vagina could be seen. The expression was first used by news photographers, who often got to see up women's skirts at accidents and sporting events and from underneath fire escapes and so on. They needed a code word to yell to other newsmen and friendly policemen and firemen and so on, to let them know what could be seen, in case they wanted to see it. The word was this: "Beaver!"

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 2 (page 22 - 23).

    (2) ' "Can the reindeer hear you?" said Harry.

    ' "Fuck the reindeer," said Grace. Then she added, "No, the reindeer cannot hear." Reindeer was their code word for the black maid, who was far away in the kitchen at the time. It was their code word for black people in general. It allowed them to speak of the black problem in the city, which was a big one, without giving offense to any black person who might overhear.

    ' "The reindeer's asleep -- or reading the Black Panther Digest," she said.

    ' The reindeer problem was essentially this: Nobody white had much use for black people anymore -- except for the gangsters who sold the black people used cars and dope and furniture. Still, the reindeer went on reproducing. There were these useless, big black animals everywhere, and a lot of them had very bad dispositions. They were given small amounts of money every month, so they wouldn't have to steal. There was talk of giving them very cheap dope, too -- to keep them listless and cheerful, and uninterested in reproduction.

    ' The Midland City Police Department, and the Midland County Sheriff's Department, were composed mainly of white men. They had racks and racks of sub-machine guns and twelve-gauge automatic shotguns for an open season on reindeer, which was bound to come. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 15 (pages 163 - 164).

    CITATION:

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday (c) 1973 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Delacorte Press / Seymour Lawrence. Second Printing.

    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data:
    Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of champions. I. Title.
    PZ4.V948BR PS3572.05 813'.5'4 72-13086

    August 27, 2013

  • WORD: erectile performance

    DEFINITION:

    The degree to which a male possesses the capacity for raising a flaccid, favorite organ to an upright or distended positon (e.g., a man's "sleeping" penis or -- as is the case with a male sage grouse or frigatebird -- an uninflated gular sac).

    EXAMPLE:

    ' A unique physical feature of male great frigate birds was also bound to attract the attention of immature human males concerned with erectile performances of their own sex organs. Each male great frigate bird at mating time tried to attract the attention of females by inflating a bright red balloon at the base of his throat. At mating time, a typical rookery when viewed from the air resembled an enormous party for human children, at which every child had received a red balloon. The Galápagos island would in fact be paved with male great frigate birds with their heads tilted back, their qualifications as husbands inflated by their lungs to the bursting point—while, overhead, the females wheeled.

    ' One by one the females would drop from the sky, having chosen this or that red balloon.

    " After Mary Hepburn showed her film about the great frigate birds, and the windowshades in the classroom were raised and the lights turned back on, some student, . . .almost invariably a male, was sure to ask, sometimes clinically, sometimes as a comedian, sometimes bitterly, hating and fearing women: "Do the females always try to pick the biggest ones?"

    ' So Mary was ready with a reply: "To answer that, we would have to interview female great frigate birds, and no one has done that yet, so far as I know. Some people have devoted their lives to studying them, though, and it is their opinion that the females are in fact choosing the red balloons which mark the best nesting sites. That makes sense in terms of survival, you see. " '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1985 novel Galápagos -- Chapter 20 (page 114).

    CITATION:

    1985 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Galápagos (c) 1985 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Dial Press Trade Paperbacks.

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Number: 8500454581
    ISBN-13: 978-0-385-33387-0
    ISBN-10: 0-385-33387-0

    August 27, 2013

  • WORD: author

    DEFINITION: According to Kurt Vonnegut, an author is a writer who in his books creates imaginary worlds dangerously unlike real life.

    NOTE: This notion of Vonnegut's is key to understanding the underlying theme of Breakfast of Champions. And the danger inherent in creating imaginary worlds, constructs, and abstractions (e.g., membership groups like Vonnegut's " granfalloon underlies the central meaning of his novel Cat's Cradle.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' I had become more and more enraged and mystified by the idiot decisions made by my countrymen. Then I had come suddenly to pity them, for I understood how innocent and natural it was for them to behave so abominably, and with such abominable results: They were doing their best to live like people invented in story books. This was the reason Americans shot each other so often: It was a convenient literary device for ending short stories and books.

    ' Why were so many Americans treated by their governments as though their lives were as disposable as paper facial tissues? Because that was the way authors customarily treated bit-part players in their made-up tales.

    ' Once I understood what was making America such a dangerous, unhappy nation of people who had nothing to do with real life, I resolved to shun storytelling. I would write about life. . . Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order, instead, which I think I have done.

    ' If all writers would do that, then perhaps citizens not in the literary trades will understand that there is no order in the world around us, that we must adapt ourselves to the requirements of chaos instead.'

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions -- Chapter 19 (pages 209 - 210).

    CITATION:

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday (c) 1973 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Delacorte Press / Seymour Lawrence. Second Printing.

    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data:
    Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of champions. I. Title.
    PZ4.V948BR PS3572.05 813'.5'4 72-13086



    August 27, 2013

  • TERM: purpose of life

    DEFINITION:

    According to Kurt Vonnegut, your chance of understanding the purpose of life is analogous to eating sugar while suffocating in your own excrement, never guessing in the meantime that you are the yeast that drives the process which creates champagne.

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Kilgore Trout once wrote a short story which was a dialogue between two pieces of yeast. They were discussing the possible purpose of life as they ate sugar and suffocated in their own excrement. Because of their limited intelligence, they never came close to guessing that they were making champagne. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions, Chapter 19 (pages 208 - 209).

    CITATION:

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday (c) 1973 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Delacorte Press / Seymour Lawrence. Second Printing.

    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data:
    Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of champions. I. Title.
    PZ4.V948BR PS3572.05 813'.5'4 72-13086

    August 27, 2013

  • TERM: destructive testing

    DEFINITION:

    Prolonged endurance testing under the most severe operating conditions, continued until the component, equipment, or product specimen fails (is broken or destroyed). The purpose of destructive testing is to determine service life and to detect design weaknesses that may not show up under normal working conditions. Designed to find weaknesses that are not immediately apparent, destructive testing is usually much more decisive than non-destructive testing. A crash test is a form of destructive testing usually performed in order to ensure safe design standards in crashworthiness and crash compatibility for various modes of transportation or related systems and components. The process is sometimes referred to as "Testing to Destruction".

    EXAMPLE:

    ' Dwayne was silent for a while. And then he told her haltingly about a trip he had made to the headquarters of the Pontiac Division of General Motors. . .

    ' "We were given a tour of all the research facilities," he said. The thing that impressed him most, he said, was a series of laboratories and out-of-doors test areas where various parts of automobiles and even entire automobiles were destroyed. Pontiac scientists set upholstery on fire, threw gravel at windshields, snapped crankshafts and driveshafts, staged head-on collisions, tore gearshift levers out by the roots, ran engines at high speeds with almost no lubrication, opened and closed glove compartment doors a hundred times a minute for days, cooled dashboard clocks to within a few degrees of absolute zero, and so on.

    ' "Everything you're not supposed to do to a car, they did to a car," Dwayne said to Francine. "And I'll never forget the sign on the front door of the building where all that torture went on." Here was the sign Dwayne described to Francine:

    = DESTRUCTIVE TESTING =

    ' "I saw that sign," said Dwayne, and I couldn't help wondering if that was what God put me on Earth for -- to find out how much a man could take without breaking. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel Breakfast of Champions Chapter 15 (pages 165 - 166).

    TAGS: endurance testing, service life, normal working conditions, non-destructive testing, crash test, safe, safety, design standards, crashworthiness, crash compatibility, Testing to Destruction

    CITATION:

    1973 KURT VONNEGUT, JR. Breakfast of Champions, or, Goodbye Blue Monday (c) 1973 by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Delacorte Press / Seymour Lawrence. Second Printing.

    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data:
    Vonnegut, Kurt. Breakfast of champions. I. Title.
    PZ4.V948BR PS3572.05 813'.5'4 72-13086

    August 27, 2013

  • Oops! My bad. I wrote "contemporary" when I meant "contemporaneous".

    So, that portion of the definition should read:
    ' (According to contemporaneous accounts, the real-life pirate Blackbeard further jazzed things up by twisting the ends of his bushy black beard into tendrils, which he then dipped into hot tallow . . . '

    ________________________________________________________________

    -- From The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition:

    contemporaneous
    adj. Originating, existing, or happening during the same period of time

    August 26, 2013

  • TERM: armed to the teeth

    DEFINITION:

    ' To be thoroughly equipped with weapons. ' -- Wiktionary.

    To visualize this, just imagine a boarding party of pirates leaping onto the deck of the merchant ship they mean to plunder, each pirate with a dirk clenched firmly between his teeth, each armed with a cutlass and a brace or two of flintlock pistols. (According to contemporary accounts, the real-life pirate Blackbeard further jazzed things up by twisting the ends of his bushy black beard into tendrils, which he then dipped into hot tallow. And just before he leaped from his ship onto the hapless merchantman, he would set his improvised candles on fire. The ignited candles transmogrified his face into the terrifying nightmare spectacle of the Arch-demon escaped from the fiery pits of Hell).

    EXAMPLE:

    ' She was already dressed for the party at the Country Club, already dominating a distinguished company she had yet to join.

    ' As she handed Paul his cocktail, he felt somehow inadequate, bumbling, in the presence of her beautiful assurance . . .

    ' The expression"armed to the teeth" occurred to Paul as he looked at her over his glass. With an austere dark gown that left her tanned shoulders and throat bare, a single bit of jewelry on her finger, and very light make-up, Anita had successfully combined the weapons of sex, taste, and an aura of masculine competence.

    ' She quieted, and turned away under his stare. Inadvertently, he'd gained the upper hand. He had somehow communicated the thought that had bobbed up in his thoughts unexpectedly: that her strength and poise were no more than a mirror image of his own importance, an image of the power and self-satisfaction the manager of the Illium Works could have, if he wanted it. In a fleeting second she became a helpless, bluffing little girl in his thoughts, and he was able to feel real tenderness toward her. '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1952 novel "Player Piano" -- Chapter IV (page 35).

    August 26, 2013

  • WORD: E pluribus unum

    DEFINITION:

    ' E pluribus unum — Latin for "Out of many, one" (alternatively translated as "One out of many" or "One from many") — is a phrase on the Seal of the United States, along with Annuit cœptis (Latin for "He approves (has approved) of the undertaking") and Novus ordo seclorum (Latin for "New Order of the Ages"), and adopted by an Act of Congress in 1782. Never codified by law, E pluribus unum was considered a de facto motto of the United States until 1956 when the United States Congress passed an act (H. J. Resolution 396), adopting "In God We Trust" as the official motto.

    ' Traditionally, the understood meaning of the phrase was that out of many states (or colonies) there would emerge a single nation. However, in recent years its meaning has come to suggest that out of many peoples, races, religions and ancestries has emerged a single people and nation—illustrating the concept of the melting pot.' -- Wikipedia

    EXAMPLE:

    ' The motto of Dwayne Hoover's and Kilgore Trout's nation was this, which meant in a language nobody spoke anymore, Out of Many, One: "E pluribus unum."

    ' The vacant motto might not have mattered much, if it weren't for this: a lot of citizens were so ignored and cheated and insulted that they thought they might be in the wrong country, or even on the wrong planet, that some terrible mistake had been made. It might have comforted them some if their national anthem and their national motto had mentioned fairness or brotherhood or hope or happiness, had somehow welcomed them to the society and its real estate.

    ' If they studied their paper money for clues as to what their country was all about, they found, among a lot of other baroque trash, a picture of a truncated pyramid with a radiant eye on top of it.

    ' Not even the President of the United States knew what that was all about. It was as though the country were saying to its citizens, "In nonsense is strength." '

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel "Breakfast of Champions" -- Chapter 1 (pages 9 - 10).

    August 24, 2013

  • WORD: doodley-squat

    DEFINITION:

    (1) An unsatisfactory bowel movement which produces a negligible amount of feces -- the stuff that barely dribbles out, and when it comes out, comes out measly 'kibbles-and-bits').

    (2) By extension, an unsatisfying, negligible amount of anything.

    (3) Something worthless produced after great effort; a "big nothing".

    EXAMPLES:

    (1) ' America was . . . the richest and most powerful country on the planet.

    ' Most other countries didn't have doodley-squat.'

    -- From Kurt Vonnegut's 1973 novel "Breakfast of Champions" -- Chapter 1 (page 12).

    (2) 'Everybody in America was supposed to grab whatever he could and hold onto it. Some Americans were very good at grabbing and holding, were fabulously well-to-do. Others couldn't get their hands on doodley-squat.'

    -- From "Breakfast of Champions" -- Ch. 1 (p. 13).

    (3) ' Here is what they paid him: doodley-squat.'

    -- From "Breakfast of Champions" -- Ch. 2 (p. 21).

    (4) 'People took such awful chances with chemicals and their bodies because they wanted the quality of their lives to improve. They lived in ugly places where there were only ugly things to do. They didn't own doodley-squat, so they couldn't improve their surroundings. So they did their best to make their insides beautiful instead.

    ' The results had been catastrophic so far -- suicide, theft, murder, and insanity and so on.'

    -- From "Breakfast of Champions" -- Ch. 8 (p. 71).

    (5) ' He would be rendered destitute. He would become . . . an old man on . . . Skid Row. He would be by no means the only drifter of whom it could be truthfully said, "See him? Can you believe it? He doesn't have a doodley-squat now, but he used to be fabulously well-do-do." '

    -- From "Breakfast of Champions" -- Ch. 24 (p. 280).

    August 24, 2013

  • Ice-nine

    (1) Any doomsday catalyst; any precipitator which brings about cataclysmic, apocalyptic change -- yes, Virginia, THE END of the world, Armageddon, "that's all she wrote", APOCALYPTIC #FAIL!

    (2) The Unholy Grail of overzealous scientists who in the thoughtless pursuit of "pure science" unwittingly create a doomsday device.

    (3) Specifically, the fictional doomsday catalyst envisioned by Kurt Vonnegut in his novel "Cat's Cradle." Ironically, the inventor of Vonnegut's "ice-nine" never intended his creation to be used as a doomsday device; this shortsighted scientist only foresaw "ice-nine" being used for the ploddingly pedestrian purpose of making it possible for combat Marines to march over mud in much the same manner that Jesus is said to have come striding across the tempest-tossed waves of the Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:24).

    EXAMPLES:

    (1) ' "Suppose," chortled Dr. Breed, "there were many possible ways water could freeze. Suppose the ice we skate upon -- what we might call ice-one -- is only one type of ice. Suppose water always froze as ice-one because it had never had a seed to teach it how to form ice-two, ice-three, ice-four? Suppose there were one form, which we will call ice-nine -- with a melting point of 130 degrees. " '

    -- "Cat's Cradle", Ch. 20

    (2) ' Breed asked me to think of Marines in a swamp.

    ' "Their trucks are sinking in ooze."

    ' He winked. "But suppose one Marine had a capsule containing a seed of ice-nine, a new way for the atoms of water to stack and lock, to freeze. If that Marine threw that seed into the nearest puddle . . . ?"

    ' "The puddle would freeze?" I guessed.

    ' "And all the puddles . . .?"

    ' "They would freeze?"

    ' "You bet they would!" he cried. "And the Marines would rise from the swamp and march on!" '

    -- "Cat's Cradle", Ch. 21

    (3) ' "I keep thinking about that swamp" I said. "If the streams flowing through the swamp froze as ice-nine, what about the rivers and lakes the streams fed?"

    ' "They'd freeze."

    ' "And the oceans . . . ?"

    ' "They'd freeze, of course," Dr. Breed snapped.

    ' "And the springs . . . ?"

    ' "They'd freeze, damn it!" he cried.

    ' "And the rain?"

    ' "When it fell, it would freeze into hard little hobnails of ice-nine -- and that would be the end of the world!" '

    -- "Cat's Cradle", Ch. 22

    August 24, 2013

  • August 24, 2013

Comments for dinkum

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  • Of course, there are always exceptions. (Especially for Vonnegut, amirite?)

    And besides, I'd rather have citations on the appropriate word page (instead of on the list where the words appear)--but we all come at this from different angles.

    Welcome to Wordnik, by the way. Glad to have you here.

    August 28, 2013

  • It's our general practice to keep citations or comments on word pages reasonably brief, i.e. a paragraph or two. If there's a significant amount of information from an external site it's sufficient to link to it there. Thanks.

    August 28, 2013

  • August 24, 2013