Monday, December 31, 2007

Can you do it?

I'm not sure if I could work this word into a sentence. Try and get it into conversation this week without using a dodge like "I learned a new word...".



A disease of the tail feathers of hawks.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Under attack

A verb from which a more well-known noun is derived.

aggress, v.

1. intr. To approach, march forward. Obs. Hence aggressed ppl. a.; also as n.

2. intr. To make an attack; to set upon; ‘to commit the first act of violence; to begin the quarrel.’ J. Const. on. Also transf. (esp. in Psychol. contexts) and const. against. Cf. AGGRESSION 3.

3. trans. To set upon, attack, assault.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Don't be irritated

I never thought this word through either, though it makes perfect sense that it would have to do with weight, both literal and figurative.

aggravate, v.

To make heavy or heavier; hence, to put weight on; to add weight to; to add apparent weight or importance, to exaggerate.

I. To put weight upon.

1. trans. To make heavy; to load, burden, weigh down; hence, to cumber, impede, retard. Obs.

b. To load (any one) with. Obs.

2. To load or heap anything heavy upon. Obs.

3. trans. To lay to the charge of any one; to bring as a charge or ‘gravamen’ (against). Obs.

4. absol. To bring charges (upon). Obs.

II. To add weight to.

5. trans. To add weight or intensity to; to strengthen, increase, or magnify. Obs. in gen. sense.

6. esp. a. Of things evil: To increase the gravity of, to make more grievous or burdensome; to make worse, intensify, exacerbate.

b. Of offences: To make more heinous, or offensive; to increase in offensiveness.

7. To exasperate, incense, embitter (a person); famil. to provoke, arouse the evil feelings of.

b. To irritate, inflame (physically).

III. To add weight unduly.

8. To make the most of; to represent (a thing) as graver, more serious, or more important; to exaggerate. Obs. exc. in extension of 6.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Love the commentary

Not just a definition, but an opinion to go with it.

agglutinize, v.


An unnecessary by-form of AGGLUTINATE.

Listening to: Donizetti, Callas, Di Stefano, Gobbi, Arie - Lucia di Lammermoor - Il dolce suono...Ardon gli incensi
via FoxyTunes

Roid Rage

So, the Mitchell Report is out and it names a lot of names, apparently. (I haven't read the report myself yet.) One of those named isn't taking this lying down, however. Roger Clemens is pushing back and claiming that this is an egregious assault on his character and that he's never taken any illegal substances and he's shocked, shocked that he was not exempt from such accusations because of the good faith he's built up over the years.

I regret not having spoken of it here on my blog before, but I've wondered about Roger Clemens' obvious increase in bulk over the last few years. And it's not that he looked like he was just getting old and out of shape a la Tony Gwynn and Kirby Puckett, but that he was added a lot of muscle mass much like, oh, I don't know... Barry Bonds?

Andy Petitte, his colleague in both New York and Houston has admitted to taking HGH, though (speaking figuratively) he manages to question what the meaning of "is" is in his "apology". (I couldn't find just his statement online, without any other commentary or surrounding information.) The admission that Petitte consulted McNamee (the source of the allegations about Clemens, a man who was Clemens' personal trainer) about the use of a drug subsequently banned by baseball and that goes hand in hand in the minds of the public (how's that for a metaphor?) with steroids is yet another piece of circumstantial evidence stacked up against Clemens.

And now that Clemens and so many others have been implicated by this testimony and these revelations, a pall of suspicion falls over all the other big name athletes who have continued to have success into the twilight of their careers. This whole period in baseball becomes suspect, and I think there are things that can be done about it. If the weight of evidence is that Bonds, Clemens or whoever did cheat, if they did break the rules in a systematic way in order to try and gain a competitive advantage, then their records should be stripped and the Hall of Fame denied to them. To those who say it's impossible to strip Bonds of, say, his home runs because doing so affects the ERAs of the pitchers who surrendered those home runs, etc., I say that it doesn't have to. We merely do not acknowledge the achievement of Bonds, who cheated, but leave his impact on others present. Why this is a difficult concept to grasp, I don't know.

For JC Bradbury and others who think similarly, I'll put it plainly. The question is not one of whether any advantage was actually gained, it is a question of cheating and the attempt to gain such an advantage through illicit means. Whether it succeeded or not is irrelevant.

Listening to: Gilbert and Sullivan - Mikado - 3 - Wandering Minstrel
via FoxyTunes

A little late.

But I did want to show you why my Christmas tree was übercool this year.

Listening to: Carla Vallet - Fantasie Sign
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

It really happens

Though, had it not happened to someone with whom I am personally acquainted, I would have been sceptical. I doubt it a very common malady.



Loss of the sense of taste.

Listening to: Musica Antiqua Köln - Reinhard Goebel - JS Bach, 6 Brandenburg Concertos BVW1046-1051 Disc 1 - 10 - Concerto 4 Allegro
via FoxyTunes

Monday, December 24, 2007

Bringing distinctions back.

I didn't promise to post every one of these kinds of words, but I'm pretty sure I haven't left out more than a couple, and those redundant ones at that. And they have the virtue of being short entries that are easy to post.



A female agent.

Listening to: Yoko Kanno - Tank! The Best! - Piano Black
via FoxyTunes

Friday, December 21, 2007

A fantastic word

Truly, this is a good one. And one of these I certainly am not.


One who never laughs.

Listening to: Cake - Comfort Eagle - 02 - Meanwhile, Rick James...
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 20, 2007

As annoying as the "-gate" suffix.

As my co-worker would say, "Really?" At least most of the quotations had the good grace to place the word within quotation marks. And, since that came up, let me say that find the term "scare quotes" for what was around those two words back there really irritating.


Prejudice or discrimination against people on the grounds of age; age discrimination, esp. against the elderly. Cf. RACISM b, SEXISM.

Listening to: Weird Al Yankovic - Running with Scissors - Polka Power!
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Excuse the pun, please.

agee, adv.

Sc. and dial.

Aside, on or to one side; awry; off from the straight line.

Listening to: Ilaria Graziano - where does ocean go?
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Getting there

I had never realised that one could make, or that some did make, such a distinction.



The doctrine that all things tend towards ultimate good, as distinguished from optimism which holds that all things are now for the best.

Listening to: VeggieTales - Dance of the Cucumber
via FoxyTunes

Monday, December 17, 2007

Strictly ornamental

If it's never used, is it really a word?

And I've discovered that I can at least get the names of the Greek letters even if not the symbols themselves. For all the Greek scholars among my readership. They're such a large constituency.



[Gr. {alenisacu}{gamma}{alpha}{lambda}{mu}{alpha} (pl. {alenis}{gamma}{gaacu}{lambda}{mu}{alpha}{tau}{alpha}) an honour, ornament, statue, picture. Found in Dicts., but never used in Eng.]

Listening to: King's X - Dogman - 05 - Black The Sky
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Found this on a page of quotations about chess. I laughed, but it's very true.
Isn't it astounding in a way though, what level of chess playing and analysis and game storage you can get for less than a day's pay, whether it's Chess Genius for your Palm Pilot, or Chessmaster or Fritz for your PC? When you stop and really think about it, for less than $50, you can have a GM living in your house who's willing to play chess with you 24 hours a day, analyze all your games, teach you openings, manage your game collection, practice tactics and endings with you, and won't drink your beer, gripe about playing conditions, or make passes at your wife. – Kelly Atkins

New comments

Blogger has enabled commenting using OpenID now. Simply put, if you have a site that uses OpenID, you can log in with that ID and password and it will link your name back to your own site, to your IM client, etc.

Listening to: Gilbert and Sullivan - Mikado - 2 - Gentlemen of Japan
via FoxyTunes

Friday, December 14, 2007

Come again?

I'll only quote the fifth sense of the prepositional form of the word. I find the expressions built out of this sense of the word to be very pleasant. I'm not sure precisely why.

again, adv.

5. Repetition of quantity: Once repeated; as much again = this and as much more, twice as much; half as much again = this and half as much more, one-and-a-half times as much.

Listening to: Cowboy Junkies - Lay It Down - 02 - A Common Disaster
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Untterly not Turkish

I'll cite the etymology too.


[Acronym, f. the initial letters of Sw. Svenska Aktienbolaget Gasackumulator, Swedish Gas Accumulator Company, the original manufacturers.]

A proprietary name for a type of large cooking stove or range (and water-heater), burning solid fuel and (later) gas or oil. Freq. attrib., esp. as Aga cooker, stove.

Listening to: Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble - The Real Deal: Greatest Hits Vol 2 - 05 - Lenny
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I like these kinds of words. "So" is another example. They're so versatile.

ag, int.

S. Afr.

An ejaculation expressing irritation, reproach, sympathy, etc.

Listening to: Weird Al Yankovic - Even Worse - (This Song's Just) Six Words Long
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Cause of, and solution to, all life's problems.

To have known this word, I'd have to have known the word for beer as yet unfermented. Which I didn't. And even then, I'm not so familiar with beer-making that I would have guessed.


The second run of beer.

Listening to: King's X - Ear Candy - 11 - The Train
via FoxyTunes

Put your beverage down.

Then click the link. Otherwise it might end up all over your monitor.

This is my new favourite Christmas song. And if it's still in stock, I might have to pick this album up after Christmas. (Linked in The Corner. Edit: Oh, yeah, the actual link would be good blog etiquette.)

Monday, December 10, 2007


The third sense seems rather cruel, but I suppose it depends on the individual and the nature of the usage.


1. A subsequent or second thought.

2. Reflection after the act; a thought which did not occur at the time when the matter to which it refers was under consideration: hence a later expedient, explanation, or device.

3. colloq. The youngest child in a family, esp. one born considerably later than the other children.

Listening to: The Bobs - Shut Up and Sing - 09 - Angels of Mercy
via FoxyTunes

Saturday, December 08, 2007

That just ain't right.

It sounds like there was more here than meets the eye. A hidden competition? A suppressed rivalry? Seems a little over the top regardless.

Listening to: MxPx - (Move to) Bremerton
via FoxyTunes

Pratchett does it again.

Multiple meanings there. I got a chance to read Making Money, which is his latest Discworld novel. It was a good story, the main character, Moist von Lipwig, is one that hasn't been overused (only his second appearance) and the topic was handled fairly well. But the book also has the same problems that I noted when I considered Thud! here.

The book has the same irrational pacifism of Jingo, it finally manages to completely spoil the character of Vetinari (he's too... nice) and the world becomes a little cleaner, a little more solid, a little more utopian and, most grievously for a book series, a little more boring. At least the end of Going Postal saw Vetinari flexing his muscles as tyrant and arresting people without charge and without much in the way of evidence (though not entirely without cause). But Making Money sees his final transformation from iron-fisted tyrant to "benevolent" EUrocrat.

What's even more shocking to me is that in trying to make his idealised world a perfectly peaceful place, Pratchett's pacifism gets the better of him to the extent that he tacitly endorses the espionage of the Rosenbergs, Klaus Fuchs and others. Pratchett has really gone downhill and his books are not what they once were. It's sad to see a good author in such a decline.

Listening to: Kenny Wayne Shepherd - 14 - Electric Lullaby
via FoxyTunes

Friday, December 07, 2007

Figuratively speaking.

The common sense of this word (the second one) is actually the figurative one. It makes perfect sense if one thinks about it, but I hadn't ever bothered to think about this word very hard.


1. Second or later mowing; the crop of grass which springs up after the mowing in early summer. Also attrib. (See also AFTERGRASS, AFTERCROP.)

2. fig. Esp. a state or condition left by a (usu. unpleasant) event, or some further occurrence arising from it.

Listening to: Tulivu-Donna Cumberbatch - The Singing Sea
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 06, 2007

It is a word. I should have known.

For all you Tolkien fans, this will be right up your alley. Turns out these months from the Hobbit calendar really are months.


OE. name for July

Listening to: Seatbelts - ELM
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Outside my experience.

I imagine this word passed out of use in part because of the shift from a rural predominance to an urban and suburban one in this and other English-speaking countries. Not something I've ever come into contact with, or am likely to, I'll bet.

afterings, n. pl.

Obs. or dial.

1. The last strainings of milk from a cow. dial.

2. Remaining dregs, after the main part is exhausted. Obs.

Listening to: Carla Vallet - Fantasie Sign
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You'll just have to put up with it.

I'm quoting just a single sense from this word because it's so interesting to me. I've already commented on this word a bit here.

afraid, ppl. a.

2.c. with depend. cl.: lest, with subjunctive, introduces a deprecated contingency of which there is danger; that, with subjunctive, an unpleasant possibility; with indicative, an unpleasant probability or contemplated reality. The conjunctions are sometimes omitted. I am (or I'm) afraid: often used colloq. with little or no implication of fear or danger, in the sense of ‘I regret to say; I regretfully or apologetically admit, report, etc.; I suspect; I am inclined to think’. Const. that, or simple clause.

Monday, December 03, 2007

By hook or by crook.

Interestingly, this word is related to the word "fang". I find that connection, in light of the meaning of this word, fascinating.

afong, v.


1. To take by force or authority; hence, to seize, apprehend.

2. To take (what is offered), to accept.

3. To receive (a person), to welcome.

4. To receive, get, come into possession of.

b. intr. To be in possession.

5. To get (offspring), to conceive.

6. Of a thing: To take in, contain, to hold.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

I'll see your five and raise you.

I really enjoyed reading 1920: The Year of Six Presidents even if I should have been warned by the title that the author would be a little loose with his language. I found myself getting distracted every so often throughout the book by strange word uses, odd sentence structure and infelicitous phrasing. The title lends itself to the notion that the book is about six people who were president in 1920. This is not the case. The next assumption is that it probably has to do with six men who ran for president. Also not quite true. The book deals with six current, former or future presidents who were in some way related to the race for president in 1920. And not all of them very closely.

The six men were the Roosevelts, Franklin and Theodore, Calvin Coolidge, Warren Harding, Herbert Hoover and Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was the sitting president when the election came, Harding and Hoover ran for president (and very nominally Coolidge and FDR did too), Coolidge and FDR were the vice-presidential nominees and the author postulates that Teddy Roosevelt would have run; if he hadn't died in early 1919. Anyway, leaving the oddities of the title to one side, the book itself was an interesting exploration of the election of 1920 and the events that led up to it. There's also a short summary of what happened afterwards, but it isn't taken in nearly the same detail. It's worth a read for the lowdown on one of the more interesting elections I've read about.

The author's writing style got on my nerves, however. I like breezy writing in it's place, but an historical work discussing political matters shouldn't read like a dime novel or a blog. The book was badly in need of a solid editor. The word "timber" was overused; everyone was of or not of "presidential timber" or "gubernatorial timber". At one point some women were described as being "skimpily unclad". Were they then wearing lots of clothes? Elsewhere such phrases as "crack-brained idea" and "The New York Times pondered aloud" appeared. Most egregious, it seems to me, was the use of a parenthetical phrase to give the appearance of the spoken word: "her stories were short and so, come to think of it, was she".

I enjoyed the book for the factual content and what I learned about a particular period in history with which I was not as familiar, even if the book's style detracted a little from it.

Listening to: Seatbelts - Waltz for Zizi
via FoxyTunes

You know what Disraeli said about statistics, right?

The Baseball Economist by JC Bradbury (read the blog! Sabernomics) is a decent book. He does a good job of showing how economic methods can be applied to baseball to elucidate some of the more mysterious parts of the sport. Frankly, though, the book itself read to me less like a book about baseball from an economic perspective than a book about economics through the medium of baseball. And that was the biggest flaw, I think.

Still and all, a decent book (though it should have had a better proof-reader) and it did have some interesting things to say about the effect of pitching coaches on pitchers and the like. Probably of most interest to serious students of baseball is Bradbury's method of evaluating the worth of a player to his team. He does a good job (insofar as I'm a judge of such things) of calculating the effect an individual player has on his team's record and judging the difference in revenue that player has. It helps to put a lot of salaries into better perspective. Several million dollars a year for playing baseball seems excessive, but considered against the amount of money these players generate for the club, often the deals are bargains.

The most irritating flaw to me was Bradbury's refusal to consider the question of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs ("PEDs" he calls them) from anything but an economic perspective. Granted, this is a book that is supposed to mix baseball and economics, but I think he misses (or doesn't bother to mention) that the real outrage about PEDs (I hate that term) is not because of the competitive advantage granted to the user, but because it is a flagrant violation of the rules of the game and terms under which we, as fans, participate in the sport. There is a sense of moral outrage at the dishonesty being perpetrated rather a dispassionate disapproval at a mere technical infringement of the rules. Bradbury may well have considered this and didn't think it was germane to his topic, but at least a nod in this direction was in order, I think.

Ultimately, it's a bit of a flawed book, but well worth picking up if only for the few chapters where his work is actually ground-breaking because the innovative work is truly very good.

Listening to: Seatbelts - Tank!
via FoxyTunes

Preliminary year end book thoughts.

Yeah. I guess that title is accurate. I managed 21 books in November, but that still leaves me 27 shy of last year's total, and that's also the total I read in October last year, the month in which I finished more books than any other. I did read 20 books last December, but none of them were Modern Times or A History of the American People, both of which I intend to read in the near future. (We'll see if I can finish both this month.) I don't think I'm going to beat 178 this year. (Not coincidentally, this is the third consecutive year in which I've had fewer blog posts than the year previous on this blog. Though, now that I consider it, between this blog and my other blog, I'm close to a total of 300 posts.)

I have finished a couple books that I hadn't read before, and I'll post my thoughts on those next.

Listening to: Kathleen Battle - Ave Maria
via FoxyTunes

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Christmas somewhere else, I mean. It's still snowing very lightly, and there is about an inch or two covering most everything outside. Odd for snow to fall in such quantities here, certainly this early in the season. I'll take it and enjoy it, though I'm sure it will be gone by tomorrow morning.

My sister-in-law is visiting (one of them, I have a bunch) and my daughters are thrilled to death to have their aunt here. She won't be here through Christmas, but it's nice to have her visit for a time since she hadn't had a chance to meet my youngest daughter yet.

Speaking of Christmas, most of the Christmas gifts are already taken care of (thanks to my lovely wife, in large part), and I'm not feeling quite so rushed about such things this year. I hope your preparation for Christmas is proceeding apace as well.

Listening to: Roberto Alagna - Il Est Ne, Le Divin Enfant
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 30, 2007

Such specificity.

I had no idea the word started with such a restricted meaning. Nor had I any idea that this was the meaning, though it doesn't surprise me to learn it.


A devotee of bull-fighting; by extension an ardent follower of any hobby or activity.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I've never heard this.

I wonder when this term died? I've never heard it before. Are there any recent uses of it?


U.S. colloq.

Preoccupation (esp. of journalists) with events far distant, as a diversion from controversial issues at home (see quots.).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Trust me.

A short little word, apparently obsolete, with a variety of general and specific meanings.

affy, v.


1. trans. To trust, confide (a thing to a person); but from the beginning refl. To confide oneself, trust to, on, or in.

2. intr. (by omission of refl. pron.) To confide, trust, rely, put trust. Const. in, rarely on.

3. trans. To confide in, trust, give faith to.

4. To assure, affirm on one's faith (a thing or fact to a person); to make affidavit.

5. To secure or make fast by solemn promise; to betroth or espouse (sc. to oneself, or as proxy for another); to take in marriage.

6. To betroth (any one) in marriage to (another); to affiance.

7. fig. To engage or bind in faith (a thing to a person or vice versâ).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No! Not the face!

The origin of this word is from an Old French word meaning to hit someone in the face. The literal meaning didn't come over to English, but I like the emphasis placed on the severity via the analogy.

affront, v.

1. To insult (a person or thing personified) to his face, to treat with avowed or open indignity.

2. To put to the blush; to offend the modesty or self-respect of; to cause to feel ashamed. refl. To feel affronted, to blush (obs.). (Said of the feeling produced rather than of the act or purpose).

3. To face in defiance; confront. Now chiefly fig., as to affront death.

b. To meet in hostile encounter, to attack. Obs.

4. To meet intentionally or of purpose, to throw oneself in the way of, accost, address. Obs.

5. To front, to face in position; to look toward. arch.

6. fig. To face anticipatively; to prepare to meet; look out for. Obs. rare.

7. causal. To confront one thing with another; to set face to face. Obs. rare.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Simply too funny to pass up. There's not much here, but I laughed. That below is all there was, no alternate spellings, pronunciation, citations; there was nothing else in the entry.

affricke bird

‘A coward, one in gay cloathes.’ Cockeram 1626.

Listening to: King's X - Dogman - 06 - Fool You
via FoxyTunes

It's really "funny". Really.

What is? The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, of course. I haven't read all the posts, but the most recent couple pages worth that I scanned quickly seem clean. Funny too, not just "funny".

Listening to: Metallica - Metallica - 05 - Wherever I May Roam
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 23, 2007

Just don't spit when you do it.

Sounds to me like it ought to be the opposite of "lubricant". I guess not.

The first phonetics word!

affricate, n.


A close combination of an explosive consonant or ‘stop’ with an immediately following fricative or spirant of corresponding position, as in Ger. pf, z (= ts). Also called affricative.

Listening to: Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - Trouble Is... - 11 - Chase the Rainbow
via FoxyTunes


Those who don't WoW can probably tune this post out. I just got my BE Priest to 60 this week and now get to start doing instances in earnest with a different class of player than I have ever used before. I'm hopeful that I'll get a chance to do more than just heal most of the time and do more DPS casting. I need to get my 70 Shaman into a group soon too to try out the changes made to the Enhancement build. Greater threat reduction and increased spell damage should make him more robust in the melee DPS role.

Anyway, the real reason I started this post was to note the huge change in XP needed for pre-60 levels and post-60 levels. I think it was going from 54-55 or something where before the most recent patch I needed about 180k XP. After the patch, it was only 172k XP to go 59-60. Now that I am 60, it's going to take about 470k XP to get to 61.

Further updates as events warrant.

Listening to: Dave Brubeck - Dave Brubeck - 07 - Jeepers Creepers
via FoxyTunes

Thanks be to God.

Thanksgiving yesterday was a good day. Spent most of the afternoon and evening with friends. (I'm eating some leftovers as I type; thanks guys!) They're great people.

I've been thinking a bit about Thanksgiving and find it odd (though not necessarily bad, I guess) that people without a faith in God still celebrate Thanksgiving. Christmas, oddly enough, is easier to understand with all the secular hoopla that's been built up around the holiday: gift giving, Santa Claus, Rudolph, Frosty, etc. One doesn't have to believe in the divinity (or even the existence, though that's really silly) of Jesus to enjoy getting and giving gifts to friends and family. But to whom exactly are heathens directing their gratitude at Thanksgiving? Friends and family again? It seems less reasonable to me somehow. And certainly if you believe the universe is a vast, uncaring mass of randomly sorted matter having feelings of gratitude to it are surely misplaced as well, are they not?

On the other hand, it isn't necessarily bad. This cognizance of the need to be thankful to someone or something greater than ourselves (even if it is dissonant with professed beliefs and attitudes about the cosmos) is good and probably a reflection of what Paul mentions in Romans 2:14-15.
14(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, 15since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.)
This unwilling recognition, this tacit admission may be (will be with the grace of God) the first step to acknowledging His Sovereignty.

Anyway, some thoughts on the day after my favourite holiday. I hope yours was as blessed as mine and may we all carry the proper spirit of humility and gratitude in the Christmas season which is hard upon us now.

Listening to: Leo Kottke - Leo Kottke - 06 - Three Quarter North
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, November 22, 2007

License to pun

We've all heard someone make a pun on "a frayed knot/afraid not", yeah? Turns out it's not just a stupid joke, the words really are connected.

affray, v.

Obs. or arch.

1. To disturb, or startle, from sleep or quiet, as a sudden noise does; passing into the sense of alarm, as the effect of such startling. arch.

b. To disturb with hostilities; to attack with an armed force. Obs. rare.

By imperceptible gradations the idea of alarm passed into that of

2. To frighten, to affect with fear; especially in the passive voice to be affrayed or AFRAID. arch.

3. intr. (refl.) To be afraid, to fear. (Fr. s'effrayer.) Obs.

4. To scare, to startle or alarm into running away, to frighten away. arch. Cf. FRAY.

Listening to: Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band - Live On - 02 - True Lies
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Soundly on the noggin.

When my brothers and I used to cut up in church, my mother would do this with her knuckle. Got my attention, let me tell you. What a great word.

affrap, v.

Obs. rare.

To strike, strike against. (With or without object expressed.)

Listening to: Kenny Wayne Shepherd - Live On - 12 - Live On
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I can see the connection to crossing rivers.

I hadn't thought of the words deriving from the sense of "forward", but it makes sense now that I've been told.

afford, v.

orig. To further, promote; hence achieve, manage to do, manage to give, have the power to give, give what is in one's power, supply, yield.

1. To forward or advance to or towards completion: hence, to perform, execute, accomplish, fulfil. Obs.

2. To carry out, accomplish, achieve, manage (something planned or desired). With may (= can). Obs.

3. With inf. or subord. clause. To manage (to do anything); with can: To have the means, be able or rich enough; to bear the expense.

4. With simple obj. a. To manage to give, to spare.

b. To manage to sell (at such a price). Obs.

c. To manage to procure or maintain, etc.; to spare the price of, bear the expense of.

5. Without can: To give of what one has, to furnish, bestow, grant, yield. (Often with to.)

6. Of things: To be capable of yielding, to have for one who asks or seeks.

7. To supply or furnish from its own resources, to yield naturally.

b. In this sense rarely of persons.

Listening to: Jughead - Jughead - 06 - Waiting On The Son
via FoxyTunes

Mostly for my Mom and mother-in-law.

Those of you from the South, acquainted with those from the South, or having visited the South even, will probably find this amusing.

Now playing: Philharmonia Virtuosi - Philharmonia Virtuosi - 24 - Sonata in D minor for 2 violins & basso continuo Allegro
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Monday, November 19, 2007

Poppies,, wait.

Flowers, anyway. For all the gardening I was contracted to do for my neighbours when I was in high school, you'd think I'd have picked up a bit more botanical knowledge. I had never heard of this flower and I'm still not clear on whether it the same or different from what I know as a "daffodil".



1. Name of a liliaceous genus of plants, Asphodel, or King's Spear (Asphodelus, incl. Anthericum), natives of the south of Europe, and grown as garden flowers and medicinal herbs.
(In this sense Daffodill, and Daffadilly, are mentioned as variant forms of Affodil as early as 1538 and as late as 1611.)

2. Applied, by confusion, to a species of Narcissus. In this sense the variant DAFFODIL (q.v.) became almost from the first the accepted form; so that eventually Affodill was confined to Asphodelus, and Daffodil to Narcissus.

Listening to: Kenny Wayne Shepherd - Live On - 08 - Everytime It Rains
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Friday, November 16, 2007

If I actually wrote letters

I'd use this word. Of course, I'd actually need someone to correspond with via written letters first. And even if I had such a person, I wouldn't be able to keep it up. I used to correspond with a number of people, but no longer. Sad, really; it was so enjoyable.


abbrev. of AFFECTIONATELY adv., used in the subscription of letters. Now rare.

Listening to: Leo Kottke - A Shout Toward Noon - 04 - Easter Again
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

You'd think "stick" would be easier to draw.

Oh, no! It is not so. I played Pictionary, and my compadres could not guess "stick". I heard tree, limb, bough, branch, twig, sapling and numerous others, but never once did they say "stick". Next time my turn came to draw, I ended up with the following word and only got as far as a rough stick figure with a few dots on its face and my friend nailed it. Go figure.


1. The action of inflicting grievous pain or trouble. spec. in its earliest use, Self-infliction of religious discipline; mortification, humiliation. Obs.

2. The state of being afflicted; sore pain of body or trouble of mind; misery, distress.

3. An instance of affliction; a pain, calamity, grief, distress.

Listening to: Louis Jordan - The Best of - 13 - Buzz Me Blues
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'd make a mouthwash joke

But I'm afraid that with what I'm going to write next it would end up being blasphemous. I was surprised initially at the second meaning for this word, but after considering it a moment it made perfect sense. See these eight different passages from the Bible. And there are a lot more. I like this word.


A blowing or breathing upon; inspiration.

Listening to: Leo Kottke - Peculiaroso - 11 - Big Situation
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Good boy!

Are there such dogs any longer? This isn't the only time I've run across a dog breed that I had never heard of before, and I've wondered if efforts are made to keep such breeds in existence even when they (obviously) aren't as popular as they might once have been. It also seems to me that fewer people own dogs than did, say, 100 years ago. Is that really true? Or do more people in total own dogs while a smaller percentage of the population owns dogs? I've also included the first quotation so you can know one of these canines when you see one.


A small breed of dog, related to the Brussels griffon.

1903 W. D. DRURY Brit. Dogs (ed. 3) lxii. 629 The Affenpinscher is an alert, intelligent little dog of some 7 lb. to 8 lb. in weight. It has a round skull well covered with stiff hair... The colour is different shades of red, as well as grey and yellowish: while there is often a black mask.

Listening to: Cake - Fashion Nugget - 05 - Daria
via FoxyTunes

Buy n Large, it's interesting.

So it seems Pixar has another movie in the works. Not much in that trailer yet, but they already seem to have a promotional website up. Not your conventional promotional website, no. This is more in the vein of the guerrilla marketing that is so popular nowadays. There isn't anything on the site (that I've found) that tells you it's about a movie, it is just a kind of parody website that is supposed to resemble that of a large corporation. Even if it was just a website, it would be pretty funny. Check it out. They're even selling t-shirts. I'm thinking this would be a great shirt.

Thanks to Toshi Station for the link.

Now playing: Louis Jordan - Louis Jordan - 19 - I Want You To Be My Baby
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The Return of the Book Review!

Finished a book last night that I had never read before; Geisha by Liza Dalby is an account of her time in Japan studying the world of geisha from the inside. She was described while she was there as "the blue-eyed geisha", so she has some legitimate claim to be the only non-Japanese geisha. After suffering through Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, it was refreshing to read something that was well-written and actually contained some information about geisha that could be relied upon.

While Dalby is obviously very sympathetic to geisha and the system in which they operate, she does not avoid noting that the system was much harsher and more exploitative in the years past. She also notes the confusion in the West between geisha and prostitutes did not arise solely out of ignorance or a Western contempt with Japanese culture, but also had much to do with the geisha culture straddling the line between society proper and the world in which normal constraints are abandoned. The world of the geisha is known as the "flower and willow" world. She notes that even at the time of her writing (1970's) there was still some overlap between the notion of geisha as performers and entertainers and as prostitutes. The overlap is small, but within certain confines, geisha are expected to present a moderately lascivious entertainment (though in the West where such entertainment is far more explicit, it would hardly be recognised as such) and so the lower rungs of the geisha world still containing members who are willing to prostitute themselves is not so surprising.

On the other hand, from her description, the overlap is small and the majority of geisha are truly entertainers (please see the discussion of mizu-age below for an exception, though this is no longer a common practice), though, because there is no real correlate in the Western world, it can be difficult to see this. Indeed, it seems those at the peak of their profession can be quite the consummate dancers, singers and musicians and the necessary abilities of a truly competent geisha is a daunting list. Not only must they be able to hold their alcohol well, but while drinking be able to maintain an ability to perform the dances and songs that are demanded by customers.

I debated about whether or not to include this next question on my blog, but I think it ought to be brought up since it has a bearing on what I've already talked about and it seems to be a point of controversy between Arthur Golden and Mineko Iwasaki; she was the person upon whom Golden "based" his book and who later sued him for that assertion. The question is, what does mizu-age entail? Golden avers that it indicates the selling of an apprentice geisha's virginity as part of the transition from childhood to adulthood or from being an apprentice to a full-fledged geisha.

Iwasaki claims that this is a complete falsehood (she wrote a book the purpose of which, at least in part, was to repudiate Golden's) and in fact it has never been the case with geisha. Her vehemence is such that it is worth quoting the relevant section of an interview in full here.
Q: Talk to me about the mizuage ceremony. What is it, and why is there so much confusion about it?

A: This again goes back to the separation between the pleasure quarter and the entertainment quarter. Mizuage is really a coming-of-age ceremony, and apparently there was some selling of the virginity that went on in association with that ritual ceremony in the pleasure district a long time ago. However, that has never been true for the geisha. For the geisha, it was simply when they were becoming a young woman, similar to a sweet 16 in the West, and it was symbolized by the change in hairstyle, into a more womanly, grown-up hairstyle. And also certain subtle changes in the ensembles. There are a lot of rites of passage, but for some reason this one has been really latched on by people, and maybe it’s because of this misunderstanding.

Also, it is true that as with many of the rituals and rites of passage, once one has become a maiko [geisha-in-training], or a geiko, it’s very expensive, because every time you go through an entire change of kimono, for example, or of hairstyle and you need different hair ornaments, these are expensive things. For me, I was the successor to the house, the atotori, so there was no question that the money was there to provide this. But if someone is coming from the outside and training, as basically someone who is there under contract, it is expensive, and sometimes they do ask their patrons to help pay for the cost involved in making the transition.

Q: But their virginity isn’t offered in exchange for that help?

A: That is never on the table. There is one other potential source of confusion, and that is with the word "mizuage" itself. In the Gion, the geisha district, and in many areas of the entertainment industry, "mizuage" is also a term that directly means "gross earnings," because it’s an old fishing term; as you may know, Japan was dependent on fishing for one of its main economic bases for many years. "Mizuage" means "to take out of the water." It stood for the catch. "What was your catch?" — "How much money did you make from the water?" So when I refer to mizuage, I’m actually referring to my earnings, rather than the ceremony itself.
I bring this up because mizu-age is mentioned several times in Dalby's book and its discussion is the subject of several anecdotes. The clear implication of each is that it does always involve the loss of a geisha's virginity and that this is done for a price. One anecdote involves the indignation that a geisha would take the matter of auctioning her virginity solely into her own hands instead of relying on the assistance of the okiya, the house with which a particular geisha is affiliated. In fact, the glossary of Japanese terms defines mizu-age as "Sexual initiation of an apprentice geisha." As much as I disliked Golden's book, it seems that he probably had this aspect of geisha life correct, at least for the pre-WWII period.

The level of the book's detail is such that with only a casual interest in such matters one may not enjoy it. On the other hand, it is detailed and authoritative enough to be well worth the time with a serious interest in Japan in general or geisha in particular.

Now playing: Cake - Cake - 11 - World Of Two
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The Perfect Cereal

What are the three problems of cereals? First, a repellent taste, whether too sweet or however. Second, it corrupts your milk, turning it an unpleasant colour, making it a thick sludge because of particulates, and altering the taste beyond recognition. Third, the cereal itself becomes so soggy it transforms from a pleasant collection of crunchy pieces into a undifferentiated mass of mush.

The solution? Wheat Chex. Not only does it stay crunchy to the bottom of the bowl, this means it doesn't disintegrate and corrupt the milk and the flavour is perfect: pleasant without being super-sweet.

Now playing: Fiddler On The Roof - Sunrise, Sunset
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New Poll!

Tell me what you think of the Patriots. I've enabled the multiple answers option, so if you have mixed feelings you can choose all the choices between which you've been wavering.

Now playing: Ton Koopman - Ton Koopman - 02 - Affettuoso - 1050 - 2
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Monday, November 12, 2007

Two for one!

First the word that caught my eye. It just looks and sounds interesting to me, and the meaning was unexpected as well. And that's what the second word is for, to make the first a little more explicable.


He that affeers.

affeer, v.

1. To fix or settle the amount of an amercement, to assess; to reduce to a fair or equitable amount.

2. fig. To settle, confirm.

Listening to: Leo Kottke - Leo Kottke - 06 - Blue Dot
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 09, 2007

This entry could use some more detail...

I'd never have guessed this from the word itself. A single citation from Milton nearly 350 years ago and it's still not listed as obsolete, rare or anything. The etymology is a direct borrowing from Latin meaning "African". Cool word, though.


The south-west wind.

Listening to: The Academy Of Ancient Music - The Academy Of Ancient Music - 06 - Suite No. 1 in C major, BWV 1066, I. Ouverture
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, November 08, 2007

If you don't eat your vegetables...

Excellent; I now have an vague thing to threaten my children with if they misbehave. (I kid, I kid.)


An aquatic monster in Celtic mythology.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Even the modern term is passing out of use.

A note on this word indicates that it was an early word that held the same meaning as "affect", but many of these senses are rarely used even for "affect" any longer.

afaite, v.

1. To affect, influence, incline, dispose, in any way.

2. To bring into any shape, to fashion, mould; to adapt or prepare to or for a purpose.

3. To fit out, array, dress.

4. To train (hawks, hounds, etc. to obedience); hence, to tame.

5. To reduce, subject, subdue.

6. To affect with disease.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Sleepy Summers

I can never remember this word when I want to use it. I first heard it as a child and thought it was wonderful that there are animals that hole up during the warm months and only emerge when things cool down. A wise and enlightened attitude it always seemed to me.

æstivate, v.

To spend the summer. esp. in Zool. To pass the summer in a state of torpor or suspended animation. (Cf. hibernate.)

Listening to: King's X - King's X - 03 - Pretend
via FoxyTunes

I'm not sold on the concept.

But it is an interesting concept, I must confess. Mark Steyn posits (via seeing the concept in a novel) that we may be in the midst of a "cold civil war". He means that we have two sides in this country that are so diametrically opposed and so antagonistic that all we lack for a civil war is actual physical conflict.
[I]f you want to discuss the best way forward in the war on terror, you can't do that if the guy you're talking to doesn't believe there is a war on terror, only a racket cooked up by the Bushitler and the rest of the Halliburton stooges as a pretext to tear up the constitution.
You can read the argument here.

Now playing: Concerto Vocale - Del cibo, onde il signor mio sempr'abonda (Il secondo libro de madrigali a 6 voci)
via FoxyTunes

A couple articles about abortion.

First up is the one intended to be a heart-warming tale about family that instead presents a ghoulish portrait of how far England has sunk. A woman attempts to abort one of the twins she is carrying and then expects this tale of his survival to be a cheery tale. How is the boy going to feel when he grows up and finds out mom wanted him put down even before he was born because it was the "compassionate" thing to do, like he was a pet dog?

And the other is an article by Ramesh Ponnuru regarding the response to his book, Party of Death about the people who support abortion. He answers the criticism well, and indeed I thought his book extremely well-written myself.

Like a laugh?

I heard this song years ago and never knew who performed it or what it was called. And, as a tangent from a political conversation, it got mentioned in passing. Anyway, now you know, carrot juice is murder.

Monday, November 05, 2007

A word for Canute.

Equally well applied to my work on this blog, really.

æstiferous, a.

‘Ebbing and flowing as the tide.’ Bailey, vol. II, 1731. ‘Turbulent as the tide.’ Ash 1775.

Listening to: Dryve - Dryve - 12 - Thrifty Mr. Kickstar
via FoxyTunes

Just testing something.

Just testing a new feature. Nothing of great import here. (Though, that is rare enough anyway.)

Now playing: HIDE - run rabbit junk
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Nice thoughts.

Jeb, my church boss (he's the youth minister, I currently teach a class to the "yutes") has a nice post up about missing his wife while she's out of town. (At least, that's what it seems. In a very poetic fashion he doesn't come right out and say that's what it is about.) He has an interesting, though very condensed blog. By which I mean, every post is interesting, but he only posts once or twice a month. Probably a better way to go about it; with all my posts it's probably more like looking for diamonds in a giant slag heap.

Catching up.

Been gone nearly a month. Not sure what all that time got spent on, some WOW, some overtime, some family time, whole family got sick... It just kind of got spent here and there and before I knew it, October was over. I'm not dead though, as it seems Steve is, sadly. At least, he's got pharmaceutical comment spam, which I always assumed would only have occurred over his dead body. Maybe he's just taking a really long vacation some place where there is no internet connection.

My book reading is down, I think it is safe to say that since I am now roughly 20 books off my pace from last year and with less than 2 months to catch it up, I won't be equalling last year's total of 178. Especially since Thanksgiving and Christmas are upon us soon, I have two kids now instead of one, I'm teaching a class at church every Sunday and things are different at work. On the other hand, my wife isn't pregnant as she was this time last year and I have read 50 books in two months before (see September and October).

I haven't discussed the books I've been reading as I have in the past; I feel badly about this and I ought to start it again. I will... next book I finish. It's the part of this blog that I really tend to enjoy the most in retrospect. That is to say, it's about the only thing I write here that I think will have much value more than a month down the road.

Bill Belichick is a smug, classless, cheating scoundrel. And this is really funny.

Friday, November 02, 2007

What do you do for a living?

I find it amusing that there was a need for such a word. I understand the merits of professional critics, those who understand the merits and/or demerits of particular areas of art, but the idea that one is a professional person of good taste seems odd to me.


One skilled in or devoted to æsthetics; a professor of taste.

Listening to: Leo Kottke - Leo Kottke - 14 - Medley : Crow River Waltz - Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring - Jack Fig
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, November 01, 2007


A word that wouldn't make the list if it were not for the second sense listed. I find it interesting that it originated the way it did and now the word may not have the same function except in an historical sense. Or perhaps it would be used in the same sense for modern repressive regimes like Iran, Cuba, etc?

Æsopic, a.

1. Of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Æsop, a semi-legendary Greek fabulist of the sixth century B.C. Hence Æsopism, an Æsopic characteristic.

2. spec. In relation to Russian and (Soviet) Communist literature [Russ. ezopovskiĭ, first so used by M.E. Saltykov-Shchedrin, Unfinished Conversations (1875) iv.; cf. Lenin Party Organization & Party Lit. in Novaya Zhizn´ (1905) 13 Nov.]: using a style or language that has hidden or ambiguous meaning, esp. as a device to disguise dissident political writing in allegorical form and so avoid official censorship. Cf. ÆSOPIAN a. 2.

Listening to: Booker T. & The MG's - Booker T. & The MG's - 05 - Boot-Leg
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Like the Statue of Liberty

I'm not sure why this word got chosen. It just seemed right. I've never seen it used, but it isn't an obsolete or rare word, and the opportunities for use seem like they wouldn't be too rare; don't we all carry pennies from time to time?

æruginous, a.

Of the nature or colour of verdigris, or copper-rust.

Listening to: Musica Antiqua Köln - Reinhard Goebel - Musica Antiqua Köln - Reinhard Goebel - 02 - Concerto 5 2. Affettuoso
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

By any other name

Makes me think of an old My Word program where "A rose is a rose, is a rose" was transformed into "Arrows, sees Harrows, Ciceros". Which really has nothing much to do with this word, other than the connection I made in my own mind.

ærose, a.

Of the nature of copper or brass, coppery, brassy.

Now playing: Metallica - Metallica - 07 - Sad But True
via FoxyTunes

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sounds like a deodorant

A word I didn't even know existed before I read it in the OED, much less was I cognizant of any need for such a word. I find it a pleasant-sounding word and I can see how it would be useful for people needing to draw some finer distinctions than the general population does on this topic.


A stone or portion of matter which has fallen to the earth from, or rather through, the atmosphere; a meteoric stone, or meteorite. In recent usage, the name aerolite has been confined to those meteorites which consist of stone or other substance than meteoric iron: see AEROSIDERITE.

Now playing: Poundhound - 08 - Poundhound - Pineapple
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Not just a prefix any more!

I tend not to think of words like this as, well, words. Instead, I think of them as abbreviations or as, indeed, prefixes. On the other hand, the definition and the usage clearly indicates that it is a word as well as an abbreviation.

aero, a.


a. colloq. Aerodynamic, streamlined: used chiefly with reference to motor vehicles.

b. Comb. aero bar Cycling, an attachment to or replacement for the handlebars of a racing bicycle, allowing the cyclist to adopt a more aerodynamic, forward-sitting posture.

Now playing: Leo Kottke - Leo Kottke - 16 - Sleepwalk
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Where eagles soar. Or nest. Or something.

That's right, four currently acceptable spellings. That's nothing really, the word has gone through 14 different spellings over the centuries. I find this odd, particularly that the spelling of this word still hasn't been nailed down by this point. Long may it continue, however, I'd hate to see some committee try to impose a Standard English on us. There is a "Standard English", of course, but it is a living thing, slowly shifting over time and not controlled by some faceless central authority.

aerie, aery, eyrie, eyry

1. The nest of any bird of prey; especially, in modern usage, of an eagle; also extended to that of ravens and other birds building high in the air; and fig. to a human residence or retreat perched high on a rock or mountain side.

2. The brood in the nest; the young of a bird of prey, or fig. a noble stock of children.

Now playing: Tchaikovsky, Peter Illyich - Enrique Batiz, conductor - Tchaikovsky, Peter Illyich - Enrique Batiz, conductor - 01 - 1812 Overture, Op. 49