Friday, March 30, 2007

Another word we should revive.

An interesting word. I had become so accustomed to the word "instantaneous", that for a moment I couldn't make the connection between it and this word. Interesting how components of words can lose their significance and only the greater word and it's meaning remain in one's mind.

absentaneous, a.


Done in absence, pertaining to absence.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hiding, not stealing.

I thought this word meant steal, but now I learn it means simply run and hide. That impression came, I think from these lines from Casablanca, "I've often speculated why you don't return to America. Did you abscond with the church funds? Run off with a senator's wife? I like to think you killed a man. It's the Romantic in me." After learning the definition and thinking about it, it was used properly and I should have figured it out on my own.

abscond, v.

1. trans. To hide away, to conceal (anything). Obs. or arch.

2. refl. (Obs. or arch.)

3. intr. (by omission of the refl. pron.) ‘To hide oneself; to retire from the public view: generally used of persons in debt, or criminals eluding the law.’ J.; to go away hurriedly and secretly.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

There is such a thing?

Apparently it is "International Women's History Month". Because, you know, regular history has, like, men in it. And anything with men included is by definition oppressive to womyn. Speaking of, why isn't it "International Women's Herstory Month"? Hmm? What's that? Because that would be stupid? But isn't... never mind.

The point is, I found it amusing and sad that one of the quotations I received in an e-mail noting this month-long celebration was as follows:
"Society as a whole benefits benefits immeasurably from a climate in which all persons, regardless of race or gender, may have the opportunity to earn respect, responsibility, advancement and renumeration based on ability."
Sandra Day O'Connor 1930-
Really? "Renumeration"? Sure she didn't say "remuneration"? Because that would make a lot more sense.

What is a "dark lantern"?

I'm not certain. One that is shaded so as to only emit a small light? One that emits light only in a particular direction? I should look it up.

absconce, n.

A dark lantern used in monasteries (see Du Cange), and at lauds and matins in the Roman Catholic church.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

We shouldn't start suddenly

But here is a word that ought to see more use.


1. A breaking off, an interruption, a sudden break (in a narrative, etc.). arch.

2. A sudden snapping or breaking; the breaking away of portions of a mass.

More money does not better education make.

[Americans] have built numberless high schools, lavish in equipment, only to see them, under the prevailing scheme of values, turned into social centers and institutions for improving the personality, where teachers, living in fear of constituents, dare not enforce scholarship. They have built colleges on an equal scale, only to see them turned into playgrounds for grown-up children or centers of vocationalism and and professionalism. Finally, they have seen pragmatists, as if in peculiar spite against the very idea of hierarchy, endeavoring to turn classes into democratic forums, where the teacher is only a moderator, and no one offends by presuming to speak with superior knowledge.
~ p. 50
Ideas Have Consequences

Jacobin folly

If society is something which can be understood, it must have structure; if it has structure, it must have hierarchy; against this metaphysical truth the declamations of the Jacobins break in vain.
~ p. 35
Ideas Have Consequences

Consequential Ideas

I've been reading Ideas Have Consequences recently, and though I'm only a couple chapters into it, it's a great book so far. There are a ton of things that I would want to excerpt here, but I don't think I'm going to do them all. It would just be too much. So I'll post a few and you'll have to read the book yourself for the rest of the awesomeness.
It must be apparent that logic depends upon a dream, and not the dream upon it. We must admit this when we realize that logical processes rest ultimately on classification, that classification is by identification, and that identification is intuitive.
~ p. 21

Monday, March 26, 2007

How to Behave

I received a complimentary copy of The Everday Seamstress: A Guide to Sewing Etiquette from the author today. Interestingly, Luc Charpentier has the same address as a friend of mine. On the one hand, it is always nice to receive a copy of a newly published book directly from the author. On the other hand, why didn't he autograph it?

It's an attractive volume (*cough*) of four chapters and seven pages (including the introduction). And, yes, those are oysters on the cover. No, I don't know why.

A la peanut-butter sandwiches!

I always figured this word would be about as spurious as Mumford's (the usual warnings about Wiki-esque things apply here, of course) preferred phrase, but it seems to have a longer pedigree, if an uncertain original meaning.


[L.; origin unknown. Occurs first in a poem by Q. Serenus Sammonicus, 2nd c.]

A cabalistic word, formerly used as a charm, and believed to have the power, when written in a triangular arrangement, and worn round the neck, to cure agues, etc. Now often used in the general sense of a spell, or pretended conjuring word; a meaningless word of mysterious sound; jargon, gibberish.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Chess, Numbers, and Senility

A great bit from a chess blog talking about the threatened reduction and possibly demise of the chess column in the Washington Post.
It's bad enough that newspaper chess columns in the US, when they exist at all, are stuck in with the comics and that it's usually only enough room for a puzzle. I'm sure we're also competing for space with mental jumping jacks like the epic vapidity that is sudoku. (They say that sudoku delays the onset of senility, but has it occurred to anyone that enjoying sudoku IS the onset of senility?)

Which came first?

The origin of this phrase isn't what I would have thought. Eggs are a beginning for birds, but the phrase comes from a different beginning involving eggs.

ab ovo, phr.

From the (very) beginning.

Cf. Hor. Sat. i. 3. 6 ab ouo usque ad mala ‘from the egg to the apples’, alluding to the Roman custom of beginning a meal with eggs and ending it with apples; and Hor. A.P. 147 Nec gemino bellum Troianum orditur ab ouo, in allusion to the twin egg from which Helen of Troy was born.

Gloriously depressing.

Don't think those words belong together? See if you still think that way after reading this article by Theodore Dalrymple. It's all about the utter incompetence of the government that thinks it is omnicompetent.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jordan, bleh.

I've never been a big fan of Michael Jordan. I know he was a talented player and all that, but I didn't really like the Bulls, they stopped the Sonics the last time the Sonics made it to the NBA Finals and I get the impression that he's a lot more ruthless than his carefully crafted public image lets on. Maybe that's just in my head. I'm not fond of his profligate gambling either.

But now there's a reason to dislike Jordan that has come back from the dead. During his career, it was apparent that there was a different, laxer set of rules that applied to him. Things that were not called fouls when they involved other players were fouls when Jordan was the one getting the contact. Jordan had nearly carte blanche to do what he needed to make the highlight-reel move regardless of whether it involved pushing off, traveling or what-have-you. And now, he's getting more rules bent in his favour again.

It turns out that the NBA's rules on contact with high-school players don't apply to Jordan, despite his being the General Manager of the Charlotte Bobcats. Danny Ainge got fined $30K for things that Jordan does all the time. True, Jordan is part of the Bobcats, and their awfulness probably offsets some of the advantages he has, but that isn't really the point. Why should there be one set of rules for Jordan and one for everyone else? There shouldn't. There never should have been.

Snowmen and otherwise

I asked if there was another example, and here one is.

abominable, a. (and adv.)

[...In med.L. and OFr., and in Eng. from Wyclif to 17th c., regularly spelt abhominable, and explained as ab homine, quasi ‘away from man, inhuman, beastly,’ a derivation which influenced the use and has permanently affected the meaning of the word. No other spelling occurs in the first folio of Shakespeare, which has the word 18 times; and in L.L.L. V. i. 27, Holophernes abhors the ‘rackers of ortagriphie,’ who were beginning to write abominable for the time-honoured abhominable.]

A. adj.

1. Exciting disgust and hatred, generally by evident ill qualities, physical or moral; offensive, loathsome; odious, execrable, detestable. a. Of things.

b. Of persons.

c. Abominable Snowman, name applied to a creature alleged to exist in the Himalayas. (Cf. YETI.)

2. loosely. Very unpleasant or distasteful.

B. as adv.

¶ABOMINABLE has occasionally been used, like terrible, prodigious, as a simple intensive. Juliana Berners (15th c.) writes of ‘a bomynable syght of monks,’ i.e. a large company. Cf. ABOMINATION 5 and ABOMINATIONLY.

I really like the fact that you read each post thoroughly.

An absolutely fascinating article on the way praise for children can actually be harmful to their self-esteem, and their willingness and ability to try new things and persevere. It seems that good, old-fashioned emphasis on effort and not giving up is much more valuable for kids. (And probably for adults, too.)

And the results aren't minuscule.
Having artificially induced a round of failure, Dweck’s researchers then gave all the fifth-graders a final round of tests that were engineered to be as easy as the first round. Those who had been praised for their effort significantly improved on their first score—by about 30 percent. Those who’d been told they were smart did worse than they had at the very beginning—by about 20 percent.
And there's more. This really blew my mind.
Psychologist Wulf-Uwe Meyer, a pioneer in the field, conducted a series of studies where children watched other students receive praise. According to Meyer’s findings, by the age of 12, children believe that earning praise from a teacher is not a sign you did well—it’s actually a sign you lack ability and the teacher thinks you need extra encouragement. And teens, Meyer found, discounted praise to such an extent that they believed it’s a teacher’s criticism—not praise at all—that really conveys a positive belief in a student’s aptitude.
Read the article. It just might change the way you talk to your children.

To read or not to read

How does one read? And, more to the point, perhaps, how should one read? A quick stab at answering the question is that it really doesn't matter too much if we don't read everything that we "ought" to read, as long as we take a stab at it and see if the book "takes" or not. I agree... mostly. I do think there are some books that one ought to buckle down and finish despite the excruciating agony, but for the most part I think that if the book doesn't keep you interested, life's too short and there are too many other good books to waste your time struggling through something that doesn't interest. (Charles Dickens, I'm looking at you.)

Atheist Irritation

This is an example (via AL Daily)of the irritating kind of atheist. He at once combines snobbishness, condescension and hostility and dispenses it with a dismissive and patronising tone. His arguments against faith are childish and weak and his apparent inability to argue from his opponent's viewpoint will cripple him anytime he tries to convince. Perhaps his books are more formidable; he would have more space to develop his arguments than in a brief editorial, but I doubt it on the face of what I read there.

He makes reference to "Dominionist Christians, who openly call for homosexuals and blasphemers to be put to death." And how many such people are there? Apparently, "men and women ... by the millions, are quietly working to turn our country into a totalitarian theocracy reminiscent of John Calvin's Geneva." Wow. Millions. And being only a step away from that in Mr Harris' formulation, as a "fundamentalist Christian" you'd think I'd have met a few of these people. But I don't know anyone who is agitating for the overthrow of our democracy and institution of a religious state.

And consider this section:
People of all faiths — and none — regularly change their lives for the better, for good and bad reasons. And yet such transformations are regularly put forward as evidence in support of a specific religious creed. President Bush has cited his own sobriety as suggestive of the divinity of Jesus. No doubt Christians do get sober from time to time — but Hindus (polytheists) and atheists do as well. How, therefore, can any thinking person imagine that his experience of sobriety lends credence to the idea that a supreme being is watching over our world and that Jesus is his son?
This falls into a very basic logical fallacy. Simply because people of different, and no faith, accomplish something, or have something done to them depending on the formulation you prefer, doesn't mean that it must be the same cause in each case. Infection can be eradicated by the action of the body alone, but the use of antibiotics, or by surgery. Saying that a person can sometimes achieves sobriety through their own will-power does not mean that all people achieve sobriety through their own will-power. Some people go to rehab, some have friends and family help them, and some rely on God.

And Mr Harris winds up with the most nonsensical bits of all:

Every one of the world's "great" religions utterly trivializes the immensity and beauty of the cosmos. Books like the Bible and the Koran get almost every significant fact about us and our world wrong. Every scientific domain — from cosmology to psychology to economics — has superseded and surpassed the wisdom of Scripture.

Everything of value that people get from religion can be had more honestly, without presuming anything on insufficient evidence. The rest is self-deception, set to music.

His conclusion only holds if one has already decided that religion is not true. And if one is only willing to argue from that presupposition, then his whole effort to convince has merely been an exercise in question-begging.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

For the birds.

I didn't know this sort of thing happened. Perhaps why one sometimes sees certain birds in places one never expects to see them.


(See quots.) Hence abmigrate v. intr.

1923 A. L. THOMSON in Brit. Birds XVI. 276 Some such term as ‘abmigration’ might perhaps be used to describe the northward departure in spring, for a new summer area, on the part of birds which had made no corresponding southward journey in the previous autumn. 1929 E. M. NICHOLSON Study of Birds v. 54 Birds which are native to one country, may ‘abmigrate’, and be found breeding in another, up to thousands of miles away. 1953 New Biol. XV. 54 Abmigration occurs when a bird (usually a young one), bred in this country and wintering here, accompanies foreigners which have also wintered here to their home countries in the Spring, instead of returning to its own British nesting grounds.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Coolest name for a card game. Ever.

I've been re-reading a lot of the Aubrey-Maturin series lately, and this does sound like what it is. (And I apologise that it's a little late.)


‘A popular sea-game with cards, wherein the loser is beaten over the palms of the hands with a handkerchief tightly twisted like a rope. Very popular with horny-fisted sailors.’ Smyth Sailor's Word-bk.

Monday, March 19, 2007

And people fell for it.

From the inestimable AL Daily (which I haven't been reading as I should for quite some time) comes the link to the this story about one of the greater musical frauds. I'm shocked that it took this long for it to get caught. I would have thought that someone would have gotten suspicious when they couldn't witness her perform or when one of the true musicians heard his own music being played back and credited to the wrong person. Dispicable.

I'm just the messenger.

Catholics have special names for everything, don't they?

ablegate, n.

An envoy of the papal see, who brings to a newly-appointed cardinal his insignia of office.

Onward! Upward! Excelsior!

Holly's noting her 100th post inspired me to go back and find a few milestone posts of my own. Here follow links to my 100th, 200th, 500th and 1,000th posts. By checking dates we can easily see how I have slowed down over time. I hit 100 in 7 months 13 days. Getting to 200 took less than another 2 months. 500 came about another 8 months on and I only hit 1,000 late last year, more than 2 years after 500. I definitely peaked early on. From August through November of 2003 I blogged more (193 posts) than I did in all of 2006 (188 posts). It makes me tired to think about posting more than 70 times in a single month.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Are there any other words like this?

I find the "h" sound following the "b" to be particularly euphonious. But I can't think of any other English words off the top of my head that have this. (Excepting, of course, variations of this same word.)

abhor, v.

1. trans. lit. To shrink back from with shuddering, to view with horror or dread. Obs. rare.

2. fig. To regard with horror, extreme repugnance or disgust; to hate utterly, loathe, abominate. a. Obj. a noun or noun-phrase.

b. Obj. an infinitive phr.

3. causally. To make one shudder, to horrify; to cause horror or disgust. Mostly impers. Obs.

4. intr. lit. To shudder, feel horror or dismay. Obs. rare.

5. fig. To shrink with horror, repugnance, disgust, or dislike from. Obs.

6. To be repugnant, be at variance, be inconsistent, differ entirely from. Obs.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Suspiciously like a crossword puzzle word.

I think I've run across this in a crossword before.


The white poplar tree (Populus alba).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

An accurate description of this list so far.

I like this word. Most useful, I would think, in describing something arranged in such an order. Even then, though, more of a curiosity than anything else.

abecedarian, a. and n.

A. adj.

1. Of or pertaining to the alphabet; marked with the alphabet; arranged in alphabetical order, as abecedarian psalms, like the 119th.

2. Occupied in learning the alphabet, or pertaining to one so occupied.

B. n. [The adj. used elliptically.]

1. One occupied in learning the alphabet. In U.S. the regular school term.

2. One engaged in teaching the alphabet and merest rudiments of instruction.


There is also:

abecedary, a. and n.1

A. adj.

1. Of or according to the alphabet; alphabetic; marked with the alphabet; arranged in alphabetical order.

2. Engaged with or needing to learn the alphabet; illiterate.

B. n. An abecedary scholar or teacher. (Cf. Florio 1611, Abecedário, a teacher or learner of A B C.)

Bank on it.

Finished Wodehouse's Money in the Bank a day or two ago. It was pretty good. Several characters appeared that are in at least one other Wodehouse novel, the hero and heroine were decent, if not stellar and Lord Uffenham was amusing. Romantically, everything worked out in the end, but not all the problems were solved by the closing page. There were still some loose ends and Wodehouse left things uncharacteristically uncertain. There were several sparkling scenes, most notably when the hero gets himself a bit too happy celebrating with alcoholic beverages and decides to throw his housekeeper's confections through his neighbor's open window.

A little poetry?

Since it's a New Criterion day, it seems, I'll link to another post. The announcement of the event you can skip since it's already gone by (and was in New York), but scroll down and read the poem. It's one of the rare poems that I enjoy. A rather moving piece, I think.

Fight! Fight!

For those who are not political junkies, you may have missed the recent dust-up following the publication of a book by Dinesh D'Souza. D'Souza is, for those of my readers who do not know, a conservative writer and scholar well-known for his association in his youth with The Dartmouth Review and later with he Heritage Foundation and the Hoover Institution. He's written several books that have been well-received, among them Illiberal Education, What's So Great About America, and Letters to a Young Conservative. His most recent effort, however, is The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. This, predictably, has met with some animosity from those on the cultural left, but also from those on the right. The critique from the right is not that the amoral aspects of our culture do not anger Muslims, but that it is foolish to assert that these things are the driving force behind the terrorism originating in the Islamic parts of the world. Rather, the conservative critics say, even if this were a nation of innocent Christian choir-boys, the Muslims who are willing to attack us now would continue to do so because they hate us for reasons beyond and greater than the morally bankrupt popular culture. Mr D'Souza has taken umbrage at this criticism and that leads me (finally!) to the point of this post.

In replying to a critical review in The New Criterion by Scott Johnson, Mr D'Souza has disparaged him as being a "Midwestern lawyer who blogs in his spare time" and pokes at The New Criterion by observing that "I thought The New Criterion went out of business years ago".

Stefan Beck, an editor at The New Criterion, hits back on his magazine's blog, Armavirumque.

I have returned to discover not one but two incidences of baseless invective directed at The New Criterion, and I would be no man at all if I let them go unchallenged.

The first insult issued from disgraced buffoon Dinesh D’Souza. Perhaps he’s been driven mad by the creeping realization that his career henceforth will consist entirely of entertaining drunken College Republicans at birthday parties for the Gipper. “I thought The New Criterion went out of business years ago,” wrote D’Souza. Ahem. I suppose when D’Souza was contacted by two New Criterion editors about the production of this book, he thought they were from, you know, some other New Criterion.

I'd say that last blow probably went home.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

I'm not hiding anything from you.

Interestingly, both of the related adjectives are listed as obsolete and rare, but this word is not. A fun little word, don't you think?


A hidden or withdrawn place, a concealed repository.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Friday, March 09, 2007

The word means, roughly...

This is the sort of word that William F Buckley would use, I think. Useful (it cuts a two or three word phrase down to a single word), precise and obscure. It's the sort of word he would use, one would look up and think, "Gee, I wish I had used that."


A rough drawing or sketch (for a portrait, etc.); an outline or draft (of a speech, essay, etc.).

Solitary Spectres

A week or so ago I finished the second season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. And while I liked it overall the ending felt a little flat. There isn't much that I can point to and say "this was the problem" or "they left this out", but it seemed to be wrapped up rather too quickly, the resolution with the villain(s) was unsatisfying and nebulous and the motive behind everything was unclear to me. Maybe I need to watch it again. In English this time. I think this will still be worth my while to pick up, but it wasn't as magnificent as the first season.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I don't normally do things like this.

But, since the cool kids are doing it...

In the list of books below, bold the ones you’ve read, italicize the ones you want to read, cross out the ones you won’t touch with a ten-foot pole, put a cross (+) in front of the ones on your book shelf , and asterisk (*) the ones you’ve never heard of.

1. The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. +Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)
5. +The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. +The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. +The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. +Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)
9. *Outlander (Diana Gabaldon)
10. *A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
14. A Prayer for Owen Meany (John Irving)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Rowling)
17. *Fall on Your Knees (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban(Rowling)
20. +Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. +The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)
23. +Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold)
25. Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. +The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. Dune (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)
33. Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35. The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
36. *The Pillars of the Earth (Ken Follett)
37. *The Power of One (Bryce Courtenay)
38.*I Know This Much is True (Wally Lamb)
39. *The Red Tent (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. *The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. *The Kite Runner (Khaled Hosseini)
43. +Confessions of a Shopaholic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. +Bible
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. +The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. *She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. +A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens)
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
56. *The Stone Angel (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. *The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. *The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrew Niffenegger)
61. +Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. +War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview with the Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. *Fifth Business (Robertson Davis)
66. One Hundred Years Of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. +Les Miserables (Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones’ Diary (Fielding)
72. Love in the Time of Cholera (Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. +The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett)
76. *The Summer Tree (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. *The World According To Garp (John Irving)
79. *The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)
81. *Not Wanted On the Voyage (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. Rebecca (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. *Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)
85. +Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. +Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. *The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. *Blindness (Jose Saramago)
90. *Kane and Abel (Jeffrey Archer)
91. *In The Skin Of A Lion (Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. *The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. *The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. *A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
99. The Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Hum. Well, first the statistics:

I own 19
I've read 21
I intend to read 12
I've never heard of 25
I wouldn't touch 16 (including two I've already read)

I would guess that this list was composed by a woman. And there are plenty of books that aren't classics, and are nothing but modern trash. Dan Brown, Margaret Atwood, etc. There is a very high proportion of fantasy, no mystery novels at all, little non-fiction; in short, it's not a very balanced list. I would guess that someone, somewhere started this by listing off 100 books they had read or intended to read and began to circulate it. So, I wouldn't stress that you haven't read very many of these books, Holly.

Should you vote?

I'm okay. I got an A and only missed 3 questions. But what about you? Should you vote?


One of my quotes of the day made me think. I think that's pretty accurate, succinct and memorable. What do you think?

"He who praises you for what you lack wishes to take from you what you have."
- Don Juan Manuel

Why didn't I get the memo?

It seems the term for steroids and other illegal substances taken by athletes is now "PED" (Performance Enhancing Drugs). I'd seen and heard that phrase, but the abbreviation is new to me. The odd thing is, it seemed to pop up everywhere all at once when I hadn't ever seen it previously. Strange how such things work, neh?

Faria and Busoni

This explains a lot about the above-mentioned abbés who feature prominently in The Count of Monte Cristo.


The French title answering to Eng. abbot, but extended to ‘every one who wears an ecclesiastical dress,’ Littré; and specially applied to one having no assigned ecclesiastical duty, but acting as a professor, private tutor, or master of a household; in which sense the word is simply transferred into Eng. instead of being translated. Thus, ‘Anselm, abbot of Bec,’ ‘the Abbé Montmorency.’ Cf. Ital. ABBATE.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

On the defensive

An interesting military term that I don't recall seeing before. Also of note is that only the most recent reference given by the OED (out of six) uses the spelling given by the OED. The rest either double the "b" or the "t".



A defence constructed by placing felled trees lengthwise one over the other with their branches towards the enemy's line, and piling them up until a shelter for workmen is obtained.

Translations and Language

This post over at First Things got me thinking about languages and translations. (My mind wandered off in a different direction than the post itself eventually takes.) I wonder if the waning interest in the great works of classical literature in the culture at large is related to the decline in learning of Latin and Greek. I suspect that it is. After all, these works were considered to be among the greatest, if not the greatest themselves, of all literature for centuries. And within the last century or so, they seem to have fallen by the wayside hand-in-hand with the decline in Latin and Greek education. I wish now that I had a greater interest in learning Latin or Greek as a child; I might have actually picked up something useful.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

What's the opposite?

Sorry about the delay, but it's still the 6th where I am.

Ever wonder if certain words have an opposite? I don't mean an antonym, but an opposite. Not just an opposing meaning, but a similar form. For instance, one can be "disgruntled", but can one be "gruntled"? (The question will be answered!) Turns out, there is an opposite of "bashful".

abashless, a.

Unabashed, shameless; the reverse of bashful.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Not a real word.

It's not a word, but it might have been! I found this entry interesting because it lists a "word" that is common (or was common) to dictionaries but was a result of a misprint in an old dictionary.


a spurious word found in many dictionaries, originating in a misprint of BYCOKET.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Jane the Reckless?

Finished reading Jill the Reckless a couple nights ago and found it pleasant if unusual for a Wodehouse book. It's rather longer than most of his books and the style and content didn't seem as if he intended it to be as humorous as most of his writing. I was reminded of Jane Austen more than anything else. This was tempered as I finished it, since the finale is wrapped with several Wodehousian twists and a characteristic neatness. Still, the book was closer to a straight novel with a romantic (not in the Harlequin sense) plot than the light comedy one thinks of in association with his most famous characters. There were several references to the characters of Damsel in Distress as well a reference to the Blandings novels. It's always pleasing to find such things, I think, because it adds depth and reality to the world to have references made to characters in passing that have actually been fleshed out.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Ouch. That'll leave a mark.

Peculiar that one might need such a word, I think. This entry is also odd because there aren't any references listed.

abacinate, v.

To blind by placing hot irons, or metal plates, in front of the eyes.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Scrabble, anyone?

I have an affinity for this word which I learned in the process of trying to become a better Scrabble player. Whether that worked out or not is debatable. But this is a pretty cool word.

aa 2

A rough, scoriaceous lava, one of the two chief forms of lava emitted from volcanoes of the Hawaiian type, the other being PAHOEHOE.