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