Friday, May 20, 2005

Neologisms: melanimous


Neologisms: pargnoscient

Half-knowing, half-witted.

Gibberwocky: munescent

Neologisms: polydontic

Rich in dental denizens, many-toothed (with canines and eyeteeth to spare).

Gibberwocky: flabial

Gibberwocky: starp

Gibberwocky: flink

Neologisms: frappesce (see frappe)

The frothy action of a beverage, as in a frappuccino, after being whipped. See frappe:

Main Entry: 1frap·pé
Pronunciation: fra-'pA
Function: adjective
Etymology: French, from past participle of frapper to strike, chill, from Middle French fraper to strike
: chilled or partly frozen

Gibberwocky: lapid

Gibberwocky: squettid

Gibberwocky: vorule

Gibberwocky: barmasiac

Gibberwocky: quent

Gibberwocky: squaphic

Gibberwocky: nollifidous, nollifident

Gibberwocky: niscent

Neologisms: polynoctal

Night after night, many nights.

Gibberwocky: fleally

Gibberwocky: pervascent

Gibberwocky: caratoffe

Gibberwocky: parvinculent

Neologisms: pornologous

Gibberwocky: ornologous

Neologisms: pabulescent

Elementary, like pablum.

Gibberwocky: bonkets

Gibberwocky: flantween

Gibberwocky: abernescent

Words: quincunx

Main Entry: quin·cunx
Pronunciation: 'kwin-"k&[ng](k)s
Function: noun
Etymology: Latin quincunc-, quincunx, literally, five twelfths, from quinque five + uncia twelfth part -- more at FIVE, OUNCE
: an arrangement of five things in a square or rectangle with one at each corner and one in the middle
- quin·cun·cial /kwin-'k&n(t)-sh&l/ or quin·cunx·ial /-'k&[ng]k-sE-&l/ adjective

Words: nescience

Main Entry: ne·science
Pronunciation: 'ne-sh(E-)&n(t)s, 'nE-, -sE-&n(t)s
Function: noun
Etymology: Late Latin nescientia, from Latin nescient-, nesciens, present participle of nescire not to know, from ne- not + scire to know -- more at NO, SCIENCE
: lack of knowledge or awareness : IGNORANCE

Gibberwocky: garmullifous

Words: calque

Tolkien scholar T.A. Shippey used this word to describe his predecessor's linguistic and literary layering of culture and meaning in his works -- somewhat in the sense of to impress, to imprint, or esp. to emboss.

Main Entry: calque
Pronunciation: 'kalk
Function: noun
Etymology: French, literally, copy, from calquer to trace, from Italian calcare to trample, trace, from Latin, to trample -- more at CAULK

Musings: Filibuster vs. "nuclear option"

Government is supposed to be about providing services to the people: city sanitation, national defense and so on. Those who assist in planning and providing these services -- whether they legislate or not -- are known as "public servants." (Remember "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"?) However, the term becomes post-modern or ironic in today's milieu, where political power plays are calqued, or overlaid with transforming effect, on top of a landscape where the people's needs are supposed to come first. Instead of "power to the people," what's called "for the good of the party" becomes the business of politicians -- and every day in this conservative age, they become more and more polarized, so that centrists like John McCain are criticized for actually trying to negotiate a middle path that will preserve our political traditions while getting the government's work done. The moral of the story: Becoming polarized or extremist in one's views is almost always reactionary and dysfunctional -- in the same way that Americans consider Osama Bin Laden to be toxic to innocent souls as well as to the rest of the Muslim faith. The trouble is, to an extremist, his views are never extreme, but normal.

Words: florid

It is after May 15, so the weather in Houston is now florid -- greenhouselike to say the least -- until October 15 or so. Merriam-Webster says:

Main Entry: flor·id
Pronunciation: 'flor-&d, 'flär-
Function: adjective
Etymology: Latin floridus blooming, flowery, from florEre
1 a obsolete : covered with flowers
b : very flowery in style : ORNATE; also : having a florid style
c : elaborately decorated
2 a : tinged with red : RUDDY
b : marked by emotional or sexual fervor
3 archaic : HEALTHY
4 : fully developed : manifesting a complete and typical clinical syndrome

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Humor: Horoscopes - The Onion

The Onion | Horoscopes: "Scorpio: (Oct. 24?Nov. 21)
All right, Scorpio is going to say this for the last f[---]ing time: With an apostrophe, it means 'it is' and without an apostrophe, it means 'belonging to it.' This is really not that hard."

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Press: Personal Data for the Taking - NYT

The New York Times > Technology > Personal Data for the Taking: "They proved what privacy advocates have been saying for years and what Senator Stevens recently learned: all it takes to obtain reams of personal data is Internet access, a few dollars and some spare time."

Proverbs: [any number] of [any group] _can_ be wrong

Just because (thousands or millions) of (this group or that) jumped aboard a bandwagon, does not mean they thought it through first -- in fact, I would bet against it, wherever the pressures to conform are strongest.

Musings: Christian bigotry should be a contradiction in terms

You may have received a forwarded email defending the use of God's name in public oaths and celebrations -- a practice I find solidly based in national faith and tradition. (I quote the key passage from one such email below.) However, another national tradition besides religious freedom is religious tolerance: Freedom means believing and worshipping God in any you choose -- not in whatever way the majority dictates. Indeed, this is why Protestants founded this nation in the first place.
Freedom. One problem with being in the majority is that, for control-oriented people (esp. those who would build a theocracy), having a majority is never enough: Having even one infidel in the crowd might cause someone among the "faithful" to pause, ponder, think, question, and possibly even use his God-given free will to alter his religious belief and practice to differ from that promulgated by the majority (and esp. the majority's powers-that-be). Well, our freedom is built on pluralism -- e pluribus unum -- not conformity.
Truth. While hotly pursuing its agenda, the majority also usually gets its facts wrong: I think it is more like 95% of all people believe in God. (You would think that ideologues would marshal all the facts that would help their case, but the truth is, they are intellectually lazy as well as dishonest.)
Goodness. Last but not least, a majority fighting for universal conformity tends to apply its moral standards to everyone else but not itself. It also acts rudely when pushing its platform. I ask you, WWJD: What would Jesus do? Tell everyone who did not believe in him to "sit down and SHUT UP!"? To quote St. Paul: "May it not be!" (Romans 6:2a).
Summary. These three problems with the "moral majority" can be summarized in five words: They need enemies to fight. Instead, I suggest, the public moralists should apply chastisement to their adherents only, and stop demonizing others in the effort to whip up bigotry and hate -- for it is always about hate, which always leads to persecution.

Quotation: I was asked to send this on if I agreed or delete if I didn't. Now it is your turn. It is said that 85% of Americans believe in God. Therefore, I have a very hard time understanding why there is such a mess about having "In God We Trust" on our money and having "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance. Why don't we just tell the 14% to sit down and SHUT UP!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Proverbs: Of course size matters, you twit

Only those who don't have one essential part of an equation try to justify their missing half. What of the parent who claims "It's not the quantity, it's the quality" of the time he spends with his child? So are five minutes of "high-focus, bonding" time -- whatever someone thinks that is, I doubt the child is convinced -- better than an hour of doing next to nothing together? You need both sides of the equal sign to make any equation work.

Proverbs: Humor shows we are bigger than what is happening to us

Maintaining a sense of humor not only gives us perspective, but even dark or gallows humor reminds us that we are bigger than what is happening to us. Think Roberto Benigni in Life Is Beautiful. One thing about satire for the layperson: It often uses sordid material (as in, say, The Simpsons) to skewer, ridicule, and deflate that same sordid material. Try to appreciate humor for what it says about the thing ridiculed -- its societal context or moral sense -- not just whether it touches on a subject you feel comfortable (or uncomfortable) around. (I wrote a master's thesis on the use of satire and irony in Doonesbury.)

Proverbs: Build it _right_ and they will come

Press: Cheerful Ode to Lemons of Literature - NYT

Cheerful Ode to Lemons of Literature - New York Times: "'Man, when I first met Christy -- and this is no joke, a cliche but no joke -- it was like my heart was literally stuck on my esophagus,' Mr. Walloch read from 'Ash Wednesday' [by actor Ethan Hawke] as an audience of more than 40 groaned and giggled. It was soon revealed that Christy is a woman with a posterior so 'dynamite,' that, 'if you looked at her from the back you'd swear she was a black chick.'"

Proverbs: A ferocious little dog is a contradiction in terms

Molley barks at clomping repairmen, thumping neighbors, and curious cats in the abstract -- but once they are face-to-face, she shrinks and whimpers. (Even held securely on a leash, she lunges snarling at a cat, then leaps back yelping in fear of retaliation.) I say to her, "You're just a prisoner of your instincts, aren't you?" I think every dachsie -- male or female -- has excess testosterone.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Musings: Running amok in Houston

With seven to nine out of ten "vey-hic-les" being SUVs or super-sized pickup trucks or "dualies," Houstonians think off-roading is an urban sport: They drive off the interstate and plow over boulevards to reach the feeder road ahead of an exit if the lanes are backed up, or they just go wherever the hell they want if they change their mind about which way they're going. They may also zip and cut murderously through traffic, generally without using turn signals. It's more than mildly irritating to a law-abiding midwest-raised fella like me, but you have to agree that it wouldn't be Texas without some rebellion and obstreperousness. It certainly shows a sense of determination and can-do-it-iveness. Rules are boring anyway; following them all the time just gets you into a rut. No, wait; actually, it's off-roading and killing all the grass that gets you into a muddy rut...

Nostalgia: Ciro's and Charcoal Chicken are gone

The old Ciros and the Charcoal Chicken were razed today during the ongoing expansion of I-10 in west Houston. Let us bow our heads in a moment of silence and pray for a quick opening of the new and larger Ciros, farther west next to Guadalajaras, and a hopeful relocation for the Chicken too.

Press: Political Split Leaves a Church Sadder and Grayer - NYT

Political Split Leaves a Church Sadder and Grayer - New York Times: "For Mr. Buchanan, it came down to what he said was the Christian principle that one person cannot judge another. 'People try to separate sin, and you can't separate sin,' he said. 'They're the same, abortion and treating your neighbor like dirt. Anything that separates you from your God is sin. I can't say who's ungodly and who ain't.'"

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Press: Blogging, as in Slogging - NYT

Blogging, as in Slogging - New York Times: It's not "build it and they will come" -- but "build it right and they will come."

Press: Liberal Bible-Thumping - NYT

It's important to think critically (objectively) about the sociological context of religion and faith itself. ("First take the plank out of your own eye" Matthew 7:5) Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong has made cogent if controversial theological points for over three decades, though some of his assertions stray into speculation.

Liberal Bible-Thumping - New York Times