Downwind of Amsterdam
February 2003

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February 27, 2003

Favorite rare words, M-O Logolatry

Macrophobia -- fear of prolonged waiting.

Madarosis -- loss of eyelashes or eyebrows.

Maffick -- to celebrate exuberantly and boisterously.

Malaproprism -- misapplication of words without mispronunciation.

Malversation -- corruption in office. corrupt administration, misconduct.

Margaritiferous -- pearl-bearing.

Marline -- small rope wound about larger rope to keep it from fraying.

Maschalephidrosis -- massive sweating of the armpits.

Maudlin -- tearfully sentimental.

Meconium -- first feces of a newborn child.

Meretricious -- of or relating to prostitution, gaudy, flashy.

Merkin -- pubic wig.

Metromania -- insatiable desire for writing verse.

Mewling -- crying feebly.

Miasma -- foul vapors from rotting matter, unwholesome air.

Mizzle -- to rain in small drops.

Mugwump -- one who is neutral politically.

Mullock -- waste earth or rock from a mine.

Mumpsimus -- view stubbornly held even when shown to be wrong.

Mustelid -- of otters, badgers, and weasels.

Myomancy -- divination from the movements of mice.

Nathalie -- la Reine de Nancy (bonsoir, Nathalie!).
OK, so that's a proper name. Let's keep moving...

Naupathia -- sea sickness.

Nemoral -- of a wood or grove.

Nepenthe -- something capable of making one forget suffering (rhymes with absinthe?)

Neritic -- belonging to the shallow waters near land.

Nippitatum -- exceptionally good and strong ale.

Nipter -- ecclesiastical ceremony of washing of feet.

Nostrum -- secret or quack medicine.

Novercaphobia -- irrational fear of one's stepmother.

Nugatory -- inconsequential, inoperative, futile, trifling.

Nunnation -- addition of a final n in the declension of nouns.

Nyctanthous -- flowering at night (I love the way this word looks on the page.)

Oakum -- old ropes untwisted for caulking the seams of ships.

Obsequent -- flowing in opposite direction to original slope of land (as in the east end of Arizona's Grand Canyon).

Obstreperous -- noisy, unruly.

Oenology -- study of wine.

Oikology -- science of housekeeping.

Oikonisus -- desire to start a family.

Oleaginous -- oily; fawning or syncophantic.

Ololygmancy -- divination by the howling of dogs.

Omphalopsychite -- one who meditates by gazing at the navel.

Oose -- furry dust that gathers under beds.

Oppobrium -- disgrace, bad reputation.

Orarian -- costal, a coast-dweller.

Oriel -- small room or recess with a polygonal bay window.

Ouroboros -- snake eating its own tail, symbolizing totality or completion.

Once more: these are selected from Steve Chrisomalis's wonderful Forthright's Phrontistery site.

posted by eric at 22.26 CET | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 25, 2003

Madison is No-Go (finally)

Lunch today with a representative--let's call him "X"--from a major food lab. Looks like I won't be living in their base town of Madison, Wisconsin.

This is a good story.

One Tuesday evening in June 2000: I shared a charming dinner with X and two of their senior people, this at the Old Warsaw in Dallas. One of the truly finest meals of my life, both for the dinner and the company, who were dressed impressively. They went on about how they loved Madison, its cultured life, and the company. Now it's true that their company is dynamite, and presumably a dynamite place to work. It was hard not to get the impression that they were recruiting me. There was no point in pursuing this unless I was sure I could live in Madison, and nothing settles that like a visit.

The next Friday: I flew to Chicago O'Hare and drove into Madison at sundown. After stifling Dallas and Orlando, the air seemed positively breathable. What a nice place. I wanted to know what kind of house I might afford there, so I found X's address on the internet and drove the rental car by. It was forested, and over the garage was a balcony, eminently livable. I rolled down the car window to see better, and as I was gazing to remember the house later, up from the balcony stood a barely clothed, sunbathing X with whom I had dined four days earlier, a thousand miles away. I obscured my face my eyes and drove off as fast as I could. This would have been very hard to explain.

September 2001: Messed up as all the flights were in mid-September, I managed to get to Madison for another look. It rained the entire trip, and since I lost time at both ends from hastily rescheduled flights, it was a bust. Had a nice dinner at the Orpheum, though, a sort of lobby restaurant, two tables wide and elbows bumped from the narrow aisle.

January 2002: January 20 is the coldest day of the year in Madison, so I flew up to see for myself. The weather charts didn't lie. The rental car plowed through six inches of snow, and I stopped for Mexican food of all things. I stopped in a mall for a pair of gloves--not much call for them in Orlando. Got nice leather ones. When I walked to the Orpheum for dinner, I was frozen, and when I got a table facing the door, I set my coat and gloves in the chair opposite me. Three sips into my wine, who walks in the door and scans the entire restaurant but X and his wife. Heart attack. They walk to a table behind me, his wife even bumps my elbow as they pass. My face disappeared into the wine glass and I tried to make myself very small. I ate fast, paid, rushed out onto windy, frigid State Street. My hands were cold--I had forgotten my new gloves! I deliberated, decided it was not worth it to go back in--how would I explain it? I never saw those gloves again.

February 2002: Lunch with X in Orlando and I handed him a resume. Over the next months I talked with their vice-president on the phone a few times, and they seemed interested, but slow.

Today: Lunch with X, at the same restaurant (they like to come down in winter). Lots of talk about their new facilities and what it can do for my present company, Minute Maid, but--in the end they don't have a position. This caps it.

I spent a lot of time imagining life in Madison, but it has all the look of something just not meant to be.

posted by eric at 19.24 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

Can't eat just one

I munched one Girl Scout cookie while I drove away from the stand. But when I tried to stuff the rest back in the box, the wrapper wouldn't go back around. In fact, the only way to get the tray back in the wrapper and back into the box was to eat the whole row of cookies first. So: a third of a box of cookies down the hatch before home. And at this rate I'll need more by tomorrow.

OK, maybe girls have been playing tricks on me for a long time, but this was special.

posted by eric at 8.45 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 20, 2003

Old America v New Europe A thought

Excerpts from's new column Old America v New Europe

Who has been lying about whose age? There are few more enduring assumptions about transatlantic relations than that Europe represents age and America youth.
Despite its youthful population, America is often more wedded to traditional values. American churches are full every Sunday with worshippers dressed in their finery. Public events regularly begin with a performance of the national anthem. American tabloids eschew the naked breasts that bounce all over their European cousins. What is political correctness but Victorian prudery in modern dress?
Americans are also much more inclined than Europeans to solve today's problems with reference to the wisdom of their ancestors. Americans routinely make monumental decisions--such as whether people can carry guns or whether women can have abortions--with reference to the designs of a group of 18th-century gentlemen who wore knee-breeches and powdered wigs.
Rather than being about Europe's old age, the transatlantic divide arguably has more to do with Europe's attempt to become something utterly new--and with America's inability to appreciate this. In his timely book, "Of Paradise and Power: America versus Europe in the New World Order" (Knopf), Robert Kagan argues that Europe is trying to find a "post-historical paradise"--a self-contained world built on transnational rules and negotiations. The United States, by contrast, remains "mired in history"--trapped in a Hobbesian world of power politics in which international laws are unreliable and true security depends on your ability to bash the bad guys.
posted by carter at 13.03 CET | Permalink | Comments (2)

Call Sherwin-Williams A thought

Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary is real concerned about color coordination.

"When the state of Florida goes to orange after the country goes to orange, the regional domestic-terrorism task forces go to orange," said Beary, ". . . But I'll be honest with you, I'm concerned about people not being on the same color code."
posted by eric at 8.41 CET | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 19, 2003

Squirrel fishing A thought



photo credit Yasuhiro Endo

posted by eric at 23.32 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

Nerds & popularity A thought

Today's lunch I spent with a wonderful blog article Why Nerds are Unpopular. I doubt his thesis that teenagers' craziness is due to idleness--the teenagers I know are sleep-deprived (and their parents are tired of driving) from after-school activities. But most of my colleagues, having grown up smart in suburbia, will no doubt recognize themselves in this long piece.

...why are smart kids so consistently unpopular? The answer, I think, is that they don't really want to be popular.
If someone had told me that at the time, I would have laughed at them. Being unpopular in school makes kids miserable, some of them so miserable that they commit suicide. Telling me that I didn't want to be popular would have seemed like telling someone dying of thirst in a desert that he didn't want a glass of water. Of course I wanted to be popular.
But in fact I didn't, not enough. There was something else I wanted more: to be smart.
We have a phrase to describe what happens when rankings have to be created without any meaningful criteria. We say that the situation degenerates into a popularity contest. And that's exactly what happens in most American schools. Since the group has no real purpose, there is no natural measure of performance for status to depend on. Instead of depending on some real test, one's rank ends up depending mostly on one's ability to increase one's rank. It's like the court of Louis XIV. There is no external opponent, so the kids become one another's opponents in an inexorable zero-sum competition.
Those who suffer most by this are the kids who would be the happiest if the school's purpose were really what it's claimed to be.
posted by eric at 12.58 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 18, 2003

Clowns Left and Right A thought

Among thousands of protesters of whatever sincerity, only the most flamboyant his mother must be so proud... draw the cameras, but--I have to wonder if the intellectual pictured on this entry's Left Wing believes himself a credit to his passion, if he can see himself as others see him...whether he thinks about such things at all. I wonder if it has occurred to him that he dissuades more than he persuades. I wonder.

Similarly, on the Right Wing: I wonder if the clown who writes the blog Antie Idiot's Aryan Rot-Piler has any idea that he is dismissed as a buffoon. (Despite his URL, there's no evidence he's ever heard of Will Rogers' "nice doggie" quote.) The validation he craves terribly comes only from wackos. He opposes anyone who smells capable of thought, and wonders why he loses the arguments he starts. I doubt it's his crudity or tunnel vision that makes him stupid; I more suspect that he results from some kind of Natural Selection for Stupidity working at Bloggery's outer fringes.

posted by eric at 22.03 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 17, 2003

Toward US ID cards A thought

From CNET article this morning: Closer to a national ID plan?

A little-known company called EagleCheck is hoping to provide a standardized identity check technique that governments and corporations will use to verify that you are who you claim to be...If EagleCheck or a similar system succeeds, it raises the specter of something akin to a national identity card...
Needless to say, this massive database would end up bursting with detailed records of all our life's activities. It would be incredibly valuable to police and create an irresistible temptation for misuse...if there's another terrorist attack on the United States, all bets are off.
For now, the key question about EagleCheck is whether its records of our electronic comings-and-goings will be purged or stored. When used at airports, it makes sense to keep the information on hand for a day so--until planes safely land--before deleting it, but in other situations the justification for any data retention is much weaker. The problem is that given such an informational gold mine, the FBI and the Justice Department won't let that happen.
posted by eric at 19.08 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

Dolly's dead

No kidding. The first serious clone died at age 6 of a lung disease that doesn't usually afflict sheep until age 10-12. [BBC article]

She was cloned from mammary DNA--is that why they named her Dolly?

posted by eric at 19.01 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 16, 2003

34 Ways to Annoy People A thought

from Across the Board, March 2000.

  1. Leave the copy machine set to reduce 200 percent, extra dark, 17-inch paper, 99 copies.
  2. In the memo field of all your checks, write "for sensual massage".
  3. Specify that your order at the drive-through window is "to go".
  4. If you have a glass eye, tap it occasionally with your pen while talking to others.
  5. Stomp on those little plastic ketchup packets.
  6. Insist on keeping your car windshield wipers running in all weather conditions "to keep them tuned up".
  7. Reply to everything someone says with "That's what you think."
  8. Practice making fax and modem noises.
  9. Highlight irrelevant information in scientific papers and "cc:" them to your boss.
  10. Make beeping sounds when a large person backs up.
  11. Finish all your sentences with "in accordance with prophecy."
  12. Signal that a conversation is over by clamping your hands over your ears.
  13. Disassemble your pen and "accidentally" flip the ink cartridge across the room.
  14. Holler random numbers while someone is counting.
  15. Adjust the tint on your TV set so that all the people are green and insist to others that you "like it that way" (I do this when leaving hotel rooms).
  16. Staple papers in the middle of the page.
  17. Publicly investigate just how slow you can make a "croaking" noise.
  18. Honk and wave to strangers. (especially with spouse in car).
  19. Decline to be seated in restaurant, and simply stand by the cash register, eating the complimentary mints.
  21. type only in lowercase
  22. dont use any punctuation either
  23. Buy a large quantity of orange traffic cones and reroute whole streets.
  24. Repeat the following conversation a dozen times: "Do you hear that?" "What?" "Never mind, it's gone."
  25. As much as possible, skip rather than walk.
  26. Try playing the William Tell Overture by tapping the bottom of your chin. When nearly done, announce: "No, wait--I messed up" and start over.
  27. Ask people what gender they are.
  28. While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.
  29. Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.
  30. Sing along at the opera.
  31. Go to a poetry recital and ask why each poem doesn't rhyme.
  32. Ask your coworkers mysterious questions, and then scribble their answers in a notebook. Mutter something about "psychological problems".
  33. Tell your friends four days prior to their party that you can't attend because you are not in the mood.
  34. Send this list to everyone in your e-mail book, even if they sent it to you or have asked you not so send things like this.
posted by eric at 16.53 CET | Permalink | Comments (1)

America's time, too, shall pass A thought

Every young nation's period of dominance runs out. Deny this as the US might, sincere as US beliefs are regarding History's coming to them rather than their own needing to serve History. Well, Marxists thought so, too. Everyone ends up in the dustbin of history. It's what you make of your time on top that counts.

In the March 2003 Atlantic magazine is an article (not yet on their web site) that mentions a recent Bill Clinton speech:

America's current world dominance is "clearly a fleeting moment" that will end when China and India fulfill their ambitions and other powers rise. Therefore the United States should use the "magic moment" to build institutions it can rely on when the moment passes.

This seems to me a statement of uncommonly good sense. When you are dealt a string of good luck, arrange things with the world to your long-term advantage. Consider who has succeeded and failed at this. The Dutch and English pushed their momentary advantages in the useful directions, and their cultures thrive to this day. They do differ: the English influence on the worlds' acceptance of the rule of law is obvious; the Dutch boosting of long-distance trade and cultural tolerance is less obvious but has never been extinguished. The Spanish at the same time did not arrange things to their advantage, tried to live off the gold, and when it ran out--poof. Before and after the Revolution, the French did it right, and to this day they exert global influence very many times their proportion of population and wealth. In 1900 the Germans had similar advantages, but they spent the first half of the 20th century frittering it away and worse, and they are still viewed with suspicion and wracked with guilt.

The US generally believes that their present youth and strength will keep them always first in the world (and that Europe's being old must just mean that something is wrong with them). This is both as touching and as ridiculous as the teenager's conviction that he will remain forever young and that people grow old and die only because they somehow didn't know any better. But if this teenager denies the inevitable truth as he grows into middle-age, as the US is doing, and if he fails to prepare for his years after youth, he'll have little to live on later. The failure will be doubly hard, since in addition from his powerlessness, the failure will be his own fault. He frittered away his youth even as his elders told him to shape up. He was sure he'd be young and strong forever.

posted by eric at 12.21 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 15, 2003

Undeservedly fine day

Hard to post here today. Hard to spend much time at a computer in this undeservedly fine February weather, 80F/27C, blue sky, southerly breeze. Excuse for the ladies to wear loose clothing, for birds to swarm and squawk, for squirrels to dodge trolling convertibles.

This too shall pass. I'll post more often when it does.

posted by eric at 19.10 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 13, 2003

Liberty's outta here A thought

If Patriot Act II or anything like it passes, France would be entitled to its Statue of Liberty back.

posted by eric at 22.18 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

Favorite rare words, J-L Logolatry

Jalousie -- outside shutter with slats (glass ones much beloved by old Florida).

Jannock -- outspoken, honest, outgoing.

Jess -- ringed strap tied to leg of falcon or hawk.

Jettatura -- the evil eye.

Jounce -- to bump or jolt.

Jumart -- impossible mythical offspring of a cow and donkey.

Kakistocracy -- government by the worst.

Kalon -- beauty that is more than skin deep.

Katzenjammer -- uproar, clamor.

Keck -- to retch, to feel disgust.

Keelhaul -- to punish by dragging under keel of a ship.

Kephalonomancy -- divination using a baked ass's head.

Killock -- a small anchor.

Klaxon -- loud mechanical horn.

Kohl -- eyeshadow, mascara (as in ancient Egyptiana).

Labeorphily -- collection and study of beer bottle labels.

Lacuna -- blank space or missing part.

Lagan -- wreckage or goods at bottom of the sea.

Lagniappe -- an extra little something shopkeeper gives customer for buying (had to get that in).

Lairwite -- fine given to married women for adultery.

Lallation -- childish speech, mispronunciation of speech sounds.

Lanyard -- cord for hanging a knife or whistle (or GPS, these days) around the neck.

Lapillus -- small stone ejected by volcanic eruption.

Latitat -- writ based on supposition that person is in hiding.

Leiotrichous -- having straight hair.

Ley -- mystical straight line between features of landscape.

Ligger -- horizontal timber of a scaffolding.

Lighter -- large open boat used in loading and unloading ships.

Ligyrophobia -- irrational fear of loud noises.

Limn -- to portray, paint, or delineate.

Lippitude -- soreness of the eyes.

Litotes -- understatement by affirming using negation of the contrary (e.g., pas bĂȘte).

Livedo -- pathological blueness of skin.

Loganamnosis -- mania for trying to recall forgotten words.

Logorrhea -- excessive flow of words, uncontrollable garrulity.

Lollop -- to bound about wildly.

Lupanarian -- of or pertaning to a brothel.

Lynchobite -- one who works at night and sleeps in the day.

Lydian -- effeminate; luxurious.

Lythcoop -- auction of household goods.

Once more: these are selected from Steve Chrisomalis's wonderful Forthright's Phrontistery site.

posted by eric at 21.41 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 11, 2003

Project Management 101

Sounds like the author of the Acerbia site has been there:

The rules of "Project Stalling" are simple.
1) If you cannot find something wrong with the project you must add to it pulling on all available resources and getting as many other people involved as possible until it breaks down again 2) If you can find something wrong then you can pass it back to the person who messed it up and have them add to it until it breaks down again 3) If the project is ever completed you lose. If anyone is fired because the project has not been completed, you lose.
posted by eric at 21.57 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sweet telemarketing revenge A thought

Martijn Engelbregt of Amsterdam offers this Brilliant Anti-telemarketing Counterscript. Gleefully read it back into the phone the next time your dinner is interrupted. Try--just try--not to laugh as they sputter. Sweet.

posted by eric at 20.43 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

Banished words--2003 Logolatry

Someone had to take a stand against the gag-fodder that worms its way into our vocabulary. "Banished Words 2003" distills for our convenience the very worst offenders, in hopes we will rally to defend the language.

posted by eric at 20.35 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 10, 2003

Sticky fingers A thought

Oklahoma's Newschannel 8 reports tonight that:

Oklahoma City (AP) -- A Muskogee senator has authored a bill to require cloth napkins be used when eating barbecue...he introduced the measure in response to a campaign donor's request 15 years ago.

posted by eric at 22.45 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

Favorite rare words, G-I Logolatry

Gabbart -- barge.

Gabelle -- a salt tax.

Galeanthropy -- pathological belief that one is a cat.

Galilee -- porch in front of a church.

Gamomania -- obsession with making odd marriage proposals.

Gat -- opening of strait between two sandbars.

Gelasin -- dimple in the cheek that appears when one smiles.

Gewgaw, geegaw -- toy, trifling object, bauble. (bauble is already an interesting word.)

Gibbet -- gallows.

Gleet -- mucus discharge from the urethra.

Gnomon -- upright rod of a sundial.

Gomphiasis -- looseness of the teeth.

Gradgrind -- one who regulates things by means of statistics.

Grallatory -- relating to wading birds.

Greaves -- tallow waste.

Gudgeon -- metal pin or bearing for connecting rudder to boat; separately, a person easily cheated.

Gymnosophy -- deep contemplation perfomed while naked.

Gynotikolobomasophile -- one who nibbles on women's earlobes.

Gyromancy -- divination initiated by falling from dizziness.

Hadal -- part of the ocean below 6000 meters.

Halophilous -- tolerant of salt or salt water.

Hamartia -- flaw in a character leading to his downfall.

Harridan -- sharp-tongued, scolding woman.

Hemeralopia -- day blindness, vision requiring dim light.

Hod -- V-shaped trough for carrying bricks or mortar on the shoulders.

Hylozoism -- doctrine that all matter is endowed with life.

Hyperbaton -- rhetorical device in which word order is reversed.

Hyperborean -- inhabitant of the extreme north.

Hypostrophe -- return to primary argument after a digression.

Iatramelia -- medical negligence.

Idioglossia -- private language developed between children.

Ilicic -- of or pertaining to holly.

Imago -- idealized mental image of a person.

Impanate -- embodied in bread.

Inquisiturient -- eager to act as an inquisitor.

Insulse -- lacking wit, dull, insipid.

Interamnian -- between two rivers.

Interfluve -- area between two rivers that flow in the same direction.

Intertrigo -- skin rash due to friction between two moist surfaces (time to diet!).

Iridian -- having or suggesting the colors of a rainbow.

Irroration -- watering a plant with discharge of a sick person ( this is so common that we need a word for it?).

Ismatic -- addicted to "isms" or faddish theories.

Ixiodic -- of or pertaining to ticks.

Time again to note that these are selected from Steve Chrisomalis's wonderful Forthright's Phrontistery site.

posted by eric at 21.00 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 9, 2003

Hydrogenmania A thought

Just this morning, in the usually fairly accurate Atlantic magazine, I read this article that reduces to: "How hydrogen will save the 21st century." Not a word about where all the hydrogen will come from, except the Airheadism: "perhaps we can extract it from water." Marie Antoinette would approve...

Might as well say: "The poor are so short of cash, so why don't they extract credit cards from water?"
Might as well say: "If the US can't afford dollar bills to pay for oil, why don't they just use five-dollar bills?"

W, too, got this completely wrong in his State of the Union address. I can forgive such silliness in Moron W from Planet Petro. But from the Atlantic's energy writer responsible for explaining it to millions, it's hard to forgive such silliness, and the sooner the US renounces SUV Denial Syndrome and stops mewling for Presto-Magic energy, the sooner it may find an actual solution or two.

Attention W: When the bread ran out, there was no cake ready. And Marie lost her lovely head.

posted by eric at 8.47 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 8, 2003

Favorite rare words, D-F Logolatry

Dasyure -- flesh-eating marsupial.

Davit -- device for hoisting and lowering a boat.

Delf -- drain, ditch, excavation.

Delope -- to fire one's gun into the air during a duel.

Demersal -- subaqueous, living underwater, sinking to the bottom.

Deray -- to go wild, to derange.

Diallelus -- circular argument.

Dinomania -- mania for dancing.

Disagio -- fee charged for exchanging foreign or depreciated currency.

Disomus -- monster with two bodies.

Dodoism -- stupid remark.

Duende -- power to attract through personal charm.

Dysania -- having a hard time waking up in the morning.

Dysteleology -- doctrine of purposelessness.

Dystopia -- place where all is as bad as possible.

Eagre -- sudden rise of tide in a river.

Ebberman -- one who fishes under bridges.

Ecdysiast -- striptease performer.

Eellogofusciouhipokunurious -- good.

Elaphine -- like or belonging to a red deer.

Eldritch -- horrifying, arcane, strange.

Elydoric -- painted with both oil and watercolor.

Engastration -- stuffing of one bird inside another.

Engrailment -- ring of dots around edge of a coin.

Epanadiplosis -- sentence beginning and ending with same word.

Epenthesis -- insertion of extra sound into a word (common in Dutch).

Epeolatry -- worship of words ("Plead guilty, your Honor.").

Ephemeron -- creature that lives for only one day.

Esker -- ridge of sandy soil.

Estrapade -- horse's attempt to throw its rider.

Euripus -- arm of the sea with strong currents.

Eyot -- small island in a lake or river.

Fagottist -- bassoon player.

Falderal -- nonsense.

Fanal -- lighthouse or beacon.

Fanion -- small flag used in surveying land.

Ferule -- cane or rod used for punishment.

Fimicolous -- living in dung.

Flapdoodle -- gross flattery, nonsense.

Flews -- drooping or pendulous lips.

Flumen -- the right to direct excess rainwater into neighbor's yard.

Fontinal -- growing near springs.

Footle -- to waste time, act foolishly (from French foutre, I'd guess).

Frantling -- mating call of a peacock.

Frogmarch -- to carry an uncooperative drunkard or prisoner.

Frowst -- to luxuriate in hot stuffiness and stupefaction.

Fug -- hot, close, smoky state of atmosphere.

Futtock -- rib of a ship.

Frantling is famously from the wonderful, celebrated line in Finnegans Wake: "no chare of beagles, frantling of peacocks, no muzzing of the camel, smuttering of apes."--frantling is the word that actually caused me to find the phrontistery site. Indeed, a google search gives only two meaningful hits: James Joyce and the phronistery site.

Selected from Steve Chrisomalis's wonderful Forthright's Phrontistery site.

posted by eric at 11.02 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

Skeptic's Annotated Bible A thought

Perhaps The Skeptic's Annotated Bible protesteth a bit too much, but you can't fault its comprehensive lists of inconsistencies within the Bible.

For example: Is there to be a resurrection from the dead? Support for whichever answer you prefer at the moment.

posted by eric at 10.57 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

Frantic digital clock A thought

This Flash-driven DIGITAL CLOCK just cracks me up for some reason. (Thanks, Larry!)

posted by eric at 10.12 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 5, 2003

asinine poetry Logolatry

Just found The Journal of Asinine Poetry, housing the very worst poetry, truly revolting, horrific stuff. I post two examples, that you might barf as I have done:

excerpt from
Daniel Sciarra

MY humans have squalor
with filth underneath
and theyre jealous of me
cause I have all my teeth
the day will come soon
Ill get shot in the head
cause theyre jealous of me
and the life that I've led

You get the idea. As H.L.Mencken once wrote in a review, "It is so bad that a sort of grandeur creeps into it."

Graham Everett

ALL the revolutions so far
have only made the enemy
more clever. Egads.

posted by eric at 22.40 CET | Permalink | Comments (1)

Favorite rare words, A-C Logolatry

Abasia -- inability to walk due to lack of muscular coordination.

Aboulia -- inability to make decisions.

Adamitism -- nakedness for religious reasons.

Adeem -- to cancel a bequest by destruction of the bequested object.

Aegis -- protection, support.

Agiotage -- playing the stock market.

Ait -- small island in lake or river.

Alexia -- inability to read.

Algolagnia -- sexual pleasure derived from inflicting pain.

Allolallia -- Speech disorder featuring randomly spoken words.

Alphonsin -- instrument used to extract bullets from bodies.

Anhedonia -- Unresponsiveness to pleasure.

Aphemia -- loss of ability to produce articulate speech.

Apharasia, aphasia -- inability to speak.

Apodysophilia -- feverish desire to undress.

Apophasis -- saying something by stating that you will not mention it.

Aubade -- musical announcement of dawn.

Austringer -- keeper of goshawks.

Automysophobia -- fear of being dirty.

Balistraria -- cross-shaped opening in wall for firing arrows.

Ballottement -- diagnosis of pregnancy by applying sharp force to abdomen.

Barnard -- member of gang of thieves who acts as a decoy.

Batten -- timber used to fasten down a door or hatch.

Bellecism -- inclination towards violence, hawkishness (French as well, of course).

Bethel -- place of worship for seamen.

Bight -- wide bay; or bend or coil in a rope.

Bitts -- posts mounted on a ship for fastening ropes.

Blissom -- subject to or having strong sexual desires.

Blype -- piece of skin that peels off after a sunburn.

Bogan -- quiet tributary or backwater.

Bollard -- short post on a wharf of ship to which ropes are tied.

Boman -- well-dressed criminal.

Brasero -- place where criminals and heretics are burned.

Bream -- to clean a ship's bottom by burning off seaweed.

Burke -- to suppress quietly, to bypass or avoid.

Byssus -- mummy-wrapping fabric.

Cabotage -- coastal trade between points in the same country.

Cacotopia -- a state of being in which everything is as bad as it can be.

Caesura -- natural breathing space in a line of verse.

Callipygous -- having beautiful buttocks.

Camarilla -- secret society of favourites of the king.

Carfax -- place where four roads meet (not LA's leading cause of road

Catasta -- scaffole or stage for torture or for selling slaves.

Cavil -- to raise trivial and frivolous objections.

Chelonian -- pertaining to turtles or tortoises.

Cienega -- marsh or swamp.

Cisvestism -- wearing strange or inappropriate clothes.

Cledonism -- circumlocution to avoid speaking unlucky words.

Clew -- corner of sail with hole to attach ropes.

Cloaca -- sewer, toilet, cesspool of moral filth.

Clyster -- enema.

Coaming -- raised edge around ship's hatches to keep water out.

Codswallop -- something utterly senseless, nonsense.

Conaiker -- coin counterfeiter.

Counterfoil -- part of ticket or cheque retained by giver.

Crepitus -- fart.

Cuddy -- right of a landlord to entertainment from a tenent.

Cynanthropy -- pathological belief that one is a dog.

Cyprian -- lewd woman, prostitute.

Selected from Steve Chrisomalis's wonderful Forthright's Phrontistery site.

posted by eric at 22.27 CET | Permalink | Comments (1)

February 1, 2003


Two weeks ago, I started outside to watch Columbia take off. I went back in to drag a couple of young coworkers outside--their first launch. Even from our parking lot 50 miles away we saw the length of the intense orange flame. One of my techs jumped up and down, clapping her hands.

So this morning I walked into town for breakfast. I looked through the leaves to the sky--why no pair of sonic booms?

posted by eric at 21.16 CET | Permalink | Comments (0)