Thursday, January 24, 2008

Parvum Opus 262 ~ Diverse Dispissal


Number 262

January 24, 2008



From City Journal:

Booker T. Washington exhorted America’s industrialists to “cast down your bucket” not among new immigrants but “among the eight million Negros . . . who have without strikes and labor wars tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities.”

“Builded” is an antiquated form (now mostly seen in the Bible) that’s been replaced by “built”, a case where the regular verb was superseded by a slightly irregular verb form. The spelling followed the pronunciation; the letter D often becomes a T, but here we’ve lost an entire syllable. This T sound in the past tense appears in other words, such as slept, swept, kept, and wept, where the vowel sound also changed.


... why doesn’t the verb despise have a noun partner? Hate has hatred, loathe has loathing, abhor has abhorrence, and so on. Where is despision, or despiss, or despissal?

... where the term “shot glass” came from? I thought it might have something to do with bird shot or gun shot. Wikipedia indeed lists these among several theories of the origin of the name, but there’s no clear winner. But did you know jigger comes from chigger (a little thing that bites)?


Writer Paul Coehlo (also see Wikipedia) asks on YouTube for people to respond to his question, “How can we, as a society, meaning everybody, really improve the situation of the world?” This is much like another college assignment I blew through intellectual laziness, but Coehlo should know better. The professor gave us, as the final exam, the task of writing our own exam questions, extrapolated from the semester’s studies. I ended up with one question that I thought summed up everything, which I can’t remember but which was probably something like Coehlo’s. Aldous Huxley answered a similar question by saying that after a lifetime of thinking and study, all he had to suggest was that everyone try to be a little kinder to each other.

Of narrower and clearer focus are the Reel Geezers (search for them on, two movie professionals now over 80 who review new movies. Very sharp and funny.


In reading about Harry Truman, I learned that a lightfoot Baptist is one who dances or whose church allows dancing.


I heard Newt Gingrich on radio say “persecute this war” instead of “prosecute” (pursue). This is the kind of mistake that’s easy to make when you’re not speaking from a script, and the roots of the two words are very close: per sequi, follow through; por sequi, follow [for?]. Of course they don’t mean the same now and the distinction must be preserved (persevered?), although this war has certainly been persecuted as long as it’s been prosecuted.


Bill R. found this headline:

1-ton rodent remains discovered

By the time I followed his link, the headline had been changed, but it was used on other web news sites. Bill wrote, “One presumes they meant, ‘Remains of 1-ton rodent discovered’ since it's hard to undiscover something.” Reminded me of the old Saturday Night Live running joke, “Franco is still dead!” (although it’s a very different kind of joke).

Another headline from local news:

Xavier doing more than just talk about setting academic priorities.

This should be, “Xavier doing more than just talking ....” To my ear, the verb following “more than just” should be parallel to “doing”. Another possible headline might be, “Xavier does more than just talk about ....”


If I had a million dollars for every time I’ve been offered vast fortunes by Nigerian Scam letters, I’d have a lot of money. Here’s a particularly gorgeous example of this genre of writing:

Sequel to the secretive arrangement in regards of the shipment of inflated contract Funds, I wish to inform you that all necessary modalities have been automatically concluded enable the consignment leave London to your country thorugh an Express Cargo Flight (Diplomatic Delivery Agent). Note carefully the content of the crate/consignment is "MONEY U.S Dollar $14 Million Cash" but I did not disclose it to the Courier Services as Money, rather I declare the contain as Vital "DOCUMENTS AND EXPENSIVE AFRICA ART WORK" belonging to my client (that's you).


Yale has a complicated diversity program, with a diversity dean for every sort of minority; majority members are not, of course, diverse. I guess that makes them the same as themselves.

If you’re clear on your diversity, how’s your math? How’s your kid’s math? Check out this article on math to diversity course ratios at education schools at City Journal.

A link in the above-linked article led me to The Underground Grammarian, which has several books by the late Richard Miller posted in their entirety online and available, they say, for plagiarism:

Less Than Words Can Say

The Graves of Academe

The Leaning Tower of Babel

The Gift of Fire

... plus The Underground Grammarian newsletters, and more.

Further linkage turned up WitNit, not quite the quality of Miller’s work, I’d say, but pretty good and you’ll find loads of other intriguing links there.


Overheard in New York:

Teacher: Ben, you got a six out of ten. That's not great.

Ben: Mr. L*, I'm gonna tell you my life motto. It is, 'If you push me over the edge, I will grab you by the neck and pull you down with me... And then push you into Hell.'


Reader Dave DeBronkart (Dave DaBee) has two blogs worth reading. For the last year he’s been posting at about the treatment of some serious cancer. He wasn’t expected to live past some date in June, I believe it was, but he had fantastic treatment, optimism, and support, and thank God he’s still with us. He’s working on publishing this blog plus the many, many guestbook entries in an online book which will be a great source of practical information and inspiration for everyone who wants or needs it. Also, he’s asking if anyone has any experience with collaborative editing software (e.g. wiki-based web tools), please let him know.

Now Dave has started a new blog at Now, he’s thinking, “...what if at this point in the story it had turned the other direction? For some people who read it, that will be their outcome... what can we say to those people? I know many of you have had that outcome in your family or friends. If you have thoughts about what to say, please say so in the guestbook.”

(Once again, I’ll mention my old friend and PO reader Susan Shaver, who discovered she had leukemia about the same time that Dave learned of his cancer. She expected to have more time, but she died last year.)

Do read Dave’s old and new blogs and leave your thoughts in the guestbooks.

If anyone else out there has a blog, let me know about it and I’ll mention it in PO.


If you’re in a fair fight you didn’t plan properly.

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