Friday, October 10, 2008

Parvum Opus 296 ~ Distractions

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Number 296


Me Neither

Barbara Wallraff of The Atlantic said:

I am not an academic linguist or an etymologist. Linguistics and what I do stand in something like the relation between anthropology and cooking ethnic food, or between the history of art and art restoration. ~ Word Court 2 (2000).

In some ways, as a reader, writer, and teacher, I’ve always felt like a sort of mental warehouse, factory, and distributor of information. Things come in, they get processed to a greater or lesser degree, and I forklift them back out neatly stacked on pallets.

Quiz Jock Overtly Thumps Fox, Dog, Jackdaw Band

Regarding “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog,” which uses every letter of the alphabet, Bill R. wrote, “I prefer ‘Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz’.” Both are arresting images but the quartz sphinx is new to me.

In the computer age, however, why should we rely on human wit? I entered the complete alphabet into Anagram Genius, an online anagram generator, which came up with this:

Mr Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx.

I didn’t think it could be done! The classic alphabet sentences have to add letters to make it work, but this one uses only the 26 letters.

Diameter Divided by Radius Multiplied by Length Equals...

Since the recent huge wind storm blew down a lot of trees and branches, brush pickups in one town are scheduled to collect “tree limbs no longer than 12 inches in diameter”. I thought it was just a one-time typo until further down the page I read about another community, “The usual rules have been relaxed. The city will collect tree limbs no longer than eight inches in diameter and between three feet and 13 feet long.” Apparently the rules of geometry have been relaxed too. Let’s see, a limb 12 inches long in diameter would be a disk. But 8 inches long in diameter, plus 3-13 feet long ~ now I’m confused.


Must ~ write ~ about ~ politics ~ can’t ~ stop ~ myself.

I’ve been working on a list of the Top Ten Reasons to vote for anyone else but Obama. A bit cheesy, I know, but these built-in cultural memes are writers’ templates; lists are handy text generators.

10. Obama’s typical white grandmother is now squished under his post-racist bus.

9. He obviously missed the “one of these things is not like the other” episodes of Sesame Street when he was growing up, because he compared the murder of 32 people at Virginia Tech to the “violence” of a stupid and insulting racial joke by Don Imus.

8. All those blasphemous magazine covers depicting “The One” with a halo put me right off, especially after learning that he voted more than once against requiring medical care for babies that survive abortions.

7. He hasn’t changed his middle name, Hussein, the way he’s altered other politically disadvantageous realities of his life, but nobody’s allowed to speak it.

6. Mighty oaks from little ACORNs grow. Obama served with Bill Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund, which helped fund ACORN, which has been signing up people from shelters and street corners in Ohio and elsewhere to vote early and often. Bill Ayers is now a member of the Miranda International Center, a think tank funded by the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez.

5. An anagram of Obama’s name, “As chubbier as an amok”, is ungrammatical.

4. When Obama became senator, his wife suddenly got a big promotion and raise at the hospital to which Obama then steered big government funds. If he becomes president, I’m afraid she’ll get promoted to “The Other” and her salary will be larger than the big bank bailout.

3. If Obama becomes president, while in office he’ll continue his life’s work of campaigning for a higher office. Which is...?

2. What part of “Chicago politician” don’t people understand?

1. In 20 years of church-going Obama missed all the “God da*mn America” episodes in Jeremiah Wright’s church. Traditionally Christians pray for their enemies. But America is not the enemy. We pray for our country through error and hardship and danger, to “stand beside her, and guide her through the night with a light from above.”

Mad Science

I’ve written before about Jok Church’s science cartoon that appears on the children’s page of the Sunday funnies in the Cincinnati Enquirer. He advised a teen to “be yourself” like Quentin Crisp, who decided at an early age not to be himself. Last Sunday, in "You Can U", Jok Church wrote about Joseph Priestly: "...he already knew what he wanted to prove and gathered evidence to support that belief. This is also how some folks now fight against ideas such as global warming." Of course that's also how some folks fight for such ideas as global warming. In an interview with the Washington Post, Church said,

Thomas Edison invented market research more than anything else. He decided what things he or his company could sell before they were invented. It was not pure research. It was research to reach the goal of a product he wanted to sell. And I rather respect that.

Oh yeah? Jok Church needs to be on a kids’ editorial page, not in the comics.


“Restavec” is the word for a child slave in Haiti, from the French for “stay here”. A Cincinnati man, Jean-Robert Cadet, who is a former slave, started The Restavec Foundation to help these children. Goodsearch is a search engine powered through Yahoo through which you can donate $.01 to his foundation or another charity of your choice every time you use it to search.

Here is what you do:

1. go to

2. look for the space that says “enter your charity here…” and click on it

3. enter the word “restavec” and the full name of the organization will pop up

4. use the above to enter whatever topic you would like to search, as you would for Google or any other search engine

You should never have to enter the name of the foundation again because the site will remember it for your computer.

You may also want to click the option to add Goodsearch to your toolbar.

Goodsearch also links to online shops that will donate a percentage of your purchase to the cause that you are supporting.

I personally wasn’t able to make this work with Firefox but it worked with Explorer.

Cadet wrote a book called Restavec: From Haitian Slave Child to Middle-Class American. If you’re interested in that, you may also want to read A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner, who spent four years researching modern slavery around the world.


Trivium pursuit ~ rhetoric, grammar, and logic, or reading, writing, and reckoning: Parvum Opus discusses language, education, journalism, culture, and more. Parvum Opus by Rhonda Keith is a publication of KeithOps / Opus Publishing Services. Editorial input provided by Fred Stephens. Rhonda Keith is a long-time writer, editor, and English teacher. Back issues from December 2002 may be found at Feel free to e-mail me with comments or queries. The PO mailing list is private, never given or sold to anyone else. If you don't want to receive Parvum Opus, please e-mail, and I'll take you off the mailing list. Copyright Rhonda Keith 2008. Parvum Opus or part of it may be reproduced only with permission, but you may forward the entire newsletter as long as the copyright remains.

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