Thursday, May 6, 2010

Parvum Opus 368: Jamais Arriere

Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere


The unannounced two-week hiatus of Parvum Opus was unplanned and kind of unaccountable. Call it a combination of another computer crash and low energy. But I’m back in the saddle, and if I’ve overlooked any interesting commentary you might have sent, I apologize.

Don’t Let the Media Be Your Guide

>>> From an old copy of Mental Floss (if you want the exact issue, e-mail me), explaining Thomas Jefferson’s habit of shaking hands:

When Jefferson became president, he never wanted to be confused as a king.

It should have been “confused with a king” or “confused with kings” or “mistaken for a king” or any number of other possibilities. As is, it sounds as if he was a king and didn’t want to be confused. Prepositions can be tricky even for native English speakers.

>>> On TV :

I'm a little bit in the rears.

No, I didn’t mishear it, and it should have been “in arrears” (behind in paying the bills). The clan motto of the Douglas side of my family, by the way, is Jamais Arriere — Never Behind — but I don’t think it referred to bills.

>>> Ad for reality TV programming:

Not reality, actuality

I’m not sure what the difference is supposed to be, but it reminds me of a former loathed professor who talked about “Engaging in life, not just living!”, or possibly it was vice versa.

The Naming of Food

A Facebook conversation (not mine):

Iline came home this afternoon with six Rhode Island Red Chicks. Allie calls them "chicklets" and "chicklings". She was singing to them too. She'll want to give them all names, but you dont give a name to some thing you plan on eating. Aint I right?

My grandma had names for baby chicks. She called them "bitties" while they were fluffy. Then, when they got feathers, she called them "duties". I don't know why, but I am sure she had a reason.

I'd call them Chicken noodle, Chicken dumplin, Chicken potpie, Chicken soup, Chicken casserole and fried Chicken!! LOL

At the moment they would have to be called chicken nuggets. That is about the size of them.

The stuff designated as food on our farm never got a name.

I would name them all supper

Call them southern fried.

My daughter has found a few a her girls dead in the past few weeks and it has tore her out of the frame. I told her to stop giving them names and it won't hurt as much. We use ours for the eggs, can be used as meat birds but not as good.

This passage makes me want to move to the country. I been tore out of the frame lately, and it might could help.


President O said in a speech:

Whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower, and when conflicts break out one way or another we get pulled into them.

Listen to the sound clip and decide if “Whether we like it or not” modifies “we remain a dominant military superpower” or “we get pulled into them” which some post-speech apologists would like to maintain. There’s a big difference in intent and attitude if it modifies one or the other. Since the phrase leads the sentence, it’s most likely and most natural that it modifies the fact that we remain a dominant military superpower, so it sounds as if he doesn’t like that. If it modifies the second half of the sentence, it’s a dangling modifier. But you have to listen with your own ears.

Text Wrap Wrap-Up

Back to the problem of lines of text covering an entire screen, which makes it harder to read online. Last time I explained how to work with this, but let me add that if text on a web page is already set in a column format, the text lines don’t re-wrap when you narrow the window. Mike Sykes added this to the text reading problem:

And in case, like me, you find the mouse a bit fiddly:

· Hit - a little menu appears at top left of the window

· If "Size" is greyed-out, hit R - this will restore your window to its specified size.

· Otherwise, hit S (for size); then use the arrow keys to make the window the size you want.

· Hit (don't forget this, or you may wonder why nothing seems to work).
One of my gripes with Windows is that there are often too many ways of killing the cat, as in this case. You can also maximize or restore a window by double-clicking on the coloured title bar at the top, but you can't minimize, move, or resize it.

In some cases, the paragraphs will be chopped off instead of re-wrapping with new line breaks. This has to do with poor formatting and there’s not much you can do about that, other than try to slide the screen left or right.

Which is what happens at:

Don't believe everything you see at Tea Parties

and what you call "sliding the screen" is usually called "scrolling* the window" (the screen is the whole of the display area). You could well argue that it could equally well be called "panning", as with a camera, but it isn't - well not much. …

I can assure you that, in my many years of experience, this is standard practice. Sadly, it has the serious disadvantage that it can take a long time, sometimes years, to stumble across the easiest way to do something. For example, I'd been using Windows for some years before I came across the way to auto-adjust the width of all the columns in Windows Explorer (and various other places) is to hit ; that X, C and V are the easiest way to cut, copy and paste; that right-clicking (or hitting the context menu key) often avoids the need to go through menus.

(*I knew it was scrolling. In either case, the words refer to a physical action which only appears to occur on the screen.) Mike was sort of griping too about the fact that there is usually more than way way to do things in Word, but that gives you better odds of figuring out something by chance. The English language is difficult because there’s more than one way to say things, but this is why it is a useful language, nuanced and complex.

Mike also replied to: “You have to give him a lot of latitude.” My question was, why not longitude?

The meaning "Breadth, width" is Late Middle English and predated the navigational sense.

Lend Me A Loan

Dea Robertson asked about lend/loan:

A person on Face Book corrected my wife on using the word lend instead of loan. She asked, “Will you loan me your fish?” The player replied, “You mean will you lend me your fish?” I believe the second instance is probably incorrect. … I’d thought I’d ask you (in case it was something you could also use in O.P.), what’s an expert’s take on it?

Generally we use lend as the verb and loan as the noun. However, gives an example of loan as a verb dating back to 1644, and that usage is even older according to Quick and Dirty Tips. There's may be some difference in British and U.S. usage too. If you want to avoid geek criticism, even if the geeks are are wrong, use lend as the verb. But your wife ought to forward this note to her friend. Your wife was not wrong, and her friend wasn’t so right.

Changes in Latitudes

Dan Erslan replied to, "At the equator, the lines of latitude are spread apart to their maximum."

Your navigation dissertation was accurate except for the preceding quote. Latitude in this sentence should have actually been longitude. By the way, as a side note of possible interest, longitude is pronounced with a hard G in Canada. Every time I hear it, it makes my skin crawl.

Right. I can’t keep the terms straight unless I have a globe in front of my face. Lines of latitude, also called parallels, are horizontal lines. Longitude, also called meridians, run pole to pole and are furthest apart at the equator.

Crazy Burger King

Bill Roberts responded to the “crazy” Burger King ad:

I grew up in a small town in the 1950s and 1960s, and we had a village idiot—hulking-but-flabby guy name of Ray, who always had a massive carbuncle on the back of his neck. No matter where you were in town, he would eventually wander past. He was always greeted with a pleasant hello and a smile, even by teenagers—he was “part of the landscape”—but no-one tried to converse with him, even about the weather, since a hello or grunt was his most profound utterance. The town watched out for him—drivers would stop when they saw him approach a crosswalk; people would ask him where he was going (they knew where he lived) and redirect him toward home if he were too far off course. Different times…

Couldn’t call him the village idiot today even in the interests of truth, although you can vilify perfectly ordinary people who have different political opinions.

Ohio's Third Frontier may be a third rail

Monday, May 3, 2010

On the ballot May 4 is Issue 1, more money for Ohio's Third Frontier. If you've never heard of it, you...



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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. 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 2010. 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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