Thursday, August 26, 2010

Parvum Opus 375: Post-Literate World


Number 375

Dulce, utile, et decorum est pro patria scribere


Use Your Library

One of the ways to use your local public library is to get them to buy books you want to read. Most libraries accept suggestions for purchases, whether via online form or in-person paper form. I recently suggested that the Cincinnati library purchase the new book by our friend and reader Dave deBronkart, Laugh, Sing, and Eat Like a Pig, based on the blog he wrote during his year-long bout with cancer. If and when the library buys the book, they’ll notify me. You might do the same at your library, and ask anything else you want to read.

Post-Christian, Post-Literate World

Heard on TV news:

There was a bomb threat at Lourdes on the Feast of the Consumption.

I’m no expert on the church calendar and I did look this up: there is a Feast of the Assumption, but not the consumption. Maybe the news reader was thinking someone went to Lourdes to be healed of tuberculosis?

Witless Script

Cheers mailman Cliff Clavin said:

Every day I have to trade wits with the Flanagan’s dog.

We may match wits (compete) with a dog, but even Cliffie didn’t trade his wits with a dog.

Another One for the -Ages

Kathy Robinson-Taylor (find her Beason News column at the Hur Herald) added this to the –age list: tunage, meaning music, not fish.

By the way, Dave DaBee wrote:

I assert that suckupage is suck-u-paj, and he meant suckuppage.

Hmm. OK. Maybe.

Onion Teleology

On a radio cooking program:

Yellow or white onions are meant to be cooked with, they’re not made to be eaten raw.

Unless you’re talking about hybrids, you can’t really talk about what vegetables are meant for. We may prefer to cook with the stronger tasting white and yellow onions, and perhaps the milder red onions and Vidalias were hybridized. But once you start talking about what onions are meant or made for, you’re getting close to saying God created them for a particular purpose. Could be true, but you might as well say a pig’s ribs are meant to be barbecued. I think they are, but the pig doesn’t, and who knows about the Creator?


Ever wish you could unsend a hasty e-mail? It’s sort of possible. There are two ways. If you use Outlook Express, all sent mail goes to a holding file called Sent and you have to go through another operation to actually send it.

Gmail now has a beta function that gives you a tiny window of opportunity to unsend mail, but you have to be quick, there are only a few seconds between hitting the send button and the actual transmission. In Gmail, go to Settings at the top right corner of the page. Go to Labs. Look through their list of new features in beta (experimental) stage and enable Undo Send. Then when you send a message, a yellow box appears briefly above the mail where you can click Unsend. Of course I usually think of unsending something about 24 hours too late.

More in Sorrow

This may be the first time I’ve ever disagreed with the righteous Anne deBronkart. In the last PO I wrote:

Remember Dave’s book, Laugh, Sing, and Eat Like a Pig: Fred wondered if the last comma in that series affects the meaning, that is, does the comma make it mean, or not mean, laugh like a pig, sing like a pig, and eat like a pig. In this case, I happen to know that Dave sings in barbershop quartets so he doesn’t sing like a pig, and doesn’t laugh like a pig. Eating like a pig remains.

Anne replied:

This seems like an "argument" that cannot be won. Obviously, as what you might call a traditionally-trained punctuater (read "old fashioned" - a fine drink, by the way), I'm in the minority here with my adherence to the comma after the last item in a series. F'rinstance:

Laugh, Sing and Eat Like a Pig = Laugh however you want, but Sing and Eat like a pig? Whereas Laugh, Sing, and Eat Like a Pig = Laugh (like a hyena, if you wish), Sing (like a nightingale, if you can), and Eat like a pig ...

All due respect to Fred, but I think the last comma makes a difference BECAUSE the Laugh and Sing then are freestanding, so to speak, not included even by implication in the "like a pig" phrase... I also enjoy Old Fashioneds, which bartenders don't know how to make these days, so I may well be out of luck in both the punctuation and drink categories. More's the pity…

Maybe the argument cannot be won but it can be continued. I think it's possible to attach one modifier to a string -- you can do it in the front ("She wore a blue dress, hat, and shoes") so why not in the back (“like a pig”)? I never heard a rule about having to repeat a modifier for every element. However, if you don’t repeat it, the meaning may be ambiguous.

Let’s all hoist an old-fashioned* on this one anyway.

* Bourbon, bitters, splash of water, sugar, maraschino cherry, orange wedge. Sounds good to me.

This and Thatage

Mike Sykes sent a bit of this and thatage:

· On disgruntled: I've certainly heard of someone being in need of regruntling, though not often.

· And I've certainly heard of someone being considered not very couth.

· We used to cross to France on a cross-flannel cherry.

· I'd never heard of “dilemna” either, until just last week, when I read:
(World Wide Words is always good.)

· On mixed singles and doubles: I've seen it said by someone I respect that "they", "their" will soon follow "thou", "thine" in being acceptable as a neutral singular as well as plural.

The Loser Letters

Mary Eberstadt wrote a book called The Loser Letters satirizing recent vehement anti-God ‘n’ religion books by Hitchens, Dawkins, and the rest. Someone on the side I learned that enthusiastic atheists have a web site for Brights, as they call themselves, people who believe in what they call natural but not in what they call supernatural. Pretty much saying I’m smart and you’re dumb, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah. Wouldn’t you feel a bit embarrassed to form a club and call yourself the Brights or the Good Lookings or the Superiors? Anyway, if you register on the web site you can call yourself a Bright too. Meanwhile, you may be a Dim.

Live Mocha

Live Mocha is a web site where you can learn a language free by exchanging e-mail with people who speak another language; you correct each other’s mail. Find out more at the NY Times.

The Weekly Gizzard: Moi on

Feds strong arm Cuyahoga County elections board

August 26, 2010

Jennifer Rubin reported in the August 23, 2010 Weekly Standard that the Justice Department has launched an attack on the elections board of Cuyahoga County, Ohio, because its Puerto Rican population supposedly requires ballots in Spanish. …

New York Muslims should rebuild Saint Nicholas

August 21, 2010

The Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York City was crushed when the World Trade Towers fell on 9/11. For various reasons they still haven't been able to rebuild the small church. Meanwhile, a big mosque is planned …



Buy Sonny Robertson’s intro biography on CD, When Sonny Gets Blue, at CafePress. (Note that if the text on the spine is misaligned, it’s the fault of CafePress, not me.) Also, four of his early pre-blues R&B dance songs are now on YouTube. Search for Sonny Robertson + The Tabs.


I’m publishing for the Kindle digital reader with Amazon and on for download to computer and for printing. Amazon now has a downloadable Kindle reader so you don’t have to spend hundreds on the little handheld device. Most of these titles are available in both locations. Search for Rhonda Keith on Kindle store and

* The Man from Scratch is about cloning, escort services, murder, and restaurants in Akron, Ohio, featuring Roxy Barbarino, writer for Adventuress Magazine. Novel.

* A Walk Around Stonehaven is a travel article on my trip to Scotland. Short article with photos. ( only.)

* The Wish Book is fantasy-suspense-romance featuring the old Sears Roebuck catalogues. Novella.

* Carl Kriegbaum Sleeps with the Corn is about a young gambler who finds himself upright in a cornfield in Kansas with his feet encased in a tub of concrete; how would you get out of a spot like that? Short story.

* Still Ridge is about a young woman who moves from Boston to Appalachia and finds there are two kinds of moonshine, the good kind and the kind that can kill you. Short story.

* Whither Spooning? asks whether synchronized spooning can be admitted to the 2010 Winter Olympics. Humorous sports article.

* Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Cats: One woman's tale of menopause, in which I learn that the body is predictive; I perceive that I am like my cat; and I find love. Autobiographical essay.

* Parvum Opus Volume I. The first year (December 2002 through 2003). You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll get PO’ed. Collection of columns.

NEW PRODUCTS in CafePress:

Scot Tartans: T-shirts and more (custom orders available).

T-Shirts & mug: FRESH PICT, with two ancient Pictish designs

BUMPER STICKER: FRESH PICT, white on blue, with 10th Century Pict-Scot Merman Cross (blue on white also available)

SIGG WATER BOTTLE, ORGANIC T-SHIRTS IN GREAT COLORS, MINI-CAMERAS, DENIM SHIRTS, MUGS, TOTE BAGS, MOUSE PAD, TEDDY BEAR, AND MUCH MORE AT Parvum Opus CafePress shop: (NOTE: There are problems viewing this site with Firefox but Earthlink seems OK.)

NEW: Click to Embiggen boxer shorts

Eschew Obfuscation bumper sticker


Graphic covers of my books

Dulce, Utile, et Decorum (Sweet, Useful, and Proper), title of new collection of Parvum Opus, Volume I

BUMPER STICKER: Dulce, Utile, et Decorum

No Pain, No Pain

Star o’ the Bar

Veritas Vincit (Truth Conquers) with Keith clan Catti insignia

Flash in the Pants

If you're so smart why aren't you me?

PWE (Protestant Work Ethic)

I am here maternity tops

I eat dead things (doggy shirt, pet dishes, and BBQ apron)

If you don’t see exactly what you want — a particular design or text on a particular item — let me know and I’ll customize products for you.


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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Parvum Opus now appears at It is also carried by the Hur Herald, a web newspaper from Calhoun County, West Virginia. See Editor Bob Weaver's interview with me (February 10, 2007 entry), and the PO every week in Columns.

WHEN SONNY GETS BLUE! At last, the first installment of Sonny’s biography is out on CD, When Sonny Gets Blue at Check out the video and music clips of great blues man Sonny Robertson and the Howard Street Blues Band at and, with his new original song, "A Different Shade of Blue". Listen to Judy Joy Jones’s interview with Sonny.

PEACE MISSION INDIA blogs the progress of Pastor Roy Jacob’s mission to build churches in India. Now 79, Pastor Roy (who is an Indian) has built 10 churches, and has a girls’ school to rescue girls from the mountains and jungles who otherwise might be married off as children or perhaps sold.

SEARCH IT OUT ON AMAZON : "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter." Proverbs 25:2;

"Get wisdom! Even if it costs you everything, get understanding!" Proverbs 4:7:

The poet Muriel Rukeyser said the universe is not composed of atoms, but stories. The physicist Werner Heisenberg said the universe is not made of matter, but music.