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Sunday: November 30, 2008

Historico-Sociologico-Linguistic Query

Filed under: — site admin @ 9:06 PM GMT-0500

I gather from various English novels read over the years that public-school boys routinely called each other by their last names (perhaps still do), and that brothers were called (e.g.) ‘Smith major’ and ‘Smith minor’. I’ve always wondered what they did for more complex cases. Specifically:

  1. What if two unrelated boys had the same last name? Was the elder, or taller, ‘Major’ and the other ‘Minor’? I’ve taught as many as three unrelated Smiths in a class of 13 in Alabama.
  2. What did they call three or more brothers? This must have come up now and then. When the third one arrived, were the first two renumbered ‘Smith primus’ and ‘Smith secundus’ and the third called ‘Smith tertius’, like ancient Roman daughters?
  3. What did they do for twins, identical or fraternal? (When I was in graduate school, one of my friends had a pair of red-haired 5-year-old identical twin boys living next door. Since she couldn’t tell them apart and their names were Pat and Dan, she called them both ‘Pan’. They were as mischievous as their age, gender, and hair-color suggest, so it was a very suitable name.)
  4. I assume at least some of these schools are now co-ed. Has that affected the question, or did the last-name rule go out before the girls arrived?

Do any of my readers happen to know the answer to these questions?

Friday: November 21, 2008

Come On, Guys, It’s That Obvious

Filed under: — site admin @ 8:33 AM GMT-0500

Sometimes bloggers miss the most obvious rhetorical opportunities. Jammie Wearing Fool writes a post entitled ‘Obama’s Useful Idiots Discovering They’re No Longer Useful’, and neither he, nor any of his first 16 commenters, nor InstaPundit, who links to it, makes the obvious joke: No Longer Useful, Still Idiots.

Tuesday: November 11, 2008

How Alert Is Google?

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:40 AM GMT-0500

Belatedly wondering if anyone else had quoted Kenko’s proto-blogger manifesto, I did a Google search on “Kenko + blogger + Idleness + flatulence”. The first result of “about 93” was my own 11:57pm post, dated (timed?) “9 minutes ago”, which means that Google had it in their database approximately 25 minutes after I posted it. I would be less impressed if I had even 0.1% of (e.g.) InstaPundit‘s traffic.


Filed under: — site admin @ 12:19 AM GMT-0500

I’m not sure why my comments aren’t working, and why I can’t even use FTP. Until I can fix that, readers may contact me by e-mail at the following address, after carefully reversing it: gro.liveewrd@liveewrd.

Trivial Observation

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:16 AM GMT-0500

I drive past a potato chip factory every weekday, and never smell a thing, though it is only 30 10 feet from the road. It must have an extraordinarily effective ventilation system.

Legal Advice

Filed under: — site admin @ 12:05 AM GMT-0500

When arrested for public urination,* demand to be tried by a jury of your peers. Try not to smirk too obviously when pronouncing the last word.

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*This was the commonest charge listed in the police report column of the campus newspaper at a certain midwestern university where I once worked. (The second commonest was couch burning.)

Monday: November 10, 2008

A Fourteenth-Century Blogger?

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:57 PM GMT-0500

If I fail to say what lies on my mind it gives me a feeling of flatulence; I shall therefore give my brush free rein. Mine is a foolish diversion, but these pages are meant to be torn up, and no one is likely to see them.

(Kenko, Essays in Idleness 19, tr. Donald Keene)

Sunday: November 2, 2008

Danger Signs for Obama, II

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:06 PM GMT-0500

Since I first wrote about this almost a month ago, the sign war has heated up a bit. There are still a lot more Mark Warner (for the Senate) and Sam Rasoul (for the House) signs than Obama-Biden signs in rural areas, which suggests that McCain may well win some ticket-splitting Democrats. The number of McCain/Palin signs seems to have increased a lot starting a couple of weeks ago, when I also started seeing ‘I am Voting for the Chick’ signs, some of them quite large. I’ve also seen a few ‘Win the War’ signs. One house near Stuart’s Draft had no fewer than six signs when I drove by last week: the two just mentioned, one each for McCain/Palin, Gilmore (for the Senate), and Goodlatte (for the House), and a small one for Elizabeth Dole — an odd choice for a town so far from the North Carolina line.

Saturday: November 1, 2008

Milton on Reading

Filed under: — site admin @ 11:20 PM GMT-0500

                              However many books
Wise men have said are wearisom; who reads
Incessantly, and to his reading brings not
A spirit and judgment equal or superior,
(And what he brings, what needs he elsewhere seek)
Uncertain and unsettled still remains,
Deep verst in books and shallow in himself,
Crude or intoxicate, collecting toys,
And trifles for choice matters, worth a spunge;
As Childern gathering pibles on the shore.

(Paradise Regain’d, 4.322-30)