Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Words of the day: apophatic and cataphatic

The words of the day are apophatic:

< Greek ἀποϕατικός negative (see G. W. H. Lampe Patristic Greek Lexicon s.v.).
Applied to knowledge of God obtained by way of negation. (OED)

and cataphatic:

< Greek καταϕατικ-ός affirmative (καταϕῆναι to assent).
Defining God positively or by positive statements. (OED)

"Maeve is a recent theology Ph.D., and her thesis adviser turns out to be Paul (the edgy K. Todd Freeman), the astringent black longtime partner of Gus's older son, Pier Luigi (Stephen Spinella), a.k.a. 'Pill'.  When Maeve is first heard from, she's talking shop to Gus's sister, Clio (the subtle Brenda Wehle), a former nun and Maoist, who has been watching over Gus since his first attempt to slit his wrists, the previous year.  'Maeve Ludens, Doctor of Theology, unemployed, not exactly a bull market out there for us apophatic theologians, with a, with, you know, pronounced kataphatic inclinations', Maeve says, adding, 'But I'm kataphatic by nature, I'm just a cockeyed kataphatist!  So sue me!'  Nobody, not even Clio, knows what the hell Maeve is talking about; her speech, however, plays as a hilarious piece of pretension."

 - John Lahr, "High Marx: Tony Kushner's socialist spectacular", 16 May 2011 The New Yorker

Don't get me wrong: I'm 100% onboard with going with the Greek spelling, but you might want to be careful whom you're accusing of pretension, Mr. Lahr.  It's like spelling it "Akhilleus" instead of "Achilles".

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kamikaze and Cuba Libre

More experimentation at the Biological Chemistry student seminar series:


1 oz vodka
1 oz orange liqueur (such as Cointreau)
1 oz lime juice

In other words: like a Margarita, but with vodka instead of tequila.

I guess I'm just not really a vodka person: I don't see much point in drinking alcohol that doesn't have any flavor.  (I think that makes me old.)

Cuba Libre (from Jason Wilson's "Spirits: Long Live the Cuba Libre", 26 April 2011, The Washington Post)

2 oz rum
1/2 oz lime juice
(1/2 oz gin: optional)
12 oz Coca-Cola

Does Coca-Cola really need the additional sweetener of the rum?  Just because lime juice is present doesn't mean there's any less sugar.  Maybe I'll try cutting the Coke with club soda next time.  Or maybe it was just missing the gin.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Word of the day: agon

The word of the day is agon:

< Greek ἀγών, originally ‘a gathering or assembly’ ( < ἄγ-ειν to lead, bring with one), esp. for the public games; hence ‘the contest for the prize at the games,’ and by extension, ‘any contest or struggle.’ The plural is usually in the Greek form ἀγῶνεςagones /əˈgəʊniːz/ .
1. Ancient Greek Hist. A public celebration of games, a contest for the prize at those games; also fig.
2. A verbal contest or dispute between two characters in a Greek play. Also transf.  (OED)

"Ellen Page makes the most of these exchanges; indeed, she makes the movie.  'Ta-da!' Libby cries, when she first appears in her green mask.  She hollers with such abandon, sucked in by the blandishments of physical force, that you are left marvelling at the fidgety pit of ennui from which she must need to climb; the morality of the case - the righting of public wrongs, or Frank's need to win back his wife - is nothing by comparison, and, once our heroes start hurling homemade pipe bombs, 'Super' becomes a bizarre mirror image of 'In a Better World'.  That movie was all agon and no kick.  This is the other way around."

 - Anthony Lane, "Time Bomb: 'In a Better World' and 'Super'", 4 April 2011 The New Yorker

Monday, May 09, 2011

Word of the day: doyen

The word of the day is doyen:

< French doyen < Latin decān-usdean n.1 In sense 1 from Old French; in sense 2 anew from mod. French.
1. A leader or commander of ten. Obs.
2. The senior member of a body. = dean n.1  (OED)
"It may strike some viewers that the series’ juxtapositioning of the personal and the political trivializes history. A scene in which Rose, the doyenne of disapproval, is one-upping the new mother Jackie (Katie Holmes)—“I had all my children at home, as you know”—gives way to Bobby (Barry Pepper) bowing to his father’s will in agreeing to become attorney general, then cuts to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, then to a conversation between Bobby and J. Edgar Hoover (Enrico Colantoni), and then comes back to Rose instructing Jackie to learn to overlook her husband’s womanizing."

 - Nancy Franklin, "Glory Days: An American dynasty up close, in 'The Kennedys'", 4 April 2011 The New Yorker

EDIT:  Now that I'm looking back over this, now what I'm mostly struck by is the use of the word "juxtapositioning": wouldn't either "juxtaposing" or "juxtaposition" have been a better choice?

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Word of the day: spirochete

The word of the day is spirochete:

spirochete, also spelled spirochaeteScanning electron micrograph of the spirochete Treponema pallidum attached to testicular …
[Credit: ASM/Science Source] (order Spirochaetales), any of a group of spiral-shaped bacteria, some of which are serious pathogens for humans, causing such diseases as syphilis, yaws, Lyme disease, and relapsing fever. Spirochetes include the genera Spirochaeta, Treponema, Borrelia, and Leptospira.
Spirochetes are gram-negative, motile, spiral bacteria, from 3 to 500 micrometres long. Spirochetes are unique in that they have endocellular flagella (axial fibrils, or axial filaments), which number between 2 and more than 200 per organism, depending upon the species. Each axial fibril attaches at an opposite end and winds around the cell body, which is enclosed by an envelope. Spirochetes are characteristically found in a liquid environment (e.g., mud and water, blood and lymph).

Treponema includes the agents of syphilis (T. pallidum) and yaws (T. pertenue). Borrelia includes several species transmitted by lice and ticks and causing relapsing fever (B. recurrentis and others) and Lyme disease (B. burgdorferi) in humans. Spirochaeta are free-living, nonpathogenic inhabitants of mud and water, usually in oxygen-free regions. Leptospirosis, caused by Leptospira, is principally a disease of domestic and wild mammals and is a secondary infection of humans. (Britannica Online)

"Meanwhile, the Rosenberg video was entering the public consciousness, multiplying and regenerating like a spirochete. Within days, hundreds of thousands of people had watched it online—so many that servers crashed. A political analyst remarked that Rosenberg’s testimony was being translated into more languages than the works of Guatemala’s most famous poets and novelists."

 - David Grann, "A murder foretold: Unravelling the ultimate political conspiracy", 4 April 2011 The New Yorker

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Word of the day: garner

The word of the day is garner:

< Old French gerner, gernier, grenier storehouse, garret < Latin grānārium (usually grānāria pl), granary n. < grānum grain. Now less common than granary, except in rhetorical language. See also garnel n.1, garnery n., girnel n.
a. A storehouse for corn, granary. (OED)

"This old scholar, for instance, should have struggled to speak,
should not remember his words, paragraphs, books:
that garner of full-ripened grain must be hosed clean."

 - C. K. Williams, "Rat Wheel, Dementia, Mont Saint Michel", 4 April 2011 The New Yorker

Friday, May 06, 2011

Tapas Teatro

Last night we met Steve, Ollie, Emil, and Kathleen at Tapas Teatro for dinner, where I actually heard the word "scouse" used in conversation.  (Not that I thought Laurie Taylor was actually deceiving me, but...)

Also: apparently the British pronounce "basil and oregano" "BAZZ-ill and oh-reh-GAH-no".  (Or at least the ones from Somerset.  As Ollie pointed out, he can have a harder time understanding people from different regions of the UK than he does understanding Americans.)  And here I had been thinking that BASIL was an equally good solution to Isaac Asimov's Union Club mystery "Twelve Years Old".

Word of the day: theodicy

The word of the day is theodicy:

< French théodicée, the title of a work of Leibniz (1710), < Greek θεό-ς God + δίκη justice.(Show Less)
The, or a, vindication of the divine attributes, esp. justice and holiness, in respect to the existence of evil; a writing, doctrine, or theory intended to ‘justify the ways of God to men’.  (OED)

"My last god's a theodicy glutton, a good-evil gourmet-
peacock and plague, gene-junk; he gobbles it down.
Poetry, violence; love, war - his stew of honey and thorn."

 - C. K. Williams, "Rat Wheel, Dementia, Mont Saint Michel", 4 April 2011 The New Yorker

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Word of the day: factotum

The word of the day is factotum:

< medieval Latin factōtum ( < fac, imperative of facere to do + tōtum the whole) in phrases Johannes Factotum, Dominus Factotum, Magister factotum, which appear to be renderings in etymological equivalents of Romanic expressions = ‘John Do-everything’, ‘Mr. Do-Everything’; compare Italian fa il tutto, fattutto of similar formation. These phrases are found in 16th cent. in English, and Frère Jean Factotum (Paré a1590), Dominus Factotum also in French; their source has not yet been discovered. The word factotum without the prefixed words is used in German (as neuter n.) from 16th cent. (Grimm cites Fischart 1579), and in French and Italian from 17th cent.
1.a. In Latin phrases: Dominus factotum, used for ‘one who controls everything’, a ruler with uncontrolled power; Johannes factotum, a Jack of all trades, a would-be universal genius. Also fig.
b. One who meddles with everything, a busybody. 
c. In mod. sense: A man of all-work; also, a servant who has the entire management of his master's affairs. (OED)

''Ghannouchi was a factotum of the old regime, and even if he was, as he assured the public, only an interim leader, the Casbah protesters regarded the Tunisian revolution as woefully incomplete."

 - Steve Coll, "The Casbah Coalition: Tunisia's second revolution", 4 April 2011 The New Yorker

Still not quite sure what he means.


Last night we finally used our two Outback giftcards (one I got for volunteering at last year's housing fair, and one Morgan got for Christmas), at their Canton location.

(We don't go to Canton much, and in fact never noticed the Outback until we saw it driving back from Bo Brooks on my birthday.  (The Canton location does make the choice as a housing fair prize make a lot more sense.)  Once he spotted it, Morgan vowed to take me there the next time he had to pick me up because I was working late, and he did.)

In hindsight, we probably didn't need both the Bloomin' Onion and the Aussie Cheese Fries.

I was also proud of myself for asking the waitress to bring back my Sailor Jerry's Delight glass when she whisked it away, because I had been saving the cherries and strawberry garnish for dessert.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Teriyaki Noodles with Asparagus and Lima Beans

I made this for dinner on Monday, from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Teriyaki Noodles with Asparagus and Edamame

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 lb asparagus, [thick woody stems broken off], cut into 2-inch lengths
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
8 oz any rice, buckwheat (soba) or wheat noodles, preferably whole grain [I used whole wheat spaghetti]
2 cups shelled edamame, fresh or frozen (thaw them while you assemble the dish) [I used frozen baby lima beans, because I couldn't find any edamame at the grocery]
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin, or 2 Tbsp honey mixed with 2 Tbsp water [I chose the latter]

Cook the noodles, reserving some of the cooking water.
While the water's coming to a boil, heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.  When hot, add the asparagus and the scallions.  Cook, stirring, for a minute, then stir in the ginger and garlic.  Cook until the asparagus is dry, hot, and beginning to brown and get tender, 5 to 10 minutes; if the noodles aren't done by now, remove pan from heat.

When the noodles are done, and when the asparagus is ready, turn the heat under the asparagus to medium.  Add the noodles, beans, soy sauce, mirin, and ~1/2 cup of the reserved water.  Cook, stirring, until heated through, about five minutes.  Serve hot.

Word of the day: filigree

The word of the day is filigree:

Abbreviated < filigreen: see filigrane n.
a. ‘Jewel work of a delicate kind made with threads and beads, usually of gold and silver’ ( Encycl. Brit.). 
b. The art of making this work. (OED)

"She had a great busby of frosted hair and a pair of filigreed glasses that, in the dim light of the bar, made it hard to get a good look at her eyes."

 - Nick Paumgarten,  "The Musical Life: Lu in the afternoon", 4 April 2011 The New Yorker

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Word of the day: busby

The word of the day is busby:

Busby is the name of an English village, and also a personal surname of some antiquity, well known as that of Dr. Richard Busby, Head Master of Westminster School 1640–1695.
1. A kind of large bushy wig. Obs.
2. A tall fur cap, with or without a plume, having a bag (generally of cloth, and of the colour of the facings of the regiment) hanging out of the top, on the right side; worn by hussars, artillerymen, and engineers; hence, one who wears a busby. Also busby-bag.

I still had a hard time visualizing it, so here's an image, lifted from the internets:

"She had a great busby of frosted hair and a pair of filigreed glasses that, in the dim light of the bar, made it hard to get a good look at her eyes."

 - Nick Paumgarten,  "The Musical Life: Lu in the afternoon", 4 April 2011 The New Yorker

Monday, May 02, 2011

Word of the day: busk

The word of the day is busk:

apparently < obsolete French busquer ‘to shift, filch; prowle, catch by hook or crook; busquer fortune to go seek his fortune’ (Cotgrave), < Italian buscare ‘to filch, to prowl, to shift for’ (Florio), or Spanish buscar, Old Spanish boscar to seek; perhaps originally ‘to hunt’, or ‘to beat a wood’, < bosco wood.
 1.a. intr. Of a ship: To beat or cruise about; to beat to windward, tack: with adv. about, to and again. Also to busk it out : to weather a storm by tacking about. 
b. ‘To cruise as a pirate’.  [Perhaps the original sense: compare Italian buscare, French busquer (above).] 
c. trans. to busk the seas : ? = to scour the seas.
2. fig. To go about seeking for, to seek after.
3.a. slang. See quots. (But perhaps this is a distinct word.) Now usu., to play music or entertain in the streets, etc.
b. trans. and intr. To improvise (jazz or similar music). Musicians' slang.  (OED)

"She worked as a waitress and busked in the East Village and sometimes rode the subway out to Queens to play at a bar called the Flushing Local."

 - Nick Paumgarten,  "The Musical Life: Lu in the afternoon", 4 April 2011 The New Yorker

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Word of the day: encomium

The word of the day is encomium:

< Latin encōmium, < Greek ἐγκώμιον (ἔπος) eulogy.
A formal or high-flown expression of praise; a eulogy, panegyric. (OED)

"The staff sergeant delivers a long encomium to the dead and then says, briskly, 'None of that matters right now,' to gleeful sniggers from the audience. If it doesn’t matter, why include it?"

 - Anthony Lane, "Out There: 'Battle: Los Angeles' and 'Paul'", 21 March 2011 The New Yorker