Friday, June 24, 2011

leek tomato shrimp couscous concoction

I didn't make it to the farmers market yesterday until ~12:30, so I missed the raspberries.  I did get some blueberries and tomatoes from the one (1) produce stand.

I was inspired by the Kojo Nnamdi Show the previous day, when the guest talked about how healthy, sustainable, affordable, and convenient sardines are.  He specifically mentioned about how great it is that anyone can walk into a 7-Eleven and pick up a tin that, with a few slices of tomato and some mayonnaise, makes a healthy meal in ten minutes, but on my walk back from the library and the hardware store, not one (1) of the three (3) convenience stores I stopped in had sardines.  (They did all have Libby's Vienna Sausage: go figure.)

So instead I relied on the shrimp I had in the freezer for my protein.

Leek Tomato Shrimp Couscous Concoction

4 tbsp butter
2 leeks (leftover from Tuesday), trimmed and sliced
4 large tomatoes, chopped
~1/2 cup white wine (leftover from Tuesday)
12 shrimp, thawed (about five minutes in a sandwich bag in a large bowl of warm water does the trick)
1 cup couscous

Melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the leeks; cook until soft.  Add the tomatoes and the wine, heat through.  Add the shrimp and cook until pink and opaque.  Add the couscous: stir, cover, turn off the heat for five minutes.

I'm particularly proud of this recipe because it was comprised almost entirely of leftovers and what I had in my cupboards (the only exception being tomatoes, which the rest of the dish was built around), and I concocted it without a recipe.  It was also pretty fast, and delicious.  (The amount of time that it sits is just about the right amount of time to wash up the rest of the dishes, so cleanup after dinner is fast, too.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup with Parmesan

Tuesday night, after dinner, I made "Roasted Asparagus and White Bean Soup with Parmesan" from The Food Matters Cookbook, and we reheated it for dinner yesterday.

We had Dogfish Head's Theobroma with it (a bottle we picked up during our February trip to Rehoboth).  It wasn't bad, but, like their Midas Touch, it was disappointing.  Our favorite so far has been Chateau Jiahu, which had a floral and complex flavor.

Word of the day: strait

The word of the day is strait:

Middle English streit, < Old French estreit tight, close, narrow, also as n., narrow or tight place, strait of the sea, distress (modern French étroit narrow) = Provençal estreit, Spanish estrecho, Portuguese estreito, Italian stretto < Latin strictus (see strict adj.) past participle of stringĕre to tighten, bind tightly: see strain v.1, stringent adj.
A. adj.
I. In physical senses: Tight, narrow.
1.a. Of a garment, etc.: Tight-fitting, narrow. Obs. exc. dial.
b. Of bonds, a knot: Tightly drawn. Obs. 
c. Of an embrace: close. Obs. 
d. Tense, not lax. Obs. 
e. Of the chest: Constricted, ‘tight’. Of the breath: Difficult, ‘short’. Obs. 
2.a. Scanty or inadequate in spatial capacity; affording little room; narrow. Of bounds, limits: Narrow. Now rare exc. in too strait.
b. Of a place of confinement. lit. and fig. Obs. 
3.a. Of a way, passage, or channel: So narrow as to make transit difficult. Now rare in lit. sense.
b. fig. and in figurative context. Now arch. after Bible use, esp. as strait and narrow (ellipt.), a conventional, limited procedure or way of life. 
4.a. Having little breadth or width; narrow. Obs. 
b. Of cloth, ribbon, etc.: Narrow. Obs. 
II. Strict, rigorous. 
5.a. Of conditions, sufferings, punishment, etc.: Pressing hardly, severe, rigorous. Obs.
b. Of modes of living, diet, etc.: Involving hardship or privation; severely regulated. Obs. 
c. Of a religious order, its rules, etc., also of a sect: Rigorous, strict. Obs. 
6.a. Of a person, an agent: Severe, stern, strict, exacting in actions or dealings. Obs. 
b. Rigorous in principles; strict or scrupulous in morality or religious observance. arch. 
7.a. Of a commandment, law, penalty, vow: Stringent, strict, allowing no evasion. Obs. exc. arch. 
b. Of a legal instrument: Stringently worded, peremptory. Obs. 
8.a. Of actions, proceedings: Conducted with strictness. Obs. 
b. Of guard, watch, imprisonment: Rigorous, strict. Cf. A. 2b. Now rare.
c. Of a siege: Close. Obs. 
III. Limited in scope, degree, or amount. 
9. Scanty, poor in degree. Obs. 
10.a. Of fortune, means, circumstances: Limited so as to cause hardship or inconvenience; inadequate. Obs.
b. Of a person: In want of, straitened for. Obs. exc. dial. 
11. Of words: Limited in application or signification. Obs. exc. dial. 
12. Strictly specified, exact, precise, definite; esp. of an account, exactly rendered. Obs. 
13. Of friendship, alliance, etc.: Close, intimate. Now rare.
14.a. Reluctant and chary in giving; close, stingy, illiberal. Obs. 
b. Of a person's ‘heart’: Contracted in sympathies, narrow. (OED)

"In 1948, through the exertions of people like James Bryant Conant, the president of Harvard, the Educational Testing Service went into business, and standardized testing (the S.A.T. and the A.C.T.) soon became the virtually universal method for picking out the most intelligent students in the high-school population, regardless of their family background, and getting them into the higher-education system. Conant regarded higher education as a limited social resource, and he wanted to make more strait the gate. Testing insured that only people who deserved to go to college did. The fact that Daddy went no longer sufficed."

 - Louis Menand, "Live and learn: why we have college", 6 June 2011 The New Yorker

I'm going with "rigorous" here.

This appears to be an allusion to "Invictus", by William Ernest Henley:

OUT of the night that covers me, 
  Black as the Pit from pole to pole, 
I thank whatever gods may be 
  For my unconquerable soul. 
In the fell clutch of circumstance
  I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
  My head is bloody, but unbowed. 
Beyond this place of wrath and tears 
  Looms but the Horror of the shade, 
And yet the menace of the years 
  Finds, and shall find, me unafraid. 
It matters not how strait the gate, 
  How charged with punishments the scroll, 
I am the master of my fate:
  I am the captain of my soul.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Boll weevil

Last night was the first meeting of the JHMI Choral Society this summer.  The first song we worked on was a traditional (supposedly, I'd never heard of it) song called "Boll Weevil".  Here are the lyrics:

Oh, the boll weevil is a little black bug, came from Mexico, they say.
Came all the way to Texas, came a-lookin' for a place to stay.
Now the first time I saw that little black bug, he was sittin' on a plant.
I said, "Hey there, boll weevil, if you think you're gonna stay, you can't."

Well, the next thing I new, that little black bug crawled around without a care;
He was mighty well contented, 'cause he had all his fam'ly there.
Well, I got mad and told the little bug, "Now, you better run and hide."
And the boll weevil said, "Can't do it, 'cause my fam'ly has multiplied.

"And we gotta have a home, and we gotta have a home", etc.
And they gotta have a home, and they gotta have a home, etc.

I got on my knees, "Boll weevil," said I, "You're a treatin' me with scorn.
You've eaten up all my cotton crop, now you're startin' on my field of corn.

"Can't you find another home, can't you find another home?"

When the merchants came around to buy, I didn't have a bale to sell.
I could not pay the mortgage, and heavily in debt I fell.

Now I haven't got a home, no, I haven't got a home, etc.

Oh, the boll weevil is a little black bug, came from Mexico, they say.
Came all the way to Texas, and I wish he'd go away!

So the first time we sang this song, I thought it was a cute little song about how a homeowner's life can be ruined by an insect infestation.

But then Soroosh pointed out that there was a problem with the lyrics.  At first I thought he just had trouble understanding them, but no, he went on to argue that the boll weevil is not simply an insect in this song, it's a metaphor.  And then, on closer inspection, I saw that, yes, the song about the intruder that came from Mexico to Texas, settled down, and had descendents, whom the narrator tells to go home and whom the narrator blames for destroying his livelihood, is indeed troubling.

So: is this song racist?  And if it is, when you sing a song that you think really is about an insect, and to whose disturbing undertones you're blissfully oblivious, is that racist?

Word of the day: remittance

The word of the day is remittance:

< remit v. + -ance suffix. Compare later remittence n.
1. = remission n. (in various senses). Obs. rare. 
2. A sum of money or (formerly) a quantity of an item transferred from one place or person to another. Also: the action of transferring money, etc., to another place or person. (OED)

"The Fijian press has denounced Timoci Lolohea, Meridian’s director, as a 'fraudster' and 'con artist.' But some Fijian officials seemed to have condoned such activities, in the hope of bringing remittances from U.S. military operations. 'The government knows that more men are leaving for Kuwait and Iraq and it is a good thing, because it is providing employment for the unemployed,' Fiji’s Minister for Labor, Kenneth Zinck, said back in 2005."

 - Sarah Stillman, "The invisible army: for foreign workers on U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, war can be hell", 6 June 2011 The New Yorker

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Word of the day: cerement

The word of the day is cerement:

< French cirement ‘a waxing, a searing; a dressing, closing, covering, or mingling with wax’ (Cotgrave), < cirer to wax: compare also cere v. 2, to wrap (a corpse) in a waxed cloth or shroud. Always concretely in English: compare covering, wrap, wrapping, shroud, and similar vbl. ns. (Sometimes erroneously pronounced ˈsɛrɪ- after ceremony.)
a. Almost always in pl.: Waxed wrappings for the dead; loosely, grave-clothes generally. Rarely in sing. = cerecloth; winding-sheet, shroud. (App. caught up by modern writers from Shakespeare, and used in the same loose rhetorical way as urn, ashes, etc.)
b. fig. (Chiefly in reference to ‘bursting cerements’ or similar notions.) 
2. The action of ‘cering’ a dead body or its covering; the wax used. rare. 
3. Waxy coating generally. rare.  (OED)

"And finally, there it is: your face, floating
at my feet with nose pressed to transparent black ice;
yes, you are certainly dead, all the signs point to it.
Wrapped in white cerements,
white face more youthful
and grave than I have ever seen it, frowning slightly
as though it were reading, one eye blind
in a blond swath of hair,
vague smile like the velvet depression
the lost diamond has left in its case"

 - Franz Wright, "Recurring Awakening", 6 June 2011 The New Yorker

I like how the OED calls it an erroneous pronunciation rather than an alternative pronunciation.

Monday, June 20, 2011

weekend update

Friday night I made "Pan-cooked vegetables with crunchy fish" from The Food Matters Cookbook for supper.  (I forgot to add the curry powder until after the vegetables were done cooking, but it seemed to turn out ok.  I was also surprised that the fish actually did turn out crunchy.  It's very similar to his stir-fried sweet potatoes recipe, but with the breaded, fried fish on top.  Very easy.  Fish, as it turns out, are actually quite easy to cook: not quite sure why it took me so long to learn that.)

We also watched Once from Netflix.  (You might remember it as the film that won Best Song despite all of Enchanted's nominations.)   As Morgan pointed out, it was the most wholesome movie we've seen in years (no sex, no violence, no crime, no bad role models at all), and yet it's rated R, because the characters speak in the way people actually speak.  I think it's high time to abolish the MPAA: we don't have some board telling us what books are safe for our children to read, so why do we need someone telling us what movies are safe for our children to see?

Saturday we biked to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and back.  I made "New Orleans-style BBQ shrimp with vinegary black-eyed peas" (also from The Food Matters Cookbook) for a sort of early supper (I had a late breakfast, and thus didn't get any lunch).  I liked it, but, having never been to New Orleans, I'm afraid I don't know how authentic it was.

Saturday night we went to Evan and Alison's and met some of their friends.  Morgan very cleverly brought our copy of Apples to Apples: Alison had never played it, so it was a winner.  It's a good party game, in that the rules are very quick to learn and it doesn't require much concentration, but on the other hand it's a lot more fun with people you know.  I submitted "Humphrey Bogart" for "brave" (because, after all, just about every Humphrey Bogart movie I've seen ends with him reaching deep down into his selfish, cowardly self to find the true hero within), and Shereen just about broke my heart when she asked, "Who's Humphrey Bogart?"

Sunday we finally made a trip to Goodwill to donate all of the refuse we've been generating over the last few years: we just about filled the entire trunk.  I got a haircut (because I've been getting headaches once again) at the Great Clips next door (who knows how long that's been there, because I distinctly remember looking for such a haircut place in that shopping center before and not finding one), and then we perused the Goodwill.  I may never buy from any other retail store again.  We picked up a $10 rolly chair that is distinctly superior to the one we picked up from Target a few weeks ago (we'll probably complete the cycle by taking that one to Goodwill next).

Sunday evening Vince and Laura came over for their last night in Baltimore before they move to Portage.  We went to Jack's Bistro to live the double dream of the bacon burger (not a beef burger with strips of bacon, but an actual ground-bacon burger) and poutine.  (We read about this in an article about indulgent food The Baltimore Sun, but their search function seems to leave something to be desired.  If you find the article, please let me know.)  (Of course, Vince, who has family in Canada, was less impressed by the poutine than I was, but at least we were able to get him some mac and cheese and chocolate.)  Then we finally used our Living Social deal (along with the rest of the city, as it seems) at Pitango Gelato.  We started to walk around Fells Point, but then Laura's flip-flop exploded.  Fortunately, she was able to get a replacement at Party Dress (kudos to them for being open Sunday evening), and we headed back to our house to watch The Little Mermaid.

I think The Little Mermaid is a really well-done film, but, as with so many Disney films, it chokes on the ending.  It expresses adolescent angst as well as any other literature I've seen (I, at least, have a much easier time identifying with Ariel than with Holden Caufield), and it doesn't try to explain too much.  Why does Ursula have such a beef with Triton?  Why did she use to live at the palace, but doesn't anymore?  Does it have something to do with the fact that she eats seafood?  The answers are left to our imagination, and so much the better for it.

Also, as Morgan points out, in the actual films, most of the members of the Disney Princess Franchise spend their time trying not to be princesses (going on adventures, etc.), but somehow that gets lost in the marketing.


I first heard about SlutWalk on A Lie of the Mind, but it wasn't until I heard this news story on "All Things Considered" that I realized that SlutWalk extended beyond Chicago.

I was disappointed to learn that I'll be out of town for SlutWalk Baltimore on July 23, but the density of the Eastern seaboard is paying off for me, so I'll be in DC on August 13.  If you want to march to end rape culture, too, check out the satellite page to find a SlutWalk near you.

(Obviously, you don't have to dress like a slut, or even be female: allies welcome.)

Word of the day: jonquil

The word of the day is jonquil:

< modern Latin jonquilla = French jonquille, Italian gionchiglia, or Spanish junquillo, diminutive of junco, Latin juncus rush; so called from the rush-like leaves.
1. A species of Narcissus ( N. Jonquilla), having long linear leaves and spikes of fragrant white and yellow flowers; the rush-leaved Daffodil.Hence extended to allied species, as   large jonquil n. Narcissus odorus.  small jonquil n. N. pusillus.  Queen Anne's jonquil n. N. pusillus plenus. 
2. A pale yellow colour like that of the jonquil.  [ < French jonquille.] 
3. A canary-bird of jonquil colour. (OED)

"Who am I worthless that You spent such pains
and take may pains again?
I do not understand; but I believe.
Jonquils respond with wit to the teasing breeze."

 - John Berryman, "A Prayer for the Self", as heard on The Writer's Almanac

I'm going with flowers here, but birds are also possible.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Mismeasure of Science...continues

The Berman Institute of Bioethics's bulletin called my attention to this New York Times article about this PLoS Biology article, and all I can think is, whatever happened to peer review?

Sure, one interpretation is that Stephen Jay Gould just made it up.  I'm not going to say that's impossible.

But let me get this straight: we're testing the hypothesis that a priori biases can affect supposedly objective scientific observation by...making scientific observations and assuming they're objective?

This entire paper hinges on the premise that, sure, racism may have existed way back in the 19th century, but certainly we modern scientists have no a priori biases that could possibly influence our own measurements.  The experimental design to test Gould's premise is built entirely around assuming the premise is incorrect.

This paper doesn't prove that the biases don't exist, they're just showing that they're reproducible, which is not at all unreasonable: racism isn't just an individual's opinion, it's a system incorporated structurally into our society.

Fortunately, science has invented a way to get around this problem (or at least try to).  It's called blinding your data.  Instead of picking a skull out of the bin labeled "African" and then measuring it (which appears to be how this study was done), could you at least have one person take the skull out of the bin, slap an identifying code onto it, and then hand it to a second person, who makes the actual measurement (and doesn't know which bin it came out of)?.  This only partially avoids the problem (because you might still be able to guess by looking at the skull what ethnicity it comes from), but the authors didn't even do that much.

PLoS Biology, I'm not impressed.

Word of the day: calutron

The word of the day is calutron:

< California University cyclotron.
Physics. orig. U.S.
945    H. D. Smyth Gen. Acct. Devel. Atomic Energy Mil. Purposes xi. 187   The ‘calutron’ mass separator.
1945    H. D. Smyth Gen. Acct. Devel. Atomic Energy Mil. Purposes xi. 189   The 37-inch cyclotron was dismantled‥and its magnet was used to produce the magnetic field required in what came to be called a ‘calutron’.
1946    Ann. Reg. 1945 355   An electromagnetic method [of separating 2 isotopes] using a magnetic separator, called a calutron, first constructed from the California University cyclotron.
1956    Nature 28 Jan. 157/1   The calutrons which are now used for enrichment of the isotopes of all the elements. (OED)

In summary, a mass spectrometer that can be used to separate isotopes (in this context, uranium isotopes).

"Despite years of covert operations inside Iran, extensive satellite imagery, and the recruitment of many Iranian intelligence assets, the United States and its allies, including Israel, have been unable to find irrefutable evidence of an ongoing hidden nuclear-weapons program in Iran, according to intelligence and diplomatic officials here and abroad.  One American defense consultant told me that as yet there is 'no smoking calutron', although, like many Western government officials, he is convinced that Iran is intent on becoming a nuclear state sometime in the future."

 - Seymour M. Hersh, "Iran and the bomb: How real is the nuclear threat?", 6 June 2011 The New Yorker

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Word of the day: peroration

The word of the day is peroration:
< classical Latin perōrātiōn-, perōrātiō concluding part of a speech, summing up < perōrāt-, past participial stem of perōrāre (see perorate v.) + -iō-ion suffix1. Compare Middle French, French †péroration concluding part of a speech (1506; now replaced by péroraison (1671))

1. A speech, a discourse, an address; a rhetorical passage or speech. Also (occas.) as a mass noun: speech, discourse.  
2. A concluding part of a speech or written discourse which sums up the content; a rhetorical conclusion, esp. one intended to rouse the audience. (OED)

"Much of his address bore the earmarks of an extended column from the Sunday Times - a factually specific condensation of the first decade of the twenty-first century - plus a peroration specific to the occasion.  'The most important part of being a commencement speaker is to recognize that you are the last thing standing between a graduating class and some much deserved fun', he observed. 'So savor the day, the night, and even the morning after.'  Then, heeding his own wisdom, he got out of the way."

 - Mark Singer, "Pomp and circumstance", 6 June 2011 The New Yorker

Monday, June 13, 2011

Word of the day: maladroit

The word of the day is maladroit:
< French maladroit clumsy (1538 in Middle French), tactless (1642) < mal-mal- prefix + adroitadroit adj. 

Lacking in adroitness or dexterity; awkward, bungling, clumsy, inept. (OED)

"Kushner had calculated that an honorary degree from the New School would bring his total to seventeen, with one more to come the following week, from John Jay College of the City University of New York.  The latter had spawned a noisy mess a few weeks earlier, when a maladroit CUNY trustee, having misrepresented to  other board members Kushner's views on Israel and Palestine, briefly succeeded in having the honor rescinded: a cause célèbre that Rich, in his speech, would cite as symptomatic of a post-9/11 'climate of ugliness - a new McCarthyism'."

 - Mark Singer, "Pomp and circumstance", 6 June 2011 The New Yorker

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Word of the day: rebarbative

The word of the day is rebarbative:
< French rébarbatif repellent, disagreeable (14th cent. in Middle French) < Middle French rebarber to oppose, stand up to (13th cent. in Old French; < re-re- prefix + barbebarb n.1, hence probably literally ‘to stand beard to beard against’) + -atif-ative suffix.

Repellent; unattractive; objectionable.  (OED)

"Nonetheless, She, haunted by their lost love, has seen all his stage performances; He has watched every one of her 'Law & Order' episodes.  In a sense, 'Stage Kiss' is a ghost play in which both the play-within-the-play and the rebarbative lovers keep the past present.  Is life imitating art?  Or is art imitating life?  Ruhl, in her gleeful counterpoint, gets to have it both ways."

 - John Lahr, "Mouth to Mouth: Sarah Ruhl on attraction and artifice", 30 May 2011 The New Yorker

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Word of the day: sine qua non

The word of the day is sine qua non:

Latin, sine without + quā, ablative singular feminine of quī which (agreeing with causa) + nōn not.
1. With adjectival force: Indispensable, absolutely necessary or essential.
a. Following upon a noun (orig. cause).
b. Used attributively. 
2.a. Somebody or something indispensable. (OED)

“A natural affinity linked abolitionism and antivaccinationism.  Both upheld bodily self-possession as the sine qua non of human freedom; both distrusted institutions; and each evoked public scorn in its time as the dangerous cause of a lunatic fringe.”

 - Michael Willrich, Pox: An American History, as quoted by Michael Specter in "Resistant: Why a century-old battle over vaccination continues to rage", 30 May 2011 The New Yorker

Friday, June 10, 2011

Word of the day: antinomian

The word of the day is antinomian:

< medieval Latin Antinomi the name of the sect ( < Greek ἀντί against + νόμος law) + -an suffix.
A. adj.  Opposed to the obligatoriness of the moral law; of or pertaining to the antinomians.  
B. n. One who maintains that the moral law is not binding upon Christians, under the ‘law of grace.’ spec. One of a sect which appeared in Germany in 1535, alleged to hold this opinion. (OED)

"'Gitanjali', full of addresses to a nameless god who is lover, consoler, and friend, gives Tagore's mysticism a melancholy, quietist feel.  But the Indian novelist Amit Chaudhuri, who provides a critical preface to 'The Essential Tagore', places Tagore 'in the lineage of Nietzsche, Whitman, Lawrence, and others who made a similar rebuttal of negation', and the comparison is a useful reminder of the radical, even antinomian side of Tagore's spirituality.  This is the Tagore we see in a poem like 'The Restless One', which pictures the divine as pure motion:

You race on, race on, furiously you race
Wild, running apace,
Never turning your face,
Whatever you have, you scatter with both hands as you go."

 - Adam Kirsch, "Modern Magus: What did the West see in Rabindranath Tagore?", 30 May 2011 The New Yorker

No, I'm not quite sure how that poem is either radical or antinomian.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Word of the day: afflatus

The word of the day is afflatus:

< Latin afflātus a breathing upon, blast, < afflā-re: see afflate v.
1. Breathing, hissing.  [ < Latin afflātus serpentis.] Obs.   
2. The miraculous communication of supernatural knowledge; hence also, the imparting of an over-mastering impulse, poetic or otherwise; inspiration. 
3. Med. A species of erysipelas, so called from the suddenness of its attack. Mayne Exp. Lex. (OED)

"It certainly doesn't know how to end; after two hours, I could have done without SeanPenn, dressed in Armani, kneeling on a beach, while the other characters mooch around like unwanted extras from 'Zabriskie Point.'  Afflatus has an unhappy habit, as Malick has proved before, of subsiding into a monotone."

 - Anthony Lane, "Time trip: Terrence Malick's 'The Tree of Life'", 30 May 2011 The New Yorker

No, I'm still not sure what he means.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Word of the day: fulminate

The word of the day is fulminate:

< Latin fulmināt- participial stem of fulmināre to lighten, strike with lightning, < fulmen lightning.
I. In physical senses. 
1. intr. To thunder and lighten. rare.
2. To issue as a thunderbolt.
3. Metallurgy. Of gold: To become suddenly bright and uniform in colour. Obs.
4. trans. To strike with lightning. Obs. rare 
5. To flash forth like lightning. 
6.a. trans. To cause to explode with sudden loud report (? obs.).   
b. intr. To explode with a loud report, detonate, go off.
 II. fig.  [Originally a rendering of medieval Latin fulminare, the technical term for the formal issuing of condemnations or censures by the pope or other ecclesiastical authority; afterwards used with wider application and with reference to the literal sense.]
7. trans. To ‘thunder forth’; to utter or publish (a formal condemnation or censure) upon a person.
8. To strike with the ‘thunderbolts’ of ecclesiastical censure; hence gen. to denounce in scathing terms, condemn vehemently.   
9. intr. Of the pope, etc.: To issue censures or condemnations (against); gen. to ‘thunder’, inveigh violently against
10. Pathol. Of a disease: to develop suddenly and severely. (OED)

"On that island is a temple to one of the golden gods.  And in that temple is perhaps the only weapon powerful enough to bring down the Empyrean.  The Fulminate Blade.  One of the last living relics of the age of flight."

 - Deirdre, Jack of Fables: The Fulminate Blade, Bill Willingham

Friday, June 03, 2011

Word of the day: coruscate

The word of the day is coruscate:

< participial stem of Latin coruscāre to vibrate, glitter, sparkle, gleam.

To give forth intermittent or vibratory flashes of light; to shine with a quivering light; to sparkle, glitter, flash. (OED)

"We therefore assume that a man like Malick is playing a devilish game of anti-publicity, in order to stoke our curiosity; no less perilous, however, is our assumption that merely because a movie, or a novel, was pondered, and kept secret, for a lengthy period it must tower above its more precipitate peers. Not so. Don’t forget Edgar G. Ulmer’s coruscating “Detour” (1945), which was shot in six days."

 - Anthony Lane, "Time trip: Terrence Malick's 'The Tree of Life'", 30 May 2011 The New Yorker

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Word of the day: novena

The word of the day is novena:

< post-classical Latin novena (early 14th cent.; use as noun of feminine singular of classical Latin novēnusnovene adj.), perhaps via Italian novena (a1685).
  A devotion consisting of special prayers or services on nine successive days, or on the same day for nine successive weeks. (OED)

"Then the gash down the plane of the east

by an abrupting left-handed mountain
not there yesterday

(called Mount Was,
ecclesiastically white,

a master's watercolor of novena candles)"

 - J. T. Barbarese, "There and not there", 30 May 2011 The New Yorker

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Word of the day: dudgeon

The word of the day is dudgeon:

Origin unknown; identical in form with dudgen n. and adj.; but provisionally separated as having, so far as is known, no connection of sense. Compare endugine n.
A conjectural derivation < Welsh dygen malice, resentment, appears to be historically and phonetically baseless.

A feeling of anger, resentment, or offence; ill humour. (OED)

"The play is operatic, and Kushner is at his funniest when he hits the pure, clear note of high dudgeon.  Paul, for instance, who knows that Pill is cheating on him with Eli (the excellent Michael Esper), a young Yale-educated hustler, vents his anger at Pill's cell phone, the symbol of his betrayal.  'Look at you, clinging to that phone like it was your hope for eternal salvation,' Paul snarls.  'It's just a carcinogenic little microwave bundled with silicon and arsenic and tantalite from the Congo, the mining rights for which millions upon millions of innocents have been slaughtered, that's the devil in your hand, you heartless evil wicked [slur]."

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