Monday, February 25, 2013

phrase of the day: chew the scenery

The phrase of the day is chew the scenery:

to act melodramatically; overact (

"At the urging of the Players' director, he went on to appear in 'Night of January 16th', a melodrama by Ayn Rand in which the text itself chewed the scenery."

 - Thomas Mallon, "Wag the dog: The making of Richard Nixon", 4 February 2013 The New Yorker

Sunday, February 24, 2013

word of the day: fascia

The word of the day is fascia:

Etymology:  < Latin fascia in senses 1, 2
1. in Latin sense: A band, fillet. Obs. 
2. Archit.a. Any long flat surface of wood, stone or marble, esp. in the Doric order, the band which divides the architrave, and in the Ionic and Corinthian orders, each of the three surfaces into which the architrave is divided. 
b. A ceiling coved on two opposite sides only. 
c. Chiefly in form facia. The tablet or plate over a shop front on which is written the name and often also the trade of the occupier. Also attrib. in facia writer, sign and facia writer.
d. Chiefly in form facia. The instrument panel or dashboard of a motor vehicle. See also Compounds. 
3. Anat.a. A thin sheath of fibrous tissue investing a muscle or some special tissue or organ; an aponeurosis. 
b. The substance of which this is composed. 
4. Any object, or collection of objects, that gives the appearance of a band or stripe. 
a. Astron. The belt of a planet. 
b. Conchol. A row of perforations. 
c. Bot., Zool., and Ornithol. A band of colour. 
d. Heraldry. = fesse n.  (OED)

the heads and feet neatly at the joints, a poor
man's riches for golden stock.  Slitting a fissure
reaching into the chamber,
freeing the organs, the spill of intestines, blue-tinged gizzard,
the small purses of lung, the royal hearts,
easing the floppy liver, carefully, from the green gall bladder,
its bitter bile.  And the fascia unfurling
like a transparent fan."

 - Ellen Bass, "What did I love", 4 February 2013 The New Yorker

Saturday, February 23, 2013

word of the day: sandhog

The word of the day is sandhog:

U.S. a man who works underground, as in a caisson or in foundation-work; also fig. (OED)

"'We're like the aboveground sandhogs,' Bill Fitzgerald, the former director of operations at Palladium Window Solutions, which held the contract for the Hearst Tower for several years, told me one afternoon in the cluttered and windowless basement room that served as his midtown office."

 - Adam Higginbotham, "Life at the top: What a window washer sees", 4 February 2013 The New Yorker

Friday, February 22, 2013

word of the day: chamfer

The word of the day is chamfer:

Etymology:  apparently < French chanfrein, formerly also chamfrain , chanfrain , -frin , ‘a chanfering or a channel, furrow, hollow gutter, or streake in stone-worke, etc.’ (Cotgrave), < Old French chanfraindre to chamfer v. 
1. A small groove, channel, gutter, furrow, such as may be cut in wood or stone. Obs.
2. The surface produced by bevelling off a square edge or corner equally on both sides; if made concave, it is called a hollow or concave chamfer. (OED)

"When the architect Norman Foster initially presented sketches for the Hearst Tower, the first skyscraper approved for construction in Manhattan after September 11th, one of the questions the building's prospective owners asked was: How are we going to clean those windows?  Foster's proposal featured curtain walls of glass and stainless steel hung in a diagonal grid that met at each corner of the structure in a dramatic chamfer, a zigzag bevelled edge formed of four concave diamond shapes, each sixteen feet deep and eight stories high, known as 'bird's mouths' by the architects."

 - Adam Higginbotham, "Life at the top: What a window washer sees", 4 February 2013 The New Yorker

Thursday, February 21, 2013

word of the day: humidor

The word of the day is humidor:

Etymology:  < humid adj., after cuspidor.
A box, cabinet, or room in which cigars or tobacco are kept moist; also, any apparatus, such as damp sponges, for keeping cigars, the atmosphere, etc., moist.  (OED)

"Some of the board of directors would rather have spent money on a walk-in humidor for shareholders than on a new plane,' Aboulafia says."

 - James Surowiecki, "Requiem for a Dreamliner?", 4 February 2013 The New Yorker

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

word of the day: vis-à-vis

The word of the day is vis-à-vis:

Etymology:  French vis-à-vis face to face, < vis < Latin vīsum , accusative of vīsus sight, face
A. n.
1. A light carriage for two persons sitting face-to-face. Obs. exc. Hist. 
2.a. One or other of two persons or things facing, or situated opposite to, each other. 
b. esp. in dancing. Also as pl.
c. A counterpart, an opposite number. 
3. A meeting face to face; an encounter. 
B. prep.  Over against, in comparison with, in relation to; also lit., facing, face to face with.
C. adv. 
a. Opposite, so as to face (another or each other).
b. Const. to or with. (OED)

“Responses not present in the control were further analyzed by examining isotopic envelopes vis-à-vis peak spacing and abundances and checking for coelution of other charge states.”

 - Walter Davidson et al., “Characterizationof the binding site for inhibitors of the HPV11 E1-E2 protein interaction onthe E2 transactivation domain by photoaffinity labeling and mass spectrometry”, Analytical Chemistry 76:2095 (2004)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

word of the day: isocratic

The word of the day is isocratic:

(chemistry, of an HPLC system) which resolves a solute using a solvent system that does not change composition during the run. (Wiktionary)

The elution program comprised isocratic conditions with 87.5:12:0.5 (v/v/v) chloroform/methanol/buffer (1 M formic acid, neutralized to pH 3 with triethylamine) from 0 to 7 min, followed by a linear gradient from 87.5:12:0.5 (v/v/v) to 28:60:12 (v/v/v) chloroform/methanol/buffer from 7 to 27 min."

 -  Cristina Montealegre, Vito Verardo, Ana Gómez-Caravaca, Carmen García-Ruiz, María Luisa Marina, Maria Fiorenza Caboni, "Molecular Characterization of Phospholipids by High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Combined with an Evaporative Light Scattering Detector, High-Performance Liquid Chromatography Combined with Mass Spectrometry, and Gas Chromatography Combined with a Flame Ionization Detector in Different Oat Varieties", Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 60:10963 (November 7, 2012)

Monday, February 18, 2013

word of the day: actinic

The word of the day is actinic:

Etymology:  < ancient Greek ἀκτῖν-, ἀκτίς ray (see actino- comb. form) + -ic suffix.
1. Of or relating to actinism; (of light) having the ability to cause a chemical change; having a relatively high ultraviolet content; = photogenic adj. 1.
Esp. of a medical condition: produced or caused by the action of light; = photogenic adj. 2. (OED)

"Photoaffinity probes need to fit the following requirements: the probe must be chemically inert in the absence of actinic light; the photophore has to be activated under mild conditions and its activation must not damage the biosystem and its components; the lifetime of the excited state of the label has to be shorter than the lifetime of a ligand-receptor or another complex under study; the activated probe has to nonspecifically react with any neighboring group, including saturated CH-chains of lipids and nonpolar amino acid residues, with production of a tight covalent bond; the photophore must not induce significant disorders in the biosystem organization; the photophore introduction into the initial substance molecule must not considerably decrease the biological activity; the probe has to contain a radionuclide with a sufficiently high specific activity or an additional label attached through an elongated linker; the probe has to be available."

 - E. L. Vodovoza, "Photoaffinity Labeling and Its Application in Structural Biology", Biochemistry (Moscow) 72:1 (2007)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

word of the day: actinometer

The word of the day is actinometer:

1. Originally: an instrument for measuring the heating power of the sun's radiation. Later more widely: one for measuring the intensity of solar radiation (cf. actinograph n. 1).First invented by Sir John Herschel (reported in Edinb. Jrnl. Sci. (1825) 3 107).
 2. Photogr. An apparatus by which light intensity (and hence an appropriate exposure time) can be estimated from the time taken for a piece of sensitized paper to darken to a standard shade. Now hist. 
3. Any instrument for measuring the intensity of light in or near the visible range; (also) a chemical system that measures or counts the number of photons in a beam of light. (OED)

"The quantum yield for the initial disappearance of diazirine (spectrophotometric determination), based on ferrioxalate actinometry, is 2.0 ± 0.5."

 - Michael J. Amrich and Jerry A. Bell, "Photoisomerization of Diazirine", Journal of the American Chemical Society 86:292 (January 20, 1964)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

word of the day: isosbestic

The word of the day is isosbestic:

Etymology:  < German isosbestisch (A. Thiel et al. 1924, in Fortschr. d. Chem. XVIII. 116), < Greek ἴσος equal + σβεστ-ός extinguished ( < σβεννύναι to quench, extinguish): see -ic suffix.(Show Less)
Physical Chem.
1.   isosbestic point n. a wave-length at which the absorption of light by a liquid remains constant as the acidity varies or, more generally, as the state of equilibrium between two interconvertible substances or states shifts. (OED)

"Successive uv spectra of the irradiated diazirine showed an isosbestic point under these conditions."

 - Richard A. G. Smith and Jeremy R. Knowles, "Aryldiazirines.  Potential Reagents for Photolabeling of Biological Receptor Sites", Journal of the American Chemical Society 95:15 (July 25, 1973)

Friday, February 15, 2013

word of the day: knurl

The word of the day is knurl:

Etymology:  apparently a derivative (? dim.) of knur n.; but compare also knarl n., gnarl n.1
1. A small projection, protuberance, or excrescence; a knot, knob, boss, nodule, etc.; a small bead or ridge, esp. one of a series worked upon a metal surface for ornamentation or other purpose. 
2. A thick-set, stumpy person; a deformed dwarf. dial. 
3. A knurling-tool. (OED)

"José had drawn the watch with remarkable fidelity, putting in every feature (at least every essential feature - he did not put in 'Westclox, shock resistant, made in USA), not just 'the time' (though this was faithfully registered as 11:31), but every second as well, and the inset seconds dial, and, not least, the knurled winder and trapezoid clip of the watch, used to attach it to a chain."

 - Oliver Sacks, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Thursday, February 14, 2013

word of the day: guayabera

The word of the day is guayabera:

Etymology:  < Spanish guayabera (1888 or earlier in this sense), of uncertain origin, perhaps ultimately showing a derivative of either guayaba guava or guayabo guava tree.
Chiefly U.S.
A lightweight, loose-fitting shirt for men, typically having two breast pockets and two lower front pockets, a number of vertical pleats, and short sleeves, and usually worn untucked. (OED)

"A slim, friendly man with a shaved head, Rodríguez was derssed in the informal manner of many of Chávez's ministers: a crisp white guayabera over black jeans and running shoes."

 - Jon Lee Anderson, "Slumlord: What has Hugo Chávez wrought in Venezuela?", 28 January 2013 The New Yorker

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

word of the day: lumpen

The word of the day is lumpen:

adj. boorish, stupid, unenlightened, used derisively to describe persons, attitudes, etc., supposed to be characteristic of the lumpenproletariat; also ellipt. or as n. (OED)

which brings us to lumpenproletariat:

Etymology:  < German lumpenproletariat (K. Marx 1850, in Die Klassenkämpfe in Frankreich and 1852, in Der achtzehnte Brumaire des Louis Bonaparte), < lumpen , rag (lump ragamuffin: see lump n.1) + proletariat (see proletariat n.)
 A term applied, orig. by Karl Marx, to the lowest and most degraded section of the proletariat; the ‘down and outs’ who make no contribution to the workers' cause.

"One journalist friend, Boris Muñoz, told me that the building was run by 'empowered lumpen', who controlled the residents with the same violent system that rule life inside Venzuela's prisons."

 - Jon Lee Anderson, "Slumlord: What has Hugo Chávez wrought in Venezuela?", 28 January 2013 The New Yorker

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

word of the day: junto

The word of the day is junto:

Etymology:  Erroneous form of junta n., by assimilation to Spanish nouns in o (compare -ado suffix ). The form juncto (after Latin junctum) was very common down to 1700. 
1. A body of men who have joined or combined for a common purpose, especially of a political character; a self-elected committee or council; a clique, faction, or cabal; a club or coterie.
a. In politics or matters of public interest.
b. In ecclesiastical affairs. Obs.c. In general sense. 
2. = junta n. 1. Obs. (OED)

"The necessity of unanimity in public bodies, or of something approaching towards it, has been founded upon a supposition that it would contribute to security.  But its real operation is to embarrass the administration, to destroy the energy of the government, and to substitute the pleasure, caprice, or artifices of an insignificant, turbulent, or corrupt junto, to the regular deliberations and decisions of a respectable majority."

 - Alexander Hamilton, as quoted by Ezra Klein, "Let's talk: The move to reform the filibuster", 28 January 2013 The New Yorker

Monday, February 11, 2013

word of the day: koine

The word of the day is koine:

Etymology:  < Greek κοινή, feminine singular of κοινός common, ordinary.
 a. Originally the common literary dialect of the Greeks (ἡ κοινὴ διάλεκτος) from the close of classical Attic to the Byzantine era. Now extended to include any language or dialect in regular use over a wide area in which different languages or dialects are, or were, in use locally.
b. A set of cultural or other attributes common to various groups. Also attrib.

"Clearly, we are in no imminent danger of Ithkuil becoming established as the koine of the realm—its purpose lies more in the domain of speculation than in that of implementation."

  - John McDowell, "Unnatural language", 28 January 2013 The New Yorker

Sunday, February 10, 2013

word of the day: breviary

The word of the day is breviary:

Etymology:  < Latin breviārium ‘summary, abridgement’, from neuter of breviārius adj. ‘abridged’, < brevi-s short. 
1.a. A brief statement, summary, epitome. ? Obs. 
b. transf. and fig.; cf. epitome n. 2.
2.a. In the Roman Catholic Church, the book containing the ‘Divine Office’ for each day, which those who are in orders are bound to recite.  The Office consists of psalms, collects and ‘lections’ or readings from the Scripture and the lives of the Saints. Those who are only in ‘Minor Orders’, i.e. below the grade of sub-deacon, are not required to say Office.
 b. fig. 
c. fig. phr. matter of breviary (= matiere de breviaire, Rabelais, Pantagruel IV. viii): a thing that admits of no question or doubt. (OED)

"One medieval source records his response to a novice who asked for a psalter: “When you have a psalter, you will want a breviary; and when you will have a breviary, you will install yourself in a throne like a great prelate, and you will command your brother: ‘Bring me my breviary!’ ” He then took some ashes from the hearth and rubbed them into his body, all the while repeating, “I’m a breviary, I’m a breviary!”"

 - Joan Acocella,  "Rich man, poor man: The radical visions of St. Francis", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker

No, I don't get it.  I guess this is evidence that St. Francis was a strange guy?

Saturday, February 09, 2013

question to Senator Cardin at BCFA

I asked this question of Senator Cardin at the most recent meeting of the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs:

"Here in Maryland people die in police custody not infrequently.  Just a couple of weeks ago, a young man died in police custody.  A few weeks ago, another young man was shot and killed at a traffic stop.  You mentioned human trafficking: here in the United States, prostitution is a $33 billion industry, and the average age of entry into prostitution is thirteen: all of whom are victims of human trafficking.  My question for you is: what are you doing to advance human rights and the rule of law in the United States?"

His answer was unsatisfying: he said that yes, we have problems in the United States, but they are "nothing like" the problems in Russia.

But another person asked about gender equity in human rights, and another person asked about human trafficking in Maryland, so I hope that, if enough other people call his attention to human trafficking, he will gradually consider it a more important problem, and recognize that it is a human rights issue, and maybe he will even do something about it.

word of the day: psalter

The word of the day is psalter:

Etymology:  Originally < classical Latin psaltērium (see below); subsequently reinforced by Old French saltier, sauter, Anglo-Norman and Old French, Middle French sautier, psautier, psaltier (Middle French psaultier , French psautier ) book containing psalms (c1119), Book of Psalms (c1130), stringed instrument, psaltery (first half of the 12th cent.), the rosary (c1349 in ton sautier ‘your psalter’, addressed to the Virgin Mary), set of psalms for recital (1377) < classical Latin psaltērium (see psalterium n.).
I. A collection of psalms. 
1.a. The Book of Psalms of the Old Testament and Hebrew Scriptures.
b. A particular translation or arrangement (prose or metrical) of the Book of Psalms. Now usu. with distinguishing word, as Latin, English, metrical, etc.    
Roman Psalter n. St. Jerome's first version of the Psalter, a slight revision of the Old Latin text based on the Septuagint.   
Gallican Psalter n. a more thorough revision, based on Origen's Hexaplar text of the Septuagint, prepared by St. Jerome c392.   
Hebraic Psalter n. a new translation from the Hebrew, prepared by St. Jerome c400.
 c. A copy of, or a volume containing, the Psalms, esp. as arranged for liturgical or devotional use. 
2. A set of the Psalms, recited or sung at a particular service or for a particular purpose, esp. in the Office of the Dead. Obs. 
3. R.C. Church. With modifying word or clause, as Lady psalter, Marian psalter, etc.
4. Any of several Irish chronicles chiefly written in verse, dating from around the 10th cent., and now no longer extant. Usu. with distinguishing word, as Psalter of Cashel, Psalter of Tara, etc. 
II. An instrument.  
5.a. A stringed musical instrument; = psaltery n. 1. Now arch. or hist. 
b. Heraldry. A kind of wind instrument, used as a device. Obs. rare. (OED)

"One medieval source records his response to a novice who asked for a psalter: “When you have a psalter, you will want a breviary; and when you will have a breviary, you will install yourself in a throne like a great prelate, and you will command your brother: ‘Bring me my breviary!’ ” He then took some ashes from the hearth and rubbed them into his body, all the while repeating, “I’m a breviary, I’m a breviary!”"

 - Joan Acocella,  "Rich man, poor man: The radical visions of St. Francis", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker

Friday, February 08, 2013

word of the day: wattle-and-daub

The word of the day is wattle-and-daub:

n. interwoven twigs plastered with clay or mud, as a building material for huts, cottages, etc.; chiefly attrib. (OED)

"Then, in a district called the Portiuncula, they found a ruined church, Santa Maria degli Angeli, and they built wattle-and-daub cells around it."

 - Joan Acocella, "Rich man, poor man: The radical visions of St. Francis", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker

Thursday, February 07, 2013

word of the day: bibulous

The word of the day is bibulous:

Etymology:  < Latin bibul-us freely or readily drinking ( < bibĕre to drink) + -ous suffix.
1. Absorbent of moisture. 
2. Addicted to drinking or tippling. 
3. Relating to drink. (OED)

"The twenties, possibly alone among the middle decades of life, are passionately celebrated in fiction and memoirs, and the celebrations tend to share a style that is personal, specific, cliquish, pastiched, breathless, often bibulous, and flagrantly confessional - the voice of early mastery without mature constraint, self-discovery at a moment when each revelation seems unique."

 - Nathan Heller, "Semi-charmed life: the twentysomethings are all right", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

word of the day: Wanderjahr

The word of the day is Wanderjahr:

Etymology:  < wander v., after German Wanderjahr n., the year, or one of the years, spent in travel for the purpose of perfecting one's skill and knowledge between the completion of apprenticeship and settling down to the practice of a trade.
A year of wandering or travel (usually with more or less direct reference to German usage). (OED)

"Among the alleged crimes of twentysomethings these days is hiding out in school (or in various far-flung places, like Iceland), thus deferring adult life, or being fickle in the job market once they get there.  Yet the Henigs dismiss the idea that insane tuition costs and rival opportunities have made education a bad investment - if nothing else, median salaries rise with every new degree.  And they wonder whether the Wanderjahr truly offers much escapism.  'Doors do eventually close - sometimes because of things you did, somethings because of things you didn't do,' Robin Marantz Henig notes."

 - Nathan Heller, "Semi-charmed life: the twentysomethings are all right", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

acronym of the day: WYSIWYG

The acronym of the day is WYSIWYG.  It stands for "what you see is what you get".

"Kedit (pronounced "kay-edit"), a product of the Mansfield Software Group, is the only text editor I have ever used.  I have never used a word processor.  Kedit did not paginate, italicize, approve of spelling, or screw around with headers, WYSIWYGs, thesauruses, dictionaries, footnotes, or Sanskrit fonts."

 - John McPhee, "Structure: Beyond the picnic-table crisis", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker

Monday, February 04, 2013

word of the day: platen

The word of the day is platen:

Etymology:  < Anglo-Norman and Middle French platine (c1230 in Old French in sense 2; 1347 in sense 1; 1514 in sense 3a; French platine ) and its variant Anglo-Norman platain, plataine, platein, plateine, platene and Middle French plataine (13th cent. in Old French in sense 1; 1280 in Old French in sense 2; earlier in sense ‘gravestone’ (c1165 in Old French); French †plataine ) < plat flat (see plat adv.) + -ine -ine suffix4. 
1. A plate, often of gold or silver, on which the bread is laid during the celebration of the Eucharist; = paten n. 1. Obs. 
2. A flat plate, usually of metal, having various purposes. Obs. 
3.A metal (formerly wooden) plate in a printing press, which presses the paper against the inked type to obtain an impression; (more generally) a flat surface by means of which pressure is applied in any type of press. Now also in extended use: the glass surface of a photocopier or scanner, on which items are placed to be copied. 
b. In a typewriter and some types of computer printer: a surface (usually a cylindrical roller) against which the paper is held as it is struck by the printing elements.
4. The movable table of a planer, milling machine, or rotary saw. (OED)

"The notes from one to the next frequently had little in common.  They jumped from topic to topic, and only in places were sequentially narrative.  So I always rolled the platen and left blank space after each item to accommodate the scissors that were fundamental to my advanced methodology."

 - John McPhee, "Structure: beyond the picnic-table crisis", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker

Sunday, February 03, 2013

word of the day: rusticate

The word of the day is rusticate:
Etymology:  < classical Latin rusticāt-, past participial stem (see -ate suffix3) of rusticārī to live or stay in the country, to work in the country, to practise farming, in post-classical Latin also to speak like a rustic (5th cent.) 
1. intr.a. To stay or live in the countryside; to live a quiet country life. 
b. To live or spend time in seclusion, esp. enforcedly. 
2. trans. To make rustic or rural in nature or character; to countrify. Usu. in pass. 
3. trans.a. To dismiss or send down (a student) from university on a temporary basis, as a punishment; to suspend. 
b. To send (a person) into the countryside. Also in extended use. Also refl.: to settle oneself in the countryside. 
4. trans. Archit. To make rustic in appearance or style; esp. to roughen (the surface of masonry, etc.) (OED)

"Hoving had been, to put it mildly, an unpromising youth.  For example, after slugging a teacher he had been expelled from Exeter.  As a freshman at Princeton, his highest accomplishment was 'flagrant neglect'.  How did Peck's rusticated youth ever become an art historian and the director of one of the world's greatest museums?"

 - John McPhee, "Structure: beyond the picnic-table crisis", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker

Saturday, February 02, 2013

word of the day: swivet

The word of the day is swivet:
Etymology:  Origin unknown.
dial. (chiefly U.S.).
A state of agitation; a fluster or panic. Also, a hurry. Freq. in phr. in a swivet. (OED)

"It was meant to be only five thousand words and a straightforward biographical sketch, appearing during the Kennedy-Nixon Presidential campaigns, but the five thousand words seemed formidable to me then.  With only a few days to listen to recordings, make notes, digest files from Time correspondents, read morgue clippings, and skim through several books, I was soon sprawled on the floor at home, surrounded by drifts of undifferentiated paper, and near tears in a catatonic swivet."

 - John McPhee, "Structure: beyond the picnic-table crisis", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker

some of the best advice Adam Gopnik has ever received

"Trying to decide whether to major in psychology or art history, I had gone to his office to see what he thought.  He squinted and lowered his head.  'Is this a hard choice for you?' he demanded.  Yes! I cried.  'Oh,' he said, springing back up cheerfully.  'In that case, it doesn't matter.  If it's a hard decision, then there's always lots to be said on both sides, so either choice is likely to be good in its way.  Hard choices are always unimportant.'"

 - Adam Gopnik, "Music to your ears: The quest for 3-D recording and other mysteries of sound", 28 January 2013 The New Yorker

Letter to The New Yorker

Better late than never?


Dear New Yorker,

If the FBI is serious about taking on the sexual abuse of minors (The Science of Sex Abuse, January 14th), they should making a higher priority of cracking down on the $33 billion a year industry of prostitution: the average age of entry into prostitution in this country is thirteen, well below the age of consent.  Why are so much of our resources dedicated to catching "John"s while johns, who actually have sex with young girls, are rarely prosecuted, and even when they are, are given only the lightest of sentences, and are never considered pedophiles?  Are we more offended by the aesthetics than the actual deeds?

Friday, February 01, 2013

word of the day: desideratum

The word of the day is desideratum:

Etymology:  < Latin dēsīderātum thing desired, neuter of dēsīderāt-us , past participle of dēsīderāre
Something for which a desire or longing is felt; something wanting and required or desired. (OED)

"Poke around the site and these are some of the desiderata you'll find, along with the amounts that various Task Rabbits have bid to do comparable jobs: 'Sit with me while I do my taxes (and make me do them)' ($33-$45).  'Proofread my wife's novel' ($82-$112).  'Locate a reptile handler who is in legal possession of a rattlesnake' ($47-$65)."

 - Patricia Marx, "Outsource yourself: the online way to delegate your chores", 14 January 2013 The New Yorker