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Books of Educational and Informational Comics.
Reports are that New York City has scored a major victory over street crime. Thanks to the Latin vincere, vici, victi, “to conquer,” it has also created victims and led its mayor to think he is invincible. American jurisprudence is based on the presumption of innocence. For a criminal to be convicted he has to be caught dead to rights (Mid 19thC.), his guilt established beyond a shadow of a doubt. Dead has an air of finality about it, making things absolute and irreversible. The rights in the phrase are nothing more than past slang for “at once.” In New York City, what’s dead are the rights of Black males and in too many instances, the men themselves.
It seems that anything you say will offend somebody — sticking like a bone in their craw. All the more reason then for my making no bones about it (15thC.), “speaking frankly and without hesitation”. Very little tickles people’s funny bone (19thC.) nowadays. It’s a nickname for the arm bone between the shoulder and the elbow, formally called the humerus. The ulnar nerve passes directly over that area, a good whack there resulting in a weird tingling sensation that’s peculiar or “funny.” That together with a pun on humerus, made for our funny bone which became “our sense of humor.” You don’t have to whack folks on it to get a laugh, just rib them a bit. Anything goes as long as it’s not done with malice. Ribbing is nothing more than good natured teasing, from either tickling a person around their ribs, causing them to break into laughter or poking them there while telling a joke. In time, our funny bone should return intact. I intuit it, or feel it in my bones (17thC.), the same way persons with arthritis have an uncanny ability to predict the onset of rain due to their special sensitivity to a drop in barometric pressure. And that is the bare bones for today.
The Value of College The world of Academics began when the Athenian King Theseus abducted Helen of Troy. Her twin brothers, Castor and Pollux (The Gemini) took off in hot pursuit. While engaged in their search, they chanced upon a local resident who revealed to them where Helen was hidden. His name was Hekademos (Akademos).
Venus, what’s a nice girl like you doing in a place like this? Your roots are in the Norse vanir, “charming” or “graceful.” Originally you were the goddess of growth and the beauty of orderly nature. There was no native Roman Goddess of love and human passion, a role played by Aphrodite in the Greek pantheon. According to legend, Aeneas, celebrated as father of the Roman people, was her son. Hoping to legitimize their hold on power, Julius Caesar’s clan, selected Venus as Aphrodite’s Roman counterpart, arguing their descent from her. Venus, veneris was Latin for “to desire.” This led to venari, “to hunt,” providing us with venison. Alas, venery, the “hunt” became a sexual pursuit and the gratification of sexual desire. It also made for things having to do with lovemaking such as venereal diseases. You would, however, regain respect. Venerare was to address to a god a request for favor or forgiveness, making those worthy of such reverence, venerable. Venus of Milo was found on island of Melos in 1820, taken by French ambassador to Turkey and eventually presented to Louis XVIII to the Louvre — an object of veneration to generations of tourists.
Being socially correct, we request the location of the facilities, the lavatory, or lav, from the Latin lavatorium, literally a “place for washing. “ Younger Americans favor the can (c.1900) or the head; possibly an editorial on how they relate to authority or from the original location of the ship’s facilities in the bulkhead. Middle aged folk ask for the washroom (c.1878), the powder-room (c.1920s) or the rest-room. Some still call for the toilet (c.1820s) from the French toilette, diminutive of toile, the cloth once covering the table on which sat one’s preparations. The British middle class prefers the loo from lieu, “the place” or the French l’eau, “water,” making for the warning cry “Guardez l’eau, “ Mind the water!”— supposedly called out in the days before modern plumbing, when emptying chamber pots from upper-story buildings. Others suggest it is a misreading of room number 100, supposedly a common European toilet designation.The water closet dates from 1755 when it moved into the house from outside, then shortened to the W.C. (C.19). All this comes courtesy of Sir Thomas Crapper, developer of the modern toilet bowl, as per his biography, Flushed with Pride. This entry was poste
For those still procrastinating on their New Year’s resolutions: “What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” ― Pablo Picasso “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.” ― Timothy Ferriss, The 4-Hour Workweek “Do precedes done. No precedes none.” ― Khang Kijarro Nguyen “We are the essence of what we DO! The part we each play in the cosmos. Doing good deeds for others is leaving our signature on the world.” ― Angie Karan
Is the bum about to make a comeback? Hey, a bum by any other name would still smell— or wouldn’t he? “I am a worthy cause,” said Jack. “No. You are a bum,” said the man.” ― Janet Schulman, Jack the Bum and the Halloween Handout “Stenchgator, the Great Unwiped Bum… was listed in the Bumper Book of Bums as the stinkiest bum in the world. Most bums only registered one or two points on the Rectum scale, but Stenchgator came in at a nose-bruising 9.8 points.”
Southern Baptists threatening to stop patronizing Disney because of its policy towards Gays. So what else is new? Back in the 19th century, Irish peasants mounted an organized campaign against the hated agent of an absentee British landlord to protest his exploitive policies. They refused to work for him, intimidated his servants, destroyed his crops, drove away his stock, and threatened his life. In the course of being interviewed by an American journalist, the parish priest, thought “ostracism” an insufficient word to describe the approach, suggesting instead the name of the hated agent himself. The man who thus became identified forever with such a policy was Charles Cunningham Boycott. Some consider a boycott of Disney to be nothing less than Mickey Mouse — “small,” “petty,” “inferior,” “trivial,” and “childish,” stemming from the mid 30s when the Ingersoll watch company marketed a watch with Mickey on the face. It never kept the time properly and was always breaking down. As to the boycott, it’s probably less Mickey Mouse than just plain goofy.
“Should a writer have a social purpose? Any honest writer is bound to become a critic of the society he lives in, and sometimes, like Mark Twain or Kurt Vonnegut or Leo Tolstoy or Francois Rabelais, a very harsh critic indeed. The others are sycophants, courtiers, servitors, entertainers. Shakespeare was a sycophant; however, he was and is also a very good poet, and so we continue to read him.” —- Edward Abbey “Sycophants learn from dogs.” —- Toba Beta
What’s a figurehead, Daddy? Admiral. That part of a warship which does the talking while the figurehead does the thinking. —- Ambrose Bierce Dad has told me that he wished he would have showed the players how much he really cared for them, instead of always presenting himself as this stoic figurehead like he did at times. —- Jim Mora It’s a wonderful feeling when your father becomes not a god but a man to you- when he comes down from the mountain and you see he’s this man with weaknesses. And you love him as this whole being, not as a figurehead. —- Robin Williams
Funny Etymology: here’s always something in the news to beef about. Beefs have served as complaints, protests, or objections ever since 1899, from the noisy sounds made by cattle, sure to catch one’s attention. It was only natural that they would then evolve into “arguments” or “altercations.” There are lots of beefs now in the developed countries about the dangers of eating meat. Protesters beef up their arguments (19thC.), strengthening or backing them “up” with hard science; beef long having been synonymous with heft, strength, and power.
It’s always fun following a word’s progression through the language. Take the Latin sequi, secut-, from which many things follow — sequels, things sequential, and those consecutive, from com, “together,” and sequi, “follow”. This not only created real consequences, things following (with them); but also made them consequential.
Losing heart over what’s going on in your life? Tired of your friends wearing their hearts on their sleeves? Cholesterol and an unhealthy lifestyle got you eating your heart out? Not to worry. Dare we say…TAKE HEART. … Valentine’s Day is coming
Let’s talk eponyms today from epi, “upon” and onyma, “name” — words derived from the names of people. It happened to President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt while on a hunting trip to Mississippi. Members of his party stunned a bear, tied it to a tree, and encouraged T.R. to shoot it. The President refused. A cartoonist for the Washington Post depicted the event, and the story caught the fancy of the nation. The rest is history. A Brooklyn candy store owner, Morris Michtom, fashioned a teddy bear out of brown plush in 1902, the first of over 60 million cuddly creatures to bear his name. Less clear cut is case of a delicious log-shaped bar made of chocolate-covered caramel and peanuts. The founder of the Curtis Candy Company named it Babe Ruth in 1921 after President Cleveland’s daughter Ruth. But Cleveland hadn’t been president for nearly a quarter of a century, and his daughter had been dead for seventeen years. It was a blatant attempt by Curtis to avoid having to pay royalties to the Yankee slugger who was at the height of his popularity — a claim they still deny. The evidence, however, shows it, like the candy bar, to be quite nutty.
n an age of Donald Trump, Ben Carlson, Ted Cruz and the Republican right whose philosophy and politics stress the divisions between people, we need to rescue a word from vocabulary past to better understand the moral challenge they now pose. That word is “cosmopolitan.” And it is to the cosmos and its origins to which we must turn for insights.
Many tempting ideas present themselves to us daily. What makes them so enticing is the burning desire they create from titionis, “firebrand,” from intitiare, “to set on fire.” They titillate us from titillare, “to tickle.” When we finally make an attempt at them, we do so from the Latin ad, “to” or “towards” and temptare,” “to try,” “feel out,” or “test.” A classic case from Greek mythology of one tempting fate is the story of the King of Lydia. Befriended by the Gods, he betrayed them, stealing their nectar and ambrosia and testing their divinity, serving them the flesh of his own son. For his deeds he was doomed to stand forever thirsty and hungry in a pool of water up to his chin. Whenever he bent to drink, the water would recede. His efforts to reach toward fruit hanging from a bough directly above, caused the wind to carry the branch away from him. His name was Tantalus, and his name would forever be linked to “provoking desire and creating expectations without fulfillment.” That’s what makes things out of our reach so tantalizing. You and I are clearly above it all, being as one with Oscar Wilde who could “…resist everything except for temptation
It’s the stuff of which legends are made, or at least fables. Prior to 1425, things fabulous were “mythical” or “legendary” from the French fabuleux and the Latin fabulosus, “celebrated in fable.” Not until 1609 did they also became “incredible.” “Incredible” was the reaction of teenagers the world over to the Beatles. Breathlessly, they reduced fabulous to fab in the 1950s, making it the vogue around 1960, concluding with The Fab Four, the early nickname of the greatest pop rock group ever. There’s been lots of talk about “The fifth Beatle.” Guesses as to his identity range from manager Brian Epstein to Stu Sutcliffe, an early member of the group who missed out on all the fame and glory.
What's Going On In Our Schools The major institutions of Academia are called "schools." Their primary activity derives from the Greek skhole, "lecture, or discussion." These roots also convey a sense of "leisure," or "spare time," the conditions under which learning might best take place. This offers a clue as to their actual mandate — the need to provide a context for relaxed study, one that promotes the free play of ideas, and generates an interest in the arts and sciences. Alas, such matters are now considered academic in the narrowest sense, "dated and no longer relevant." There appears instead to be schemes afoot to undermine that meaning. These schemes were hatched by Skhole which was also originally a "holding back," a "keeping clear" from skhein, "to get," from a Proto-Indo-European root segh, "to hold in one's power," steps which were necessary to achieve "victory" in wartime.
Word Origins as Comics: Your Body Is Speaking to You… Is Anyone There? Posted on December 2, 2016 How your body speaks to you is how you speak about your body. A special tribute to those body parts which for the most part go unrecognized. Caution: Only those with guts should read on.
Mary Wilson, Diane Ross, Florence Ballard, and Barbara Martin grew up in the poverty stricken Brewster Housing Projects of Detroit. But they were primed for success, — “made ready or prepared from the first,” thanks to the Latin prime, “first” which also helped make them into the Primettes, sister group of the Primes. The Primes went on to become the Temptations. Mary left to get married, Diane became Diana, and with the other two created the Supremes, from the Latin super, placing them head and shoulders above the rest. Their supreme accomplishment came in October of 1966 when they became the first female vocal group to top the LP charts. Anybody remember LPs? The Supremes was a tough act to follow, “a performance so outstanding, no one could hope to meet or exceed it” — a standard set in the early days of vaudeville, when the best act was traditionally saved for last. The Supremes were the best, la crème de la crème — a French expression from the mid 19th century, long before our tastes became homogeneous both in milk and the arts, the cream long since having been skimmed off both. Oh for the days when they reigned Sup.
Buy Any Means Did all that wandering cause you to finally buy it? It was the British who first introduced the notion that when you buy it, you die. First used by their military early in the 19th century, buying it soon became a witty way of saying that you had paid for an action with your life. When you buy it today, the last words likely to pass through your mind are, "Just slap it on the plastic!" The Greek plassein from which we get our plastic literally "molds" and "shapes" much of our shopping activity. But like the substance itself is flexible and easy to work with in its early stages. Once it has set and hardened, however, what you see is what you get. Credit cards maxed out? There are alternatives. In simpler times, merchants kept perishable items in barrels to retain their freshness. After selecting the item you wanted from the barrel, you conveniently left your money atop the container — cash on the barrelhead, making it synonymous with "cash on the spot."
Americans have always preferred things top-drawer (c.1900). It was, after all, where they kept their most precious objects. When it comes to describing things first rate, however, they’re at anything but their consummate best. For awhile, they enjoyed being A1 (c.1830s), thanks to Lloyd’s of London’s Shipping Register which ranked the condition of ships by letter — A1 being the highest attainable rating. A century later, excellence took a novel turn with the introduction of new nighttime attire. Considered both the height of fashion and somewhat risqué, it took on very special meaning during the twenties as the cat’s pajamas. Soon all things feline came to embody excellence — everything from the cat’s meow to his whiskers, tonsils, roller skates, and galoshes. Other animals then followed suit, joined to incongruous body parts or articles of clothing, resulting in the bee’s knees, the gnu’s shoes, and the elephant’s instep, and — of course for that day when pigs will fly — the pig’s wings. Things of the first water, however, remained “unblemished,” diamonds having been rated first, second, or third water since 1820. But only if you were the eel’s ankles or the sardine’s whiskers.
Into the stretch, coming round the bend they’re neck and neck. Wait! Out of nowhere “It’s a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a Hearty Hi-Yo Silver . . .” It’s a Garrison finish, a spectacular come-from-behind victory at the last possible moment, against all odds! Shades of old Snapper Garrison, a 19th century American jockey, known for winning in this manner. A real show of horsepower. That’s what it is! Thanks to one James Watt, whose name adorns our monthly electric bills as watts, kilowatts, and wattage for which we pay handsome premiums. It’s he who also provided the standard for our cars, coining the term horsepower to indicate the output of his new steam engine — a unit of rate of work equal to the raising of 3,300 pounds one foot high in one minute. Watt arrived at his figure by calculating that a strong dray horse averaged 2,200 foot-pounds per minute working at a gin. He then increased it by 50%, arriving at 3,300 foot-pounds which ever since has equaled one horsepower or 745.7 watts. “Who was that Horse? Who was that masked man?”