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April 26, 2004

Connectivity! I can breathe again!
Posted by Teresa at 10:41 PM *

Hello! Patrick and I are finally sharing that dialup Compuserve connection, courtesy of Michael Cohen, the helpful and highly sapient husband of Digital Medievalist. He determined that Patrick had left the firewall up on his iBook. This cleverly blocked the exact ports needed to share the connection.

Yaaaaaaay, Michael Cohen! Thank you thank you thank you!

So much for Patrick’s frustrated perception that some mystical force field-like agency was preventing this from happening: He was right. It was him. (Note to self: In future, switch on protective force field only after I get inside Fortress of Solitude.)

Credit is also belatedly due to Lenny Bailes, who asked right away in the comments thread whether we hadn’t left some firewall software running. Apparently on a Mac you don’t have to have special firewall software, just hit some checkbox somewhere in the whoozis. (I’m not unfriendly to computers, but Patrick loves them, so I leave them to him. This occasionally leaves me groping for the correct terminology.)

Meanwhile, it appears that Hosting Matters, which encompasses our website, is having some kind of difficulties entirely separate from our own. If I’d posted that joke about Bush Patrick doesn’t want me to post, I’d be feeling paranoid.

Next task: Reset all the controls and readjust the pilot’s seat and mirrors. What was Patrick doing? I swear. And what’s so hard to understand about a precipitating solution? I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t agitate it any more than he did.

Comments on Connectivity! I can breathe again!:
#1 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 11:18 PM:

Well I graduated with a degree in Computer Science, and I still frequently use "thingie," "thingmajiggy," and "stuff" instead of the proper terminology. "Whoozis" sounds perfectly acceptable to me =)

#2 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 12:09 AM:

I recently came across a copy of The American Thesaurus of Slang (Berrey and Van den Bark, 1943), which has amongst its many delights a multipage compendium of all the various words like that. It only lists "whoozis" as a term of endearment or an equivalent of "John Doe", though; "whatzit" is about the closest equivalent in its "contrivance, indefinite object" section.

Oddly enough, it also has neither "thingy" or "thingmajiggy", although it does have "thingmajig", "thingmajigger", "thingmajiggus" (latin declensions?), "thing-jigger", "thingumajig", "thingumajigger", "thingumajiggie", "thingumajiggus" ... and that's not to mention the other paragraph's-worth of "thingemadudgeon", "thingumaflinkus", "thingumdoochie", "thingumawadja", "thingumfloppie" (which Macs don't have), "thingumite", and so on, forth, and cetera.

#3 ::: Rob Tomshany ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 12:38 AM:

This little discussion on technical nomenclature reminds me of an old "Beetle Bailey" strip in which General Halftrack asks one of his officers, "Have you seen my, uh,...[lowers voice]...thingamajig?" The officer (I don't remember his name) stares at the general for a moment before offering the only possible reply: "I think so...wasn't it over behind the whatchamacallit?" The last panel finds the general grumbling to himself about wise-ass subordinates...or words to that effect.

#4 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 02:05 AM:

thingamaflinkus. Can I adopt it, or do I have to cite the Thesaurus every time I use it?

#5 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 02:32 AM:

Well, I can't imagine it's the original source (at least, it certainly shouldn't be)! If it were mine to say, I'd say adopt away.

#6 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 03:19 AM:

I'm an old-fashioned girl. I prefer doohickey. Though thingy will do in a pinch. Hmmm. I wonder why we add the y.

MKK

#7 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 03:21 AM:

I've always liked Dorothy L. Sayers's "whatnot".

#8 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 03:21 AM:

Speaking as a web programmer, I believe whoozis is, in fact, the technical term for thingus.

Share the Bush joke, please!

#9 ::: qB ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 03:51 AM:

My world is populated by widgets. Yes, please share the Bush joke!

#10 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 05:21 AM:

Yesterday, my aphasia made me say "big sign with changing red letters on it" when I meant to say "big electronic sign." I'd already bounced off the walls at Kaiser so I skipped getting groceries and came home and went to bed.

#11 ::: Eimear Ní Mhéalóid ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 07:09 AM:

As an Irish person I generally stick to the handy all-purpose "yoke".

#12 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 08:06 AM:

I just can't believe that we got eight posts into the comments before someone asked to hear the Bush joke....

If it's good enough to justify paranoia, I definitely want to see it.

#13 ::: PZ Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 09:05 AM:

Yes, please, share the joke. We promise to disseminate it quickly and widely, so that Bush/Cheney will have to shut down this entire Intarweb thingumbob to extirpate it, thereby sparing nielsenhayden.com from their exclusive wrath.

#14 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 09:12 AM:

Except, of course, Shrub is no joke.

Best sign I heard of at last weekend's march.

"Bush is a child, not a choice."

#15 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 10:31 AM:

David: I've always liked Dorothy L. Sayers's "whatnot"

Which is also one of those Victorian shelved furniture-pieces used to hold all that assorted bric-a-brac ("Gomi", William Gibson called it. Think he had a character opine that much of the uppermost layers of the British Isles were entirely composed of gomi (Count Zero? Mona Lisa Overdrive?)

(see also chaise-longue thread-part)

#16 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 11:35 AM:

"Whatchamacallit" (sp?) also works, and you can trace it back to its roots ("what you may call it"). On clear days, the view from the window by my computer shows distant Mt. Bill Williams (yup, 'fraid so), and the San Francisco Peaks just west of Flagstaff, but the smaller, more distant peak in the middle has become Mt. Whatchamacallit, since I've never learned its real name. (Seeing it also makes me think of the old Jefferson Airplane song "Lather", with its "mountains that look like bumps"...)

#17 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 11:58 AM:

A friend in college explained the difference between a blivet and a gitchie. A gitchie can be alive, she claimed, while a blivet is always an inanimate object.

#18 ::: Richard Parker ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 12:23 PM:

Xopher: Your friend's notion that 'blivet' always refers to an inanimate object agrees with my own experience. Eric Raymond's Jargon File has a definition of 'blivet.'

#20 ::: Alec Austin ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 01:26 PM:

The favored term for indefinite objects around these parts is "hootie" (phonetic spelling-- I have no idea if those of my friends who use it have ever written it down). I've heard whole conversations conducted in a mix of references to various hooties combined with a nonsense language that verges on glossolassia.

Then again, back in high school I did much the same thing with the word "geeba".

#21 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 01:40 PM:

Widget is of course a registered trademark when used to apply to a single edged razor blade scraper.

#22 ::: Jeffrey D Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 02:02 PM:

"Hootie," eh?

My stepfather always used the longer version, "hootey-pooter."

#23 ::: Michelle ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 02:33 PM:

My family uses "whichcome" (phonetic spelling), which I thought was perfectly normal, until my husband started making fun of it.

Then I realized that I never heard anyone outside my family using it.

#24 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 02:47 PM:

Calimac, the word-switch (assymetric for astygmatic) is the same kind of aphasia I have. The word that will come to me starts with the same sound and has roughly the same rhythm. Fortunately, I have well-educated friends and if I just pause, say the word that comes to mind in a questioning tone, they'll give me the right word and I can go on. It's much more confusing with strange people.

(I had labs at Kaiser yesterday and the tech asked the other woman being stuck what her birthday was (protocol, even if they know us) and she said "March 10th" and I said "What?! That's my birthday!" Sure enough, she's 14 years younger than I am (although she had about the same amount of silver in her hair). Odd to find a birthday-mate in the next chair at the lab.)

#25 ::: Holly M. ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 02:58 PM:

Calimac. Good to know the name for it. I seem to only suffer from it when writing. I once wrote in a story, "Captain Black was not the kind of commander to punish his troops for any minor infarction."

My writer's group had a fine time with that one.

#26 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 03:19 PM:

"For a heart attack, 20 lashes!"

#27 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 03:28 PM:

Xopher: My mother always told me a blivet was 10 pounds of shit in a 5 pound bag.

Of course, she also told me that a punk is someone who sniffs girls bicycle seats.

#28 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 03:54 PM:

I work in IT at a Library College and we always have problems with our whoozits. Every other day our whatitsname goes down and I still have yet to figure out how to access my doodad.

#29 ::: Arthur D. Hlavaty ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 03:59 PM:

Mary Kay: Isn't it called a thingy if it's shaped like a turnip? Or is that the other way around?

#30 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 04:47 PM:

The fiendish thingy was, of course, shaped like a curling stone....

If we had one, we could (dare I say it?) Rule the World!

#31 ::: Leigh Butler ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 05:11 PM:

Thingummy. Definitely thingummy.

My mother has a propensity to make up words on the spot when she can't think of the right one. Like when my uncle was docking a boat and she told him to "look out for the bumpity-bumpities!"

Or (my personal favorite) when buying me luggage for a trip, she insisted that I would need a "pushy-doo" for the plane.

#32 ::: Catie Murphy ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 05:14 PM:

I personally like "Whicherfligger," which is what I called the park down the road from me because I couldn't remember its name. "Point Whicherfligger," I would say, and eventually I remembered that it was "Point Woronzof." The first time I referred to it by its proper name, someone immediately said, "Is this the point formerly known as Whicherfligger?" My friends are easily and well trained. :)

-Catie

#33 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 08:01 PM:

cyclopatra: My mother had the same definition for "blivet."

Our mothers obviously come from the same refined, elegant, straight-talking mold...

#34 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 10:17 PM:

Is this thread reminding anybody else of "The Marvelous Toy," or is it just me?

#35 ::: Luke ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 03:56 AM:

And here I thought "thingumite" was an Australian spread for toast.

#36 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 07:30 AM:

Mark - how timely. I just spent the better part of Monday in a car with a three-year-old, so I actually know what you mean.

And yes, now that you mention it....

#37 ::: Harriet Culver ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 09:44 AM:

Tom Whitmore: Do you find that your independence seems to vanish in the haze?

#38 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 10:59 AM:

When you said The Marvellous Toy, at first I thought you meant this song, which I now find is called: The Thing (also see related discussion on a folk song thread (some naughty words)) (NTBCW The Film "The Thing" from 1951, remade in 1989 (& some others called the same betweentimes))

It's the sort of song you only need to hear once or twice and you'll recognise it again immediately after many a long year. It's just difficult to spell the important repeated "words"

#39 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 11:24 AM:

Mark - did you mean this song?

It's the one I instantly flashed to when you mentioned "The Marvelous Toy." Again, thanks to the three-year-old.

#40 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 01:09 PM:

Around here, "fiendish thingy" is used a lot. So is "shravis," which I think is a word Danny invented for recording studio thingies, which generalized out.

#41 ::: SGD ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 04:48 PM:

My roommate says "thingy-boppy" (definitely hyphenated). I've always wondered whether it was her own coinage.

#42 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 05:21 PM:

SGD: Dunno; closest the thesaurus I mentioned has is "thingabobby". The main impression I get from it is that these things are tremendously fluid, and that parts from one form and another get rather thoroughly intermixed. (For instance, using a made-up example from recent posts, if "shravis" and "thingy-boppy" were both in the list, it wouldn't be at all surprising for "shraviboppy" to show up too.) However, there don't seem to be any "bop" or "boppy" parts in any of the words it has, for whatever that's worth.

And, given that I'm starting to have a distinct impression that this thesaurus is a hammer and your question is very likely not a nail despite the fact that it keeps persisting in looking like one to me, I should probably leave it at that.

#43 ::: Lee Hauser ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 05:30 PM:

I am disappointed to find no reference to "thingamabob." That's my favorite. And yes, Mark, I am reminded of that song...though I never heard Tom Paxton sing it. Peter, Paul and Mary all the way (from the "Peter, Paul and Mommy" album, I'm sure).

So, where's the Bush joke?

#44 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 05:54 PM:

Bob bob bob, thing a ma bob...

#45 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 06:23 PM:

Paxton's versions of "The Marvelous Toy" are absolutely the best, and deserve to be heard -- and he does it marvelously in concert.

Harriet, I'm afraid I'd need some help before I could say that....

#46 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 28, 2004, 08:28 PM:

BTW, on a possibly parallel thought-path, do our estimable confreres consider Alec's typing of glossolassia (presumably) instead of glossolalia up there, an example of a keyboard manifestation of glossolalia?

Luke: it's possible thingumite is or was one of the many imitators of the famous/notorious Australian spread. It's also nice on untoasted bread and crispy cracker-style biscuits, whether plain or salty-savoury.

Then there's splitting Weetbix breakfast ... thingies ( see www.zero7.co.nz/illustrationGallery/source/weetbix.html or nzweb.netfirms.com/ kiwiclipart (weetbix.jpg) - something we share with cousin Kiwis ) ... down the middle , spreading butter &/or honey &/or vegemite &/or peanut butter on and resandwiching them together before crunching into them, sending flakes all over!

Does anyone there remember making "worms" with similarly-textured spreads using a crisp thin biccie/bickie with holes in it, like Ry-Vita?

#47 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:09 AM:

By the way, for lack of a recent open thread, I feel compelled to say here that the Pencil Carving Gallery is quite amazing. Even more amazing -- and amusing -- is that the page was blocked by my employer's workplace net nanny as "inappropriate".

Let's see: twisted, chain, big, twin, chained, pierced, ball... 6 or 7 word hits among a mere 65 words... hey, bzzzt, this has to be some sort of perverted p*rn site!

Obiously AI is way harder than it looks.

#48 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 03:56 AM:

Can anyone postulate a good scenario for either TNH or PNH to reasonably type: "At last, my arm is complete again!" ? Hmm. What is the standard format for double-punctuation like that? Apart from trying to avoid it?

Toodle-oo, I'm off shopping tonight, thinking happy thinkey-things

#49 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 06:22 AM:

As a more adult corollary to "The Marvelous Toy," this thread is also starting to resemble "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty."

pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-queep....

#50 ::: Mark ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 08:41 AM:

Jill -- that's definitely the song I was thinking of (I think I learned it from listening to way too much Peter, Paul, and Mary when I was small).

#51 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 10:54 AM:

SGD: I'm pretty sure "thingy-bop" was a Sixties term, so "thingy-boppy" is a slight modernization, not a coinage. That doesn't make it any less fun!

#52 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 01:50 PM:

Epacris - if they became gun-toting lunatics (the kind that want a gun in hand at all times in all places), lose their guns for an extended period, then get them back.*

And IMO you did it right, except that there shouldn't be a period between the doublequote and the question mark. IMO.

*There are other things you could substitute for gun, like knife, bracer, or even Goa'uld ribbon device, though the phrase Goa'uld-ribbon-device-toting lunatic is clumsy and redundant.

#53 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:17 PM:

Epacris,

I just checked Chicago 15, which doesn't address your query at all, and then checked with my employer, who teaches copy editing. He says that your end punctuation of 'Can anyone postulate a good scenario for either TNH or PNH to reasonably type:"At last, my arm is complete again!"?', is correct by both the British (Commonwealth) and the U.S. standards; however, we both wanted to replace your colon with a comma.

#54 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:32 PM:

jennie: I see your exclamationpoint-doublequote-questionmark-singlequote-comma sequence, and bow in fear and admiration. (Even though I would argue for leaving the comma off.)

#55 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:51 PM:

I think the colon could be replaced by nothing at all, and I agree with Brooks that the comma after the admittedly impressive punctuation sequence is spurious.

#56 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 02:56 PM:

Brooks, instead of removing the comma, jennie could add one after "end punctuation". I forget the grammatical term for the distinction between a clause set off by commas versus one kept directly in line.

On the other hand, I would keep Epacris's original colon in preference to the comma proposed by jennie and her employer.

But then, I'm also one of those computer nerds who thinks the US should stop sucking poor innocent bystander periods into quotations, on the grounds that typographic prettiness is nowhere near as important as correctness of the quote.

#57 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 03:00 PM:

Ahh, you're right, Xopher. I agree that no punctuation between "type" and the quote is the best choice. I'd probably use the colon without thinking about it, because over-punctuation is a bad tendency of mine (though I've finally largely broken the nested-parentheses habit). On reflection, I'm starting to think that the comma after "type" proposed by jennie & her employer is a bad idea.

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 03:46 PM:

Jeremy: Restrictive (in line) vs non-restrictive (set off by commas). An example from The Well-Tempered Sentence follows:

Esmerelda Luft, who likes to stroke gargoyles, is a debutante. The information contained in the commas, while interesting, is not strictly necessary for identifying this pervert, whose name is given. Compare The girl who likes to stroke gargoyles is a debutante.

Quote is from memory and probably wrong.

#59 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 11:12 PM:

OK, punctuation freaks, the US edition of Eats, Shoots & Leaves is in stores. I'm presuming everyone has at least thought about reading it?

PS: "glossolassia" is clearly the art of producing mystical gibberish out of your fundament.

#60 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 07:09 AM:

Mmmm ... Fundamental gibberish ... I hear there's a lot of it around.
<pauses>

Curled up in bed with assorted potions (thanks to some earlier threads) to banish virus, I heard "Australia Talks Books" - a monthly national talkback radio book discussion. This month was a book that sounds excellent, if a bit depressing, Death Sentence by Don Watson, a former political speechwriter who worked for our previous Prime Minister (excerpt taken from another radio language program, Lingua Franca

"[I]f we deface the War Memorial or rampage through St Paul's with a sledgehammer we will be locked up as criminals or lunatics. We can expect the same treatment if we release some noxious weed or insect into the natural environment. It is right that the culture and environment should be so respected. Yet every day we vandalise the language, which is the foundation, the frame and joinery of the culture, if not its greatest glory, and there is no penalty and no way to impose one. We can only be indignant. And we should resist."

Not sure if it's available elsewhere than in Australia, but it surely applies widely. (Comment from Philosophy.Com ), and a follow-up there. Bulletin review

Dan: Re good FAQ - it's said A Good FAQ is hard to find

(BTW, Jeremy Leader, I would have liked to stay with my original colon too, but the doctors were quite emphatic that it needed removing. Am hoping: 1) in a few decades they'll be able to regrow them; 2) I'll be able to take advantage of that.)

#61 ::: Virge ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 09:30 AM:

"Does anyone there remember making "worms" with similarly-textured spreads using a crisp thin biccie/bickie with holes in it, like Ry-Vita?"

Salada crackers + butter + Vegemite

Break one four-segment Salada cracker into two two-segment crackers. Spread them with room temperature butter and Vegemite. Make a cracker sandwich and squeeze.
Mmmmmm... salty.

#62 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 30, 2004, 09:49 AM:

Christopher - I was visiting friends in Menlo Park last week who gave ES&L to me as a belated birthday present. *Then,* to top everything, Lynn Truss happened to make a personal appearance at a local bookstore. I now have a signed copy.

I can report that she is a very witty, gracious lady who didn't balk when someone asked her a very off-topic question (re: the changing of the name of J.K. Rowling's first book for the U.S. audience). She must also be awfully tired of talking about the Oxford/Harvard/Serial Comma by now. It seems to be a popular question.

#63 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 05, 2004, 07:25 PM:

What about the Oxford/Harvard/Serial Comma?

Or do I have to read the book?

I've noticed that, on the cover of the U.S. edition, the panda appears to be painting out a comma after "Eats" before he wanders off with his gun.

Seems to me the whole thing makes more sense if there is also a comma after "Shoots."

Perhaps he's already painted that one out.

#64 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 07:36 AM:

Ah, Bill - that second comma IS the Oxford/Harvard/Serial comma. The book is written up in Amazon and elsewhere as "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation." No Serial Comma (though we can guess that the gun-toting panda might be a serial something-else).

Apparently, serious commaphiles can come to blows over whether or not it is necessary. Per the title (and her answers to repeated questions on the subject) Ms. Truss thinks it is unnecessary unless you are writing something like, "The beetle was red, blue, and black and white." "Black and white" in this instance is intended to be considered a descriptive unit. (Not the greatest example, but it is similar to the one she uses and I couldn't think of a better one this morning).

#66 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 09:09 AM:

She me, or she Ms. Truss?

I used to be an inveterate serial comma user (I'm a geeky fan of Mr. Strunk's slim volume), but I am afraid I've become inconsistent in recent years.

50 lashes with a tattered "Elements of Style" for me.

#67 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 11:05 AM:

Our hostess has a good example in her own book. An author dedicated a book by saying "This book is dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God."

The "no-serial-comma" nonsense comes from the mistaken belief that commas replace the word 'and', ridiculous as that may seem.

#68 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: May 06, 2004, 10:49 PM:

The point of the serial comma is to avoid unduly privileging the relationship of Ted and Alice.

#69 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 11:25 AM:

That would be Ted Rall,* right?


*So kidding...

#70 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 01:48 PM:

Oh Dear. I think I just got the [other] joke at "dedicated to my parents, Ayn Rand and God". It took several viewings.

Must keep on taking remedies. Remember importance of brain/body binding - mens sana in corpore sano (apologies to Latin savants). Am reading Darwin's Radio by Greg Bear & slightly worried by thought of viruses right now. [coughs, painfully]

Use of commas in lists probably leads people to see commas as "and" substitute.

#71 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 02:02 PM:

[other]? Hmm, I only get one joke there...unless the implied hierarchy of the sequence is another one.

#72 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 04:35 PM:

Original (unexamined) thought was that amusing part was that the dedicator was actually saying that hir "parents" - perhaps in the sense of inspiring hir thoughts & writing - were Ayn Rand & God.

Making AR an _interesting_ variation on Mary, and perhaps implying a christ-likeness about themselves.

About a day later, having seen it several times, I realised that the author had tried to dedicate it to:
a) parents;
b) Ayn Rand;
c) God
I thought both funny.

Just recently read an article about how a comma or lack thereof in legislation (UK or Oz) had made an important difference in interpreting legislation in a case. Will keep eye out for it to link to if anyone intrigued.

BTW, the idea of a cereal comma (not coma nor comber, nor even commie) led me to the idea of a variation on alphabet soup where the noodly bits are punctuation & diacritical marks. Still working on colon & semicolon problem. Alternative extruded starch product is either breakfast cereal or savoury snackette-thingummy depending on focus-group research for best market.

Reminds me of a nearby restaurant a few years back called Ampersand. My fellow-publishers/nitpickers were looking forward to its opening just from the name (how many debates we'd had over ampersands!), and it would have instantly become our local, except that it turned out to be a high-glamour fancypants place, one of the most expensive in Sydney. We're publishing workers, not merchant bankers, upper management or the like, so I don't think anyone I know ever got there. I did plan one special outing, but by the time I'd saved up, the place had closed.

#73 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 05:51 PM:

Man and wife had fight at dinner. She threw bowl of alphabet soup at him. Hot words passed between them... *Badabing*

#74 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 06:16 PM:

Still working on colon & semicolon problem.

Maybe if you color-coded the bits that went together? How many colors of pasta can you do?

Or could you do flat "panels" with the necessary bits punched out--negative space punctuation?

Okay, I'm clearly unhinged.

not-an-Italian. Um, buongiorno?

#75 ::: Jeremy Leader ::: (view all by) ::: May 07, 2004, 06:52 PM:

Still working on colon & semicolon problem.

You need a pasta that's denser than water (actually, denser than soup). Make the two visible bits out of normal (floating) pasta; make a u-shaped connection out of denser pasta. Then the visible bits will float on the surface, connected by a sub-surface link. This requires a fairly opaque soup to work correctly; chicken broth is probably too transparent, but cream of <something> would be just fine.

#76 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2004, 06:28 PM:

For anyone who is interested, Lynne Truss will be on CSPAN2 this evening at seven.

...And, for the record, I believe I misspoke re: her position on the serial comma. I understand (and agree with) what I believe Our Hostess's position is on the subject: use it, period. However, I believe Ms. Truss would similarly object to "...my parents, Ayn Rand and God," as it is open to misinterpretation. I believe Ms. Truss would vote for the serial comma in this instance, as it makes more sense, but she would omit it in "red, white and blue," where she would consider it unnecessary.

At any rate, I will cease to make whatever arguments I think she would or would not make at this point. There are many good reasons I do not practice law: trying to suss out other people's reasoning and advocating for it is only one.

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