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May 14, 2023
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AWADmail Issue 1089

A Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Tidbits about Words and Language

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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the Net

AI Is Getting Better at Mind-Reading
The New York Times

Building Blocks of Language Found Across Animal Kingdom
The Hill

From: Ron Hinch (ron.hinch2 gmail.com)
Subject: Vulcan

Vulcan is also the name of a town in southern Alberta, Canada [originally named after the Roman god]. The town boasts a replica Starship Enterprise on a pedestal and has named its tourist bureau the Tourism and Trek Station. The building has a distinct architecture resembling a star ship. The town also hosts an annual Spock Days event. Leonard Nimoy visited the town.

Ron Hinch, Oshawa, Canada

From: Maria Scurrah (scurrah gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Vulcan

In Peru, car tires are patched by vulcanizing them (applying heat to melt the patch with the tire). It’s a smelly process and along highways you see signs for Vulcanizadoras as a name for tire fixing places. I didn’t realize it was the god of fire and a blacksmith. I had imagined Vulcan to be related to volcanoes and hot, smelly, black places.

Maria Scurrah, Lima, Peru

Vulcan gave us volcanoes too.
-Anu Garg

From: Jean Marshall (babettesfeast1941 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--Taylorism

Taylorism reminded me of the film Cheaper by the Dozen from 1950 which I saw when I was nine or 10 years old. In the film, the parents are time-and-motion study and efficiency experts.

Jean Marshall, Provo, Utah

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From: Henry M. Willis (hmw ssdslaw.com)
Subject: Taylorism

Taylorism is only “a method of analyzing workflow for process optimization” from the standpoint of the engineers who devised it and the employers who profit from it. It looks different from the perspective of the workers who are subjected to it.

The basic principle of Taylorism is the necessity of wresting control over work processes -- how a function is organized and performed, how much time is spent on it, and so on -- from the worker and putting it in the hands of an engineer or computer program.

That may look scientific from the point of view of the employer. It is often, on the other hand, experienced as profoundly alienating by the workers involved, especially when it involves de-skilling the job, which usually leads to downgrading both prestige and pay. Harry Braverman’s book Labor and Monopoly Capital -- a long, thoughtful analysis by a metalworker who later became an author and editor -- describes all this with the insights of someone who saw these processes at work close up. And if some of your readers have worked in a modern factory or as a barista at Starbucks they would have experienced some version of them as well.

Henry Willis, Los Angeles, California

From: Elizabeth Block (elizabethblock netzero.net)
Subject: Taylorism

From The Pajama Game, the Time-Study Man’s song: A verse:

At breakfast time, I grab a bowl.
And in the bowl I drop an egg, and add some juice.
A poor excuse for what I crave.
And then I add some oatmeal too and it comes out tasting just like glue,
But think of the time I save.
(lyrics; video, 3 min.)

Elizabeth Block, Toronto, Canada

From: Sam Long (gunputty comcast.net)
Subject: palladian

Palladium is a common name for large theaters or arenas, because they are (supposed to be) devoted to art and wisdom. The well-known movie theater and concert hall by that name in New York (opened 1927, torn down 1998) on S. 14th St in Manhattan, seated 3,400. There is a song (“Just in Time”) in the 1950s Broadway musical Bells Are Ringing, in which the heroine, Ella, sings a little couplet referring to it:

This act could play the Palladium,
Or even the Yankee Stadium!

Palladium Hall, a student dormitory of New York University, now occupies the site.

There is a much newer Palladium theater, an event venue, in New York City’s Times Square; it seats over 2,000, and opened under that name in 2005.

The London Palladium, a theatre in London, UK, is owned by composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Sam Long, Springfield, Illinois

From: Hunter Heath (calciophile gmail.com)
Subject: gomer

The awful term gomer in the medical sense was in common use when I was an internal medicine resident at an academic hospital 1968-70. In retrospect, we doctors-in-training regrettably were overworked such as to regard a new patient as an enemy, stealing our sleep and workflow. More than 50 years later, I’m ashamed of some things we said and did behind the scenes. Time and good mentors and colleagues put me on a better path.

Hunter Heath, MD, Indianapolis, Indiana

From: Dr. Martha Littlefield (drmarthalittlefield icloud.com)
Subject: Gomer

In veterinary medicine, a gomer bull is an intact male whose genitals are surgically deviated to the side so that it can mount females, whose fertility it has the ability to detect. The gomer wears a special harness, a halter, so that as it slides off the cow, ink is marked on her rump, letting the herdsman know she is in heat, ready to be inseminated with preferred spεrm. This method is going out of favor, but was long used in dairy practices.

Martha A. Littlefield, DVM, MS, CVA, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
Subject: Gomer origin

The name Gomer is ultimately biblical. Gomer Pyle would have been named for a grandson of Noah by that name. Or more improbably, for the unfaithful wife of the prophet Hosea as the name is unisex. It means “to complete”, as in parents who view their new child as completing the family.

Interestingly, the male Gomer became the father of Ashkenaz, for whom Ashkenazi Jews are named. European Jews in the Middle Ages named their settlements for biblical figures, and the culture of those in Ashkenaz, in modern day Germany, came to predominate in northern and central European Jewry.

Steve Benko, New York, New York

From: Bruce Martin (trazom8 aol.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--gomer

I believe the word gomer became popular based on the book The House of God by Samuel Shem, published in 1978. When I was in medical school in the 1980s, it was essentially required reading for all house staff (interns and residents). Many of Shem’s expressions and words became common vocabulary for us. His Rules of the House of God became the law amongst the residents. Gomer -- from his book -- means a decrepit, extremely old patient who is mostly unresponsive and demented, most commonly transferred to the hospital from a nursing home for dehydration. That is the common understanding of the word nowadays.

Bruce Martin, Boca Raton, Florida

From: John Whittier (johnrwhittier gmail.com)
Subject: Alexander

“Alexander the Great ... who never lost a war.” Hell, I’ve never lost a war. Not only that, I’ve never even started a war. So I guess I’m one step greater than Alexander. And if you’ve never lost or started a war, then you’re great, too.

John Whittier, Chesterfield, Missouri

From: David Warner (illahabadi hotmail.com)
Subject: George Carlin

At some point, someone who worked at Rockefeller Center must have said, “Boys, I have a great idea for Christmas. Let’s kill a beautiful tree that’s been alive for seventy-five years and bring it to New York City. We’ll stand it up in Rockefeller Plaza and conceal its natural beauty by hanging shiny, repulsive, man-made objects on it, and let it stand there slowly dying for several weeks while simpleminded children stare at it and people from Des Moines take pictures of it. That way, perhaps we can add our own special, obscene imprint to Christmas in Midtown. -George Carlin, comedian, actor, and author (12 May 1937-2008)

George Carlin reminds me of a related quotation from Hermann Hesse:

Christmas is an epitome, a poison chamber of all bourgeois sentimentalities and hypocrisies, an occasion for wild orgies on the part of industry and commerce, for garish luxury displays in the department stores; it smells of lacquered tin, of pine needles and phonographs, of exhausted, secretly cursing delivery boys and postmen, of embarrassed festivities centering on decorated fir trees; of special supplements bursting with advertisements, in short, of a thousand things that are bitterly hateful and repugnant to me, things that would only make me laugh, or make me indifferent if they did not so blatantly abuse the name of the Savior and our tenderest childhood memories.
Die Kunst der Mussiggangs (The Art Of Indolence) Untranslated works.

David Warner, Portland, Oregon

Pyle-ing On
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: gomer and vulcan

For me, as a kid of the ’50s/’60s, the quintessential gomer has to be TV’s Gomer Pyle (played by Jim Nabors), an endearing, somewhat dense gas station attendant and later auto mechanic on The Andy Griffith Show. He checks all the boxes as a gomer, including naive and inept. Here, town sheriff Barney Fife (played by Don Knotts), a bit of a gomer himself, tries to rile Pyle but down south, particularly in the country/folk music fraternities, “hillbilly” ain’t a bad word. The likes of Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and Kathy Mattea take great pride in their hillbilly roots.

Live Long and Prosper
As a young viewer of the original Star Trek, I had to pay tribute to the half-human/half-Vulcan Mr. Spock, who immortalized the Vulcan salute, accompanied by the phrase “Live long and prosper.” Spock was stoic and extremely logical. Leonard Nimoy, who portrayed Spock, claimed his open-palm, split-paired-finger “V” sign was from a Boston Orthodox shul, where he first witnessed it in a prayer ceremony.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. Vulcan
2. Taylorism
3. Palladian
4. Gomer
5. Alexander
= 1. I love Spock
2. Industrial system
3. We’re learned
4. Lax neophyte
5. Hang a mammal
= 1. Metal worker
2. Analyse detox process
3. Sage
4. Hmm...vainly inept...me!
5. Laud ‘n’ hail
-Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz) -Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

This week’s theme: Eponyms
1. Vulcan
2. Taylorism
3. Palladian
4. Gomer
5. Alexander
= 1. He talks logic
2. Eve’s sin wasn’t mine
3. A lead expert
4. A real dummy
5. Honor my pal
= 1. Metal-shop worker
2. Complete analysis
3. Is learned
4. Naive dummy
5. Exalt; hang
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com) -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



A young blacksmith, unhappy it seems,
Has a girlfriend who often makes scenes.
The poor guy is sulkin’.
She called him a Vulcan.
Who on Earth even knows what that means?
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

Said Spock, “Jim, it’s time to quit sulkin’;
A captain should strive to be Vulcan.
Though you loved that girl Janet
Down there on the planet,
Next week around more you’ll be skulkin’.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Taylorism survives to this day,
Though it’s new and improved, in its way.
In Japan, it’s Kaizen --
It’s so good for the yen --
And Six Sigma in U. S. of A.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

Efficiency experts agree
Improving one’s output is key.
The Taylorist notion
Of time and of motion
Means many a stopwatch you’ll see.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

To her boss, the renowned Taylorist,
The apprentice would not mail her list.
She explained, “You’d all flip
At my thoughts for this ship.”
(She had been by a young sailor kissed.)
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In the strictly Palladian mode,
All is built to the classical code.
If the builders adhere,
Temple frontage austere
Could well make for a draughty abode.
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

This happened just five years ago:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau,
That astute, young Canadian
In a manner Palladian,
Allowed marijuana to grow.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

In Halifax people can find
Some buildings quite finely designed.
Their Palladian style
Makes Canadians smile --
I saw them, and they blew my mind!
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

One hears of some aging romances
That Palladian wisdom enhances
But let me assure you
The mirror will cure you
Of thinking it helps your love chances!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

A Palladian lady, so wise,
Had a neat trick for choosing her guys.
“If they beat me at Wordle,
They’ve jumped a big hurdle.
It helps if they have deep blue eyes.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Me want study three Rs, be Palladian,
But for now live in cave subterranean,”
Said Oog. “Alphabet
Not invented just yet,
Nor for math, number system Arabian.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“That gomer I privately curse,”
Admitted the overworked nurse.
“I’ll help him to heal,
But the truth is I feel
His kvetching just makes my life worse.”
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Every newbie’s entitled to make
One whopper, a giant mistake.
To call him a gomer,
If not a misnomer,
Is cruel, guys, c’mon, for Pete’s sake!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

I once had a dog I called Gomer.
His name was, it seems, a misnomer.
He was really quite bright.
A real grand slam delight,
Which by right, means he should have been Homer.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“At being marooned I’m a gomer;
I must learn to become a beachcomber,”
Said Tom Hanks. “Look, a ball!
I’ve a pal after all!
Although ‘friendship’ might be a misnomer.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“If this judge takes against us, we’re dead.”
“Alexandered? For stealing some bread?”
“Yes. With him it’s a vice.
He will hang in a trice,
And delight in the doing, ‘tis said.”
-Tony Holmes, Launceston, UK (tony_holmes btconnect.com)

My wife I must oft alexander,
Which frequently gets up my dander.
But I say, “What the deuce.
What’s good for the goose
May someday be good for the gander.”
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

The man has incredible flaws,
Yet somehow he garners applause.
In all ways substandard,
He’s still alexandered
By followers true to his cause.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

My boss? An incredible jεrk!
But I want to rise higher than clerk.
So I must alexander
This bum whom I slander
In thought every minute at work!
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“Mike Pence you should go alexander,
But I have to remain a bystander,”
Said Donald. “I’d go,
But my guards told me no.
With my type when you’re done, I’ll philander.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“My pet vulcan do anything your hamster can.” boasted Billy.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I’m running again because whoever occupies the O-vulcan do whatever they want and get away with it!” Donald shouted to the adoring crowd.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I’m proud to say Sheriff Taylorism-y nephew,” said Aunt Bea.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Our readers expect their James Bond novels on time, but you turned in the last cou-palladian,” complained Fleming’s publisher.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“I’ll tell ‘em to gomer-der Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi, but not in so many words,” thought Donald.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“Mommy, how come we have boys’ names?” asked Alexander sister Andy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A Tipping Point
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: A tipping point

AI ultimately becoming smarter than humans? Preposterous you say? Not according to AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton, who recently left Google. He claims, “It is hard to see how you can prevent bad actors from using it (AI) for bad things.” Worst case scenario, risking our very humanity, and our survival as a species. Here, I’ve echoed the title of the John Berendt-penned non-fiction book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, imagining an AI-generated garden.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence. -Hal Borland, author and journalist (14 May 1900-1978)

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