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May 5, 2024
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Words from geometry

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AWADmail Issue 1140

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

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From: Alex (anipaahu gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--elliptic

You could take credit
Your pizzas are huaraches
Your pie has no pi
But has x, a, b, and y

Alex, Framingham, Massachusetts

From: Judith Judson (jjudson frontier.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--elliptic

In the ruler’s wonderful song “My Object All Sublime” in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado, the sadistic monarch proclaims that the cheating billiards player will have “a twisted cue, and a cloth untrue, and elliptical billiard balls”. The fiendish emphasis on elliptical is marvelously gruesome.

Judith Judson, Pittsford, New York

From: Ryan Jayne (ryan ffrf.org)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--triangulation

The term triangulation has a specific meaning in chess. It’s basically when your opponent’s only option is to move back and forth between two squares, but you have the ability to move between three different squares (that’s the triangle). By taking three moves where your opponent only takes two you can repeat the initial position, but with it being your opponent’s turn rather than yours, purposely “losing” the move. It sounds complicated but it’s actually very simple, and there are lots of classic examples where triangulation is the only way to win many chess positions.

Ryan Jayne, Madison, Wisconsin

From: Gary P. Brown (revnor aol.com)
Subject: Triangulation

One of the most common uses of triangulation these days is as a psychological term for playing off two people against each other, as when a child triangulates her or his parents to achieve a beneficial outcome.

Gary P. Brown, Hammondsport, New York

From: Elizabeth Sandel (bethjsandel hotmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--triangulation

As a mental health professional I understand the concept of triangulation also as the process whereby conflict between two parties is diverted to a third-party to reduce stress and anxiety. As a former psychotherapist, I have heard it said that the practice of therapy is the art of triangulating well.

Beth Sandel, Grambois, France

From: Ava Torre-Bueno (avatb3 gmail.com)
Subject: triangulation

In psychotherapy, triangulation is a pattern seen in (generally family) relationships in which one person, rather than confronting another, sends their message through a third person. It can be overt, “Tell your father I won’t be home until he apologizes,” or more subtle, “The kids seem distant and don’t want to hang out with me.” The second doesn’t ask for action, but is a (not so) subtle request for intervention with the kids.

Ava Torre-Bueno, San Diego, California

From: Ilda Januario (ilda.januario gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--triangulation

And then there is triangulation in research where more than one method is used to ascertain the validity of the findings, or in the research field by interviewing at least three people about the same topic to get different views of the material researched.

Ilda Januario, Toronto, Ontario

From: Brian Clarke (commandgce gmail.com)
Subject: Triangulation

Triangulation also refers in social science research to the use of three sources for every datum point: deposited records, interviews, and observation.

Brian Clarke, Sydney, Australia

From: Prof. Michael Barr (barr.michael mcgill.ca)
Subject: triangulation

To a mathematician, triangulation of a space is a division into simplexes (or, if you prefer, simplices). An n-simplex is the n-dimensional analog of a triangle. Specifically, a 0-simplex is a point, a 1-simplex is a line segment, a 2-simplex is a triangle, a 3-simplex is a tetrahedron and then you get to the higher dimensional analogs.

Michael Barr, Montreal, Canada

From: Gerd Heinlein (gheinlein online.de)
Subject: Triangulation

In addition to the meanings given, there is a mathematical one which is fairly important in the branch called topology.

Gerd Heinlein, Uttenreuth, Germany

From: Natália Oliveira (natalia.ruiz.oliveira gmail.com)
Subject: About Jerome K. Jerome’s quote

It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do. There is no fun in doing nothing when you have nothing to do. Wasting time is merely an occupation then, and a most exhausting one. Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen. -Jerome K. Jerome, humorist and playwright (2 May 1859-1927)

Jerome K. Jerome missed the mark this time. A stolen kiss is not sweet, it’s sεxual assault.

Natália R. Oliveira, São Paulo, Brazil

From: Eleanor Richardson (nielandeleanor roadrunner.com)
Subject: asymptote

Teacher: Here is an example of Zeno’s paradox: If you and your girlfriend are sitting on a bench, and you move half the way between the two of you, and then half again, and keep on doing it, would you ever reach her?

Student: I’d get close enough for all practical purposes.

Eleanor Richardson, Bedford, Ohio

Email of the Week -- Brought to you buy One Up! -- A wicked smart war of words.

From: Robert A. Rushton (reloquent gmail.com)
Subject: MLK’s asymptote

Martin Luther King Jr. said that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” In his view, that curve is an asymptote, incrementally closing the gap between what is and what should be. In my experience, however, our society experiences more of a drunkard’s walk, sometimes jittering towards justice and sometimes jumping away. Perhaps instead of a convergence to a single societal ideal (in a geometric sense), our solution space is more of a set of competing attractors, some of which are desirable and some which are distinctly “suboptimal”.

Robert A. Rushton, Brookline, New Hampshire

From: RoseAnne Mussar (rmussar gmail.com)
Subject: Asymptote

Asymptote is one of my favourite words, and not just because it’s fun to say! As evolved organisms with limited sensory functions and wild imaginations, we fool ourselves into thinking we can know “the truth”. Truth is an asymptote. We can get closer and closer to it and build instruments to help us, but we will never (as an example) truly know what an atom is. We build models that serve us very well, and that’s what science is: models based on observation and experimentation that provide utility in understanding and making our way in the universe. But we will never completely “grok” an atom, or the universe itself. We push towards the asymptote of truth with our instruments and imaginations -- what a wild ride!

RoseAnne Mussar, Ottawa, Canada

From: June Cussen (june.cussen gmail.com)
Subject: Love Circles

I think the Math Love Stories cartoons missed the big one. The one for true love! Intersecting circles. The circles are not congruent because lovers always have a few secrets.

June Cussen, Sarasota, Florida

From: Ron Sanderson (ronsandersonuma gmail.com)
Subject: Math Love Stories

These admittedly humorous scenarios seem to be about dysfunctional love stories. So, for balance, where is the Venn diagram? (Two overlapping sets only please, since three could be grounds for divorce!)

Ron Sanderson, Oakville, Canada

The Old Man and the Sea
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: elliptic and tangent

One of the hallmarks of Ernest Hemingway’s writing is his economy of language. So I figured Hemingway, author of many lauded works including his novella “The Old Man and the Sea”, would be a fine exemplar of the elliptic writer. Enclosing him in an actual floating ellipse being buffeted on the briny deep seemed like an apt scenario for this man of action and few words, whose love of the sea was never a secret.

Amish Gothic
Rather than approach my illustration from the angle of “going off on a tangent”, I opted to take our word in its original geometric context, featuring this Amish gramps and granddaughter, his straight-brimmed hat forming two glaring tangents. As a cartoonist, I (and other visual artists) have to be constantly on guard for those sneaky tangents. For example, a background tree seemingly growing out of the head of a foreground character. Always being acutely aware of the horizon line relative to the other elements in the overall composition is paramount.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California


This week’s theme: Words from geometry
1. Elliptic
2. Triangulation
3. Squarely
4. Tangent
5. Asymptote
= 1. Raw egg-like shape
2. Technique to measure
3. Most strongly
4. Mostly meet; prattle
5. Toward infinity
-Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

= 1. A round symmetry style
2. Quick, where am I?
3. See right angles
4. Point two lines met at
5. Target of plot
= 1. Omit written word
2. I measure & apply angles
3. Frankly
4. He strays
5. Get quite close to -- might not meet
-Josiah Winslow, Franklin, Wisconsin (winslowjosiah gmail.com) -Julian Lofts, Auckland, New Zealand (jalofts xtra.co.nz)

Make your own anagrams and animations.



My vague and elliptic remark
Has left my own wife in the dark,
And this I now rue.
She did misconstrue,
And our marriage has lost its old spark.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

His love he declared in a text,
With a heart and some kisses he X-ed.
His message elliptic,
Was curt, almost cryptic;
His girlfriend was utterly vexed.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

The poet was known to be terse.
He wrote only short, not long, verse.
His writing elliptic,
At times was quite cryptic.
To overthink it made it worse.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“Me admit my speech sometimes elliptic,
But me simple and honest, not cryptic,”
Said Oog. “Me no lie
Like your orange head guy,
So me wish modern people not nitpick.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


Tinker to Evers to Chance:
A triangulation bromance!
Specifics unclear
But from all that I hear
Ne’er repeated was that circumstance.
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“We’ll find Howland by triangulation,
Or my middle name’s not ‘Navigation’.
So Amelia, don’t worry!”
“OK, Fred, but hurry;
This plane isn’t good at flotation.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


In the camera Trump fixed his gaze squarely,
And declared, “I am treated unfairly!”
How often he’s whinged,
“My rights are infringed!”
Although punishment he’s suffered rarely.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“It’s 5! Fare thee well!” “Huh! Not barely!”
Said my boss, looking right at me squarely.
“You didn’t arrive
Until 9:25.”
And his look, I thought, dissed me unfairly
-Bindy Bitterman, Chicago, Illinois (bindy eurekaevanston.com)

“In my court I treat everyone squarely,”
Said the judge. “No! You act so unfairly!”
Answered Donald. “Your daughter
Corrupts you! We caught her!”
The judge kept his cool, but just barely.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


I told you I loved you last year.
Your response I did not want to hear.
You went off on a tangent
In a tone I’d call plangent,
And talked about pre-nups, my dear.
-Rudy Landesman, New York, New York (ydur36 hotmail.com)

“My dear students, I’ll give some advice.
To write well, you must be concise.
I’m not a big fan, gents,
Of going on tangents.
You won’t get a grade that is nice.”
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“The Hebrews are off on a tangent,
Ignoring my every commandment,”
Sighed Yahweh. “You chose us;
Go easy,” said Moses;
“It’s just a phase, surely quite transient.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


She loved him with all of her heart,
And she’d hoped that a romance they’d start.
In their math class they’d met,
But they’ve not hooked up yet --
Like an asymptote they’ve stayed apart.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

“On my theory ze whole vorld vill dote;
I’ll explain vith zis graphed asymptote,”
Said Albert. “I teach
Zat lightspeed you can’t reach,
So warp drives? No, zey don’t get my vote.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)


“I feel like such an eejit, doc. M-elliptic makes lassies pull away when I kiss ‘em,” said Paddy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A percussionist in the orchestra, Timothy was a master of triangulation.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“If circles aren’t working out, why don’t you triangulation?” suggested Euclid’s therapist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“You’re such a squarely. I’m leaving and suing for palimony,” said Michelle Marvin.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

The year-round tangent is the well-known celebrity George Hamilton.
-Janice Power, Cleveland, Ohio (powerjanice782 gmail.com)

“That orangu-tangent exhibits better manners than many humans,” observed the zoologist.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

“The Grand Canyon! Wow, this ch-asymptote-ally blows me away!” the tourist exclaimed.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

If He Wins... Perish the Thought
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: If he wins ... Perish the thought!

For Trump, nothing inflates his ego more than appearing on the cover of TIME magazine. Last week, he once again made the grade, a setup for a featured interview about his agenda if he were to win a second term. He said he was far “too nice” during his first term. Trump vowed to deport millions of “illegals”, set up detention camps and deploy the National Guard. Further, he would allow states that are so inclined to monitor women’s pregnancies and prosecute those who violate abortion bans. Trump claimed he’d grant pardons to those who took part in the Jan 6 insurrection. Hmm... has Hell frozen over yet, or have there been any recent flying pig sightings?

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

Life is a foreign language; all men mispronounce it. -Christopher Morley, journalist, novelist, essayist, and poet (5 May 1890-1957)

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