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AWADmail Issue 222

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Other Interesting Tidbits about Words and Languages

From: Dan Gillcrist (dangill AT cybermesa.com)
Subject: Missile mail (refer: arithmancy)

Talk about a small world. I was a member of the crew of the submarine Barbero mentioned in today's word when we fired the Regulus full of mail.

I was Torpedoman 2nd class (SS) the SS "submarine qualified", was very important that everyone on the boat knew everyone else's jobs and knew what to do in case of a casualty anywhere aboard.

Pictures from the submarine, and info on my books are at subpowershift.com.

From: Keith R. Snyder (snyderkr1 AT bigfoot.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--arithmancy

I am a prison chaplain, which requires me to supervise a large variety of religious groups' services. A particular brand of numerology is common in many religious systems, in the sense that numeric values are applied to concepts, then dates or events are analyzed numerically to see their significance. For instance, the digits of the date of some event are added together, then those digits added together, finally arriving at a smaller number that in their system means power, or themselves, or something like that, thereby "proving" the divine nature of the event. I hasten to make the distinction between this and the legitimate use of language conventions with which we understand 40 in ancient literature connoting "a lot of" something, like Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, or "it rained for 40 days and 40 nights", or three often having divine significance in Christianity.

Numbers are also often used by gangs (on the street or in prison) to symbolize certain messages they want to covertly transmit. This almost always uses a=1, b=2, etc. A common symbol in prison gangsterism (by skinhead types) is 88, which translates to HH, shorthand for Heil Hitler.

I have used the following to demonstrate how you can use such arithmancy to prove about anything, such as the musicians Little Richie and Stevie Wonder really being white supremacists (which raises a lot of eyebrows when I announce that): They both play the piano, which has 88 keys, 88 = HH = Heil Hitler = white supremacist code language. In addition, there are more white keys than black keys on the piano, AND the white keys are larger than the black keys. This draws the ire of a few, but most at least register the truth of the example.

From: Dale Roberts (droberts AT casarino.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bibliomancy

An example of bibliomancy in literature would be Wilkie Collins's novel "The Moonstone". One of the characters in that book considers "Robinson Crusoe" to be the perfect guide to life, often selecting passages at random to guide his actions.

From: Stephanie Rousseau (stephanier AT rlns.com)
Subject: Bibliomancy...or should it be Quotemancy?

I enthusiastically greet each morning's AWAD-- I'm always enlightened by the encounter, never left wanting. It's almost like having an electronic cat!

Even more than the daily word, I enjoy the daily quotation at the bottom. Often, these quotations are eerily more appropriate to my current struggles than any daily horoscope. I am embarrassed to admit the quotations you choose often influence my decisions, providing me with the justification I need when I lack the confidence to award it to myself. Would this be "quotemancy"?

Case in point: I've made the decision to give up my lucrative job and return to college so I can achieve my lifelong dream of a college diploma. As my last day at work loomed closer, I was anxiously wondering if I made the right decision. Today's quotation from Carl Jung: "There is no coming to consciousness without pain." When I clicked on the "Random AWAD" link from today's edition, I got Henry David Thoreau's: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them."

I interpreted this to mean that enlightenment through education will have its challenges, but shrinking from challenge leads to a life half lived. Quotemancy, once again, points to a decision well made. Here's to my coming to consciousness and releasing my song!

From: Brenda Seabrooke (seabrooke AT verizon.net)
Subject: feedback: bibliomancy

Also known as Bible-cracking in the vernacular. Those who believe the Protestant Bible has divination powers use it to determine a course of action by letting the pages fall open, then with eyes closed putting a finger on a page. With a little interpretation on the part of the cracker, the verse so chosen will divine the way.

From: Lydia Ross (lydia.ross AT mac.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bibliomancy

A successful businessman suddenly found his business going down the drain. Contemplating suicide, he went to his minister for advice.

The minister says "Take a beach chair and a Bible and put them in your car and drive down to the edge of the ocean. Go to the water's edge. Take the beach chair out of the car, sit on it, take the Bible out, and open it up. The wind will riffle the pages for awhile and eventually the Bible will stay open at a particular page. Read the first words on the page and they will tell you what to do."

The man did as he was told. Three months later the man and his family came back to see the minister. They appeared prosperous and beaming.

The man handed the minister a thick envelope full of money as a donation to the shul, in gratitude for his advice. Naturally he asked, "Just what were the first words on that page?"

The man replied: "Chapter 11".

(Chapter 11 is a section of the Bankruptcy Code under the US law which provides for the reorganization.)

From: Fred Donehoo (fj AT strato.net)
Subject: Bibliomancy

My favorite story regarding bibliomancy is an old "chestnut" that circulates among fundamentalists about the man who treated the Bible as an irrational fetish rather than a rational guideline.

Eyes closed, he opened the scriptures, put his finger on a verse, and read, "Judas went and hanged himself."

Seeking clarification, he tried again and his finger pointed to, "Go thou and do likewise."

He was totally undone when his third try gave him, "What thou doest, do quickly!"

From: Andrew Pressburger (andrew.pressburger AT primus.ca)
Subject: A guide to bibliomancy

Visit a nearby library. Pick a book at random and drop it. Look at a word on the page where it fell open. If you don't like the word, pick another book and repeat the process ad infinitum or until you have finally found a satisfactory result. While unobtrusively slinking out of the library before police arrive, try to remember as many of the words you had encountered as possible. And bear in mind: there is no coming to consciousness without pain.

Just trying to be helpful.

From: Mary Gillmarten (mgillmarten AT deloitte.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--bibliomancy

How did you know about my secret (although apparently not so secret) dilemma between staying in my job with an accounting firm and becoming a groupie!

Alas, I put volume one of the Internal Revenue Code on its spine and it did not fall open in three attempts! Rather, it fell over to the right!

From: Lawrence Crumb (lcrumb AT uoregon.edu)
Subject: bibliomancy

The ancient Romans did bibliomancy with Vergil's Aeneid.

From: Anne Bingham (anne AT annebingham.com)
Subject: haruspicy

And what do we call a YOUNG Roman priest who performed haruspicy?

From: Eric Shackle (eshackle AT wordsmith.org)
Subject: Re: haruspicy

A young Roman priest who performed haruspicy would have been called a nux (a nut).

From: Bhasker P.S. (bps AT godrej.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--haruspicy

On seeing this word today, the first thought that came to my mind was a picture of "Asterix and the Soothsayer" where the soothsayer pretends to predict the future by reading the entrails of animals leading to comical situations.

From: Tom Campbell (tom.campbell AT cingular.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--haruspicy

We could tell the future in a much nicer way by practicing vegetarian haruspicy. The lines in a cross-section of broccoli certainly tell us something about our fate, if only we could interpret them correctly. The arrangement of seeds in a tomato, the number of furrows in a walnut meat, or the hue of an eggplant may well hold the key to our destiny.

From: Scott Kruize (scottk AT pacificrimcorp.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--clairvoyance

I remember a joke (reprinted in Reader's Digest, many years ago):

ANNOUNCEMENT: The regular meeting of the Clairvoyant Society will not take place this month, due to unforeseen circumstances.

From: Tara L. Kurtzbein (tara_kurtzbein AT blm.gov)
Subject: AWAD usage

Every day I attach a word- and quite frequently the quotation-of-the-day to our daily briefing materials for my wildland fire crew. After we are informed of the daily weather and national situation and safety message, we expand our minds just a little bit of thanks to your daily AWAD emails.

Words, when written, crystallize history; their very structure gives permanence to the unchangeable past. -Francis Bacon, essayist, philosopher, and statesman (1561-1626)

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