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AWADmail Issue 419

July 11, 2010

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

From: Elizabeth Robinson (betty.mamorob gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--plutocracy
Def: 1. Government by the wealthy. 2. A country or state governed by the wealthy people. 3. Wealthy ruling class.

With the recent Supreme Court decision allowing corporations to fund ads in political races, it seems we will be even more of a plutocracy in the US.

From: Joanna Breslin (jrb1ercru gmail.com)
Subject: plutocracy

From my brother, Paul Breslin:

Our pretense to have a democracy
Is merely transparent hypocrisy:
Though the polity balks,
It's the money that talks:
Our "leaders" bow down to plutocracy.

From: Howard L. Kessler (andyjuil aol.com)
Subject: plutocracy

I have been both amusing myself and dealing with anger of current affairs by creating photo-collages. One fits the word, plutocracy. Another is the Mad Hatter lecturing on the meaning of a politically sensitive phrase.

From: Andrew Pressburger (andpress sympatico.ca)
Subject: Combining form of gymno

Here may be seen a touching illustration of the idea of a nude dancing ritual (unless feathers count as clothing), ostensibly based on an ancient Greek custom that may have inspired the French composer Erik Satie to write his piano pieces called Gymnopedies. In this instance though it is more like nude bathing instead of nude dancing.

From: Bernice Colman (beecolman earthlink.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--plutocracy

Oh, but what fun to combine them differently! How about plutolatry, bibliocracy, anemolatry (probably does exist somewhere), plutograph (gold writing, like those illuminated manuscripts), stenocracy (we can find plenty of that around today), or it could be a household that is ruled by a baby, plenty of that too.

From: Christopher Weaver (chrweave gmail.com)
Subject: bibliolatry
Def: 1. Excessive devotion to the Bible, especially to its literal interpretation. 2. Extreme devotion to books.

I am pleased as punch that you included bibliolatry in this week's list of words. I recall from a Smithsonian article (abstract) that AWAD featured it once before on January 25, 1999. If I remember the article correctly, The feedback opposing its inclusion was most passionate. Despite this opposition we see bibliolatry again this week in its proper language context.

From: Sheila Crosby (crosby.sheila gmail.com)
Subject: Anemometer
Def: An instrument for measuring the speed of wind.

I used to work at an astronomical observatory at 8,000 ft. One night we had a tremendous storm with freezing fog, ice build-up, and howling winds. The anemometer broke. I could, however, lean my full weight into the wind, and the wind held me up. I believe that happens at about 60 knots / 70 mph / 110 km/h. I had to turn sideways to walk.

It was all rather lively for a place just 28° north of the equator.

From: Jeff Reese (jeff.reese ipaper.com)
Subject: anemometers

Anemometers are now used to measure any air flow, and not just wind. Common types I've used for measuring paper machine fan performance include hot wire anemometers (which measure how much cooling the air stream does as it passes a heat source), vane anemometers (measuring how fast the air stream moves a "fan wheel"), and Pitot tubes (measuring the difference between air static and velocity pressure).

Email of the Week (Courtesy One Up! - Be a Player.)

From: Eric Hoy (eric.hoy utsouthwestern.edu)
Subject: Stenosis
Def: A narrowing of a passage, vessel, or an opening in the body.

I teach at a medical center in Dallas, Texas. The major expressway leading to the campus is Stemmons Freeway. I have a strict rule that students who are late to class are not allowed to make up any missed quiz or exam time unless they have a REALLY good excuse. In 20 years of teaching I have heard every excuse imaginable, but I did allow extra time for the student who explained her tardiness with four words: "Stenosis of the Stemmons."

From: Sherry Spence (slspence spiritone.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--stenosis

What a surprise to see a word on AWAD that's so much on my mind lately. "Stenosis" is also used in describing some birth defects. Aortic stenosis is a heart valve problem that can go from mild to serious and might not be diagnosed until the child has pains or symptoms that are odd for a small child. Some of the programs that monitor and inform about such birth defects are seen as non-essential government spending. Yet cutting them back can end up really costing families and government services in the long run. Apart from the human cost, the tax dollars saved by diagnosing and helping one infant can pay for a birth defects monitoring program for a year. Check out this and this.

From: Michael Bash (mbash1944 yahoo.com)
Subject: stenosis

In modern Greek a "steno" is a narrow street.

From: Bruce Grembowski (grembowski yahoo.com)
Subject: Stenosis

The word stenosis also reminds me of another combined form word, tenosynovitis. I had stenosing tenosynovitis on three fingers of my right hand. It's also known as trigger finger. I would wake up in the morning with my fingers bent, and it would hurt to straighten them. To fix this, a surgeon opened up the tendon sheath, where the stenosing was occurring. I blame years of using a computer mouse, but it could also be hereditary.

As far as I'm concerned, 'whom' is a word that was invented to make everyone sound like a butler. -Calvin Trillin, writer (b. 1935)

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