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AWADmail Issue 658A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language
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From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
From: Alastair McKean (mckeana mso.com.au)
Edward Elgar’s orchestral work Enigma Variations is a set of musical depictions of ‘my friends pictured within’. The ninth variation is called ‘Nimrod’, and was named after Elgar’s publisher, August Jaeger. This is because ‘Jäger’ is German for ‘hunter’—and Elgar loved terrible puns.
Alastair McKean, Orchestra Librarian, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Australia
From: PJ Coldren (pjcoldren tm.net)
There is a high school in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan whose teams are The Nimrods. Watersmeet, Michigan is the home of the Nimrods—based, one suspects after looking at the images, on the hunting meaning of the word.
PJ Coldren, Saint Helen, Michigan
From: Scott Eichel (seichel407 gmail.com)
There is found in South Eastern Turkey, near the small town of Kahta, a mountain named Mt. Nimrod or Nemrut Dag (or Dagi) . Atop this mountain there are many statues in various stages of disrepair, originally put there by a little known (supposedly megalomaniac) ruler in the 1st century BC. It is an off-the-beaten track destination best viewed at sunset on the western side of the peak or, even better, at sunrise on the eastern face where the sun rises over the Euphrates river.
Scott Eichel, Victoria, Canada
From: Joel Mabus (joel.mabus pobox.com)
Nimrod is an interesting word. It can mean a mighty hunter, mighty ruler, or mighty stupid.
As this week started with an observation on the upcoming US presidential election, I can’t help but note that any candidate at some point has to be photographed dressed in hunting garb, shooting a rifle. I suppose that’s to assuage the National Rifle Association and to curry favor with American sportsmen in general.
So in American politics: in order to become a nimrod, one must pose as a nimrod, so as not to be dismissed as a nimrod.
Joel Mabus, Kalamazoo, Michigan
From: Steve Kirkpatrick, DDS (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Along the lines of this week’s theme of words from the Bible, you might receive a Biblical flood of comments about Navajo rugs, due to Monday’s quotation “The absence of flaw in beauty is itself a flaw.”
Navajo weavers deliberately incorporate one flaw into each rug, with the idea that only God (or the Great Spirit) is perfect, not humans. I learned this fact about Navajo rugs at the first reservation where I worked. The pharmacist’s wife was Navajo, and they were weaving a traditional rug in their living room, complete with the vertically-oriented loom.
Steve Kirkpatrick, DDS, Olympia, Washington
From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
Another via dolorosa is that which goes over Il Ponte dei Sospiri in Venice.
M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden
From: Jim Cosgrove (jcosgrove.law verizon.net)
Related in a way to scapegoats were sin eaters.
Jim Cosgrove, Worcester, Massachusetts
From: Ryan Magee (magee857 gmail.com)
Thanks for including scapegoat in this week’s words—I hope my AP Lit students already feel comfortable with the term! Ursula Le Guin’s psychomyth The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas is my favorite way to teach about this idea; 40 years after its publication, the story still resonates with students and I still wonder if I could truly live up to the title’s billing (or perhaps create a less perfect but infinitely better world by doing more than just exiting the sea-side city). Modern parallels abound, too, as we live in our gilded world that shields us from the squalor of hunger, neglect, and despair rampant across the globe (and within the US as well). Those marginalized children lacking a voice and hope should discomfit the privileged living in ivory towers everywhere. Just a great story to teach!
Ryan Magee, Albuquerque, New Mexico
From: Leon Moss (leon.moss gmail.com)
There is still a small garden in Jerusalem with a plaque on the front gate “Garden of Gethsemane”. The garden is full of ancient olive trees and the locals tell you that they are the “originals”.
Leon Moss, Tel Aviv, Israel
From: Anthony Hall (anthony.hall usdoj.gov)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--samaritan
For me, the most compelling part of the story of the good Samaritan is that he is doing it for someone not of his own people, but seen by many as an enemy. Would that all of us could do the same.
PS: Thank you for today’s quotation—so well put, and nice to hear from a lawyer (it boosted my professional self-esteem).
Anthony Hall, Boise, Idaho
From: Ken Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
‘Samaritan’ reminded me of the final episode of my favorite TV sitcom Seinfeld. The four main characters are arrested when they witness a crime but take no action to intervene. This violates a Massachusetts “duty to rescue” law which essentially forces people to be good Samaritans. I can imagine the glee the sitcom’s writers felt when they hit on such a wonderfully ironic conclusion to a show known for having nothing happen by having the stars jailed for failing to take action.
Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California
From: Lindsay Staniforth (lindsaymas talktalk.net)
Here in the UK the most common use of the word ‘Samaritans’ may be to name the 24 hour a day, 365 days a year telephone suicide and despair service. They (we) also answer SMS texts and emails, and receive them from around the world. Go on, give them (us) this free publicity ... you could save lives.
Lindsay Staniforth, Wells, UK
From: Hillary Rettig (hillary hillaryrettig.com)
It’s noteworthy that the people who failed to help were “important” (a priest and ruler) and presumably busy, while the Samaritans were the hippies of their day, and so the Good Samaritan no doubt had lots of time on his hands with which to help a stranger. Darley and Batson’s renowned “Good Samaritan” social psychology experiment replicated the conditions of the parable for the modern world, and found that the key element determining whether people were willing to stop and help a stranger was whether they were rushed. In other words, values and morals and ethics go by the wayside when we’re rushed. I believe that that is a crucial insight for our busy world.
Hillary Rettig, Boston, Massachusetts
From: Alexander Nix (revajnix yahoo.co.uk)
It has always stuck me as a great irony that in the US, which claims to pride itself on not having a state religion, that God’s alleged political preference should play such an important role in elections whereas in the UK, which has the Church of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Church in Wales as the nominal state religion, any politician that is suspected of being overtly religious is viewed with suspicion. After all, anyone who believes they have God on their side might feel able to justify all sorts of inhumane things like wars against non believers for example.
This brings me on nicely to Alistair Campbell, Tony Blair’s most aggressive spin doctor, who responded with the infamous line ‘We don’t do God’ when Blair was questioned about his faith. Blair subsequently converted to Catholicism when he left political office.
Alexander Nix, Cambridge, UK
From: M Henri Day (mhenriday gmail.com)
God seems to have encountered difficulties when required to choose sides in human events even prior to the 2012 US presidential election, as the British poet and historian John Collings Squire noted with respect to WW I:
God heard the embattled nations sing and shout
M Henri Day, Stockholm, Sweden
From: Steve Benko (stevebenko1 gmail.com)
First, paean to a current amusing rivalry:
Steve Benko, New York, New York
From: Joan Perrin (perrinjoan aol.com)
This week’s theme, Words from the Bible,
Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:For every language that becomes extinct, an image of man disappears. -Octavio Paz, poet, diplomat, Nobel laureate (1914-1998)