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AWADmail Issue 750

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

Sponsor’s Message: Turn back the hands of time, figuratively. Does “Old’s Cool” sum up your philosophy of life: old school with a little wry, served neat? And where saving a buck or two is in the blood? Same here. So, we’re offering this week’s Email of the Week winner, Doug Hensley (see below), as well as everyone who thinks that frugal ain’t cheap, a YUGE 30% OFF our retro-authentic ludic loot. Jezz use coupon code “wickedexcellent”.

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

What’s in a Brand Name?
The New Yorker

Oxford Scientists Have an AI That Can Read Your Lips

From: Dan DeVries (dan.devries rockets.utoledo.edu)
Subject: Feedback about AWAD

It seems as if you called our incoming President, Donald Trump, a “narcissistic con man running for the president of the United States”, on Oct 3, 2016 (link).

You associated him on your website with narcissism, lien, vitriol, precarious, and demagogue.

Will you be publishing an apology to Mr. Trump (and to your readers)?

Dan DeVries, Columbus, Ohio

Truth doesn’t change with election results. And you should never apologize for telling the truth.
-Anu Garg

From: Daniel E McAnulty (mcanulty mit.edu)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--opprobrious

Only too true. If only a different word had been appropriate tonight.


(Thank you for your nice service, by the way. Your words have brought a lot of joy, comfort, and, in a way, companionship into my life. I don’t think I’ve mailed before, but right now it seems important to reach out and steady one another. Thank you for steadying me so often with your daily thoughtfulness. Don’t despair.)

Daniel E McAnulty, San Francisco, California

From: Craig Gunsul (gunsulcj whitman.edu)
Subject: celerity

In physics, the symbol for the speed of light is c, from the same Latin root as celerity.

Craig Gunsul, Walla Walla, Washington

From: Tony Augarde (diddlums gmail.com)
Subject: celerity

You seem to have left out another sense of “celerity”: the condition of being celery. If it doesn’t exist, it should.

Tony Augarde, Oxford, UK

From: Jon Solins (jon_solins comcast.net)
Subject: Celerity

My first -- and most memorable -- exposure to “celerity” was in Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore. In Act II, after discovering his daughter eloping with a common sailor, Captain Corcoran utters a mild expletive. Sir Joseph Porter, Ruler of the Queen’s Navy, is horrified, and decries:

Sir Joseph:
I will hear of no defence,
Attempt none if you’re sensible.
That word of evil sense,
Is wholly indefensible.
Go, ribald, get you hence
To your cabin with celerity.
This is the consequence
Of ill-advised asperity!

Any G&S libretto is a treasure trove for word lovers!

Jon Solins, Amherst, Massachusetts

Celerity 2
From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: celerity

Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro, two exceptionally gifted, much lauded contemporary Canadian authors, with Munro having been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature a few years back, have made their respective marks in “the world of arts & letters” through deftly putting down one word after another... after another... after another. Sounds pretty simple. Yet both these remarkable writers have chosen their words wisely, with precision, evocativeness, and sheer brilliance, giving us consistently compelling fictive narratives that will surely endure the test of time.

Celerity 1
Maximum celerity in the animal kingdom rests firmly in the domain of the “fleet-of-paw” feline, the African cheetah... fastest land animal; while the handsome raptor, the peregrine falcon, speed-wise, rules the skies. Classic animated cartoon character “Speedy Gonzales” could claim he’s the fastest dude in the “cartoon kingdom”, but might get some strong argument on that score from two zippy Warner Bros. cartoon stalwarts -- Taz*, the Tasmanian Devil, or the lightning-fast Road Runner... Beep! Beep! *Full disclosure: I designed key backgrounds on Warner Bros. Taz-Mania, back in the early ‘90s.
Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Mary Treder (mct919 hotmail.com)
Subject: symphysis

Aha! Now I have a word to describe how my cat Dziki’s leg healed after he snapped his radius and ulna. X-rays show that his foreleg now has one bone, a symphysis of the broken pieces and parts.

Mary Treder, Parker, Colorado

From: Steve Kirkpatrick (stevekirkp comcast.net)
Subject: symphysis

When I took Vertebrate Biology at Stanford, one question on a mid-term was about the anatomy of the human pelvis. It asked us to name these structures on a diagram: sacrum, ilium, ischium, pubic bone, and the pubic symphysis, which completes the circle, anteriorly.

A few days later, Norman Wessels, our Professor and Department Chair, announced the test results and one particularly wrong answer: “pubic symphony”. He drily told us that is an entirely different subject.

Steve Kirkpatrick, Olympia, Washington

Email of the Week - Brought to you by Old’s Cool - Fall back into a better place and save. SHOP NOW.

From: Doug Hensley (dhensley math.tamu.edu)
Subject: symphysis

This word for me triggers a particular association. There is a medical condition affecting a small but yet large number of children (percentagewise small, in other words) in which the symphysis joining the femur to the smaller bone that in adults is fused to the femur to be the face of the ball joint that goes in the hip socket fails to fuse.

Untreated, the condition grows steadily worse and immobilizes the hip joint.

Treatment consists in surgical intervention to screw or nail the two bones together, supplying mechanically what nature normally supplies biologically. The screw is inserted by separating the skin and muscle over the spot on the femur where the screw needs to go in, driving it through the femur and on into the next bone, getting it to the right depth so it actually fastens the two together but not so far as to project through the face of the ball joint bone, where it would then grind away the lining of the hip socket. If that happens, the joint is ruined and the child suffers the same fate as if there had been no operation.

If, on the other hand, the screw is not driven in far enough, the operation again fails because it has achieved nothing.

The difficulty here is that one cannot pull the bone out of the socket to look and see if the screw is set to the right depth. One must go by x-ray images. Not too many, for the x-rays that would image this joint would then go through the reproductive organs.

How to tell whether the screw is at the right depth? It turns out that it is possible for the tip of the screw to be beyond the ball joint, and yet have the image of the tip be inside the image of the bone in both a side view and a front view of the situation.

Translated into mathematics, one gets x and y off of one image, and x and z off of the other image, and the question is whether x2+y2+z2 < r2 (actual tip inside actual sphere). This insight was the subject of a prize-winning medical sciences paper in the 1970s, and after its publication, the rate of failure of the operation dropped sharply:

Robert Walters and Sheldon R. Simon; Joint Destruction: a sequel of unrecognized pin penetration in patients with slipped capital femoral epiphyses; "The Hip: Proceedings of the 8th Annual Open Scientific Meeting of the Hip Society, St. Louis"; C.V. Mosby; 1980.

Doug Hensley, College Station, Texas

Mary Miller Boy (mary all-the-boys.de)
Subject: comport

When I was in elementary school in the 50s, one of the items on our report card, for which we were graded in the same way as for the three R’s was “comportment”. I remember getting an A.

Mary Miller Boy, Falkensee, Germany

From: Michael Feinberg (mfeinberg dca.net)
Subject: Comport

And here I thought that comport was what you plugged the modem into.

Michael Feinberg, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

From: Dharam Khalsa (dharamkk2 gmail.com)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

This week’s theme: Miscellaneous words
I’ll hustle
some way to oppose bones
implies “schmuck”
correct poise (it’s my priority)
The text in the right box is an anagram of the text in the left.

Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina

From: Robert Jordan (alfiesdad ymail.com)
Subject: This week’s words anagrammed

1. celerity
2. politic
3. symphysis
4. opprobrious
5. comport
1. scoot spryly by
2. so cool, PC
3. miter, hip
4. improper
5. I suit

Robert Jordan, Lampang, Thailand

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Limericks

He rose to the top with celerity.
What he said were things of hilarity.
Outrageous he spoke,
Propriety he broke.
What marked him most was vulgarity.
-Sam Joseph, Spokane, Washington (sgjoseph1 gmail.com)

Many went to the polls with alacrity.
They were planning to vote with celerity.
But they long had to wait
And arrived at work late,
Pleased to not be reproved with severity.
-Steven Hight, Bedford, Indiana (stevenehight gmail.com)

Spewing rhetoric defined by asperity
With his racist, woman-hating temerity,
Trump makes me madder’n get-out
So I got up and set out
to the polls with the utmost celerity.
-Demi Brown, Sarasota, Florida (editorial pineapplepress.com)

Our leader-elect is a rarity,
A bigot, a bully, a parody.
The art of his deal
Will be to repeal
The progress we’ve made with celerity.
-Adam Perl, Ithaca, New York (adam pastimes.com)

The Donald rose up with celerity
Through bombast, hot air, and asperity.
OMG, how’d this happen?
He’ll soon be remappin’
Our brains with four years of shock therapy.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Through these months of campaigning we’ve had,
things were said and done -- some really bad,
but whoever wins, this is
our time for symphysis.
If we can’t, it will be very sad.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

The couple’s counselor said, “Something’s amiss.”
When the bride and the groom wouldn’t kiss.
The diagnosis concise,
“Trouble in Paradise,”
Lacking correct symphysis.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodth snet.net)

In symphysis and celerity they flocked to the booth,
All races and faiths, the aged, the youth.
With opprobrious voices
They made passionate choices,
Knowingly secure that theirs spoke the truth.
-Kathy Schiavone, Port Jefferson, New York (mscarrera optonline.net)

Though the marriage was less than harmonious,
with verbal exchanges opprobrious,
he quickly demurred
when from lawyer he heard
that divorce would prove too alimonious.
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

He knew how to win an election,
Preaching hatred and fear to perfection.
Opprobrious talk,
Yet at Hitler we balk,
We’ve had 80 years now for reflection.
-Kathy Deutsch, Melbourne, Australia (kathy deutsch.net.au)

The day we succumb to our phobias
Is the day that we all turn opprobrious.
We must have lost faith
On November the 8th.
It’s a day we’ll remember as odious.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

In politics he was politic.
His campaign, so vicious and slick,
The next White House resident,
Will be Trump as president,
Which makes half the nation quite sick.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

They sailed to the New World rachitic
In longships more proud than politic.
Now fast foodie symphysis
And more Nacho than Memphis’es
Have left us a nation lepidic.
-Mike Parsley, Malaga, Spain (slussen2 gmail.com)

“My team says it’s time to be politic,”
Sighed Trump, “No more swinging a hockey stick.”
But “You won, so don’t sweat
What they’re telling you. Nyet!”
Says his new BFF, the head Bolshevik.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Shock, fear, anger, despair, disbelief:
That bad dream our Commander in Chief?
Not one crony the sort
who might help him comport
himself well. Here come Hell, loss, and grief.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

With the alt-right he chose to comport.
Some so crass that we cannot report.
His rants and his raves
stoked the crazies in waves.
Now it’s time for us to retort.
-Sam Joseph, Spokane, Washington (sgjoseph1 gmail.com)

Shrugged the Donald, “Campaigning’s blood sport;
With the truth there’s no need to comport.
Next stop is the Oval,
I hope Karl Rove’ll
Help find me some hacks for the Court.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: Retun of the pun

Celerity: the ability to quickly garnish a Bloody Mary.

If conjoined twins take a selfie, is that photo symphysis?

The willing voyagers on the alien space ship requested, “opprobrious, please!”

Did that thorn in his flesh give Politic?

Besides “mark twain”, a riverboat guide might also have yelled, “comport!”

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

There is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some diehard’s vote. -David Foster Wallace, novelist, essayist, and short story writer (1962-2008)

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