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May 6, 2018
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AWADmail Issue 827

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

Sponsor’s Message: Hey, kids, when was the last time you gave your mother a gift that you were actually proud of? Email of the Week winner, Daniel Miller (see below), as well as all AWADers, can one-up their siblings and jump to the head of the line, so-to-speak, for the rest of the year with One Up! -- The Mother of All Word Games. SPLURGE ON MOM NOW >

From: Daniel Miller (milldaniel gmail.com)
Subject: adhocracy

If an adhocracy is characterized by lack of planning, responding to problems as they emerge, then it’s only a short step to a madhocracy. That would be like the cowboy who runs out a saloon, jumps on his horse, and gallops off in all directions.

Daniel Miller, Laredo, Texas

From: Doug Finner (StoneHusky gmail.com)
Subject: Thought for Today

I learn that ten percent of all the world’s species are parasitic insects. It is hard to believe. What if you were an inventor, and you made ten percent of your inventions in such a way that they could only work by harnessing, disfiguring, or totally destroying the other ninety percent? -Annie Dillard, author (b. 30 Apr 1945)

My first thought was “This pretty much describes most social media platforms in existence.”

My second though was “Dear FSM, How did she get the math so wrong?” Just because 10% of all species are parasitic insects does not mean that they prey on the other 90% of species. It’s possible (unlikely but possible) that they all prey on the same single species.

My third thought was “How could she get the basic biology so wrong?” Parasites can be symbiotic and benefit the host organism.

My final thought was “Hey.. .parasite has to eat too, what makes the host species so special?”

Doug Finner, Alexandria, New Hampshire

From: Ueli Hepp (u.hepp bluewin.ch)
Subject: Teetotal

Once more this past Wednesday, the spelling of “teetotal” took me by surprise -- as so many times before. Because in my mind it is definitely “teatotal”, and has become that again and again after each one of those surprising encounters, even though I should know better by now. For in my mind “a teetotaller” is a person who restricts their drinking preferences to “tea -- totally!” I really wonder if I’m the only one with this association for the word!

My goof is, of course, a typical case of what we linguists call “folk etymology” -- the association of a word with some incorrect origin but supported by a rather obvious (-seeming!) link to some other item that resembles it in form and at the same time appears semantically linked with it. One of the most common English examples is “bridegroom”, which linked an old “bride-gom” (meaning “bride’s man” -- with “gom” being an Old English word for “man” that had become obsolete in Middle English) with “groom” -- for “serving man”. Another one is the verb “surround”, which really goes back to Early Middle English “suorounden”, from French “surounder”, which really meant “overflow” (from Latin “super” and “unda” for “over” and “wave” -- the latter still present in today’s English “undulate”) and was then, probably in a military context, re-interpreted as “surround” during the Middle English period, as the link to Latin “unda” / French “onde” had been lost in the meantime, while the idea of the enemy getting at you from all sides at once clearly associated the concept with the word “round”.

Ueli Hepp, Wald, Switzerland

From: Bruce Floyd (brucefloyd bellsouth.net)
Subject: We stink of death

Man can be the most affectionate and altruistic of creatures, yet he’s potentially more vicious than any other. He is the only one who can be persuaded to hate millions of his own kind whom he has never seen and to kill as many as he can lay his hands on in the name of his tribe or his God. -Benjamin Spock, pediatrician and author (2 May 1903-1998)

We not only slaughter our own kind, with a kind of wild enthusiasm, a sanguinary zest -- think of the millions of human beings killed in the wars of the twentieth century (sixty million people died in World War II) -- but we have also blindly and wantonly done our best to destroy the earth. I don’t know -- let wiser minds debate the question -- whether human life has a purpose or not (does a hyena’s?), but it’s clear that our presence on this earth has been a curse to the planet and the other species that inhabit it. If Eden ever existed, we have succeeded in turning it into a cesspool, a malodorous dump, a festering lump of corruption, a congeries of filth, a purulent sore. What poet can now write of the “pristine seas” when bobbing plastic trash occupying a space the size of Texas floats in the ocean? The once sparkling seas are now the repository of the detritus of humankind. It’s possible an objective observer, some deity perhaps, gazing down at the garbage dump we’ve made of the planet, would conclude that the Earth would have been better off had humankind never appeared. I’ve read sagacious thinkers who suggest that in time our destructive species will become extinct and that over millennia the earth will cleanse itself. It’s true the predator will still stalk and kill its prey, but they will not poison the oceans and foul the air. I find some hope in thinking that in millions of years the air will be clean and the seas once again pure, that the sounds of unselfconscious creatures will fill the stainless night air, empty at last of the vain and grandiose voices of human beings.

I remember a quotation from Gulliver’s Travels and find it apt (I think the lines come from a Brobdingnagian): “I cannot but conclude that the Bulk of your Natives, to be the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth.”

I suppose I sound like some humorless misanthrope. I hope not. (I’m sad more than anything else.) Like Swift I am fond of my friends, the individual, call him Jack or Joe. It’s just that I can’t see any good we’ve done for our planet. If we were, as some believe, made to be stewards of the planet, we have -- it seems axiomatic to me -- failed miserably. What good have we done for any species? We seem on track to destroy thousands of them. How many have we obliterated in the past hundred years or so? I confess I don’t know what’s to be done as the polar ice melts and the sea levels rise. I fear we have crossed some line and what lies ahead is unavoidable.

I’ll close with two quotations from J. A. Baker’s marvelous book The Peregrine: “No pain, no death, is more terrible to a wild creature than its fear of man.”

“We are the killers. We stink of death. We carry it with us. It sticks to us like frost. We cannot tear it away.”

Bruce Floyd, Florence, South Carolina

From: Denis Toll (denis.toll outlook.com)
Subject: booboisie

The placard “Get a Brain Morans” reminds me of this graffiti written on a bridge column in Vermont: “Only Losers Write on Bridges

Denis Toll, Aberdeen, UK

From: Nancy Harris (nanann1332 gmail.com)
Subject: Booboisie

Booboisie? I offer Boobocracy. A form of government not unlike our present one.

Nancy Harris, St. Paul, Minnesota

From: Jo Michie (jomichie2 gmail.com)
Subject: ekistics

My late father was an architect and town planner practising in central Africa. He was a great friend of Constantinos Doxiadis, so I actually knew this word as I have all of Dad’s books by him and notes from conversations they had about building new settlements in what is now Zambia!

Jo Michie, Beijing, China

From: Alex McCrae (ajmccrae277 gmail.com)
Subject: booboisie & teetotal

Booboisie Teetotal
As one of the earliest “boomers”, and first-generation TV viewer on those original boxy analog B&W sets, back then I recall the appellation, the “boob tube”, as a kind of dismissive, flippant slangy moniker for this increasingly seductive, new-fangled information/entertainment delivering technology. Many critics of the day who glommed onto the “boob tube” label would contend that heavy, indiscriminate TV watching could somehow gradually dumb down its audience, creating a distinct demographic who might be classified as the mindless “booboisie”. “Let them eat TV dinners!”*
*A play on Marie Antoinette’s alleged pronouncement to the Parisian rabble... “Let them eat cake!”

Up-and-coming country singer/songwriter Billy Bob Buchanan Jr. has ticked off his crusty manager, Buford P. Puckett, ‘cause Billy Bob has apparently traded in the bottle for the teapot. In manager Puckett’s eyes, not a good image to foster for the expected hard-livin’, rabble-rousin’ rebellious country artist, whose lyrical stock-in-trade, forever-and-ever, has been a hardscrabble lifestyle of boozin’, hangovers, cheatin’, heartache, lovin’, and leaving... and then lovin’ again. Ha!
My trusty frog character is referencing four country music iconic bad-boy super-stars, namely Merle Haggard, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and George Jones, who, if they were still kickin’, might take great umbrage in young Billy Bob’s teetotalin’ turn.

Alex McCrae, Van Nuys, California

From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Anagrams of this week’s words

1. adhocracy
2. meme
3. teetotal
4. booboisie
5. ekistics
= 1. chaos
2. item -- see it
3. taboo
4. mockery
5. doable cities
    -Dharam Khalsa, Burlington, North Carolina (dharamkk2 gmail.com)

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

The King of Greek Gods was Zeus;
His morals were more than just loose --
Not at all aristocracy,
His rule was adhocracy:
Any female was sauce for his goose.
-Marcia Sinclair, Newmarket, Canada (marciasinclair rogers.com)

Where the working style is described as adhocracy
Each individual calls it democracy.
Here, every interruption
Spells certain disruption
And makes a strong case for autocracy.
-Del de Souza, Mumbai, India (deldesouza hotmail.com)

He says “trust me” -- the height of hypocrisy
as he bumbles us into adhocracy.
We have reason to fear
‘cause he plays things by ear
and that’s no way to run a democracy.
-Zelda Dvoretzky, Haifa, Israel (zeldahaifa gmail.com)

For Mandy, in her teens, Neil Diamond was her meme.
All his songs resonated, and became “her theme”.
If he sang a love song, -- she’d dream,
If he sang, “Play Me,” -- she’d steam!
It was the subtlety of his lyrics, it would seem.
-Monica Broom, Morogoro, Tanzania (monicabroom2015 gmail.com)

He lay on the beach of his dreams,
Provoking New Jersey to screams.
His hubris was shocking,
Which led to much mocking
In humorous Chris Christie memes.
-Marion Wolf, Bergenfield, New Jersey (marionewolf yahoo.com)

Could Trump be our fluffy-haired Savior?
Could it be he who transmits behavior?
He shines like a beam,
Perhaps he’s my meme?
Well, glad he’s not my next-door neighbor.
-Joe Budd Stevens, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico (joebuddstevens gmail.com)

When it comes to creating a meme,
The Trumpian age is a dream.
The video clips
Of what comes from his lips
Make us all want to laugh or else scream.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

There was once a man, a wise local,
Who made proclamations quite vocal:
“If you’ll stay in the pink,
You’ll abstain from all drink,
And practice the art of teetotal.”
-Judith Marks-White, Westport, Connecticut (joodthmw gmail.com)

I like to say I’m a teetotaller,
which I am, bar my meets with the sailor.
Then, every evening at six,
I must have my daily fix,
and not counting when colleagues come over!
-Shyamal Mukherji, Mumbai, India (mukherjis hotmail.com)

Our world we once tried to ennoble
By becoming a nation teetotal.
We soon learned our lesson:
By vices suppressin’,
They spew uncontrolled like Chernobyl.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

Alas, the deep-seated conviction
Of folks who cleave to Trumpian fiction.
The rube booboisie
Gave an ape the key --
What a deplorable dereliction!
-Charles Harp, Victoria, Canada (texzenpro yahoo.com)

Deplorables - the word that lost an election,
Booboisie - the winners, and now their selection
Is leading the land with lies galore,
Nobel for Trump! is what they roar,
The state I now live in is called Dejection.
-Judy Distler, Teaneck, New Jersey (jam1026 aol.com)

“My lady’s well-bred, just like me,”
sighs Lawrence’s Lord Chatterley.
“Yet she seems not above
sharing her love
beneath her, with some booboisie.”
-Anne Thomas, Sedona, Arizona (antom earthlink.net)

Now Stormy was a double “D”,
A porn star that Trump did monkey.
The President will rue,
When she started to sue.
For sure she’s not a booboisie.
-Joan Perrin, Port Jefferson Station, New York (perrinjoan aol.com)

“I date only the top booboisie,”
Says Donald, “Who needs repartee?
The best dinner guest
Has two blimps for a chest
And a fondness for Chef Boyardee.”
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

A Forbidden City? he cried
As they showed him their relic with pride.
“They ignored all ekistics
And discounted logistics.
With my tower they’d be more satisfied.”
-Gayle Tremblay, Saint John, Canada (gayletremblay hotmail.com)

Housing is more than logistics,
And migrants are more than statistics.
Xenophobic complaints
Lead to unfair restraints --
We could learn this (and more) from ekistics.
-Phyllis Morrow, Fairbanks, Alaska (phyllismorrow1 gmail.com)

The ekistics of Chicago
Are certainly something I know.
So, I’d like to share
That I studied there.
It was such a long time ago.
-Lois Mowat, Orinda, California (lmowat1810 gmail.com)

In the future they’ll try with ekistics
To make sense of our characteristics.
It will puzzle them how
People worshiped the Dow
And subsisted on burgers and fish sticks.
-Steve Benko, New York, New York (stevebenko1 gmail.com)

From: Phil Graham (pgraham1946 cox.net)
Subject: These are the coined-a words I enjoy

When (for extra income) the man had to adhocracy a pawn in the game?

“Please email that cartoon to both meme my wife.”

Caddying all 18 holes is a teetotal job.

Years from now people will still ask, “That Trump guy... what kinda booboisie?”

Archy was a lustful cockroach. Ikistics, fleas, and beetles.

Phil Graham, Tulsa, Oklahoma

Just as a cautious businessman avoids tying up all his capital in one concern, so, perhaps, worldly wisdom will advise us not to look for the whole of our satisfaction from a single aspiration. -Sigmund Freud, neurologist, founder of psychoanalysis (1856-1939)

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