Dark composure

A new Microsoft product is called Lumia.  There is something Dark Ages about corporate uses of fake or dog-Latin to name their products.  Inevitably the tense, gender, spelling, part of speech or usage is wrong, sometimes all of these.  Lumia isn't Latin and Google Translate identifies it as a word in only one language:  Indonesian.  Of course they could have chosen Lumen, Latin for "light," but maybe they didn't think to look it up.  At some point in those ages the formula for the transubstantiation of the host into the body of Christ -- "Hoc est enim corpus meum" -- which the congregation heard whispered by the priest became "hocus pocus" with some muttered additions.
Wikipedia offers this delightful quote:  "I will speak of one man... that went about in King James his time... who called himself, The Kings Majesties most excellent Hocus Pocus, and so was he called, because that at the playing of every Trick, he used to say, Hocus pocus, tontus talontus, vade celeriter jubeo, a dark composure of words, to blinde the eyes of the beholders, to make his Trick pass the more currently without discovery, because when the eye and the ear of the beholder are both earnestly busied, the Trick is not so easily discovered, nor the Imposture discerned."
— Thomas Ady, A Candle in the Dark, 1656

Nov. 2nd, 2014

I just noticed that my bag of Lay's potato chips, in its description of the goodness of its product, says as a first claim that it is made from "farm-grown potaoes."  I haven't heard any news about vat-grown or hydroponic potatoes, so I imagine that the phrase just means "potatoes" -- though it gives rise to thoughts that Lay's does not intend, I think, for me to think.  I am reminded of a shampoo I examined once that said it was "made from ingredients found in nature itself!"  Which made me wish for something that wasn't.  What would THAT be like?


"Distaff" is a metonymy for the female side of a family (or society, I guess.)  What is the equivalent metonymy for the male side?

Another (sigh) grammar whiz

I am beginning to believe that the only reason I find these tricksome is my own declinign cognition.

Rules as usual:  add words at beginning or at end, no adding internal punctuation, no meta-syntax (using a word to stand for itself qua word, as "word" is used herein.)  Her eit is (from the Times, but no googling):

    including that volunteer battalions


Okay here's what's on my mind.  My sister Nora noted that a phrase in Little, Big  that Ron Drummond deployed as a title for his latest 25thAnniversary edition (address alll queries to him)  is a Gogglewhack -- that is, two words that when searched for togehter without any other words receives no hits at all.   (The two words were "undisentanglable convolvulus" if you need to know).  When this fact is posted soemwhere, of course, the Googlewhack evaporates, since the post about it will be returned in a Google search.  Anent this, she asks Are there true statements such that simply stating them makes them automatically untrue?

Pictures and books

Here's a query -- not idle really but pedagogical (my daughter teaches children) --

Books of mostly pictures where the pictures are mysterious, need interpretation, or contain a mystery.  Chris Van Allsburg's  Myster4ies of Harris Burdick is an example.  Thoughts?

Reverting to type

The title of a n article by Ralph Caplan in the AIGA Newsletter about the current fashion for taking up writing on typewriters in spite of... well in spite of everything.


"Occasionally one meets or hears about writers who pride themselves on not using computers, triggering memories of writers who refused, for similar reasons, to use typewriters when they were the most efficient alternative to pens. In college I had a professor who had written several books and by the time I graduated had written several more. I was enviously dazzled by his productivity, and utterly flabbergasted when I discovered that he wrote in longhand.
“'Wouldn’t a typewriter be faster?' I asked.
“'I suppose so,' he said.  'But I can’t think any faster than I can write, so the additional speed wouldn’t help.'”

With computers. of course, it's common to write much faster than we can think.  NISM? *

* Common web acronym I just made up for Need I say more?

Ginger mariners

From a Slate article:

"Back in the ’90s, when I was a concerned, 19-year-old mother, frightened by the world I was bringing my child into, I was studying homeopathy, herbalism, and aromatherapy; I believed in angels, witchcraft, clairvoyants, crop circles, aliens at Nazca, giant ginger mariners spreading their knowledge to the Aztecs, the Incas, and the Egyptians..."

Giant ginger mariners?

Fact of the day

From the NY Times:  Men with pedophilia are three times more likely to be left-handed or ambidextrous, a finding that strongly suggests a neurological cause.

Easy-peasy grammar whiz

Having been brought up in a puritanical family, George said

Continue this sentence so that George is shown NOT to have been brought up in a puritanical family, and the first phrase is not a dangling modifier.