Amoeblog

February 2nd in Pennsylvania

Posted by Whitmore, February 2, 2009 01:04pm | Post a Comment

It’s February 2nd and once again the hamlet of Punxsutawney, PA has announced for the 97th time since 1887 that the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, the "seer of seers and prognosticator of prognosticators," has seen his shadow, which according to legend means we can expect six more weeks of winter. Though we’ve had a pretty mild winter here in Southern California, this is bad news for most of the country, sick and tired of being buried in snow, sleet and rain.

This morning Punxsutawney Phil's forecast was announced in front of some 13,000 revelers gathering at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, where many were dressed in black and gold to celebrate yesterdays Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl victory.
 
February 2nd is the Christian holiday of Candlemas; the Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, when a 40 day old Jesus was taken to the Temple in Jerusalem to complete Mary's ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn. In German tradition if a hibernating critter casts its shadow on Candlemas, winter will last six more weeks. And accordingly if no shadow is seen, spring will come early.   
This year, however, there was a little drama. Punxsutawney Phil’s counterpart and co-conspirator, New York City’s groundhog named Charles G. Hogg saw things differently; he didn't see his shadow. And he also bit Mayor Michael Bloomberg during the ceremony. Drawing blood from the eighth-richest American billionaire, Bloomberg was told there was no risk of rabies as the 2-year-old groundhog was born and raised in captivity and has had no contact with other animals. I smell conspiracy! But what did Bloomberg expect, we’d forget he left the Democratic Party to run as a Republican for NYC mayor and then try and extend the term limits law by running for a third time!?

Happy 200th Birthday Edgar Allan Poe

Posted by Whitmore, January 19, 2009 08:11am | Post a Comment

Two hundred years
ago today, the greatest of early American writers was born in Boston, Massachusetts: Edgar Allan Poe. The master of the macabre, horror and one of the earliest practitioners of the short story is also considered by many to be the originator of the detective/crime fiction genre. In celebration I originally thought I’d blather on as if possessed by some dark unfathomable tide, revel in the sound that takes the form of a demon. But I convinced myself that I shall not seek to convince. Am I here to exorcise my own demons beyond some memory of my past bliss; deceits, they lie in the anguish of today. Would such blather hasten some clever paranormal patter? Alas, for you Poe, I recollect one vanquished thought, “Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal that diddles but man.” I won’t diddle. No one needs to read my diddle. Instead here are some of Edgar Allan Poe's greatest quotes:
 
“I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.”
 
“Stupidity is a talent for misconception.”
 
“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”
 
“Experience has shown, and a true philosophy will always show, that a vast, perhaps the larger portion of the truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant.”
 
“All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.”

“The true genius shudders at incompleteness -- and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be.”
 
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.”
 
“I am above the weakness of seeking to establish a sequence of cause and effect, between the disaster and the atrocity.”
 
“All that we see or seem, is but a dream within a dream”
 
“Of puns it has been said that those who most dislike them are those who are least able to utter them.”
 
“I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.”
 
“I have, indeed, no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect -- in terror.”
 
“Words have no power to impress the mind without the exquisite horror of their reality.”

Global Language Monitor's 2008's Top Word, Phrase, Name

Posted by Whitmore, December 12, 2008 04:19pm | Post a Comment

So far we have seen competing Dictionaries select “Hypermiling” and / or “bailout,” as the 2008 Word of the Year, but…
 
The Global Language Monitor not only selects the Top Word of the Year but also the Top Phrase and Top Name of the year… the whole shit and caboodle right here all the way from the fine city of Austin, Texas! Ladies and gentleman once again … the Top Word for 2008:
 
Change
 
The Top Phrase: “Financial Tsunami
 
And the Top Name: “Barack Obama
 
These results are from the annual survey of the English language from the Global Language Monitor. By the way, the estimated number of words in the English language now stands at 998,751. And English-speakers world wide now number about 1.58 billion people.
 
The analysis was completed using “GLM’s Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI), the proprietary algorithm that tracks words and phrases in the media and on the Internet. The words are tracked in relation to frequency, contextual usage and appearance in global media outlets, factoring in long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum and velocity.”
 
The GLM’s top selections for 2007 were all ‘green’ oriented:  “Hybrid” was the Top Word, “Climate Change” was the Top Phrase, and the Top Name was Al Gore, who won the Nobel Prize for his efforts on Global Warming through his film An Inconvenient Truth.
 
So here are the Global Language Monitor’s Top Ten Words for 2008:
 
Change - The top political buzzword of the 2008 Presidential campaign.
Bailout - Would have been higher on the list but didn’t really appear in the media until September.
Obamamania - Describing the worldwide reaction to Barack Obama’s campaign and victory in the US presidential race.
Greenwashing - Repositioning a product to stress its Earth-friendly attributes.
Surge - Military and political strategy often cited as reducing violence in Iraq.
Derivative - Exotic financial instruments used to cleverly package junk-grade debt.
Subprime - Mortgages that were packaged as derivatives.
Foreclosure - The dead end-result of the sub-prime mess.
Phelpsian - Word coined to describe Michael Phelps winning eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics.
Chinglish - The Chinese/English language hybrid that Beijing tried to stamp out before the Olympics began.
 
The Top Ten Phrases for 2008:
 
Financial Tsunami - Describing the worldwide financial apocalypse stemming from the subprime mortgage debacle.
Global Warming - The second most talked about buzzword in the Presidential Campaign.
Yes We Can - Yeah baby!
Lame Duck - The lamest, duckiest of all, but delicious in a sauce of ground cinnamon, allspice, ginger, garlic, chili powder with a tbsp soy sauce and honey on a bed of saffron rice.
Working Class Whites - Apparently code for whites who are working class. 
“It is, what it is” - This year’s “unfortunately, those are the facts ma’am.”
Lip Synching - From the little girl, Lin Miaoke, who didn’t sing the song the whole world saw her sing at the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
Price of oil - Today a barrel of oil was about $47.86 on the N.Y. Mercantile Exchange.
Super Tuesday - Super maybe, but not a hell of a lot got settled that Tuesday.
Suddenness Happens - Top Chinglish Phrase from the Beijing Olympics.
 
The Top Ten Names for 2008:
 
Barack Obama 
George W. Bush 
Michael Phelps
Hilary Clinton
Vladimir Putin 
Bono
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad 
Sarah Palin
John McCain 
Beyonce
 
And just for the hell of it, the Top Celeb Couple of 2008: Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni (replacing David Beckham and Posh Spice). The French President and his former supermodel wife were married on February 2, 2008.

The Merriam-Webster‘s Dictionary 2008 Word of the Year:

Posted by Whitmore, December 10, 2008 04:06pm | Post a Comment

You can call it the hedonistic hype of hyperbole, a mêlée or metaphors, the clash of colossal lexicons, but each year competing Dictionaries select a “Word of the Year,” so far in 2008 we’ve seen the New Oxford American Dictionary choose the word “hypermiling” … but today we listen in awe to a new utterance ...

Ladies and Gentlemen, in this corner! Weighing in at three consonants and four vowels … a Noun … The Merriam-Webster‘s Dictionary pick for the 2008 Word of the Year:

“Bailout”

Bailout is defined as "a rescue from financial distress."
Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year selection began in 2003. In their freshman year they settled on, in my opinion, a slightly anemic choice: “Democracy.” However, number two on the list in ‘03 was “Quagmire,” a favorite word of mine and patron to my mindset and lifestyle. But in each year since, the Merriam-Webster selection has often proven to be excellent and playful. The 2004 word was “blog.” In 2006 the word of the year was “Truthiness” coined by Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report, the definition: “Truth coming from the gut, not books; preferring to believe what you wish to believe, rather than what is known to be true.” And last year's surprise choice included a couple of zeroes in its spelling: “w00t,” meaning “An Expression of joy after triumph or for no reason at all."

Merriam-Webster picks its Word of the Year by considering the number of online searches for an unusual term and how much that word has slipped into everyday conversation. Bailout hit the top of the Google charts after this year’s unprecedented financial meltdown and apocalypse. $700 billion worth of “what the hell” compelled millions of web surfers to lookup the word within just a few weeks of the September Banking bailout announcement.

Several of the terms in the Merriam-Webster’s Top Ten were the direct result of the other big news story of the year, the Presidential campaign: “maverick,” “bipartisan,” “rogue,” “socialism,” and “vet.”

Here are Merriam-Webster’s Top Ten Words for 2008:

1 - Bailout (noun): a rescue from financial distress
2 - Vet (transitive verb):  to evaluate for possible approval or acceptance
3 - Socialism (noun): any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
4 - Maverick (noun): an independent individual who does not go along with a group or party
5 - Bipartisan (adjective): marked by or involving cooperation, agreement, and compromise between two major political parties
6 - Trepidation (noun): timorous uncertain agitation
7 - Precipice (noun): a hazardous situation
8 - Rogue (noun): a mischievous person
9 - Misogyny (noun): a hatred of women
10 - Turmoil (noun): a state or condition of extreme confusion, agitation, or commotion

New Oxford American Dictionary 2008 Word Of the Year

Posted by Whitmore, December 9, 2008 12:53pm | Post a Comment

Every year the New Oxford American Dictionary chooses the word of the year. Ladies and gentleman, your 2008 Word of the Year:
 
hypermiling.
 
The word “Hypermiling” was coined by Wayne Gerdes in 2004; he runs the website cleanmpg.com. “Hypermiling” or “to hypermile” is an attempt to maximize gas mileage by making adjustments to a car or driving habits by using more fuel-conserving techniques.
 
Hypermilers try to push their gas mileage to the extreme outer limits of the EPA ratings for miles per gallon. Most of the methods followed by hypermilers are pretty much just your common sense recommendations that’ll save you a few bucks on gas and car maintenance over the course of the year, such as: driving the speed limit, avoiding hills and stop-and-go traffic, maintaining proper tire pressure, not accelerating up to red lights and stop signs, not allowing your car to idle excessively, getting rid of excess cargo, parking so you don’t have to back out of a space. But typical of our American ethos and pushing anything sensible to the limits of reason, some hypermilering techniques may be a little oblique or even illegal, like rolling through stop signs or driving without shoes on -- the sensitivity of your foot on the gas pedal makes you more attentive, or 'ridge-riding' which is driving with your tires lined up with the white line at the edge of the road to avoid driving through water-filled ruts in the road when it’s raining or following close behind a larger vehicle so as to cut down on wind resistance, some call it drafting, others call it tail-gating. But here is an odd yet very true notion: if you want to get better gas mileage, listen to slower music. Fast paced music can make a driver more impatient, more aggressive and likely to put the pedal to the metal. Listening to slower paced music tends to reduce stress, is more relaxing and lends itself to safer driving. I’m not sure about the effect of talk radio on driving, I couldn’t find any data. Personally it makes me want to take public transportation or ride a bike… which I think is the best hypermiling idea anyway.
 
Meanwhile here are the runner ups for New Oxford American Dictionary 2008 Word of the Year:
 
frugalista – A person who leads a frugal lifestyle, but stays fashionable, hip and healthy by buying second-hand or swapping items such as produce, clothes or furniture and who might grow and maintain a garden, sew or cook at home and use a Flowbee to cut their own hair.
moofer – A mobile out of office worker who works away from a fixed workplace, via technology by using a laptop, Blackberry, etc., or a moofer is, as some have suggested, the 21st century equivalent of a slacker but with a better salary and health plan.
topless meeting -- A meeting in which the participants are barred from using their laptops, Blackberries, cellphones, or anything invented after 1977.
toxic debt -- Mainly sub-prime debts that are now burning down our banking system. They were parceled up and sent around the global financial system like toxic waste, hence the allusion, hence our economic oblivion.

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