07 March 2008

Plan B

"A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author -- in other words, anyone producing works of art -- needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living."
~ Kevin Kelly, "1,000 True Fans"

BugMeNot: break through the online password-protection barrier.

Bad Words
[from Douglas Harper's Online Etymology Dictionary]

Part One:
"Probably the most common American vulgarity from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth" [Rawson]. Abbreviated form SOB from 1918. Mencken, complaining of the tepidity of the American vocabulary of profanity, writes that the toned-down form son-of-a-gun "is so lacking in punch that the Italians among us have borrowed it as a satirical name for an American: la sanemagogna is what they call him, and by it they indicate their contempt for his backwardness in the art that is one of their great glories." [The American Language, 4th ed., p.317-8]

Part Two:
"The T-word occupies a special niche in literary history, however, thanks to a horrible mistake by Robert Browning, who included it in 'Pippa Passes' (1841) without knowing its true meaning. 'The owls and bats,/Cowls and twats,/Monks and nuns,/In a cloister's moods.' Poor Robert! He had been misled into thinking the word meant 'hat' by its appearance in 'Vanity of Vanities,' a poem of 1660, containing the treacherous lines: 'They'd talk't of his having a Cardinalls Hat,/They'd send him as soon an Old Nuns Twat.' (There is a lesson here about not using words unless one is very sure of their meaning.)" [Hugh Rawson, Wicked Words, 1989]

Further details of Browning's error at Language Log.

Truck Spills: "The website of odd, strange, interesting, and unbelievable things spilled on the road by trucks." Don't miss the exploding whale.

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