Writer's Words, page 1


Glenn Gould usually hummed while he played, and his recording engineers varied in how successfully they were able to exclude his voice from recordings… This became “an unbreakable and (notorious) habit”. Some of Gould's recordings were severely criticised because of the background “vocalise”. For example, a reviewer of his 1981 re-recording of the Goldberg Variations opined that many listeners would “find the groans and croons intolerable”.


A human being traveling on a bicycle at low to medium speeds of around 15-25 km/h, using only the energy required to walk, is the most energy-efficient means of transport generally available. Air drag, which is proportional to the square of speed, requires dramatically higher power outputs as speeds increase. A bicycle which places the rider in a seated position, supine position or, more rarely, prone position, and which may be covered in an aerodynamic fairing to achieve very low air drag, is referred to as a recumbent bicycle or human powered vehicle. On an upright bicycle, the rider's body creates about 75% of the total drag of the bicycle/rider combination.


At the man's heels trotted a dog, a big native husky, the proper wolfdog, gray-coated and without any visible or temperamental difference from its brother, the wild wolf. The animal was depressed by the tremendous cold. It knew that it was no time for traveling. Its instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man by the man's judgment. In reality, it was not merely colder than fifty below zero; it was colder than sixty below, than seventy below. It was seventy-five below zero. Since the freezing point is thirty-two above zero, it meant that one hundred and seven degrees of frost obtained. The dog did not know anything about thermometers. Possibly in its brain there was no sharp consciousness of a condition of very cold such as was in the man's brain. But the brute had its instinct. It experienced a vague but menacing apprehension that subdued it and made it slink along at the man's heels, and that made it question eagerly every unwonted movement of the man as if expecting him to go into camp or to seek shelter somewhere and build a fire. The dog had learned fire, and it wanted fire, or else to burrow under the snow and cuddle its warmth away from the air.
To Build a Fire by Jack London.
unwonted = out of the ordinary.
slink = walk stealthily.


The two presidents made a joint effort to exude bonhomie. Earlier in the day, as they arrived at the White House for morning coffee, the Obamas presented a gift wrapped with a red ribbon to George and Laura Bush. The smiles were warm and Obama made a point of publicly thanking his predecessor for his “generosity and cooperation” during the transition.
Obama inauguration: George Bush - the man who was no longer president Andrew Clark, guardian.co.uk. @ Source
bonhomie = a disposition to be friendly and approachable.


Arriving for the inauguration, those around Bush looked increasingly old and weary. Dick Cheney turned up in a wheelchair, having injured his back moving boxes into his new home in suburban Virginia. Bush's father, former president George HW Bush, appeared doddery, swaddled against the cold and leaning heavily on a cane.
Obama inauguration: George Bush - the man who was no longer president Andrew Clark, guardian.co.uk. @ Source
doddery = mentally or physically infirm with age.


On November 18 McPherson was involved in a minor car accident. Paramedics initially left her alone because she was ambulatory, but after she began to remove her clothes, the paramedics decided to take her to the hospital. At one point she remarked that she had taken off her clothes in hopes of obtaining counseling. Hospital staff agreed that she was unharmed, but recommended keeping her overnight for observation. Following intervention by fellow Scientologists, McPherson refused psychiatric observation or admission at the hospital and checked herself out after a short evaluation.
ambulatory = able to walk about.


There's something about logos that makes them a magnet for protest. Whether it's Starbucks, Gap, or some other company, new or changing logos always provide an opportunity for a bit of splenetic outrage.
The Truth Behind HTML5's New Logo Fiasco By Bobbie Johnson @ http://gigaom.com/2011/01/19/the-truth-behind-html5s-new-logo-fiasco/
splenetic = 1. of or relating to the spleen. 2. very irritable.


When he found himself out of work in November 1754, Foote rented the Haymarket theatre and began to stage mock lectures. Satirizing Charles Macklin's newly opened school of oratory, these lectures created a sort of theatrical war, especially when Macklin began to appear at the lectures himself. At one particular lecture, Foote extemporized a piece of nonsense prose to test Macklin's assertion that he could memorise any text at a single reading.
Samuel Foote 2011-02-12
extemporize = To speak extempore; especially, to discourse without special preparation; to make an offhand address.


When you read the enormous list of sites with Penney links, the landscape of the Internet acquires a whole new topography. It starts to seem like a city with a few familiar, well-kept buildings, surrounded by millions of hovels kept upright for no purpose other than the ads that are painted on their walls.
The Dirty Little Secrets of Search By David Segal. @ http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/business/13search.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
hovel = A small, miserable dwelling. (AHD)


Research on romance has consistently shown that men and women who don't notice attractive strangers tend to be more satisfied in their own relationships and are more likely to stay with their partners long term. Of course, that blindness has to come naturally. When a person is forced to divert his attention from that cute bartender — by, say, a jealous partner's opprobrium — it could result in a sort of "backlash" effect, which may end up reducing his level of relationship commitment.
The Case for Letting Your Partner's Eye Wander By Meredith Melnick. @ http://healthland.time.com/2011/04/11/the-case-for-letting-your-partners-eye-wander/
opprobrium = Scornful reproach or contempt. (AHD)


In 2006, News of the World's royal editor Clive Goodman and his associates, investigator Glenn Mulcaire and Davy Craig (Editor of the Weekly News), were arrested due to allegations of phone hacking made by the British monarchy in 2005. Goodman and Mulcaire were subsequently charged and imprisoned for four and six months, respectively, while then-editor Andy Coulson resigned but was not formally charged at the time.

In 2009 and 2010, further revelations emerged regarding the extent of the phone hacking and the number of News of the World employees who may have been aware of the practices. By March 2010, the paper had spent over £2 million settling court cases with victims of phone hacking. In July 2009, The Guardian made a series of allegations of wider phone hacking activities at the News of the World newspaper, that were aimed at other people like the TV host Chris Tarrant.

This led to several prominent figures who were covertly snooped upon bringing legal action against the News of the World's owner and the private investigator Glenn Mulcaire. Amongst those who began legal action were football agent Sky Andrew, the actors Sienna Miller and Steve Coogan, the television presenter Chris Tarrant and ex-Sky Sports presenter, Andy Gray.

snooped = To pry into the private affairs of others, especially by prowling about. (AHD)


Speaking of success, Kimberly Winnington tells me she'll be accompanying the documentary's directors to the Emmy awards, perhaps hobnobbing with TV's best stars. Which shows how far you can go, when you work the virtual coal mine.
Second Life's Emmy-Nominated Virtual Mine Played 5000x by a 1200+ Users, Including RL Appalachians By Wagner James Au. @ http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2011/07/virtual-mine-emmy-project-second-life.html


Lee is, of course, not alone in having this anonymous violent hatred directed toward him. On parts of the internet it has become pretty much common parlance. Do a quick trawl on the blog sites and comment sections about most celebrities and entertainers – not to mention politicians – and you will quickly discover comparable virtual rage and fantasised violence. Comedians seem to come in for more than most, as if taboo-breaking was taken as read, or the mood of the harshest baying club audience had become a kind of universal rhetoric. It's not quite heckling this, though, is it? A heckle requires a bit of courage and risk; the audience can see who is doing the shouting. Lee's detractors were all anonymous. How should we understand it then: harmless banter? Robust criticism? Vicious bullying?
How the internet created an age of rage By Tim Adams. @ http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/jul/24/internet-anonymity-trolling-tim-adams
bay = To bark, as a dog with a deep voice does, at his game. To express by barking or howling.


In the original (1966-68) live action TV version of Batman, more than one actress portrayed Catwoman, but without a doubt Julie Newmar created the iconic role, in a costume and with mannerisms that set many a teenage boy's heart aflutter.

In this classic sequence, Catwoman is cornered by Batman, and considers finally reforming — if Batman will do something in return. But this leaves a quandary — “What about Robin?” - Scat! Darn Catwoman Part 3


Mexican Navy intelligence kept track on him and one week later, on December 16, 2009 he was traced to another luxurious apartment community where a 90-minute shootout ensued. About 200 Mexican Marines, two Navy Mil Mi-17 helicopters, from which marines rappelled, and two small Army tanks surrounded the building complex where he was hiding. Approximately 20 fragmentation hand grenades were used by Beltrán Leyva's gunmen to keep the Navy from advancing into his position.


The film has received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes says that out of 148 critics, 20% of them gave it a positive review (22% of 27 top critics gave it a positive review), which qualifies the film as “Rotten”. The consensus is “Anthony Hopkins is as excellent as ever, but he's no match for The Rite's dawdling pace and lack of chills – or Colin O'Donoghue's tentative performance in the leading role.”


However, what has vexed Mr. Obama as well as economists and policy makers is that Apple — and many of its high-technology peers — are not nearly as avid in creating American jobs as other famous companies were in their heydays.
How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work By Charles Duhigg, Keith Bradsher. @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html


Anthony Levandowski, business lead on Google's self-driving-car project, sits in the passenger seat, lanky and spectacled, wearing loud athletic shoes and clutching a MacBook Pro with a bumper sticker that reads “My other car drives itself.” Urmson, with the soft-spoken, intense mien of a roboticist who has debugged a Martian rover in the deserts of Chile, occupies the nominal “driver's seat” — just one of the entities open to ontological inquiry this morning.
Let the Robot Drive: The Autonomous Car of the Future Is Here By Tom Vanderbilt. @ http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/01/ff_autonomouscars/all/1
ontology = The branch of metaphysics that deals with the nature of being. (AHD) Ontology


A hag is a wizened old woman, or a kind of fairy or goddess having the appearance of such a woman, often found in folklore and children's tales such as Hansel and Gretel. Hags are often seen as malevolent, but may also be one of the chosen forms of shapeshifting deities, such as the Morrígan or Badb, who are seen as neither wholly beneficent nor malevolent.

The term appears in Middle English, and was a shortening of “hægtesse”, an Old English term for witch, similarly the Dutch “heks” and German “hexe” are also shortenings, of the Middle Dutch “haghetisse” and Old High German “hagzusa” respectively. All these words derive from the Proto-Germanic “*hagatusjon-” which is of unknown origin, however the first element may be related to the word “hedge”. As a stock character in fairy or folk tale, the hag shares characteristics with the crone, and the two words are sometimes used as if interchangeable.



So why the Midtown migration? Like cavemen following mammoth across the Bering Strait, early developers were following their prey. “Who's moving north?” Mr. Barr said. “It's the wealthy and the middle class. If you're an insurance salesman, do you really want to be traipsing through the slums of Five Points or the factories of SoHo to get to work? That land was cheap, but the location was worthless.”
Uncanny Valley: The Real Reason There Are No Skyscrapers in the Middle of Manhattan By Matt Chaban. @ http://www.observer.com/2012/01/uncanny-valley-the-real-reason-there-are-no-skyscrapers-in-the-middle-of-manhattan/
• Bering Strait ⇒ «The Bering Strait has been the subject of scientific speculation that humans migrated from Asia to North America across a land bridge at a time when lower ocean levels – perhaps a result of glaciers locking up vast amounts of water – exposed a ridge beneath the ocean. This would have allowed humans to walk from Siberia to Alaska, thus populating North and South America.»
• Five Points ⇒ Five Points, Manhattan, NYC, NY, USA. «Five Points gained international notoriety as a disease-ridden crime-infested slum that existed for well over 70 years.»
• SoHo ⇒ SoHo. «a neighborhood in Lower Manhattan, New York City, notable for being the location of many artists' lofts and art galleries, and also, more recently, for the wide variety of stores and shops ranging from trendy boutiques to outlets of upscale national and international chain stores.»


Earlier in the interview, responding to a question on class warfare in the political system, Christie, who has developed a reputation for not mincing words, said he didn't want to discuss Buffett.
Chris Christie to Warren Buffett: Just 'shut up' By Charles Riley @Cnnmoney. @ http://money.cnn.com/2012/02/21/news/economy/chris_christie_warren_buffett/index.htm


When I was say that I judge RMS [Richard Stallman] is a fanatic, I mean something very specific by that. I cite Santayana's definition: “Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim”. By his own account of his road-to-Damascus experience, RMS started out attempting to solve a problem; there was this broken printer driver that he couldn't fix because he couldn't get the source. RMS correctly identified [computer software] source secrecy as a damaging practice leading to bad outcomes.

Unfortunately, RMS made an early decision to frame his advocacy as a moral crusade rather than a pragmatic argument about engineering practices and outcomes. While he made consequentialist arguments against closed source (and still does) his rhetoric and his thinking became dominated by terms like “evil”, to the point where he repeatedly alienated potential allies both with his absolutism and his demand that anyone cooperating with him share it.

Why I think RMS is a fanatic, and why that matters By Eric S Raymond. @ http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=4386
road-to-Damascus = (idiom) A important point in someone's life where a great change, or reversal, of ideas or beliefs occurs.
consequentialist = (Philosophy) Ethics the doctrine that an action is right or wrong according as its consequences are good or bad. [AHD]


Dyspepsia (from the Greek δυσ- dys- and πέψις pepsis “digestion”), also known as upset stomach or indigestion, refers to a condition of impaired digestion. It is a medical condition characterized by chronic or recurrent pain in the upper abdomen, upper abdominal fullness and feeling full earlier than expected when eating. It can be accompanied by bloating, belching, nausea, or heartburn.

wax and wane

Tourette syndrome source
Tourette syndrome is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic. These tics characteristically wax and wane, can be suppressed temporarily, and are preceded by a premonitory urge. Tourette's is defined as part of a spectrum of tic disorders, which includes transient and chronic tics.
Tourette syndrome,
tic = A tic is a sudden, repetitive, nonrhythmic motor movement or vocalization involving discrete muscle groups. Tic
wax and wane = to increase and then decrease, as the phases of the moon.


Apparently, we — a collective of food-eating-ketchup-using hooligans — have been consuming ketchup all wrong.

If you've ever poured ketchup into those tiny paper cup containers and brought them back to your table for fry dunking and burger smearing, you might be a victim of ketchup ignorance as well.

Did you know that these ketchup containers are built to fan out, and are made to allow for more dunk square-footage?

As it stands, your fries probably fit pretty snugly, but imagine wanting to dip your burger into that tiny cup — not happening.

So Apparently, We've Been Using Ketchup Cups All Wrong By Elie Ayrouth. @ http://foodbeast.com/content/2012/08/01/so-apparently-weve-been-using-ketchup-cups-all-wrong/


Raising an army (or, in this case, building an enormous story-driven video game) is an expensive proposition and can take a number of years. In keeping with the scrappy, ragtag band of adventurers model, we are building this larger vision one step at a time. The next step is to build a functional proof of concept in the form of an exciting prototype we can share with you and use to achieve our next level of funding — which will enable us to provide more character models, more environments, and more MASEs. Which is to say, other weapons and styles from other places and eras. We are building a framework that can be expanded as far and as deeply as possible. We have, after all, several thousand years of martial history to draw from.
Author Neal Stephenson planning to revolutionlize sword-fighting games. Source www.kickstarter.com
scrappy = Full of fighting spirit; argumentative.


Rogers infiltrates the fortress belonging to Schmidt's HYDRA organization, freeing Barnes and the other captured soldiers. Rogers confronts Schmidt who reveals his face to be a mask, removing it to display the red, skull-like face that earned him the sobriquet, the Red Skull. Schmidt escapes and Rogers returns to base with the freed soldiers.


Suspicion fell quickly on a possible culprit in the Philippines, in part because the virus' eight pages of computer code contained a tantalizing word: Barok. A search of virus registries quickly revealed that it was the name of a so-called Trojan horse, a stealthy software program that filches passwords, written by a Filipino hacker last year. Still, the transparency of this clue suggested that the word might have been inserted as a deliberate smoke screen to fool the computer sleuths.
Attack Of The Love Bug By Lev Grossman. @ http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,44514,00.html On ILOVEYOU (computer virus).


In A.D. 3034, the universe is ruled by Drej, translucent, electric-blue beings of pure energy and malefic power.
Star-toon Time By Richard Corliss. @ http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,997253,00.html On sci-fi animation Titan A.E. (2000)


If there's such a thing as being fired vicariously, it happened to me last Wednesday.
Writing By Numbers James Poniewozik. @ http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,997271,00.html


it is apparent that you not only have a poor diction, but also wanting of erudition. The sea of your will and ignorance, seethes and fumes like a boiling pot of piss.
Xah Lee in comp.lang.lisp, 2000-04-26


What? Eloquent philosophical diatribe is your forte? I hardly see you open your mouth against the wind, but more likely the wind blew it open at times.
Xah Lee
forte = The strong point; that in which one excels.


… And, when you are accosted by a jaunty man of prolix gripes and dire agendas, not only lisp ain't his Scheme, but the only one.
Xah Lee on comp.lang.lisp, 2000-06-25


scoot is what scooters do — scooting around; scouting is what boy scout do — scouting around.
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