Archive for the ‘Abbreviation’ Category

In the mail: an 8-noun pile-up

December 4, 2022

Remarkable e-mail. Two days ago (12/2), a message on Sutter Health’s My Health Online site with the header:

Sutter Palo Alto Center Laboratory Patient Experience Questionnaire

This is an 8-noun pile-up — not by any means a record, but definitely notable, and absolutely baffling as an announcement of a request for feedback from patients using Sutter Health’s services, in particular the services of the laboratory at Sutter Health’s PAMF Palo Alto Center (which I use with regrettable frequency).

I am now going to complain, briefly but with great feeling, about a range of things, starting with Sutter’s extraordinarily user-unfriendly, intensely corporate-oriented on-line interface. That 8-noun pile-up is fine for corporate-internal use in labeling its files, but it’s no way to get people to do a favor for you, which is what filling out  an opinion survey for them is.

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s posting “In the mail: the sleep of reason produces snowmen”, on e-mail announcing the holiday issue of the New York Review of Books. Just notes on stuff that turns up in my e-mail.

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The proverbial dead cat

October 12, 2022

The 10/10 Piccolo / Price Rhymes With Orange cartoon is delightful, but incomprehensible if you don’t know the proverb whose standard form is now Curiosity killed the cat:


(#1) If you see that the proverb is the key to understanding the cartoon, you’ll be able to appreciate the pun on curiosity — with one sense given explicitly in the cartoon (in curiosity shop), the other available only implicitly, through the proverb and the reference to killing in the cartoon

The two senses, from NOAD:

noun curiosity: 1 a strong desire to know or learn something: filled with curiosity, she peered through the window | curiosity got the better of me, so I called him. 2 a strange or unusual object or fact: he showed them some of the curiosities of the house.

Sense 2 gives us curiosity shop, a store (like the one in the cartoon) that offers curiosities for sale; and cabinet of curiosities, a collection of curiosities for display. And from sense 2 we get the noun curio for the sorts of thing (visible in the cartoon) on sale at a curiosity shop:

noun curio: a rare, unusual, or intriguing object: they had such fun over the wonderful box of curios that Jack had sent from India. ORIGIN mid 19th century: abbreviation of curiosity. (NOAD)

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FUBU, fubu, FuBu

September 27, 2022

(Content warning: the F-word and the F-act (especially between men) figure prominently, though not vividly, in what is to come. So do hiphop clothing and tofu burgers, but if you’re uncomfortable with the harder-core F-stuff, you should skip this posting.)

Caught in passing on Facebook, a guy reporting something he heard from his FUBU, which baffled me; I was dimly aware of a FUBU clothing line, but this guy must have been talking about something else.

I realize that many of my readers will have recognized the (complex) acronym immediately and so think I must be dim-witted, but I had to go look it up. The acronym is a distant cousin of FUBAR, and its abbreviatum is something I have fairly often written about on this blog, but always spelled out in full.

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BFD is ASC

September 18, 2022

Yesterday, in my posting “This week’s astounding job offer”:

All of this is suppositional, and I haven’t found any source of information about the entity I’ve been calling YangCo and its programs that is not provided by YangCo. There is, however, such an entity, with a legal name I’ll conceal as the name BFD (for Big Fucking Deal) Research.

In a comment, Stewart Kramer went looking for information about a BFD organization — but BFD is my mocking concealment of the actual initialism, so he found nothing useful. I reacted to his efforts:

On the chance that the actual organization was a legitimate enterprise (with woolly, largely empty, p.r. text) being exploited by someone, I concealed its identity. But now I have been to the ASC (American Scholastic Convention) website and can say that it’s a bizarre and baffling pile of stinking dead fish.

Now I explain.

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The heifer executive

May 17, 2022

Yesterday’s wry Rhymes With Orange strip, wordless and spare-looking, but packed with tons of meaning on two fronts, the dairy and the managerial; meanwhile, it presents a challenging exercise in cartoon understanding.


(#1) If you see that there’s something sweetly funny about a dairy cow managing a business, well, that will do — but the pleasure of the cartoon is in the details

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Auntie Em and the hex wrench

March 21, 2022

Two cartoons in today’s feed: the 4/5/10 One Big Happy, in which James copes with an unfamiliar technical label by assimilating it to a name he knows; and the 3/21 Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, with a cute play on hex wrench.

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AZ: LXII

March 7, 2022

No, not Linguistics 2, though LX, Lx, or lx often serves as an abbreviation for linguistics. (Meanwhile, when I was a lad at Princeton, the Lx / Ling 1 course — whatever its actual number was — was the Introduction to Descriptive Linguistics (taught by Samuel Atkins, a linguist in the Department of Classics), and the Lx / Ling 2 course was the Introduction to Historical Linguistics (taught by Henry Hoenigswald, commuting from the University of Pennsylvania for the semester).) But in any case, not the second linguistics course (or, for that matter Lx.2, the 2nd release of the field of Linguistics: only the second?).

Instead, Roman numerals for ’62, my class at Princeton. From my 2/11/22 posting “A note of pedagogical pleasure”:

I’m working on a silly photo for the 60th reunion of my Princeton class [May 19-22] — wearing a LXII class cap (provided by the class for this purpose), plus (as per instructions) “some orange and black” (and, because it’s me, a bit of rainbow Pride). Stay tuned for the visual.

Well, the request came in January, and I didn’t get around to fussing about the photo until well into February — my life is constantly fraught (‘affected by anxiety or stress’ (NOAD)) — and then, as I’ll detail below, I did a piss-poor job of it, so here I am reporting on the whole affair in March, well past the time when the photo might be useful, and anyway I’m not going to Reunions.

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FREDs and their kin

February 24, 2022

(References in plain language to men’s bodies viewed as sexual objects, with a photo, so not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

On Facebook yesterday, information from train-watcher Ned Deily about FREDs. That’s FRED, an acronym for flashing rear-end device — an alternative name for end of train device, no doubt devised to provide a pronounceable acronym (FRED) rather than a mere initialism (like ETD). But then we get then nominal rear end, referring not only generally to the back part of something, but also specifically to a person’s buttocks. Which takes us into racy or frankly raunchy territory.

FRED 1, the flashing rear-end device. In brief, from Wikipedia (a) on the end of train device; and then from the Trains & Locomotives Wiki (b) on “End of Train Device” (edited for readability):

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Flipping with the cowboys

October 3, 2021

(Substantial section on English syntax and semantics, but even that is about raunchy sexual vocabulary — so it’s pretty much wall to wall about sex between men, in street language, with photos: absolutely inappropriate for kids or the sexually modest)

What got me into this was the cover of a CockyBoys gay porn DVD Flipping Out (#1 below, after the fold), showing two men engaged in the variety of anal intercourse known as Asian Cowboy. More descriptively, Squatting Cowboy: the receptive man rides the insertive man’s penis roughly the way a cowboy rides his horse, by sitting on it — in this case, from a squatting position. In plain Cowboy, the receptive guy lowers himself onto his ride while kneeling, so in more descriptive terminology, that’s Kneeling Cowboy.

I was struck by the photo because the Cowboy sex positions hold a special resonance for me, and because I’d been looking for Cowboy illustrations in which the insertive guy is sitting up (in a chair or on a sofa), a position that invites the men to kiss, the way my man Jacques and I did when we enjoyed Cowboying together. The cover of Flipping Out gives me just what I was looking for, in an especially attractive and wonderfully intimate composition of bodies.

Then, as a linguistic bonus, there’s the verb to flip-fuck, played with in the DVD’s title.

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Zippo, the comic strip

March 25, 2021

The 3/14 Zippy strip shows Claude and Griffy (and eventually Zippy too) caught up in what seems to be affixoid attraction (similar to word attraction), an irrational appreciation of or enthusiasm for a particular word-part — in this case, the word-final element –o (whatever its source might be):


(#1) All of the panels except the fourth are framed as two-person exchanges, in which the second is a response to the first: offering a competing alternative (panel 1), trading insults (panels 2 and 3), or expressing appreciation (panel 5)

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