Archive for the ‘Language and medicine’ Category

Hiphop phrenology

July 2, 2016

In going through CDs for recent offers — specifically, in the Quirky / Eccentric music category — I came across a hiphop album “Phrenology” by the group Roots. The cover art:

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This is a phrenological chart with a black man as model, with jokey or politically tinged drawings for the regions.

And the parental advisory reflects the lyrics of the songs, heavily laced with the full range of taboo vocabulary and slurs. The track “Pussy Galore” is particularly notable.

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Anhedonic with Velda

March 30, 2016

Today’s Zippy is a fantasy on the great film noir Kiss Me Deadly, which might not have been enough to move me to post it here, but there was the excellent technical term anhedonic in there…

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Morning name: domoic acid (plus Dungeness crab)

March 30, 2016

Yesterday’s morning name, domoic acid, was no great surprise, given recent local news about the late opening of the Dungeness crab season. From a story on ABC tv station KGO’s site yesterday:

Officials announced today Dungeness crab season officially opened after the price for local crab was set at $2.90.

Officials said crab fishermen are rushing out to set their traps. However, the trip is a four-hour journey, so they will not be able to bring any crabs back to the Bay Area right away.

The earliest crab may be for sale is on Friday.

Earlier today, crab fisherman took part in a closed-door meeting where officials set the price for crab.

A dangerous neurotoxin [domoic acid] in the crab was to blame for California’s crab season delay. Even after samples were below alert levels in recent weeks, public health agencies recommended people not eat the internal organs of the crab known as butter or guts.

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A Dungeness crab

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Morning name: catarrh

March 20, 2016

For the 19th, the affliction (part of a nasty cold also featuring paroxysmal coughing) and the name, reproducing bits of Ancient Greek spelling carried through to Latin, French, and then English. From NOAD2:

excessive discharge or buildup of mucus in the nose or throat, associated with inflammation of the mucous membrane. ORIGIN early 16th cent.: from French catarrhe, from late Latin catarrhus, from Greek katarrhous, from katarrhein ‘flow down,’ from kata– ‘down’ + rhein ‘flow.’

(The name catarrh obviously has nothing to do with the Gulf country name Qatar, though the latter is sometimes pronounced the same as the former, /kǝtár/.)

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Nugenix

November 23, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the product ExtenZe,

a herbal nutritional supplement claiming to promote “natural male enhancement”, a euphemism for penis enlargement. Additionally, television commercials and advertisements claim an “improved” or “arousing” sexual experience [longer, stronger, harder erections]. (from Wikipedia)

Now another product has come along and is advertising heavily on cable tv, especially at night. Unlike ExtenZe, which contains small anounts of virtually every substance believed (in some tradition or another) to be of some efficacy in enlarging the penis or improving sexual performance, Nugenix has a small ingredients list, which includes one herb, fenugreek seed, that is not in ExtenZe.

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ExtenZe

November 8, 2015

(It’s going to be penis penis penis in this posting. But fairly decorously, and with some discussion of names, plants, and medicine.)

Every so often there’s an outbreak of ExtenZe commercials on late-night cable television. Well, the same commercial, over and over again. The current ad features former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, who became the official spokesman for ExtenZe in 2010:

Here’s comic Jim Gaffigan riffing on this commercial:

Note Gaffigan’s playing on Jimmy Johnson‘s name as a possible factor in his choice as spokesman; Gaffigan mentions (former Chicago Bears linebacker) Dick Butkus as an alternative. I suppose it’s too bad that actor Peter O’Toole is no longer available. (In a while I’ll consider Willy / Willie candidates.)

But first some ExtenZe background.

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Morning: bruxism, brucellosis

September 26, 2015

This morning’s names: two that are somewhat similar in sound (though they have nothing to do with one another), both referring to conditions affecting the body (but of very different sorts).

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Golden yellow for the end of summer

September 11, 2015

Oh, it’s a long, long time from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September

And as the days grow short, the goldenrods burst into bloom. At the same time, hay fever afflicts the allergic. The goldenrods are the showiest, most visible plants of the season, and they are all over the place. So people take concurrence to be causation, and blame the goldenrods. But it’s not their fault.

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claustrophilia

July 11, 2015

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

As it happens, claustrophilia is a recognized paraphilia. From the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary: “an abnormal desire for confinement in an enclosed space” (link).

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Allergies

June 2, 2015

In a posting on some cartoons yesterday, I mentioned what I described as an “aversion” to cilantro that affects many people, an aversion that turns out to be genetically determined: people with Yuck Cilantro genetics (hat tip to Benita Bendon Campbell on the term) find the taste of cilantro disgusting and don’t appreciate the pleasures that others experience. For some people, the effect goes well beyond distaste or aversion; they suffer extreme symptoms that cause them to characterize their condition as an “allergy”, treating the symptomology as a definition of allergy.

But the medical literature insists on a technical definition of allergy that requires an immune response involving the antibody immunoglobulin E (IgE); without this antibody, we are looking at a food intolerance (or non-allergic food hypersensitivity), even if its manifestations are extreme: vomiting, even anaphylaxis. According to this literature, there is much less food allergy in the world than people think — because ordinary people use the term allergy loosely and incorrectly.

Now, from the point of view of ordinary people, it’s the symptomology that’s important, not the cause of the symptoms, and whatever the cause, the major part of treatment will involve avoiding the foods that trigger the symptoms. In the circumstances, it would be useful to have a technical term like true allergy or allergy proper (to distinguish those cases where antibody-suppressing drugs might be effective parts of treatment) versus a term allergy of wider application, or else a specially invented wider term, like allergoid condition.

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