Word Wednesday.

Frizzling

Verb.

1: Frizzle

Verb: Frizzled; frizzling: Frizz, Curl.

[Origin: probably akin to Old Frisian frīsle curl]

(1573)

2: Frizzle

Noun: A crisp curl. (1613)

3: Frizzle

Verb: Frizzled; Frizzling

Transitive verb

1: to fry until crisp and curled.

2: Burn, Scorch.

Intransitive verb: to cook with a sizzling noise.

[Origin: fry + sizzle]

(1839)

“The sun was high in the heavens when my companion woke me from a heavy sleep and announced that the porridge was cooked and there was just time to bathe. The grateful smell of frizzling bacon entered the tent door.” – The Willows, Algernon Blackwood.

Word Wednesday.

Zeugma

Noun.

The use of a word to modify or govern two or more words usually in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense or makes sense with only one (as in “opened the door and her heart to the homeless boy”).

[Origin: Middle English zeuma, from Medieval Latin, from Latin zeugma, from Greek, literally, joining, from zeugnynai to join; akin to Latin jungere to join.]

(15th Century)

“Elinor smiled. ‘Ooh, extended metaphors.’ ‘It’ll be zeugma next.’ ‘I love it when you talk dirty to me.’ – Splinter the Silence, Val McDermid.

Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain.

A while back, Rick asked me about Bitcoin. Along with the rather alarmed look on my face, I shook my head and said “stay the fuck away from it.” That said, I wasn’t in a position to explain all the reasons why, or the history of it and all that. I just muttered “stay the fuck away” again. Conveniently, David Gerard has a book all about that! Many of you are familiar with Mr. Gerard from Rational Wiki. I got this for Rick, but of course, I had to read it too, because book.

It’s excellent, covers what you need to know, and is informative, entertaining, and sometimes, horrifying. So if you’ve been curious, or thinking maybe you ought to “get in on that”, read first. You can read select excerpts from the book here.

The Book Women.

A group of “book women” on horseback in Hindman, Kentucky, 1940. Kentucky Library and Archives.

They were known as the “book women.” They would saddle up, usually at dawn, to pick their way along snowy hillsides and through muddy creeks with a simple goal: to deliver reading material to Kentucky’s isolated mountain communities.

The Pack Horse Library initiative was part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA), created to help lift America out of the Great Depression, during which, by 1933, unemployment had risen to 40 percent in Appalachia. Roving horseback libraries weren’t entirely new to Kentucky, but this initiative was an opportunity to boost both employment and literacy at the same time.

“Sometimes the short way across is the hard way for the horse and rider but schedules have to be maintained if readers are not to be disappointed. Then, too, after highways are left, there is little choice of roads,” c. 1940. Kentucky Libraries and Archives.

Another fascinating article at Atlas Obscura, with absolutely splendid photos! Click on over and see.

The Violet Sister.

Louise Michel pictured at home in her later years, around the time she is presumed to have penned the piece translated below — Source.

A husky voice barked: “Entrez!”

Through a long, dim hallway, I followed the voice, until I reached a spare, curtained room. One empty chair stood near the entrance. Another, across the darkened space, was occupied by a slender, shadowed figure with erect posture, white hair long and flowing as in the fashion of the 1840s, in an elegant black suit, immaculate linens, a neckcloth of Persian design. A bright gaze set into a finely featured face pierced the gloom.

“Sit”, the figure commanded. As if under the influence of a powerful magnetizer, I sat without pause.

My host spoke sharply, gruffly. “Welcome, Mademoiselle. You have come to meet me, no? You wish to learn of my ideas, my thoughts. But should you not first know to whom you speak?” I nodded.

The figure straightened. “You wrote to Octave Obdurant. This is the name with which the person before you entered the Ecole Polytechnique. It is the name on my entrance papers to the Ecole de Ponts et Chaussées. It is the name with which I signed my first articles in geometry, my first statistical tables, as well as Free the Earth, which you were kind enough to notice.”

The voice was clear and occasionally guttural; there was a warmth beneath its unyielding syllables.

“But as you have certainly realized, this is not my true name.”

I felt my mind begin to spin. I was unsure of where I was, what I was doing here, in these isolated rooms. I stammered out:

“Excuse me, Monsieur. What, then, is your name?”

“I was baptized Tranchot.” Despite the pause which followed, the name meant nothing to me until it was repeated, with its prenames before it.

Marie Violette Tranchot.”

I was moved by an emotion of shock and recognition at once. Some part of me had already realized that I was not in the presence of a great man, but rather a great woman — no wizened brother of the struggle, but a sister. Instantly, I felt myself uncannily at home, safe at last in a place I’d never been — truly at home, perhaps, for the first time in my life. This hero, epitome of the courage and intelligence the world saw as masculine, was a woman like myself.

Fascinating reading, from Louise Michel, in Le Libertaire, iii, 1895. She writes about the Scoundrel Laws, and the paucity of an overly-praised history, and her meeting with Octave Obdurant.

You can read the whole thing at The Public Domain. Highly recommended.

Word Wednesday.

Didactic

Adjective.

1a: designed or intended to teach b: intended to convey instruction and information as well as pleasure and entertainment.

2: making moral observations.

– didactical, adjective.

– didactically, adverb.

– didacticism, noun.

[Origin: Greek didaktikos, from didaskein to teach.}

(1658)

“King Rat’s London snarl had assumed a didactic tone. “Pay attention, ratling. This here is the entrance to your ceremonial abode.” – King Rat, China Miéville.

Word Wednesday.

Incantation

 
Noun: a use of spells or verbal charms spoken or sung as a part of a ritual of magic; also: a written or recited formula of words designed to produce a particular effect.

Incantational – adjective.

Incantatory – adjective.

[Origin: Middle English incantacioun, from Middle French incantation, from Late Latin incantation-, incantatio, from Latin incantare to enchant.]

(14th Century)

“It seems to me that the menu lies close to the heart of the human impulse to order, to beauty, to pattern. It draws on the original chthonic upwelling that underlies all art. A menu can embody the anthropology of a culture or the psychology of the individual; it can be a biography, a cultural history, a lexicon; it speaks to the sociology, psychology, and biology of its creator and its audience, and of course to their geographical location; it can be a way of knowledge, a path, an inspiration, a Tao, an ordering, a shaping, a manifestation, a talisman, an injunction, a memory, a fantasy, a consolation, an allusion, an illusion, an evasion, an assertion, a seduction, a prayer, a summoning, an incantation murmured under the breath as the torchlights sink lower and the forest looms taller and the wolves howl louder and the fire prepares for its submission to the encroaching dark.” – The Debt to Pleasure, John Lanchester.

Book Note: In all my decades of reading, I’ve read a great many books which could be described as creepy. The Debt to Pleasure is, hands down, the creepiest damn book I have ever read. It’s a compelling read, in spite of the fact that the main character is one without a single redeeming feature. This book gets into your head, and leaves a rather disturbing taste in the brain.

Reading Rainbow for Adults! Reading Rainbow for Adults!

Pacific Press/Getty Images.

Back in June, I posted about LeVar Burton’s new podcast, LeVar Burton Reads. Seems some soreheads are very unhappy with Burton’s success, and that random people are using the phrase “Reading Rainbow for Adults”.

In today’s episode of Black People Can’t Have a Damn Thing, Not Even if We Played a Major Role in Building It From the Ground Up, actor LeVar Burton is being personally sued by a Buffalo, N.Y., public broadcasting station that wants to stop him from using a Reading Rainbow catchphrase on his new podcast.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, WNED filed a “wide-ranging” lawsuit Friday that includes the demands that Burton’s company, RRKidz, hand over access to various websites and social media accounts, and that Burton himself cease using the Reading Rainbow catchphrase “But you don’t have to take my word for it” on his podcast, LeVar Burton Reads.

Although Friday’s lawsuit is new, THR reports that Burton and WNED have been tied up in court for years over a 2011 licensing deal that granted Burton the use of intellectual property related to the beloved PBS show, which ran from 1983 to 2006 with Burton as host.

You can read all about this nonsense at The Root. Me, I’m rooting for LeVar.

Word Wednesday.

Aplomb

Noun.

Complete and confident self composure or self assurance: poise.

[Origin: French, literally, perpendicularity, from Middle French, from a plomb, literally, according to the plummet.]

(1823)

“There are one or two artists, but I have noted that there is only a slight correlation between a taste for history and practising the arts. And over the last twelve years, you might say I’ve got to know all of them. And all of them, whoever they are, are won over by the costumes, the faithful reproduction of official texts, the period atmosphere, and, I think I may say, the fact of wearing an eighteenth-century frock coat. It lends one aplomb. – A Climate of Fear, Fred Vargas.

Word Wednesday.

Disjunction

Noun.

1: a sharp cleavage: Disunion, Separation <the disjunction between theory and practice>.

2: a compound sentence in logic formed by joining two statements by or: a: inclusive disjunction b: exclusive disjunction.

[Origin: disjunccioun, from Old French disjunction (13c.) or directly from Latin disjunctionem “separation,” noun of action from past participle stem of disjungere.]

(1350-1400.)

” ‘No, Omega, Ariane. She killed one of the guards.’ ‘Good Lord. When?’ ‘Ten months ago. Disjunction – followed by escape.’ ” – This Night’s Foul Work, Fred Vargas.

Public and Private Life of Animals.

This collection of acerbic animal fables, originally published in 1842 as Scènes de la vie privée et publique des animaux, boasts among its contributors some of the finest literary minds of mid 19th-century France, including Honoré de Balzac, George Sand, and the publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel (under the pseudonym of P. J. Stahl). The book is also home to some of the finest work (some featured below) by the caricaturist J. J. Grandville, drawings in which we can see the satirical genius and inventiveness that would be unleashed in full glory just two years later with the publication of his wonderful Un autre monde.

So far, I have only read The Philosophic Rat, and it’s a wonderful tale. I have gotten this downloaded to my tablet though, and am looking forward to all the stories. The illustrations are magnificent, and you can see many of them at The Public Domain. The book can be read or downloaded here.

Just a few of the illustrations: