LL.D., Letters indicating the degree Legumptionorum Doctor, one learned in laws, gifted with legal gumption. Some suspicion is cast upon this derivation by the fact that the title was formerly ££.d., and conferred only upon gentlemen distinguished for their wealth. At the date of this writing Columbia University is considering the expediency of making another degree for clergymen, in place of the old D.D. — Damnator Diaboli. The new honor will be known as Sanctorum Custus, and written $$.¢. The name of the Rev. John Satan has been suggested as a suitable recipient by a lover of consistency, who points out that Professor Harry Thurston Peck has long enjoyed the advantage of a degree.
2009 Update: A particularly advanced degree in law available those who prefer to advocate mischief in the classroom rather than the courtroom.
Monday, June 29, 2009
LAUREL, n. The laurus, a vegetable dedicated to Apollo, and formerly defoliated to wreathe the brows of victors and such poets as had influence at court. (Vide supra.)
2009 Update: A metaphor for admiration, given to honor a successful poet.
Though the winds howl, and the night should turn ebonAnd fear should flow cold through the fount of the pen;Though their names be given to few to adoreAnd the granary bares it's own earthen floor,The complaint is the same where the scribes congregate"All my orchards I'd offer to be laureate."-Anonymous
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
OCCASIONAL, adj. Afflicting us with greater or less frequency. That, however, is not the sense in which the word is used in the phrase "occasional verses," which are verses written for an "occasion," such as an anniversary, a celebration or other event. True, they afflict us a little worse than other sorts of verse, but their name has no reference to irregular recurrence.
2009 Update: At a frequency one tenth as common as a habit and ten times a lucky break, describing both. For example, OCCASIONAL is spelled "occassional" or "ocassional" occasionally.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Once upon a time, on an island of the Tierra Del Fuego, a fox met a penguin.
"Oh, if only you could live where I live or I could live where you live," the fox exclaimed, "we could be such great friends!"
"We can! We can!" answered the penguin. "I live in the world's harshest climate. It stands to reason, I can live in any weather!"
So the fox took the penguin to a volcano and said "Jump in! The lava is hot, but you can live in any weather!"
"That's not weather," answered the penguin. "It's geology!"
So the fox took the penguin to where the humans made charcoal and opened an oven and said to the penguin "Climb in! It may be hot but you can live in any weather!"
"That's not weather," answered the penguin. "It's combustion!"
Next the fox took the penguin to the Cordillera, and hopped out onto a thin branch that crossed a windy chasm. "Follow me," yelled the fox through the wind. "It may be windy but you can live in any weather!"
"That's not weather," answered the penguin. "It's geography!"
So, at last, the happy little penguin and the glum little fox returned to the Tierra Del Fuego where a cold winter storm blew. The fox began shivering. "I'm sorry," said the penguin. "It's too cold for you. Is there any way I can help?"
So the fox took the penguin's feathers and as the penguin froze, the warm fox in her coat said "What a poor thing you are! This is not weather but fashion!"
Moral: Stick to the sciences, where a few mysteries remain.
ENCOURAGEMENT, n. Murder in a small denomination.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
FORK, n. An instrument used chiefly for the purpose of putting dead animals into the mouth. Formerly the knife was employed for this purpose, and by many worthy persons is still thought to have many advantages over the other tool, which, however, they do not altogether reject, but use to assist in charging the knife. The immunity of these persons from swift and awful death is one of the most striking proofs of God's mercy to those that hate Him.
2009 Update: The place between plate and urn in the civilized life cycle.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
FORTUNE-HUNTER, n. A man without wealth whom a rich woman catches and marries within an inch of his life.
2009 Update: The goblin most feared by penniless romantics. As do CORSAIR, HIGHWAYMAN, and ACTIVIST, the word credits a whiff of dash to the common criminal, which phrase diminishes the typical fellow's individuality and pursuit of respectability.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Adventures and epics that fit in your hand,
And twitter wherever reporting is banned;
Tales of today without brave knights or damsels,
Told by bloggers wherever the newscasts are cancelled;
My fear for the future is how can it be
When the present's apparent to all who would see?
For mythos and legend and tales to persist,
A few foggy memories need to exist.
If the Persians had cell phones and YouTube to play
In her time, Shahrazade would have lived just the day.
LEGEND, n. An enchantment cast on the forgetful by the forgotten.
Note to Cooper: I'm following Iran on Andrew Sullivan's blog and wondering if dropping crates of cell phones into Darfur wouldn't have saved more grief than every other intervention proposed.
Update to tweeters. I don't know how (exactly) you got here, but welcome.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
FIB, n. A lie that has not cut its teeth. An habitual liar's nearest approach to truth: the perigee of his eccentric orbit.
When David said: "All men are liars," Dave,
Himself a liar, fibbed like any thief.
Perhaps he thought to weaken disbelief
By proof that even himself was not a slave
To Truth; though I suspect the aged knave
Had been of all her servitors the chief
Had he but known a fig's reluctant leaf
Is more than e'er she wore on land or wave.
No, David served not Naked Truth when he
Struck that sledge-hammer blow at all his race;
Nor did he hit the nail upon the head:
For reason shows that it could never be,
And the facts contradict him to his face.
Men are not liars all, for some are dead.
2009 Update: An assertion that compensates by meekness for the absence of veracity. A lie lacking ambition.
Monday, June 15, 2009
FIDDLE, n. An instrument to tickle human ears by friction of a horse's tail on the entrails of a cat.
To Rome said Nero: "If to smoke you turn2009 Update: v.i. To practice
I shall not cease to fiddle while you burn."
To Nero Rome replied: "Pray do your worst,
'Tis my excuse that you were fiddling first."
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
TABLE D'HOTE, n. A caterer's thrifty concession to the universal passion for irresponsibility.
Old Paunchinello, freshly wed,
Took Madam P. to table,
And there deliriously fed
As fast as he was able.
"I dote upon good grub," he cried,
Intent upon its throatage.
"Ah, yes," said the neglected bride,
"You're in your table d'hotage."
2009 Update: A menu with limited choices and a fixed price, which can be a bargain if the choices are different and the price fair- two unlikely conditions beneath a French title in an American restaurant.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Throughout our long suffering nation,
A mob (or grassroots delegation)
Sets out from their porches
With pitchforks and torches
To demand suffrage and strong regulation.
Let our voices forever ring out,
Whatever the scoundrels bring out
For circus and bread
May go to our head
But it goes on the blog when we pout.
LIBERAL, adj. Objecting to selected arbitrary constraints.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Monday, June 08, 2009
TRICHINOSIS, n. The pig's reply to proponents of porcophagy.
Moses Mendlessohn having fallen ill sent for a Christian physician, who at once diagnosed the philosopher's disorder as trichinosis, but tactfully gave it another name. "You need and immediate change of diet," he said; "you must eat six ounces of pork every other day.""Pork?" shrieked the patient — "pork? Nothing shall induce me to touch it!""Do you mean that?" the doctor gravely asked."I swear it!""Good! — then I will undertake to cure you."
2009 Update: A former restraint on the chef's art that required specific foods to be examined carefully for thorough of the cooking. Trichinosis no longer constrains the Western diet as few foods remain specific, even upon examination. The worm is no longer in our meal but in our selves.
Saturday, June 06, 2009
Friday, June 05, 2009
Thursday, June 04, 2009
DEMONOMANIA, n. A condition of the mind in which the patient fondly imagines himself acting under the authority of the devil, and is just too proud for anything.
2009 Update: A psychiatric condition which causes in the sufferer the delusion of external control by infernal agents, rather than by self-delusion. See also CALVINISM, POPULISM.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
The board of directors at GM, it seems,
Will be America, building American dreams:
The doors reinforced with rule of law,
The seat restraint strengthened with justice for all,
The chassis inclusive, with seats for the many-
Muhammed, Maria, Nga-chi, Sigmund and Lenny.
The fuel will be freedom, the kind that burns good,
Driving four pious pistons strapped under the hood.
Free thought through the solenoid will crank up the starter
Free speech presses the clutch-plate against the transmission, a martyr.
When you park with the valet, please warn the attendent
The seat warmers uphold the second amendment.
The designers in congress, for everyone's sakes
Built in civil discourse as pads for the brakes,
And each senator, wherever he or she sits,
Will surely add airbags, wherever one fits.
Shiny and sleek, brightly colored and long
Tell your neighbors with pride you bought yours for a song.
COMMITTEE, n. A collective sequestered to prevent progress and pester.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
DISYLLABLE, n. A word of two syllables. The following words are disyllables, according to the ancient and honorable usage of all the San Francisco poets: Fire, hire, tire, flour, hour, sour, scour, chasm, spasm, realm, helm, and slippery elm.
2009 Update: A word containing two grunts, making half an Erudition. Two Eruditions make a Folly.
Monday, June 01, 2009
A savage beast which, when it sleeps,
Man girds at and despises,
But takes himself away by leaps
And bounds when it arises.
2009 Update: A threat to life, liberty, property, profession, pomposity, prediction, conviction, confection, convention, invention, intention, election, insurrection, the resurrection, or the prosperity of a kept canary.