Word Paradox?

Into week out. Lower air temperature this morning. Which gave me occasion to reflect on some word use.

When we are being careful and formal about doing something we sometimes say we are being “catholic” about the action. When we are being careless and informal we say that we are being “cavalier” about the action.

I got to wondering about this. The use of the word “cavalier” brings to mind the English civil war which is colloquially referred to as a contention between “cavaliers” and “roundheads” . Cavaliers – the royalist side – were considered to be flamboyant and kulturny. The Roundheads – the rebel side – were considered to be straitlaced and puritanical.

The problem is that while “catholic” means universal, which is rather at odds with its above usage, it is most often associated with the church of Rome. And here’s where the friction occurs. The cavaliers were religiously, predominantly, high church. Roman Catholics and Church of England. The roundheads were predominantly refusenics, members of fundamentalist dominations that were at odds with the official church. 

So I have to admit to being rather a bit mystified and perplexed.

Probably how the day is going to go.

Utterance Ubuquities

If you observe a person inserting “literally’ needlessly in a sentence, then you may entertain the conjecture that person is inarticulate and ignorant;

whereas, if you observe a person inserting “you know” more than once in a sentence, then you may entertain the conjecture that person is insecure and alienated.

It would be nice to opine that these are characteristics of bog but I have observed that people of actual, if un or misused intelligence, also use them as bad habits acquired by association with bogs.

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Color Abuse

Lovely morning. Complete weather disagreement. My browser tells me it is 40 degF here in Greater Metropolitan Arab. My new KDE widget tells me it is 40 degF and my aft porch wireless thermometer proclaims 46 degF. I decided to assay a walk in the park and it was bitter, mostly due to a fine, blowing rain that didn’t quite wet but did conduct. I am still waiting for sensation to creep in under my beard.

The podcast this morning was an episode of “The Pen Addict”, [Link] which primarily has two positive attributes: it is usually long enough to cover my week out sessions – Freya, Saturn, and Sol days; and it makes some other egregiously obnoxious podcasts endurable, primarily Linux podcasts that are sort of Yankee redneck geeky in a computer fashion. TPA is a mixture of British and Gawjah cracker geeky in a paper and pen fashion. Both are flavored with egregiously horrible grammar. Except the Brit. Most of the time. In both cases the useful information is not usually in the main stream but in the side bands. With the Linux podcasts it’s usually some bit of code or a client app that is mentioned in conversation; with TPA it’s usually some notebook, occasionally pen, mentioned in conversation or only present in the notes. But both have the sovereign value of diverting attention, often violently in disgust and/or disagreement, from the unjoy of exercise.

But what struck me as I huddled upon myself along the walking trail at park this morning was color abuse. It is a terrible thing. We humans, especially bogs, tend to try to give names to colors that aren’t. Or, we call things colors that aren’t. Being a good nerd and mediocre physicist (I rather suspect even the best aren’t much better than good?) the only colors are ROYGBIV. In particular, White and Black are NOT colors, the first being a collection of all colors and the second the absence of color. It is particularly tempting to inflict unpleasantness on bogs who misuse these two terms and I have been known to reduce stately but hideously inaccurate, matrons to lachrymation via counseling.

Orange is problematic in that it may also be the name of a fruit. Directionality need be noted here. It is what makes this proper in that the fruit is named for the color, which is indeed a color, of its rind. It is also a rather sad happening since the fruit is not properly exalted due to the absence of useful words that rhyme. But other instances such as Teal (a duck,) Ebony (mineral,) and Khaki (dust) are examples of the mental nastiness of humans misusing language. Sadly such people cannot be identified prior to puberty and “fixed” prior to reproduction, mostly because of inadequate social fiber and testing efforts but mostly because it would eliminate homo sapiens in two generations. It is unclear that his would not be beneficial but since the effort is irreversible, general insecurity and boggishness prevails.

The micturant in the pudding is grey, spelled here in the Yankee republic too often as “gray”. It is clearly not a color and its dictionary definition , an admixture of white and black, is gibberish of the most odious form. It is however, hideously useful. Almost everything ends up grey eventually. It is a somewhat apt description of both my hair and eyes. The term brown is similar. So the slope is not only gradual but lubricated. Even one as whacked as I am is forced by necessity to admit that the purity of real color is polluted by humanity as well as nature – d*** those acomputate biologists! – and more vocabulary than that is needful.

But I can still be obnoxious about it. We humans must suffer for our liberties. Just be happy it’s not a raptor gnawing on your liver.

Which brings us to the subject of liver gravy. But that’s for another blot.

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How High is Up?

I ran across this XKCD [Link] cartoon the other day:

and it put me in mind of surgery last week.

I had two encounters with nurses and the matter of pain scale. Once in the pre-surgery testing and registration, and once in the post-surgery maundering.

Both were unsatisfactory on both sides. I would get asked, (~) ‘ on a scale from zero to ten, zero being no pain, how much pain do you feel right now?’

First response was a question of whether the scale was linear or logarithmic. And yes, I realize that those are not the only choices but those are the most common. The response in both cases was a stare that I could not decipher and a reply that the scale was linear.

My second questions was ‘how do you measure the intensity of pain?’ In once case I got the answer that the scale was subjective, which is as close to good as I could expect.

So I answered ‘five’. I was in a small amount of pain, everyone is who stops to think about it, added to by the problem I was suffering. Both times I was asked if I wanted anything for the pain and I responded in the negative.

Incidentally, the answer was based not on how I felt but on Order Statistics. And I had more sense than to tell the nurses this.

I am a strong advocate of Lord Kelvin’s admonition about measurement, but I am coming to be even more vehement that we not quantize what we cannot measure.

It strikes me that one of the implicit weaknesses of this methodology is that it creates an unnecessary distrust between patient and medicalist since the latter will always suspect the difficulty of endurance is being exaggerated.

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