Vocabulary: Noun Things


rich folks have manors, estates, mansions. From Wikipedia: «The term is sometimes applied to country houses which belonged to gentry families, as well as to grand stately homes, particularly as a technical term for minor late medieval fortified country houses intended more for show than for defense.»


At some point, the armada of devices we strap to our bodies like tools on Batman's belt will coalesce into a smaller number of multifunction devices. Equipped with radio links, a pda can serve as an appliance-control remote, a digital wallet, a cell phone, an identity badge, an e-mail station, a digital book, a pager and perhaps even a digital camera. There is sure to be a catchy name for this all-purpose Internet-enabled thingy, perhaps Wireless Internet Digital Gadget for Electronic Transactions, or WIDGET.
What Will Replace The Internet? By Vinton Cerf. At http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,997263,00.html


Zebras have excellent hearing, and tend to have larger, rounder ears than horses. Like horses and other ungulates, zebra can turn their ears in almost any direction. In addition to eyesight and hearing, zebras have an acute sense of smell and taste.


This word appeared in the dialogue in the movie Sex, Lies, and Videotape, where one sister is buying their mother a sundress, and her pesky sister retorted why she'd want one because she's got varicose veins all over.


warlords in uniform has lots of insignias, assholes of infinite order, Purple Hearts and all that shit.
Xah Lee


as in, the mandible of a longhorn beetle.


frontispiece is the front illustration facing the title page of a book
See: frontispiece. Terms for parts of a book includes: cover, flyleaf, preface/prologue/intro, table of contents, contents, epilog, glossary, bibliography, index, appendix, addendum, colophon, corrigendum, errata.


selling like hotcakes.
hotcake = Pancake.


bric-a-brac = miscellaneous curios; nicknack. Bric-a-brac


Ever wonder why trains have this wedge-like shaped thing at the front? It is called the cowcatcher. In the early days of trains (giant, black, iron-clad, coal-burning steam-engined trains, humongous cylindrical shaped that are water-boilers), often it would run into cows. Of course it would kill the cows but may leave undesirable things on the track. Thus, they developed this wedge-shaped metal grille that swipes animals in-the-way out of the way. (Of course it would still kill the cows, but human amenity has priority) As times moved on, cows no-longer stands in the ways of trains, but the cowcatcher evolved into an aesthetic element, as if to say: “nothing will get in my way!”.
2004-05. Xah Lee


My fall was stopped by a terrible squash, that sounded louder to my ears than the cataract of Niagara;…
cataract = a large waterfall.


Day by day and almost minute by minute the past was brought up to date. In this way every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct, nor was any item of news, or any expression of opinion, which conflicted with the needs of the moment, ever allowed to remain on record. All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary. -- 1984, George Orwell
Deleting History: Why Governments Demand Google Censor the Truth By Lauren Weinstein. At http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000826.html
palimpsest = A palimpsest is a manuscript page from a scroll or book from which the text has been scraped off and which can be used again. Palimpsest


A causeway is a road or railway route across a broad body of water or wetland raised up on an embankment. Some causeways may only be usable at low tide and the distinction between causeways and viaduct can become blurred when flood-relief culverts are incorporated in the structure; a causeway is however primarily supported on earth or stone, whereas a bridge or viaduct is mainly supported by free-standing columns and/or arches.


A cistern (Middle English cisterne, from Latin cisterna, from cista, box, from Greek kistê, basket) is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids, usually water. Cisterns are often built to catch and store rainwater. Cisterns are distinguished from wells by their waterproof linings. Modern cisterns range in capacity from a few litres to thousands of cubic metres, effectively forming covered reservoirs.


A few days later, as a personal token of appreciation for his service in the military, a congressional staffer who worked for Senator Charles Schumer and was a friend of the McLaughlin family presented McLaughlin with a flag bought at the Senate stationery store. Two years later, when McLaughlin was packing to leave for Iraq under McCoy's command, he put the flag in his duffel.
THE WAYWARD PRESS; THE TOPPLING; How the media inflated a minor moment in a long war by Peter Maass. At http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/01/10/110110fa_fact_maass?currentPage=all
duffel=Clothing and other personal gear carried by a camper. (AHD)


It's rather a cultural curiosity that most cellphones sold in US don't have lanyard hole, while in Far East, almost everyone attaches a decorative lanyard to their cellphone, especially girls. The lanyard sold are extremely diverse, from plain strap to shiny beads to Chinese knots to bells and whistles (literally) to little cartoon effigies ranging just about all anime characters (e.g.Hello Kitty, Doraemon cat…).Walk into any street shop you can see arrays of these decorative lanyards. They are rather not used to hang the phone, but to hang from the phone as a littel personality trinket.
Xah Lee


Halberd is a pole weapon used in Europe during 1500 or 1600s


Their site features a photo gallery, primarily offering snaps of the duo sporting dirndls and relaxing on grassy hillocks, or playing with their infant sister, Dresden.
The bittersweet melody of racist tunes by Michael Seringhaus. Yale Daily News. At http://www.yaledailynews.com/article.asp?AID=30523
Dirndl = A type of traditional dress worn in southern Germany and Austria, based on the historical costume of Alpine peasants. Dirndl


A chronograph is a specific type of watch that is used as a stopwatch combined with a display watch. A basic chronograph has an independent sweep second hand; it can be started, stopped, and returned to zero by successive pressure on the stem. Nicolas Mathieu Rieussec invented the chronograph in 1821. Rieussec was awarded the original patent for his chronograph in 1822.

There are many modern day uses for the chronograph, but the original use for this device, and also the reason it was invented, was to please King Louis XVIII in 1821. The King greatly enjoyed watching horse races, but wanted to know exactly how long each race lasted, so Nicolas Rieussec was hired to invent a contraption that would do the job. As a result, he created the first ever commercialized chronograph.



A marine chronometer is a clock that is precise and accurate enough to be used as a portable time standard; it can therefore be used to determine longitude by means of celestial navigation. When first developed in the 18th century it was a major technical achievement, as accurate knowledge of the time over a long sea voyage is necessary for navigation, lacking electronic or communications aids. The first true chronometer was the life work of one man, John Harrison, spanning 31 years of persistent experimentation and test that revolutionized naval (and later aerial) navigation enabling the Age of Discovery and Colonialism to accelerate.

The term chronometer (apparently coined in 1714 by Jeremy Thacker, an early competitor for the prize set by the Longitude Act in the same year) is used more recently to describe wristwatches tested and certified to meet certain precision standards. Timepieces made in Switzerland may only display the word ‘chronometer’ if certified by the COSC (Official Swiss Chronometer Testing Institute).



fox and the stork 07-Josef-Lada--Detem
the fox and the stork, by Josef Lada (1887 to 1957) image source
A fox invites the stork to eat with him and provides soup in a bowl, which the fox can lap up easily but which the stork cannot drink with its beak. The stork then invites the fox to a meal, which is served in a narrow-necked vessel, easy for the stork to access but impossible for the fox. The moral drawn is that the trickster must expect trickery in return and that the golden rule of conduct is to do to others what one would wish for oneself.


Battlement drawing by PSF
Battlement drawing by PSF

J. K. Rowling says she visualises Hogwarts, in its entirety, to be: «A huge, rambling, quite scary-looking castle, with a jumble of towers and battlements. Like the Weasley's house, it isn't a building that Muggles [non-magical humans] could build, because it is supported by magic.»



When private illusion clashes with social reality, the former should, in the normal course, make way. It does not always happen thus in contemporary India though. Consider, for instance, the case of the dowager queen of Rae Bareilly. She is just that, the dowager queen of Rae Bareilly. She is however under the illusion that the whole of India is her demesne by virtue of dynastic rights. The social reality, which of course includes political reality, is altogether different. Forget about India, she and her party cannot lay claim even over Uttar Pradesh, the erstwhile citadel of the Nehru-Gandhis; the Congress is, in electoral terms, only the fifth party in that state. This reality does not faze Sonia Gandhi because of the curious coalition known as the United Progressive Alliance. The alliance enables the Congress to preside over the government at the Centre. It also enabled Sonia Gandhi to be chairman of the National Advisory Council, so-called, thereby misleading the lady into believing that India exclusively belongs to her.

The private illusion helps to create an ambience of quintessential medieval days when only kings and emperors mattered, nobody else did. Given the make-believe of the Middle Ages, feudal skirmishes enjoy the prerogative of occupying centrestage. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty was once inseparable from the Bachchan clan. The time machine is however at work; the two clans have since travelled far from each other, and are now sworn enemies. Sonia Gandhi and her cronies want to see the ruination of the Bachchans.

CLANS DO NOT MAKE INDIA - It is a hard choice between feudalism and sectarianism By Cutting Corners Ashok Mitra. At http://www.telegraphindia.com/1060414/asp/opinion/story_6092055.asp


Asia overall is a significant bastion for Microsoft, which the company needs to treasure and handle with care. IE's market share in China is 86.05% and 92.14% in South Korea, according to StatCounter. In those two countries alone, Microsoft has apparently up to 450 million active users and it has a big opportunity there. In China, all rival browsers have a market share of less than 2% and in South Korea no more than 4%. As much as a pain IE6 appears to be for Microsoft, it is just as much an asset that is waiting to be leveraged.
Why Microsoft Can't Get Rid Of IE6 Yet By Daniel Bailey. At http://www.conceivablytech.com/8304/business/why-microsoft-cant-get-rid-of-ie6-yet


Lee, a standup comedian who does not shy away from the more grotesque aspects of human behaviour, or always resist dishing out some bile of his own, does not think of himself as naive. But the sheer volume of the vitriol, its apparent absence of irony, set him back. For a few months, knowing the worst that people thought of him became a kind of weird compulsion, though he distanced himself from it slightly with the belief that he was doing his obsessive collating “in character”. “Collecting all these up isn't something I would do,” he suggests to me. “It is something the made-up comedian Stewart Lee would do, but I have to do it for him, because he is me…”
How the internet created an age of rage By Tim Adams. At http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2011/jul/24/internet-anonymity-trolling-tim-adams


JCB 3CX Backhoe loader
JCB 3CX Backhoe loader.
The waves come from wireless network transmitters on backhoes and bulldozers, installed to keep track of their locations.
Bye-Bye Batteries: Radio Waves as a Low-Power Source By Anne Eisenberg. At [ http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/business/18novel.html ]


Justin Chang of Variety describes the film as “a satisfyingly sinewy fusion of martial-arts actioner and brain-tickling noir from busy producer-director Peter Ho-sun Chan. Channeling David Cronenberg's A History of Violence by way of 1917 China, this clever if over-amped thriller tackles themes of identity, honor and the latent killer instinct with a playful spirit that's never at odds with its underlying seriousness.” Maggie Lee of The Hollywood Reporter describes it as “an exhilarating martial arts entertainment that modernizes the genre while re-emphasizing its strong points.”
Swordsmen (film),
sinew = A tendon; muscular power.


circus on Market at Powell SF c1899
Our members got lots of detail on this photo. We'll summarize here by saying this appears to be a parade by the Ringling Brothers Circus in September 1900. Note the elephants in the lower left (click on the image for a larger version). Regular cable car service is mixed right in with the pachyderms and circus wagons and crowds line the streets.
Photo of the (Past) Moment: Circus on Market! At http://streetcar.org/blog/2011/01/photo-of-the-past-moment-circus-on-marke.html
pachyderm = any of various non-ruminant hoofed mammals having very thick skin: elephant; rhinoceros; hippopotamus.


The Terracotta Army is a form of funerary art buried with the Emperor of Qin (Qin Shi Huang) in 209-210 BC (his reign over Qin was from 247 BC to 221 BC and unified China from 221 BC to the end of his life in 210 BC). The Terracotta Warriors were discovered in March 1974 by local farmers drilling a water well to the east of Lishan (Mount Li). Mount Li is also where the material to make the terracotta warriors originated. In addition to the warriors, an entire man-made necropolis for the emperor has been excavated.


Spindle (textiles) is the thing that winds threads. Compare to Ratchet ratchet.


In the film The Haunting (1999 film), the beautiful “Hills House” has an octagonal foyer, and a flue in the walk-in sized fire place.