or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


It's all bits and bobs today. Better than nothing, right?


I find myself unable to post comments to my own blogs (or any other Blogspot blogs, either) and I guess I could do something about it, like e-mailing them to complain, but whatever. I'll just post my comments here instead.

Reader D.J. had this to say about my poor excuse for not posting, having been lost in a new book:

Have you ever read _The Emperor Of Scent_? It's about Luca Turin and his vibrationary theory of scent, and his conflict with the current tenured folks who champion a shape-based theory. Completely fascinating.

I bought it the day it came out in paperback, and it's a good read, but I have to say that Turin comes across as arrogant and kind of a jerk, an impression that the new book does nothing to dispel. Smart as hell, though, clearly. Just not somebody I'd want to get into a drunken discussion with.

And Clare had this request regarding the selfsame book:

I hope you will review The Guide, either here or on your other site. Please?

Oh, you know it.


This showed up in The Onion a few days ago, but I discovered it just this morning:

Commas, Turning Up, Everywhere

WASHINGTON—In the midst of a crisis that may have reached a breaking, point Tuesday afternoon, linguists, and grammarians, everywhere say they are baffled, by the sudden and seemingly random, appearance of commas, in our nation's sentences. The epidemic of errant punctuation has spread, like wildfire, since signs of the epidemic first, appeared in a Washington Post article, on Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben, Bernanke. "This, is an unsettling trend," columnist William Sa,fire, told reporters. "We're seeing a collapse of the grammatical rules that have, held, the English language, together for, centuries." Experts warn, that if this same, phenomenon, should occur with ellipses…

My grandmother, god rest her zombie bones, used to write like that: a comma jammed in every three or four words, entirely at random. No idea why.


Here's an interesting blog post from Pharyngula, one of my must-reads you can read it yourself, but I mention it here because of a word I'd never heard before.

An orchid was found with a nectary that was only accessible by way of a long, narrow tube, and Darwin predicted the existence of an insect pollinator with an almost equivalently long tongue. However, an Owen or a Cuvier, scientists of that century who did not accept evolution, could have easily made the very same prediction, on the basis of created functionality: a god would not have made the flower that way unless he also, in his infallible foresight, also made a complementary pollinator.

"Nectary". Isn't it lovely? If it had been devised this year, it would mean "nectar-ish", but it's from an older clutch of words ending in "-ery" or "-ary" that are formed from a noun and refer to a place: "butlery", for instance, the butler's station, or "cattery", a place where cats are bred. (There are lots of them: perfumery, confectionary, grocery, ovulary, farriery, library, creamery, apiary, colliery....) A nectary, therefore, is the part of a plant that secretes nectar. I won't ever have a chance to use such a specialized word, I would imagine, but it makes me happy to know that it exists.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yippee re your upcoming review of The Guide.
My initial impression is that he is at times too flippant, glib or simply mean-spirited, which undercuts his professionalism and credibility at times. Frankly, he reminds me of Anthony Lane, whose film reviews in The New Yorker are often an exercise in cleverness, more about the writer's wit than about the film being reviewed.
Nor do I think Tania Sanchez adequately explains why perfume is an art form (I don't disagree, but it seems that she makes the statement without explaining why. First, I would suggest, she should explain what exactly "art" is.)
All that said, I am happy to own and read the book.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:11:00 PM  

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