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This week, we'll present "Animal Words."

bycatch – unwanted marine creatures, that are caught in the nets while fishing for another species, and are discarded

When I first learned this word, my thought was that it could have wonderful figurative uses. That's still true – but seeing the quotes stunned me with the overwhelming size of the problem.
    Worldwide, about 27 million tons of fish and sea life are caught as bycatch each year. That is about a quarter of the total catch. Most of that marine collateral damage, is simply dumped back into the water, dead and dying. The practice endangers the survival of many species.
    – New York Times, July 29, 2003 (ellipses omitted)

    Large-scale, high-seas drift nets … are also devastatingly effective at catching all other wildlife in their path. The boats set as much as forty miles of drift net each, totaling some forty thousand miles of drift net every night – enough to circle the earth one and a half times. Because of the huge bycatch of marine wildlife in these nets they have been labeled "walls of death"; to date, hundreds of thousands of whales, dolphins, seabirds, sea turtles, sharks, and other nontarget species have been killed "incidentally."
    – Richard Ellis, Tuna: Love Death and Mercury

    Tragically, these living fossils [coelacanths]—which have survived innumerable stresses over the millennia yet remain essentially unchanged—are now vulnerable to extinction. This is because while they are fairly unpalatable and are not targeted by fishermen, they are caught accidentally as a bycatch. Increasing demand for fish and a depletion of the inshore resources have seen fishermen move into deeper waters to set gill nets, thus penetrating the habitats of the coelacanth around Africa and Madagascar.
    – Jane Goodall et al., Hope for Animals and Their World: [etc.]
Bonus words:
coelacanth
– a fish known from fossils and thought to have been extinct since the Cretaceous Period, about 70 million years ago –until a but found in 1938 – as bycatch! – off the coast of Africa. It was considered the "missing link" between fish and tetrapods – four-limbed vertebrates.
[Greek koilos hollow + akantha spine (because its fins have hollow spines)]
 
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yean – to give birth (to) [used of sheep and goats]
    There are perhaps some little calves, some little new-yeaned lambs – it may be twins, whose mothers have rejected them …
    – Charlotte Bronte, Shirley
 
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Oh, the wonders of the legal mind. On the issue of whether one could use a six-foot-high fence rather than an eight-foot-high one:
    Enter the petitioner, Patrick Hoctor, who in 1982 began dealing in exotic animals on his farm outside of Terre Haute. In a 25-acre compound he raised a variety of animals including "Big Cats"--a typical inventory included three lions, two tigers, seven ligers (a liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger, and is thus to be distinguished from a tigon), six cougars, and two snow leopards.

    We may assume, though we need not decide, that the containment of dangerous animals is a proper concern of the Department in the enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, even though the purpose of the Act is to protect animals from people rather than people from animals. … [W]ith a lawyer's ingenuity the Department's able counsel reminded us at argument that if one of those Cats mauled or threatened a human being, the Cat might get into serious trouble and thus it is necessary to protect human beings from Big Cats in order to protect the Cats from human beings, which is the important thing under the Act. … The internal memorandum also justifies the eight-foot requirement as a means of protecting the animals from animal predators, though one might have supposed the Big Cats able to protect themselves against the native Indiana fauna.

    The regulation appears only to require that animal housing be sturdy enough to prevent the animals from breaking through the enclosure--not that any enclosure, whether a pen or a perimeter fence, be high enough to prevent the animals from escaping by jumping over the enclosure. The Department's counsel made the wonderful lawyer's argument that a fence has zero structural strength between its height (here six feet) and the eight-foot required minimum. The two feet by which Hoctor's fence fell short could not have contained a groundhog, let alone a liger, since it was empty space.
    – Richard Posner, Chief Judge, 7th [Federal] Court of Appeals, in Hoctor v. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (1996) (ellipses omitted)

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worm gear – a kind of gear: a spindle or shaft, with a spiral wrapping, that drives a teeth on the rim of a wheel

This is one of those cases where a picture is worth a thousand words. The spiral is the "worm". As the spindle turns, the worm moves like the stripe on a barber's pole.

When you tune a guitar, you stretch each sting by turning a small thumb-key on the head of the guitar. The turn rotates a worm gear.
    Hal kicked it with one Buster Brown. kicked it as hard as he could…The clockwork monkey skittered across the floor, bounced off the wall and lay still … It grinned saucily back at him, the sun of a burning pinpoint in one glass eye. Kick me all you want, it seemed to tell him. I'm nothing but cogs and clockwork and a worm gear or two, kick me all you feel like, I'm not real, just a funny clockwork monkey is all I am …
    – Stephen King, Skeleton Crew
 
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Interestingly, although the picture here is the most commonly shown one, this type of worm (the straight worm) has a very significant disadvantage. As is clear from the picture, only the middle of the worm makes full contact with the pinion; indeed, of the six turns of the worm, only three have any contact at all. Whereas this does not matter in low stress applications such as guitar-string adjustment, it becomes a serious limitation in higher power applications, such as vehicle transmissions.

It was for this reason that the (much underrated) British engineer Frederick Lanchester - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_W._Lanchester - designed for the final drive of his very advanced cars the Lanchester Worm. In this system the worm was of an hourglass shape and thus wrapped around the pinion giving contact along all its length, thus minimising wear and giving greater smoothness and silence.

It is maybe a reflection on the way that the world has forgotten Lanchester (while remembering Ford, Royce and other pioneers) that I could find nary a single diagram of a Lanchester worm.


Richard English
 
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Warning: links are for readers who are not easily offended by bawdiness or vulgarity.

cameltoe – a slang term for a certain type of "wardrobe (mal)function"

This is another of those cases where a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture explains the term's cameeleous bifurcate etymology and its literal meaning, and this one its slang meaning. The latter sense appears far more often.

Bonus word:
bifurcate
– forked or divided into two parts or branches
[Latin bi- two + furca fork]

Bonus poetry: from How the Camel Got His Hump, by Rudyard Kipling
    The Camel's hump is an ugly lump
    . . .Which well you may see at the Zoo;
    But uglier yet is the hump we get
    . . .From having too little to do.

    Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
    If we haven't enough to do-oo-oo,
    . . . . .We get the hump —
    . . . . .Cameelious hump —
    The hump that is black and blue!
 
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quote:
The Camel's hump is an ugly lump
. . .Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get
. . .From having too little to do.

While the camel's lump is an ugly hump
 Which well you may see at the zoo,
You may not see our lump unless you hump
 Which is what we'll entice you to do.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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cock-a-hoop – triumphantly boastful; crowing with exultation
[believed to come from cock" rooster"]
    . . .Siegfried had the idea of delegating the book-keeping to his brother. "All you have to do is take their checques, give them a receipt and enter their names in a receipt book. Now do you think you can manage that without making a bloody hash of it?"
    . . ."I think I might just about cope with that," Tristan replied haughtily.
    . . .But, next day, it was easy to see that the assignment was right up Tristan's street. I was pleased that the lad was doing well. Nothing was going wrong this time.
    . . .Tristan was smug at lunch and cock-a-hoop at tea. Siegfried, too, was satisfied. "Thank you, Tristan, very efficient." All was sweetness.
    – James Herriot, All Creatures Great and Small (ellipses omitted)
 
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[Deleted.]

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Another clever spambot, I suspect. Spam is now being used frequently to promote some kind of political agendum, and this one is no doubt targetting all the animal-related blogs and discussion boards to try to promote an anti- animal experimentation lobby.


Richard English
 
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