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August 29, 2011, 19:02wordcrafter
Words from birds this week, some novel, some familiar.
Notice this rooster’s tail
- a high arching spray (of grit, water, or snow) thrown up behind a fast-moving car
), a motorboat
, or a water
- or snow
, to move so as to create a rooster tail)
In print, the term is most commonly used in the motorboat context. But my guess is that the dominant oral usage is automotive, by the good ol’ boys across the southern U.S., where auto-racing is that extremely popular.
The Apollo 16 moon mission conducted what the team called a “Grand Prix”: racing the Lunar Rover, to test its handling. One astronaut went joy-riding, while the other filmed him and added his running commentary. [Note: “Indy” refers to the site of a very big annual auto race.]
He’s got about two wheels on the ground. There’s a big rooster tail out of all four wheels. And as he turns, he skids. The back end breaks loose just like on snow. Come on back, John. Man, I’ll tell you, Indy’s never seen a driver like this. Okay, when he hits the craters and starts bouncing is when he gets his rooster tail. He makes sharp turns. Hey, that was a good stop. Those wheels just locked.
August 30, 2011, 03:49Robert Arvanitis
No view on the validity of the claim, but some observers say they see proof of a Japanese mini sub in the Pearl Harbor attack, because of the vessel's own "rooster tail."
See for example the picture caption at:http://articles.sfgate.com/199...r-torpedo-submarines
August 30, 2011, 20:15wordcrafter
– a small wind instrument with finger holes, a mouthpiece, and an elongated ovoid shape
[Italian, from dialectal ucarenna
, diminutive of oca
, goose (from the fact that its mouthpiece is shaped like a goose's beak), ultimately from Latin avis
… Major General Edward Cummings … had described Anopopei by saying it was shaped like an ocarina. It was a reasonably accurate image. The body of the island, about a hundred and fifty miles long and a third as wide, was formed generally in a streamline with a high spine of mountains along its axis. In a line almost perpendicular to the main body of Anopopei, the mouthpiece, a peninsula, jutted out for twenty miles.
– Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead
August 31, 2011, 13:11Caterwauller
Very interesting! I have several ocarinas of different shapes, from different cultural groups, and none of them sound like the geese I've heard.
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
canary in a coal mine
August 31, 2011, 19:52wordcrafter
– something that, by its vulnerability, gives early warning of a danger
[but often used (as in our example) to mean simply an early-warning indicator, without regard to vulnerability]
In an underground mine, methane and carbon monoxide are particularly dangerous, because they are odorless. Their concentrations can rise to dangerous levels with no warning from the nose. As protection, miners brought canaries with them into the mine. These songsters are especially sensitive to these gases, and as long as the bird kept singing, the miners knew their air supply was safe. If their singing stopped you knew to take a look and, if the canary was dead or unconscious, to evacuate immediately.
The dictionaries do not seem to have this term, but they do have "mine canary", which is much less commonly used.
[E]nrollment in computer science programs in the United States increased last year. The revival is significant, according to industry executives, who in the past have pointed to declining numbers of science and engineering students as a canary-in-a-coal-mine indicator warning about the nation’s weakening ability to compete in the global economy.
– New York Times, March 16, 2009 (ellipses omitted)
September 01, 2011, 19:16wordcrafter
– a hierarchy based on rank or status
[The term originally described originally described a social behavior, first described in chickens, in which any member of the group can with impunity attack or harass those of lower rank. (Sounds like high school, doesn't it?) Our term is a direct translation from the slightly-earlier German term, Hackordnung
[T]he old Arab pecking order between Sunnis and Shi’ites is about to change — though exactly how, and with what consequences, is not clear.
– The Jewish Daily Forward, February 4, 2005
September 02, 2011, 05:43<Proofreader>
As opposed to a daisy chain's pecker order.
September 02, 2011, 19:48wordcrafter
– a rare or unique person or thing
[Latin for "rare bird". The technically correct plural is raræ aves
But at least it did not appear that her client was guilty. At this early stage, that was about the best she could hope for. … She was back in the game with that rara avis, the innocent client. This was going to be fun.
– John T. Lescroart, The Suspect
The term comes from Juvenal’s sixth Satire, in which he remarks that a perfect wife is a rara avis in terris
, a rare bird of the earth. Author Patrick O'Brien, he of the nautical tales, puns on the "earth" aspect:
when Pulllings said, "Oh, sir, I was forgetting: we found a stowaway," Stephen cried, "A stowaway in a man-of-war? I never heard of such a thing". They agreed heartily: stowaway with most uncommon, indeed unheard of; and Jack said, "[L]et us have this – this rara avis in mara, maro, in."
– Patrick O'Brian, Desolation island (ellipses omitted)
September 02, 2011, 20:21Kalleh
I hadn't known that "pecking order theory" is an influential theory
(see pdf on "Testing the pecking order theory of capital structure") of corporate leverage. On the other hand, I don't know a lot about corporate leverage either.
September 03, 2011, 18:43wordcrafter
– an event that is (or whose consequences are) extremely unlikely, unforeseen, and disastrous; a catastrophe that comes as a complete surprise
[examples: 9/11; Krakatoa; or (prior to modern astronomy) an asteroid striking the earth]
[Originally used by Juvenal, in the same passage that we quoted yesterday: rara auis in terris nigroque simillima cycno
. A "rare bird" was highly unusual, but a "black swan" was something completely impossible. In 2001 Professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb appropriated the term, giving due credit to Juvenal, to denote catastrophic events as above. The term was spread by his much more popular 2007 book, titled The Black Swan
Generations of historians have toiled explain the origins of the First World War, constructing elegant narrative chains of causes and effects. There is something deeply suspect about this procedure, however. For these causal chains were quite invisible to contemporaries, to whom the outbreak of war came as a bolt from the blue. [T]here were umpteen Balkans crises before 1914 that didn't lead to Armageddon. [T]he Sarajevo assassin Gavrilo Princip was a Black Swan.
– The Telegraph, April 22, 2007(ellipses omitted)
[After noting that influenza is typically “a minor nuisance”:]
At the same time, each new flu strain has the potential to be a "Black Swan" event – a pandemic that does have a high fatality rate.
– Forbes, Nov. 25, 2009