Friday, October 31, 2014

"You don't know much about politics.  Rule number one:  Whoever speaks out of both sides of their mouth the best wins the election.”  
NYPD Red 2 by James Patterson and Marshall Karp

A Goldendoodle is a cross-breed/hybrid dog obtained by breeding a golden retriever with a poodle.  The name was coined in 1992.  A Labradoodle is a crossbred dog created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Standard, Miniature or Toy Poodle.  The term first appeared in 1955, but was not popularized until 1988, when the mix began to be used as an allergen-free guide dog.  Wikipedia

Latin is not dead.  Knowledge of Latin unveils the relics of Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes that compose much of English.  A valuable resource and a must for all of us is Donald Ayers' book English Words from Latin and Greek Elements.  In his book, a careful review of the Latin base or root, "spir-" means "breathe" and its web of words created with different Latin prefixes is just one of many examples that enrich our vocabulary.  In English there is no verb spire, however because of Latin we have aspire, aspirate, conspire, expire, inspire, respire, perspire and transpire.  With these words, the prefixes give us an idea how these words relate to breathing.  The prefix "ad-" means "to" or "toward" and from here we have the word aspire meaning to breathe toward or pant after something which can be interpreted as something we want, when we aspire.  The prefix "con-" means "together with" or "in union" therefore conspire means to breathe together or has a meaning related to uniting for a specific purpose.  "Ex-" means "out" therefore expire has us thinking about breathing out until it becomes our last  breath.  Vincent Valentine

Rupt is a Latin root meaning "break."  Examples of English words using rupt are:  erupt, interrupt, rupture, bankrupt and abrupt.  Find a list of roots and prefixes at

Words that have their spellings changed owing to mispronunciation, a process known as metathesis.
mullion  (MUHL-yuhn)  noun  A vertical piece of stone, wood, metal, etc., dividing a window or other opening.  From transposition of sounds of Middle English moniel, from Anglo-Norman moynel, from Latin medius (middle).  Ultimately from the Indo-European root medhyo- (middle), which is also the source of middle, mean, medium, medal (originally a coin worth a halfpenny), mezzanine, mediocre, Mediterranean, moiety, and Hindi madhya (middle).  Earliest documented use:  1556.
sprattle  (SPRAT-l)  noun:  A scramble or struggle.  verb intr.:  To scramble or struggle.
From Scottish sprattle, from switching of sounds in spartle (to scatter).  Earliest documented use:  1500.  A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
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From:  Warren Prince  Subject:  mullion   Oh, wow.  You struck a chord with your very first sentence this week:  I am working (as pianist) on a Broadway show tour (whose name I prudently will not mention), and at one point the cast is supposed to sing the words "the cavalry's coming."  For some reason the majority of them have said and sung 'calvary' instead of 'cavalry', even after gentle corrections.

After noticing that Campbell's tomato soup was sweetened with high fructose corn syrup, I searched the product in Environmental Working Group's new Food Scores database, and found it rated 6.0.  (Best score is 1.0 and worst score is 10.0.)  Listed ingredients are:  TOMATO PUREE (WATER, TOMATO PASTE), HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, SALT, POTASSIUM CHLORIDE, FLAVORING, CITRIC ACID, LOWER SODIUM NATURAL SEA SALT, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), MONOPOTASSIUM PHOSPHATE.  There are more than 80,000 searchable foods,  and you can perform your own search right from the previous link.

Madison Bumgarner on October 29, 2014, pitched the San Francisco Giants to their third World Series win in five years with a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals in Game 7.

Find World Series winners, records and results, 1903-2014, at  Post-season games prior to 1903 were considered exhibitions, and these are listed from 1884-1892.

Seventy-five years ago, writer William Carlos Williams helped inaugurate what would become this country's most famous literary reading series, at New York's 92nd Street Y Poetry Center.  The center is celebrating this diamond jubilee with a project called "75 at 75," which pairs rare recordings of readings from its archives (now available, free, online) with contemporary essays by some of today's most acclaimed writers.  Cynthia Ozick is one of those writers.  She was in her 20s and fresh out of grad school when her husband bought her a $20 season subscription to the reading series at the 92nd Street Y.  There, she heard T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Marianne Moore and W.H. Auden.  She calls the time "the age of colossal poets," and she says the 92nd Street Y was their cathedral.  "You sat there and you saw these icons standing in a blaze of brilliant spotlight, and you felt that you were at the crux of all civilization in the 92nd Street Y in the 1950s," Ozick says.  "Or so it struck me then, when I was sitting there and thinking, 'I want to be a writer.' "  For her contribution to "75 at 75," Ozick remembered hearing W.H. Auden read in the Y's cavernous, mahogany-paneled theater.  "There was something in his voice which made everything intimate because it was a conversation, even though there he was standing up in this enormously brilliant light," she says.  Auden was one of the first writers to be recorded by the Y, even though the series had begun more than a decade earlier.  The Poetry Center's archives capture some of this country's best-known writers:  In 1953, Eudora Welty read her signature short story "Why I Live At The P.O." from her first book, and Dylan Thomas, born 100 years ago, premiered his play Under Milk Wood Tom Vitale

See listings for Unterberg Poetry Center Main Reading Series, October 31, 2014-May 21, 2015 at

Read the poem Halloween written in 1785 by Robert Burns and link to a reading by Ralph Riach at  Issue 1211  October 31, 2014  On this date in 1913, the Lincoln Highway, the first automobile highway across the United States, was dedicated.  Recommended reading:  The Lincoln Highway:  Main Street Across America, text and photographs by Drake Hokanson, tenth anniversary edition, University of Iowa Press, 1999.  See Drake Hokanson, Photographs and Words at

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

King Ashurbanipal (ca. 668-627 B.C.) was the ruler of ancient Assyria at the height of Assyrian military and cultural accomplishments.  He is known in Greek writings as Sardanapalus and as Asnappeer or Osnapper in the Bible.  Through military conquests Ashurbanipal also expanded Assyrian territory and its number of vassal states.  However, of far greater importance to posterity was Ashurbanipal's establishment of a great library in the city of Nineveh.  The military and territorial gains made by this ruler barely outlived him but the library he established has survived partially intact.  A collection of 20,000 to 30,000 cuneiform tablets containing approximately 1,200 distinct texts remains for scholars to study today.  Ashurbanipal's library was not the first library of its kind but it was one of the largest and one of the ones to survive to the present day.  Most of it is now in the possession of the British Museum or the Iraq Department of Antiquities.  The importance of Ashurbanipal's Library can not be overstated.  It was buried by invaders centuries before the famous library at Alexandria was established and gives modern historians much information about the peoples of the Ancient Near East.  The ancient Sumerian "Epic of Gilgamesh" and a nearly complete list of ancient Near Eastern rulers among other priceless writings were preserved in Ashurbanipal's palace library at Nineveh.  Ashurbanipal's accomplishments are also of great importance to scholars of library history.  Though this library was not the first of its kind, it was one of the largest and the first library modern scholars can document as having most or even all of the attributes one expects to find in a modern library.  Like a modern library this collection was spread out into many rooms according to subject matter.  Some rooms were devoted to history and government, others to religion and magic and still others to geography, science, poetry, etc.  Ashurbanipal's collection even held what could be called classified government materials.  The findings of spies and secret affairs of state were held secure from access in deep recesses of the palace much like a modern government archive.  Each group of tablets contained a brief citation to identify the contents and each room contained a tablet near the door to classify the general contents of each room in Ashurbanipal's library.  The actual cataloging activities under Ashurbanipal's direction would not be seen in Europe for centuries.  Partially through military conquests and partially through the employment of numerous scribes there was significant effort placed into what modern librarians would call collection development.
Find reference sources at

The Bell Ringers, a novel by Henry Porter, mentions that the story of a clue in a clay tablet found in King Ashurbanipal's collection shows how important libraries are:  British scientists have deciphered a mysterious ancient clay tablet and believe they have solved a riddle over a giant asteroid impact more than 5,000 years ago.  Geologists have long puzzled over the shape of the land close to the town of Köfels in the Austrian Alps, but were unable to prove it had been caused by an asteroid.  Now researchers say their translation of symbols on a star map from an ancient civilisation includes notes on a mile-wide asteroid that later hit Earth - which could have caused tens of thousands of deaths.  The circular clay tablet was discovered 150 years ago by Sir Austen Henry Layard, a leading Victorian archaeologist, in the remains of the royal palace at Nineveh, capital of ancient Assyria, in what is now Iraq.  The tablet, on display at the British Museum, shows drawings of constellations and pictogram-based text known as cuneiform - used by the Sumerians, the earliest known civilisation in the world.  A historian from Azerbaijan, who believes humans originally came to Earth from another planet, has interpreted it as a description of the arrival of a spaceship.  More mainstream academics have failed to decipher its meaning.  Now Alan Bond, the managing director of a space propulsion company, Reaction Engines, and Mark Hempsell, a senior lecturer in astronautics at Bristol University, have cracked the cuneiform code and used a computer programme that can reconstruct the night sky thousands of years ago to provide a new explanation.  They believe their calculations prove the tablet - a copy made by an Assyrian scribe around 700 BC - is a Sumerian astronomer's notebook recording events in the sky on June 29, 3123 BC.  The pair say its symbols include a note of the trajectory of a large object travelling across the constellation of Pisces which, to within one degree, is consistent with an impact at Köfels.  The Köfels site was originally interpreted as an asteroid impact, however the lack of an obvious impact crater led modern geologists to believe it to be simply a giant landslide.  However, the Bond-Hempsell theory, outlined in their book, A Sumerian Observation of the Köfels Impact Event, suggests that the asteroid left no crater because it clipped a mountain and turned into a fireball.  Nic Fleming

Railroads needed standardized times to keep an accurate schedule.  The Great Western Railway in Britain was the first to use a standardized time, ordering in November 1840 that all its stations use London time.  Many other railways followed.  In November 1852, the Greenwich Observatory began sending out daily telegraphs to railways to assist in standardizing time.  The first standard time in America was introduced by railways in New England following an August 1853 fatal head-on accident in Rhode Island that occurred because the conductors were using two different times.  Over the next several decades, U.S. railways adopted their own standardized times, allowing them to maintain an accurate schedule.  However, there were more than 50 railway times and hundreds of local times.  Stations displayed multiple clocks showing the local time and the times for the various railroads, creating confusion for passengers.  Allen’s proposal was based on one developed in 1869 by Charles F. Dowd, a school principal from Saratoga, N.Y., that called for four U.S. time zones, each measuring 15 degrees of longitude.  Allen tweaked the map to keep existing train lines within the same time zone so that railways would not have to significantly alter their schedules.  Therefore, the straight longitudinal divides proposed by Dowd were shaped to include certain cities within certain time zones.  Allen’s proposal created the Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones, plus the Intercolonial time zone in Atlantic Canada.  It was agreed upon by the railways in October 1883 that they would adopt Allen’s standard time, which became known as Standard Railway Time, on Nov. 18, 1883.  Many local governments agreed to adopt Standard Railway Time, though others refused.  At noon on Nov. 18, the U.S. Naval Observatory adjusted its signals to reflect the new time zones.  Crowds gathered near town clocks across the country to watch the clocks be changed.  In many places where the time was moved back, it became known as the “day of two noons,” while other areas “lost” minutes.  “All over the United States and Canada, people changed their clocks and watches in synchronization with their zone’s standard time,” writes the Library of Congress.  “In one moment the many different standards of time that had caused conflict and confusion, were resolved into four simple standards.”  Many towns continued using their own local times for decades, but the “use of standard time gradually increased because of its obvious practical advantages for communication and travel,” according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.  In March 1918, Congress passed the Standard Time Act, which officially established standard time throughout the United States.  The Standard Time Act of 1918 also established daylight saving time, which had been adopted by many European countries during World War I as a way to conserve energy.

To celebrate 100 years since Dylan Thomas's birth, here are his best poems, quotes and lines, with recordings of him reading his work: 

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE  This time of year, we like spooky music and tongue-in-cheek music.  Besides Monster Mash (with Bobby Pickett impersonating Boris Karloff), I enjoy The Addams Family Theme, The Pink Panther, Caspar the Friendly Ghost--hear it sung by Little Richard at Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead. 

Funeral March of a Marionette is good any time of the year:  While residing in London, England between 1871 and 1872, Charles Gounod started to write a suite for piano called "Suite Burlesque".  After completing one movement, the Funeral March of a Marionette, he abandoned the suite and had the single movement published by Goddard & Co.  The following storyline underlies the Funeral March of a Marionette:  The Marionette has died in a duel.  The funeral procession commences.  A central section depicts the mourners taking refreshments before returning to the funeral march.  The work has been recorded many times.  One of the earliest recordings was by John Philip Sousa's band in 1903.  Alfred Hitchcock had seen the 1927 silent movie Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, and remembered the effect the music from Funeral March of a Marionette had on him when choosing the theme music for his television series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which originally aired from 1955 to 1965.   It was through Hitchcock's program that the music achieved its widest audience.  The series continued for 10 years, and the theme music appeared in five versions by as many arrangers: in 1955, 1960, 1962, 1963, and 1964 ‒ the last version being arranged by Bernard Herrmann, who transposed the piece up a third.  Issue 1210  October 29, 2014  On this date in 1787, Mozart's opera Don Giovanni received its first performance in Prague.  On this date in 1792, Mount Hood (Oregon) was named after the British naval officer Alexander Arthur Hood by Lt. William E. Broughton who spotted the mountain near the mouth of the Willamette River.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Lily King’s “Euphoria has won the first-ever Kirkus Prize for Fiction.  The award is one of three new $50,000 prizes announced on October 23, 2014 by the publishing industry journal Kirkus at a ceremony in Austin, Texas.  New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast won the nonfiction prize for her illustrated memoir, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”  The prize for Young People’s literature was awarded to Kate Samworth’s “Aviary Wonders Inc.:  Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual.”  King’s “Euphoria” — her fourth novel and her first historical novel — is based on an incident in the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead.  The Kirkus judges cited its “perfect construction, its economy and originality, and its fearlessness.”  In June, it was announced that director Michael Apted and producer Paige Simpson plan to turn the novel into a movie.  Samworth’s “Aviary Wonders,” for readers 8-11, is designed to look like a futuristic catalogue of bird parts from which customers can order up and design their own feathered creatures.  The judges called it “by far one of the most creative books we have ever encountered.”  Kirkus is joining a very crowded field of literary awards, but its trusted name and the enormous value of these new prize offerings — first announced in May — should help attract attention, at least within the industry. (All that cash comes from Herbert Simon, the real estate magnate who bought the then-fading journal in 2010.)  All books published from Nov. 1, 2013 to Oct. 31, 2014 that received a starred review in Kirkus — more than 1,000 titles — were eligible for consideration.  Eighteen finalists for this year’s prizes were announced last month.  Ron Charles

A library card is instant access to a world of resources.  Both offline AND online.  That might surprise you, but here are 5 reasons why you want a library card to be a great researcher. 
1.   Access to online paywall content.  My local library gives paywall access to, Morningstar, online journals, and more.   It also provides Hoopla video ( for downloads, and many free music downloads (lots of popular music, some of which really surprised me—this is free?  Yes!).  It also provides many different database services:  a small listing includes, Academic Onefile (journals, magazines, books, audio – great subject browser), InfoTrac (news and periodical.Updated daily.)   Can filter by type, sort by date.  General One File  and MasterFile Complete (EBSCO).   Many libraries have all this, and more. 
2.  eBooks.  Yes, just like physical books, many libraries support borrowing ebooks and e-magazines, typically with time restrictions on how long you can keep them, and sometimes twitchy software, but free’s free—I’ve read many books that I knew I only wanted for a short time. 
3.  Local archives.  Many libraries have archival content that’s never going to make it online (at least in our lifetimes).  If you’re doing research on a particular location, visiting physically is often the best thing to do.  But if you can’t get there, checking out the online library can often lead to content that you won’t be able to find via search engines.  (Go figure.  For some reason, many local libraries have put great content online, but then set it up so the search engines can’t index it, making it effectively offline.   On the other hand, if you connect via the library, you can often browse that content.)  
4.  Classes.  I teach at libraries. So do lots of other people with great skills.  Local libraries are especially good on local history, genealogy classes, general internet skill tutorials, and basic computer skills (such as the common applications).  Sometimes libraries put these classes (at least the lecture parts) up on YouTube.  
5.  Reference Librarians.  They’re excellent resources of information and a source of research skills.  When you go to your public library, be sure to chat with the reference librarians They are, in essence, professional SearchReseachers.  They know all kinds of things that are key to finding information (both online and offline) in places and in ways you might not have thought about.  (Better yet:  Many of them are available via IMs and email.  Remember the superb “Ask-A-Librarian” service at is always available.  They might take a day to get back to you, but they’re very, very good.)   Daniel M. Russell  Read more at

Avalonia was a microcontinent in the Paleozoic era.  Crustal fragments of this former microcontinent underlie south-west Great Britain, and the eastern coast of North America.  It is the source of many of the older rocks of Western Europe, Atlantic Canada, and parts of the coastal United States.  Avalonia is named for the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland.  Avalonia developed as a volcanic arc on the northern margin of Gondwana.  It eventually rifted off, becoming a drifting microcontinent.  The Rheic Ocean formed behind it, and the Iapetus Ocean shrank in front.  It collided with the continents Baltica, then Laurentia, and finally with Gondwana, ending up in the interior of Pangea.  When Pangea broke up, Avalonia's remains were divided by the rift which became the Atlantic Ocean.

The Latin root word ject means throw.  Do you remember when your classroom teacher used a projector, which ‘threw’ images up on a screen for a presentation?  Sometimes students would object to this, or ‘throw’ their thoughts against it.  Often students feel subjected to too many presentations, being too often ‘thrown’ under their boring burdens.  Do you remember as a child getting an injection at the doctor’s office, where a nurse would ‘throw’ medicine into your arm with a shot?  You might have tried to reject this attempt by ‘throwing’ it back at the shot giver.  Interestingly, our word jet comes from ject as well, for a jet plane is ‘thrown’ through the air by its engines. Jets often follow trajectories, or the paths across which they are ‘thrown.’ Sometimes a jet, or more often a ship at sea, is forced to jettison unwanted baggage, thereby ‘throwing’ it overboard.  Another word for ‘throwing’ something out is ejecting it, such as ejecting a DVD or CD-ROM from a computer.  Sometimes during a test we have to make a conjecture, or guess that is ‘thrown’ together based on the best available evidence.  f we don’t guess correctly, we might become dejected, that is, ‘thrown’ or cast down, thus becoming depressed or blue.  Other ject words:  abject, interject, project

The Latin root word sect means cut.  Some sect words:  dissect (cut apart piece by piece), bisect (cut into two equal parts). intersection (place or point where two things cross each other).  Other sect words:  sector, section

Seven players share the National Football League record of seven touchdown passes in a single game.  See names, pictures and dates at

See chart of NFL single game passing touchdowns leaders at  Issue 1209  October 27, 2014  On this date in 1682, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was founded.  On this date in 1810, the United States annexed the former Spanish colony of West Florida.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Words with their origins in characters from Greek mythology 
from A. Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
odyssey  (AH-duh-see)  noun  A long eventful journey or experience.  After Odysseus, whose 10-year wandering after the fall of Troy is described in Homer's epic poem, the Odyssey.  Earliest documented use:  1886.
narcissist   (NAHR-si-sist)  noun   Someone with excessive self-interest or self-love.
In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter and a young man of exceptional beauty.  He spurned the nymph Echo.  One day he saw his reflection in water and fell in love with himself.  Not realizing it was himself and unable to leave, he eventually died.  Earliest documented use:  1917.
atlas  (AT-luhs) noun  1.  A person who supports a great burden.  2.  A book of maps, charts, tables, plates, etc.  3.  The top vertebra of the backbone, which supports the skull.  4.  A size of drawing paper 26x33 or 26x34 inches.  5.  An architectural column in the shape of a man.  (Plural:  atlantes.  Another word for this is telamon.  The female equivalent is caryatid.)   After Atlas, a Titan in Greek mythology, who was condemned by Zeus to support the heavens.  A book of maps is called an atlas because early books of this kind depicted Atlas on the cover holding the earth on his shoulders.  Earliest documented use:  1589.  

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From:  Stephen Glass   Subject:  Words from mythology  I was a professor of Classics and Classical archaeology for 51 years, and regularly taught a class in Classical mythology.  In the final exam, I always included, just for fun, a series of what I liked to call "crossword puzzle" references, among which was always a series of English words derived from Classical myth and religion.  Wordsmith readers might want to try this sampler:  Procrustean, protean, bacchanalian, Sisyphean, iridescent, halcyon, chimerical, junoesque, aegis, eristic.  It's interesting to note that the English language is not very decisive about whether to capitalize adjectives derived from mythological proper names.  Procrustean and Sisyphean, for example, are usually capitalized, while junoesque, protean, and bacchanalian are not.
From:  Mary Holbrow  Subject:  narcissist  In many narcissus species the blossoms tend to droop, as if leaning over the water to admire their reflections.
From:  Charlotte Macauley  Subject:  narcissist  This word reminds me of a friend.  The selfie craze seriously bothers him.  He believes only narcissists can possibly take so many pictures of the face they see in the mirror every day.  So, he says the scientific measure for narcissism is selfie per hour (sf\h).
From:  Norma Meyer  Subject:  atlas  I believe the first "Caption this" contest of The New Yorker showed a man resembling Atlas coming up the walk to his house.  Young son spots him and yells to Mom inside, (take your pick) "Mom, Dad's been on ebay again." or "Better make it a double, Mom."

“Do you know the difference between education and experience?  Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.”   “Any darn fool can make something complex; it takes a genius to make something simple.”  “Singing with children in the schools has been the most rewarding experience of my life.”  “It's a very important thing to learn to talk to people you disagree with.”   Pete Seeger American folk singer and activist (1919-2014)

Peter Mendelsund estimates he's designed "somewhere between 600 and 1,000 book covers," ranging from Crime and Punishment to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  But the self-taught, sought-after designer says he spends a lot of time reading, too.  "It's always surprising to people when they come to my office or they walk by my door and they see me with my feet kicked up with a manuscript," he tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies.  "But I read constantly from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep."  Now Mendelsund has designed the covers for two new books of his own.  Cover is a collection of hundreds of his book covers, including many that were rejected, along with commentaries on his technique.  What We See When We Read is about how words give rise to images in our minds.  Find highlights of an interview with Peter Mendelsund at

EPONYM:  MERCERIZE   John Mercer (1791-1866) worked in his father's cotton mill in Lancaster, England, and, through a fellow worker, learned to read and write when he was ten years old.  John's primary interest, which had been music, changed to the art of dyeing and, because he was a handloom weaver, he worked on and invented devices that wove stripes and checks.  In 1850, at the age of fifty-nine, he perfected a process for treating cottons with caustic soda, sulphuric acid, and zinc chloride, which shrinks, strengthens, and gives a permanent silky luster to the fabric.  Furthermore, cloth so treated made the fabric more absorbent so that it held dyes more readily.  Mercer's process was not so successful as it might have been, however, because of the shrinkage of the fabric.  He had overlooked the treating of the material under tension.  Long after his death, a correction was made, and the shrinkage was virtually eliminated.  But Mercer's name remained as the inventor of the treatment process.  Today we say that cotton goods have been mercerized, or that we have bought a spool of mercerized cotton.

The prefix EN or EM means:  in, into, within, inside; to make or become something; to give, provide with something.  Note:  EN becomes EM before the letters b, m and p.

The Library of America, a nonprofit publisher, is dedicated to publishing, and keeping in print, authoritative editions of America's best and most significant writing.  Hailed by The New York Times Book Review as the "quasi-official national canon" of American literature, The Library of America each year adds new volumes collecting essential novels, stories, poetry, plays, essays, journalism, historical writing, speeches, and more.  Find a complete list of titles arranged by subject at  Recent and forthcoming volumes feature the work of Saul Bellow, Elizabeth Bishop, John Cheever, Philip K. Dick, Jack Kerouac, A. J. Liebling, William Maxwell, Thornton Wilder, and Edmund Wilson, as well as the definitive edition of Philip Roth's collected works.  The best-selling authors in the series include James Baldwin, Robert Frost, Dashiell Hammett, Zora Neale Hurston, Thomas Jefferson, H. P. Lovecraft, Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Paine, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Walt Whitman.  The Library of America also recently published the special anthologies American Earth, American Food Writing, The Lincoln Anthology, and True Crime

Musician Raphael Ravenscroft, who played one of the most famous saxophone solos of all time on Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street,” has died.  He was 60.  The bluesy eight-bar sax riff helped make “Baker Street” a soft-rock hit.  It reached No. 3 in Britain and No. 2 in the U.S. in 1978, and still receives considerable airplay.  He received a flat fee — often reported to be 27 pounds (about $43 today) — for his work on the song, which made Rafferty a fortune.  But the hit kick-started Mr. Ravenscroft’s career, and he went on to work with big names including Pink Floyd, ABBA and Marvin Gaye.  In 1979, he released a solo album, “Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway.”  He also wrote a successful instruction manual, “The Complete Saxophone Player.”  Issue 1208  October 24. 2014  On this date in 1857, Sheffield F.C., the world's oldest association football club still in operation, was founded in Sheffield, England.  On this date in 1931, the George Washington Bridge opened to public traffic.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Staten Island is one of the five boroughs of New York City, in the U.S. state of New York, located in the southwest part of the city.  Staten Island is the southernmost part of the both the City and State of New York, with Conference House Park at the southern tip of the island and the state.  The borough is separated from New Jersey by the Arthur Kill and the Kill Van Kull, and from the rest of New York by New York Bay.  With a 2013 Census-estimated population of 472,621, Staten Island is the least populated of the boroughs but is the third-largest in area at 59 sq mi (153 km2).  The borough is coextensive with Richmond County, and until 1975 the borough was officially named the Borough of Richmond.  As in much of North America, human habitation appeared in the island fairly rapidly after the retreat of the ice sheet.  Archaeologists have recovered tool evidence of Clovis culture activity dating from about 14,000 years ago.  This evidence was first discovered in 1917 in the Charleston section of the island.  Various Clovis artifacts have been discovered since then, on property owned by Mobil Oil.  See graphics, including a chart showing population, counties and land areas of New York City's five boroughs at

The Netherlands Antilles, also referred to informally as the Dutch Antilles, was an autonomous Caribbean country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  Although the country has now been dissolved, all of its constituent islands remain part of the kingdom under a different legal status and the term is still used to refer to these Dutch Caribbean islands.  The Netherlands Antilles consisted of two distinct island groups.  The ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao are located in the southern Caribbean Sea, just off the Venezuelan coast.  The SSS islands of Sint Maarten (actually a territory covering a bit less than half an island),Saba, and Sint Eustatius are in the Leeward Islands southeast of the Virgin Islands near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles, approximately 800–900 kilometers (500–560 miles) northeast of the ABC Islands.  The Dutch colonized the various islands in the 17th century and united them in the new constituent state of the Netherlands Antilles in 1954.  Aruba became a separate state within the Kingdom of the Netherlands in 1986.  The Kingdom of the Netherlands dissolved the Netherlands Antilles on 10 October 2010, reconstituting Curaçao and Sint Maarten as new constituent countries and Bonaire, Sint Eustatius, and Saba (the "BES Islands") as special municipalities within the Netherlands

 “The doctor’s code is, First—do no harm.  The politician’s code is, First—go on television."  "In a solar eclipse, the moon does not pass into the sun’s shadow, but instead passes between the sun and the earth, obscuring the sun—causing the shadow.  The proper term is “occultation.”  The moon occults the sun, casting a small shadow onto the surface of the earth.  It is not a solar eclipse, but in fact an eclipse of the earth."   

A legal doublet is a standardized phrase used frequently in English legal language which consists of two or more words which are near synonyms.  The origin of the doubling — and sometimes even tripling — often lies in the transition of legal language from Latin to French.  Certain words were simply given in their Latin, French and/or English forms, often pairing an English word (or a more archaic Anglo-Saxon word) with a Latin or French synonym, so as to ensure understanding.  Find lists of commonly used legal doublets and legal triplets at

Ninth Island is an island in Bass Strait in south-eastern Australia.  It is approximately 1.3 km long, 550 m wide and covers an area of 32 ha.  It is part of the Waterhouse Island Group, lying 11.7 km from the north-eastern coast of Tasmania.  It is partly privately owned and has been badly affected in the past by grazing, frequent fires and, in July 1995, by the MV Iron Baron oil spill which killed between 2000 and 6000 Little Penguins.  The island forms part of the Ninth and Little Waterhouse Islands Important Bird Area (IBA), so identified by BirdLife International because it holds over 1% of the world population of Black-faced Cormorants.

Hawaiians have long been an acknowledged presence in Las Vegas, and the city is sometimes called the "ninth island."

Mexican standoff  A stalemate where everyone has a weapon pointed at someone else.  All the threats are equally balanced to ensure a Mutual Disadvantage; no one is walking away from this standoff with what they came for — or walking away at all, since everyone realizes that if you get to shelter, you can fire on them without suffering in return.  Sometimes the situation is resolved in a civilized fashion with all involved parties realizing the suicidal position they are in and agreeing to put down their weapons, usually on a count of three to make sure no one ambushes the other.  It's Older Than Radio and has been around long enough to be parodied in the play "The Critic", first staged in 1779.  The term itself, however, originated in the 19th century - possibly in Australia, of all places - regarding perceived political indecision in Mexico.

ne plus ultra  Also nec plus ultra or non plus ultra.  A descriptive phrase meaning the best or most extreme example of something.  The Pillars of Hercules, for example, were literally the nec plus ultra of the ancient Mediterranean world.  Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's heraldic emblem reversed this idea, using a depiction of this phrase inscribed on the Pillars—as plus ultra, without the negation.  The Boston Musical Instrument Company engraved ne plus ultra on its instruments from 1869 to 1928 to signify that none were better.

Spain's most famous cheese, so named because it originally was made only from the milk of Manchego sheep that grazed the famous plains of La Mancha.  It's sometimes called the cheese of Don Quixote because Cervantes mentioned it in his novel, Don Quixote of La Mancha. Manchego, also know as Queso Manchego, is a rich, golden, semihard to hard cheese that has a full, buttery flavor that's still somewhat piquant.  The two versions that are most commonly exported are curado, aged between 3 and 4 months, and viejo, aged 9 to 12 months.  Another variation, Manchego en aceite ("in oil"), has been ripened for 1 year, during which time it's bathed in olive oil.
Find substitutes for Manchego Viejo and Manchego Curado at

The Reading Railroad company that most people know from the Monopoly board game is still going strong, but it's not laying down tracks any more.  What is now Reading International Inc. has turned into a Los Angeles firm that runs cinema complexes and live theater venues in the U.S. and abroad, managing to fill seats during very challenging times for the cinema industry.  James J. Cotter Sr. gained control of the Reading name in the early 1980s through his holding company, Craig Corp.  In 2001, a merger of Craig, the Reading Co. and the Citadel Holding Corp. created Reading International.  Besides operating cinemas, Reading is involved in real estate development and the rental of retail, commercial and live theater facilities.  Reading International has more than 2,300 employees and 56 cinema complexes with 476 movie screens in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.  The U.S. is the biggest market, with 26 complexes.  Domestically, the company's complexes operate under brand names such as Reading, Angelika Film Center, Consolidated Amusements, City Cinemas, Beekman Theatre and Village East Cinemas.  Five cinema complexes, including the Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15, are in the San Diego area.  Reading, which works with major film distributors and smaller, independent film companies, also handles live shows.  It owns and operates three off-Broadway theaters in Manhattan — the Union Square, Orpheum and Minetta Lane — and the Royal George Theatre in Chicago.  Ronald D. White  Issue 1207  October 22, 2014  On this date in 1746, the College of New Jersey (later renamed Princeton University) received its charter.  On this date in 1836, Sam Houston was inaugurated as the first President of the Republic of Texas.