TILWROT III

In Search Of A Name

I was reading a Science Fiction book that began with a Space Navy shipwreck.  After her husband dies, the group of survivors is led by a broadly knowledgeable and adaptable woman with the Italian-ish name of Buccari.  I mentally pronounced it boo-kar-ee, until the author had one of her compatriots address her as, “Hey, Booch.”  I was reminded that in Italian words/names like bocce and Puccini with double C’s, they are pronounced as CH, so she was boo-char-ee.

Now I was curious.  Beginning with The DaVinci Code, I realized that authors often hide Easter Eggs in the background of their books.  What does the name mean??  Whatever it is, there’s a bunch of them, because the final I indicates a plural.  Translation programs just shrugged and walked away.  Google and Bing and friends, didn’t do any better, although one admitted that it was a surname, but the 286,532nd most/least common one.

Down at the bottom of the page, the note said, People who ask about Buccari also research Buccari fiasco navale Croazien.  Clicking on that delivered an article, all in Italian.  I fed the first section back into the translation program.

Apparently, just at the end of World War II, a division of the Italian navy decided to shell the Croatian city of Bakar, because it had been used by the Italians as a concentration camp.  Based on the plural of “people from the city of Bakar,” the Italian name for it, and anyone from it, is Buccari.

Bakar, in Croatian, means ‘copper,’ and our heroine’s head is adorned with luxurious, Italian, copper-red tresses.  The author brought the uncommon name completely around in a circle.

***

The great-grandson is approaching his first birthday.  While a little slow starting, he is developing a nice head of Italian-red hair.  He and his parents will be joining us for a belated Easter/birthday celebration this Sunday.  I’ll bet that a photo or two of him will sneak its way into a blog-post before the end of the month.  😀

Fibbing Friday?  Nein!

Even though I am neither Greek, nor gay, I sneaked in the back door over at Pensitivity101’s blog site, and made off un-noticed with yet another truly great list of chances to tell a lie….  or ten.  I did not chop down that cherry tree while I was there!  It was already felled when I arrived.  True story.   😉

  1. What is the difference between an earth worm and an ear worm?

Earthworms won’t bother you until you’re dead and buried.  An earworm will irritate the shit out of you, every day until that happens.

  1. What is a Mars Bar?

That was the dingy Star Wars cantina where Han Solo shot Greedo, the bounty hunter who was going to take him in, dead or alive.

  1. What color is a peanut?

Mostly purple, with a green topknot, neither color normally found in nature, but what do you expect from a little guy who crawled out of Chernobyl?

  1. What is meant by dressed up like a dog’s dinner?

Perhaps we don’t feed our dogs as much here in North America, as they do in England.  My attempts at sartorial splendor are referred to, merely as a dog’s breakfast.

  1. What is an orange pippin?

He was the Hobbit who caught a sociable disease from a female dwarf, and was unable to appear in any of the Lord Of The Rings movies.

  1. What do an owl, pussy cat and five pound note all have in common?

Since I am as poor as a church-mouse, they are all items which are not in my wallet.

  1. Where would you find a Bunny Girl?

That was Barbra Streisand, when she was struck in the mouth by a wardrobe closet door, while filming the movie, and couldn’t pronounce the name of the film, or her lines, for a couple of days.  With that nose running interference, I don’t know how it ever happened.  🙄

  1. What is the difference between an heir and a hair?

It would be so nice to say that hairy Prince Harry, was the heir, but Prince William, the guy with no hair, is the heir.  It’s all too hare-brained for me to understand.

  1. What is meant by fringe benefits?
    That’s when my girlfriend lets me get past third-base. She usually tells me that, when it comes to sex, I am self-sufficient.
  2. What is a whimsy?

He’s a gay Frenchman who likes to attend the Wimbledon Tennis Championships.  He’s been known to ‘come across’ beneath the stands, but he comes across the English Channel on a train with the erotically suggestive name of, The Freudian Sloop.  He used to come across on a ferry, but that became just too cliché.   The mental image of a powerful engine rapidly entering a tight tube gets him off, even while he’s onboard.  He arrives and leaves with a big smile – and a few extra Pounds – but never knows who won.

I cannot tell a lie.  I’m branching out toward Dunsinane Castle, but I’ll be back on Monday with another great post – and a cord of firewood for anyone who has a fireplace or woodstove.  😉

’21 A To Z Challenge – V Twofer

’21 Reading Challenge
Vanquished

I read somewhere…. That I read somewhere.  In a vain attempt to brag (Are there any other kinds??!) about all my free time in retirement, I present a rogues’ gallery of the books I read last year.


Gregg Loomis – The First Casualty

Tom Clancy’s series

Line of Sight


Oath of Office

Enemy Contact


Code of Honor


Lee Child – Blue Moon


Lee Child – The Sentinel

Gregg Hurwitz – Out of the Dark
Gregg Hurwitz – Hell Bent

Nick Petrie – Burning Bright
Nick Petrie – Light It Up
Nick Petrie – Tear It Down

Ilona Andrews – Sweep Of The Blade

Ilona Andrews – Sweep With Me

Ilona Andrews – Magic Steals

Ilona Andrews – Blood Heir

Steve Berry – The 14th Colony

Steve Berry – The Lost Order
Steve Berry – The Bishop’s Pawn

Raymond Khoury – The Templar Salvation

Mark Greaney – Gunmetal Grey
Mark Greaney – Agent in Place

Crawford Killian – The Empire of Time

Mark Greaney – Agent In Place

Eric Flint – The Course Of Empire

Mike Massa – River Of Night

Grant Blackwood – War Hawk

James Rollins – The Demon Crown

James Rollins – Crucible

H. Beam Piper – Paratime

H. Beam Piper – Lord Kalvan Of Otherwhen

Philip K. Dick – The Zap Gun

A.E. van Vogt – Masters Of Time

James S. A. Corey – Persepolis Rising

James S. A. Corey – Tiamat’s Wrath

John Brunner – Time Jump

John Brunner – Total Eclipse

Kenneth Bulmer – The Key To Venudine

Neal Stephenson – The Rise And Fall Of D.O.D.O.

Crawford Killian – Red Magic

Seth Andrews – Sacred Cows

Herman Melville – Bartleby The Scrivener
*
Edgar Allen Poe – The Cask of Amontillado

Mark Twain – Letters From The Earth

Ward Bowlby – A Canadian’s Travels To Egypt

Flash Fiction #275

PHOTO PROMPT © Na’ama Yehuda

MORLOCK

Gather ‘round me, fellow agents of darkness.  We pay tribute to those who provide the needs of the sun-loving Eloi.

Many of the Early Birds are so proud of themselves, when they get a fast start on the day and show up at the Golden Arches at Six A.M. or the Mermaid Coffee Shop at Seven.  They don’t realize that those who waited on them, had to get up at three, or have been up all night, to get the grills hot, and the coffee urns bubbling.

They also serve, who work the night, for the benefit of the day-shift.

***

If you’d like to join the fun, go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Smitty’s Loose Change #16

Insanity is believing your hallucinations.
Religion is believing other people’s hallucinations.
Too often, its adherents can’t face reality, and force others to play make-believe.

***

Quite often, Christian Apologists don’t believe some or all of the problematic passages in the Bible.  In fact, they pride themselves and measure their intelligence by how much of the nonsense and contradictions that they reject.  But they just can’t seem to take it to the logical conclusion.

***

Semantic Satiation
You know that thing that happens when you read or hear the same word over and over and over and it starts to sound weird, not like itself, and like gibberish? There’s a word for it: “semantic satiation.”  It’s thought to be a brain form of reactive inhibition, which is a fancy phrase for your body getting tired of doing stuff over and over and over. Basically, when you hear a word, your brain grabs the meaning to the word and associates them for you. But when a word is repeated in a short period, your brain has to grab its neural dictionary over and over, and gets less excited about having to do so each time, eventually just saying, “Whatever,” which is when you just completely lose meaning.

***

More Names – More Fun

I am fascinated by names, because many of them have origins and meanings that even the holders often don’t know.

I was recently followed by HariSeldon2021.  Hari Seldon is a character from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.  Sadly, this one doesn’t have a website, so that I can’t read his work, to find why he chose such an interesting and enigmatic name.

The German name Stemmler means stammerer. While
The German name Steffler began with a reference to a German king named Steffen, and means crown.

A vendor at the local Farmers’ Market is Gerber Meats.  A gerber originally was a skinner, or a leather tanner.  I find it amusingly ironic that the name that began with an interest in the outside of cows, is now interested in what’s on the inside of cows.

I recently learned of an Italian actor, named Violante Placido – which translates to violent, peaceful.  She’s a woman.  I only hope that her parents had a (twisted) sense of humor.

I have taken to carefully scanning the obituaries each day, to be sure my photo isn’t there.  Actually, I add up the ages of the deceased, and divide, to get the average age of death and compare it to mine.  Recently I saw an announcement of the death of a man with the surname, Posthumus.

Eurofoods, my local Polish deli sells two checkout papers.  One is Faptu Divers, which means ‘various facts’ or various pieces of information – more colloquially, gossip rag.  The other is Goniec, which can be a (courier) runner, an aide, or a (chess) Bishop – loosely translated nosy paparazzi.  The Tattler, and The National Enquirer, would be proud of their European cousins.

I walked past a car recently, and stopped to inspect its custom vanity plates.  They read OYEZX3.  Oyez!  Oyez!  Oyez!  It is apparently owned by a court clerk, or bailiff.  😯

Either one guy composes all the crosswords in the US, or there is a continent-wide conspiracy theory.  I do a crossword in the local paper, and 2 crosswords per day from the Toronto Sun.  One is from the NY Times, and the other is from the LA Times.  I recently achieved a trifecta of identical clues/solutions in all, on the same day.  “Game Of Thrones” actor Clarke = Emilia.  Greek god pictured with wings and a bow = Eros.  While the clues were not exactly the same, General whose reputation is battered, was General Tso.

***

With so many things coming back in style, I can’t wait until morals, respect and intelligence become a trend again.

Book Review #25

The status quo is not working!
The Republic is disintegrating!

And all of this was foreseen as far back as the early 1960s.  It is a wonderful, empathetic, humanistic thing for the government to help those in need.  The author saw how socialistic support needed to be overseen and controlled – but wasn’t.

Pay a farmer not to raise a particular crop, to protect the income of other farmers who did.  Pay a single mother, so that she and her child could be assured food, clothing and housing.  Pay welfare to a man put out of work by social or technological changes.

Soon, the farmer neglects the maintenance of his equipment, and can’t go back to his trade, even when it is allowed.  The single mother has another child(ren), to increase her guaranteed monthly stipend.  She feels no urge to obtain a provider (A man, in the ‘60s), an education or training, or a job.  The guy on welfare deals drugs or robs corner stores on the side, because it’s easier than getting a real job.

Human nature being what it is, millions of people get lazy, and get used to the new status quo.  There is no impetus to do for themselves.  They become comfortable letting the government provide a reduced, but assured, standard of living.

The book: Space Viking
The book: The Cosmic Computer

The author: H. Beam Piper

The review:

Originally titled “Junkyard Planet”

Born in 1904, Piper was too young for World War I, and too old for World War II, but he must have observed the mountains of materiėl that was left when peace was finally, suddenly, achieved.  In 1963 and 1964, after the Korean War, he wrote these two cautionary, laissez-faire tales.

In each of these books, both initially set on the same planet, after an interstellar war, the people – the society – are poor.  Despite Billions of (dollars) credits worth of goods and equipment being left behind, aside from the occasional prospector/scavenger, no-one bothers to look for it.  They are so used to Big Government taking care of them, that they don’t rouse themselves to improve their own lot.

The two stories are essentially the same, only in one, Piper offers a social/financial solution, while in the other he shows a more political/military answer.  It’s the Stone Soup Theorem.  In each case, an exasperated, instigator protagonist starts a cycle of getting individuals and groups off their lethargic asses, by promising them something for nothing – if they’ll just put some work into his plan.

His credulous followers do not receive what he promises them – they get something much grander and better.  Companies are started, jobs are created, construction and trade is stimulated, unemployment almost disappears, wages go up, welfare goes down, taxes are paid, and infrastructure is rejuvenated.  The people are given back their pride, self-respect, and an incentive to continue to improve themselves and their society.

If only this would work in real life, but it won’t happen until we get a real leader – an honest visionary – who can convince a populace of passive takers, and a government of enabling vote-buyers, that more projects like the TVA – the Tennessee Valley Authority – and the Hoover Dam, will ultimately give back far more than they cost.

All The Languages Of The World

I am so glad that my blog-buddy, BrainRants made me aware of The Expanse series.  I have been reading the books and, not quite as quickly, watching the TV programs for several years.  It is a great epic series, not just because I love Sci-Fi, but because the writers provide tons of eclectic detail to flesh out the story arc, and the characters.

Two male writers, taking a cue from their mentor, George R. R. Martin – he of Game Of Thrones fame – and/or J. R. R. Tolkien, publish as James S. A. Corey, when neither of them is James, nor Corey.  As male authors, they have created at least four powerful, well-defined female characters.

The depth and breadth of their knowledge, which they work into the books is awe-inspiring – especially (for me) the linguistics.  Millions have gone into space, and many are mining the asteroid belt.  People move around on Earth, and the language where they migrate to slowly changes, but remains basically the same.

There was no Native Tongue in the Belt, so a new language, called Belta, has come into existence.  It includes some sign language, for folks encased in space suits, who can be seen but not heard.  The spoken language is mostly English, with additions and admixtures of American Spanish from Pittsburgh to Patagonia, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Maori, Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, and more.

Every chapter brings examples of words and expressions that impress the Hell out of me, or drive me to dictionary or search-engine sites.  Remember, Belta is like Star Trek’s Klingon.  It is a non-existent language that these two are completely creating themselves.  The fact that I’m at least a year behind the avid fan readers, means that I sometimes reach a site where others have gone for explanations.

Recently, I hit four words on two pages that I needed to research.  One of the asteroids described, was not an asteroid, but rather, a collection of rocks with enough common gravity to hold them together, but not enough pressure to coalesce into a single unit.  Like a bag of giant marbles – without the bag.

The writers described it as a Duniyaret.  The Hindi word duniyah means ’world,’ and the Hindi word ret means ‘sand, or gravel.’  They had created a neologism in a foreign language, to describe this conglomeration of rocks.  A habitat had been created on the biggest chunk, by welding together, what were essentially steel shipping containers, at a slight angle to one another, to bend around the curve.  The authors called this “town”, Nakliye, a Turkish word that means ‘shipping.’

On the next page, I found a blazon – from heraldry, a patch or badge, often worn on lapel or sleeve, indicating owning or belonging, especially with good qualities.  When we affix such a marker, we use the slightly more-common word, emblazon.

The residents drank water that was hyper-distilled.  At first, I thought it might be like double-distilled whiskey, but the Hyper, in this case, refers to Hyperion, the Titan that the Greeks believed was the father of the sun.  They didn’t waste precious power, but used a large parabolic solar-collector, aimed at the distant sun.  I had trouble researching this term, because the search engines kept throwing up an American company named “Hyper Distillation,” which is not the same thing.

The UN Space Navy had an Admiral named Souther.  I was reminded of J. D. Souther, a singer/songwriter from Detroit, who influenced Glen Frey of The Eagles, to compose country-lite style.  I had assumed that the basis for the name was someone originally from the South of England – a southerner.  Imagine my surprise when I found that the name is occupational, coming from old English/old French soutere – a boot or shoe – therefore meaning a cobbler.

I have cobbled together a little more click-bait to lure you in.  Drop by in a couple of days, to see where my mind has gone without me.  😎  🌯

Flash Fiction #260

                        PHOTO PROMPT © Russell Gayer

FLYING CAR-PET

I can’t believe that this van is flying.  There must be some kind of technology involved.  Anti-gravity is tough enough to accept – but MAGIC??!

It’s not MAGIC magic.  It’s just that some of us have learned to harvest and direct cosmic radiation.  Harry Potter’s car flew.  I often wonder if Rowling is one of us.

But people must be able to see us.  I’ve never heard even nut-case reports.

The diffraction field makes people view us as birds, or distant airplanes.  We might even be some of those government UFO reports.  We’ll need to wash the unicorn shit off later.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

Book Review #24

I just read the most sumptuous book.  It was as rich and satisfying as a slab of red velvet cake.

The book: The Boat of a Million Years

The author: Poul Anderson

The review: There are only seven story plots.  All of the millions of novels are just variations and combinations on those themes.  This one is a reworking of the movie Highlander, which was released 2 years before this was published in 1989.  I got a cheap 2004 Kindle re-release, while I was COVID-isolating.  The immortals can be killed.  It’s just that they heal quickly and totally.  They survive and recover from, wounds that would slay a normal person.

It’s ‘like’ a time-travel novel, but the travel is all from past, to the future.  Perhaps once per century, a person is born who does not age and die.  Unlike the Off With Her Head movie story, this book is about survival.  The author wants to show that, while these people are different from the rabble in one way, they are quite the same in others, and different from each other.

It is not at all like several other ‘ray-guns and space-ships’ books of this author’s that I have.  He treads lightly, but shows the historical foolishness of religions, when viewed over hundreds, or thousands of years

The most common, though not universal, drive is to find others of their kind.  A Turkish trader in post-Roman Britain spends parts of several decades finding an immortal Norse warrior.  When he finally locates him, he offers him partnership in a safe venture and way of life that will guarantee them both great wealth and political power.  The Viking turns him down, and walks away.  Several years later, he hears that the berserker died in an epic battle.

It takes over a century for a Mesopotamian ship-fleet owner to locate another male.  When he does, the outgoing extrovert is dismayed to find a reclusive milquetoast who is content to follow, and allow someone else to make decisions and take care of him.

Some of the men make the obvious search for females of their kind, for wives/companions, and to find if two immortals would produce immortal offspring.  They don’t.  After several more centuries, the pair locate an immortal woman in Rome.  Pointing out the gender inequality, she has advanced from prostitute, to madam, to courtesan, where she creates great wealth through pillow-talk investments.

Even before computers, birth certificates or accurate census forms, it was not a good idea to remain in one location with one name, for more than a couple of decades, lest the superstitious populace grow suspicious.  The trader suggests that they move back to Nineveh, or Tyre, and sells off his ships and cargoes, converting them to a more easily transported chest, full of gold and jewels.  Her history made her distrust all men, so she betrays them.  The two men escape with their lives, but lose the fortune which takes the one a century to recoup.

This is a psychological and sociological account.  With no ‘action’ to spur the plot, there is no urgency to rush this deep and lengthy book along.  The author has the time and opportunity to compose it like a story from the Golden Age of Literature, of a hundred or two-hundred years ago.  It is rich, luxurious, and full-bodied.

The construction was intriguing and complex, occasionally non-linear.  The history and geography were informative, well-researched, and wide-ranging.  The words were substantive, and often archaic.  There was hardly a page where I wasn’t poking the Kindle screen for a definition.  Words and phrases like, limned, bedizened courtesan, uxorious, an austere magus, lineaments, indolent insolence and caparisoned, peered from almost every page.  For a word-nerd like me, it was Nirvana.

Reading this book was like wearing a silk shirt and walking barefoot across a Persian carpet, while eating a filet mignon.  It was rewarding and satisfying on several simultaneous levels.  I was delighted with the social and personal insights that the mere-mortal author provided.

WOW #63

Someone is always trying to control you.  It has been going on for millennia.  I recently came upon an even-rarer-than-usual word which proves it.

ATHANATICS

The use of the word is so uncommon, that it is almost impossible to find in a dictionary or search engine.  The concept has been around for as long as there have been alpha-males who want to inflict their views on others.  The term seems to have arisen about 400 AD, based on Athanasius of Alexandria.

As the Bishop of Alexandria, he used social, political, and religious power to eliminate heresy, and enforce his beliefs about Christian Orthodoxy.  The definitional value is to create an ideal world, although your definition of “ideal” probably greatly differs from whoever seizes the right to impose theirs.  Athanasius’ idea of ideal, was blind obedience, uniformity and conformity – no free thinking allowed.

In Poul Anderson’s World Without Stars, the antithantic prevents age and disease but memories must be artificially edited. In Anderson’s The Boat Of A Million Years, eight mutant immortals survive through history until the athanatics are developed.

In Larry Niven’s Known Space future history, ‘Boosterspice’ extends life indefinitely, and protectors, who have eaten “tree of life,” live until killed.

1970Nigel CalderTechnopolis: Social Control of the Uses of ScienceSimon and Schuster

If only a minority of the athanatic technologies summarized in this book comes to practical fruition in humans — and some of them are mutually contradictory — there will be plenty of moral, legal and political issues to perplex us.

England is perhaps the most athanatic country in the world.  “The Wild” has almost completely been eliminated.  There are still stands of (hardwood) forests, but they are open and welcoming, with paths, trails, tiny roads, and bridges over streams.  It is almost impossible to get lost, in any dangerous sense.

In the developed world, science and technology have done much to make life ideal, but the more we are protected from harm, the more freedom and control of our lives, we lose.  When motorized vehicles were new, they were cumbersome things that required training and knowledge, care and control, to safely operate.  Many attained all of these, but quick and handy transportation meant that far more did not.

In 1906, there were only 8 motor-cars in the entire city of Cincinnati, yet somehow, two of them managed to crash, head-on, into each other.  Soon came control – the requirement for driving licenses, speed limits, stop signs and traffic lights.

Early cars had manual transmissions.  Drivers had to understand gears and clutches.  I very much liked the feel of controlling a ‘standard’.  I did so until cars with gearshifts became so rare that buyers had to pay a premium for them.  All of my motorcycles had gearshifts.  Now, even many motorcycles are equipped with automatic transmissions.  It just takes away the fun, the thrill, of doing it yourself.  I was recently passed by a large motorcycle with its radio blaring, so that the rider could hear it over the wind noise.  I was almost surprised that the rider didn’t have Wi-Fi direct to built-in earphones in his helmet.

The flying cars that we have been promised for almost a century have failed to emerge, because technology has not advanced far enough.  We’ve seen what destruction and chaos inattentive fools can create in two dimensions.  I hate to imagine what they might accomplish in three dimensions.

AI, and self-driving cars are almost perfected.  When that is accomplished, we might move on to individual, self-flying cars.  They might satisfy the general population, who just want to get from place to place.  For archaic fools like me, who still want the feel of doing something, AI is a smothering pillow.  I want to control what my vehicle is doing.  With self-drivers, I can’t start, stop or steer.  I can’t drive 10 MPH over the speed limit if I’m foolishly late.  Even if I could override the controls, the manufacturer put in a black box that will tell Big Brother, and my insurance company, if I did.

The world continues to be safer, tamer, more ‘ideal,’ but, more and more, we end up swaddled in Amazon bubble wrap, protected, but divorced from reality and any chance of adventure.  This may be acceptable to a large percentage of the population, but we still need some who dare, who search, who triumph.  The New World was not discovered or conquered by a boatload of chartered accountants.