WOW #10

Drake

The Word Of the Week for this week will be;

CANARD

Definitions for canard
a false or baseless, usually derogatory story, report, or rumor.
Cookery. A duck intended or used for food.

Origin of canard 1840-1850 Canard is from Old French quanart “drake,” literally “cackler,” from the onomatopoeic caner “to cackle” and the suffix -art, a variant of -ard, as in mallard or braggart. Canard is all that is left of the Middle French idiom vendre un canard à moitié “to sell half a duck,” i.e., “to take in, swindle, cheat.” Canard entered English in the 19th century.

I don’t really know why I chose Canard as the Word Of the Week.  It’s not all that old, and it’s not cute and cuddly.  It is interesting that, in both English, and French where it came from, it has the word value of ‘lying, cheating and swindling.’

It wandered over and got used in Jules Verne’s The War of the Worlds, when it was only 50 years old.  Never a common word, it is still used occasionally to reference American politics, where lying, cheating and swindling are competitive sports.

This week, Lewandowski distinguished himself by reviving the birther canard—the thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. Margaret Talbot, “The Trouble with Corey Lewandowski on CNN,” The New Yorker, August 6, 2016

I started out researching pollard(ing), which is trimming a tree back severely, to produce a ball-shape, and more, leafier, shorter branches. I was soon at bollard, which is a short, thick iron or steel post used to tie ships to; from the bole, or trunk of a tree, and found that the meaning of the surname Bullard is, “son of a monk or priest.” I was in the –ard neighborhood anyway.

There is a Random House Dictionary. I sometimes feel that I should be using it. That’s what my research often feels like. I hope to see you here again, the next time I fail to be inspired for a Flash Fiction.

WOW #9

Donald Trump

A comedian once claimed that Michael Jackson was the punch line to every joke.
“Why did the chicken cross the road?”
“Michael Jackson!”

Mikey is no longer with us, but we do have Donald Trump to replace him. Dictionary.com usually doesn’t give a reason for the inclusion of any particular Word of the Day, often making me wonder about words like, stravage, portmanteau and middlescence.

Recently though, they’ve been blaming it on Trump. They admitted that paralogize was chosen because of his tendency to draw incorrect conclusions from the facts available.  More recently they blamed him and his political team’s ALTERNATIVE FACTS for the resurrection of;

newspeak

Definitions for newspeak (sometimes initial capital letter)
an official or semi-official style of writing or saying one thing in the guise of its opposite, especially in order to serve a political or ideological cause while pretending to be objective, as in referring to “increased taxation” as “revenue enhancement.”

Origin of newspeak

Newspeak was coined by George Orwell in his novel 1984, which was published in 1949.

They gave no attribution, but Trump must be on their minds because, with paralogize there were whiffler, bonzer and juggernaut, and between paralogize and newspeak, there have been scapegrace, malfeasance, pedagogy, muckraker and troglodyte.

As Jay Leno said about the re-election of George W. Bush, with Trump at the helm of the Ship of State, we have at least four, and perhaps eight more years, of the jokes (and insults) writing themselves.

😳

 

Reading Challenge – 2016

Reading challenge

Oh wow, yet another post about what I read last year.  Last year, I threatened vaguely hinted that I might list what I did/did not read, that filled the above Challenge list.  Not being a great team-player/rules-follower, the results are not impressive.  The covers are all shown back at ‘It’s All Newton’s Fault’, if you want another look.

A book published this (2016) year.
N/A I’m too busy trying to catch up on about four series, so that the next ‘unread’ one is less than 5 years old and I can borrow it from the library at no charge, to be bothered with anything less than a year old.

A book you can finish in one day.
Henry Freeman – The Crusades From Beginning To End
A 156 page disappointment, with no real information, not worth the price.

A book you’ve been meaning to read.
Jonathan Kellerman – Flesh And Blood
After owning it for 15 years, I finally got around to actually reading it. (See below)  A somewhat pedantic little procedural, nowhere nearly as interesting as his wife’s mysteries.

A book recommended by your local librarian or bookseller.
N/A Years ago, there was a TV ad which touted, “You can always tell a Heinz pickle, but you can’t tell a Heinz pickle nothing.”
Heinz pickle = Grumpy Old Dude

A book you should have read in school.
N/A See last year’s statement.  Perhaps some of the Sci-Fi that I’m now rereading.  Maybe I should have got to them sooner.

A book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling, child, or BFF.
Jared Diamond – Guns, Germs And Steel
More ‘recommended’ than ‘chosen’, by my online BFF, BrainRants, it was an enlightening treatise showing how White Europeans ended up owning or controlling so much of the world.

A book published before you were born.
E.E. (Doc) Smith – The Spacehounds Of IPC
With Jim Wheeler’s prompt, I am rereading some old Sci-Fi.  I think I should get extra points for this one.  It’s hard to find books that were published before I was born.  This one was from 1931.  I also reread the original Buck Rogers, from 1928.  I refuse to reread The Bible.

A book that was banned at some point.
N/A I probably have read one at some point, because some of the most supposedly inoffensive books have been banned, somewhere, sometime, including Harry Potter.  I just didn’t actively search one out.

A book that you previously abandoned.
N/A

A book that you own, but never read.
Jonathan Kellerman – Flesh And Blood
I can’t believe that I was always so far ahead with books to read, that I didn’t get around to this one for 15 years.  Then I read it, and realized why.

A book that intimidates you.
William Patterson – Robert A. Heinlein biography – Part II
This was big, and dry – but ultimately, very rewarding.

A book you’ve already read at least once.
Aside from IPC and Buck Rogers, I also reread;
Isaac Asimov – Pebble In The Sky, and Nemesis
Robert A. Heinlein – Tunnel In The Sky
A. Bertram Chandler – The Far Traveller
John Brunner – To Conquer Chaos, The World Swappers, and The Super Barbarians as well as 10 other classic science fiction books.

With all those N/As, if I hadn’t seen the list of books I did read, I might have thought I didn’t really read much.  I just don’t read a lot of what some others feel is acceptable.  You read my posts last year.  Did you have time to read anything else?  😕

Ars Est Celare Artes

olympic-rings

The above title is a Latin motto which means ‘The Art Is To Conceal The Arts’. To properly awe an audience with the performance of a difficult task, it is often necessary to make it appear easy.

A comedian, commenting about the Olympics, said that all he understands about gymnastics is this; he hopped into the air, and landed on his feet, perfectly erect, and said, “That’s good!”  He hopped into the air again, and landed leaning slightly backward, so that he had to put a foot back to keep from falling over, and said, “That’s bad!”  To win gold, you have to make it look easy.

I recently had the chance to read the beginning of an online novel by a writer who, like many of us, hopes to be a published author. He’s a member of a highly respected profession.  He’s intelligent and well educated.  He has a (reasonably) good vocabulary and grasp of grammar and composition.  What he is not, is an author – or writer.

I only managed to read the first three paragraphs, before I had to stop, or suffer nausea and vertigo. Here are the three paragraphs.  Remember to take Gravol. (Americans may take Dramamine.)

You are on the beach, watching the swaying of the waves. The waves sweep across the steeps like a flock of stampeding sheep speeding over the steppes, the snaking waves hissing over the driftwood steeped in the sandy wrack.

A squadron of gulls lifts uneasily into the air and then dissipates against the grey sky. You look meaningly at the gulls. They hover, the flurry of gulls. The gulls lull heavily in the air, squealing their dull squeals.

You incline your head downward and stare at the inrushing waves, each one a hungry-mouthed sheep, coming toward you ravenously. The water is deliquescent twenty feet from the shore. Beyond the shoal the surface seems lacquered, solid, unbreachable, enameled, brackish, thick, as if it were a spreading mass of viscous aquatic jelly. From the shore you cannot fathom, through the spume lid, the pelagic fathoms. The lake’s lid is swarming with wavelets, each one undulant and alive—afroth, the lake’s lip, frosting wisps.

That opening is almost as bad as, “It was a dark and stormy night.” This thing has more verbiage slathered on than icing on a Wal-Mart birthday cake.  This is like the parlor of a Nevada brothel – cheap, gaudy and ostentatious.  Typos, overdone alliteration, excess words, redundant words, repetitive words, overly ornate words, eight-dollar words, employed to seem interesting and impressive, but used incorrectly.   Steppes, and steeps, and stampeding sheeps – oh my.

To ‘look meaningly’ is to use a facial expression to convey information to another person. You cannot look meaningly at seagulls, because their tiny bird-brains don’t get it. And speaking of seagulls, I can think of five verbs to describe the noise they make.  ‘Dull squeals’ is not on the list.

Deliquescent means; The process of a solid dissolving or becoming liquid through the absorption of moisture from the atmosphere. That obviously is not happening here. It’s a good, solid, proud word.  It’s just hanging out in the wrong neighborhood.

Instead of smooth, clear, economical communication, this writer seems to have gone out of his way to confuse and impress, and say, ‘Look how much work I went to, to attract and hold your attention.’ It is not concealed. (But it should be!)

spacehounds-of-ipc

I recently re-read E. E. ‘Doc’ Smith’s Subspace Encounter. Doc was the mentor who taught Robert Heinlein much about writing.  An engineer by trade, Doc always used the exactly correct word, and the exactly correct number of words.

In this book, he has Mankind meet another galactic civilization. Physically, they are Human, but their society is vastly different.  Not cruel, but they are pragmatic to the point of making the Spartans look like soft amateurs.

To identify their empire, he coins the word ‘Justiciate.’ This is literary irony.  It is like referring to The People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea.  It is not ‘for or by the people.’  It is not a democracy, and it is not a Republic.  There is little ‘justice’ in a society, where the ruler of 180 planets is identified as the Supreme Tyrant.  And the supreme ruler of the red-skinned sect, who wants to kill 90% of those of other skin colors and keep the rest as slaves – identifies himself as The Grand Justice.

Having invented the Justiciate, Doc went on to invent an interplanetary monetary unit for them – the Junex, meaning the Justiciate Unit of Exchange.  For an imaginary empire, he created imaginary money to give believability.  No sheeps or steeps or gulls were needed.

As a young adult, I missed much of his precision. Re-reading it now, with life experience, I have a greater appreciation.  He made it look easy, when it really wasn’t.  I’m glad Jim Wheeler made me do it.  😀

It’s All Newton’s Fault

I’m not talking about Sir Isaac Newton. I’m referring to Newton Minow, an American who was Director of the FCC during the Kennedy Era.  In 1961, he declared television to be a vast wasteland.  This irritated many within the industry, to the point that, the SS Minnow that washed up on Gilligan’s Island was named after him.

The cost of accessing this wasteland by cable continued to increase. About 12 years ago, we dumped cable, and went with satellite TV.  Satellite rates soon followed Cable rates.  Two years ago, when the wife’s mobility problems meant that she had trouble going down to the basement rec room to watch TV, we cut the satellite cable also.

Almost 50 years of marriage means that we have little new to talk about, so we relied on books to fill the excess time. OH!  WOW!  Last year’s list of 51 books, has increased this year to 57.

Jim Wheeler’s question about rereading books had me going back to reread some old Sci-Fi. I have quite an interest in time travel and temporal paradoxes. Note toward the bottom of the reread section, the time travel group.

pebble-in-the-sky

nemesis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tunnel-in-the-sky

spacehounds-of-ipc

the-far-traveller

to-conquer-chaos

the-world-swappers

the-super-barbarians

 

armageddon-2419

the-outposter

starlight

the-dark-light-years

i-aleppo

the-world-at-the-end-of-time

renegade-of-time

serving-in-time

masters-of-time

time-raider-1-wartide

Continuing with the time travel theme, I recently bought and read

tales-of-the-time-scouts

I also purchased Book II, and will read it this year.

a-wanted-man

never-go-back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

personal                                                                                                        make-me

skeleton-coastghost-ship

treasure-of-khan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-judas-strainaltar-of-eden  the-last-oracle

devil-colony

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-doomsday-key

the-emperors-tomb  the-jefferson-key

the-kings-deception

 

 

 

 

 

 

the-lincoln-myth

the-alexander-cipher the-exodus-quest

magic-breaks magic-shifts

all-the-rage hosts

fire-with-fire

crazy-english

And a couple from an up and coming author – not published yet, but look forward to them.
He’s Will Greany.

Blue On Blue

blue-on-blue

Domestic

Tank

locked-on threat-vector

command-authoritysupport-and-defend

guns-germs-and-steel  This one came highly recommended by BrainRants.

flesh-and-blood

the-crusades-from-beginning-to-end  Not what was promised.  Quite disappointing!

the-tau-ceti-agenda

hell-hath-no-fury

the-fold

robert-a-heinlein

free-short-stories-2013free-short-stories-2014

Now that you’ve spent all that time lookin’ at the pretty pitchurs, you won’t have time fer yer own readin’.  Sorry!

 

Book Review #15

robert-a-heinlein

The Book – Robert A. Heinlein

The Author – William H. Patterson Jr.

The Review –

This is the second of a two-part complete biography of one of the most important, seminal authors (not merely of Science-Fiction) of the 20th Century.  BrainRants made me aware of Part 1 last year, and recently, another blogger reminded me that book two was available.

The complete title is, Robert A. Heinlein – In Conversation With His Century.  That needs to be remembered when accessing library or bookstore web catalogs.  Enter only ‘Robert A. Heinlein,’ and you get, We have 800 listings for Robert Heinlein, which one did you want? I want the one written by Patterson.  The sub-title of Volume 1 was ‘Learning Curve.’  The sub-title of this Volume is, ‘The Man Who Learned Better.’  It covers his career from 1948 to 1988.

For someone like me, used to reading novels, with their character development and plot twists, reading this tome was a ….learning curve. Were it not for its subject, it would be as exciting as reading a telephone book.  (Remember those?)  But this was a man who met and talked to Presidents and Prime Ministers; who awed, and was adored by, astronauts who went into space and walked on the Moon, and scientists who put them there, and a probe on Mars.

I see why those with little intellect, or lives of their own, hang on every video-provided nuance of “Keeping Up With The Kardashians.” The author casts a very fine net, down to what Heinlein had for breakfast on particular days. Scrambled eggs, sausage, coffee and toast on April 17, 1957.

The ‘Rich And Famous Lifestyle’ of a profoundly successful author is not all that we might imagine – or rather, it’s far more than many of us would want. Not only did Heinlein (and many like him) have to keep grinding out grist for the publishing mill, but he had to keep in constant touch with lawyers, editors, publishers and agents.

He had a New York agent, a California agent, and a European agent. There was an agent who failed to promote Heinlein’s work.  There was an over-zealous NY agent who invaded the California agent’s territory long-distance.  There were editors who revised his works without his permission, or even his knowledge in a couple of cases, completely changing the thrust of a story.

Agents sold rights to stories they were not authorized to do. Publishers printed work they had not paid for. He lost money twice in the movie industry, when projects collapsed.  One studio used creative bookkeeping to withhold payments for a successful movie, while another simply pirated his idea, and retitled it.  Which brings us back to the lawyers.

Back before the internet, he had to deal with most of this at the speed of ink. When he moved to Colorado, he was on a party-line telephone with six neighbors for over a year.  One of his later notes said that he finally had to give up helping fans with theses, term papers, and dissertations.

He corresponded with other authors, giving and receiving commendations and inspiration for story lines. Occasionally, he would pen a promo or review for another writer.  While he pumped out a stupendous amount of prose during his working life, it was far overshadowed by the mass of mundane, unpaid writing he had to do.

‘All You Zombies’ is considered one of the greatest short-stories ever written. A time-travelling hermaphrodite becomes his/her own mother, father, and child.  It was written as a submission to Playboy Magazine, who turned it down – because of the implied sex??!

As a way to give back to a country he cared very much for, Heinlein did at least two important things. He promoted and supported NASA, and the space program.  While many civilians complained about the waste of money, Heinlein knew that every dollar invested in NASA returned $14 to the economy – and that was even before the Silicon Valley bubble, powered by the newly developed micro-processors.

He had had a variety of medical afflictions over the years, and had a very rare blood type. His life had been saved at least twice by transfusions provided by the Rare Blood Association.  He established grassroots blood donor clinic organizations, and he helped make the likes of Rare Blood, and the American Red Cross stronger and more efficient, donating both expertise and money.

While the book could seem dry and tedious, the life of the man it revealed was just awe-inspiring. I am glad I spent the time and patience.  I highly recommend the pair.

A To Z Challenge – L

april-challenge

I had an L of a time deciding what to write about for the letter

letter-l

I’ve decided to say a few (hah!) words about

LEVITY

noun, plural levities.

lightness of mind, character, or behavior; lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness.

an instance or exhibition of this.

Anyone who has read more than a ‘few’ of my words, is probably aware that my writing – in fact my life – is crammed to the scuppers with jokes and humor and comedy. Everyone deserves a smile or two each day.  More than that, there should be a mandatory, Minimum Daily Intake of humor.

Laughing releases feel-good endorphins. It’s almost as good as sex, and group comedy is almost as good as….No it’s not, but it’s still good.  Group humor is the social lubricant that glides tension and stress away.  Sharing a couple of jokes in emails, or at lunch, or around the water cooler makes our lives and our jobs so much easier to take.

It’s all well and good to take your life, your job or your marriage seriously, but All Work And No Play – can make Jack a real pain in the ass. Anger turned outward is aggression.  Anger turned inward is depression, but anger turned sideways….is humor.   😆

Just as science-fiction helps its readers take a serious alternate view of the world and its social situations and problems, humor can accomplish the same, in a light-hearted, nonthreatening manner. Subjects and situations that are a bit too touchy or taboo to discuss or even think about – can be gently joked about, thinking initiated, and solutions suggested.

I even disagree to a certain extent with the, “lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness” portion of the above definition.  Anything, or anybody, who claims to be so important that he/it shouldn’t be joked about, is exactly what needs to have a little (or a lot) of levity applied to its thin skin.

Levity is my fall-back position. If I can’t think of something to write about….publish some jokes.  That’s why H in this series was for Humor, and J was for Jokes, to apologise for that insipid I post.  Don’t ever think just because I or someone else is telling jokes, that we are not taking the subject, or life in general, seriously.  This a serious essay, about a serious subject.

Gerry Seinfeld and a friend once spent an hour debating whether to use the word ‘a’ or ‘the’ in a joke.  He replaced the word ‘dog’ with the more specific ‘German Shepherd’ in a limp joke about a blind skydiver – and the new wording killed.

When I went to the online dictionary, to pick up the exact meaning of Levity, I came upon the following definition.  I’ve included it to show you just how hard I work to levitate all my levity to you.   That’s no joke.

Definitions for lucubrate
to work, write, or study laboriously, especially at night.
to write learnedly.