THIS SITE could have a better name than mine with “dot com” tacked on to it. I had considered Introduction to Ratiocinations Out of Thin Air as a title—and that would have been a great title, if a confusing title. So we’re stuck with Neal Umphred Dot Com. As someone once famous once said, “So it goes.“ 1 Either way, readers are confronted with two rather uncommon words (although alien has been used in reference to one of them): Umphred and ratiocination. The family name appears to be of Scottish origin, which explains why Laphoaig tasted like the water of life with my first… Continue Reading introduction to neal umphred dot com
WE DON’T WATCH TV IN OUR HOUSE. Oh, we have a television, but it’s not hooked up to cable and neither Berni nor I remember where or how to find the few local channels available locally. But we do get a lot of use out of our DVD player, watching lots of movies and television series. One recent title that I watched in the middle of a sleepless night was 10 Cloverfield Lane. It’s a decent movie with a little psychosexual tension that kept me guessing as to where things would lead. Unfortunately, it eventually ended with a whimper due to a problem… Continue Reading godzilla meets the dog soldiers on cloverfield lane
SAY YOU WANT A BRIEF BUT COGENT EXPLANATION of the contemporary interpretation of the Big Bang Theory—where do you go? And—notice I didn’t say “or”—you want to know why Yellowstone National Park is both one of the most beautiful preserves in the world and one of the most potentially catastrophic areas in the world—where do you go? Plus you need some background on where syphilis and yaw-yaw and mad monks. Where do you go? On top of that, you also want a list of science’s most innovative thinkers—which includes some of its most eccentric personalities—and you want it all in one… Continue Reading get your yaw-yaws out! (syphilis, mad monks, and sailors)
WHILE “THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE” has been around for almost one-hundred years, it didn’t start its march to universal acclaim until 1959. That year saw the first edition of William Strunk’s little book expanded from 43 pages to 78 pages by “co-author” E.B. White. Forty years earlier, Professor Strunk had published the book as a guide for his students at Cornell University. It called for conservation in the use of the English language. In fact, if the book can be broken down into one dictum, it’s “Omit needless words.” It was the 1959 edition with White’s contributions that… Continue Reading if william strunk was a typographer, would he omit needless spaces
FORGERY IS A TIME-HONORED TRADITION in the world of art. Roman artists made copies of Greek sculptures, although whether the purchasers of these fakes were aware of their origin is unknown. Forgers have taken on new importance since the 19th century, as the name of the artist often has more meaning to a customer than the actual quality of the painting. Of course, making an exact copy of a painting, document, or even a signature and passing it off as the real thing is a crime. Some forgers who were caught in the act became famous for their skills as a copyist… Continue Reading wine snobs got doctor conti while the rest of us get two buck chuck
WE HEAR IT AND WE SAY IT . . . INCORRECTLY! We usually hear “fortay” when people say “forte,” an almost universally mispronounced word! I can’t say it’s a part of everyone’s daily vocabulary, but if you read enough you’ll come across it regularly. I’m writing this because it was used in a couple of movies that we watched recently. Unfortunately, while the word and its mispronunciation in both films stuck in my head, the titles of the two movies did not. Before we address the near universal mismouthing of forte, we need a definition of the word. In modern usage, forte is… Continue Reading my forte is not my fortay, it’s just my fort
WE ARE NOW deep into an affair that should have been termed either Sessionsgate or Ambassadorgate by our mainstream media. Ever clever with such trite coinages when a Democrat is involved, Attorney General Sessions and President Trump have somehow avoided having their transgression rendered in a manner that suggest the felonies of the Nixon administration of 1972-1973. But let’s take a moment and take a look at another moment from January 10, 2017: at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Senator Al Franken asked Senator Jeff Sessions what he would do if he learned of any evidence that anyone affiliated with the… Continue Reading shouldn’t we be calling the sessions-kislyak affair “sessionsgate” by now?